Graphic Business News

GEPA to embark on roadshow to educate public on AfCFTA

By: Ama Amankwah Baafi
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Some participants in a group picture after the forum

The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) is to embark on a nationwide road show to educate the people about the relevance of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),.

That is to ensure that Ghana becomes a successful participant and not just a host of the AfCTA.

To achieve the above, the authority has already embarked on some initiatives geared at ensuring that Ghana is aligned with expanding her export revenue base.

The initiatives include: the establishment of a Trade for Sustainable Development (T4SD) hub to offer the needed technical assistance for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to build the understanding and capacity to implement green business practices: provision of three model innovation, design and incubation centres built and furnished at Aburi, Kpetoe and Bolgatanga: and the exposure of 160 exporters in about 15 international exhibitions.

The rest are the provision of 220,000 grafted cashew seedlings developed under the National Cashew Development Initiative and Cashew Industry Association of Ghana have been given to cashew farmers to encourage cultivation of healthy and quality crops: provision of 20 million suckers of pineapple to farmers with returns within a period: and the construction of a common-use shed and equipment for the Abompe Beads Producers Association.      

The Chief Executive Officer of the GEPA, Dr Afua Asabea Asare, said during the 79th exporters' forum in Accra on December 12, 2019 that, “We will have to be ready. We have to ensure that our people can understand and appreciate the importance of the AfCTA and its relevance to them on a social and economic level.”

She noted that the greatest threat to any initiative was to believe that someone else would drive it and make it run.
“We have to make our exporters ready for the opportunities when they come knocking,” she said.

The exporters forum
The forum provides an interactive channel where exporters raise issues of concern and discuss pertinent topics to find on-the-spot solutions which have a direct bearing on their operations and which can impact on Ghana’s export revenue trends.

It was on the theme, “Effective Dialogue-an inspiration for improved business partnerships.”

The Board Chairman of the GEPA, Mr Sandy Osei-Agyemang, said the new National Export Development Strategy (NEDS) had been developed to guide the authority and Ghana for the next 10 years to move Ghana from an import-dependent economy to an export revenue one.

He said the management and the board had also revamped the GEPA Bill to give it more autonomy to be able to implement the policies that were stipulated in it.

“Communication is key to get all stakeholders involved in exports to be part of whatever we do. When export grows, our trade balance sheet will be better and the cedis will be stable,” he said.

The Head of Exports at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Mr Joshua Azure, said the AfCTA presented enormous benefits to the Africa business community and urged Ghanaian exporters and entrepreneurs to continue to engage to know more about the AfCTA, as Ghana host the secretariat.

“The agreement has the potential to increase economics of scale, access to competitively affordable raw material and resources, a digital transformation of economies and improve conditions of trade value chains. The philosophy of the Ghana beyond aid is based on exports,” he said.
 
Exporters take
Some exporters expressed concern about what they perceived to be a concentration on cashew production for exports to the detriment of other food crops.

Others also enquired how Ghana, through the GEPA was leveraging the tourism ‘Year of Return’ to expose the non-traditional export (NTE) sector.

The GEPA CEO, Dr Asare, clarified that there was no deliberate attempt to kill other agric produce to focus solely on cashew for export.

“We are not singling out cashew. It is just by chance that people are farming it. So far as they are farming cashew, we will support them like all the other products such as mango. For us every product that can be taken out there to the international market to bring the revenue, we support,” she said.
On the Year of Return, she said the authority had scheduled fairs from December 22-29, 2019, to showcase products and services on exports for the visitors and for Ghanaians to patronise during the Christmas season.