The Executive Secretary of the Ghana Free Zones Board (GFZB), Mr Michael Okyere Baafi, has underscored the link between sufficient foreign exchange earnings, a stable currency and a viable business climate.

Mr Baafi said sufficient foreign exchange earnings, a stable currency and a viable business climate could only be guaranteed if Ghanaian businesses exported their products and services.

He said it was not enough for Ghanaian businesses to be labeled champions in Ghana, when they should, actually, be dominating West Africa, Africa and the world at large, adding that it was regrettable that among the top 100 companies in Africa, Ghana had no representation.

He, therefore, urged successful Ghanaian business executives to take advantage of the varied opportunities available under the Free Zone Programme by opening subsidiary businesses with the GFZB and looking outside Ghana by setting up branches, and having distributors and partners for their products and services.  

He pledged the readiness of GFZB to assist them to export some of their products and services, citing the example of companies like Reroy Cable, Niche Cocoa and many others who had benefitted from the services of GFZB to export over 70% of their produce outside the country, even though they remained indigenous companies. 

Mr Baafi, who was addressing a business breakfast meeting in Accra, yesterday, disclosed that GFZB was poised to start several initiatives which were at the heart of building a much better, viable, robust and sustainable business ecosystem.

“Let’s launch initiatives which will succeed us and change the course of human history. If it is media, let us promote content we can sell outside the country; if it is finished products, let us brand world class products which can stand the test of competition anywhere in the world; if it is service, let us be at the forefront of serving the world with the much talked about Ghanaian hospitality,” Mr Bafi said.

In his remarks, the President of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI), and Chairman for the occasion, Nana Dr Appiagyei Dankawoso I, urged business men and women to consider forming joint ventures to undertake various projects under the Free Zones Programme.

Nana Dr Appiagyei Dankawoso I pledged the support of GNCCI, as a strategic partner of Government and a representative organ of the private sector, to stakeholders in the business community on the development of policies and programmes that would improve the competitiveness of the domestic private sector.

He gave the assurance that GNCCI would encourage its members as well as the business community to take advantage of opportunities provided under the Free Zones Programme.

About 100 Ghanaian business men and women (Captains of Industry/Commerce) attended the meeting which formed part of activities marking the maiden edition of GFZB’s Investment Week celebrations.

The occasion provided the platform for sensitizing successful Ghanaian business executives on investment opportunities under Ghana’s Free Zone Programme.

It is also part of an on-going rebranding exercise aimed at enhancing GFZB’s corporate image and to sensitize stakeholders on strategies being implemented to promote local investment.

The Free Zones Programme was established by an Act of Parliament—the Free Zone Act, 1995 (Act 504)— and the GFZB was charged with the responsibility of promoting economic development through the attraction of local and foreign direct investment; promotion of export diversification; increasing foreign exchange earnings; provision of business opportunities for local and foreign investors to undertake joint ventures; enhancing the technical and management skills of Ghanaians; and promoting technology transfer.

At 21 years of GFZB’s existence, available data indicates that out of two hundred and one (201) licensed Free Zone companies, fifty-six (56), representing 28 per cent are wholly-owned indigenous companies; sixty-three (63), representing 31 per cent are joint ventures between Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians; while eighty-two (82), representing 41 per cent are wholly-owned by non-Ghanaians.

The total value of exports generated under the Free Zones Programme from 1996 to December 2016 was US $30.9 billion, while the export figure for last year was US $2.3 billion.

Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)