The Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI) has asked for the challenges being faced by local businesses to be addressed in order to gain from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Since the commencement of the agreement on January 1, 2021, businesses in Ghana, both big and small, have been charged to be proactive in taking steps to participate and benefit fully from the agreement.
On their part, stakeholders in the various sectors are doing their best to get their members and products involved in the continent-wide agreement.
But the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mark Badu-Aboagye believes that businesses must be free of the long-lasting hindrances they face in order to have easy access to the agreement.
“The difficulties that we are facing in terms of high cost of doing business and lack of long-term funding still exist. Our interest rate is among the highest in Africa, so you’re competing with somebody who’s getting a loan at less than 10%, and you’re getting it at around 25 to 30%. Automatically, the person will outcompete you,” he said to.
He continued, “Secondly, the cost of energy is very high. The countries that benefit from the free trade area are the industrialized countries and industry requires that you get energy at a cheaper rate. So this commencement is good, but we need to work as a country to make sure that the challenges that businesses are facing are resolved. Otherwise, other countries will benefit from AfCFTA and Ghana who is hosting the secretariat will not benefit.”
President of the Chamber, Clement Osei-Amoako, had earlier asked the government to consider providing a stimulus package for local businesses involved in the African Continental Free Trade Area.
According to him, the commencement of the AfCFTA means Ghanaian businesses will now have to compete with businesses from other African countries who might have access to credit facilities at lower rates than are currently being offered in the country.
He said that a provision of the stimulus package will ensure an enabling business environment which is critical for private sector competitiveness.