Free Zones enterprises record US$1 billion export revenue in half-year

special economic zones (SEZs)
Chief Executive of GFZA, Michael Oquaye Jnr. speaking at the annual AEZO conference in Accra

-Mike Ocquaye

Businesses under the Ghana Free Zones Authority (GFZA) generated total export revenue of a little over US$1 billion in the first two quarters of the year, the Chief Executive of GFZA, Michael Oquaye Jnr. has said.

Additionally, capital investments by Free Zone enterprises amounted to US$173.84 million while creating a total of 30,189 jobs, mainly in the manufacturing sector.

The Ghana Free Zones program is designed to promote the processing and manufacturing of goods through the establishment of Export Processing Zones (EPZ). These are to encourage the development of commercial and service activities, offering a conducive business environment to produce at minimum cost for export

Speaking at the 6th Annual Meeting of the Africa Economic Zones Organisation (AEZO), Mr. Ocquaye Jnr. noted that the Authority continues to achieve some positive results while adding that it remains the anchor for the government of Ghana’s Industrial Parks and Special Economic Zones (SEZ).

To this end, he said the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI) is in the process of developing a policy framework and regulatory institutional mechanisms for SEZs. 

He said: “It is our hope that when the policy is developed by 2022 it would help guide our course for a successful SEZ in Ghana.”

Presently, he noted that the Authority and MOTI are in the process of developing the Greater Kumasi Industrial City and Special Economic Zone Project in the Ashanti Region, which is linked to the Boakra Inland Port. 

The Authority is keenly taking steps to develop about 4000 acres of land in Shama and Sekondi in the Western Region. In addition, an environmental and social impact assessment was initiated on these lands under the Ghana Economic Transformation.” 

The Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, speaking on behalf of the Minister for Trade & Industry, SEZs are critical for the realization of the industrialization agenda of Africa as envisioned in the implementation of the AfCFTA.

The Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, interacting with one of a Gabonese Minister at the Conference

As a result, he said it is important for member states of AfCFTA to advocate for the right policy frameworks to promote SEZ development in our countries. “The connection between SEZs, AfCFTA and global value chains are important in harnessing the benefits under the AfCFTA,” he stated.

Against this background, he said the platform offered is opportune to deliberate on the critical thematic areas of SEZs and AfCFTA, particularly how SEZs can leverage the operationalization of the AfCFTA to boost the industrialization agenda of Africa.

SEZs, he said, play a major role in the economies of African states. Most African countries are using SEZs or Export Processing Zones (EPZs) as tools for economic development. 

He disclosed that for the past 25 years, Ghana has reaped the benefits of implementing an EPZ programme through the attraction of significant Foreign Direct Investments, job creation, value addition to our natural resources and exports. 

Furthermore, he revealed that the Government of Ghana is at the moment working with the World Bank Group to develop an SEZ policy.

This is envisaged to position the private sector to take advantage of SEZs within the expanded regional market under AfCFTA as well as other market integration frameworks. 

However, he said this could be achieved “if market access for the products produced from our SEZs and EPZs are granted preferential treatment under the AfCFTA.”

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