GHANA – The Ministry of Trade and Industry has warned that Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) without accreditation from the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) run the risk of missing out on deals with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
These sentiments come after a survey conducted by the GSA revealed that fifty percent (50%) of local manufacturers fail to renew their certifications on time.
“Defaulting enterprises may not be able to compete favorably in the trade arena,” warns Mickson Opoku, Director of Bilateral, Multilateral, and Regional Integration at the Ministry of Trade.
He pointed out that standard issues are very critical as every consumer protection act looks out for them. In addition, every product must meet some basic standards when entering a market.
“It may not be binding. But if you do not meet the market requirement, which includes standards, your products could be rejected.
“Ghana, for example, has a very strong institution which is the Standards Authority. It has a lot of credibility with almost all standards institutions in Africa and Europe,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Mr. Opoku wants the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and the GSA to increase their efforts in SME education to assure compliance.
“We need to upgrade our laboratories. We have to make sure education on standards and product quality becomes the central point. With the Ghana Standards Authority, Parliament has approved a quality infrastructure policy that allows them to have that kind of system and structure.
“There are a lot of policies and approvals that allow them to take a lot of actions. I am sure very soon they will be going out strongly on the type of products we find on the shelves. But it is not enough to just go and remove them. It has to start with education,” he revealed.
A study conducted by CUTS International, a research and public policy think-tank, in 2021, revealed that over 80 percent of Ghanaian SMEs do not have any form of international certification to enhance their business operations globally.
Also, only 22 percent of SMEs have a quality certification from a relevant domestic regulatory authority while the remaining 78 percent have none.
The study assessed the level of competitiveness and growth-readiness of Ghanaian SMEs for enhanced participation in the AfCFTA.