OBG talks to Mawuena Trebarh, CEO, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC)

Mawuena Trebarh, CEO, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC)

Interview: Mawuena Trebarh

In which areas of the economy do you see significant opportunities for investment?

MAWUENA TREBARH: Aside from the opportunities in oil and gas, there is potential in infrastructure service – there is a focus on expanding existing road, port and airport facilities. The power sector also presents opportunities. We will be seeking to meet the investment targets articulated by the government. We will determine what the hydrocarbons element of power investment should be, vis-à-vis the renewable energy options that are available. We want to create a more efficient system and are keen to drive investments in that direction.

With the increase in demand for housing solutions, investors would do well to be looking at real estate for opportunities in both low-cost housing and luxury. The luxury segment in particular ties in with tourism and hospitality. We are working with the Ministry of Tourism to channel investment into that area. Less obvious opportunities exist in agriculture, where we are seeking to significantly increase investment. Our collaboration with the Ghana Free Zones Board and the Ghana Export Promotion Authority will help stimulate this sector. We are also looking to attract investors to partner local businesses in manufacturing, assembly of light electrical parts and electronic accessories.

What is the outlook for foreign direct investment?

TREBARH: We are anticipating at least a 20-30% increase over 2012, keeping in mind that 2012 was an election year, in which it is natural to see a decline in foreign direct investment. There may be fewer overall investments, but the size of individual investments should continue to increase. Many will take the form of public-private partnerships or otherwise involve the private sector. The opening of the International Enterprise (IE) Singapore office in Accra has been very exciting for us and proves there is interest from the Asian business market in investment opportunities. Ghana’s location and infrastructure are advantages and provide opportunities to access the rest of the ECOWAS region.

Given the global economic situation we must vie for those very few foreign direct investment dollars that are available, which everybody is competing for. We will also be focusing more on leveraging Ghana’s strengths and the interest in the African continent and investment opportunities in general. Attracting investment from the Middle East is also something we are particularly interested in. We are looking into diversifying our investment sources and developing further opportunities for commercial partnerships with companies in European and North American markets, though Asia and the Middle East are currently our main targets.

Additionally we are looking at seeking strategic investors in the area of processing fresh fruit in Europe and North America. This will help reduce the level of unemployment. Our approach to the Middle East and Asia will help us source long-term funds for infrastructure. We will expand our collaboration with the US and Canada in our stock and bond markets, as well as in the mortgage sector. We intend to attract the Ghanaian professional both local and foreign to manage our proposed centralisation of government shares as a precursor to a sovereign wealth fund.

What do investors need to keep in mind when it comes to executing larger scale projects?

TREBARH: The first point of contact should be GIPC, as it is there to support investors through the process, ensuring that they are engaging with credible local players and decision makers. Secondly, investors will agree with the potential partnering institution or the Ministry on what the roadmap for investing should be.

There is a very different dynamic with our legislation, the time needed to secure the various permit requirements and other basic issues. However, with the right liaison, investors should be able to execute their projects successfully within the planned timeframe. The African business model is somewhat different to what investors may have experienced elsewhere, but it has some great strengths to be considered and tapped.

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Mawuena Trebarh

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The Report: Ghana 2013

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