The Report: Ghana 2020

The government of President Nana Akufo-Addo assumed power on a promise to take “Ghana Beyond Aid”, and is pushing ahead with initiatives to formalise the economy, diversify its manufacturing base and overhaul its taxation structure. Ghana’s ability to retain fiscal discipline will be tested, with election-related expenditure expected to increase in the run-up to the 2020 poll.

Country Profile

In December 2020 Ghanaians will go to the polls to elect a president and members of the National Assembly. The incumbent leader of the ruling New Patriotic Party, President Nana Akufo-Addo, is seeking re-election. He will take on former President John Dramani Mahama, who was elected as the candidate for the main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress. The event will be the seventh peaceful general election since the return to full democracy in 1996. As a presidential and unitary republic with a unicameral legislature and independent judiciary, Ghana also recognises the importance of its regions, each of which have their own assemblies and local government units. This chapter also contains viewpoints from President Nana Akufo-Addo; and Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados. In addition, this section includes interviews from Vice-President Mahamudu; and K Y Amoako, President, African Centre for Economic Transformation.

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Ghana’s economy is one of the fastest growing in Africa, and its recently established oil and gas industry has made it a target for foreign investment. However, while prospects for continued expansion are good, the state faces a stubborn fiscal deficit and the longer-term challenge of reducing the nation’s reliance on a small number of exports. Fiscal and economic reform, therefore, remain top of the agenda in the election year of 2020. Ghana is Africa’s biggest producer of gold and second-biggest producer of cocoa. Since the 2007 discovery of significant oil reserves, hydrocarbons exports have been added to the roster. A reliance on export commodities, however, means that the economy has in the past been vulnerable to crop failures and falling prices. This chapter also contains an interview with Yofi Grant, CEO, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre; and Yaw Adu Gyamfi, President, Association of Ghana Industries.

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A regulatory crackdown on poor business practices and weak capital positions in Ghana’s banking sector has resulted in a series of market exits since August 2017. The outcome is a smaller but more sustainable banking industry, though this has come at a price. The Bank of Ghana puts the total cost of its clean-up operation at GHS10.98bn ($2.1bn), equivalent to over 3% of the nation’s GDP in 2019. The central bank’s reform effort means that Ghana’s banks will have greater capacity to respond to rising demand from the private sector, thanks to larger capital bases and improved corporate governance structures. Demand for credit is likely to be driven by growing sectors such as manufacturing and mining, as well as the government’s need for debt financing to cover its fiscal deficit. This chapter also contains interviews with Ernest Addison, Governor, Bank of Ghana; and Julian Opuni, Managing Director, Fidelity Bank.

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Capital Markets

Sector stabilisation and reform are key focuses within the capital markets arena. While the regulator is taking steps to shore up market confidence in light of recent banking and asset management reforms, the long-term ambition of authorities is to introduce new products and services to attract the capital flows necessary for a deeper and more sustainable market. Ghana’s principal exchange is the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE), which as of the first quarter of 2019 had 33 companies listed on its main board. In terms of market capitalisation, the GSE is dominated by the mining and petroleum sectors, which accounted for 52.5% of the total in 2018. The financial sector is the second-biggest component, contributing 23.85% to total market capitalisation, followed by ICT (15.88%), food and beverages (2.71%), and distribution (2.66%). This chapter also contains interviews with Cecilia Hesse, Managing Director, Temple Investments; and Ekow Afedzie, Managing Director, Ghana Stock Exchange.

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After successfully weathering a period of financial instability stemming from the banking sector, Ghana’s insurance industry is growing in size and sophistication. The coming year, however, will bring a fresh set of challenges as the authorities look to roll out a new legislative framework for the industry in 2020, and as companies seek to meet the 2021 deadline for revised capital requirements. Increasing competition and lower investment returns also mean that underwriting performance is under greater scrutiny than in recent years, especially as consumer complaints against the industry rise. Insurers are responding to less favourable conditions by diversifying their distribution channels and taking advantage of mobile technology to reach previously underserved demographics. This chapter contains an interview with Justice Yaw Ofori, Commissioner, National Insurance Commission.

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Energy & Utilities

The Ghanaian energy sector has undergone transformative changes in recent decades. When Ghana made its first discovery of deepwater oil and gas in 2007, biomass was the largest component in total energy consumption. The subsequent exploitation of this new hydrocarbons resource, combined with a national drive towards electrification, saw a significant reduction in the importance of biomass as an energy input. Ghana has one of the highest electrification rates in sub-Saharan Africa. A recent drive to develop electricity infrastructure has brought the period of unstable supply and raised installed generation capacity to an end. However, this development brought its own challenges: oversupply in the system resulted in the government paying for power it did not utilise, leading to contract renegotiations with private sector power producers that threaten to undermine investor confidence. This chapter also contains interviews with John Peter Amewu, Minister of Energy; and Kevin Okyere, CEO, Springfield Group.

