The country could significantly boost efforts to become a manufacturing hub, attract foreign investments, and create decent jobs by establishing a national competitiveness body, says renowned industrialist, Anthony Oteng Gyasi.
With the country in race against time to position itself as a major player within the continent-wide free trade market, he said a national competitiveness council could help to address some of the issues that make local manufacturers uncompetitive.
“We need a body which will ensure that the things which make industry uncompetitive are reduced, and help us to be competitive as a country,” Mr. Oteng Gyasi, who is the Executive Chairman of Tropical Cable and Conductor, told the B&FT in Accra.
Among other things, he said such a body, if established, will be able to provide empirical evidence and analysis to bridge policy and practice as done in most advanced countries like USA and Ireland.
More importantly, Mr. Oteng Gyasi, who is also Board Chair of the Ghana Revenue Authority, said it will unite leaders from across the innovation ecosystem — academia, business and politics — to deliberate and champion a nonpartisan agenda that enables the country to realise its industrialisation.
He added: “This is very important because in manufacturing in particular, you need to be competitive against worldwide standards. So a body of that nature could do analysis and say, your cost of electricity, for example, or transport is too high. That is the role of the national competitiveness council”.
Although government has consistently reiterated the country’s preparedness to lead in the implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) initiative, question marks remain over whether Ghanaian manufacturers and businesses can compete with their peers from other African countries.
For instance, the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), the umbrella body of major manufacturers, has for umpteenth time warned that the country could miss out on the expected benefits of free trade if nothing is done to address rising cost of production.
With the producer price inflation rate for June 2022 reaching 38 percent, compared to a rate of 10.1 percent in June 2021, the AGI, which Mr. Oteng Gyasi led as President between 2005 and 2009, is of the view that locally manufactured goods will not be able to compete with others from the AfCFTA market.
This stance is not made better by the fact the producer inflation for the manufacturing sub-sector for last June, which constitutes more than two-thirds of the total industry, increased by 2.6 percentage points to 38.6 percent.
Meanwhile, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission, has also served indication of significant upward adjustment in electricity and water tariffs.
However, with the ongoing implementation of the AfCFTA, he emphasised that a national competitiveness council could help position the country to take full advantage of the free trade market by acting as a link between the various agents of industrialisation and development.