The provision of a national media platform for business sector associations and public sector officials to dialogue on issues affecting business growth and development had eventually created favourable conditions for many businesses in the country.

The Ghana Association of Journalists (GJA) intervention to draw the attention of duty bearers/policy makers to the numerous challenges confronting the private businesses has compelled many duty bearers to be more responsive to the needs and concerns of businesses.

The immediate past General Secretary of the association, Mr. Bright Blewu stated that the advocacy action dubbed Business Advocate,- the largest media advocacy programme which was aired on Ghana Television (GTV) for two years had drawn the attention of duty bearers to the numerous challenges confronting private businesses in Ghana.

Former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Joseph Yieleh Chireh (right) discusses private sector challenges with the then host of GTV's live

Former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Joseph Yieleh Chireh (right) discusses private sector challenges with the then host of GTV's live "Business Advocate" programme, Kofi Asante Frimpong

"As a matter of fact, this well structured media discussions created the platform for both private and public sector officials to dialogue about how to address the numerous impediments in Ghana's business environment. These discussions made the relevant duty bearers a lot more responsive to the needs of the Ghanaian private sector," Mr. Blewu remarked.

He explained that the advocacy action enabled GJA to organize over fifty dialogue sessions between policy makers (Ministers, MPs and District Chief Executives) and entrepreneurs across seven regions which helped in addressing challenges confronting some Ghanaian businesses.

"For instance, in the heat of our advocacy action, a Sunyani-based entrepreneur expressed his gratitude to GJA for its intervention which got the then Internal Revenue Service to resolve his tax concerns which had been a source of dispute for over six years," Mr. Blewu revealed in an interview.

To a large extent, as a result of GJA's advocacy action, the media developed a higher interest in producing more quality pro-business development stories to highlight the needs and challenges of the private sector. For instance, due to GJA's advocacy action, in July 2008 alone, journalists published 102 business stories across print and electronic media, and these balanced stories reflected the challenges confronting private Ghanaian businesses and the response of relevant government agencies at the time.

The GJA's remarkable advocacy action also urged the media to play a watchdog role by keenly monitoring and ensuring that government interventions designed to develop the private sector, such as MASLOC, were well implemented.

Even though the private sector has always been touted as the engine of economic growth, for many years, the Ghanaian media had not given the sector the needed prominence and coverage. The Ghanaian media has often been accused of devoting much coverage to political and sensational news stories, thus relegating private sector business issues to the background.

Realising the need to address this problem in order to support Ghana's economic growth, the GJA sought the support of the BUSAC Fund to advocate the need to use sustainable radio and television platforms to articulate the concerns of private businesses.

The BUSAC Fund and its development partners, DANIDA, USAID and the EU came to the rescue by providing GJA with an advocacy grant that enabled the GJA to embark upon a nationwide advocacy action that highlighted the challenges confronting the Ghanaian private sector, and triggered favourable responses from the public sector.

By Ebenezer Kpentey

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