June 14, 2024
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Positioning MSMEs to trade under AfCFTA

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is a development instrument that provides an opportunity for African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to export to other African countries, thus boosting intra-African trade. Yet, MSMEs lack relevant information on product entry requirements, and on processes and procedures to access the single African market.

To bridge the gap, the Ghana National AfCFTA Coordinating Office (NCO) in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is training selected MSMEs on how to trade under the AfCFTA. The training falls within UNDP’s integrated support for women and youth-led MSMEs in Ghana to support Government COVID-19 recovery efforts.

The UNDP Integrated MSMEs Support programme includes business development services including access to finance, capacity for good corporate governance and awareness creation to prevent radicalization, as well as energy and resource efficiency support. This AfCFTA training, which falls within the business development services for the MSMEs, also forms part of the NCO’s Market Expansion Project aimed at equipping businesses to harness the full benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Speaking at the AfCFTA sensitization workshop in Kumasi, Head of Inclusive Growth & Accountable Governance at UNDP, Edward Ampratwum, underscored the importance of the business development services as critical for MSMEs.

“An integrated approach to business ecosystem support to enable MSMEs take full advantage of the available opportunities of the AfCFTA is critical. Our business development services seek to provide platforms that support national priorities to unlock the enormous transformative potential of MSMEs to power Africa’s long-term prosperity,” noted Dr Ampratwum. Head of the National AfCFTA Coordination Office, Dr. Fareed Arthur encouraged MSMEs to focus on improving their internal mechanisms to make the most of the agreement.“Ghana’s dream to become a manufacturing hub of Africa can only be achieved with your active participation. Together, let us contribute to Ghana’s National Export Development Strategy which is to help transform Ghana’s economy from raw commodity export to a manufacturing industrial export-driven economy,” Dr. Fareed stated.

The AfCFTA sensitization workshop for Women and Youth-led MSMEs is training about 600 participants from six selected districts including Ketu South Municipal Assembly, Sefwi Wiawso Municipal Assembly, Jomoro Municipal Assembly, Sagnarigu District Assembly, Kassena–Nankana West District Assembly and the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly. Representatives of the Business Advisory Centers (BACs) and Business Resource Centers (BRCs) of the six district assemblies were also trained to serve as focal persons to inform and sensitize MSMEs on AfCFTA opportunities and processes.

The participants commended UNDP and NCO for initiating this training and described the knowledge acquired as one that will help grab the opportunities of the single African market. “Initially, I didn’t know how important it was for me to obtain the necessary certification for my products and business. I have a better understanding of the measures and right channels to go through to have my business and products registered in a less cumbersome process as this is a prerequisite for trading under the AfCFTA,” noted Elizabeth Agyapong, Founder of Letivia Services, producers of organic skincare products in the Ashanti Region.

With MSMEs accounting for a substantial amount of economic activity in the country, the AfCFTA provides an opportunity for them to expand their economic footprints and contribute to the general growth of Ghana’s economy.

“I am into the production of herbal medicines. I have been practicing for some years now, but I never knew it was possible to export my products out of Ghana but thanks to this training, I am aware of the steps I need to take to rebrand my business to take full advantage of the AfCFTA,” noted David Ahiale Rutherford, CEO of Saint David Alternative Natural Clinic at Sefwi Wiawso.

The training was supported by the Ghana Revenue Authority, Food and Drugs Authority, Ghana Standard Authority, Ghana Enterprise Agency, and Ghana Export Promotion Authority.

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