The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) representative in Ghana and Liberia, Fakhruddin Azizi, has called on government to pay close attention to the mango and cassava sectors – saying they present a strong potential to attract investments that will drive inclusive and sustainable growth to create jobs in Ghana and across the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region.
Answering a question from the Business and Financial Times (B&FT) at a press conference during the 2022 edition of the West Africa Connect in Accra last Tuesday, Mr. Azizi said the establishment of new and durable business partnerships, increased commercial transactions between mango and cassava actors will massively support the resilience and recovery of West African countries from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mango is a popular tropical fruit of which consumption is rising. About 1.5 million tonnes of mango are produced in West Africa annually. Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea and Mali are major contributors in the production of mangoes in the sub-region.
Nigeria holds the leading position in the market, representing the largest cassava producer around the globe – Ghana ranking among the top-five cassava producers in Africa with an annual average production of sixteen million metric tonnes.
The West Africa Connect (WAC) is a regional B2B event organised in the context of the West Africa Competitiveness Programme – WACOMP – funded by the European Union and led by the ECOWAS Commission.
This second edition in Accra targetted mango, cassava and ICT suppliers, and facilitated linkages between more than 100 West African suppliers and regional and international buyers.
Touching on the importance of WAC to the sectors and their ability to lead the sub-region’s economic recovery, Mr. Azizi said the event will contribute actively in ongoing efforts to support the development of these two priority value chains.
“The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, UNIDO, recognises the key role of this programme to strengthen the competitiveness of West African countries by improving the business environment and contributing to increasing the quantity and quality of products sold and exported from the region – while complying with the increasingly stringent market requirements on product quality, safety, health and environmental impact.
“In the current geopolitical context, the programme is also key for improving food security in the region – by modernising the agribusiness sector and supporting agri-food SMEs to meet the vital needs of local populations,” he added.
For him, WAC will be strategic in raising awareness about the key role of new digital technologies – including those associated with the fourth industrial revolution, in order to support the development of competitive, inclusive and sustainable agribusiness value chains in the region.
Acting Director of Trade-ECOWAS Commission, Kolawole Sofola, said the event’s main objective is to connect suppliers from the region with buyers inside and outside the region, in order to promote access to market opportunities and linkages with global value chains.
“These local firms have untapped potential, and this event will allow them to demonstrate the quality of their products and services – which we believe will lead to promising businesses and partnerships during these B2B sessions,” he stated.
Ruben Poolchund, Chief Officer for Africa, International Trade Centres (ITC), reiterated the Centres’ commitment to support the ECOWAS Agenda on trade and private sector development.
“We will continue to foster our collaboration with UNIDO, our sister agency, and with all UN partners in view of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he stated.