Free zone firms export US$1.096bn goods

BY: Maclean Kwofi
Free zones
Mr Michael Oquaye Jnr (2nd left), CEO, GFZA with Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah (left) Information Minister and other dignitaries at the event.

 

Firms operating under the free zones enclave in the country exported goods valued at US$1.096 billion in the first half of this year.

Capital investments made by free zone enterprises amounted to US$173.84 million and a total of 30,189 jobs were created, mainly in the manufacturing sector.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Free Zones Authority (GFZA), Mr Michael Oquaye Jnr, who made this known at the sixth annual meeting of the Africa Economic Zones Organisation (AEZO) in Accra on November 25, observed that the development was an indication of the contributions by the free zone companies to the country’s economy.

“It is refreshing to report that the Ghana Free Zones Authority remains the anchor for the Government of Ghana’s Industrial Parks and Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and continues to achieve positive results.

“For the first half of the year 2021, the Free Zones enterprises generated total export revenue of US$1.096 billion,” he said.

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The meeting

The meeting, which was on the theme, “Connecting African Special Economic Zones to Global Value Chains in the African Free Trade Area Era,” was attended by AEZO members from over 40 African countries.

The day event saw the participation of the Honorary President of AEZO, Mr Fouad Brini, Secretary-General of AfCFTA Secretariat, Mr Wamkele Mene, Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Minister of Investment Promotion, Gabon, Mrs Carmen Ndaot, and Secretary-General of AEZO, Mr Ahmed Bennis.

The CEO observed that job creation would continue to be a critical success factor for the authority and its partners, and was therefore happy to report that more than thirty thousand jobs have been created so far.

On the development of a policy framework to govern Ghana's Special Economic Zones, he indicated that the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) continues to work with key partners and stakeholders to see to its completion by the end of 2022.

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GFZA, MoTI partnership

Mr Oquaye Jnr said the GFZA and the MoTI was in the process of developing the Greater Kumasi Industrial City and Special Economic Zone Project in the Ashanti Region, which was linked to the Boakra Inland Port.

He said the authority was keenly taking steps to develop about 4000 acres of land in Shama and Sekondi in the Western Region.

“In addition, an environmental and social impact assessment was initiated on these lands under the Ghana Economic Transformation. Further, MoTI is in the process of developing a policy framework and regulatory institutional mechanisms for SEZs.

“It is our hope that when the policy is developed by 2022 it would help guide our course for a successful SEZ in Ghana,” he said.

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Industrialisation agenda

The Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, stated that Special Economic Zones were the catalyst for the realisation of the industrialisation agenda of Africa as envisioned in the implementation of the AfCFTA.

He said it was therefore critical for member states of AfCFTA to advocate for the right policy frameworks to promote SEZ development in these countries.

He stated that the connection between SEZs, AfCFTA and global value chains are important in harnessing the benefits under the AfCFTA.

“This meeting is therefore being held at an opportune time to deliberate on the critical thematic areas of SEZs and AfCFTA, particularly how SEZs can leverage the operationalization of the AfCFTA to boost the industrialisation agenda of Africa.

“It is no doubt that SEZs play a major role in the economies of African states. Most African countries are using SEZs or Export Processing Zones (EPZs) as tools for economic development.

“For the past 25 years, Ghana has reaped the benefits of implementing an EPZ programme through attraction of significant foreign direct investments, job creation, value addition to our natural resources and exports,” he said.