By Prosper Agbenyega
Executive Chairman of McDan Group of Companies, Dr. Daniel Mckorley said the global downturn, and the ripple effect on some Africa’s economies, may be the wakeup call that Africa needs to move AFCFTA forward.
According to him, there are great opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa trade, in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) and as such, Private sector in multiple countries in Africa thriving because there has been a boost in international trade.
Dr. Daniel Mckorley was speaking as the Guest Speakers at the 74th Annual New Year’s School where he averred that there is the need to create an enabling environment for large businesses and competent Ghanaian industries must be given first right opportunities for them to carry small businesses along for growth.
He said, when the big businesses lead, small businesses rally around and push plug in growth and become the true engine of growth.
“Both the large and SME businesses will use AFCFTA as their export vehicle and then income flows into the economy, taxes are paid, and everyone wins.”
Giving his thoughts and contributions on how to leverage AFCFTA for a mutually beneficial impact across academia, industry, and government, Dr. McKorley said, it sometimes takes looking beyond, perceptions, politics, and predators to choose the lonely path of Industrialism, believing that when competent Ghanaian Industries are given first right opportunities, especially in the growth industries they will execute, and the SME’s will thrive as well.
He listed some keys to succeeding and indicated that Immersion, Solid Partnerships and The Youth are keys to growth.
“The key to succeeding at anything requires knowledge. The Private Sector must educate themselves comprehensively about AFCFTA from policy context to concept execution. That is why events such as the Afrexim forum in Cairo, this platform here at the University of Ghana and the upcoming Africa Prosperity Dialogues 2023 are going to be critical education and structured platforms for immersion with specific action items which are streamlined. This will go far to minimize and eliminate concerns and strengthen the bases.”
He also mentioned that the private sector must get actively involved with support whilst key stakeholders have taken the lead in logistics, there are other segments within AFCTA that need specialist expertise be it country specific, or across the region.”
According to him, the main drivers of Agenda 2063 will be the youth and there must not only be an effort and a keen interest in their participation, but also specific participatory roles and a platform to build their human capital.
He however mentioned that there is no doubt that Africa and for that matter Ghana is deeply in challenging times and the effects of Covid -19 pandemic and the Russian-Ukraine conflict shouldn’t be brushed aside.
One of the industries that has been greatly affected by this has been the logistics industry and recovery is slow; he said.
Dr. McKorley said some countries in the west and Asia, such as the US, Germany, and Japan had their economies built buy a few indigenous Industrialists who controlled certain sectors of the economy and set the path for SMEs to follow deliver services and products and become the engine of growth.
“Industries such as Iron, Steel, Rail, and Banking in the US were controlled by Americans. 4 or 5 indigenous companies in Japan built their nation…Now let’s look at Ghana. Ghanaian businessmen don’t control many sectors rather we contribute. banking is controlled by Nigerians and South Africans, Retail is controlled by Lebanese and Indians, Telecom Sector is controlled by British and South African’s, Oil and Gas, Mining, trading, you name it; They are controlled by foreigners.”
He wondered how, with this development, can the private sector thriven and what would a local SME look up to.
Talking a little about his decision to mine salt, McDan enumerated that he was questioned, distracted and discouraged but he pushed because he wanted to see a Ghanaian control a large part of an industry too.
“Why? Because the entire value chain of the industrial salt business will be developed by SME’s. I believe local businesses who manufacture detergents, pharmaceuticals, and food processing companies to name a few will plug into the salt sector as it is a raw material for their business…As an Entrepreneur & Philanthropist who has been on a 25plus year journey of both failure and success; I can boldly say that AFCFTA is the future of the impact of Economic Development in Africa, and I also ask the question, are we ready to do whatever it takes? For me it is a resounding yes because it truly is Africa’s time.