Government has been charged to translate its industrial transformation agenda into tangible actions.
The Nana Akufo-Addo led-government since coming into office in January 2017 has promised to transform Ghana into an industrial powerhouse in Africa through a number of policies – like One District One Factory, Planting for Food and Jobs, among others; but five years down the line, the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) says little has been done.
“Time is running out for us in the quest for industrialisation, and I wish to urge government to accelerate the industrial transformation agenda,” AGI’s immediate past-President, Dr. Yaw Adu-Gyamfi said.
He spoke during the Association’s investiture of its new President Dr. Humphrey Ayim-Darke in Accra, and said high cost of production stemming from high electricity tariffs, lack of access to credit at reasonable rates and unfair trade practices brought about by the benchmark values policy, make it nearly impossible for their products to compete with foreign ones.
Government’s inability to boldly resolve these challenges and chart a practicable pathway to actualise industrialisation beyond the usual rhetoric, according to him, will have dire consequences on key economic matrix like employment, revenue and exchange rates. He also reckoned that the current situation is counter to government’s own industrial agenda.
“Industrialisation is a major panacea for the growing unemployment, revenue shortfall and exchange rate challenges which continue to confront us,” Dr. Adu-Gyamfi added.
He cited the East Africa community as a testimony of how practical industrialisation can transform economies. “Look at Ethiopia, Kenya and what is happening here. We do more talk than doing what it really takes to turn things around.”
Country risks becoming victim rather than a beneficiary under AfCFTA
Meanwhile, with operationalisation of the Continental Free Trade Area, he said, the country risks becoming a victim rather than a beneficiary if steps are not taken to strategically position industry to be competitive.
“Currently we have with us the Continental Free Trade Area that seeks to boost intra-Africa trade. Much as this will be a wider market for us, our economy is facing stiff competition from the other 50+ Africa countries. If we do not position ourselves well to leverage this ambitious initiative, everything will be in vain,” he lamented.
New AGI President
For his part, Dr. Ayim-Darke concurred that the 50 percent benchmark discount policy on imported products holds potential repercussions for the current and future promoters and investors in industry.
Government in the last quarter of 2021 announced a reversal of the benchmark discount policy. The decision was to come into effect on January 4, 2022 – but was suspended by President Nana Akufo-Addo to allow for wider stakeholder engagement. “We were therefore keen on government’s indication to reverse it in the 2022 budget statement. With its current indefinite suspension, amid further and broader consultation, we urge government to remain resolute in its decision to review it,” Dr. Ayim-Darke said.
He added: “We also entreat government to continue engaging industry for the ultimate betterment of our country and our people, in the view that industry creates jobs, generates revenue and sustains economic advancement”.
New initiative to support youth in business
Dr. Ayim-Darke revealed that his administration will launch an AGI Youth in Business initiative as part of efforts to marshal entrepreneurial young men and women in order to discharge their positive energy and enthusiasm so as to boost local and global production.
“My strategy is to create an AGI Youth in Business wing within the AGI umbrella, which will work to unlock youth entrepreneurial potential through skill development, mentorship, financing, succession planning and technical readiness to foster inclusive diffusion in the industrialisation drive,” he noted.
He also plans to strengthen women’s participation in business through the AGI Women in Business wing, in line with global concerted efforts to create equal economic opportunities for both men and women.