General News of Friday, 19 June 2009
Accra, June 19, GNA - Ghana has been selected to host the second Pan-African Competitiveness Forum (PACF) this year to provide a focus on innovation and cluster-based competitiveness approaches. The conference, scheduled for December, would be tailored for national and regional economic development across Africa and donors. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) would sponsor the forum with support from the African Union and The Competitiveness Institute.
In all, 150 participants from 23 African countries are expected to attend the Accra conference. The first conference was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in April last year. PACF was launched as a new continent-wide competence and action centre on innovation and cluster-based competitiveness initiatives in Africa.
The Forum, facilitated by Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI) of the Council and Scientific Industrial Research, would expose small-scale businesses and enterprises to other international businesses and other innovations. Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Friday Dr George Essegbey, Director of STEPRI, said the Forum was to champion competitiveness with value chain additions to the primary products of business by using the clusters.
The objective, he said, was to also assist productive sectors with activities that would add value to their produce as well as adopting strategies to enhance competitiveness across Africa. The 1st Pan African Competitiveness Forum marked the beginning of learning and sharing ideas and experience on innovation and cluster-based competitiveness between African countries and their global partners.
PACF will support stakeholders from business, knowledge institutions, and government to respond more effectively to unique challenges and appropriateness that Africa is facing in the global competition.
He noted that stakeholders in Africa unfortunately lacked access to knowledge and best practice on how to effectively develop and facilitate innovation and cluster-based competitiveness initiatives. Cluster development initiatives are important new direction in economic policy, building on macroeconomic stabilization, privatization, market opening, and reducing the costs of doing business. Clusters to participate in the Forum include horticulture, vegetable, handicraft and yam exporters, and furniture and jewellery manufacturers.
Dr Essegbey said PACF was poised to revive Ghanaian businesses and ensure that they crafted effective strategies to exploit business concepts available on the continent, promoted competitiveness by rebuilding identified Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) businesses, promoted their growth and improved the livelihoods of the people engaged in the sector.
He said the world had become a global village where distance was no longer a barrier to international trade but trading and service now depended on the competitiveness of the various nations that whished to trade.
"It is therefore in our interest to accept the global competitive economic phenomenon and take advantage of opportunities offered." Dr Essegbey urged Ghanaian businesses to take advantage of the Forum, patronise, share knowledge and exhibit their produce.