In an effort to diversify the economy and move it away from over-reliance on traditional commodities like cocoa, gold and timber, Ghana has launched a new document dubbed National Exports Development Strategy (NEDS) which is expected to bring in at least US$25 billion revenue by 2029.
The NEDS focuses on the development of what it calls seventeen priority products namely: processed cocoa, cashew, horticultural products, oils seeds, fish and fishery products, textiles, natural rubber sheets, aluminum products, articles of plastics and petro-chemicals. Others include services, pharmaceuticals, iron and steel products, automobiles and vehicles, industrial salt, machines and machine components, industrial starch and sugar.
These sectors, among other benefits, will have preferential access to loans at concessionary rates; be assigned product specialists to provide technical support and market lead; and also supported to comply with requirements for raw materials and final product certification where applicable and easy access to the international market.
Speaking at a media engagement to create awareness for the policy, CEO of GEPA, Dr. Afua Asabea Asare, said diversifying the economy to focus on NTEs is the best way by which the country can reap any benefits from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement which is to come into effect in 2021, hence, it is important that efforts that went into developing the document is not wasted but implemented to the letter.
CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Authority (GIPC), Yofi Grant, also supported the call for the country to take advantage the AfCFTA, saying the ten-year development policy will serve its purpose if all stakeholders commit to it.
The rationale of the export strategy hinges on three factors, namely:
- development of the raw material-base with a lot of the agro-based raw materials coming from tree-crops having a gestation period and reaching their economic yield in about 8 years;
- Investment promotion into setting up factories, some of which are heavy industries which can only reach their peak production levels in about 7 years;
- And focusing on districts.
The NEDS is developed around three main strategic pillars. The three strategic pillars seek to expand and diversify the supply base for value added industrial export products and services;
- Improve the business.
- Regulatory environment for export.
- Build and expand the required human capital for industrial export development and marketing.
The first strategy seeks to promote, at least, ten FDIs annually into large-scale industrial exports sector; upgrade and directly support expansion of 20 majority Ghanaian owned industrial exporters to attain global status; upgrade and directly support expansion of 100 middle bracket exporters to attain top bracket NTE earning status; and upgrade and directly support expansion of 200 emerging district level export companies to attain middle bracket NTE earning status.
The second strategy will also review and streamline regulatory and documentary requirements for export, and institutionalize effective public–private sector engagement mechanisms for export development.
And the third strategy seeks to focus on upgrading the Ghana Export School to a tertiary institution status and decentralise faculty to regional level with district coverage. This will introduce industrial export modules and practical internship in secondary and tertiary institutions to achieve mindset transformation towards export.
It will also deepen the decentralisation process to empower institutions at district levels by providing them the needed resources and making them responsible for delivery of results for industrial export development.
The 10-year strategy also comes with interventions for People With Disabilities (PWDs). It will reserve a specific number of jobs for PWDs in every programme; and deliberately reserve a specific number of jobs for parents and care-givers of PWDs as a form of empowerment to enable them provide care for severe cases of PWDs who are in their care.
It will again provide resources of skills training and finance to PWDs who can set up businesses on their own to become self-employed.