UNDP boosts Ghanaian MSMEs AfCFTA participation with US$70,000 grant

Ghanaian Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises’ (MSMEs) participation in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) gets major boosts with a $70, 000 grant.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/ Absa Bank Ghana partnership is part of a series of business development activities, which has already supported about 3,000 enterprises over the past four years.

Under the current programme, some 18 MSMEs that qualified from an innovation pitching competition would be supported to scale and firm up their operations and leverage opportunities presented by the continental free trade.

Beneficiaries of the integrated MSMEs support programme were drawn from six Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) – Sagnerigu, Jomoro, Ketu South, Sefwi Wiawso, Kumasi, and Kassena-Nankana West.

Dr Angela Lusiga, UNDP Resident Representative to Ghana, expressed confidence in the programme helping address the financing gap for MSMEs, and for them to be fully prepared to participate in AfCFTA.

, we believe that providing integrated support to small businesses particularly those owned by women and youth is key to transforming the economy and unlocking the productivity of the informal sector. This will create decent jobs and break the cycle of poverty and inequality,’ she said.

She said UNDP through a study observed the lack of knowledge by many Ghanaian MSMEs about the free trade agreement, leading to the provision of the US$70,000 grant.

‘We started with a survey where we asked MSMEs what they knew about AfCFTA. We found out that there were many enterprises that didn’t even know about AfCFTA. Most of them didn’t know much about the opportunities and products that are allowed under the AfCFTA,’ she said.

Dr Lusiga said UNDP had effectively addressed the awareness deficit about the AfCFTA with the beneficiary MSMEs through working with the National Coordination Office of AfCFTA to spread awareness of the agreement in different districts.

Madam Audrey Abakah, Head of SME Agency at ABSA Bank, encou
raged MSMEs to have proper accounts, as it remained a major access to finance constraint in the country.

She urged the MSMEs to fully apply the concepts taught under the programme to enhance their enterprises.

Kofi Ansong Denkyi, the Chief Operating Officer of Empretec Ghana, said the expansion of an enterprise transcended access to grants, noting that the mindset of the entrepreneurs was key to the success of the enterprises.

‘Money alone doesn’t make entrepreneurs successful. What makes entrepreneurs successful is their mindset and behavior. So, I urge the awardees to continue to cultivate the right mindset and behaviour to become growth-oriented businesses,’ he said.

He also encouraged them to prepare for risks, saying some businesses could derail the growth of their enterprises if they did not have the mental fortitude to overcome them.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Ghana drives towards national statistical system

Ghana, through the second phase of the Strategic Sector Cooperation, is aiming to build a robust and comprehensive national data system to promote evidence-based planning and policy decision-making.

The Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), Statistics Denmark, and the Denmark Embassy in Ghana, have signed a three-year agreement (2024-2026) to make the production of the national statistics system achievable.

Professor Samuel Kobina Annim, Government Statistician, signed for Ghana, while Prof Tom Nørring and Mr Carsten Zangenberg signed for the Danish Embassy and Statistics Denmark, respectively.

The signing ceremony took place at the Marriot Hotel in Accra on Wednesday, March 13.

Through this collaboration, the country would leverage survey and administrative data efficiently to address existing data gaps through digitalisation, while ensuring a progress towards a greener statistic period.

Speaking at the ceremony, Professor Samuel Kobina Annim, Government Statistician, stated that the project would enable th
e evaluation of administrative data by pulling all data sets together.

He said it had become necessary to reawaken the national data and statistic system to bridge the disconnection of data at various levels to engender a proper evaluation of government interventions and help in policy decision-making.

Prof Annim cited the example of the phase two of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ II), which the sector Minister had announced was to benefit some two million agricultural farmers to explain the essence of the national statistic system.

‘If that two million does not translate into statistics that sits in our social register, we wouldn’t have any basis to evaluate it, and this is what administrative data does,’ he said.

‘So, once there’s a national intervention reaching out to a defined number of people, our definition of reawakening the national system is pulling all the datasets together,’ he stated.

That, Prof Annim said, would ensure, for example that, ‘data on the two million people can be reconcile
d with people benefiting from other interventions such as School Feeding and the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP)’.

The Government Statistician also noted that the second phase of the project would focus on people-centred statistics with disaggregation and multiple indicators to measure the quality of life at all levels.

