The Managing Director of Republic Bank (Ghana) PLC, Benjamin Dzoboku, has delivered a presentation on behalf of Group President and Managing Director Mr. Nigel Baptiste at the just-ended 21st Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Symposium – organised by the Emancipation Support Committee of Trinidad and Tobago as part of the Emancipation Day celebrations at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre, Trinidad and Tobago.
The 1st of August is celebrated as Emancipation Day to commemorate the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade from 1526 to 1867, which saw many Africans shipped to Trinidad and Tobago and other parts of the Caribbean.
In recent times, there have been calls from both countries to go beyond the cultural and historical similarities to build deeper trade relationships between them. Republic Financial Holdings Limited (RFHL), with its over 186 years in banking, in 2015 took a major step to make a major Diaspora Investment in Ghana and eventually became the majority Shareholder in the then-Ghanaian bank HFC Bank, now Republic Bank (Ghana) PLC., due to Ghana’s stable, emerging market environment.
Since then, Republic Bank Ghana has proven to be successful and organised four Trade Missions from the Caribbean to Ghana so as to establish and strengthen trade ties between the two countries – but has faced many challenges which the Managing Director seized the opportunity to address at the symposium.
Mr. Dzoboku’s presentation was on the topic ‘Accelerating Opportunities to Achieve our Full Potential’, as part of a panel discussion moderated by Robert Le Hunte, Executive Director for the Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago Inter-American Development Bank.
In his delivery, he proposed some solutions to the current issues that are hindering Trans-Atlantic Trade Relations between Ghana and the Caribbean in achieving our full potential.
These include the need to improve market information across both regions, provide direct air and shipping transportation, access to free entry of goods and services as well as the need for governments to deal with double taxation and the high tariffs on imports and exports of goods and services.
He also proposed that investors can leverage the financial conduit created by Republic Financial Holdings Limited (RFHL) through Republic Bank (Ghana) PLC and explore the opportunities.
“At Republic Bank, we firmly believe that partnerships between Trinidad and Tobago and Ghanaian businesses can create a win-win situation. Looking at Africa’s population of 1.46bn and land size of 30.4 million km2, as well as being the same people, just separated by an ocean, trade between the two regions should be over billions and not the current US$378million being recorded. As trailblazers, we are committed to advocating this economic renaissance,” Mr. Dzoboku added.
The symposium was opened by Khafra Kambon, Doctor of Humane Letters (h.c.), and the Director of Regional and Pan African Affairs of the Emancipation Support Committee of Trinidad and Tobago. Other speakers included Senator Paula Gopee-Scoon, Minister for Trade and Industry, Trinidad and Tobago who gave the welcome remarks; and Stacy Adams, Vice President, Investor Services, InvestTT.
Nana Otuo Siribuo II, Juabenhene, represented the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, as the special guest of honour.
On the panel were Yoofi Grant, CEO-Ghana Investment Promotions Centre (GIPC), who presented Ghana as a destination of opportunities and open for business; Charles Zwennes, Director-Republic Bank (Ghana) PLC, who spoke on the similar cultures and values shared by the two countries,
Mr. Ghent and Ms. Wright-Paul – representatives from Caribbean Airlines – touched on the possibility of operationalising a direct flight from Trinidad and Tobago to Ghana; and Mr. Hayden Alleyne, immediate past-president, Shipping Association of Trinidad and Tobago, threw light on the development of a shipping line to aid seamless transportation of goods and services between both countries.