The 2023 Annual New Year School and Conference have urged the Government to develop a different interest rate structure for businesses under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
As part of its recommendations, the Conference also urged the Ministry of Finance, through the Bank of Ghana, to ensure that Small and Medium Enterprises and businesses in the agricultural sector accessed loans with competitive interest rates from financial institutions.
This year’s Conference which started on January 16 and ended on 18th January, was on the theme: ” Positioning the African Market for Sustainable Economic Development Through AfCFTA.”
Dr Simon-Peter Kafui Aheto, Director, of the 74th Annual New Year School and Conference, who presented the communiqué, urged member states to accelerate the process of developing regional common currencies for effective implementation of AfCFTA.
The Conference said the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the National AfCFTA Coordination Office should create business advisory centres at the Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies(MMDCs) to assist Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises and large businesses to harness the benefits of AfCFTA.
The communique recommended to the Government support the private sector and industries through trade financing to export their products.
“The Government of Ghana should provide tax incentives to businesses in the private sector to increase the production and export of Ghana-made goods,” the communique said.
The Conference urged the Government to prioritize the development of green skills and the promotion of green jobs among professionals and individuals in the private sector.
As part of the 4th industrial revolution, the Conference urged educational institutions to develop their curricula as commodities to harness the opportunities of the open market afforded by AfCFTA.
“AFCFTA should engage with academia and industry leaders to develop apprenticeship and internship programmes for the practical training of tertiary graduates.
“AfCFTA should collaborate with educational institutions to promote research on trade in Africa, regional value chains, and market information,” it said.
The Conference called for increased collaboration among member states on the sharing of information on governance, peace, and security.
The collaboration should include updates on laws and statutes that inform the implementation of trade within the AfCFTA framework by member states.
The Conference among others recommended that member states safeguard national security, address disputes that might arise in a swift, decisive, and transparent manner, ratify the Freedom of Movement Protocol among member states, and promote the work of women entrepreneurs to improve intra-African trade.