By Ewurabena Paha
An expert in the handicraft industry and Chief Executive of Geolicraft, George Akologo, says the handicraft sector has the potential to entirely change the economic conditions in Ghana.
He said Asia, which is currently the largest producer of handicrafts, cannot match Ghana in terms of quality.
This is why the conversation about the sector must not only be left for the craftsmen but extended to the Tourism, Art and Culture Ministry and investors.
Mr Akologo suggested the setting up of a Ghana warehouse across the globe where work from Ghana can easily be sourced on the international market.
In May this year, Geolicraft secured a grant of one million euros from Investment for Employment, an international financial institution, to establish a craft vocational centre to train persons interested in the craft business.
Months down the road, Geolicraft is almost done with the project. Mr George Akologo said the project is 80 percent complete. He said the company is looking forward to the release of the next tranche of the grant in order to complete the project, hopefully by the first quarter of 2024.
The Chief Executive of Geolicraft said the craft industry has enormous potential, which can create jobs and rake in enough foreign income.
He said the Arts Centre in Accra can be turned into a craft hub by expanding the space and helping the craftsmen produce more items of international standards.
He blamed the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture for the current challenges regarding land acquisition and relocating of the centre, which have generated controversies among players.
According to Mr Akologo, roadshows and exhibitions of craft works, which are an annual event in Asia and parts of Africa, can be emulated in Ghana, where players, especially buyers of the craft, can come in and establish long-term investment relationships with craftsmen in Ghana.
It is in this light that the company is planning to collaborate with the Tourism Ministry, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, and other interested institutions to organise the first ever international craft road show next year.
The company is also working to stop illegal migration from the North to the South by establishing warehouses at Bolgatanga where women basket weavers can have a ready market for their products.
Upon completion, the Geolicraft training institute will not only be a training centre but an avenue where producers can access knowledge on how to improve their craft and be given the needed directions on ways to export and have a ready market for their work.
The company, as part of its corporate social responsibilities, has organised an eye screening exercise for the indigenes of Shai Osudoku and surrounding communities. It has also donated ambulances to some hospitals across the country.