By Seraphine Nyuiemedi
President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Dr Humphrey K. Ayim-Darke, has reiterated the association’s commitment to supporting Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Ghana, saying they are the seedbed of industry.
He said the AGI, with years of experience in business scope and advocacy, has the relevant resources to support SMEs in growing. Dr Ayim-Darke was speaking at the official opening ceremony of the Sixth Volta Trade and Investment Fair in Ho.
“We consider our SMEs the seedbeds of industry, and we are determined to offer them the right support and policies to strengthen them to grow into giants that would thrive within the AfCFTA community in Africa,” he said.
The Sixth Volta Trade and Investment Fair, which is being held at Ho Jubilee Park, is on the theme “Leveraging the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for Economic Development. President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Dr Humphrey K. Ayim-Darke, said 2023 is the year to accelerate the AfCFTA, which presents women and youth with opportunities to take advantage of. He added that the Volta region and the country at large is poised to play its role to benefit from the Area. He said the AGI also believes it will be expedient to decentralise investment across the country so as to create a fair distribution of economic opportunities to minimise the rural-urban drift.
Dr Ayim-Darke bemoaned the influx of imported goods through unfair trade practices and rife smuggling through the borders, saying it is making production in the country uncompetitive as well as derailing efforts for growth. He called on the Volta Regional Minister and traditional authorities to help curb the menace.
“It is our strong belief that regulation to some extent, can bring fairness and correct the market failures that bedevilled our middle-developed economy to streamline efforts that would aid significant competitiveness in our industry.”
He said the AGI is in support of the recent Legislative Instrument (LI) tabled by the Minister of Trade since it will bring competitiveness to the market. But was quick to add that, as much as the principle is correct, issues regarding implementations could still be deliberated on, where the Committee and its Chair and the reporting procedures regarding tabling of applications, the processes, and the role of the Trade Minister to accept or deny applications for restricted products could further be discussed and brought to bear on the economy. He said the AGI has no doubt that the National Export Strategy, if well implemented, will enhance the country’s participation in the AfCFTA and was hopeful that the Fair will continue to attract local investment to support the private sector, leveraging opportunities in the single African market.
The Volta Regional Minister, Dr Archibald Yao Letsa, said the vision is to make the region a producing and exporting one, which demands an innovative, strong trade and industrial drive.
He entreated all local exhibitors to pay more attention to packaging and modeling for the sale of ade-in-Ghana goods because the massive industrialisation drive by the government meant that there must be a way to dispose of the products, therefore, packaging must be done well.
Dr Letsa said they are concerned about trade and investment in the region since they are the drivers of local economic development and growth.
“Trade and investments are principal sources of employment and make goods and services available to consumers at competitive prices,” he said.
Namibia’s Deputy Minister of Information, Communication and Technology, Emma M. Theofulus, said it is time for Africa, hence the talk about Africa rising could no longer be seen as an expression but accompanied by action for it to be a reality.
“It is time for us to have our own version of Tesla, Alibaba, Airbnb, and Amazon. All that innovation and solutions must come from here in the Volta region,” she said.
She said she wants to be able to catch a train from Ho with stops along the west of the continent of Africa straight to the capital city of Namibia, Windhoek.
Ms Theofulus said limitations were placed on shea butter to be exported straight to Namibia and on Namibian beef to be imported into Ghana, adding that the limitations also hindered the coming of Namibians into the Volta region “to come and experience your beautiful landscapes”.
“The oppressors and imperialists have put limitations on our potential by putting up our artificial borders that were hindering cocoa and its wine to be exported straight to Namibia.”
Kenya’s High Commissioner to Ghana, Eliphas Barine, on behalf of all Diplomatic Corps, said the success of the fair would not have been possible if not for the commitment from individuals and all stakeholders. Close to 400 exhibitors from the Volta Region and beyond are participating in the fair, with over 20,000 visitors expected to participate from November 26 to December 10, 2023.