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Posted on Monday, 20 July 2015 17:39

Ghana aims to push demand for local products after government embarrassment

By Dasmani Laary in Accra

Photo©ReutersGhanaian President John Dramani Mahama faced embarrassment and had his commitment to a campaign to promote local products and businesses questioned after his government procured office equipment from China instead of locally.

Mahama's has been campaigning vigorously for Ghanaians to grow and consume home-made products to stir up local demand and help small and medium enterprises to expand and create jobs for the teeming unemployed youth.

It is unfortunate that those representing us would say that we cannot meet the demand

However, Mahama's government commitment to the campaign was questioned after 300 chairs and tables as well as other fittings, costing some 22 million cedi (over $6.5 million) for the country's 275 legislator's office complex were procured from China.

The move drew widespread criticism from some legislators and the clergy who raised concern over the quality of the office equipment and neglect of local producers.

The majority in parliament, however, justified the decision, saying that "no local company could have met the demand".

This drew sharp rebuttal from the Woodworkers Association of Ghana (WAG), who insisted their members were more than capable to handle the deal.

"It is unfortunate that those representing us would say that we cannot meet the demand and that they prefer to buy furniture from elsewhere. It is sad," WAG president, Reynolds Afeke Debrah has said.

Home-made

Ghana is pushing vigorously to stimulate demand for home-made food products, the trade ministry said, and create the congenial platform to bolster the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises to support the economy.

The government has since put in place a raft of strategies to encourage locals to grow and consume locally-made products, an official of the ministry said at the launch of the 3rd international cocoa chocolate festival and made in Ghana products.

The festival forms part of a campaign by Centuries International, a cocoa chocolate festival organisation, to create health benefits awareness and value for cocoa consumption as well as made in Ghana products as a heritage for the next generation.

Ghana's cocoa sector contributes a large percentage of the country's gross domestic product and employs over two million people, most of whom live in rural communities saddled with bad roads and lack improved social amenities.

The local producers either cannot afford to buy the final products of cocoa and other products or lack sufficient information about their health benefits.

Home-grown products like cocoa, rice, bananas, pepper and ginger are said to have properties that serve as powerful antioxidants, reduce ageing process, improve cardiovascular health and build the human immune system against a host of diseases.

A local entrepreneur, Ben Amponsah Fordjour said cocoa chocolate and made in Ghana products were produced without additives – and posed no health risk.

He has vowed to rally the small and medium enterprise sector to engage in, what he called aggressive promotion to raise demand for home-grown products.

"We have gone to the armed forces, we are serving some schools in Accra here, we will move to cover the regions and the communities, we are serving everybody in the country," he said.

Ghanaian local businesses face numerous challenges including government bureaucracy, lack of marketable business proposals and insufficient start-up capital.

While a chunk do not get professional business advice, several lack collateral to secure bank loans, which often have high interest rates.



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