General News of Sunday, 14 February 2010
Accra, Feb. 11, 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, tailored for national and regional economic development across Africa, would be opened on Monday, February 15, and end on February 18.
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) is sponsoring the forum with support from the African Union and The Competitiveness Institute.
Some 150 participants from 25 African countries are expected to attend the conference at Elmina in the Central Region. Participating countries include Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Mauritius, Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Senegal, Liberia and Kenya.
The first conference, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in April 2008 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 the other international businesses and other innovations.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Friday, Dr George Essegbey, the Director of STEPRI, said the Forum was to champion competitiveness with value chain additions to the primary products of businesses 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 would also 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 said stakeholders in Africa unfortunately lacked access to knowledge and best practice on how to effectively develop and facilitate innovation and clusters 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 exporters, yam exporters, furniture manufacturers, jewellery manufacturers and handicraft exporters.
Dr Essegbey said PACF was poised to revive Ghanaian businesses and ensure that they craft effective strategies to exploit business concepts available on the continent, promote competitiveness by rebuilding identified Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) businesses, promote their growth and improve 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 wish 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, patronize, share knowledge and exhibit their produce.