Accra, Sept. 21, GNA – Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) suppliers in the Mango, Cassava and ICT sectors are being connected to buyers in and outside the ECOWAS sub-region to promote regional trade and access to market.
At the launch of the second edition of the West Africa Connect 2022, held in Accra, more than 160 suppliers from the 16 West African Countries were with more than 20 buyers from West Africa and other regions.
The two-day event focused on creating linkages between mango, cassava and ICT value chain actors, while establishing new and durable business partnerships and increasing commercial transactions.
The programme is to strengthen the competitiveness of West African countries; improve the business environment and quality of the products sold and exported from the region, while complying with stringent market requirements on product safety, health and environmental impact.
Also, it was to improve food security in the region, by modernizing the agribusiness sector and supporting agri-food SMEs to meet the vital needs of the local population.
Out of 302 million tonnes of cassava globally produced in 2020, more than half was produced in Africa.
On the African continent, 52 per cent of total cassava production is carried out in West Africa, Nigeria accounting for 23.4 per cent globally.
n the mango sector, the ECOWAS region was the 7th mango-exporting origin worldwide with 90, 000 tonnes exported in 2019, with a market share of global trade rising to 5.1 per cent in 2020.
Dr John-Hawkins Asiedu, Technical Advisor, Ministry of Trade, said the government had developed policies on textile and garment, cassava and mango which would soon be out to help value chain actors take advantage of West African Connect and AfCFTA platforms.
He said: “the government is focused on capacity development in the area of profiling matchmaking and linkage to the supply chain of large enterprises.”
In Ghana, about 70 per cent of all industries are MSMEs that provide over 85 per cent of manufacturing jobs and generate 70 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.
Mr Kolawola Sofola, Acting Director for Trade, ECOWAS Commission, said the local firms had untapped potential and the event would allow them to demonstrate the quality of their products and services.
“The West African Competitiveness Programme ((WACOMP) and the West Africa Connect 2022 are just illustrations of what ECOWAS is doing to promote the private sector and trade in the region,” he said.
Mr Rafik Feki, the Industrial Development Officer, Department of Trade, Investment and Innovation, UNIDO, gave the assurance that his outfit would ensure the products were of high standard not only for the African market but the global market.
The West Africa Connect is implemented as part of WACOMP, being funded by the European Union and led by the ECOWAS Commission.
The WACOMP is implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the International Trade Centre.
The first edition of the West Africa Connect focused on textiles and garments and ICT.