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Ghana delegation visits Delaware to discuss trade

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Ghana delegation visit Delaware

Small business owners from Ghana listen to local African business consultant Mohamed Cisse during a delegation meeting Sept. 15 at the University of Delaware STAR Campus. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

NEWARK – On Friday, Delaware hosted a delegation of Ghanaian small business owners seeking an export market in the U.S. and state officials seeking best practices to take back to their West African nation.

Organized by the U.S.-Ghana Chamber of Commerce and local African business consultant Mohamed Cisse, the visit was part of a broader trip to the region including stops in Philadelphia, organizers said. But an afternoon at the University of Delaware’s STAR Campus gave the First State a chance to pitch foreign investors on the opportunities here.

Ghana delegation visit Delaware Patty Cannon

Patty Cannon, of the Delaware Division of Small Business, lays out the process to create a business entity in Delaware during the Ghanaian delegation visit. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

Representatives from World Trade Center Delaware and the Delaware Division of Small Business outlined the business-friendly incorporations that the state offers, while companies like Batta Environmental and Aqua Science discussed how their technology and services might benefit those in Africa. Unlike prior summits that were held virtually, Ghanaians were able to visit Delaware this year as COVID precautions have declined. Leaders from the country’s agriculture and transportation departments were also seeking to learn best practices as a part of the trip.

Yaw Frimpong Addo, deputy minister for food and agriculture in Ghana, came to the Delaware visit fresh off a trip to Nebraska, where officials were looking to learn about new ag tech like drones that could help prevent disease and pest damage to Ghana’s core crop: cocoa beans.

Ghana is the world’s second largest producer of cocoa beans used to make chocolate, supporting about 88,000 farmers across the nation that hugs the Gulf of Guinea between Ivory Coast and Togo.

“We’re looking for mechanization and technology [to increase industry and crop yields],” Addo said. “We have the land and a wonderful climate, so we can do agriculture throughout the year.”

His colleague Frederick Adom, deputy minister of transportation, was in the U.S. to learn about trade partners in the country and to pick up best practices on port management, as Ghana is currently developing a new third port in the country.

Most of its exports, which also principally include raw minerals and petroleum, come through the Port Newark–Elizabeth Marine Terminal in Newark, N.J., or the Packer Avenue Terminal in Philadelphia, Adom said. While they are happy with the performance there, they are always open to learning new best practices, he said.

With much of Ghana’s exports being dry containerized cargo, however, an opportunity for Delaware also exists for new partnership if progress can be made at the Edgemoor Container Port.

Ghana delegation visit Delaware Yoofi Grant

Yoofi Grant, the CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Center, said that the African continent has a major economic opportunity. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

Yoofi Grant, CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Center, the state-run economic development agency, said that Ghana is also a national economy that is evolving.

“The new narrative of the economy is to not just be an exporter of mineral resources and agriculture raw materials, but to add value,” Grant said.

He noted that Ghana is increasingly processing pineapples, mangoes and cashews before shipping them overseas, adding more jobs and investment in the country. It also is going to soon begin processing and polishing gold in the country, rather than shipping it raw overseas.

“Ghana is resource rich. It’s got bauxite, iron ore, lithium, manganese, salt oil and gas, but now we need to industrialize while using those raw materials,” he said, noting that more private investment is needed to help boost the transformation. “Most of the foreign direct investment that we see today is from the larger corporations, but we also see the opportunity for the small and medium-sized enterprises to create partnerships in Ghana. You can have an investor from Delaware go to Ghana to process pineapples or mangoes or to make aluminum products that we can export.”

With nearly 33 million people – which is larger than all but one U.S. states – and access to an African free trade network of more than 1 billion people, Grant noted that the African market is one of the few that’s still growing demographically.

“Africa is the youngest continent, the fastest-growing continent and the continent with the fastest growing middle class, so the opportunities are really in Africa,” he said.

Delaware, which has a diaspora of African immigrants, sees Africa as a major trade partner, with WTC Delaware leaders visiting major African economic summits and hosting other delegations in recent years.

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