...but hopes rest on massive rollout
Businesses could return to normalcy by the middle of the year but only if a large number of the population could be vaccinated against the COVID-19 pandemic, the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), has said.
AGI’s Chief Executive Officer, Seth Twum Akwaboah said general business confidence had been down since the second quarter of last year but is beginning to improve as the country continues to rollout the COVID-19 vaccines. He expects the vaccination to help reduce the anxiety and uncertainty brought upon by the pandemic and gradually bring business back to life.
“I do expect business confidence to increase because if you track our business barometer as of the beginning of last year, confidence was really high but in the second quarter, it started dropping and it was largely attributed to the COVID-19 situation and therefore, if we are able to find a solution such that the situation is brought to normal and our lives return to normal, then confidence levels naturally will go up again. So, we really expect business confidence levels to go up as we are vaccinating,” he told the B&FT in Accra.
In the third quarter of 2020, when the latest economic growth figures were released by Ghana Statistical Service, industry contracted -5.1 percent, largely due to the impact of the pandemic which caused a general tightening of the economy.
The vaccination exercise is therefore expected to bring back confidence, the Association said, adding that this is, however, dependent on whether the government can procure more vaccines to ensure a large number of Ghanaians get vaccinated against the virus.
So far, the government has begun rolling out 600,000 COVAX vaccines, which are part of an initial tranche of deliveries of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine licensed to the Serum Institute of India, which represent part of the first wave of COVID-19 vaccines for several low and middle-income countries.
To effectively protect majority of Ghanaians against the virus, the government needs to secure vaccines close to half of the country’s over 30 million estimated population.
“I think that by the middle of the year, when we would have had a large number of people vaccinated, we will see a good number of industries going back to normal activities because if you take the entertainment, tourism and manufacturing sectors, they have all been heavily affected by the pandemic, so it will help a great deal,” Mr. Akwaboah added.
Since the outbreak of the virus in the country in March 2020, exactly a year ago, he said it has affected a lot of businesses and demand for a large number of goods and services, adding that: “This has been hampering business growth and development.”
As of March 16, 2021 more than 88,228 Ghanaians had contracted the virus, with 698 lives lost, according to Ghana Health Service. “We will encourage everybody to get vaccinated so that we can move away from the fear and anxiety to enable us see a significant improvement in the business environment,” he admonished.