A new COVID-19 Business Tracker Survey conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank, demonstrates the considerable impacts on Ghanaian businesses as a result of the pandemic outbreak.
It forced many firms to cut costs by reducing staff hours, cutting wages, and in some cases laying-off workers.
The results show that about 770,000 workers (25.7% of the total workforce) had their wages reduced and about 42,000 employees were laid-off during the country’s COVID-19 partial lockdown. The pandemic also led to a reduction in working hours for close to 700,000 workers.
Generally, the results indicated that during the country’s COVID-19 partial lockdown businesses received shocks in supply and demand for goods and services. Close to 131,000 businesses had challenges accessing finance and expressed uncertainty in the business environment.
However, while its impact was generally on the negative side, the data also show that during the lockdown about 244,000 firms started adjusting their business models by relying more on digital solutions such as mobile money and the Internet for sales.
Hence, it helped promote digitisation of the economy – something that the Vice President Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia has been championing these past few years. Even though the lockdown measures have been relaxed, the survey results show a high degree of uncertainty in the expectations of firms regarding sales and employment over the next 6 months.
The survey results suggest the need for policies to support firms in the short- and medium-term. It buttresses government’s interventions such as the GH₵600million stimulus package to SMEs and the GH₵100million COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalisation Enterprises Support (CARES) meant to support large industries.
However, the survey also showed that many firms were not aware of government’s support programmes – suggesting the need for increased awareness and clarity on the guidelines and requirements of current interventions.
Government, in this regard, may have to step up its publicity on the various support programmes meant to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19. The Business Tracker Survey is part of a global Business Pulse Survey (BPS) initiative of the World Bank, surveying the impact of COVID-19 on the private sector in more than 40 countries.
We are grateful for the collaborative efforts by the GSS, UNDP and World Bank in this exercise, since it gives both policymakers and the business community a true reflection of the pandemic’s impact on the business environment.