The unbridled imports of all kinds of inexpensive furniture is pushing local producers to the brink, as they are unable to make enough sales to cover their cost of production.
Mr. Sampson Opong, Chairman of the Ghana Furniture Makers Association (GFMA), Tema Branch, entreated government to protect the local furniture industry by taking the bold initiative to ban foreign furniture completely from the Ghanaian market, just as other African countries have done.
Kwabena Anokye, Spokesperson of the Ghana Furniture Makers Association (GFMA), Tema Branch said: “In Ghana, we do not produce much but rather import more; hence the appreciation of foreign currencies, and their countries keep developing. The only way out is that Ghanaians should take delight in our own, and our economy will grow.
“Anytime you import foreign products you are compelled to convert the cedi into dollars, and this brings some difficulties to our nation. But if you buy local products and I also buy local goods, the money remains in the country.”
Currently, there are over 400 furniture and joinery companies employing over 40,000 artisans and administrative personnel. There are also nearly 2,000 small-scale carpentry shops offering jobs to many thousands of rural and urban youth.
Statistics of the annual furniture imports from the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) show that the average value of imports is GH¢180.3million. This is increasingly annually.
Mr. Anokye noted that one of their greatest challenges is the abnormal increment of their raw materials.
“Our materials we use in production like foam, leather and wood are very expensive, and also are on the increase frequently; this is affecting us because it makes pricing of the goods go higher in the shortest time.”
Vice-Chairman of the association, Mr. Kwaku Yeboah, appealed for government to support them with the needed equipment to enhance productivity, especially the finishing – noting there is a gap between foreign finishing and local finishing.
“You can see the differences in both the local and foreign finishing, because they use equipment and we rely on manpower; but in terms of quality, Ghanaian furniture is the best.
“If government helps us with the equipment, just like the way it helps fisherman with outboard motors for them to pay within a given period, that will be okay.”
“You can see the differences in both the local and the foreign finishing, because they use equipment and we rely on man power, but in terms of quality, Ghanaian furniture is the best”.