A CLINICAL pharmacist, Dr Yaw Adu Gyamfi, has taken office as the 19th President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), with a pledge to prioritise economic research for sound business decision-making while helping Ghanaian businesses to access the idling Nigeria market.
While the research is needed to help expose businesses and policy makers to opportunities and challenges in the economy, accessing the Nigerian market is expected to increase sales for Ghanaian enterprises, leading to expansion and growth.
This should inure to the industrialisation drive of the country and AGI in particular, he told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS on Tuesday after his investiture on January 11.
He said his decision to prioritise bilateral relations for business growth was based on the conviction that no business can survive without markets.
“Most of our businesses are frustrated and do not know what to do because they cannot see at the end of the tunnel. Even if you are given money and you produce but do not have the market to sell, then there is no use of you,” he said.
Dr Gyamfi, who is also the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Danpong Group, said although entry into Nigeria remained a critical success factor to businesses in the country, the lack of a deliberate strategy to “hand-hold” these companies into that country had meant that the opportunity remained unexplored.
This limits the aspirations of Ghana’s entrepreneurs and their business adventures to Ghana’s population of about 28 million, he said.
However, with a population of about 180 million people, Dr Gyamfi said everything showed that Ghanaian businesses could more than double their fortunes if aided to enter and stay in Nigeria.
“As president of AGI, it is not the position that I am interested in; it is about what I can do to help bring people on board to think collectively about how to develop industry and the economy.
“How can we do this? First of all, we need to ask ourselves; where is the market?” he asked, explaining that answering that question helped to discover where to create synergies for growth.
“From where I sit, I have realised that if I am able to create better synergies with Nigeria and we are able to export there, where 180 million people live, then it means that we will be able to access over 200 million people. That is big enough for us,” he said.
Although his dream is to find markets in West Africa for Ghanaian businesses, Dr Gyamfi says he would prioritise Nigeria over other neighbours due to its population size and Anglophone nature.
“Francophone countries still have their umbilical cords tied to France. So, what I am saying is that if we are able to link Ghana and Nigeria, who are brothers anyway, then we will create an unimaginable market for Ghanaian businesses to go in and operate,” he said.
To signal his commitment to realising that goal, Dr Gyamfi ensured that a number of key persons in Nigeria’s industrial sector witnessed his investiture in Accra. Among them were a former Head of State of Nigeria, Mr Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar; the President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Dr Frank Udemba Jacobs; and the Chairman of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Mr Okey Akpa.
This, he said, was to set the tone for further discussions aimed at creating fruitful relations for both sides.
Over the years, many businesses have emerged from the blue with promising prospects only to fade off with time.
A cursory look at the situation, he said, revealed that majority of such businesses were not established after thorough research, making it easier for them to wither away after coming into contact with challenges they might not have anticipated.
This is unacceptable and a great indictment to the country, hence the need to back business establishment and operation with quality research, Dr Gyamfi.
To help forestall it, he said businesses needed to develop “a market where there is continuity – a chain of production where you can get the raw materials to be able to produce for the business to be sustainable.
“Don’t forget, our aim is to build sustainable businesses, not businesses that will start today and die off tomorrow,” he said.
Collaborating with the government
Dr Gyamfi also re-emphasized the need for the government and the AGI to collaborate more to help revive struggling businesses.
“We want to be able to identify businesses which we can move to the next level. In fact, within the four years of our term, we want to work with the government to at least, move five companies from each region from where they are now to become bigger companies. It does not matter the sector; we just need to move them to the next level to become giants,” he said.
In all this, he said the creation of employment would be key, looking at the negative implications of joblessness to the country.
As a result, he said the association, under his leadership, would collaborate with the Ministry of Education to develop skills that suited the requirements and aspirations of industry.
He will also encourage member companies to mentor the youth into entrepreneurship as a way of “developing better men and women for the future.”
He thus called on other executives, members of the association and well-meaning Ghanaians to support him his drive to reposition Ghanaian companies to realise their full potential. –GB