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Ghanaian businesses prepare to capture Africa as AfCFTA kicks off

Businesses in the country are gearing up to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) scheduled to start operations in 2021.

The pact is aimed at easing business transactions across Africa with the secretariat ready for use in Accra.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Ghana is rolling out programmes to guide business to maximise the opportunity.

But the Executive Secretary of ICC Ghana, Emmanuel Doni-Kwame, is calling for the most important challenges to be addressed immediately.

“Our biggest challenge in Africa is energy, water is also key and the transportation to connect,” he highlighted in an interview with theghanareport.com.

“It is not that we (Africans) do not want to do business with each other but the headache we go through, to even think of moving your goods to let’s say Angola, you might not even get any cargo plane to take your goods there”.

READ ALSO: Ratify AfCFTA By December – Akufo-Addo Urges All African Countries

He continued: “If you even get a shipping line to take your goods, it will take it to Europe first before it brings it back which increases your cost so we need more investment in energy, transport and water”.

He highlighted how hydropower from the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) could supply the energy needs of the African continent but leaders had dragged their feet to have it materialise.

“Past Presidents from Nkrumah’s time had a blueprint with a vision of damming the Congo River which could provide power for the entire continent.

“We need to get the energy mix sorted out at an affordable rate to attract investors to manufacturing plants,” she stressed.

Coup d’etats and mistrust by successive presidents have also not helped to ensure implementation of the plan.

READ ALSO: How Gov’t Can Leverage AfCFTA Secretariat To Boost Ghana- Africa Trade – AGI Advises

Mr Doni-Kwame was worried that even though ECOWAS was constituted to solve economic issues “we spent all our resources on security” such as ECOMOG to deal with conflicts in Liberia and other countries.

Calls for an African investment policy

Ahead of an ICC webinar on AfCFTA scheduled for September 22, Mr Doni-Kwame, pointed out that “It is up to us [Ghanaians] to be abreast of the protocols to manufacture goods at competitive prices”.

The forum is to share knowledge and sensitise members on positioning to benefit from the pact.

He wants an “investment policy on the continent which creates a conducive environment for people to invest.”

A key area he also highlighted was international property protection to “encourage innovation”.

Other key areas he wants to be addressed for a successful rollout of the deal is dispute resolution processes such as arbitrations or other means which would attract more Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs).

Businesses must collaborate to expand

He advised local businesses to form “partnerships and joint ventures with other colleagues on the continent to expand beyond Ghana”.

Leveraging on skills, raw materials and other advantages scattered across the continent should be harnessed to boost the output of businesses.

A March 2020 African Development Bank study highlights the importance of female entrepreneurs who dominate key growth sectors.

About 70% of the informal sector is believed to be dominated by women.

Mr Doni-Kwame also holds the view that women are significantly involved in trading. Hence the need to empower females and the youthful population.

Adoption of a common e-currency for Africa

The business leader is also advocating the scale-up of e-commerce and implementation of a good currency system to facilitate payments and cross-border transactions.

“Going forward we could have a single currency for the whole of Africa like the Euro. Maybe ours could be called the Afro,” he proposed.

Users may not need to have a paper currency with the proposed Afro, but the currency could be converted on the Afro platform electronically for ease of payment.

He acknowledged the challenges of the Eco currency across the West Africa bloc and encouraged the Francophone countries to work towards meeting the criteria to harmonise the various currencies.

 

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