The Trade and Industry Ministry is advocating an extension of scope for the local content policy to cover sectors of the economy where total foreign ownership is allowed by law.
The interest of locals in the mining, oil and gas sectors are adequately catered for under the local content policy. However, there are numerous other sectors of the economy where total foreign ownership is allowed by law.
Trade and Industry Minister Ekwow Spio-Garbrah said: “In the mining, oil and gas sectors, the government itself takes that interest on behalf of the people, but there are many other sectors where our laws allow 100 percent foreign ownership.
“That is the current position of the law, we don’t want to change the law but rather find ways of getting Ghanaians to be part-owners of these companies.”
While bemoaning the decision of Parliament to purchase foreign furniture, he believes that Ghanaian furniture producers should be given priority. “There are a lot of high-rise buildings and apartments under construction in Accra. Moving forward, we can insist that even though they are foreign companies, they should contract Ghanaians to produce the furniture for these apartments.”
Speaking on the “Role of SMEs in Ghana’s Economic Development”, the Trade and Industry Minister acknowledged that Small and Medium Scale Enterprises have the potential to contribute more to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Enterprise with five or less employees with a fixed asset of US$10,000 are classified as micro; small enterprises are those that employ 29 or fewer employees with fixed asset of US$100,000; medium enterprises have fixed assets of US$1million and employ 99 or less people.
Over 90 percent of Ghanaian industrial establishments are SMEs. They employ an estimated 85 percent of the country’s labour force.
That notwithstanding, the SME sector is bedevilled by a plethora of issues that have hindered its growth.
Access to finance, high interest rates, inadequate access to information, and erratic power supply are some of the challenges facing the sector.
Even though there are about 28 universal banks, dozens of savings and loans companies, and about 250 micro-finance companies in the country, SME operators either struggle to access credit or cannot afford the high interest rates charged by financial institutions.
The National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), which focuses on the SMEs, has played it part over the years — but is limited by lack of adequate funds and manpower to grow SMEs into large industries capable of employing 1000.
Weak management structures and poor record-keeping, among others, have been cited as major factors that have bridled support from financial institutions to the SMEs.
Mr. Spio-Garbrah said: “SME businesses and enterprises need to undertake periodic self- examination of their operational practices. They need to pursue good corporate governance and improve their management structures and skill-sets. They must be willing to subject themselves to continuing education and adoption of new technologies, especially information communication technology”.
He urged SMEs to join associations, chambers and non-governmental organisations to gain strength in numbers.