Indigenous businesses have blamed their inability to fully realise the business opportunities that abound in key sectors of the national economy, especially those in the mining and nascent oil and gas sectors, on lack of capacity and resources.
They have, thus, called on the government to actualise the demands of the Industrial Development Fund captured in the National Industry Policy. The fund, according to the National Industrial Policy, is to provide long-term financing to industry “based on clear and transparent criteria.”
While admitting their near absence in some sectors of the economy, the business concerns said the specialised and capital intensive nature of some of the sectors continued to scare indigenes from venturing into them.
“It is just not the businesses alone but the individual expertise as well. Most of us do not have those resources to invest in such areas or the expertise to work there,” the Vice President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Mr Samuel Appenteng, said in an interview.
“We know of the fine opportunities that exist there. Some of the foreign companies working there are even ready to enforce the local content policies but the question is how many of us have that capacity to really take-up businesses and jobs there,” he asked.
He made the comments after the AGI kick-started the third edition of its Local Content Exhibition and Conference at the International Conference Centre in Accra.
The exhibition and conference is an annual initiative of the association with support from the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, Tullow Ghana Limited, Ghana National Gas Company Limited (GNGC), the Ministries of Trade and Industry, Energy and Lands and Natural Resource.
It is aimed at exposing indigenous businesses to the opportunities that exist in key sectors of the economy while challenging the government and other relevant stakeholders to create a competitive environment for local businesses to operate in such sectors.
This year’s event is on the theme ‘Local Content Partnerships – The Success Stories’ and will run from Monday, October 8, to Thursday, October 11.
The programme will afford some multi-national companies working in the oil and gas and mining sectors to share their success stories on local content.
“Capacity is still the challenge and by it we mean the expertise and resources. How many Ghanaians can weld under the sea to be able to get employed by an oil and gas company ?” Mr Appenteng asked.
On how the country can bridge that gap created by the lack of resources and skills for more indigenes to get involved in such areas, the AGI Vice President said “somebody needs to fund that capacity building.”
“There need to be a certain level of funding dedicated to capacity building in this country so that we can equip our people with the necessary expertise to be able to compete for jobs and businesses in these areas,” he said.
He, thus, called on the government to make meaningful the demands of the Industrial Development Fund which is aimed at providing funding to industry to operate.
The President of the association, Nana Owusu Afari, had earlier urged members of the AGI to team up with relevant foreign companies “to build the capacity required to do business with the bigger companies.”
While commending the government for instituting local content policies to cover the oil and gas and mining sectors, the AGI President said “there is the need to speed up the process of developing the legal framework or passing these policies into law.”
The GNPC, GNGC, and other government institutions and multinational companies such as Tullow, Newmont, among others, are expected to make presentations on local content.