The Consumer Unity and Trust Society of Ghana (CUTS Ghana), as part of five (5) policy recommendations to government in view of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), has called for the implementation of a national strategy and action plan for Ghanaian businesses.
The recommendations were made in a report presented at a stakeholder consultation on improving framework conditions to unlock the potential of AfCFTA for SMEs in Ghana.
The call by CUTS Ghana has become necessary given that Ghanaian businesses, particularly SMEs, which make up about 70% of Ghana’s GDP and have provided about 85% of manufacturing sector jobs in Ghana.
However, the SME sector in Ghana has been completely side-lined and has not been given the needed attention it deserves. Less than 13% of SMEs have knowledge of AfCFTA while the remaining are clueless.
This, therefore, makes it more difficult for Ghana to compete with countries like South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, and Kenya which scored higher in the AfCFTA readiness assessment analysis by CUTS Ghana.
The recommendations made by CUTS Ghana to government are as follows;
Government should ensure that all barriers such as delays at the ports, airports and general bureaucracies be eliminated or drastically reduced.
Government through the Export-Import bank should assist viable SMEs with the needed financial support to boost their export trade.
Government should ensure that there is stability in the general price level. This probably may be the first step to the SMEs maintaining or reducing their prices.
Government should provide the needed trade infrastructure for SMEs to be competitive.
Government should ensure that there is a general macroeconomic stability in relation to exchange rate, inflation and interest rate.
The decision to establish the AfCFTA was first consented to in 2013 at the 18gh African Union Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The AfCFTA aims at creating a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of businesses, persons, and investments as well as expand intra-African trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalisation.
This large market presents great opportunities and provides a firm foundation for Ghana’s much-awaited industrialization drive to take off in full gear.