An open letter to President Akufo-Addo on malls and Ghana made

May 13, 2017
An open letter to President Akufo-Addo on malls and Ghana made

Dear President Akufo-Addo, you made a very weighty observation whilst opening the Kumasi City Mall on Wednesday, to the effect that Ghana Made products hardly find space on the shelves of our malls and supermarkets.

Indeed, this writer was taken aback upon entering the Malejor-Oyibi branch of Citydia, the latest foreign supermarket chain in Ghana, and finding that about 90% of the products were foreign and were labeled in Spanish, although some had a secondary English label of a small sticker.  

Mr President, your call on the malls and supper markets to introduce more locally made products is in order. In fact, the government can even decide to legislative on this. How, do we justify, for example, the importation of bottled water for sale in these supermarkets when competition is so intense in that sector in Ghana?

Mr President, you told the youth to organise themselves and get involved in initiatives your government is introducing, so that they can become suppliers to these malls you are appealing to sell more locally made products.

You said, and we quote: “I am certain that my admonishing to shop owners of this mall will not go unheard; they will surely buy from you if your produce meet the standards, which I am confident it can.”

Whilst these are fantastic points you make, Mr President, the B&FT would like to bring to your attention regulatory bottlenecks that are standing in the way of young people who, for want of jobs, have ventured into various forms of agro processing.

There are, today, a number of young people who are processing and packaging spices, local beverages of all kinds, fish and what have you.

But as you are aware, no mall or supermarket will, for good reason, accept a product without the necessary safety and quality certification.

The B&FT has reported on a number of occasions, however, that these young people feel frustrated by the bureaucratic bottlenecks, as well as the high fees they are confronted with, in their bid to obtain certification from the Food and Drugs Authority, the Standards Authority, the local assemblies, and what have you.

 The B&FT, in its weekly Inspiring Start-ups column, features a number of these young people, and the difficulties mentioned above, as well as the challenges of funding, and the general lack of government support, keep coming up in their interactions with us.

Our appeal, Mr President, is simply that whilst you are asking the malls to stock more Ghanaian products, kindly impress on our regulatory agencies to cut out the unnecessary delays, and if possible, introduce fee exemptions for our needy start-ups, to facilitate their access to these malls and supermarkets.

“After you people published my story, other media houses also interviewed me and I got a lot of offers. In fact, one woman came all the way from Takoradi to ask me to supply her shop with my Koko powder. But when she asked for my certificates, I could not produce them and she declined,” said a young woman who has ventured into food processing after finding no employment upon completing university.

“I have been going through hell trying to get the necessary certification to enable me sell my products to shops and supermarkets,” she lamented to the B&FT.

Mr President, kindly do something about this. Thank you.