One year after commencing trade under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), approximately 73.80% of traders were identified as having “little or no understanding” of the AfCFTA protocols on goods and services, a study found.
It also showed that 52% of companies that operated in key sectors of the Ghanaian economy had little or no understanding of the protocols.
The study conducted by the Aya Institute with the support of GIZ aimed to build the capacity of women-led micro-small and medium-sized enterprises and cross-border traders to take advantage of the AfCFTA.
It aimed to explore the level of preparedness and awareness of women cross-border traders and women-led MSMEs while identifying the challenges faced by women traders and women-led MSMEs in taking advantage of the AfCFTA.
Speaking on the methodology of the study during a workshop to disseminate the results of the study, Ms. Eunice Offei, member of the research team, indicated that quantitative and qualitative methods including an examination approach documentary, focus group discussion and survey were deployed for the study. .
“Purpose sampling was used to select women traders and women-led businesses in the main economic and commercial areas of the country,” she added.
She said 83 businesses and about 370 women traders were sampled for survey and focus group discussion with 16 members in each group.
The data, she said, was collected in Accra, Kumasi, among other urban centers and areas along the border towns of Aflao, Elubo and Paga.
About 52% of participants were from the service sector, 41% from retail and 7% from manufacturing, she said.
The study also found that the level of awareness of the AfCFTA in the service and retail sector was much higher than the level in the manufacturing sector with less than 35% of traders in the sector aware of the AfCFTA , compared to 55% and 50% of their counterparts in the retail and service sectors respectively.
Ms. Offei indicated that the majority of traders and businesses were not fully prepared to explore the AfCFTA market as approximately 65.6% of traders said there was not enough time and resources to prepare for trade under the AfCFTA, while 45% of businesses expressed the same. to see.
She added that 82% of traders and 79% of corresponding businesses had not received any financial assistance to make necessary investments or increase production for the AfCFTA.
“Currently, there has been no form of assistance from any institution since the beginning of the ZLECAf initiative. This is the case for all participants,” she said.
The study also revealed that the issues of bribery and corruption at borders, increased importation of substandard goods and the unsustainability of the AfCFTA due to instability on the continent, were concerns raised by businesses in the country.
As part of the study’s recommendation, Ms. Offei, among others, called for the adoption of innovative financing strategies for MSMEs, the adoption of an information dissemination approach to bridge the raising awareness on the AfCFTA and establishing an institutional support mechanism for traders across the regions.