Viewpoint: Adelaide Benneh Prempeh

Ghana is broadly heralded as a beacon for democracy, peace and socio-economic stability in West Africa. Peaceful democratic elections have been held in Ghana since 1992, and since then the country has steered clear of major internal conflict. The rapid growth and permeation of private enterprise has ensured a level and competitive playing field for investors and entrepreneurs alike. Furthermore, public policy and legislation is focused on enabling private investment and public-private partnerships to provide the necessary infrastructure and augment employment.

For the first time, Ghana has a dedicated Ministry of Business Development (MoBD) focused on the development and management of “national policies and programmes aimed at improving the entrepreneurial and technical skills of micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), particularly the youth”. The creation of the MoBD in 2017 is telling of the priority of the incumbent administration to welcome and preserve lucrative business and investment for Ghana. In fact, the vision of this ministry is to make Ghana the most entrepreneurial and business-friendly country in Africa. The MoBD’s mandate bolsters and complements the role of the pre-existing Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), which operates to provide an attractive incentive framework and a transparent, predictable and facilitating environment for investments in the country.

The corporate tax regime has been designed with several corporate income tax (CIT) incentives, in the form of reduced rates of between 0% and 20%, below the standard 25% CIT. The GIPC published the Ghana Incentives Inventory, which lists a wide range of benefits for businesses, including the five-year tax holiday guaranteed for the flagship government One District, One Factory initiative. Youth employment is a priority for the government, which is working in partnership with the World Bank to increase job opportunities and skills under the Ghana Jobs and Skills Project. This four-pronged project aims to provide support for apprentices and entrepreneurs, offer grants to businesses to boost employment openings, improve the district public employment and skills development programme, and give technical assistance and project management support to job agencies.

Both local and foreign nationals enjoy the protections afforded under Ghana’s labour laws and the International Labour Organisation. This includes a safe and healthy work environment, fair termination and anti-discrimination measures, and pensions for contributing individuals under the national social security scheme. Foreign nationals, under the sponsorship of a locally registered company, may obtain renewable work permits that authorise them to carry on employment with the sponsoring company. Furthermore, foreign nationals who obtain a work and residence permit may apply for residence permits for dependants such as spouses, children and parents.

Alongside the endeavour to promote the employment and entrepreneurial efforts of skilled nationals, Ghana has promulgated a framework of laws and regulations that require local content, with a preference for local goods and services and local participation within specified industries, often on a quota basis. Investors should expect to form local partnerships when engaged in sectors such as minerals and mining, petroleum and energy, banking and financial services, insurance, construction and shipping.

Technology transfer regulations established in 1992 underline local participation requirements and provide structure for the transfer of technical knowledge and expertise, the training of personnel, and the assignment, sale and licensing of industrial property.

The government continues to create a haven for investors and entrepreneurs alike. Therefore, establishing a diverse portfolio of development initiatives and incentives is a priority. This, combined with its role as secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area, places Ghana in the spotlight as a regional star.