The Report: Ghana 2017

The Ghanaian economy is well positioned to accelerate growth, with several key factors likely to encourage expansion in the coming years.

Country Profile

Boasting one of the region’s largest and most advanced markets, Ghana has long been a diplomatic and economic heavyweight in West Africa. The post-colonial era saw consolidation of the country’s economy and remarkable increases in the standard of living for many Ghanaians. While an abundance of natural resources has, for the most part, underwritten these improvements, recent efforts to spur development in other sectors have met with some success. Diversification has come into sharper focus recently, as reduced global commodity prices have put a dent in export revenues. In 2015 the government negotiated a three-year extended credit facility with the IMF and is now in the process of implementing the reforms required under the deal, laying the groundwork for future sustained growth.

This chapter contains a viewpoint from President Nana Akufo-Addo; and interviews with Adam Afriyie, UK Trade Envoy to Ghana; Akinwumi Adesina, President, African Development Bank; and Marcel de Souza, President, ECOWAS Commission.

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For several years Ghana was one of the leading lights of the “Africa rising” narrative, with double-digit growth rates that ranked at one point among the highest in the world. The discovery of oil, bumper crops of cocoa and an influx of new investment sus¬tained a robust expansion of GDP. Now, however, though the fundamentals remain attractive, short-term pressures have led to a downturn. External factors – including weakness in key exports like crude oil, gold and cocoa – have contributed, while a depreciating currency, high interest rates, elevated inflation and a ballooning fiscal deficit have exacerbated the declines. To address the structural problems in the econ¬omy and remove the most pressing obstacles to growth, in April 2015 Ghana and the IMF embarked on a three-year, $918m extended credit facility and fiscal consolidation programme aimed at restoring debt sustainability and macroeconomic stability. The programme has already brought measurable macroe¬conomic gains, but there is much to be done still.

This chapter contains an interview with Mawuena Trebarh, CEO, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre.

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The Ghanaian banking sector had a difficult year in 2015, amid weakening macroeconomic conditions in the country. Growth fell below the rate seen in 2014, while non-performing loans rose significantly. However, banks used 2016 to retrench, lower their risk exposure and attempt to turn around weaknesses in their loan portfolios that were held over from 2015. Additional uncertainty created by the general election in December 2016 reinforced conservative behaviour, but the sector’s prospects in 2017 are promising. The industry remains one of the economy’s brightest performers, and the large unbanked population offers plenty of scope for expansion.

This chapter contains an interview with Abdul-Nashiru Issahaku, Governor, Bank of Ghana.

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Capital Markets

The Ghanaian capital markets have a long road ahead. Expanding equity listings, promoting the languishing bond market and introducing more sophisticated products will remain as significant challenges in the coming years. Still, Ghana is fortunate to have at its disposal all of the tools necessary to meet these challenges head-on. The question remains, however, whether the country is able to develop a comprehensive strategy and build consensus among all stakeholders to see it through to the end. Should it be successful in creating such a strategy, it will reap the benefits both on the exchange as well as in the wider economy.

This chapter contains viewpoints from Kweku Bedu-Addo, Chairman, Ghana Stock Exchange; and William Adjovu, Managing Director, Liberty Capital.

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There is strong potential for growth in the Ghanaian insurance sector. The industry is working to design and market products for uninsured populations, including the emerging middle class and those in the informal sector. For its part, the regulator is making efforts to increase capacity among the more than 50 insurance providers, which would allow underwriters to take on larger, riskier policies. Increasing minimum capital requirements are expected to lead to stronger underwriting capacity across the industry, while the development of microinsurance and m-insurance products for citizens on lower incomes will drive further industry growth.

This chapter contains an interview with Lydia Lariba Bawa, Commissioner, National Insurance Commission.

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Energy & Utilities

Ghana’s energy consumption continues to expand, underlining the urgency of boosting generation capacity and improving access to power. While the government is working to further streamline the utilities sector and increase installed capacity to improve efficiency and ensure supply, it is also looking for private partners to assist with securing funding and reforming a number of its core projects and institutions.

This chapter contains interviews with Alexander Mould, Acting CEO, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation; George Yankey, CEO, Ghana National Gas Company; and Kirk Koffi, CEO, Volta River Authority.

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With prices on stronger ground in global markets, mining companies are starting to display renewed interest in gold projects. In Ghana this precious metal represents more than 80% of mining activities, and an uptick in gold prices has led to a flurry of activity, with companies signing agreements, initiating production and seeking land for exploration. While a raft of fiscal changes aimed at increasing mining tax revenue have been introduced in recent years, the government has also sought to address sector challenges and ensure attractive investment conditions while promoting the development of sustainable mining. The implementation of the Minerals and Mining Policy will be key to strengthening the sector’s role in the economy.

