Interview: Mawuena Trebarh

Which sectors of Ghana’s economy offer the greatest opportunities for foreign investors?

MAWUENA TREBARH: Several investment opportunities abound in Ghana’s value chain in agriculture, oil and gas, infrastructure, manufacturing and real estate. GIPC has transitioned from a broad-based investment promotion approach to one that is focused on promoting specific investment projects. Ghana is working to create an integrated industry value chain system by building on forward linkages in the agriculture sector. Investment opportunities have been identified in key segments, such as large-scale mechanised farming, production and processing of rice, cashews, soya, sorghum, oil palm, cassava and poultry. There are also opportunities in power generation, namely upgrading transmission and distribution systems, as well as scaling up rural electrification to ensure improved access to electricity for residential and industrial compounds. Investment opportunities remain for independent power producers in each energy subsector. Lastly, in manufacturing, opportunities exist in food and cocoa processing, pharmaceuticals, high-value textiles and garments, wood processing and manufacturing, salt production and processing, and the manufacturing of electrical and electronic products.

What is the single biggest challenge investors face when conducting a project in Ghana?

TREBARH: Naturally, land is the primary resource required for a project’s successful implementation. In Ghana, however, the majority of land is owned by families and a chief, with a small minority currently held by the state. This situation has affected the process of land acquisition. The government, through land reform and the Land Administration Project, is embarking on an aggressive policy to facilitate the land acquisition process. In the meantime, investors are advised to engage real estate professionals and legal experts to seek guidance when acquiring land.

What projects and reforms are being undertaken to improve Ghana’s investment attractiveness?

TREBARH: The government believes that the private sector is the engine of growth, and as such several reforms have been enacted to improve the business environment. Ghana has made trading across borders easier by removing the mandatory pre-arrival assessment inspection at origin for imported products. Meanwhile, reducing documentary and border compliance time for imports by developing electronic channels for submitting and collecting final classification and valuation reports have all been key to improving Ghana’s attractiveness to investors. Additionally, the government has again made dealing with construction permits less time-consuming by streamlining the process for obtaining a building permit.

In terms of energy, with the Atuabo Gas Plant coming on-stream to fuel the Volta River Authority power plant, companies can be assured of a regular and consistent power supply. Other initiatives include the automation of company registration with the Registrar General’s Department and the e-governance project to automate processes in the public sector.

How is Ghana working to boost local content in new foreign direct investment projects?

TREBARH: On several platforms, GIPC continues to promote partnership and collaboration between domestic and foreign investors. Through its Regional Sensitisation Tours, GIPC is soliciting business projects and packaging them for investment promotion. Through business matchmaking seminars and work- shops, GIPC creates an enabling environment for partnerships. The main objective is to increase the contribution of domestic investment to the development of the Ghanaian economy and promote the production of goods and services for export. Local investors provide knowledge of the local economy, while foreign investors bring capital and skills.