Businesses under the Ghana Free Zones Authority (GFZA) generated total export revenue of US$1.09billion in the first half of the year, the Chief Executive of GFZA, Michael Oquaye Jnr, has said.
Additionally, capital investments by Free Zone enterprises amounted to US$173.84million while creating a total of 30,189 jobs – mainly in the manufacturing sector.
Speaking at the 6th annual meeting of the Africa Economic Zones Organisation (AEZO), Mr. Ocquaye Jnr noted that the Authority continues to achieve positive results even in these difficult times when the global pandemic has taken a toll on all economic activities, further adding that it remains the anchor for government’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 SEZ.
He said: “It is our hope that when the policy is developed by 2022, it will help guide our course for a successful SEZ in Ghana”.
He noted that presently 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 Boankra Inland Port.
The Authority is taking steps to develop about-4,000 acres of land at 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, said SEZ is critical to realization of the industrialisation agenda of Africa as envisioned in implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (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 our countries.
“The connection between SEZ, AfCFTA and global value chains is important in harnessing benefits under the AfCFTA,” he stated.
Against this background, he said, the platform offered is opportune to deliberate on the critical thematic areas of SEZ and AfCFTA – particularly how the former can leverage operationalisation of the trade deal to boost Africa’s industrialisation agenda.
SEZ, he said, plays a major role in the economies of African states, as most African countries are using SEZ 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 (FDI), job creation and value addition to our natural resources and exports.
Furthermore, he revealed that government is at the moment working with the World Bank Group to develop policy for SEZ.
This is envisaged to position the private sector to take advantage of SEZ within the expanded regional market under AfCFTA, as well as other market integration frameworks.
However, he added, this can be achieved “if market access for the products produced from our SEZ and EPZs are granted preferential treatment under the AfCFTA”.
The Secretary-General of AEZO, Mr. Ahmed Bennis, said AEZO through a very comprehensive action plan will support members in duplicating best practices, promoting capacity building and addressing major challenges SEZ will face.
He said by working together within the SEZ community, members will be better organised to face new challenges.