Mr Abdou Souleye Diop, Head of the African Commission and South-South Relations at the Confederation of General Enterprises of Morocco, says the African continent can only develop if Africans trust and work with each other to build it.
He said it was important for Africans to trust each other if they were to build partnerships that will help the continent.
Speaking at the Ghana-Morocco Business Forum, dubbed the ‘African Power Road’, held in Accra on Monday, he stated that Africans cannot afford to just wait and have international businesses and companies from the global north to come and build Africa.
“…we need us, as Africans, to help ourselves to develop. We have the capacities, we have some expertise developed, we need ourselves to help each other to build our countries and for that, we need to link up with each other,” he said, adding “It’s important for Africans to trust Africans”.
He explained that countries on the continent had to develop synergies with each other by sharing expertise that will benefit other, especially as the continent had everything, from natural resources to human resources.
He said this had been hard for Africa because the continent was not united, and its citizens also trust products from Europe and other countries in the north more than made-in-Africa products, thus the need for regional integration.
Morocco’s bid to join ECOWAS, he noted will be a good step in this direction, as trade flows between Morocco and ECOWAS countries like Ghana was low.
Morocco, he noted was a big producer of fruit juices but imported mangoes from Spain and other countries.
“Why can’t we import mangoes from Ghana or Senegal? It’s because of trade barriers and that cannot continue. We have real need of trade between our countries and for that we need to move barriers,” he said.
He added that Morocco, once it became a member of ECOWAS could bring a new dynamic in the region, by sharing its expertise in agriculture and tourism, among others to ECOWAS. Integration would also help to build big infrastructure in sectors like energy, roads and other areas.
Mr Diop said in order to build effective partnerships, it was also key for the partners to be pragmatic in their approach by focusing investments in areas where both countries have expertise that will benefit the other and in line with each country’s priority sectors.
He added that the cooperation must also be balanced for it to be sustainable.
“Today we are here as Moroccan companies coming to build cooperation with Ghanaian companies; we need also Ghana companies to also come to invest in Morocco,” he said, and urged the GIPC and GNCCI to arrange a meeting by first quarter 2018.
Mr Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, charged the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), the Ghana Export Promotion Authority and the Free Zones Board, to, as a matter of urgency, organise a business delegation to Morocco before the end of year or in the first quarter of 2018.
He also tasked the Ghanaian businesses present to take advantage of the presence of their Moroccan counterparts and to ensure they got business partnerships from the Forum.
He assured the businesses present that government was working and committed to support the private sector to deepen trade relations between Ghana and other countries.
He said government was implementing reforms aimed at making Ghana the most business friendly nation in Africa, and to remove the bottlenecks that prevented trade.
Mr Mark Badu Aboagye, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI), partners in the organisation of the Forum, said Morocco’s King Mohammed VI visit to Ghana led to the signing of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) in various sectors.
The Forum was a follow up to the Ghana –Morocco Economic meeting held in February this year and which occasioned the visit of King Mohammed VI to Ghana.
The Business Forum was therefore to promote trade relations between companies of the two countries. Over 80 Moroccan and about 300 Ghanaian businesses participated in the forum, which from sectors including banking, building and civil engineering, energy, infrastructure, waste management and information technology, among others.
Mr Aboagye noted that the forum was important in light of the low trade levels between Ghana and Morocco, which stood below one percent of imports on both sides.
“Both governments of Ghana and Morocco have committed themselves to deepen bilateral trade for mutual economic growth and it is my fervent hope that business men and women gathered here will maximise this opportunity to grow their business through partnerships,” he stated. GNA