Jamaican and Ghanaian businesses are being courted for membership of a new bilateral organisation aimed at promoting business ties between Ghana and Jamaica.
The Ghana Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, GHANJACC, was launched recently and is targeting January 2024 to sign memoranda of understanding with Jampro, and the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce that are aimed at formalising collaborative efforts to boost trade and business ties between the two countries.
President of GHANJACC, Derrick Cobbinah, says the Ghana Jamaica Chamber of Commerce aims to increase access and connectivity between the private sectors of both countries, paving the way for increased trade, investment and cultural exchange. GHANJACC has identified areas such as financial technology, cybersecurity, textiles, along with other Ghanaian services and industries that could benefit the Jamaican economy, while Ghana could benefit from Jamaican services in tourisms, solar farms, and agriculture, including fisheries.
“Each and every sector that we’ve identified, we realise that there is an opportunity,” Cobbiah told the Financial Gleaner.
Vice President of GHANJACC, Lakeshia Ford, a Jamaican living in Ghana, says it is readily recognised that they are at different rates of development in some sectors of both countries, which meant they could complement each other.
“There’s a huge and very deep affinity for Jamaican culture specifically in Ghana,” Ford said, citing the example of Afrobeat artiste Stonebwoy who has drawn inspiration and support from the likes of Beenie Man, Busy Signal, Sean Paul and others in the staging of concerts.
“It’s a cycle and what I think is happening is that the two cultures are coming home to each other,” Ford said.
She added that there are opportunities for cooperation in the areas of fintech and cybersecurity, where Ghana and other African countries have a head start.
This is not the first effort at strengthening bilateral ties between Ghana and other countries. Cobbinah, a banker, was instrumental in the formation of the UK/Ghana Chamber of Commerce, UKGCC, which has over 200 members.
Cobbinah says the idea to form a similar group in Jamaica emanated from discussions with the Honorary Consul of Jamaica in Ghana, Isaac Emmil Osei-Bonsu.
“He said, based on my work with the UKGCC, that maybe I could take a trip to Jamaica and three months ago I was in Kingston for the first time, and I could see and feel the need for a chamber. It’s long overdue,” he added.
Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo since coming to power in 2017, has advocated a more outward-looking policy. The country has signed bilateral agreements with the UK, Switzerland and China, along with African countries such as Zambia and Nigeria. Ghana has also taken steps to gain observer status in the Pacific Alliance, an initiative of regional integration comprised of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. Cobbinah says it is within that context that GHANAJACC was formed.
Noting that some top Jamaican businesses already have a presence in Ghana, namely food and financial services conglomerate GraceKennedy and lottery company Supreme Ventures, Cobbinah says the new chamber is championing inclusivity and wants to bring small businesses into the fold.
“Small and medium-sized enterprises will be integral to its mission, with dedicated programs to support and empower them to enter new markets,” he said.