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Unions in Ghana push African industrialization agenda

19 November, 2020Some of the strategies to boost manufacturing that will push Africa’s industrialization efforts is to develop and implement sustainable economic development policies, concluded IndustriALL Global Union affiliates at a conference on African industrialization in Accra.

As part of the Africa Industrialization Day commemorations, IndustriALL affiliates in Ghana convened an industrialization forum on 12 November to discuss the potential of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in promoting industrialization in the country and the African continent.

The forum, attended by 30 participants, also discussed the trade agreements that Ghana has signed with other countries including the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union.
On the factors impeding industrialization, the forum mentioned the Covid-19 pandemic, illicit financial flows, the exporting of primary products with no value addition, and corruption. Limited access to financial resources meant that small to medium scale enterprises did not grow. Some investments also created precarious working conditions. The uptake of manufacturing technologies and the adoption of artificial intelligence is slow. Further, trade unions were not consulted during policy formulation and implementation. For example, unions were not consulted on AfCFTA.
Some of the recommendations from the forum is that unions should carry out capacity building training to enhance knowledge on trade policy issues. This training is important for union engagement in industrial and trade policy processes which are key to the industrialization of Ghana and other African countries. Further, mobilization that involves awareness campaigns and advocacy on industrialization are needed to promote industrialization in the country and trade unions should prioritize the issue during social dialogue.
Solomon Kotei, chairperson of the Ghana IndustriALL Liaison Council said:

“Industrialization and trade policies are complementary and important for Africa to truly industrialize. Governments must make efforts towards a national industrialization agenda that includes using trade finance as a catalyst. Further, Ghana needs to ascertain its comparative advantage on locally manufactured products to counter-balance its imports. Import substitution can ignite industrialization. We also need sustainable trade policies because trade liberalization from the West hampers African industrialization.”

Kemal Ozkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary said:

“Sustainable industrial and trade policies are crucial to industrialization efforts in Ghana. This entails policies that support economic integration of regional economic communities like the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the coordination of intra-African trade. Africa should also benefit from being part of global value chains as equal partners and exporting industries should provide decent work and avoid low wage models that impoverish workers.”

IndustriALL affiliates in Ghana: Industrial & Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU) Ghana, Ghana Mineworkers’ Union (GMWU), General Transport Petroleum Chemical Workers Union (GTPCWU), Public Utility Workers’ Union (PUWU).