GHANA FREE ZONE AUTHORITY LAUNCH IT'S THIRD ANNUAL INVESTMENT WEEK CELEBRATION WITH THE MEDIA

Story Reported by Gideon Kotey 

 Free Zones program In Reversing Our Balance OF Trade Deficit And The Depreciating Cedi Is Vital- AMB. Michael Oquaye

The third annual investment week 2022 own marked the celebrating 26 years of implementing the free zones program this year. We are celebrating this milestone with a week-long event to showcase our achievements and prospects to both local and foreign business people and Ghanaians in general. This year's Celebration is under the theme "GFZA: Championing Export-Led Industrial Growth in the Context of AfCFTA and World Trade." 


Speaking at a news conference held in Accra, the CEO of Ghana Free zone Authority, AMB.Micheal Oquaye under theme was chosen to reflect the government's focus on export-led industrialization and the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) implementation. 


As a country, we are currently grappling with a balance of trade deficit and the depreciation of our national currency. Therefore, we must increase our exports to earn the needed foreign exchange to stabilize the cedi. 


According to him, an export-led industrial growth is one of the most appropriate strategies to achieve economic development; this has been the mandate of the GFZA. Thus, the importance of the Free Zones program in reversing our balance of trade deficit and the depreciating cedi is vital. 


In this regard, the government keenly explores the opportunities presented through the AfCFTA. The GFZA recognizes the potential of the AfCFTA in attracting market-seeking investments and encouraging local businesses to export to the African market. 


The AfCFTA presents Ghana with the opportunity to export to Africa, with an estimated market size of 1.3 billion people. 


He was optimistic that in pursuing an export-led industrial growth strategy and the enormous opportunities AfCFTA and the world at large provide, the problems of unemployment, low export earnings, lack of value addition to our natural resources, lack of diversification of our export products, and being an insignificant player in the continental and global value chains can be solved. 


Mr. Quaye hinted that to achieve this objective, we have set up an AfCFTA desk at the GFZA. 


The briefing is the first activity of the Investment Week celebration. The essence of this briefing is twofold. Firstly, this briefing is to update you on the achievements of the GFZA and the plans for the coming year, which we kindly expect you to convey to the good people 

and business community of Ghana Second y, we wou d | ke to bnef you on the act vities scheduled for the weeklong nvestment celebrat on despite the adverse effects of global happenings on busine ses worldwide, Ghana not being an exception, the GFZA has chalked up some significant. 



He said that regarding to its achievements, 39 new companies have been licensed since he took over as Chief Executive Officer these companies are expected to inject an estimated capital of US$230 muilhon into the economy In addition, the estimated export earnings from the 39 companies 1s US$ 529 million from an estimated production value of USs 436 million. 


The cumulative exports from the Free Zones enterprise since the program's inception stood at US$ 27 billion as of 2020 


Currently, the total number of active companies !s 217. Out of the 217 active companies, 72 are wholly owned Ghanaian companies, representing 33%; 74 are wholly foreign-owned compantes, representing 34%; and 71 are joint ventures, representing 33% 


This ts an indication thatlGhanaian companies also have the potential to take advantage of the free zone incentives and make a mark in the international! market. 


This breakdown because the Free Zones program has been misconstrued as favouring mainly foreign investors. On the contrary, the program is open to all investors, both foreign and local. Moreover, with the opportunities that AfCFTA also offers, we are encouraging Ghanaian-owned businesses to take advantage of the 1.3 billion African markets to expand their activities. 


The impact of these achievements on the economy cannot be overemphasized. 


With regards to the development of the designated SEZs, under my leadership, the Authority has signed a memorandum of understanding with a private developer for the development of about 1,500 acres of land designated in Yabiw/Shama in the Western Region. 


The proposed investment is estimated at $250 million to $300 million. It is expected to provide world-class infrastructure such as roads, electricity with a dedicated power plant, sewage treatment plant, container depot, office complex, and residential complex, among others. In addition, the project, when completed, will lead to thousands of jobs and increased 

foreign exchange earnings for Ghana. 


So far, the site has been resurveyed, and the legal processes has been initiated to gazette the site as a Free Zone Industrial Park. | want to thank HE. President Nana Addo Dankwa AkufoAddo, the Minister for Trade and industry, the Hon. John Alan Kwadwo Kyeremanten, and the Minister in charge of the Western Region, the Hon. Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, for their constant support regarding this unprecedented project.


For analysis, the Authority has also collected data on some key sectors of the Ghanaran economy, such as crops and livestock production, forestry and timber, minerals, and petroleum, existing industrial developments, ports and logistics, imports and exports, the cost of doing business, and taxes. The data is expected to enable the developer to establish the avatlability of raw materials in the region and country to ensure sustainable production by companies. The signing of the main contract is imminent. 


Regarding the designated processing zone in the Ashanti Region, commonly associated with the Boankra Port or the Greater Kumasi industrial project, compensations for the land and economic activities have been finalized. 


Their flagship SEZ, the Tema Export Processing Zone (EPZ), benefited from a World Bank/Ghana Economic Transformation Project, which provided funding for rehabilitation works within the zone, including the construction of roads and a fence wall. 


Also, funding was received from the German Corporation (GIZ) to provide an e-mobility transport system within the Tema EPZ to provide affordable transportation for employees within the enclave. Furthermore, electric buses will be procured with the option of being charged with solar power to ensure sustainability and reduce carbon footprints in compliance with the SOGs. 


The Tema EPZ faced severe water supply issues. However, in collaboration with the Ghana Water Company, the water supply issues have drastically improved from around 30% prior to 75% at present. Currently, the water storage capacity at the enclave has also been improved. 


In addition, the Authority ts in talks with the Ghana Gas Company to supply gas directly to the Tema EPZ as an alternative energy source for the companies. Ladies and gentlemen, | am pleased to tell you that these talks have concluded positively and are awaiting implementation This will again contribute to the "zero carbon footprint", as previously 


espoused 


Regarding security, the Authority procured two motorcycles for the Kpone Police Command to enhance patrol of the enclave and to enhance security. | will also like to thank Cocoa Touton, who bought an additional motorbike for the same project. 


The current trend in industrial development is towards the development of Special Economic Zones which ts a broader concept than Export Processing Zones 


The Ministry of Trade and Industry, which ts our parent Ministry, 1s therefore in the process of deve op ng anSEZ po cy. Hopefu y, the Free Zones concept w Il be rebranded into anSEZ n new thcurrent trends 


As you may be aware the AfCFTA Agreement a lows goods from Specia Economic Zones 


SEZs or Export Process ng Zones EPZs) to export to Africa under preferentia treatment f y meet the rules of ong n Thus free zone enterpnses utd zing local raw matenals from spec fica y, or Afnca as a who e, can qua fy to export under the AfCFTA.


Source: www.truthtvgh.com

Editor: Nii Amon 

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