From left to right: Ahmed Bennis, Secretary General of AEZO; Mr. Michael Okyere Baafi, Deputy Minister of Commerce; Mr. Michael Oquaye Jnr, CEO, Ghana Free Zones, and Ms. Atsuko Toda, Director, Agricultural Finance & Rural Infrastructure Devt. of the AfDB
The Ghana Free Zones Authority (GFZA) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry are developing three separate industrial cities in the country to boost the government’s industrialization agenda.
Known as the Special Economic Zones Project, industrial cities are being developed in Ashanti, Western and Eastern regions to serve as additional industrial hubs that could facilitate the transformation of natural resources into valuable goods. added for the export market.
The Director General (CEO) of GFZA, Mr. Michael Oquaye Jnr, made it known during the sixth annual meeting of the Organization of African Economic Zones (AEZO) in Accra last Friday.
The meeting, which was held in person and virtually via the Zoom platform, was themed: âConnecting African Special Economic Zones to Global Value Chains in the Age of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA ) â.
It brought together the heads of the economic zone agencies of the member states to deliberate on how to use the advantages of the world’s largest trading bloc for rapid economic development in Africa.
Mr Oquaye said an environmental and social impact assessment had already been launched on land secured for projects under Ghana’s economic transformation program, while the Ministry of Trade and Industry was developing a policy framework and regulatory institutional mechanisms for special economic zones.
The policy was to enable the private sector to take advantage of special economic zones within the broader regional market under the AfCFTA, as well as other market integration frameworks, he said.
“We hope that when the policy is developed by 2022, it will help guide our quest for a successful special economic zone in the country,” he said.
Referring to the accumulated benefits for companies operating under Ghana’s free zones, Mr. Oquaye said that for the first half of this year, free zone companies generated export revenues of $ 1.097 billion, with capital investments amounting to $ 173.84 million.
He said that beyond financial investments in the economy that helped propel development, 30,189 jobs were created through the investments, mostly concentrated in the manufacturing sector.
âIt is refreshing to report that the GFZA remains the anchor of Ghana’s industrial parks and special economic zones and continues to achieve positive results,â said the CEO.
The Minister of Information, Mr. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, who was the guest of honor of the event, said that the special economic zones were the catalyst for the realization of Africa’s industrialization agenda, such that envisaged in the implementation of the AfCFTA.
Therefore, he said, it was essential that AfCFTA member states advocate the right policy frameworks to promote the development of special economic zones in their respective countries.
âThe connection between special economic zones, AfCFTA and global value chains is important to reap the benefits of AfCFTA,â he said.
Mr. Oppong Nkrumah said the meeting was held at an opportune time to deliberate on the critical thematic areas of Special Economic Zones and AfCFTA to identify how companies operating in these zones could benefit from the operationalization of the AfCFTA. ZLECAf to stimulate industrialization.
He explained that most African countries use special economic zones or export processing zones (EPZs) as tools for economic development.
âOver the past 25 years, Ghana has reaped the benefits of implementing an EPZ program by attracting significant foreign direct investment, creating jobs, adding value to our natural resources and our exports, âhe said.
To help increase the gains of special economic zones, Mr. Oppong Nkrumah encouraged other African countries to learn from China’s rich experiences, whose special attention to the development of special economic zones has led to more than 60 % of its exports thanks to such initiatives.
Ultimately, this made China an important player in the global value chain of many products, he said.