ISHMAEL YAMSON, Chairman of the Ghana Investments Promotion Centre (GIPC) has underscored the need for Ghana and other African countries to focus on intra trade rather
than depending hugely on countries outside the continent.
Speaking at a press conference at the closing ceremony of the 7th African Investment Forum on Wednesday in Accra, Dr Yamson stated that enormous benefits await countries that indulge in this kind of trade, particularly the employment opportunities that it would generate for the citizens.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is true that China and India are the rising economic powers to reckon with, but African countries need to transact business among themselves in a much more vibrant manner,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
According to Mohan Kaul, Director-General of the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC), political leaders of the continent must commit themselves to this kind of trade in order to support local enterprises.
Dr Kaul described as noteworthy, the arrangement of about 220 projects for participants from eight countries at the 7th African Investment Forum in Accra.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“These business people have expressed interest in projects in agriculture, infrastructure and manufacturing among others and this is a good sign for Ghana,Ã¢â‚¬Â he stressed.
This is partly due to the slow implementation of regional integration agreements aimed at eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers in the region.
Despite pronouncements of support by politicians for regional economic ties, the reality on ground is difficult for traders.
Pascal Dozie, Chairman of CBC called for intra-country trade and the removal of many obstacles.
He said governments in the region should review their trade policies in the context of arrangements, explaining that people and not country-specific policies flout neighbouring countriesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ concerns.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Lagos, Nigeria is separated from Accra, Ghana by only a few hundred kilometres, but for the thousands of traders who ply this route, the journey through Togo and Benin can take a full day that is punctuated by arduous border checks, harassment and solicitations for kickbacks,Ã¢â‚¬Â he reiterated.
He continued, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Customs officials and police at roadblocks make business travellers unpack every little package in order to delay them for hours. This eventually is aimed at squeezing illegal money from them in most cases.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The situation has been encouraged by individual countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s quest to do business with their colonial masters instead of their immediate and far neighbours.
For instance, Ghana must to do business with its neighbours Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cote dÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Ivoire among others, but it has resorted to trading with the UK, USA, the Netherlands.
He noted that SenegalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s biggest trading partner is France, while Gambia trades extensively with the UK, stressing that although Senegal surrounds Gambia, trade between the two neighbours is minimal.
Mr. Aboagye appealed to Government to ensure that Ã¢â‚¬Å“all such obstacles between Ghana and her neighbours in this respect are removed so intra-country and regional trade would flourish.Ã¢â‚¬Â
By Samuel Boadi