The President of the Canada Ghana Chamber of Commerce (CGCC) has observed the need for the Ghana government to help the informal sector to become more productive in order to benefit from the Continental Free Trade agreement.
Mr. Alexander Nortey says, “The informal sector is too large, and government needs to embrace some of these people in the sector and convert them into running genuine businesses and be paying taxes.”
Mr. Nortey made this call last week during an interaction with the B&FT in Accra ahead of the 4th Ghana International Trade and Finance Conference (GITFiC) which would be held on the 27th and 28th October 2020.
In explaining why government was not getting much from the informal sector, Mr. Nortey said, “There is a very small percent of Ghanaians who are doing business. A large number of Ghanaians do not have bank accounts, and no business can operate without a bank account.”
The CGCC president observed that, currently, government was not able to control those in the informal sector, observing that even though some of them were quite large and were getting good revenue, they were still classified as informal and government was not fully benefiting from their activities.
He therefore asked the government to encourage the formation of cooperatives, which would be able to “open bank accounts, access loans, invest in equipment, improve production and improve revenue stream of members of the cooperation.”
Mr. Nortey also advised government to make available more business consultants who would give free advice to informal businesses or people who wanted to set up businesses and take away bureaucracies, which scared people away from going into formal business.
In that regard, Mr. Nortey said there was no reason why Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) could not take advantage of the continental free trade agreement if proper mechanism were put in place. “There is a paradigm shift, we cannot continue to do business the same old way if we want to take advantage of what is happening,” he insisted.
Mr. Nortey informed that most people did not know what was in store as far as the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) was concerned and therefore did not know how to position themselves to take advantage of it.
“There are a lot of business people who still don’t understand how they are going to leverage on the benefits of the continental free trade area; they haven’t even thought about doing business across borders,” the CGCC president added.
Mr. Nortey observed that most Ghanaians were not expanding their businesses abroad “but a number of foreigners were coming into the country and taking advantage of what we have whilst we cannot take advantage of it ourselves because we cannot get help from government or people with knowledge about how to grow businesses.”
Mr. Nortey therefore revealed that the AfCFTA was a good opportunity for local companies and organizations to grow, because there were many opportunities that would be available by the agreement, and the fourth GITFiC conference, would shed more light on it to all organizations in Ghana.
He observed that the CGCC would ensure that the AfCFTA elevated a number of businesses that were locally grown to be able to expand across regional boarders and Africa and benefit from a bigger African market.