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Business News of Saturday, 26 June 2021


Government must be innovative in agric-focused tax policies - Tech analyst

Ghana may be forced to still rely on food imports if doesn't adopt agric-focused policies Ghana may be forced to still rely on food imports if doesn't adopt agric-focused policies

With new trends in the technology space, tech analyst and President of Hacklab Foundation, Foster Awintiti Akugri, has advised government to be innovative in its tax policies targetted at the agricultural sector to rake in the needed revenue.

This, he argued, will help government catch up with changing trends in the technology sector, which he says are helping agribusiness to fetch billions of dollars for advanced countries.

Mr. Akugri is of the view that a developing country such as Ghana can generate enough revenue from agribusiness through the use of technology if the right tax policies are formulated by government to help industry players.

“Taxes are evolving, so there are new forms of taxes that are created with the advent of technology. Government needs to be proactive and innovative in how they formulate new tax systems to create the revenue stream in agribusiness,” he told this Paper at the maiden edition of the Republic Bank Ghana (RBGH)-Business and Financial Times (B&FT) Digital Conference.

Downplaying the notion that technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) could lead to massive job losses in the agricultural sector, Mr. Akugri advised that it is important to focus on the positives which will be presented by technology.

“First, let us look at economies of scale. Technology provides an opportunity for people to transform. People can play different roles by maintaining the technology. We need to accommodate for the learning curve. We need to prioritise agriculture at scale. How do we think about food security 20 years from now?” he quizzed.

Mr. Akugri maintained that interest in the agriculture sector will see a boost if deliberate tax policies are outlined by government to give incentives for farmers vigorously deploying technology to increase production. “If you look at how agriculture is transforming, today we have vertical farming. We can begin to do that to save more land,” he said, adding that technology and AI provide new ways of optimising output in agribusiness on a large scale.

Over-reliance on food imports

Mr. Akugri warned that Ghana may be forced to still rely on food imports if steps are not taken to encourage usage of technology in the agriculture sector to guarantee yields. “In agriculture today, there is technology to test soil fertility and everything in the soil that will guarantee the output. We must begin to invest in technology by creating the right tax policies for agribusiness,” he stressed.

AfCFTA opportunities

As part of the panel, the Managing Director of Republic Bank Ghana, Farid Antar, underscored the need for Ghanaian businesses to take advantage of opportunities provided by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) through the adoption of technology to expand their operations.

According to him, local businesses must begin to look beyond the country and network with others across the continent to reach a larger market.

The panel was made up of the Chief Executive at Intelipro, Leonida Mutuku; Futurist and CEO of Reset Global People, Kwame A.A. Opoku; and Head of Technology and Business Systems at Republic Bank, Samuel Darkuah.

Others are the CEO of Ghana Code Club, Ernestina Appiah; and Chief Executive at Hacklab Foundation, Foster Awintiti Akugri. An address was delivered by Farid Antar, Managing Director of Republic Bank.