In line with similar efforts elsewhere in the world, Ghana has targeted the promotion of domestic Made-in-Ghana brands and is attempting to change the behaviour of Ghanaians towards locally produced goods. Beyond simply promoting domestic industry and culture in general, the push is aimed at creating jobs and reviving struggling sectors such as the textile industry. In 2014 Ghana imported $17bn worth of goods, while it exported goods worth $13bn, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry. This trade deficit is a growing cause of concern for the country.
Kate Quartey-Papafio, CEO of electrical cables firm Reroy Cables, told OBG, “Local companies can provide the material required by foreign players working in Ghana. Unfortunately, Ghana has not done enough to broadcast the capabilities of its own companies to contribute to major projects.”
In December 2014 President John Dramani Mahama inaugurated a Made-in-Ghana Goods Committee tasked with implementing public awareness programmes to change consumer habits and get people back to buying products that were made in the country. There is also a hope among policymakers that stimulating domestic demand will lead to a growth in export opportunities for Made-in-Ghana products as their popularity increases.
The committee was later divided into three separate bodies, each one focused on a different area – the Policy, Regulations and Legal Committee; the Technology, Innovation and Production Capacity Committee; and the Communication, Advertising, and Marketing Committee. The first two target the regulatory and policy environment, and industrial capacity and infrastructure, respectively, while the latter is focused on getting the message out.
Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, the minister of trade and industry, has also said that the government needs to develop policies that would subsidise local products in some key industrial sectors in order to reduce the final prices and make them more competitive and appealing to consumers. In the past the government has tried to subtly change local consumer habits by instituting a “National Friday Wear,” whereby civil servants and office workers were invited to wear traditional clothing on Fridays. “Proponents of the policy believe that the government must take the lead in sourcing from locally produced sources,” John Defor, a policy research officer at the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), told OBG. “Creating a behavioural change in purchasing is a gradual process and the brand switch will not be immediate. There are issues to do with lifestyle and many in Ghana have developed strong tastes for foreign products.”
The Real Deal
Some companies have taken it upon themselves to promote Made-in-Ghana goods by bringing back a sense of trust that goods claiming to be Made in Ghana are real. If consumers are not able to know for sure what they are getting is real they are less likely to buy a better quality but more expensive product, or so the feeling goes. Local textile manufacturers have started using Goldkey, an inexpensive technology developed by Ghanaian company mPedigree, whereby a scratchable panel is put on the labels of clothes that can then be scratched off to reveal a 12-digit code that buyers can text to a number that will instantly say whether the produce is real or fake. “This is a proactive thing we are doing,” Cecil Evans-Chinery, national wholesale director at Premium African Textiles, told OBG. “It is one tool where we can reach out to consumers directly.”
Still, much needs to be done to help revitalise Made in Ghana as a brand overall, as well as individual domestic firms that have, in some cases, been struggling to compete for many years. As of June 2015 specific government policies related to the Made-in-Ghana push had not been announced, and those involved in industries that may benefit are still waiting to hear what policies will be put in place.