The annual foreign exchange earnings from professional services export trade such as education, medical tourism and consultancy services is about five hundred percent higher than the revenue accrued from the Oil and Gas industry.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) estimates that in 2013 Ghana’s total professional services trade accounted for about US$2.5billion; though a marginal fraction of the world total services of US$4.64trillion, it was much higher than the net revenue of the Oil and Gas industry that’s hovering around US$500million.
Realising the growing importance of services trade in foreign exchange earnings, job-creation and GDP growth, the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) under the Ministry of Trade and Industry and with support of the Commonwealth Secretariat has developed a National Services Export Strategy, Banda Zakari Abdallah, Head of Services, GEPA, has said.
The goal of the strategy is to enhance the competitiveness of Ghana through improving the export of professional services. The strategic plan covers a period of five years and identifies four strategic sectors of focus for development and promotion. These are medical tourism, education, Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) and Consultancy Services.
He was speaking at an awareness-creation workshop in Sunyani under theme “A Major Contributor to Economic Growth”. The workshop was one of the three non-mutually exclusive programmes (awareness-raising, identification and removal of constraints) to achieve services export agenda.
Mr. Stephen Normeshie, General Manager, GEPA, said the professional services sector has the potential to furnish the country with needed foreign exchange for development, aside from the commonly known non-traditional export (NTE) commodities such as wood carvings, pineapple, banana, Bolgatanga-baskets among others.
He indicated that the Authority has started including services outfits to its trade fair programmes, and also partnering the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT to coach IT firms on export market dynamics, adding: “GEPA in collaboration with relevant stakeholders will put up the best promotional strategies to package services for the global market place”.
He therefore entreated service institutions to work assiduously on bringing the necessary foreign exchange and as well create more jobs, saying: “With the inclusion of oil in Ghana’s export portfolio, it is envisaged that the confluence of services, oil and other NTE commodities will augment efforts at consolidating the gains chalked up over the years”.
Meanwhile, competition from other countries – especially in Asia — has been identified as a threat to Ghana’s professional services export potentials, particularly in the area of BPO and medical tourism. The tendency of government to focus on promotion of physical products to the neglect of services and operational cost of bandwidth has also been noted as threats.