Arts and crafts dealers count their losses

BY: Ama Amankwah Baafi
Ms Fulera Seidu, Vice-President of the National Association of Handicraft Exporter spointing to some empty shops at the Arts Centre in Accra
Ms Fulera Seidu, Vice-President of the National Association of Handicraft Exporter spointing to some empty shops at the Arts Centre in Accra

Players in the handicraft sector have not been spared the negative impact of the outbreak of the corona virus (COVID-19) as they begin counting their losses.

It has been four months after the outbreak, and although businesses are picking up, operators in the sector say about 90 per cent of their market is gone.

A visit by the Graphic Business to the Arts Centre at the Accra central business area, which houses about 400 shops, saw some chops closed and the usual buzzing business environment missing.

The organiser at the Kente section at the Accra centre, Mr Kwadwo Obeng, in an interview on June 11, 2020 said because their business has been highly impacted by COVID-19, they sat idle at the centre and engaged in chats while hoping to receive patrons.

“In spite of the odds, we still come to work hoping that patrons may come to ask for one or two items. We have been affected so much. For the past five months we have not been selling,” he lamented.

Mr Obeng said he and his fellow traders were hoping to benefit from the government’s loans to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to augment their lost investment.  

“We have registered and we are hoping that we will be successful in securing the loans to reinvest in our businesses to substitute our eroded capital,” he said.

The President of the Aburi Craft Village, Nana krobea Asante, said the situation at the village was worse.

“There is no market because we deal mostly with the foreigners who are not coming in due to the COVID-19-induced border closures. We are using the time to innovate our products so when things stabilise, we will sell,” he said.

The Vice-President of the National Association of Handicraft Exporters, Ms Fulera Seidu, said the impact of COVID has been huge on the craft sector.

“We don’t expect anybody to come at this time to buy craft. Everyone is living in fear so it has been very hard,” she said.

The Acting Director at the Centre for National Culture, Accra, Mrs Alice Alima Kala, said the emergence of the COVID had impacted badly on their work.

She said their products were normally patronised by tourists and “because of the pandemic they have stopped coming and so it has affected us”.

“The fear that we may also contract the disease has also affected us so much so that some sellers are also not coming. Almost 90 per cent of our sales have dropped,” she added.

She hoped things would normalise soon so they could continue their trade.

Art and craft sub-sector

The NTE sector in Ghana consists of three main sub-sectors, namely: agriculture, processed/semi-processed, and industrial art and craft sub-sectors.

The industrial art and craft sub-sector witnessed a growth of 23.65 per cent from US$10.411 million in 2017 to US$12.873 million in 2018.

It contributed 0.46 per cent to total earnings of non-traditional exports (NTE) in 2018.

A comparative analysis of the 10 leading industrial art and craft products in 2018 revealed the top earner within the sub-sector was ceramic products, which recorded value export earnings of US$10.7 million with a contribution of 83.35 per cent to total earnings of the top 10 in the sector.