With the disruption of global supply chains due to the effect of COVID-19, the Ghana Employers’ Association (GEA) has appealed to government to identify and financially support organizations that have the capacity to produces the same or substitute raw materials locally, to keep industries functioning.
The GEA noted that aggressive spreading of the new COVID-19 variant globally, coupled with the rising numbers of infected persons worldwide are signs that urgent steps are needed for the acquisition of local raw materials as measures taken to fight the COVID-19 in some countries makes it impossible to import them.
Chief Executive Officer of the GEA, Alex Frimpong, in an interview with the B&FT said: “Many of our members bought some of their raw material from overseas (Europe, America, Asia); looking at how the pandemic has disrupted the global supply chain it has become difficult, many of them have a big challenge in getting these raw materials for production.
With the challenge staring in our faces, there is the need to look for local alternatives and we need to look for indigenous firms that can produce some of the materials to replace those that we import,” he said.
He added that, even though many businesses are ready for local substitutes of raw material, the concern is whether the locals can supply enough, regularly, to sustain their operations.
“Their concern is genuine; they don’t want a situation where you would sign a contract with a local firm and they would not be able to produce the raw materials regularly. This would disrupt a lot of planning and disturb the business.
So, we thought through this and said, in the early stages of the pandemic, government supported businesses to stay on their feet so with the challenge at hand, we want a careful study done, so that producers of local substitutes of these imported raw materials can be found. When this is done, we need to support them in their operations to help industries run and keep people in jobs as well as feed the population with some essential goods.
This can be a catalyst as well and we can ride on the back of this to feed the sub-region and even the continent but we need a conscious effort to do this, we need to support locals to feed local industries with raw materials,” Mr. Frimpong said.
The GEA fears that more people are likely to lose their jobs during the current wave of the pandemic the country is currently battling with. According to the GEA, the worry is born out of the fact that many businesses are yet to recover from the first wave which led to a three-weeks partial lockdown; and therefore, if the recent wave is not controlled and spirals out of control, there would be catastrophic effect on businesses and jobs – especially the small and medium enterprises sector.