Competitiveness on the agenda in Ghana

Brand South Africa and Brand Ghana will be meeting in Ghana’s capital, Accra, to discuss ways of making Africa more globally competitive. (Image: Walter Callens, Retlaw Snellac Photography)

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Shamin Chibba

Africa did not show much improvement on the 2014 World Competitiveness Index, compiled by the World Economic Forum (WEF); in fact, indicators showed the continent had been floundering. It is with this in mind that Brand South Africa and Brand Ghana will meet in Accra on Wednesday, 26 November, where they will talk about ways to build competitive African nation brands.

In attendance will be Ghanaian government members, business people, students and civil society as well as South African business people with operations in Ghana. Among the speakers will be South African communications minister, Faith Muthambi, and Ghanaian trade and industry minister, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah.

The dialogue will look at how a country’s citizens, economic opportunities, governance and infrastructure can help to develop a nation’s brand, and how people of both countries can be encouraged to think of ways to build competitive nation brands.

According to Brand South Africa, active citizenship is needed to make democracy and development flourish. “The state cannot merely act on behalf of the people – it has to act with the people, working together with other institutions to provide opportunities for the advancement of all communities,” it explains.

The dialogue will tie in with South Africa Incorporated, the research project Brand South Africa is conducting. Research manager Petrus de Kock is in Ghana to find out what its people think about South Africa.

Ghana’s economic contrasts

Unlike South Africa, which fell three places from 53rd to 56th in the global forum’s competitiveness index, Ghana rose from 114th in 2013 to 111th this year. This was due to slight improvements in its macroeconomic indicators, said the WEF. Its government efficiency is high, property rights are strong, and its financial and goods markets are relatively well developed.

However, Ghana’s education continues to be poor compared to international standards, labour markets are inefficient and the country does not harness new technology to enhance productivity.

In recent years, trade between the two countries has grown significantly: South African exports increased from less than R1-billion in 1998 to over R3-billion in 2009, as imports from Ghana increased. In the years 2008 to 2013, bilateral trade rose from $32-million to $60.9-million.

Exports include vehicles, machinery, mechanical appliances, electrical equipment, base metals, aircraft, vessels and associated products. There are more than 80 South African companies registered in Ghana.