FROM: Christian Akorlie, GNA correspondent in Ouagadougou, COURTESY: GHANA EXPORT PROMOTION AUTHORITY
Ouagadougou, Oct 31, GNA -The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) is engaging the services of consultants to help handicrafts exporters to modernise their products to meet modern trends and demand in the international market.
Mr. James Tiigah, the Chief Executive Officer of GEPA, who announced this, said though artisans were doing their best, the taste and demand of buyers of arts and crafts products across the world was changing.
Therefore, he said, there was the need for Ghanaian artisans to adopt the new trends to avoid being outplayed in the international market.
Mr Tiigah was speaking at a special Ghana event, organised by GEPA at the ongoing 14th Edition of the International Arts and Handicrafts Fair, which opened in the Burkina Faso capital of Ouagadougou, on the 28 October.
The Ghana Day is one of the biggest event at this year’s SIAO and it provided the opportunity to the exhibitors to sell the rich Ghanaian cultures and tradition to the outside world.
On display are handicrafts, batik/tie and dye, basket ware, beads, among others.
Ghana, which is the guest country for the exhibition this year, running from October 28 to November 6, has under the auspices of the GEPA, which facilitated the participation of more than 50 exhibitors at the fair.
Mr Tiigah, who is the leader of Ghana’s delegation to the fair, said handicrafts were a source of revenue and employment generation for the youth and women and this underscored the importance GEPA was attaching to the sector.
In 2015, the handicrafts sub-sector saw a 23.05 per cent jump in earnings to $4.27 million compared to $3.47 million in 2014. That brings the sub-sector’s contribution to non-traditional exports to 0.17 per cent.
Mr Tiigah said the GEPA was mobilising resources to ensure that its staff in the zonal offices were in constant touch with the practitioners and to educate them on good practices.
The General Manager of the GEPA Mr Stephen Normeshie, said the West-African sub-region was a fertile ground for non-traditional exports, but artificial trade barriers were undermining the export potential of the region.
He said the challenges at the various national borders went a long way to undermine the competitiveness of products, while the high cost constituted a disincentive for doing business in the sub-region.
He appealed to the governments within the sub-region to implement the various ECOWAS protocols to promote trade.
Ghana’s Ambassador to Burkina Faso, Mr San Nasamu Asabigi, said Ghana and Burkina Faso had a very good trading relationship.
In 2015, Burkina Faso was the second ranked West Africa country for Ghanaian non-traditional exports worth $200 million.
However, Mr Asabigi said enhance trade flow was being undermined by complaints of lengthy inspection time and documentation requirements, delays, and informal payments at both end of the frontiers.
The Burkinabe Minister for Commerce, Industries and Crafts, Stephane Sanou, said Ghana was a leading art and crafts country in Africa.
He said the art and craft industry would generate employment and propel economic growth on the African continent.
Held biennially in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, the International Arts and Crafts Fair, known as Le Salon International de L'Artisanant de Ouagadougou (SIAO), it is one of Africa's most important trade shows for arts and handicrafts.
The 2016 fair on the theme: “African Handicraft, Women Entrepreneurship and Social Protection,'' has more than 25 participating countries, more than 3,000 artisans and exhibitors and 250 professional buyers across the world.
The 10-day Fair is just into the third day but the Ghanaian exhibitors have said they were in high spirits and expected better outturn at the end of the period.
Meanwhile, Ghana has donated a token sum of $6,500 to the organisers of SIAO 2016 to support the construction of the fence around the exhibition centre.