GEPA ‘toys’ with export earnings Targets vary after heads

BY: Maclean Kwofie
Ms Afua Asabea Asare
Ms Afua Asabea Asare

The country’s expected earnings from non-traditional exports (NTEs) are hinged on the ambitions and aspirations of personalities that head the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), the GRAPHIC BUSINESS has observed.


This is partly due to the absence of a binding strategic plan for the NTE sub-sector, leaving heads of the authority to set targets for such exports on their own convictions and mostly not based on any scientific assumptions that derail quickly once leadership changes at the authority.

Fidgiting with targets

The paper has further observed that GEPA, which is mandated by law to facilitate the development and promotion of Ghana’s exports, has been fidgiting with its targeted revenue between US$5 billion and US$10 billion under three different chief executives within the last five years.

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For instance, GEPA, underits present Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ms Afua Asabea Asare, has projected NTE proceeds to hit US$5.3 billion by 2021.

 Ironically, this new target represents 47 per cent decline in the US$10 billion target set for 2017 by her predecessor, Ms Gifty Klenam, whose appointment was terminated by the President, for reasons not yet made public.

The new target is also a six per cent rise over the US$5 billion target set in 2013 under Mr Gideon Quarcoo, the then CEO under the previous administration.

Mr Quarcoo’s target was backed by the National Export Strategy (NES) launched in August 2013 and was aimed at lifting NTEs by 35 per cent within five years from 2013.

In the midst of this trend, however, the country’s NTEs over the past five years (2013 to 2017) has been growing at an annual average rate of 1.22 per cent.

The NTEs proceeds have ranged between US$2.43 billion in 2013 and US$2.56 billion in 2017.

Response by CEO

When confronted with the issues regarding the NTE targets, Ms Asare justified the new projected target.

She told the paper after the 78th National Export Forum on October 17 in Accra that the present management of GEPA “believes that the US$5.3 billion target is more realistic and achievable.
 
“I think Ms Klenam did a lot of work and she was doing so much before I took over and I am very grateful for the foundation she laid that I am building on right now, but I think that the US$5.3 billion target is very realistic and that is what we want to look at now,” she said in response to a question on why the US$10 billion target set in 2017 has been reviewed.

Even to achieve the new target, Ms Asare admits that it was not going to be an easy task but her administration was putting strong interventions in place in order to meet the target within the stipulated period.

“It is not going to be a simple task but we have put interventions in place to meet the new target which consists of scaling up production of the NTE products such as cashew, mangoes, and vegetables,” she said.

Interventions

Notable among the interventions, she said, were the introduction of a pilot mass spraying and distribution of grafted cashew seedlings to farmers in Wenchi in the Brong Ahafo Region.

The government will also spray about 70,000 acres annually and that was expected to increase yield by 30 per cent, she added.

GEPA has developed a 10-year development plan for cashew production, which includes value addition.

According to her, the authority had prepared and delivered 15 million suckers of pineapple and had also committed GHȼ4.2 million to the procurement of the suckers.

 That was expected to increase revenues to an estimated US$13.1 million from pineapple production in a few years.

Again, she noted that the GEPA had undertaken extensive consultations with all metropolitan, municipal, and district assemblies throughout the country to identify at least one crop from each district which would be developed for exports.

2017 NTEs performance

Meanwhile, for the period of January to December 2017, earnings from NTEs amounted to US$2.6 billion in 2017, representing an increase of 3.81 per cent compared to the US$2.5 billion in 2016.

The NTEs currently contributes 18.37 per cent to the total national merchandise exports of the country.

The performance in 2017 is largely due to increase in exports of cocoa products, which rose by 60.5 per cent from US$542.3 million in 2016 to US$870.2 million in 2017. —GB


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