6th “Made in Ghana” Awards
‘Promoting Industrialization, the Key to Job Creation and Economic Development’
Remarks by Charge d’Affaires Christopher J. Lamora
Kempinski Hotel | Friday, August 30, 2019 | 6:00 p.m.
Honorable Minister of Business Development, Mohammed Ibrahim Awal,
Honorable Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah
Honorable Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Robert Ahomka-Lindsay
Other representatives from the Government of Ghana,
Nana Chairman, EFG CEO Michael Agyekum Addo,
Colleagues from the Diplomatic Corps,
Members of the Media; Esteemed Ladies and Gentlemen; All protocols observed.
It’s my pleasure to be here tonight to celebrate the “Made in Ghana” award recipients, and to recognize all of the “Brand Ghana” ambassadors who are representing Ghana on the global stage through your innovative and high-quality products. Because of you, goods from Ghana continue to gain the world’s attention.
From world-class chocolate to dried mango, and from beautiful clothing to age-defying cosmetics, American consumers are increasingly finding that many of their favorite products originate right here in Ghana. And as Ghanaian products increasingly populate U.S. store shelves and enter American homes, revenue from these sales is fueling jobs and expanding opportunity here.
Total U.S.-Ghanaian bilateral trade in 2018 stood at $1.4 billion dollars, not counting the American industry leaders who are investing here and creating jobs. And that’s of course still only a fraction of the untold, untapped potential of our relationship.
With that potential in mind, Ghana’s selection by its sister countries as the site of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement Secretariat is a strategic opportunity that could propel Ghana’s private sector even further, perhaps even leading Accra to become the continent’s de facto commercial capital. But to fully realize this goal, there must be a conducive environment in place – including ever more transparency, predictability, and open communication between public and private sector economic players.
There must also be a market for products to enter, and so my Embassy colleagues and I are working hard to facilitate getting Ghanaian goods to the United States. As you all know, Ghana recently hosted the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and 13 other members of the U.S. Congress, several of whom were directly involved in either the original passage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act or its extension to 2025, or both. AGOA gives products originating in Ghana and other African countries a direct pathway to the U.S. market, and as a result, leads to expanded local manufacturing here in Ghana and more jobs for Ghanaian citizens.
Speaker Pelosi and her delegation were excited to see companies like Dignity/DTRT – a joint U.S.-Ghanaian investment that has used AGOA benefits to provide employment to more than 2,500 workers and has tripled apparel exports from Ghana to the United States in just four years. DTRT is a wonderful example of what the partnership between Ghanaian industrialization and American markets can accomplish.
But we’re doing much more than just facilitating growth through AGOA. Earlier this year, the Export-Import Bank of the United States and Ghana’s Export-Import Bank launched a cooperative framework agreement to support Ghana’s industrial development. Under this partnership, Ghana EXIM will have access to up to $300 million in U.S. loan guarantees for small and medium-sized Ghanaian companies to purchase cutting-edge U.S. technology and equipment at competitive rates. In turn, this technology and equipment will allow for even more high-quality products to be made in Ghana.
In addition to access to strong markets, Ghana will also need more entrepreneurs in order to realize the full potential of industrialization. That’s why our Embassy team is helping to connect the next generation of Ghanaian businessmen and businesswomen with the networks, mentors, and investors they need to make their businesses successful.
And let me stress the word “businesswomen.” For far too long, businesses around the world, including in the United States, didn’t take full advantage of more than 50% of their potential workforce, including in their executive ranks. A 2016 study reported in Forbes magazine showed that companies with 30 percent female executives had at least six percent higher profits. So not only is promoting opportunities for women in the executive track just the right thing to do… it also makes good business sense.
With those ideas in mind, in June, the U.S. Government launched the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) program, a new initiative supporting women entrepreneurs with online education resources, networks that support access to mentorships, and seed funds. The first AWE cohort includes women from 26 countries, including Ghana.
We all know, or have heard stories about, dynamic Ghanaian women entrepreneurs who have taken the most basic of ideas … a small textile factory or bake shop … and turned them into highly successful businesses. We should be encouraging even more of that, through new programs like AWE as well as longstanding efforts like the Young African Leaders Initiatives, its Mandela-Washington Fellowship program, and traditional academic exchanges.
As just one example, I want to cite Alfie Designs, a textile factory owned by a young Ghanaian woman who was a Mandela Washington Fellow. Her Fellowship led her to build connections that resulted in new customers and export orders, increasing her business exponentially. From a staff of 25, they now employ more than 100 Ghanaians, with shops in both East and West Africa, and exports to the United States and the UK. The company is now designing cosmetics bags stocked on the shelves of major U.S. retailers such as Walmart and Whole Foods, and has its sights set on larger-scale manufacturing… made in Ghana!
I want those words … “Made in Ghana”… to become a common household phrase back home in the United States. I want my family members to go to their favorite grocery stores and see (and buy!) Ghanaian chocolate that wasn’t just grown here and then shipped elsewhere for further processing, but actually turned into fine chocolate through local Ghanaian value-addition. I want my friends to go to the local shopping mall and find high-quality kente and other textiles on their clothing store racks. I want my neighbor who’s seeking that perfect engagement ring for his fiancée to choose a gold band that wasn’t merely mined here but also refined and shaped here into that perfect piece of jewelry that will last a lifetime. That is what “Made in Ghana” should ultimately look like.
I know you want these things too, probably much more than I do. As business leaders and as proud Ghanaians, you undoubtedly share this vision. We at the U.S. Embassy want to support you in this goal and help you get there, which is why I’m so pleased to be here tonight and participate in honoring all of you who are already far along that road.
Congratulations, and thank you very much.