Michael Olugbode in Abuja
The Ghana High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ambassador Rashid Bawa on Thursday revealed plans by his country and Nigeria to partner in the area of non-oil sector.
The envoy stated this at the 2022 Ghana Nigeria Business Council CEO Forum in Abuja.
Bawa said the latest partnership between the two countries would extend to the agricultural sector such as cassava and ginger production.
He said: “This is the first Ghana Business Council meeting. We are looking at various areas of cooperation. There have been a series of meetings in the last few days. We are looking at the non-oil sector; in the area of cassava and ginger production.”
Bawa, while noting that the relationship between Nigeria and Ghana has been for ages, said: “It is difficult to put a finger on the number of Nigerians visiting Ghana for various reasons daily, and vice versa.”
He added that: “However, according to a report published by the US Department of Economic and Social Studies in 2019, there were more Ghanian residents in Nigeria than any other country in the world with 233,002 persons. This was followed by Ghanians living in UK and the US.”
The forum, which is historic according to him, is the first of its kind since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
He said: “The forum aims to encourage the private sector operatives of our two countries to pull resources together to be competitive when trading under AfCFTA,” adding “We have the framework of ECOWAS protocol in the last forty years to promote these kinds of activities. Ghana-Nigeria have the biggest economies in West Africa region, it is high time we formalise these engagements in order to take full advantage of the potentials between both countries.”
He said with this forum, there should be many more to come, for “we don’t want it to be a one-time forum. We want to sustain it. As we speak, the Nigeria Investment Promotion Council and Ghana Investment Promotion Council are working out arrangements in ways they will have annual meetings among themselves.
“There will be coordination between Nigeria and Ghana businessmen. We believe that pretty soon, we are going to have certain collaborations that will be beneficial to both countries.”
Meanwhile, Ghanians CEOs have been urged to create platforms for Nigerians to connect with investment opportunities that can generate growth for economies of both Ghana and Nigeria and create a win-win situation for both countries.
The President, Abuja Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Dr. Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, in his opening remark at the 2022 Ghana Nigeria Business Council CEO Forum in Abuja, urged Ghana to take advantage of the population of Nigeria as it presents a large consumer market for investors and traders.
He said: “In 2009, Nigeria net trade with Ghana in the export of metal was $2.1 billion, transportation $1.59 billion, mineral product $232 million.
“In 2019, Ghana had a trade net with Nigeria in the export of footwear and headwear worth almost $105 million, foodstuffs worth $25million and chemical products worth over $11million dollars.”
Abubakar, who was represented by Dr. Aliyu Idi Hong, a former Minister of State for Health and later Foreign Affairs, who is the Vice President Communication, Strategy and External Relations of the ACCI, said the forum underscores the importance of the partnership between the countries over the years, urging that the forum should not just be a one off thing.
Abubakar commended the effort of ECOWAS and the governments of Nigeria and Ghana towards the quick intervention in resolving the crisis between the Nigerian and Ghanian traders in Ghana.
He said: “I think the intervention will go a long way in making sure that the relationship between the two countries and the vision of the ECOWAS to be quickly integrated.
“So it is highly commendable that the governments of these countries have taken initiative towards solving this crisis.”
He however lamented that the forum was coming a little late for if had existed the crisis between Nigerian and Ghanaian businessmen would not have festered. He admitted though that it was rather late than never.