The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is prioritizing support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) on the continent to take full advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), its Secretary-General, John Denton, has said.
Mr Denton, speaking to the B&FT in Accra during an official working visit to Ghana and sub-Saharan Africa, said the Chamber is working with its ICC Regional Centres of Entrepreneurship (CoEs) on the continent to prioritise and prepare SMEs to harness greater participation in the AfCFTA with emphasis on promoting cross-border trade.
With four Centres of Entrepreneurship across Africa, in countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Morocco, the Chamber according to Denton, will lay major emphasis on open innovations for SMEs and take keen interest in women-led businesses.
Already, the ICC has built capacity for several women-led businesses in Africa with recent programmes, partnering UPS, Tralac and West Blue Consulting. The Chamber also hosted an open innovation for several startups in Nigeria, Kenya and the World Food Programme innovation accelerator in East Africa.
The ICC, Mr Denton said, is very focused on growing the private sector by supporting entrepreneurship particularly in sub-Saharan Africa as its CoE seeks to strengthen and further expand the Chamber’s extensive global network that currently comprises 6.5 million enterprises in over 130 countries.
“Apart from these inroads, the Chamber is also driving ecosystem partnerships with public and private actors including United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, United Nations Development Programme and development agencies such as USAID and GIZ” Mr Denton noted.
Visit to the trade ministry
Addressing Mr Denton during a courtesy call, Minister of Trade and Industry in Charge of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Dr. Stephen Amoah, said Ghana has budding entrepreneurs with the potential to grow the nation’s economy but will need to be exposed to the required capital and ideas in order to be able to scale up and be competitive.
The ICC Secretary-General visited the Minister with his team from the renowned Global Association of Businesses, including Ghana’s former Attorney General, Marieta Brew Appiah who is a member of the ICC’ Arbitration Court and Doni Kwame, the Secretary-General of ICC Ghana.
Mr. Denton noted that the ICC has enjoyed a close working relationship with the Ministry of Trade and Industry through its Ghana National Chapter since the Chamber was launched in the country.
He said the ICC Ghana has led the organized private sector to advocate for the ratification of the World Trade Organisation Trade (WTO) Facilitation Agreement in Ghana and followed up with its implementation with the support of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, an activity which, he asserted, is still ongoing for the National Trade Facilitation Committee.
He revealed that the ICC is currently advocating the extension of the WTO Moratorium on custom duties on Electronic Transmission and is therefore ready to engage government on that and also provide support or capacity building on international best practice on the calculation of VAT which has been a source of concern for ICC members globally.
Marietta Brew Appiah who is Ghana’s representative at the ICC’s International Court of Arbitration, briefed the deputy Minister on the works of the Court.