WTPO CONF 2022: "I Am Amazed At The Tenacity Displayed By Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises”–Gov't

Government has lauded the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises for its boldness and courage to take on new business ideas at the risk of potential failure in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to government, it is happy institutions, small businesses and organizations did not hang around waiting for the virus to disappear before they got back to work.

In a speech read on behalf of President Akufo-Addo by the Minister for Trade and Industries, Alan Kyerematen, he said “You would agree that some of the best social interventions were born during these grim times. Institutions, small businesses and organizations did not hang around waiting for the virus to disappear before they got back to work. On the contrary, with the support of technology, they opened up to new ideas to promote their businesses, try new business ideas and adapt to the new times. I have been particularly amazed at the tenacity displayed by Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. The boldness and courage to take on new business ideas at the risk of potential failure if all doesn’t go well in these unusual times”

President Akufo-Addo also mentioned that trade among nations seems to have been hardest hit by the pandemic, following preventive measures countries put in place to reduce the spread of the virus.

He added that despite all these odds the country faced, it was not an excuse to put life in a pause mode.

“In actual fact, it was a time to dig into our creativity and innovation and make the best of the situation we found ourselves in”

“Ladies and gentlemen, a more appropriate and relevant theme couldn’t have been chosen for this conference in these trying times - “Bold solutions for resilience and recovery” resonates globally as economies struggle to bounce back and keep their heads above water. Events of the past two years and indeed these last months have been tough to put it mildly”

“When COVID-19 hit initially, it was considered as a health crisis but quickly transformed into an austere and hard-hitting economic and employment crisis. For the vulnerable and marginalized in our societies, the stark disparities immediately showed. Indeed, the disruption was so severe compelling many countries to implement unprecedented measures to mitigate the effects on their economies or risk going under”

He stressed that Ghana was no different, adding that the Akufo-Addo led government had the arduous task of juggling a number of concerns while ensuring that human lives; above everything, remained a priority.

The Akufo-Addo administration noted that it believes the objective of the ITC, to help Trade Promotion Organisations worldwide to effectively support MSMEs is a laudable one.

“We are fully aware, that without the support of a system that would cushion an organisation in terms of capacity-building, funding and requisite resources, bouncing back would be hard to say the least.”

“In 2020, the Ghana Enterprises Agency formerly called the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), supervised the disbursement of GHc600million to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) under the Government-initiated Coronavirus Alleviation Programme and Business Support Scheme. In 2021, Ghana’s economy grew at a provisional rate of 5.2% in the first three quarters"

He noted that to get back on track following the hard knocks the country suffered post the pandemic and Russian-Ukraine adversities, the NPP government will undertake difficult but necessary fiscal policies and measures, to consolidate the 2021 fiscal gains and engender higher growth rates, ostensibly to create further job opportunities.

“Government will continue to work hard to address the issues we face – but I am confident that for MSMEs especially, the implementation of the government's GH¢100 billion Ghana CARES Obaatanpa Programme, will facilitate a faster rebound”

“Over the past year, my Government has implemented a number of policies and programmes to accelerate our economic recovery from the ravages of COVID-19. We have introduced measures to improve fiscal consolidation, and ensure debt sustainability”

“The International Organisation of Employers indicates that the private sector generates 90% of jobs worldwide, contributing to greater economic and social equity, integration and political stability”

He revealed that MSMEs indeed play a key role in employing majority of the world’s workforce.

“This is why the WTPO conference, which intends to discuss ways in which Trade Promotion Organisations such as the Ghana Export Promotion Authority, can best support the private, informal sector to enhance productivity levels, is welcome news.”

“TPOs who are here present today I believe, are also very receptive and willing to absorb insights from impactful conversations which will further empower their progress in dealing with MSMEs in their various countries.”

“I am told that in 2018 in Paris, Ghana was an award recipient in the category of Best use of Information Technology and at the same time won the bid to host the event. Kudos to Ghana Export Promotion Authority for putting Ghana on this enviable pedestal”

“Once again, this year’s WTPO conference will recognize TPOs which have displayed initiatives showcasing how bold, agile and resilient they have been. Including Organizations that have been able to withstand shocks amid good governance and organisational values”

President Akufo-Addo says he believes the recognition that comes from the awards, will spur other TPOs on to chart competitive paths in times of uncertainty, dare organizations to do things differently, while embracing a greater purpose and above all learning to build on values that come with rapidly changing circumstances.

