As part of efforts to move the economy away from over reliance on traditional exports for revenue generation, the Ghana Exports Promotion Authority (GEPA) is set to invest over US$600 million in the next ten years in a bid to diversify the economy through Non-Traditional Exports (NTEs).
The country’s exports have historically focused on gold, cocoa, timber and, quite recently, crude oil which together yielded more than US$12 billion in 2019, according to the Statistical Bulletin report of May 2020. However, the yet-to-be launched National Export Development Strategy (NEDS) – which is to serve as a policy guide for diversifying the country’s exports – seeks to add at least US$25 billion from NTEs by 2030.
The NEDS focuses on the development of what it calls 17 priority products namely: processed cocoa, cashew, horticultural products, oils seeds, fish and fishery products, textiles, natural rubber sheets, aluminum products, articles of plastics and petro-chemicals. Others include services, pharmaceuticals, iron and steel products, automobiles and vehicles, industrial salt, machines and machine components, industrial starch and sugar.
These sectors will, among other benefits, will have preferential access to loans at concessionary rates; be assigned product specialists to provide technical support and market lead; and also supported to comply with requirements for raw materials and final product certification where applicable and easy access to the international market.
Speaking at a media engagement to create awareness for the policy, CEO of GEPA, Dr. Afua Asabea Asare, said diversifying the economy to focus on NTEs is the best way by which the country can reap any benefits from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), hence, it is important that efforts that went into developing the document is implemented to the letter.
She called on the media and other stakeholders to throw their weight behind the programme as it stands the chance of turning around the fortunes of the country especially at a time the global pandemic has taught countries lessons to focus on developing their local economies using their own resources.
CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Authority (GIPC), Yofi Grant, also supported the call for the country to take advantage the AfCFTA, saying the 10-year development policy will serve its purpose if all stakeholders commit to it.
The rationale of the export strategy hinges on three factors, namely: development of the raw material-base with a lot of the agro-based raw materials coming from tree-crops having a gestation period and reaching their economic yield in about eight years: investment promotion into setting up factories, some of which are heavy industries which can only reach their peak production levels in about seven years, and focusing on districts.
The NEDS is developed around three main strategic pillars. The three strategic pillars seek to expand and diversify the supply base for value added industrial export products and services; improve the business, regulatory environment for export; and build and expand the required human capital for industrial export development and marketing.
The first strategy seeks to promote, at least, ten FDIs annually into large-scale industrial exports sector; upgrade and directly support expansion of 20 majority Ghanaian owned industrial exporters to attain global status; upgrade and directly support expansion of 100 middle bracket exporters to attain top bracket NTE earning status; and upgrade and directly support expansion of 200 emerging district level export companies to attain middle bracket NTE earning status.
The second strategy will also review and streamline regulatory and documentary requirements for export, and institutionalize effective public–private sector engagement mechanisms for export development.
And the third strategy seeks to focus on upgrading the Ghana Export School to a tertiary institution status and decentralise faculty to regional level with district coverage. This will introduce industrial export modules and practical internship in secondary and tertiary institutions to achieve mindset transformation towards export.
It will also deepen the decentralisation process to empower institutions at district level by providing them the needed resources and making them responsible for delivery of results for industrial export development.