Ghana’s business climate gleams as country becomes key trade hub, Business Council for Africa audience hears, By James Brewer
Dynamic growth rates and new opportunities for international investors in Ghana have been highlighted by the Business Council for Africa West and Southern, a leading membership organisation for companies with business interests in Sub-Saharan Africa.
There was much optimism at a London event to discuss the business climate in the West African nation following December’s elections. Although growth slowed towards the close of 2012, newly re-elected President John Dramani Mahama has said that the full-year figure was likely to have been between 8.5% and 9%, partly thanks to growing output of oil from the Tullow Oil-operated Jubilee field, 60 km offshore, which began production in December 2010. Jubilee is said have recoverable resources of up to 1bn barrels.
Hosted by commercial law firm Addleshaw Goddard, the event featured a panel comprising Nana Adu Ampofo, co-founder of Songhai Advisory (a business intelligence consultancy offering insight into market opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa); Timothy Armitage, vice-president of Nomura Bank; Ian Hargreaves, partner with Addleshaw Goddard; and Philip Walker of the Economist Intelligence Unit.
The discussion was chaired by Kissy Agyeman-Togobo, a board director of the Business Council for Africa and co-founder of Songhai Advisory. She is also on the advisory board of World Risk Review, a ratings and analysis service providing corporations, banks and other organisations with assessments to help them manage political and economic risks.
Ghana’s High Commissioner to the UK, Professor Kwaku Danso-Boafo, was an honoured guest.
Ghana is considered one of the most stable democracies in Africa, although the main opposition party filed a petition at the Supreme Court alleging ballot paper fraud in the narrow victory of President Mahama, although international observers had described the poll as free and fair. Mr Mahama had succeeded John Atta Mills who died in office suddenly in July.
Ms Agyeman-Togobo said: “It feels as if Ghana is at a unique point in its history. The alignment of rapid economic growth –spurred by the new oil economy – with growing investor appetite, means that Ghana is presented with a real opportunity. The challenge will be in harnessing the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of Ghanaians, paying close attention to political stability, the implementation of regulatory reforms and improving the socio-economic outlook for the average Ghanaian.” Many Ghanaians live below the poverty line.
During the London discussion, panellists stressed the country’s strong infrastructure, political stability and open business environment. Speakers said that Ghana is increasingly becoming a hub for businesses in West Africa, and is leaping ahead of neighbours including Nigeria. In addition to Ghana’s traditional economic focus on its commodities – cocoa, gold and oil – the growing importance of the gas sector was underlined.
China Development Bank has lent $1bn to Ghana to develop its natural gas infrastructure and resources. It was reported in mid-2012 that Ghana National Gas Co and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp had signed an $850m agreement for a gas project, and that Chinese loans to Ghana for all purposes would ultimately reach $3bn. Ghana is to export to China 13, 000 barrels of oil a day at market price.
Jonathan Howard, chief executive of the Business Council for Africa, said: “International investors want to discover the truth behind the headlines and understand what is really happening on the ground in Ghana. The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index reveals that Ghana actually stands ahead of Italy, Brazil and India in the rankings. However, it is important to consider the realities of operating in emerging markets. Through events like this, the BCA enables its members to gain a real insight into doing business in countries like Ghana.”
The event showcased Epic Global Media’s multimedia campaign to raise awareness of Ghana’s economic potential. Its video can be viewed at http://vimeo.com/44087317
The Business Council for Africa West and Southern serves companies and entrepreneurs with business interests in Sub-Saharan Africa. Established for almost 60 years, it supports more than 400 companies and entrepreneurs operating across the continent.