The Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI)
on Wednesday, the 21st of October 2020, held its 44th Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Ghana Shippers Authority Conference Hall. The meeting, which was in two folds (the plenary session and the business session) was aimed at reviewing the annual reports and financial statements for the year 2019 and electing new National Executives.
In attendance at the meeting were dignitaries such as His Excellency Wamkele K. Mene, the Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Dr. John Hawkins-Asiedu (Technical Advisor, Industrial Parks, Free Zones at the Ministry of Trade and Industry), representative of Hon. Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, and prominent representatives from Development Partners, Business Associations, Government Agencies, International Organisations and the Diplomatic Corps.
The event kick-started with Nana Dr. Appiagyei Dankawoso I, the Outgone President, welcoming all stakeholders and expressing the Chamber’s profound gratitude to the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA and the Minister of Trade and Industry for honouring the invitation. He began his welcome address with a review of the of the Ghanaian economy and pointed out that the economy had performed relatively well in 2019, considering that real GDP grew to 6.5% compared to the 6.3% growth recorded in 2018, inflation reduced from 9.8% in 2018 to 7.9% in 2019, and monetary policy rate was maintained at 17%. Nonetheless, non-oil growth declined from 6.5% in 2018 to 5.8% the following year. With regards to the depreciation of the cedi, he called for a collaboration between the private sector and the government to address the issue because, it was crucial to maintain a fairly stable exchange rate for business growth.
It is important to note that amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the GNCCI made a generous donation of GHS 100,000 to the National COVID-19 Trust Fund, organized online conferences to educate the private sector on how to sustain their businesses, and conducted a survey to examine the concerns and expectations of businesses in the C-19 context to inform government policy response.
Nana Dr. Appiagye Dankawoso I, continued by sharing some highlights on the initiatives and projects undertaken by the Chamber in 2019. They include; the Five Year Strategic Plan, the GNCCI Business Pulse, the Head Office Building Project, the GNCCI Business School and SMEs Business Clinic, the Inauguration of the Koforidua Chamber, Empowering Women in Business among others. “The chamber”, he said, “will continue to assist members to strategically position themselves to take advantage of the opportunities that come with it.”
Addressing the assembly on the importance of the private sector in the AfCFTA agreement, His Excellency Wamkele K. Mene, the Guest Speaker stated that the agreement was not being negotiated for the public sector but for the private sector, considering that the latter creates more jobs, invests in capital and machinery and significantly advances a country’s economic development.
He continued that connecting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to new and open markets via digital platforms and having a structured relationship between the secretariat and private sector in Africa were the ways through which the agreement would beneficial to the private sector.
The Secretary-General, in addition, mentioned that the AfCFTA secretariat was working with banks to develop a system that helps to do transactions in the local currencies and this would significantly reduce the costs incurred while doing business.
On the subject of women and the youth, he stated that there was the need to find ways to fully involve women and the youth in business, in the implementation of the AfCFTA agreement, as a great majority of this group are the drivers of the informal sector.
He concluded by admonishing all and sundry to avoid the stereotyping of the agreement and also ensure that the agreement is inclusive across the African continent.
The plenary session ended with an address by Dr. John Hawkins-Asiedu, on behalf of the Guest of Honour, Hon. Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen (Minister of Trade and Industry). He pointed out the Ministry’s interest in promoting the wellbeing and strategic interest of the Chamber. He went on to express his pleasure on how the Chamber had evolved over the years; From being an association with a sole aim to extract levies from its members to one which protects the private sector’s interest and is the voice of the business community.
It is indisputable that the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Ghanaian economy hard, and Dr.Hawkins-Asiedu, making reference to it said, “We are living in uncertain times with uncommon changes…Changes that have brought disruptions in our economy and the private sector…Notwithstanding the changes, we have come out stronger and better…We have minimized the impact of the pandemic through the establishment of the emergency relief fund geared towards supporting MSMEs.”
In terms of industrialization, he remarked that the measures taken by the government would create a business enabling environment, improve firm growth and improve value addition.
To end, he congratulated the chamber for the efforts made to promote trade and investment for its members because a flourishing private sector is the backbone of the economy.
The session commenced with a brief by Mr. Mark Badu-Aboagye,the Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber, on the Matters Arising from the 43rd AGM in 2019. He indicated that the Chamber’s Rules had been revised, the GNCCI Credit Union had started operations and the documentation process to commence the Head Office Building Project was still ongoing.
The election was followed by a review of the financial statements and audits for the year 2019 and they were presented by Mr. Harry Ebenezer Mensah and a Manager of the audit firm KPMG respectively.
In line with the constitution of the GNCCI, new National Executives were elected at the 44th Annual General Meeting under the supervision of the Electoral Commission of Ghana. The newly elected National Executives will hold office for a term of two years. Mr. Clement Osei-Amoako was elected as President, Mrs. Victoria M.E. Hajar as 1st Vice President, Mr. Stephane Miezan as 2nd Vice President and Dr. Mrs. Emelia Assiakwa as National Treasurer. They were duly sworn in by His Lordship Justice Owusu Ofori (Justice of the Superior court of Ghana).
The President, on behalf of the new National Executives, gave an acceptance speech which spelt out their vision to collaborate with government and other associations to create a conducive business environment for the private sector, facilitate access to business solutions to help grow and sustain women owned enterprises, harness the entrepreneurial skills of the youth, provide support to members to take advantage of the AfCFTA, decentralize trade fairs and trade missions, create more regional offices…etc. He called on all member firms to support the actualization of the vision, which he firmly believes will aid in the growth, sustainability and prosperity of the Chamber.
He ended by showing his appreciation for the overwhelming support and endorsement they received, and by reiterating their commitment to the vision and to effectively steer the affairs of the GNCCI.
The Annual General Meeting came to an end with the Outgone President of the Chamber expressing his heart-felt appreciation to all stakeholders.