Zim firms tour Ghanaian industries Part of the Zimbabwe business delegation attending the Zimbabwe-Ghana Business Forum underway in Accra, Ghana. The forum was organised by ZimTrade and was attended by AfCTA secretary general Wamkele Mene.

Golden Sibanda, in ACCRA, Ghana

LOCAL firms participating in the Zimbabwe-Ghana Business Forum, which opened on  Monday and ends today, yesterday toured selected Ghanaian businesses in the food and beverages sector, education and trade facilitation to assess opportunities and appreciate the doing business conditions in the west African country.

The field visit yielded potentially huge opportunities for Zimbabwean companies, which can use the links they cultivated to export significant volumes of goods and services to Ghana and the rest of the west Africa region, including partnerships in higher education.

Ghanaian companies visited are located in Ghana’s seaside city of Tema on the cost of the Atlantic Ocean and included Cotecna, a customs solutions provider, grocery distribution firm Kaysens Gaisie, diversified conglomerate (food and merchandise distribution, transport and logistics, education) Afarita Limited as well as liquor, beverages and food chemicals manufacturing and distribution giant, TT Brothers Limited.

Organised by the national trade development and promotion agency, ZimTrade, the forum held in Accra sought to identify markets for Zimbabwean products in Ghana in line with Government policy on export-led growth, taking advantage of opportunities presented by the gigantic African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) market.

The AfCFTA is the world’s largest free trade area bringing together the 55 countries of the African Union (AU) and eight (8) Regional Economic Communities (RECs). The overall mandate of the AfCFTA is to create a single continental market with a population of about 1,3 billion people and a combined GDP of approximately US$3,4 trillion.

As part of its mandate, the AfCFTA is to eliminate trade barriers and boost intra-Africa trade. In particular, it is to advance trade in value-added production across all service sectors of the African Economy.

Zimbabwe and Ghana have both signed and ratified the AfCTA agreement, which is a panacea to resolve some of the challenges faced when trading within the African continent.

Companies that took part in the business-to-business engagements field tour included Schweppes Zimbabwe unit Beitbridge Juicing Company, Cairns Foods Limited, Associated Foods Zimbabwe, Merripaks Investments and senior representatives of major state universities in Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Higher Education and Technology.

Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Ghana, Kufa Edward Chinoza, who was part of the delegation of company officials that participated in the field tour, said after the tour he was delighted that ZimTrade had successfully organised the business forum to scout opportunities for Zimbabwean goods and services in Ghana.

Ambassador Chinoza also expressed his appreciation for the presence of AfCFTA secretary general Wamkele Mene at the highly subscribed business forum on Monday as well as former Food and Agriculture Minister Owusu Afriyie Akoto.

“The thrust of the forum is in line with the Government strategy of achieving export-led growth, as provided for under the National Development Strategy 1, taking advantage of opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area.

“We expect the forum to help grow trade between Zimbabwe and Ghana, which is currently insignificant despite the fact that the two nations have longstanding cordial relations.

“Apart from the B2B meetings during the business forum, the companies have also been able to visit and share experiences with their Ghanaian counterparts, giving them insights into opportunities and the way Ghanaian companies do business.

“The companies also had opportunities to visit the Tema Port to appreciate how imports and exports are cleared. I look forward to more companies visiting Ghana to take advantage of trade and investment opportunities available here,” he said.

One participating company, a Schweppes Zimbabwe unit, BBJ, business executive Washington Kabanda earlier told this publication that he was in Ghana attending the business forum with a view to growing the company’s products into the Ghanaian market.

BBJ is a manufacturer and processor of concentrates, pulps, purees and fruit by-products, beverage oils, tomato paste,  value-added products (cordials) and jam.

“The main objective of coming to the conference was to identify customers who will be able to buy our products,” he said.

Another participant, Merripaks Investments, a fledgling small to medium enterprise specialising in dried foods, clothes and arts and craft products, operations director Sophia Gunda said she hoped she would be able to receive enquirers and seal deals for her range of products.

“I am here in Ghana Accra, attending the Zimbabwe-Ghana Business Forum. I came to showcase my products; I came with high expectations. After thorough research I found out these products are needed here in Ghana,” she said.

Speaking earlier at the forum AfCFTA Mr Mene said Zimbabwe and Ghana shared a long-standing strong bond of friendship and deep bilateral ties. However, the trade figures between the two countries currently are minuscule.

Also present at the forum were key trade facilitation bodies of Ghana including Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) and Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPA), among others.

“Zimbabwe’s African destination markets are concentrated in proximity markets mainly in the COMESA and SADC countries, and similarly, Ghana mainly trades with countries in ECOWAS, with the exception of South Africa which is a key trade partner.

“Indeed, this is characteristic of intra-African trade wherein over three-quarters of trade takes place within regional trading blocs, while the market penetration potential in other African economies remains largely untapped.

“There is, therefore, the need to add value to the existing special relations between Zimbabwe and Ghana by forging greater collaboration and cooperation to bring mutual benefits. And the AfCFTA framework provides a great opportunity to advance the economic aims and aspirations of our two State Parties,” he said.

Mr Mene said he was confident that there are vast opportunities for both Zimbabwean and Ghanaian businesses and investors to exploit in multiple sectors including agriculture and agro-processing, transport and logistics and tourism, as identified in the AfCFTA Private Sector Engagement Plan.

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