Free Zones intensifies export agenda in Western region

The Ghana Free Zones Authority (GFZA) has signed an agreement with a private developer for the development of about 1,500 acres of land designated in Yabiw/Shama in the Western Region.

The proposed investment is estimated at about $250 million to $300 million regarding the development of the designated Special Economic Zones.

Speaking at a media launch of the third Annual Investment Week celebration in Accra, the Chief Executive of the GFZA, Ambassador Michael Oquaye Jr., said this year’s Celebration on the theme: “GFZA

Championing Export-Led Industrial Growth in the Context of AFCFTA and World Trade,” will see the exchange of ideas among industry players as well as chart a way forward in getting more Ghanaian companies into the free Zones space.

He said the investment therefore is expected to provide world-class infrastructure such as roads, electricity with a dedicated power plant, sewage treatment plant, container depot, office complex, and residential complex.

He said the project, when completed, would lead to the creation of thousands of jobs and increased foreign exchange earnings for Ghana.

The Chief Executive said out of the 217 active companies in the Free Zones enclave, 72 are wholly owned Ghanaian companies, representing 33 per cent, 74 are wholly foreign-owned companies, representing 34 per cent, and 72 are joint ventures, representing 33 per cent.

“This is an indication that Ghanaian companies also have the potential to take advantage of the free zone incentives and make a mark in the international market,” he said. He however said the Free Zones programme has been misconstrued as favouring mainly foreign investors.

Amb. Oquaye Jr. said, on the contrary, the Programme is open to all investors, both foreign and local. “Moreover, with the opportunities that AfCFTA also offers, we are encouraging Ghanaian-owned businesses to take advantage of the 1.3 billion African markets to expand their activities,” he added. He said the impact of these achievements on the economy can not be overemphasized, hence the choice of this year’s theme for the celebration to reflect government’s focus on export-led industrialization and the AfCFTA implementation. Amb. Oquaye Jr. said as a country, “we are currently grappling with a balance of trade deficit and the depreciation of our national currency; therefore, we must increase our exports to earn the needed foreign exchange to stabilise the cedi.”

He said export-led industrial growth is one of the most appropriate strategies to achieve economic development; this has been the mandate of the GFZA. Thus, the importance of the Free Zones programme in reversing the country’s balance of trade deficit and the depreciating cedi is vital.

He said the Authority recognises the potential of the AfCFTA in attracting market-seeking investments and encouraging local businesses to export to the African market.

The AFCFTA presents Ghana with the opportunity to export to Africa, with an estimated market size of 1.3 billion people. He said in pursuing an export-led industrial growth strategy and the enormous opportunities AfCFTA and the world at large provide, the problems of unemployment, low export earnings, lack of value addition to our natural resources, lack of diversification of our export products, and being an insignificant player in the continental and global value chains can be solved. He said regarding the Authority’s achievements, 39 new companies have been licensed and expected to inject an estimated US$230 million into the economy.

In addition, the estimated export earnings from the 39 companies are US$529 million from an estimated production value of US$436 million. According to him, cumulative Free Zones exports since the program’s inception totaled US$ 27 billion by 2020. Amb. Oquaye Jr. hinted that plans are far advanced, regarding the designated processing zone in the Ashanti Region, commonly associated with the Boankra Port or the Greater Kumasi industrial project, as compensations for the land and economic activities have been finalised.

Source: GBC