ALAN KYEREMATEN, Minister of Trade, Industry and Presidential Special Initiatives yesterday cut the tape to officially declare Ghana's 11th International Trade Fair opened on behalf of President John Agyekum Kufuor.
The occasion, attended by ministers of state, the La Mantse, Nii Kpobi Tettey Tsuru, and members of the diplomatic corps, also witnessed a lot of exhibitors as well as members of the public in attendance.
Themed “Championing African Excellence – 50 years of harnessing Ghana's trade and international opportunities”, the 3-week fair runs until March 8, 2007.
About 126 established industries as well as several small ad medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) are taking part in the fair while eleven foreign countries and nine African countries are participating.
Delivering the keynote address, Mr. Kyeremateng noted that the celebration of the country's 50th Independence Anniversary provided an excellent opportunity for Ghanaians to take stock of the country's past experiences and reflect on how it could overcome the challenges that have confronted it as a nation, in terms of business development and the growth of the private sector.
“We can say without doubt that trade fairs and exhibitions have contributed significantly to increasing Ghana's domestic trade as well as our share of the global market.
The growth of businesses from small to medium-scale, the increase in income levels and the creation of jobs are all positive benefit5s which the country has derived directly and indirectly from fairs.”
He added that it was for that reason that government was exploring all avenues to develop the Trade Fair Centre to bring it to international standards, as a center of excellence for commercial transactions and also to showcase with pride what Ghanaian industries could provide.
Further he stated: “As we look back to the past five to six years, we can confidently say that government has succeeded in laying a solid foundation for development, by implementing policies and programmes that have significantly transformed the economic landscape of the country, and created the necessary enabling environment for the private sector to thrive.”
Elaborating, he said inflation which was as high as 40.5 percent at the end of year, had dropped to 10.8 percent. Interest rates have also declined from over 50 percent five years ago, to an average of 20 percent.
The country's foreign exchange reserve position, has also improved significantly from 3 weeks import cover to4.5 months cover.
Additionally, the local currency has remained relatively stable, with an impressive depreciation record of not more than 2 percent to 3 percent. Furthermore, Ghana has been ranked as the top reforming country in doing business in the whole of Africa, while on the global level, it is ranked 9th.
In an address, Mrs. Esther Ofori, CEO of the Ghana International Trade Fair, said the international fair series would continue to run until it achieved a total perfection and got counted as one of the best trade international promotional centres in the sub-region.
She added that the centre, if properly rehabilitated, could become the leading trade centre in West Africa given the privileged central location of Ghana in ECOWAS.
“Our vision is to develop and manage a world class expo and conference centre to compete with the best in the world and to make the Ghana International Trade Fair a show piece of international conference centre in Africa.
The centre would also provide an entertainment centre for families all year round.
We also intend to create a one-stop shop for trade and investment activities in Ghana.”
The fair site currently has an exhibition area of 18,000 square metres.
The first Ghana international trade fair was inaugurated by Lt. Gen. J.A. Ankrah, the then head of state, in 1967.