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.

Country Profile

Long one of the continent’s success stories, Ghana is the birthplace of pan-Africanism and was one of the biggest advocates for independence during the colonial period. It has since developed one of the region’s largest and most advanced markets, and has become a diplomatic and economic force in West Africa. The country benefits from a wealth of natural resources, including cocoa, gold and – more recently – oil and gas. While economic growth has slowed in the last several years on the back of external pressures and low commodity prices, Ghana’s upstream resources give it a strong foundation from which to bounce back as conditions improve. It has a population of just over 28m and is the 33rd-largest country in Africa. Life expectancy, school enrolment and GDP growth are all above the sub-Saharan average.

This chapter contains a viewpoint from President Nana Akufo-Addo; and interviews with Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia, Chairman, Economic Management Team; and Marcel de Souza, President, ECOWAS Commission.

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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.

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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.

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Capital Markets

The Ghanaian capital markets showed promising signs of a steady recovery over the course of 2017, as the country saw an improvement in key macroeconomic indicators. Moreover, a return to strong growth, along with the steady issuance of new government bonds, has provided a boost to the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE). The country’s capital markets are benefitting from a wide range of reforms, including to pensions, which swill help loosen domestic capital and improve liquidity, listings and trading. As the country begins a new cycle of growth and investment, the GSE is likely to play an increasingly important role in financing domestic development.

The chapter contains an interview with Kofi Yamoah, Managing Director, Ghana Stock Exchange; and a viewpoint from Roger Adjovu, General Manager, Liberty Capital.

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The Ghanaian insurance industry has experienced a decade of rapid growth, and the proliferation of private companies and brokers. Government efforts to strengthen the financial sector and new leadership at the National Insurance Commission, the industry regulator, contributed to rising optimism in late 2017. The regulator and the government are aiming to increase insurance penetration to 10% of GDP. The growth of new business lines such as bancassurance, micro-insurance and mobile insurance should help bring this target into reach, although there is still ample progress to be made.

This chapter contains interviews with Justice Yaw Ofori, Commissioner, National Insurance Commission; and Aaron Issa Anafure, Former CEO, SIC Life Insurance.

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Energy & Utilities

Ghana’s wealth and potential of hydrocarbons resources have helped it leverage a spike in headline GDP growth and inbound investment. However, in recent years the economy has suffered alongside other oil-producing nations, as global prices have declined in tandem with reduced demand. With continued exploration and new projects coming on-line, the country has its eyes on increased oil production for local use and export to jump-start the economy. Accra remains an attractive base of operations for international oil and gas companies given its affordability, security and accessibility. Ghana’s energy consumption continues to expand, underlining the urgency of boosting generation capacity and access to power.

This chapter includes interviews with Jonathan Amoako-Baah, CEO, Ghana Grid Company; and Emmanuel Antwi-Darkwa, Acting CEO, Volta River Authority.

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For more than 150 years the mining industry has been one of the key pillars of the Ghanaian economy. While it contributes a modest and – as a result of rising oil, gas and agricultural production – declining proportion of GDP, it remains a major source of government revenue, through taxation and royalty payments, and an indispensable driver of employment and infrastructure development. Following several years of weak commodity markets, the rebound in global prices has resulted in bigger profit margins for miners, while upgrades in key projects have helped boost production. Moreover, expansion projects and continued exploration activities indicate that Ghana’s history of large-scale gold mining will continue for many years to come.

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Employing over half the national labour force, agriculture has long played a pivotal role in Ghana´s economy, and its key agriculture product, cocoa, is one of the top-three export commodities. After years of slower growth, the sector is poised for a revival, particularly given the strong government and private interest in advancing development through technological innovation. As long as initiatives are well coordinated along the value chain, domestic use and export-focused commercial agriculture is likely to make steady progress in the short term.

This chapter contains an interview with Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food and Agriculture.

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Industry & Retail

Industry is at the centre of government plans to transform the economy from one reliant on its resource base to one driven by value-added exports. The current administration has laid out a series of plans to achieve these goals and build strong value chains around key industries, announcing a number of policies designed to support the industrial agenda and expand production. The performance of the retail sector has generally reflected that of the wider economy, and as Ghana is a particularly price-sensitive market, the inflationary environment and subsequent decline in spending have affected segments such as food and luxury goods. However, the long-term opportunities in the market are promising, thanks in large part to Ghana’s young and growing population; more than 50% of citizens are under the age of 25, providing a stream of tech-savvy and eager consumers.

