Executive Chairman of McDan Group of Companies says the global downturn and the ripple effect on some of Africa’s economies, may be the wake-up call that Africa needs to move Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) forward.
According to Dr Daniel McKorley, there are great opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa trade, in AfCFTA and as such, the private sector in multiple countries in Africa thriving because there has been a boost in international trade.
He was speaking as the Guest Speakers at the 74th Annual New Year’s School where he averred that there is the need to create an enabling environment for large businesses and competent Ghanaian industries must be given first right opportunities for them to carry small businesses along for growth.
The business mogul said, when the big businesses lead, small businesses rally around and push plug-in growth and become the true engine of growth.
“Both the large and SME businesses will use AFCFTA as their export vehicle and then income flows into the economy, taxes are paid, and everyone wins.”
Giving his thoughts and contributions on how to leverage AFCFTA for a mutually beneficial impact across academia, industry, and government, Dr McKorley said, it sometimes takes looking beyond, perceptions, politics, and predators to choose the lonely path of Industrialism.
He believes that when competent Ghanaian Industries are given first right opportunities, especially in the growth industries they will execute, and the SMEs will thrive as well.
He listed some keys to succeeding and indicated that Immersion, Solid Partnerships and The Youth are keys to growth.
“The key to succeeding at anything requires knowledge. The Private Sector must educate themselves comprehensively about AFCFTA from policy context to concept execution.
“That is why events such as the Afrexim forum in Cairo, this platform here at the University of Ghana and the upcoming Africa Prosperity Dialogues 2023 are going to be critical education and structured platforms for immersion with specific action items which are streamlined.
“This will go far to minimise and eliminate concerns and strengthen the bases.”
He also mentioned that the private sector must get actively involved with support whilst key stakeholders have taken the lead in logistics, there are other segments within AFCTA that need specialist expertise be it country-specific, or across the region.
According to him, the main drivers of Agenda 2063 will be the youth and there must not only be an effort and a keen interest in their participation, but also specific participatory roles and a platform to build their human capital.
He, however, mentioned that there is no doubt that Africa and for that matter, Ghana is deeply in challenging times and the effects of Covid -19 pandemic and the Russian-Ukraine conflict shouldn’t be brushed aside.
One of the industries that have been greatly affected by this has been the logistics industry and recovery is slow; he said.
Dr McKorley said some countries in the west and Asia, such as the US, Germany, and Japan had their economies built by a few indigenous Industrialists who controlled certain sectors of the economy and set the path for SMEs to follow to deliver services and products and become the engine of growth.
“Industries such as Iron, Steel, Rail, and Banking in the US were controlled by Americans. Four or five indigenous companies in Japan built their nation…Now let’s look at Ghana. Ghanaian businessmen don’t control many sectors rather we contribute.
“The banking sector is controlled by Nigerians and South Africans, retail trade is controlled by the Lebanese and Indians, the telecom sector is controlled by British and South Africans, oil and gas, Mining, trading, you name it; they are controlled by foreigners.”
He wondered how, with this development, can the private sector thrive and what would a local SME look up to.
Talking a little about his decision to mine salt, McDan enumerated that he was questioned, distracted and discouraged but he pushed because he wanted to see a Ghanaian control a large part of an industry too.
“Why? Because the entire value chain of the industrial salt business will be developed by SMEs. I believe local businesses that manufacture detergents, pharmaceuticals, and food processing companies to name a few will plug into the salt sector as it is a raw material for their business…
“As an entrepreneur and a philanthropist who has been on a 25-plus year journey of both failure and success; I can boldly say that AFCFTA is the future of the impact of Economic Development in Africa, and I also ask the question, are we ready to do whatever it takes? For me, it is a resounding yes because it truly is Africa’s time.”
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