By Samuel Akumatey, GNA
Ho, Feb 22, GNA- Mr Kwame Sowu Jr, an Entrepreneur, and Chairman of the Ghana Museums and Monument Board has advised businesses in the Volta Region to take advantage of ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) in the 2018 budget.
He said the Scheme grants ECOWAS market access to manufactured products made in ECOWAS region without the payment of import duties or equivalent taxes and asked the private sector in the Region to explore export opportunities in Togo, Benin and Nigeria.
Mr Sowu was addressing a business breakfast meeting by the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) Eastern/Volta in Ho, to discuss the 2018 budget on the theme “The Changing Business Environment in the Volta Region”.
"The ECOWAS market of more than 250 million is waiting for us to use furniture, jeans, shirts and bricks and tiles made in the Volta Region of Ghana.
"The Volta Region has the opportunity to serve our brothers and sisters in Lagos with canned pepper, tomatoes, okro and their favourite bitter leaves. Let's do it," he said.
Mr Sowu said an estimated 70 per cent of arable land in the Region remained untapped and that developing the cassava industry alone could also land the product in competition with cocoa as a major source of revenue for the country.
He lamented the declining state of industries in the Region despite its quality human resource, and asked the youth in particular to venture into the entrepreneurial space to take advantage of opportunities in government’s flagship policies.
Mr Sowu said government must step up legislature to protect local industries from collapsing, and also to ensure the patronage of local products.
Dr Archibald Yao Letsa, Volta Region Minister said industries in the Region had not been competitive due to high overheads, including utility bills, taxes, and lending rates.
He said President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in a bid to create a business friendly environment, had introduced incentives such as tax reductions, waivers on utility bills, and the provision of basic infrastructure, whiles the Central Bank had reviewed its modalities to better suit the business environment.
Dr Letsa said over a dozen projects had been earmarked under the ‘One District One Factory’ initiative in the Region, and asked the various Assemblies to work towards their realisation.
The meeting was in partnership with the Volta Regional Chapter of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), and was attended by both local and foreign business leaders and entrepreneurs.
Mr Dela Gadzanku, Chairman, Eastern/Volta Branch of the AGI said Ghana continued to drop in the World Economic Forum’s global positioning index, and that there was the need to attract more direct foreign investment.
He said a business incubation centre would be established in Ho, to be named after Madam Esther Ocloo who birthed the AGI in 1958, as well as a Volta Trade and Investment Summit to attract both foreign and local investments.
Mr Gadzanku said a survey of industries in the Region would also be undertaken towards developing a Volta Regional Business Barometer and a strong linkage between academia and industry would be developed, and promised to strengthen collaboration with the GJA towards the growth of local industries.
Mr Anthony Bells Kafui Kanyi, Chairman of Volta GJA said efforts at reviving industries in the Region had yielded good results following a recent tour of distressed facilities by the Association.
He said the Ho Light Industrial area needed help and appealed to the Regional Coordinating Council to intervene.
Mr Kanyi said the Association in the Region had appointed an economic planning Advisor to help direct the Association's campaign on the industrialisation of the Region and appealed for support to build the capacity of its members towards improving business and economic reporting.
He said the Association would focus some of its activities marking the 2018 World Press Freedom Day celebrations on growth of Small and Medium scale Enterprises and again called for support.