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Intensify efforts to reduce over-reliance on imports – Fidelity Bank MD urges government

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Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Mr. Julian Opuni is calling for intensified efforts by government to reduce Ghana’s over-reliance on imports and make the country self-sufficient post-COVID-19.

According to him, a turnaround from import dependence is essential for the country to take full advantage of opportunities presented by the pandemic.

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Africa’s contribution to global trade is currently around three percent although Africa has seventeen percent of the world’s population.

Speaking at the Ghana Economic Forum, Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Mr. Julian Opuni said the time is ripe for businesses to look ‘inward’ and re-strategize as the pandemic has provided an opportunity for them to take more concrete steps towards import substitution.

“The import substitution discussion was really at the top of our agenda in all our engagements especially at the peak of the COVID-19, and I think there is a lot more work to be done around the sector focus. The other thing is you have to be careful about not having a broad rush approach and looking at every single import substitution opportunity.”

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“We have to look and identify what our key strengths are and whether we can actually leverage on the current opportunities out there and what infrastructure we can put in place because there is a lot that goes into creating a resilient economy,” he said.

Chief Executive of the Ghana Association of Bankers, John Awuah bemoaned the lack of incentives to ensure that the banks help businesses to rapidly scale up their production capacities.

“It takes two to tango, so banks have taken on the challenge. But the issue is you need some form of stimulants to also direct traffic into the sectors. How about saying that you are going to lend to the right sectors? How about saying that if you are a bank and you lend to an industry, and you get a profit of 10% [You will be okay with that]? With that kind of stimulant, you are driving traffic to an area of interest to the state. We all know that we are not there yet in terms of de-risking some of the sectors, but how about trying to de-risk it by risk-sharing?” he said.

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