Businesses need to focus and improve internal processes to benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Mr Emmanuel Antwi-Darkwa, Chief Executive Volta River Authority (VRA), has said.
He said to unlock the potential for economic transformation, it was imperative that local businesses fully comprehend the agreement to leverage its opportunities for growth and expansion.
Mr Antwi-Darkwa said this at the fourth Ghana Industrial Summit and Exhibition 2021 in Accra.
The three-day event is being organized by the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), in partnership with VRA, on the theme: “Repositioning Ghanaian Industries to leverage the AfCFTA.“
The event, which was held in person and virtually, seeks to create an avenue for the Ghanaian private sector to dialogue with policy-makers, investors and other industry players.
It will also be an opportunity for businesses to network and showcase their products and services to prospective clients and investors.
The Summit will hold discussions on technological advancements in industry, energy requirements, infrastructure, financing, and many other thought-provoking topics needed by local businesses seeking to trade within the African single market.
It is expected to bring the entire business community; small, medium, and large-scale companies alike to contribute to the discussion on leveraging the benefits of AfCFTA.
Mr Antwi-Darkwa noted that the Continental Trade Agreement would expand intra-African trade through better harmonization and coordination of policies.
However, there was the need to identify sectors with export potential and competitive advantage.
The VRA CEO said the theme for the event was appropriate, timely, and emphasized the incredible opportunities Ghanaian businesses have to scale up activities and expand into African markets with endless possibilities for the socio-economic development of the people.
He said the future of Ghana’s increased intra-African trade lies with the formal and informal business environment, with the Micro, Small, and Medium-scale Enterprises accounting for a substantial share of the economic potential of AfCFTA.
“There is no doubt that the Ghanaian business sector through AfCFTA is presented with a unique opportunity to export to other African countries, which can boost intra-African trade and deepen its economic footprint,” he added.
He said it was time for the local industries to be well resourced to be efficient and effective to expand and add value to their scale of production.
The Chief Executive said low productivity would mean that firms would find it difficult to produce competitively and take advantage of the full benefits of AfCFTA if immediate steps were not taken to remedy the situation.
He assured captains of industry that VRA the Authority was in a much better position to provide competitive and reliable power to meet the industrial needs.
Mr Antwi-Darkwa disclosed that in the quest to maintain its market leadership in the energy sector, VRA had instituted several strategies and operational programmes aimed at transforming and improving existing power systems.
Towards this end, VRA, though a public sector organisation, is implementing capacity-building initiatives that would ensure that it becomes a customer-centric organisation operating with a private-sector mindset.
The objective is to nurture and develop the human capital in readiness to facilitate the expansion programmes aimed at ensuring a stable supply of energy to meet stakeholder expectations and promote the socio-economic development of the country.
Mr Seth Twum-Akwaboah, AGI Chief Executive Officer, said the theme of the industrial summit was carefully chosen to reflect the special attention the AGI had dedicated to the Continental free market.
He said, “We reckon that the hosting of the AfCFTA Secretariat in Ghana does not necessarily guarantee business for the local industry.”
The AfCFTA, he noted, came with several benefits but very little could inure to the local businesses if the operating environment itself was not congenial.
Mr Twum-Akwaboah called on the government to review some of the tax policies that do not motivate local production.
“AGI will continue to initiate reforms and lead policy initiatives in the interest of the private sector,” he added.