Having insight into what constitutes a vibrant economy is important for every entrepreneur, especially start-ups that have interest in the service delivery sector. In any economy, one cannot venture into an industry without drawing inspiration from well-established firms or tapping into the knowledge of starters who defy the odds.
The Service sector in Ghana is believed to be growing rapidly and may very well become the backbone of the Ghanaian economy, replacing agriculture. According to Jennifer Baumert Powell (2015), between 2005 and 2013 Ghana got the services sector share of GDP rising from 32.2% to 48.8%, overtaking agriculture as the largest segment of Ghana’s economy. The services sector is also an important source of jobs and have accounted for 43.1% of Ghanaian employment since 2010 (O’Neil, 2021).
It is quite interesting to know that the above data represents more of formal institutions like banks, insurance companies, official and organized transport services, Telcos and other specialized service institutions that can be tracked by company registration, tax records and other systematic procedures used in tracking service provision in Ghana than the informal sector The Ghana Institute of Economic Affairs (World Bank Group, 2019) posits that informal businesses account for 35% to 50% of GDP in many developing countries globally, it is therefore expedient that much more attention, technological innovation and monetary investment is made in this domain to harness the great contributions this informal sector offers.
Despite the increase in the service sector as noted by Powell (2015), data published by O’Neill (April 1, 2021) saw a decrease from 47.14% in 2009 to 44,1% in 2019.
When one observes the level of technological investment made over the years -the coming of 4G+, the influx of more tech-inclined service providers, increased number of computer users, and the increased awareness of computer and technology in progressively making life easier – one would presume there would be a resultant automatic growth in the contribution of service provision to the GDP of Ghana but rather the reverse is true.
With most of the necessary industry elements present in our economy, why is there not a corresponding growth in the service sector? In my opinion, a stronger force that could cure our crisis has been relegated to the background and we are rather finding answers from places, people and industries that have a lot of questions within themselves.
Why do we hide the medications and complain of a pandemic? It appears we commit economic suicide, economic seclusion, thus ruining the hope of a teeming youth. There are over 2 million service providers in Ghana with skills set in laundry/cleaning, food/catering, events/photography, hair/beauty, builders/artisans, car repair, home repair, graphic design, IT/software, logistics and others. What we have lacked over the period is an amalgamation of technology and services to create a future for artisans whilst encouraging the informal sector to catch up with the formal sector through digitization for exponential growth.
One indigenous private company leading this path to progress is HandyTradie Ghana Limited. Similar to multinational companies like Uber, Bolt, Glovo and Jumia, HandyTradie has a Web-App which connects Service Providers (Including Artisans and Tradespersons) with clients through its modern App. HandyTradie is taking advantage of the digital infrastructure to get people and businesses online, linking them with local Artisans thus enabling them to take critical advantage of the internet. HandyTradie has provided a digital platform for mobile phones and computers that enables users to create value through interactions and the delivery of products and services. HandyTradie is the first homegrown company in the Artisanal arena creating enormous opportunities by employing digital financial services to aid electronic or online payment that eradicates complexity in the life of the average Ghanaian.
As a researcher for startup companies, I am exclusively impressed with the level of digital entrepreneurial spirit that HandyTradie currently exhibits; on 5th May 2021, I was impressed to see a company less than a year old in operation sign an MOU with the Certified Electrical Wiring Professionals Association of Ghana which is under the auspices of the Energy Commission of Ghana. They are on the right track to bringing the digital economy centered on local Artisans to life by partnering growth-oriented professional associations, groups, government agencies and the local carpenter, mason, plumber etc. walking the street of Ghana with quality skills. HandyTradie has in a way widened the artisan’s chances of getting jobs and making money through transformation of existing businesses, healthy competition, and first-class productivity.
The challenge I foresee, however, is that some service providers might not be able to access this platform; a digitized economy within an artisanal domain requires a literate workforce that has digital skills, business skills and a general knack to accept business dynamism, technological changes and the need to adopt new and progressive trends.
It will be great if the success of this home-grown company challenges others to produce similar or more advanced digital innovations that capture other sectors such as agriculture, sports, education, history, commerce to generate a lively economy that has direct influence on Ghana’s GDP in order to fill the industrial deficit.
O’Neill, Aaron (2021). Ghana – Share of economic sectors in the GDP in Ghana 2019 in Statista. Retrieved from:
Powell, Jennifer B. (2015). Factors affecting growth in Ghana’s services sector in U.S. International Trade Commission: Executive briefing on Trade, October 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/executive_briefings/powell_ghana_ebot10-15-2015.pdf
World Bank Group (2019). Report – Ghana Digital Economy Diagnostic. Retrieved from: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/34366