The Ministry of Trade and Industry has inaugurated an inter-agency Steering Committee on rural enterprises development in the country, as part of the Government’s agenda for industrial transformation. The prime responsibility of the National Steering Committee, chaired by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyeremanten, is to provide technical and policy direction towards the implementation of the Rural Enterprises Programme, under the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Membership of the National Steering Committee is drawn from the Ministry of Finance; Ministry of Food and Agriculture; Ministry of Local Government and Development; Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection; and Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations. The rest are the National Development Planning Commission; Bank of Ghana; ARB Apex Bank representing the Rural and Community Banks; Association of Ghana Industries; National Board for Small Scale Industries; and GRATIS Foundation. There will be two representatives from the 161 Municipal and District Assemblies participating in the Rural Enterprises Programme.
Inaugurating the 15 -member steering Committee, Mr Kyeremanten indicated that Committee was first inaugurated in 2013 when the Rural Enterprises Programme started. He mentioned that the Committee has been reconstituted with a renewed mandate of providing direction to the Programme at a time when it has been realigned to the ruling Government’s vision of an Industrial Transformation Agenda.
He explained despite the massive impact of the Rural Enterprises Programme in rural areas, the Government took the decision to realign the objectives of the Programme to perform its programme of industrial transformation 1D1F, Stimulus Package for distressed companies, Establishment of Industrial Parks and Small and Medium Enterprises development. He, however, indicated that the realignment is being done in a way not to sacrifice the original mandate of REP to support micro and small enterprises and the improving livelihood of rural communities.
Among activities being done under the realignment of the Programme is the transformation of existing Business Advisory Centers established under the Rural Enterprises Programme into what we call the Business Resource Centers (BRC). The BRC, he mentioned will become a one-stop shop to provide consolidated business support services to small, medium and large enterprises. He explained that 30 of the BRC is expected to be completed by 2018. He said the transformation would enhance decentralization and boost rural business development.
Mr Alan Kyeremanten was happy with the level of representation on the Steering Committee and charged the members to bring to bear the mandate of their respective agencies to the implementation of the Programme and the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s industrial transformation. He promised that the Ministry’s plan is to transform the Steering Committee into a permanent inter-sectoral institutional pillar with the same agency representation to support Government’s Industrialisation. He commended the International Fund for Agriculture Development and African Development Bank, who are the co-financiers of REP, for buying into the agenda.
National Treasurer of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Leticia Osafo-Addo, expressed the prepared of the AGI to support in the implementation of the Programme. She mentioned that while she was aware of the significant growth by some of the businesses supported by the Programme, she was looking forward to seeing more grow from small into medium and medium into larger enterprises.
The Minister, later presented three pick-up vehicles and three motorbikes to the Farm Institutes of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to support the Youth in Agribusiness initiative, funded by the Rural Enterprises Programme. The institutes are Asuansi Farm Institute, Central Region; the Adidome Farm Institute, Volta Region; and the Wenchi Farm Institute, Brong Ahafo Region.
Mr George Boahen Oduro, the Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, received the logistics, with a promise to ensure the judicious use of the resources. He explained that the goal of the Youth in Agribusiness initiative by REP and MOFA was aimed at establishing 6,000 agribusinesses run by literate youth.
The REP is part of the efforts of government initiatives to reduce poverty and improve living conditions in the rural areas. The Programme is an upscaled phase of the Rural Enterprises Project – Phases I and II, which were implemented in 66 districts across the country from 1995 to 2011.
The phase I and II project were piloted to at least 161 municipalities and districts in all the ten regions of the country from 2012 to 2020.