McDan Business Forum:
Business moguls gather to proffer strategies for economic rebound
By Eugene Davis
More than 100 Ghanaian business leaders have urged government to bolster its relationship with the private sector and develop comprehensive strategies to support them to grow.
According to these leaders, for the Ghanaian economy to be in a strong position again, more inward investment, new green industries and start-up business ventures are required.
SMEs are the engine of Africa’s economy but quite a significant number of them are unable to sustain their operations. In Ghana, more than 85% of enterprises are SMEs and these SMEs contribute towards 70% of the country’s gross domestic product, research shows (ITC, 2016).
Enabling Ghanaian SMEs and the private sector to be globally competitive through skills development was a critical focus point at the maiden McDan Business Forum held in Accra last Thursday.
Speaking at the maiden McDan Business Forum, the CEO of McDan Group of Companies, Daniel McKorley stated that the aim of the event was to assemble business leaders and solicit ideas which they plan to present to government.
“The past year 2022 has been a struggling year and we witnessed things that we never saw before in terms of business and I feel the politicians did their best, government did what they had to do, right now the private sector must have some voice with ideas, so I thought it wise to bring some few business men together for us to brainstorm, see what we can do to support the government and also if we have any ideas we take it to government to see how they can buy into it and make sure that the business environment becomes an enjoyable one.” he told journalists after the event.
During the forum, there were calls for the strengthening of the local content and adopting diversification.
According to Mr. McKorley, the country has had weak local content law and spirit, he reckons it is about time local business men have a “big say in policy, it looks like the whole business community is sitting back watching on for the politicians and government to take decisions for us, and I think it is about time, we support government with our resources and ideas”
He also added that business men in the country must be more solution minded in order to support government.
At the forum several issues such as the cedi depreciation to the US dollar, adding value to the country’s raw materials, developing market access for smes to partake in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), redefining the Ghanaian mindset, were discussed.
Ghanaian businessman and former co-founder of UT Bank, Prince Kofi Amoabeng touched on the weakening cedi to the dollar and offered strategies, stressing that individuals habits and behaviours have changed which has made the demand of the dollar high.
“We have a change in lifestyle, values -the food that we eat, things we wanted for ourselves and family is changed. In every home in the south of Ghana, they have to pound fufu which is local, now everybody is eating rice which we don’t grow, we have to import toothpick after we have eaten our rice.
We need dollars to pursue whatever our level of desire is, therefore the rate of the cedi to the dollar will worsen, and one major contribution to this is corruption -when people have taken monies from the system, they need dollars so it is more compact so they can run away and put those monies outside, so apart from the fact that we have changes in values, lifestyle and everything, there is so much corruption which is also pushing for more dollars.”
On some of the solutions, he stated that government should limit the importation of rice, oil and non-essential items, “government will have to put some kind of ban and restrictions in place so we don’t have to import much because importation puts a stress on it, a strong GRA is needed in order to rake in more taxes, a bold leadership which is not greedy will help stabilize the cedi.”
The forum saw leaders from various sectors of the Ghanaian economy share their perspectives on ways to improve the fortunes of the Ghanaian economy in the coming year.
Some participants included the CEO of Maxigate Group, Mr Dennis O. Carter; the Managing Director of FBN Bank Ghana, Victor Yaw Asante; the CEO of Payswitch, Kojo Choi and the MD of Penta Build Limited, Mr Firas Jaber.