Chairperson of the Agribusiness Sector at the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), and CEO of Africa Brand Warrior, Fatima Alimohamed, says getting a “national branding” strategy remains one of the major hurdles Ghana needs to cross if the country can obtain maximum benefit from the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
She is of the view that a working plan for a national brand will not only make Ghana more attractive and marketable, but also make the country stand tall among its peers on the continent in the area of trade and export going forward.
For her, given the enormous advantages the AfCFTA presents, Ghana cannot lose sight, hence the need to acquire a distinct identity through a well-invested strategy in order to properly position itself before competitors, customers, stakeholders, and even the international community.
“For us, we need to focus on national branding because that is what is really missing. We need to identify what the different stakeholders within see positively of the country because that is what ignites the brand meaning.”
Fatima Alimohamed, a branding strategist and also Chief Executive Officer of Africa Brand Warrior, said this on the fourth edition of the Citi Business Festival virtual fora on Citi TV on Tuesday.
The theme for the forum was; “Trade, Export and AfCFTA forum – Preparing and positioning for the AfCFTA opportunity”.
“Everything has to matter seamlessly anytime you walk in somewhere, and it must match the vision of the country. So obviously, the national branding ought to be looked at. It is the first step for us to take”, Fatima Alimohamed said.
Sloganeering not branding
She was however quick to add that, the practice in Ghana where branding has become synonymous with the inappropriate use of slogans to persuade people will not be that useful in this context.
She encouraged an action that will inspire Ghanaians and all those who matter in the AfCFTA space, with the true belief for which the agreement must be realised.
“The biggest crime to do in branding is to go and create a slogan on behalf of its people. That’s because they don’t have a buy-in in that slogan…speak to people about what the selling point of Ghana is and that is where the branding begins and not going to create a slogan for Ghana”, she advised.
Aside from the country branding, Fatima Alimohamed however admitted the challenges arising from the implementation of the deal.
In a bid to solve these hitches, she proposed that “the teething problems are there, but the only way we are going to get there is first work on advocacy”.
She underscored the need for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to understand what the AfCFTA means, the opportunities its presents, and the ways to take advantage of it.
Already, many entrepreneurs have raised concerns about issues that have to do with tariff adjustments.
Fatima Alimohamed believes that should not be the focus areas, but rather the benefits that can be achieved through extensive advocacy.
For her, the “COVID-19 pandemic is a blessing in disguise”.
This is because the outbreak of the virus has reinforced the significance of industrialization, and the exportation of local goods and services to substitute the over-reliance on foreign goods.
“It [pandemic] has clearly shown us that everything has to be localized. We have been so dependent on imports. What we really need is to start advocating and educating our people about the needs of the agreement”, she said.
Panelists for the forum were Michael Kottoh – Managing Partner of Konfidantes and Kobla Nyaletey – Director of Markets for Absa Bank Ghana and Nigeria
The rest were Mark Badu Aboagye – Chief Executive of GNCCI and Sam Dentu – Deputy CEO of GEPA, who joined via Zoom to answer all questions bordering on Trade, Export, and AfCFTA.
The 2021 Citi Business Festival is powered by Citi FM, Citi TV, and citibusinessnews.com and proudly sponsored by ABSA Bank and with support from IT Consortium and GIPC.