“On this note I say a big congratulations to all the nominees and award winners of tonight’s awards and I hope you keep up the good work in supporting MSMEs during these trying times”

On his part, the Minister for Trade and Industries, Alan Kyerematen said "For TPOs to effectively play the role that is expected of them, a number of critical driving factors need to be addressed. First, governments around the world particularly in developing countries, must now put trade at the center of their development agenda. Trade must be mainstreamed in national development plans. Programmes and projects that enhance trade must be aggressively pursued by TPOs"

He added that, TPOs must identify specific areas where global trade disruptions have created opportunities for scaling up local production in their national economy, and build partnerships with private sector business associations to take advantage of such opportunities.

The Trade and Industry Minister noted that TPOs should identify existing or potential exporting companies that can leverage opportunities for exports, particularly to regional markets arising from trade disruptions in the supply of goods to those markets.

"TPOs should facilitate the use of regional value chains to exploit market opportunities around the world for MSMEs. Trade and Investment Promotion Organizations where they operate independently of each other, must enhance the level of collaboration between them, to attract investments into the domestic economy that will facilitate both domestic and foreign trade"

"TPOs must enhance the use and deployment of digital platforms in facilitating trade across borders. The role of regional markets and intra-regional trade must be prioritized by TPOs in programming technical support and assistance for MSMEs. In this regard, TPOs on the African continent must work actively to support the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement"

"As we are no doubt aware, the AfCFTA presents Africa with the best opportunity, not only to enhance the level of intra-African trade, but to leverage the collective strengths of African enterprises to deepen Africa’s participation in global trade"

Taking his turn, Secretary-General, AfCFTA Secretariat, His Excellency Wamkele Mene said "By most estimates, 2022 will be a critical year in which the imbalances induced by the pandemic will begin to resolve and normal business activities restored. Now is the time to rebuild our economies and secure Africa’s future. In this scenario, Africa’s priority should be promoting economic stimulus strategies and mobilising investments with high multiplier effects for more robust recovery and job creation

He reminded the gathering of how, other parts of the world are able to provide significant stimulus packages to effectively restart their economies.

He noted that since the pandemic struck, the US and UKhave disbursed trillions of dollars in stimulus aid, to re-inject growth and dynamism into their economies.

He was saddened that same cannot be said for Africa as none of the countries have the capacity to do likewise.

"As I have said on previous occasions, Africa’s stimulus package and, therefore, its best chance at robust economic recovery is the AfCFTA; the effective implementation of this agreement such that trade becomes the driver of economic recovery and a significant contributor to Africa’s growth and development is crucial at this time. Currently, African countries do not trade with each other that much, with no more than 18 percent of trade taking place between African countries. In contrast, in Europe, about 70 percent of trade happens within the continent, and in Asia it’s 51 percent"

"So, as we transition from the pandemic to a new normal marked by renewed efforts at continental integration, let us work together to strengthen our integration including through digitalization. This will enhance intra-African trade; build resilience to future crises; and ensure the continent emerges more connected, and more inclusive"

He reiterated that the success of the continental integration will ultimately depend on the equitable distribution of the gains, ensuring that no group, sector or country feels marginalised or excluded from the benefits of the Africa’s continental integration.

He stressed that it will help to address the root causes of conflicts, give hope to our citizenry and set us on the road towards prosperity.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) Afua Asabea Asare said "The global response to adversities between Russia and Ukraine have brought about profound new uncertainties in an already uncertain world."

"More pronounced because this is at a time when the world is still reeling from the effects of the pandemic and fragile from battling the COVID-19 pandemic, which already exacted a heavy toll on humanity - 6.2 million lives lost globally"

"Amidst this sobering backdrop, what has been taken for granted all along is now clear: our interconnected and interdependent global system is incredibly fragile and vulnerable"

"It is therefore no wonder that countries, communities and corporations are keen to build resilience capabilities across multiple dimensions – human, financial, operational and technological"

"We can all testify that at the pinnacle of COVID-19, it is small businesses that have been the cornerstone of progress and sustainability. Risks are threats, but they also bring opportunities"

The CEO reminded the gathering that the Ghana Export Promotion Authority, an Agency of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, is committed to supporting small businesses build on their capacities and build the kind of resilience that will enable them compete favourably on international markets.

"Indeed the success of Ghana’s National Export Development Strategy, launched in 2020 under the auspices of the Ministry of Trade and Industry to achieve export earnings of USD25.3billion by 2029, is based on three significant pillars. Boosting productivity levels of exports, creating an enabling business environment to encourage increased exports and building the capacity of persons in the value chain of Exports to enable them compete favourably in international markets"

The Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC), Pamela Coke-Hamilton, on her part charged trade organizations to pay more attention to trade promotion to change the status quo.

She was confident that the two days event will challenge investors do more and help boost the economy of their respective countries.

Below are some pictures:

Story by: Joshua Kwabena Smith