This chapter contains interviews with Kais Marzouki, CEO, Nestlé Central and West Africa Region; and James Asare-Adjei, Former President, Association of Ghana Industries, and CEO, Asadtek Group.

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Ghana was one of the first countries in Africa to liberalise and deregulate its telecoms industry. The sector is well established, and has a high penetration rate in voice and data services, bringing a range of content to consumers and posting steady growth. Both private operators and public bodies are pushing forward on geographic coverage and network expansion, while service improvement has been a particular focus of the government in recent years. IT has become a crucial component of economic growth in Ghana over the last decade. The country offers a stable environment for innovation, and the development of IT products and applications, thanks in part to a welcoming regulatory framework and rapid uptake of data services.

This chapter contains interviews with Nana Osei Afrifa, CEO, Vokacom; and Jørn Lyseggen, Founder and CEO, Meltwater Group.

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With the urbanisation rate and the vehicle-to-population ratio increasing steadily, and exports on the rise, there is growing pressure on transport infrastructure in Ghana. These are indicators of increased economic opportunity, but they also contribute to congestion on the roads, at ports and in the air. The overall growth of the past decade has challenged the sector to keep pace, and facilitate rapid transit of both people and commodities. In response, the government has been increasing focus on transport infrastructure, with a particular push for airport and port development.

This chapter contains an interview with Mohamed Samara, CEO, Meridian Port Services.

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Construction & Real Estate

Ghana’s slowdown had a noticeable impact on the construction sector. However, its prospects appear to be brightening, with sizeable capital allocations in the government’s budget and growth of 3.7% targeted for the industry in 2017. New government initiatives and increased oil revenues are hoped to bring further opportunities for infrastructure and real estate projects, with a range of factory, roadway, airport and railway initiatives in the pipeline. Since 2007 Ghana’s real estate market has followed a cyclical trajectory, booming when headline growth is strong, but slowing in recent years in line with the commodity price drop in 2014. However, the country is expected to see increased activity in the property market in the medium term, following government efforts to boost the sector and the abolition of the 5% value-added tax on all real estate sales in 2017.

The chapter contains an interview with Karim Ibrahim, Managing Director, Dream Realty.

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Ghana’s new administration is looking to further capitalise on tourism as a source of foreign exchange. The 2017 budget set specific goals for the sector, including ensuring sustainable tourism development, increasing participation in international conferences and developing standards for new tourism enterprises. With a number of promotion initiatives under way, the sector is making a dedicated push to turn the country into a leisure tourism destination. At the same time, ongoing projects, including airports and road upgrades, are expected to generate a further boost.

This chapter contains an interview with Akwasi Agyeman, CEO, Ghana Tourism Authority.

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Health & Education

Facing a growing population and an urban middle class underserved by health care providers, the government has made considerable strides in a number of important areas, including the expansion of primary care coverage. Expanded infrastructure, increased numbers of health care professionals, and a renewed emphasis on sanitation and prevention should help improve health indicators. Furthermore, economic development is increasing demand for health care services, from both public and private providers. With a young and growing population, an expanding job market in a dynamic economy, and funding and support from a range of sources, the education sector is witnessing rapid growth. The system features a mix of public and private institutions, and the past decade has established a solid base of schooling for the vast majority of citizens.

This chapter contains interviews with Dr Elikem Tamaklo, Managing Director, Nyaho Medical Centre; and Amardeep Singh Hari, CEO, IPMC.

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In conjunction with Deloitte Ghana, this chapter contains an introduction to Ghana’s taxation system, including a breakdown of rates imposed on corporate income, regulations governing capital gains and double taxation, and a list of goods and services exempted from value-added tax.

This chapter contains a viewpoint from Charles Larbi-Odam, Country Executive, Deloitte Ghana.

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Legal Framework

In conjunction with AB & David Africa, this chapter contains an overview of the legal framework in which local and foreign investors operate in Ghana, covering an overview of the regulations governing different sectors, the rules for investment and expatriate employment and recently introduced legislation on trade and financial services.

This chapter contains a viewpoint from David Ofosu-Dorte, Senior Partner, AB & David.

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The Guide

The guide contains information on some of the leading hotels in Ghana, and contact details for government ministries, embassies and business services, alongside useful tips for first-time or regular visitors.

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