English EN French FR Portuguese PT

Report on the Canada Ghana Chamber of Commerce (CGCC) Power Breakfast Meeting

On the 26th of April 2016, the CGCC organized a breakfast meeting at the Labadi Beach Hotel, Accra. The meeting was intended to bring together academics, researchers, CSOs, the private sector, the diplomatic community and the media to discuss issues under the general theme, “The Changing Business Environment in Ghana”. The sub-theme was, “Moving Ghana from Aid to Trade”.

Reported by Hubert Nii-Aponsah | IMANI Africa

The programme commenced at about 7:30 am as breakfast was served. At about 8:20 am the CGCC President Salah Kalmoni was invited to give the welcome address. He welcomed everyone and made mention of the fact that the program was geared towards improving the business relationship between Canada and Ghana and also welcomed everyone to be members of their platforms for business-networking.

After some leading figures were acknowledged, H.E. Christopher Thornley the Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana made his statement. He said that the relationship between Ghana and Canada has been cordial since independence. However, he asserts that although the relationship has been deep, it has not been wide because it has not included many important points of interaction. He explained that one of such important points to pay attention to is the business relationship in order to create jobs, economic growth and prosperity for both Ghanaians and Canadians. It is his hope that the CGCC would take the relationship between Ghana and Canada further in order to help move Ghana from aid dependency to self-sufficiency.

The statement was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Umaru Sanda of Citi fm. The panelists were Dr Kwame Pianim, a renowned Ghanaian economist, Mr Noah Schiff the Sustainable Economic Growth Team leader at the Canadian High Commission to Ghana and Minister of Trade and Industry Dr Ekow Spio-Garbrah.

The general view mostly shared by Hon. Spio-Garbrah and Dr Pianim was that the sub-theme was too late to discuss since Ghana had already moved from aid dependency. This, they claim, is because of Ghana’s promotion to a low middle-income status which already disqualifies the country from certain “aid-privileges”.

Dr Pianim emphasized that the challenge today is rather moving away from debt. He also stressed that (in his opinion) a country cannot trade properly without aid. To him, aid would translate into lower cost of doing business which would culminate in greater gains of trade.

Noah Schiff also asserted that moving to a low middle income status is a commendable achievement but it comes with gaps which need to be filled. Among other things, he mentioned that Ghana needs better systems and skilled people who can maintain the status, which is indeed the main focus of the Commission. He cited a lack of Ghanaian technical expertise in the extractive sectors from a recent research conducted by the Commission. He also underscored the need for a better regulatory environment for businesses to grow.

Hon. Dr Spio-Garbrah touched on several issues including the need for lower interest rates for businesses to thrive. He mentioned humorously that Ghana has imported a lot of things but has not yet imported low interest rates. He maintains that despite the high interest rate, Ghana is still an attractive place to invest due to better physical and soft assets. He also highlighted one of the key challenges of adding value to exports using cashew nuts as an example but categorically stating that the challenge is not limited to cashew. The Minister pointed to the fact that despite Ghana’s ability to grow and process cashew, some middle-men offer higher prices to farmers than what Ghanaian manufacturing companies do and these middle-men end up exporting the unprocessed cashew outside Ghana thus creating jobs for other countries.

There were very few comments and questions after the panel discussion. Among these comments, H.E. Christopher Thornley made mention of complaints he receives from Canadian businessmen/businesswomen about the high level of corruption cost they have to pay in Ghana and the need to reduce this “corruption-tax”. He agreed with Noah Schiff about the need for a better regulatory environment which would provide the necessary incentives to grow businesses.

Hubert Nii-Aponsah is Member of the Center for Economic Governance and Political Affairs at IMANI Africa.


More News/Articles

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get the latest News/Updates in your inbox!