Volta region would be literally laid up again for two weeks- November 22-December 5, this year for entrepreneurs to take an insightful peer for business opportunities which that 20,570 km square land mass has.
There had been several attempts in the past, small shows, political platform talks and trips abroad.
This version, “Volta Trade and Investment Fair,” the debut, in 2009, is perhaps the most ambitious jingling of the wares of the region ever.
Fair planners added a cultural aspect to the 2010 event and christened it “Volta Trade and Investment and Cultural Fair”.
Planning Committee Publicity Chief, Richard Ameyedewo said the addition is to bring that which adds up value to the area’s tourism potential on board. So the 2010 event is somewhat unique.
Volta Region by the 2000 populations has 1,635,421 people. It has virtually all the vegetation zones in the country. Sandy beaches, grassland, semi-deciduous and deciduous forests, semi and thick forested zones.
It has its fair share of waters. The most prominent is the Volta Lake, whose middle and lower courses wash to region from north to south where there is the Atlantic Ocean.
The region, largely agrarian, is scenic, with many nature sites which are in its crude form waiting to be developed.
In the area of big industries, Volta Region is a desolate tract. Flagship Juapong Textiles, collapsed once, was resurrected and given a new name and owners, but comatose again. Now there is only one medium level industry, the Diamond Cement Factory at Aflao.
Agriculture, the mainstay of the region’s economy is at the primary level, producing with hoes and cutlasses. There are not many big farms and not many big time farmers, almost all are small holder subsistence farmers. Irrigation farms are also negligible, the much tooted Afife Irrigation sites and perhaps none other of any significance.
A Ghana News Agency (GNA) news story on July 13, 2009 viewed on the web indicated the Volta Region placed either last or penultimate in a number of economic growth indicators.
The story sourced this assertion to a 2008 Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) survey which covered issues ranging from Technology usage to Enabling Business Climate
It was tabled at a stakeholders meeting by Mr Seth Quarshie Yawlui, Advisor to Netherlands Development Organization, (SNV).
The meeting was convened in connection with the institution of the Fair. SNV was the facilitating Agency for the 2009 Fair and doing same for the 2010 event.
Yawlui said based on the survey, the Volta Region was the least in terms of the “Ease of Doing Business in Ghana.”
He said however that the region has a higher potential to support viable business investment if the bottlenecks are tackled.
He (Yawlui) called for “changes in some of the business trends to improve productivity, employment and the fortunes of the business practitioners”.
He then stated the obvious that the key areas of business in the region were Tourism and Agriculture, which remained largely untapped.
Finding the wherewithal within and without to mine the salt in basins and environs of Keta, grow and process the legumes, vegetables and fruits, cultivate the ‘tropical grass’-sugarcane for the sugars- in the vast soggy lands, grow the grains, roots and tubers across the region from Keta to Kete-Krachi is all the Fair is seeking to nudge the region to do.
Additionally, the cocoa industry must not die as its potentials and that for palm and coconut industry could be immeasurable when linked properly with some forms of processing.
The region’s other competitive industrial strength is tourism. The Investments should be directed at integrating the nature sites into running businesses.
As these areas grow, other service sectors tow after, to give business in Volta Region a boom. That region is strategically placed between the bustling markets of Tema-Accra metropolis and the huge Togo, Benin and Nigerian clientele to the east.
Colonel Cyril Necku, (rtd) Deputy Volta Regional Minister two months after the 2009 fair granted an interview to the GNA in Ho on the fallouts saying the Volta Region could be at the threshold of a business take-off following the flurry of business enquiries and contacts pouring into the region.
Consequently, he said the Volta Regional Coordinating Council (VRCC) was configuring new and existing business support bureaucracies to manage the emerging situation.
Colonel Necku (Rtd) had been Chairman of the Trade and Investment Fair Planning Committee in 2009 and is still chairman for the 2010 event.
He said among companies and groups sniffed business in the region and made overtures were the Council of Ewe Associations in North America (CEANA), Bill Gates and Ford Foundation.
Col Necku also mentioned a huge interest of Chinese concerns in agriculture in the region and had already come looking round abandoned State Farms for possible reactivation.
Ameyedewo stated that, that pudding could be tastier after the successful 2009 event, as more companies and groups had expressed interest.
The business scenario in the region is not different this year. The seminars behind the scenes would be discussing credit management and business management skills and experts would be on hand to strap-up linkages just as it happened last year.
Mr Emmanuel Yao Nyaku, Volta Regional Manager of the National Board for Small-Scale Industries (NBSSI), was concerned that last year, micro businesses were not so much seen.
This year therefore they must be targeted since that sector as he put it “is the pillar of the regional economy”.
Big businesses wherever must integrate its supply linkages into the local economy, and same must happen in the Volta Region to raise living standards of the people.
Exhibition planners must go beyond the platform speeches and fanfares of the stands to serious business throughout the year by linking the Volta Region to the rest of the world through the information highway, stock up-to-date data on all that is business about the Volta Region at offices across the region.
People must know at the click of a button how much is invested into the region, sources and areas.
Perhaps it is not too much to demand of all officers of the various Assemblies and the VRCC and other stakeholders especially the front desk officers, to become mental billboards of the bid of Volta Region to go big time commercial.
The "Volta Trade and Investment Fair" coordinated by the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) is under the auspices of the Volta Regional Coordinating Council (VRCC).
Collaborating agencies include the Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC), National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), the Municipal and District Assemblies, Ho Polytechnic, the Volta Regional House of Chiefs and the Volta Foundation, a regional development advocacy group.