The National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) has developed guidelines that would enable Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to fully harness the benefits of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).
At the launch of the guidelines, Dr Kodjo Mensah-Abrampa, Director-General, National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), tasked Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to create an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive at the local level.
He said the guidelines are expected to help local authorities put in place the right structures that will enable local businesses to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the free trade agreement to enhance local economic development.
“A lot of the well-initiated national programmes are not sitting with the local assemblies; you don’t find it in their plans and no clear response in interpreting them to suit their local situations.
We are seeking to leverage AfCFTA and the opportunities that it provides for us, responding to the variable situations of the MMDAs and also localizing some of these nationally initiated programmes,” he said.
According to the NDPC boss, creating a conducive environment will enable local assemblies increase their production capacities and take advantage of the opportunities provided by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The guidelines which seek to deepen the integration of local economies into the regional market and boost their trade performance and enhance planning capacities at the local level for effective participation in the AfCFTA, was developed by the NDPC through consultative processes with stakeholders including the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the AfCFTA Secretariat and with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Udo Etukudo, Economic Advisor at UNDP, said the UNDP would support Ghana to integrate and fully operationalize the AfCFTA at all policy levels.
He said: “The AfCFTA guidelines are the first step and the institutions that we have at hand will have to be capacitated to play their role, in terms of mentoring young entrepreneurs, particularly the SME sector which makes up 70percent of Ghana’s private sector.
Michael Okyere Baafi, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, reiterated government ‘s commitment to take advantage of the AfCFTA to ensure socio-economic transformation of the country.
According to him, the AfCFTA initiative has come at the right time because government is already championing entrepreneurship including the 1D1F as achieving these policies will largely depend on the availability of markets.
“As part of measures to take advantage of the single market, Ghana has initiated processes including national level conversations and strategy formulation to harness the opportunities that AfCFTA brings,” he added
Nana Appiagyei Dankawoso I, immediate past President of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who chaired the launching ceremony commended the NDPC and its partners for the initiative.
He said the Ministry of Trade and Industry has been leading government efforts in putting in place the broad framework for Ghanaian businesses’ participation in the single African market.
“These guidelines will help MMDAs to organise themselves and provide the needed support to local businesses that have the potential to export,” he said.
Stakeholders believe that the guidelines will not only help the assemblies mainstream their programmes but will also make their expected outputs a priority for them.