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Micro, small businesses unaware of AfCFTA - Study

BY: Elizabeth Nyaadu Adu
Participants in the forum

A study in Accra has showed that the majority of women traders and women-led micro, small and medium size enterprises (MSMEs) in the country were not aware of the existence of the AfCFTA agreement even after a year of its commencement.

It said the striking lack of awareness of the AfCFTA agreement and understanding of its objectives appears particularly worrying given the role MSMEs play in Ghana’s economic growth and development.

The study was conducted by AYA Institute for Women with support from GIZ on the theme: “Assessing the Potential of Women-Led MSMEs in Ghana to Take Advantage of the AfCFTA.”

Among other objectives, the study seeks to enhance the capacity of women-led MSMEs and cross-border traders to take full advantage of the AfCFTA and advocate for policy reforms that would address any institutional and structural barriers to trade.

It said perhaps this knowledge gap was due to the complex compliance requirements that pointed to an ineffective policy communication strategy that has failed to address structural challenges MSMEs faced in acquiring information.

The study recommended an information dissemination approach that is context specific and targeted specifically for MSME success.


Support for women

An economist and lecturer at the University of Ghana, Professor Godfred Bokpin, urged the government to make room for financial support to women-led businesses in any policy package that would be used to stabilise the economy.

He said although the present economic challenges had limited the fiscal space available to the government, support to female-led businesses was critical as it would help ensure equitable growth.

Addressing participants in the second Public Private Dialogue (PPD) on “Making the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in Accra last Tuesday (November 2), the economist said increased support to businesses would help to make the world better off.

“If we will be mindful to use the limited fiscal space that will be created as we go through reforms in enabling women-led businesses and traders, I am very sure that Ghana will come out of this crisis stronger and whatever gains we make out of this will be durable and the benefits will be shared fairly.” Prof. Bokpin said.

He explained that Ghana had played a pivotal role in the AfCFTA, adding that; “its pioneering role in the AfCFTA which also included being selected to host the secretariat was also evident, hence AfCFTA should be the leverage to put women-led businesses at the forefront of the implementation of the AfCFTA.”

He said it was during hard times like this that the patience, endurance, entrepreneurial and innovative skills of women in managing businesses was seen at home or the office.

“We need policy and administrative reforms that make women-led businesses become the engine of growth as we seek to guarantee private sector leadership in our economy.

This requires us to be intentional and adopt positive discriminatory approach in strategies that seek to eliminate barriers in women-led businesses and traders in Ghana,” Prof. Bokpin said.

The National Coordinator at the AfCFTA Coordination Office, Fareed Kwesi Arthur, said; “Increasing the participation of women in the labour market could increase the country's productivity leading to greater economic diversification, innovation and poverty reduction.

New trends in global trade, especially the rise in services, global value chains and the digital economy show there are many economic opportunities for women,” he said.

Side bar

The dialogue brought together participants from AfCFTA Policy Network-Women’s Wing; Women in Agribusiness; Ministry of Trade and Industry; Gender Desk; Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC); Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA); Ghana Enterprise Agency, among others, to improve public and private dialogue relations in improving the discourse on AfCFTA.