It would, therefore, help make statistics pro-poor, inclusive, and help in making better policy decisions to address environment, including climate change effects, and pandemic preparedness, he said.

He also stated that Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) as well as Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) would be able to get a better working relationship with all players within the national statistical system.

Prof Tom Nørring, the Danish Ambassador to Ghana, said there were endless opportunities in integrating already existing administrative data across authorities and ministries by a national statistics bureau.

Mr Carsten Zangenberg, Head of Commun
ication and Sales, Statistics Denmark, noted that the statistics produced through the partnership would help provide facts and reliable evidence for planning.

‘We have to work together for the next few years because we need good decisions, which are gotten from data,’ he said.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Rashid Bawa, Ghana’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, dies

Alhaji Rashid Bawa, Ghana’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, has passed on.

Rashid Bawa, who was also the Akan New Patriotic Party (NPP) Parliamentary Candidate (PC), is reported to have died in Nigeria on Thursday.

He had been an envoy to that country since 2017 when the NPP-led-Government returned to power.

Mr Frank Adjei Worlanyo, the Akan Constituency Communication Officer, NPP, confirmed his passing to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in a telephone interview.

During the NPP Parliamentary primary on December 2 , 2023, Alhaji Bawa polled 492 votes to beat his closest contender, Mr Tassah Safiwu, who had 103 voted, with Alhaji Tanko Yakubu, the third contender, garnering 17 votes.

He was also the NPP parliamentary candidate in 2020, who secured 13, 300 votes, representing 40.78 per cent, while the National Democratic Congress’ candidate, Mr Yao Gomado, had 19,317 votes, representing 59.22 per cent to win the seat.

Alhaji Bawa, a legal practitioner, won the Akan seat as Independent Candidate in the 2000 elec

He was Ghana’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2005-2008.

Source: Ghana News Agency

VFS Global commits to continuous engagement in developing innovative solutions

VFS Global has affirmed its commitment to continuous engagement in developing innovative solutions to enhance the overall visa application experience.

Mr Hariprasad?Viswanathan, the Head- Sub-Saharan Africa, VFS Global said applicants were regularly provided information about visa processing timelines, data protection and privacy assurance, how to detect fraud and the organisation’s value-added services are regularly communicated via key touchpoints.

Mr Viswanathan was speaking at a?Media outreach session?on the?2023 travel trends and what to expect in the upcoming peak season in Accra.

?He advised applicants to be sure to carry all the requisite documentation, including a printout of the checklist, to submit along with the duly filled application form as well as check the VFS Global website before planning to apply on important requirements.

He said 2023 was the year of a significant rise in global outbound travel across the world, including in countries like Ghana.?

The Head said the surge in travel a
ctivity that began in 2022, continued in 2023 with visa application volumes at VFS Global in Ghana nearly doubling on a year-on-year basis.


‘Applications processed at the Ghana Passport Premium Application Centres run by VFS Global have seen a 30 per cent rise during the year, which underlines the desire to travel overseas by the residents of Ghana,’ he added. ?

He said that based on the initial trends, the expectation was the increase in international travel in 2022 and 2023 to continue this year as well.

He said outbound travel had rebounded in 2023 to pre-pandemic levels with tourism, family visits, and educational as well as business trips being the common reasons for outbound travel from Ghana.

He said seeing the surge in demand for outbound travel and with limited appointment slots available, they encouraged their applicants to apply for their visas as early as possible like their flight and hotel bookings.

He said?Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics would fundamentally
change border management, enabling Smart Borders a few years from now.

He said the need for safe travel had led to greater acceptance of contactless and Do it Yourself technologies.

He said overall securing just the algorithms and data sets was not enough, rather, an end-to-end approach in applying security by design should be adopted and managed on an ongoing basis.

He said the recent rise in eco-conscious travellers, who sought to travel sustainably was also changing, how businesses and locations were operating now from their ‘business as usual attributes to looking to transform journeys by offering meaningful experiences.’

Mr Viswanathan said demand for personalised services which prioritise safe travel E-Visa was emerging as a revolutionary service in the travel domain where travellers could apply for their visa from the location of their choice by leveraging on the highly secure and smart solution developed by VFS Global.


‘Our Visa At Your Doorstep service and Premium Lounge services witnessed a
strong demand last year,’ he added.

