The attention of the international community turned to Ghana yesterday with the launch of the global initiative: For Better Business Together (4BBT), a new international partnership to strengthen businesses in the world following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ultimate goals is to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are aimed at lifting people out of poverty, eliminating inequities and building a sustainable environment, in collaboration with governments, the private sector, development partners and civil society organisations (CSOs).
The programme is expected to inspire business-worthy behaviours in UN member countries, discuss and critically analyse special local issues and serve as a convergence for the youth of the world with innovative ideas to connect with entrepreneurs who have the solutions and investors with SDG perspectives.
The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who launched the initiative in Accra yesterday, said it was aimed at inspiring business behaviour and mobilising entrepreneurs and young people to find solutions to challenges of business, especially given the ravages of the COVID-19 and its negative repercussions on the global economy.
The programme, the collaborative effort of the Ministry of Business Development, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and other organisations, is on the theme: “Post-COVID-19 — Rebuilding global business together”.
The President said every country had been required to implement various fiscal measures to mitigate the horrendous adverse effects, and that it was time for world leaders to build bridges, foster unity and create business opportunities for citizens and countries.
That, he explained, would put the economies of various countries on the path of development progress and prosperity once again.
“For us in Ghana, prior to the onset of the pandemic, we had in the last three years been acknowledged as one of the fastest-growing economies, not only in Africa but also in the world, with growth rates averaging eight per cent per annum,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo said Ghana had achieved modest success, was formalising its economy and making the business and investment climate one of the most favourable on the continent and was the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in West Africa, with major global companies deciding to set up shops in Ghana.
He said just as was the case with all the economies in the world, Ghana had experienced its fair share of the turbulent effects of the COVID-19, which were evident in low productivity, job losses and a steep decline in revenues for government, businesses, households and individuals.
He said as a measure to halt the decline, the government provided GH¢600 million, while the private banks also offered GH¢400 million, to support the private sector, including micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), adding that so far some 180,000 beneficiaries across the country had been supported under the initiative.
The President added that through the National Entrepreneurship Innovation Plan (NEIP), the vehicle for youth entrepreneurship development, 40,000 small businesses and start-ups had received training, with 9,000 of them being provided with capital to expand their businesses and create jobs.
The Minister of Business Development, Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim Awal, said Ghana was chosen to host the initiative because of the President’s sterling leadership qualities and the able manner in which the country had been able to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the President took bold and decisive measures that had gone a long way to improve the COVID-19 situation in Ghana, saying: “Mr. President, due to the way you have managed the pandemic, Ghana is one of four countries in the world to benefit from the COVID-19 stimulus package of $5 million. Ghana is the only country in Africa; the other countries are Columbia, Turkey and The Philippines.”
The United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mr. Charles Abani, said that the UN body was making available $90 million to Ghana in the next 12 months to assist it in its journey to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic better.
In addition, he said, the UN body was mobilising $40 million to support some key sectors of the economy.
The UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Ms. Silke Hollander, said the 4BBT initiative was a testament to the UNDP’s committed partnership to enable businesses to recover better from the impact of the COVID-19.
The Prime Minister of Norway, Ms. Erna Solberg, who joined the launch virtually, said the COVID-19 had thrown the world into an unchartered territory, with great consequences for public health and economies across the world.