The Citi Business Festival’s forum on surviving the uncertainties of consumer markets discussed ways of surviving uncertainties of consumer markets following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The forum featured Theresa Yamson, the CEO of Phyto-Riker; Robert Ahomka-Lindsay, former Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry; Michael Kottoh CEO of Konfidants, Charles Addo, the Retail Banking Director at Absa Bank and Cynthia Baffour, the CEO of Cyndex Garment Manufacturers.
They discussed how local manufacturers can better understand changes to their landscape and become more competitive.
Here are five takeaways from the forum:
Local manufacturing capacity must be treated as a national security issue
Michael Kottoh believes the strength of Ghana’s local manufacturing industry should be treated as a national security concern.
This is especially so following the pandemic where there were global supply chain disruptions that left some countries without Personal Protective Equipment.
He said Ghana needed a “national security rationale for boosting manufacturing and local production”.
Michael Kottoh suggested that Ghana should make a list of products “that are fundamental to our natural survival, and a minimum percentage should be produced locally”.
This will ultimately translate into economic dividends.
Local manufacturing companies must be given room to learn from failings
Ghanaians can be too hard on local manufacturing companies and their output, Robert Ahomka-Lindsay has said.
He reminded us that China was once the laughingstock of the world.
“Today, China is the manufacturing arm of the world. In my day, people laughed at things that were manufactured in China because they were falling to pieces. But they had to go through that learning process.”
Robert Ahomka-Lindsay further stressed that there was nothing wrong with some trial and error from local manufacturers.
“This is the reality of learning,” he said.
Policy must dictate the share of imported goods in Ghana’s markets
Michael Kottoh suggested that Ghana should outline products if it was going to make the preserve of local production.
“Make a decision that we want to progressively reduce the share of imports of these products year-on-year over a period of time.”
This could be over a five to 10-year period.
“We need to focus on certain products and just zero in on them and see what we can do,” Michael Kottoh said.
Local industries need better human resources
Cynthia Baffour noted that human resources must keep up with our ambitions to expand the local manufacturing industry.
But currently, she said, there may not be enough workers ready for industrial production.
“When you bring such people into a factory to work, you realise that they are not skilled because we are not trained to work in the factory. We are trained to work on a domestic level, so these invariably come to affect our work.”
Ghana must have a competition policy to monitor price
Robert Ahomka-Lindsay remains skeptical of how goods are priced in Ghana.
He argued for a competition policy to check the rate at which prices of goods increase in Ghana.
“Our pricing structure is sometimes a little strange; how we roll up prices… it is just too fast,” Robert Ahomka-Lindsay remarked.
“We have a pricing structure that needs to be reviewed. Sometimes I wonder what the pricing logic is,” he added.