9th Ghana Entrepreneur and Corporate Executive Awards
‘Promoting the UN Sustainable Development Goals through Private and Public Sector Partnership’
Remarks by Deputy Chief of Mission Christopher J. Lamora
Movenpick Ambassador Hotel
Saturday, May 4, 2019 | 6:30 p.m.
Honorable Minister of Business Development Mohammed Ibrahim Awal
Honorable Deputy Minister Trade and Industry Robert Ahomka-Lindsey
Honorable Chairman of the Event
Fellow Members of the Diplomatic Corps – in particular the Ambassadors of Denmark, France, and Turkey and the High Commissioners of Sierra Leone and India
Ladies and Gentlemen,
All Protocols Observed.
It’s my pleasure to join you tonight as we celebrate Ghana’s top entrepreneurs and executives, and honor their contributions to economic growth and private sector development.
The American economy was built on innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit. The creativity, hard work, and tenacity of entrepreneurs throughout our history has fueled advances in every industry — from communication and transportation, to medicine, energy and information technology.
I see that same tenacity and commitment in entrepreneurs throughout Ghana — from the successful businesses represented in this room tonight, to larger corporations, to the many self-employed men and women providing goods and services across the country.
President Akufo-Addo has spoken often of his vision to move Ghana beyond aid and the importance of the private sector to realizing that vision. As you all well know, the private sector is critical to creating jobs, growing Ghana’s economy, and identifying market-based and sustainable solutions to challenges facing the world today.
Governments alone cannot tackle all of the challenges, nor can development assistance. But by creating an environment where business can thrive and leveraging public-private partnerships, there is real opportunity to achieve sustainable development here in Ghana and beyond.
I would like to share with you one example of how we are combining U.S. government support with private sector innovations to help transform Ghana’s energy sector through our Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Power Compact.
Under the Compact, we have negotiated with a private company, Power Distribution Systems (PDS) to invest a minimum of $580 million into Ghana’s energy network, more than matching the combined $535 million committed by the U.S. government and the Government of Ghana under the MCC Power Compact.
This public-private sector solution will increase reliability, access, and affordability of power services for a majority of Ghanaian households and businesses, creating positive impact on economic growth.
Increasing trade and investment is one of the U.S. Embassy’s top priorities. Ghana remains a key trading partner for the United States and Ghana’s duty-free exports to the U.S. under our African Growth and Opportunity Act, better known as AGOA, continue to increase. Perhaps most importantly, Ghana’s non-oil AGOA exports increased 20 percent – with nearly 70 percent growth in apparel, as well as emerging industries such as baskets, dried fruit, and soap.
This growth in trade is essential to transforming Ghana’s economy and creating jobs. We are pleased to see both Ghanaian and American companies taking a leading role, not just in increasing processing and manufacturing, but also reinvesting back into their sectors to promote sustainability across the value chain.
For example, Cargill, a global U.S. company with 155,000 employees in 70 countries around the world, is working with the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to provide support and training to thousands of Ghanaian cocoa farmers to improve their livelihoods, encourage better farming standards, and increase yields. Cargill’s efforts to promote sustainability have so far resulted in over 13,000 farmers in Ghana receiving a total of over $1 million in premium payments for certified, sustainable cocoa beans.
Bunge Loders Croklaan, which is about to launch the world’s largest shea fractionation plant in Tema, is working to support sustainability of the shea sector in the north.
Finally, apparel companies – many with U.S. investment – are training unskilled laborers in international manufacturing standards and building transferrable skills that enable thousands of employees – many of them women – to retain jobs and build livelihoods that sustain families and communities.
Efforts such as these are important to building stronger, more sustainable industries and a more prosperous Ghana. I look forward to seeing more companies and entrepreneurs innovating and advancing industries in Ghana and elsewhere.
The U.S. Embassy in Ghana is committed to supporting entrepreneurs. We are working to connect the next generation of African entrepreneurs with the networks, mentors and investors they need to make their businesses successful. The Young African Leaders Initiative, known as YALI, is giving the continent’s next generation of leaders the support they need to drive economic growth. Here in Ghana, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently signed an MOU with the YALI Regional Leadership Center which will create pipeline for YALI participants to enter companies as interns or employees. This is another example of private companies partnering to strengthen public sector efforts.
Educating the next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs is also important. To that end we have close partners at the Stanford SEED Center, the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology, Webster University, Ashesi University, and others — organizations that share the same vision of how entrepreneurship can revolutionize business models and make Ghana more competitive in the global economy.
Supporting women entrepreneurs is a particular focus for the U.S. government. The Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, or WGDP, seeks to economically empower 50 million women in the developing world by 2025.
Before I conclude, I would like to applaud the steps that have been taken by the Ghanaian government to improve the ease of doing business in Ghana. And I would like to encourage the government to continue with those reforms and ensure that the right environment is in place – including transparency and predictability – for both international and local businesses to thrive and contribute to Ghana’s growth.
I commend all of those being honored tonight for your commitment and dedication. I congratulate you on your efforts to foster economic prosperity for your families, your country, and the rest of us. We are counting on your success.