Barely two months to the start of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), only 26 percent of firms in Ghana are aware of the trade deal, the second wave of the COVID-19 Business Tracker survey has revealed.
This means 74 percent of firms are unaware of the AfCFTA.
The COVID-19 Business Tracker Survey was conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), in collaboration with UNDP and the World Bank.
When the second round of the survey asked businesses about their knowledge and perspectives, the findings indicated that “26.2 percent nationwide are aware of the AfCFTA but when explained to them, 75.6 percent believe that AfCFTA can help transform their businesses.”
According to the survey whose results were launched on November 12, large firms were more aware of the trade deal and perceived the potential, compared to smaller firms.
When asked what kind of support they would want, large firms alluded to the removal of policy and regulatory bottlenecks, while small firms pointed to the low cost of credit.
Commenting on the findings, Economic Advisor at the UNDP, Dr. Frederick Mugisha said the results gave a sense of “what more we need to do so firms benefit from the agreement.”
“What we need to do is to make sure that everybody understands what it is; we need to deliver the AfCFTA the same way we are delivering the SDGs,” he said.
“The right conversation is AfCFTA has come; how do we take advantage of it? Even if for a moment we remove the AfCFTA, the whole world has access to the Ghanaian market. What we are saying is that with the AfCFTA, we want a mechanism that will help Ghanaians to be able to sell to the rest of the Continent but we also want the continent to sell to Ghana.
To get businesses to deal with their weaknesses and issues of standardization of products and services so they can benefit from the agreement, the business associations would have a major role to play. They must negotiate with the regulators to provide requisite support to firms,” he added.
AfCFTA, a process
The UNDP Economic Advisor told Business Finder the AfCFTA should not be seen as an event, rather, should be seen as a process of transformation.
“Some people will start trading on January 1, 2021, but others will start on day 500 and that’s ok. What is important for Ghana and any country is to make sure that the AfCFTA is ingrained into people; it becomes their movement; so that even when you are in secondary school you can understand what the Agreement is about and it broadens your horizon,” he explained.