ACCRA – The Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week provided all the offerings: a little chiffon here, a touch of lamé there, and an abundant supply of African print-inspired styles. But the four-day event signified something more meaningful for Ghana, a country with a flourishing economic sector and burgeoning upper-class. In a short amount of time, the small West African nation has raised the eyebrows of some of the world's most powerful brands, who have now realized that their businesses can thrive here.
In an interview with Myjoyonline, New York-based fashion designer Clavon Leonard predicted that the fashion show would be “simply ground-breaking.”
“What I love is that Accra is now gaining a global reputation. It raises the standard for Ghana. This is massive. This is huge.”
It’s true. Earlier this year, Google announced that it would open Africa’s first artificial intelligence centre in Accra. Toyota, one of the world’s most recognizable brands, decided to incorporate its business in Ghana in 1998. L'Oreal, a makeup brand sold and distributed globally, has headquartered its West African branch in the country.
On the food front, waves of Western restaurant chains are sprouting in droves including Pizza Hut, Burger King and KFC.
Executive Director of the Mohinani Group, KFC’s parent company in Ghana, said at a KFC unveiling (the 15th in the country thus far) that the restaurant being here would ramp up Ghana’s economy and increase employment rates.
But back to the show. International designers flew in from all parts of the world to showcase their latest collections, including Quophi Akotuah, the lead designer for his self-titled fashion line.
“It makes you feel proud of your country,” says Akotuah, who’s African print-infused designs have received national critical acclaim.
Indian-based Moi Amara showcased her Spring/Summer 2019 at Accra's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Credit: Baba Mahama
A Bloomberg report shows Ghana's economy accelerated at the fastest rate in five years due to increased oil and gas production. Its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) surged from 8.5% last year from just 3.7% the year prior, Government Statistician Baah Wadieh said in Accra earlier this year.
“The vision, direction, and the challenge thrown by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to create a Ghana Beyond Aid, amply motivated us to drive on to achieve these results,” said Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta earlier this year. Ofori-Atta was recently appointed a Chairman for the World Bank/IMF Development Committee.
But challenges remain. According to a 2018 World Bank report, Ghana’s future relies heavily on its performance in the economic stabilization program. Enhanced domestic revenue mobilization and long-term expenditures will be critically important. Ghana’s financing costs will only increase both domestically, in external markets and as global bond yields rise. They could all be a cause of concern, the report predicts.
“The country’s heavy reliance on primary commodities, including cocoa, gold and oil—all prone to volatility in international commodity prices—create uncertainty about its actual future paths for growth, inflation, export receipts and domestic revenue,” wrote Michael Geiger, senior economist and co-author of the report.
But current prospects look hopeful. With swarms of businesses flooding the Ghanaian market. Government officials are confident Ghana’s emerging market will soon become a strong international competitor in the global financial sector.
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