Business Expo puts excites business in Volta Region

The Volta Region could be at the threshold of a business take-off following the flurry of business enquiries and contacts pouring into the region after the November 2009 Business Expo in Ho. Consequently, the Volta Regional Coordinating Council (VRCC) is configuring new and existing business support bureaucracies to manage the emerging prospects. Colonel Cyril Necku (Rtd), Deputy Volta Regional Minister and Chairman of the Trade and Investment Fair Planning Committee, was speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Ho on Tuesday. He said word from Council of Ewe Associations in North America (CEANA) showed that giant firms and business people such as Bill Gates and Ford Foundation “smell” business opportunities in the region and were building linkages. Col Necku also mentioned a huge interest of Chinese concerns in agriculture in the region and had already come looking round abandoned State Farms for possible reactivation. He said the Ghana Cocoa Board also gave indications to help cocoa farmers to reactivate their farms to reverse the trend of lowering yields in the region. The Minister said the VRCC would wish that the process for securing “sovereign guarantees” for investors were faster. Col Necku said while the region’s competitive strength was obviously in agriculture, other areas such as tourism hold huge prospects. He said the salt industry, as a vital ingredient in the crude oil production cycle, was another area in which the Volta Region could reap huge benefits and cautioned land owners in the salt winning areas to seek expert advice in dealing with the investors. Col Necku said the novelty 2009 Expo had been a huge success, dumbfounding the sceptics, including companies, which declined giving support but on realizing they were missing something, scuttled “some inclusion”. “Some investors thought it is one of those fairs which will not succeed and were not enthused about participating in it but when the fair took off positively they were using ambush marketing strategies to participate,” he said. Col Necku said seminars, workshops and interactions of business people, handled by experts as part of the fair, laid bare some of the problems including credit management, poor business management skills that were being tackled. He said he was overwhelmed by the huge success of the fair and that the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) had given the organizers “thumbs up.” Mr Emmanuel Yao Nyaku, Volta Regional Manager of the National Board for Small-Scale Industries (NBSSI), said in an interview that the expo had nudged people into a reawakening to come to terms with new trends. He said any huge business takeoff in the region must bring on board micro business operators since that sector was the pillar of the regional economy. Mr Nyaku said the fair opened the eyes of producers in the region to the need to improve packaging as their products could not compete with others from elsewhere. He said the business development services provided during the expo gave many business people in the region some inkling into ways of accessing facilities from financial institutions. Mr Nyaku listed outdated technology, poor financing, marketing, poor management skills, lack of information and largely non-existing value-chain system as huge challenges facing business people in the region. He said he could support the assertion that people in the region were “credit shy” because credits in many cases were either too small to make an impact or to big. Mr Nyaku said time had come for business people in the region to show commitment, seriousness and high levels of integrity to come on board the emerging face of business in the region. The “Volta Trade and Investment Fair,” coordinated by the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) was under the auspices of the Volta Regional Coordinating Council (VRCC). Collaborating agencies include the Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC), National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), the Municipal and District Assemblies, Ho Polytechnic, the Volta Regional House of Chiefs and the Volta Foundation, a regional development advocacy group.