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Chapter | Banking from The Report: Ghana 2018

Since the late 1980s Ghanaian banks have increased in stature and number, and for much of the last decade they have enjoyed strong growth rates and large profit margins. The country’s lenders have maintained their stability, avoiding the domestic crises that have befallen some of their emerging and frontier market peers, and sidestepping much of the fallout from the global financial crisis. The tripling of minimum capital requirements by the central bank should help increase credit flow by encouraging small local banks to consolidate, resulting in bigger banks with the capital and capacity needed to clean up loan books, and steer more credit to the private sector. This will also enable institutions to finance larger and more capital-intensive projects. The chapter contains interviews with Ernest Addison, Governor, Bank of Ghana; and Archie Hesse, CEO, Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems.

Chapter | Economy from The Report: Ghana 2018

As in many West African countries, Ghana’s economy is strongly correlated with global commodities. Oil, gold and cocoa are the three main sources of foreign currency and income; however, price swings over 2015 and 2016 for these three resources, a strengthening US dollar, as well as domestic issues such as fiscal slippage, growing debt and mounting inflation have combined to slow the pace of development, leading to a depreciating currency and a budget shortfall. Despite this, Ghana’s economic prospects for 2018 appear strong. Following a belt-tightening process, the government has both brought down the problematic fiscal deficit and channelled capital spending towards priority projects by capping budget transfers to statutory funds. The government also has plans to industrialise rural regions, improve the business environment, harness the financial sector and improve access to credit for private actors. This chapter contains interviews with Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance; R Yofi Grant, CEO, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre; and Akinwumi Adesina, President, African Development Bank.

Report | The Report: Ghana 2018

Since assuming power in January 2017 the administration of President Nana Akufo-Addo has moved to rein in fiscal spending, industrialise rural regions and improve the business environment in order to jump-start economic growth. The government has brought down the fiscal deficit and freed up capital spending for priority projects, and Ghana’s economic prospects appear strong for 2018.

Chapter | Transport1 from The Report: Saudi Arabia 2018

In a push to diversify its economy, Saudi Arabia is determined to increase the role of the private sector in the development of its transport infrastructure, as well as in the operation of seaports, airports and related supply chains. Public-private partnerships are being pursued to fund several key schemes, while a number of the country’s publicly operated facilities, such as airports, are being readied for full privatisation. However, there are a series of challenges ahead in the Kingdom’s pursuit to meet its Saudi Vision 2030 objective of leveraging its location at the crossroads of three continents. Faced with a decline in the country’s ranking among global indices of competitiveness and logistics since 2016, when the national development plan was unveiled, the budget for 2018 – introduced in December 2017 – includes an 86% increase in planned government expenditure on infrastructure and transportation, from SR29bn ($7.7bn) to SR54bn ($14.4bn). This chapter contains an interview with Nabeel Al Amudi, Minister of Transport; Rumaih Al Rumaih, President, Public Transport Authority; and Saleh bin Nasser Al Jasser, Director-General, Saudi Arabian Airlines.

Chapter | ICT1 from The Report: Saudi Arabia 2018

Accounting for 6% of GDP and 10% of non-oil GDP in 2016, according to the Communications and Information Technology Commission, Saudi Arabia’s ICT sector plays an important part in the Kingdom’s economy. Spending in the sector exceeded SR130bn ($34.7bn) in 2016, and in 2017 it was expected to reach SR138bn ($36.8bn) despite economic headwinds. The government’s recently finalised economic strategy places ICT at the centre of the nation’s development, and telecoms players, hardware and software providers, and service operators all stand to benefit from the array of state-directed initiatives it has set in motion. Regulatory changes however have added pressure to ICT companies’ bottom lines over the past year, and the industry is responding by reining in expenditure and shifting the strategic focus to new products and services. This chapter contains interviews with Abdullah Alswaha, Minister of Communication & Information Technology; Prince Naif bin Sultan bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Kabeer, Chairman, Zain Saudi Arabia; and Essam Alshiha, CEO, Saudi Business Machines.

Chapter | Industry1 from The Report: Saudi Arabia 2018

Bold strategies to use industry as an engine of economic change could see new gold mines, plastics factories and medical laboratories boost growth, prosperity and jobs. While raising the profile of private enterprise, the government is planning to inject capital into promising sectors, but it is also setting ambitious targets for itself and for industry. Though the launch of Vision 2030 coincided with a difficult year for many industries in the Kingdom, it has served to galvanise industrialists and government ministries as they work towards recovery and future growth. The shift towards privatization and the increasing focus on SMEs are both positive indicators of the government’s commitment to implement the much-needed structural changes outlined in the development plan. This chapter contains an interview with Khalid Al Mudaifer, President and CEO, Ma’aden; Mohammed Al Badr, Managing Director, Saudi Chemical; and Khalid Al Amoudi, CEO, Saudi Red Bricks.