Government policies targeted at promoting trade between Nigeria and other African countries as well as vibrant airlines that are private sector driven to facilitate air cargo have been identified as factors that could strengthen trade ties between Nigeria and Ghana.
Speaking during the Ghana Nigeria Business Council, (GNBC) CEO forum themed ‘Ghana & Nigeria Stronger Together, Samata Gifty Bukari, the Consul-General of Ghana in Lagos said to drive perishable air cargo, air travel needs to be subsidised for exporters and this can only be achieved if the government stopped getting involved in airline business but rather create an enabling environment for airlines to operate.
“Air travel is very expensive and the government getting involved doesn’t help because Ghana Airways could no longer operate several years back, similar to Nigerian Airways. So, let us leave it to the private sector. However, the government should be able to create the enabling environment for them to operate at the cost of people who want to do business. They should not make it expensive so that when people want to transport goods from Nigeria to Ghana or any part of the world, it becomes too difficult. Some goods are perishable and need to be airlifted, so if the government can support by reducing taxes for the airlines and making aviation fuel cheaper, then they will be able to operate successfully and make some profits,” Bukari said.
Bukari, who was represented by Rashid Bawa, the Ghana high commissioner to Nigeria, said when governments close their borders, it affects all aspects of the economy, adding that COVID-19 was also a contributing factor. Bawa said that now people are getting vaccinated and observing COVID-19 protocols, trade between both countries will improve and the perennial tension between Ghana and Nigerian traders in Ghana are being resolved.
He said late last year, Ministers of Trade of Ghana and Nigeria, signed a joint agreement that establishes a framework to guide the engagement between the two countries in resolving the issues between Ghanaian retail traders and their counterparts from Nigeria. He however disclosed that it is disheartening to learn that many Nigerian entrepreneurs still fall short of the knowledge of and connectivity to the Ghanaian market and many are oblivious of the huge potentials that exist in Ghana.
The high commissioner hinted that more forums like these will help educate business people on how to facilitate businesses in both countries. Also speaking at the forum, Michael Olawale-Cole, the president of the Lagos Chamber Of Commerce and Industry said the private sector should be organized to take the driving seat in the economic integration process.
Olawale-Cole stressed that the government needs to create a more conducive environment by providing the atmosphere for trade and investment to thrive. “As the foremost Organised Private Sector institution in West Africa, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry will continue to promote initiatives for free market economy, spur bilateral cooperation and accelerate the integration of the continent,” he added.