The African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET) is proposing an apex body to mediate, lobby and dialogue with government on behalf of business associations and small and medium-sized enterprises.
Senior Fellow at ACET, Professor John Asafu-Adjaye – speaking to the B&FT at a roundtable discussion on the private sector in Accra, said it is important that all business associations belong to umbrella groups or chambers, and this must be made compulsory through regulation.
“There are too many scattered business associations, hundreds of them, which need to come together through an apex body to have a stronger voice,” Prof. Asafu-Adjaye noted.
He said a regulated, unified front for businesses will also help government in tax collection: “This can be made a regulation to ensure that business registrations can only be effected when SMEs belong to business associations that are controlled by an apex body”.
The Greater Accra Regional Chair of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Tsonam Akpeloo, explained the call is in the right direction as the initiative will help to create a unified front for business associations across the country.
“AGI has been in existence for six decades, and we have been at the forefront of business advocacy for many years. We are happy to lead the charge to create this new initiative,” he said.
Though government and the private sector have collaborated over the years, a 2016 World Bank study on Ghana highlighted major impediments to proactive private sector engagement.
These impediments include fragmentation of the stakeholder landscape; lack of trust – as many engagements by businesses with government barely yielded any results; and ill-defined ownership and management, including disconnect between vision and action by most businesses.
ACET however maintains that a successful economic compact will require a vision for the private sector around which all stakeholders such as government, AGI, Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI) and development partners will collaborate.
Key institutions present at the meeting were the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Association of Small Industries, Ghana Employment Association, Ghana Real Estate Developers Association, Freight Forwarders Association and many others.