Madam Cleopatra Avenorgbo, Deputy General Manager-Operations for VFS Global-Ghana, said the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority in collaboration with Bridge Direct and VFS Global had been awarded a contract to enhance service delivery experience with Premium DVLA Centers.

She said the services?would include Driver’s license renewal, replacement, missing license, upgrading of licence and vehicle registration.

She said VFS Global was also awarded the contract to open new passport Application Centres across the country in 2018.

?’It currently operates in three locations in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale,’ she added.

Source: Ghana News Agency

NGO supports women with Groundnut Mill at Gwollu

The Gwollu and Buoti communities in the Sissala West District of the Upper West Region have been provided with a mill for processing groundnut to aid the women to easily extract the oil.

The Community Development Alliance (CDA), a non-governmental organisation in the region commissioned the two state-of-the-art groundnut mills at Gwollu and Buoti at separate events.

Mr Suleman Bipuah, the Project Manager, CDA, explained that the initiative was part of the Ghana Trade and Investment Activity (GTIA), aimed to support women engaged in groundnut cultivation and its value chain to make the best out of their trade.

The GTIA activity focuses on supporting women in trade, particularly those involved in groundnut cultivation and its value chain.

He underscored the importance of women’s economic empowerment and its ripple effect on nutrition, health, education, and overall societal well-being.

Mr Bipuah expressed gratitude to the USAID for assisting to procure and install three groundnut processing machines, and
training the women in quality standards, traceability, branding, marketing, and financial management.

The partnership with the USAID/Ghana Feed the Future had ensured direct support of 650 women groundnut farmers, aggregators, and processors to increase output, value addition, improve quality, packaging, branding and strengthening market linkages for increased sales, incomes, and dignified work opportunities.

He said the CDA also supported the women groups to register cooperative societies, developed business plans, acquire and install three efficient groundnut processing machines to increase productive capacity in the Sissala West and Lambussie districts of the Upper West Region.

Madam Suraj Cecilia, the Secretary to the Buoti Women’s Group, expressed her heartfelt gratitude to the NGO for the groundbreaking project.

She encouraged women from other communities to follow suit and collaborate with the CDA to foster unity and collective development.

Madam Rahinatu Mustapha, a resident of Buoti, shared her
experience of previously carting groundnuts to distant communities for grinding, incurring additional costs and facing logistical challenges and commended the NGO for the support to make her work easier.

Mr Mohammed Adams Sukparu, the Member of Parliament, Sissala West, commended CDA for the initiative to empower the women financially and pledged to engage with the women to ensure the sustainable use of the mills to achieve the desired impact.

Source: Ghana News Agency

MP urges students to embrace ICT for better future

Mr Geoffrey Kini, the Member of Parliament (MP) of Nkwanta South, said modern information and communication technology (ICT) skills were important and students must be equipped with the knowledge and resources to succeed in the digital economy.

Mr Kini highlighted the role of technology in driving innovation and economic growth and called for investment in the education of young people in technology to brighten the country’s future.

He said this at the Ntruboman Senior High School (SHS) in the Nkwanta South Constituency of the Oti Region when he donated a set of 15 brand new computers in his bid to enhance the learning of ICT.

The donation, among other things, aimed at ensuring students had access to the relevant tools to excel in the digital age and formed part of the MP’s commitment to supporting education and empowering young people in his constituency.

Mr Kini said the computers would make a positive impact on the entire school community to enhance students’ learning experiences, develop essential di
gital skills, and prepare them for the challenges of the 21st century.

Over the years he had remained a strong advocate of improving educational opportunities for students in Nkwanta South and had consistently worked towards providing them with the resources they need to succeed, he said.

Mr Charles Nyame Kormisah, the Headmaster of the school, expressed gratitude to the MP for his generosity and for recognising the importance of ICT in education.

He said the donation was a step in the right direction towards bridging the digital divide and ensuring that all students had access to the tools they needed to thrive in the digital age.

The gesture was a testament to the MP’s commitment to developing education in Nkwanta South and empowering young people to reach their full potential, Mr Komisah said.

The school authorities and students expressed gratitude and appreciation to the benefactor and indicated that the computers would enhance their learning experience in ICT.

They, however, appealed to the MP and
the Government for a school library and other infrastructure to promote teaching and learning.

Source: Ghana News Agency