Happy98.9FM, the radio brand with Ghana’s development agenda at heart, held its latest Happy Development Dialogues with trade industry stakeholders, focusing on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The dialogue saw the brand engage various stakeholders from academia, business and political influencers on the theme âUnderstanding the relevance of AfCFTA for Ghana and industry stakeholdersâ.
The participants in this informative and enriching dialogue were the Director General (CEO) of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI), Mark Badu-Aboagye, Director General (CEO) of the International Conference of Trade and finance of Ghana (GiTFIC), Selasi Koffi Ackom, Greater Accra Regional President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Tsonam Cleanse Akpeloo, President of the Ghana Traders Union (GUTA), Dr Joseph Obeng and Master of lectures at the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS), Professor Lord Mensah.
Ghana International Trade and Finance Conference (GiTFIC) CEO Selasi Koffi Ackom says the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is one of the largest trade exchanges in the world. He believes the deal to form the AfCFTA was swift, making it one of the biggest deals the world has seen.
âAs we speak today, 36 African countries out of a total of 54 African countries have deposited their signed instruments of ratification, making it the fastest and most important agreement the world has ever witnessed, “he said.
Stakeholders reacting to the potential of AfCFTA for Ghana’s benefit believe the country has a lot of work to do to make this happen. Ghana’s National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI) CEO Mark Badu Aboagye believes that prioritizing value addition to raw materials is now the way forward for the country and the continent.
âWhat we trade in Europe are raw materials and they sell them to us at a higher price after adding value to the raw material. The AFCFTA is to make sure that we trade with each other and that we benefit from it. We must therefore add value to the raw materials we have so that they stand out among African countries, âhe told Don Kwabena Prah, moderator of the dialogues.
He added that in addition to adding value to our products, various industries must create demand for the market created by AfCFTA. âAfCFTA creates the market but does not create demand, so we have to help create demand.
The businessman instructed the government to seek to create the local market first for local industries and then to create the international market for them if Ghana is to reap the benefits of (AfCFTA) while strengthening the industries. local communities by providing them with the necessary support. .
AGI Greater Accra Regional President Tsonam Cleanse Akpeloo also said the AfCFTA deal only creates winners and losers, with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) being the latter because they do not are not ready to export. He believes that consolidating SMEs in the same production line can increase their capacity to produce on a large scale and meet export demands.
Stakeholders also tasked the government to review electricity and lending policies to reduce the cost of doing business for SMEs to benefit from AfCFTA and boost the country’s economy. With nearly 30 percent of production costs going to electricity and no subsidies to industrial energy, they instructed the government to introduce favorable policies and introduce tax incentives for these SMEs.
Ghana Traders Union Association (GUTA) President Dr Joseph Obeng said education is essential for AfCFTA to function effectively and prevent conflict between member states.
According to him, the initiative should never be confused with the free relocation to another African country for trade. He felt that if this were to happen as part of the initiative, some people would try to escape their poorly managed economy to strain other economies.
âThe free movement of goods under the AfCFTA does not mean relocation without the basis of trade. If this were the case, some citizens whose economy in the country is in bad shape will take advantage of the situation and settle in other African countries. Second, these African countries cannot contain migrants. They should therefore understand that AFCTFA does not mean that you are moving. The rules must be explained so that the citizens understand them, âhe said.
Professor Lord Mensah, Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS), however, was skeptical of the benefits of AfCFTA.
For him, negotiations with other African countries are going to be a problem because the governments of the continent have their budgets and their know-how to exploit their fiscal space in order to reach their target income for the year, but “the AfCFTA will spoil this will be something that they will not easily accept. Ghanaian government officials generate a lot of income for the country through tariff entries and import duties. How then does a government say it would sacrifice its import tariffs and duties by accepting goods into the country because of this free trade area? “
GMABC Director of Broadcasting Timothy Karikari, speaking on this latest dialogue, said: âHappy FM is proud to have brought together the relevant stakeholders who have made AfCFTA understand to the layman. We hope that the education provided on our platform will inform our audience and in turn benefit from AfCFTA â
Timothy Karikari called on Ghanaians to anticipate the next discussion in the Development Dialogues series and keep their dials set to Happy98.9FM.