The ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) induced economic crisis means that Ghana and the rest of Africa must prioritise becoming locally sufficient in key sectors such as agribusiness and manufacturing in post-recovery efforts, says Chairperson of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) Agribusiness Sector, Fatima Alimohamed.
Ghana, just like many other African countries, experienced a significant reduction in economic growth as GDP grew 0.4 percent last year against 6.5 percent in 2019 due to the pandemic’s impact. But Ms. Alimohamed says the key lessons from the ongoing global crisis is the glaring need for the continent’s economies to be domestically efficient in food production and manufacturing critical goods and services.
“The unplanned interactions and disruption brought by the COVID-19 pandemic have made us realise that the advancement of Africa meannsshift from the traditional way of doing things. The pandemic has taught us that there is an urgent need for localisation,” she said.
Ms. Alimohamed, who spoke at a session at the fourth Ghana Industrial Summit & Exhibition organised by the AGI in Accra, added that such localisation efforts should be in line with Ghana’s broader plan and strategy under Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
As a strong believer in Pan-Africanism, she said the AfCFTA initiative is potentially a game changer for the country’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery and transformation.
She therefore noted that aside from a deliberate plan to leverage the continental free trade arrangement to speed-up recovery, Ghana needs to intensify education on AfCFTA if it is to take full advantage of the arrangement.
The agriculture sector was the only one to record growth throughout the first year of the pandemic. It grew by 8.2 percent in the last quarter of 2020 and had an annual growth of 7.4 percent – the best it has ever achieved since the economy was rebased in 2014. On the other hand, services grew by 4.6 percent and industry contracted by 0.4 percent.
The session was climaxed with the launch of the Ghana Agro-Processing Sector brand, an initiative to help promote the country as a location for agro-business and private equity investment in the sector.
The initiative is part of the Investment Promotion and Business Linkages Project funded by the European Union. It is a component of the five-year Ghana Employment and Social Protection (GESP) programme.
An investment promotion expert responsible for managing the investment promotion component of the project, Sean Duggan, stated that the Ghana Agro-Processing Sector brand is based on wide-ranging research, data collection and stakeholder consultations.
“The objective has been to establish a coherent identity for the Ghanaian agro-processing sector and use the brand to develop contemporary and persuasive promotional material for use with investors,” he added.