Professor Banji Oyelaran–Oyeyinka, the Special Adviser on Industrialization to the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) said the Sub-Saharan continent will attain a positive growth mark in its overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) originating from agriculture, which is projected at 3.4 percent by the end of 2021 against a slump of -1 percent recorded last year.
“Hopefully post-COVID-19, we should be able to ramp up more on the agribusiness sector,” he said, adding that the importance of the agricultural sector is such that growth in the sector is more effective in reducing poverty than growth in non-agricultural sectors.
Prof. Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, speaking in an interview at the 6th Africa Economic Zones Organisation (AEZO) annual meeting, in Accra, noted that there is a need among others to remove all the barriers to trade – both visible and invisible – which hampers production and trade in Africa.
Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, speaking on behalf of the Minister for Trade & Industry, Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are critical for the realization of the industrialization agenda of Africa as envisioned in the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
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 thier countries. “The connection between SEZs, AfCFTA and global value chains are important in harnessing the benefits under the AfCFTA,” he stated.
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.
Secretary-General of AEZO, Ahmed Bennis, said the AEZO, through a very comprehensive action plan, will support members in duplicating best practices, promoting capacity building and addressing major challenges SEZs will face.
Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Free Zones Authority, Michael Oquaye Jnr., disclosed that the Authority, which is the anchor for Ghana’s Industrial Parks and SEZ continues to achieve some positive results.
“For the first half of the year 2021, the free zones enterprises generated total export revenue of US$1,096.77 billion. Capital investments by free zone enterprises amounted to US$173.84 million and a total of 30,189 jobs were created, mainly in the manufacturing sector.