Launch of AfNEXT to bolster Ghanaian SMEs’ production capacity and export readiness

May 28, 2024
Launch of AfNEXT to bolster Ghanaian SMEs' production capacity and export readiness

The German Development Cooperation, in collaboration with the (AGI), has launched the African SME Network for Exchange and Trade (AfNEXT).

The AfNEXT initiative aims to increase the production capacity and export readiness of small and medium?-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Ghana with critical equipment and technical assistance.

In all, 52 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating across the country have been selected to benefit from the programme.

This support is expected to lead to an increase in production capacity and improved access to markets of beneficiary SMEs.

While SMEs are critical for accelerating economic development and industrialisation, especially in the manufacturing sectors, they face diverse challenges, including access to finance for acquiring modern operational equipment/tools, market access and overall growth.

To address these, the AfNEXT project offers a combination of financial and technical assistance aimed at increasing the production capacity of selected SMEs through equipment support and improving their export readiness through training and consulting services.

Speaking on behalf of the GIZ, which is implementing the project on behalf of the German Federal Government, Mr. John Duti said AfNEXT would not only improve the capacities of Ghanaian SMEs but also support efforts toward creating more decent jobs to tackle the unemployment deficit facing the country.

He said it is expected that through AfNEXT.about 350 new decent jobs would be created, as well as reduced dependence on imports from overseas;

thereby strengthening African economies and markets.

AfNEXT is implemented within the framework of Invest for Jobs, the brand of the Special Initiative ‘Decent Work for a Just Transition'.

“Let me also mention that as we seek to create new jobs through this intervention, we will place a lot of emphasis on the decency of the jobs. Hence, the topics of social protection and occupational health and safety have been included in the training curriculum,” he said.

Chief Executive Officer of AGI, Seth Twum-Akwaboah, is confident that support from the German Government, through GIZ, will have a significant impact on our SMEs in upscaling their operations, making them more efficient and competitive in the Ghanaian business environment.

He believes that the programme will impact the country's export competitiveness and enable them to take advantage of the Continental Free Trade Agreement.

Dr. Humphrey Ayim-Darke, President-AGI, is also positive about the initiative; noting that it will support the agenda of exporting locally produced items and reducing overdependence on imports.

Commenting on the recent government US$200m boost for SMEs, he advised the use of tried and tested strategy in the execution – and further called on government to create purposeful, targetted interventions in the private sector.

Dr John Hawkins Asiedu, Technical Director at the Ministry of Trade of Industries, said the move was in line with government's effort to support SMEs to play a critical role in the economy.

In his remarks, Director of Trade and Membership at the Chamber of Agribusiness, Nlaliban Wujanji, urged SMEs and the business ecosystem as a whole to embrace a positive mindset and leverage strategic partnerships for growth.

AfNEXT builds on the success of the ‘SME Grant Scheme for Job Creation project' implemented in

2022 by GIZ and AGI within the framework of the Special Initiative “Decent Work for a Just Transition” of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Through the Scheme, 65 Ghanaian SMEs were supported to acquire equipment/tools needed for their core operations – enabling them to expand and create jobs.

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