This chapter contains an interview with Sulemanu Koney, CEO, Ghana Chamber of Mines.

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Agriculture is fundamental to Ghana’s economy and employs almost 50% of the population. Although its share of GDP has decreased in recent years, it continues to be vital to growth. While low levels of mechanisation and the effects of drought and climate change are threatening to slow or curtail sector growth, the government’s commitment to investing in technologies and establishing new policies to protect and support the industry are promising. With a number of crops and segments performing well below capacity, there is ample opportunity for greater investment and modernisation from private sector players.

This chapter contains interviews with Charity Sackitey, Managing Director, Barry Callebaut Ghana; and Joe Tackie, Chairman, Steering Committee, Ghana Commodity Exchange.

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Economic development continues to drive Ghana’s need for expansion and renovation of transport infrastructure. With ongoing offshore activities and an increasing number of construction projects across the country, the government recognises the need for reliable transport services. As the country works to situate itself as a key gateway to West Africa and with an economy set to grow more quickly than the global average, its transport infrastructure will continue to require expansion and modernisation. Plans are in place for making promising improvements over the next decade and the government is eagerly pursuing private partners to help, creating opportunities for qualified investors.

This chapter contains an interview with Richard Anamoo, Director-General, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority.

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Telecoms & IT

With mobile internet growing strongly and the government committed to extensive ICT development, Ghana’s IT sector is gaining momentum. Demand for tech services and products is rising from private and public sector bodies, as well as individuals, and the rollout of new in-country cable networks and nascent 4G is boosting connectivity. These factors, as well as Ghana’s competitive advantages as a business destination, are stimulating the start-up scene.

This chapter contains interviews with Kwabena Akyeampong, CEO, Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications; Ali Faramawy, President, Microsoft Middle East & Africa; and Valentina Mintah, CEO, West Blue Consulting.

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Industry & Retail

Ghana’s retail sector has grown significantly in recent years, attracting a swathe of international retail chains and brands. This is thanks to a growing middle class, a largely young and urban population and a relatively underdeveloped formal retail market. With recent changing economic conditions, including high inflation and interest rates, limited and irregular power supplies, currency depreciation and a multiplication of taxes, sector growth may have slowed down, yet there is still room for expansion.

This chapter contains an interview with Seth Twum-Akwaboah, CEO, Association of Ghana Industries.

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Construction & Real Estate

Public-private partnerships continue to play key role, government encourages local production of materials. Construction is the largest subsector of industry Growth begins to stall in the real estate market

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Abundant greenery, an unspoiled coastline, diverse cultural and historical heritage, and a friendly and welcoming population are some of the main attributes underlining Ghana’s attractiveness as an African tourist destination. That said, these assets remain largely underexplored by foreign visitors, many of whom come to the country to investigate business opportunities. The past couple of years have proven particularly challenging for Ghana’s tourism industry, with the global decline in energy prices, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and heightened uncertainty associated with regional instability weighing heavily on foreign arrivals. Nevertheless, the nation’s relative stability, combined with its favourable business environ¬ment and the 2016 general elections, should help speed up economic recovery and provide investors and policymakers with a boost in their efforts to realise the sector’s development goals.

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Health & Education

A growing population, expanding job opportunities in a dynamic economy, and funding and support from a range of sources are driving the expansion of Ghana’s education sector. The system is a mix of public and private provisions, and in the past decades has established a solid base of schooling for the vast majority of Ghanaians. In some areas, at top universities for example, the system rivals the best on the continent. However, there are deficiencies, and the Ghanaian education system has not always kept pace with the economy’s acceleration and diversification in recent years. With this in mind, reform and development of the sector has become a priority, an undertaking in which both foreign and private partners are playing key roles.

This chapter contains an interview with Nathaniel Otoo, Acting CEO, National Health Insurance Authority.

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In conjunction with Deloitte, OBG explores the taxation system, examining Ghana’s investor-friendly environment.

OBG talks to Felix Nana Sackey, Managing Partner and CEO, Deloitte Ghana, on financial statements.

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Legal Framework

OBG introduces the reader to the different aspects of the legal system in Ghana, in partnership with AB & David.

OBG talks to David Ofosu-Dorte, Senior Partner, AB & David, on developing and improving public-private partnerships.

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The Guide

This section includes information on hotels, government and other listings, alongside useful tips for visitors on topics like currency, visas, language, communications, dress, business hours and electricity.

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