The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is spearheading an initiative to increase trade between Ghanaian small and medium enterprises (SME) and their counterparts in Singapore by giving them access to better financial tools and services.
In early November, MAS signed a memorandum of understanding with Ghana’s central bank and development finance institution DBG to develop the Ghana Integrated Financial Ecosystem (GIFE), which aims to stimulate mutual trade in following ways:
- Offering an online SME Financial Empowerment programme that educates SMEs about basic digital financial literacy skills and cross-border financial services. Upon completion of each learning module, companies receive a certificate that gives them access to financial services tools.
- Providing SMEs in Ghana and Singapore with access to a network of business-to-business e-commerce platforms, allowing them to expand their international business connections in Asia and Africa.
- Granting finance and guarantees for eligible businesses through DBG and other partner financial institutions.
- Developing creditworthiness assessment frameworks that enable financial institutions to extend credit to SMEs based on alternative data sets, such as their track record of successful payments to suppliers and tax authorities.
Over the past decade, Ghana has gained a reputation as a politically stable and business-friendly country, averaging annual GDP growth of just over 5% from 2012 to 2021. It was placed sixth in RMB’s 2021 Africa investment attractiveness rankings. According to the business promotion agency, Enterprise Singapore, both countries share similar interests in oil and gas as well as export businesses. It added that Singaporeans will find it easy to work with Ghana’s predominantly English-speaking populace.
However, Ghana’s business environment has deteriorated over the past year. Standard Bank’s Africa Trade Barometer, published in November, revealed a decline in business confidence among local companies. The Ghanaian cedi weakened dramatically in recent months and is now one of the worst-performing currencies in the world. This has led to a spike in inflation as the country relies heavily on imports. Fewer businesses feel the government is supportive of trade while access to credit is inhibited by high interest rates.
The countries’ bilateral trade was S$250.6m (US$182.7m) in 2021. Singapore mainly exports malt extract, edible oils, navigation equipment, pesticides, ethylene polymers and iron products to Ghana, and imports largely cocoa beans and crude oil from it.
A recent study by the IFC found that limited access to credit facilities for the financing of import-export transactions is holding back cross-border trade in West Africa. Improved availability and cost of trade finance could lift trade volumes by up to 16%.
‘MAS, IFC and UNDP launch global programme for MSME financial literacy and empowerment’, Monetary Authority of Singapore, 14 June 2022
‘Ghana market profile’, Enterprise Singapore, 28 June 2022
‘World Economic Outlook Database’, International Monetary Fund, October 2022
‘Trade finance in West Africa’, IFC, October 2022
‘MAS, Bank of Ghana and Development Bank Ghana to develop an Integrated Financial Ecosystem to support growth of Asia-Africa SME trade corridor’, Monetary Authority of Singapore, 04 November 2022
‘Ghana economy: Chilli-sauce businesses feel the heat’, BBC, 17 November 2022
‘RMB releases list of 2021 top 10 investment-attractive African countries’, RMB, Accessed 18 November 2022
‘Singapore/Ghana’, OEC, Accessed 18 November 2022
‘Africa Trade Barometer’, Standard Bank, November 2022