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Rising commodity prices and vast untapped reserves have boosted interest in Ghana’s mining sector. As production continues along an upward trajectory, government policy aims to leverage the mineral wealth by building up refining capacity, introducing new legal frameworks, and attracting private sector partners to support the development of infrastructure and local industry. Mining has grown steadily, driven by stable commodity prices and increased global demand. As output improves, the government looks set to continue attracting private sector partners to build refining capacity for the large bauxite and gold reserves. New legal frameworks and institutions have been set in motion to support the sector and tighter government regulations are boosting revenue. Such initiatives are creating an attractive investment environment, promoting long-term growth and supporting the establishment of value-added industries. This chapter also contains interviews with Sulemanu Koney, CEO, Ghana Chamber of Mines; and Nick Holland, CEO and Executive Director, Gold Fields.

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Over the last decade the relative size of the agriculture sector in Ghana has more than halved, amounting to 15.3% of nominal GDP as of the second quarter of 2019, down from 31.8% in 2009. Nonetheless, the sector retains its strategic importance as a major employer, comprising 44.7% of the labour force. Varying estimates put the percentage of households owning or operating a farm at between 44.1% and 51.5%, amounting to approximately 7.3m individuals. Given agriculture’s crucial role in providing jobs for Ghana’s growing population, the government has embarked on significant modernisation efforts since 2017, chief among them the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative. This was followed in 2018 by the umbrella programme Investing for Food and Jobs, which is focused on agriculture, food security and rural development. his chapter also contains interviews with Kadri Alfah, CEO, Ghana Commodity Exchange; and Edmund Poku, Managing Director, Niche Cocoa.

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Industry & Retail

Ghana’s industrial sector has emerged as a significant driver of growth in recent years as the country leverages its abundant natural resources to diversify the economy and attract investment. Industrial development and import substitution underscore major projects and initiatives throughout the sector, and the government has simultaneously implemented business reforms and fiscal measures in order to tackle structural challenges and improve investor confidence. Rising living standards, falling unemployment rates and lower inflation point to a turnaround in consumer demand in Ghana in the years ahead. After a slowdown in the uptake of retail space, renewed consumer confidence and increasing purchasing power could provide renewed impetus for the growth of the retail sector. This chapter also contains interviews with Kojo Aduhene, CEO, LMI Holdings; and Ramesh Sadhwani, Joint Managing Director, Melcom Group.

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Ghana has the second-highest data penetration rate in sub-Saharan Africa, the fastest-growing mobile money market on the continent and a burgeoning tech start-up scene. ICT therefore represents one of the most dynamic areas of its economy. Recognising the sector’s potential, the government has stepped up efforts to stimulate market activity and pave the way for the rollout of 4G and 5G technology. Nevertheless, taxes and spectrum costs have dampened growth and emerging tech firms continue to struggle for financing. The rapid expansion of mobile data penetration and mobile money platforms has had a transformative effect on the economy, boosting financial inclusion and providing companies with new avenues to develop and market their products. These platforms have also opened up new opportunities for start-ups. This chapter also contains a roundtable with Daniel Asare Kyei, CEO, Esoko; Curtis Vanderpuije, CEO, ExpressPay; Daniel Marfo, General Manager, Zipline Ghana.

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Significant spending increases in Ghana have seen the country take vital steps to reduce the transport infrastructure backlog and establish itself as a regional logistics centre for West Africa. Several large-scale projects are under way to support industrial development through more efficient connectivity, while recent expansion and modernisation works at various airports and seaports are aimed at increasing trade and trans-shipment. The construction of road and rail infrastructure projects is also supporting this vision by opening new corridors to Ghana’s landlocked neighbours and developing strategic routes that support local industries. Significant progress has been made on improving infrastructure and establishing Ghana as a regional logistics and transport centre. The country aims to cement its position by improving roads and expanding its rail infrastructure, enhancing connectivity with its landlocked neighbours. This chapter contains interviews with Mohamed Samara, CEO, Meridian Port Services; and Richard Dombo, CEO, Ghana Railways Development Authority.

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Construction & Real Estate

Click here for our 2022 analysis of Ghana’s Construction and Real Estate sectors

Ghana’s construction sector is growing, led by the development of affordable housing and critical infrastructure such as roads, railways, ports, hospitals and schools. It has also been bolstered by a steadily growing economy, which is expected to continue at a GDP growth rate of 6.8% in 2020. Improvements in land registration and permit systems reflect the authorities’ efforts to address structural challenges. There is significant potential in Ghana’s real estate sector as the government implements initiatives aimed at increasing the affordable housing stock and establishing a robust mortgage market. After continued expansion in excess of 3% per year in real terms between 2015 and 2017, a slowdown in 2018 reflected weaker demand across the residential, commercial and retail segments, according to a 2019 report from the Ghana Statistical Service. This chapter also contains an interview with Nana Kwame Bediako, CEO, Kwarleyz Group.

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Ghana’s tourism sector is playing an increasingly important role in the country’s development, contributing to both economic growth and job creation. The results of the World Economic Forum’s “Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2019” indicate that Ghana has significant opportunity to build competitiveness through its history, culture and abundance of natural sites, raising the country’s international profile as a tourism destination. Tourism provides a significant source of foreign exchange in Ghana, contributing to the government’s tax revenue, economic growth and job opportunities. The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture estimated that the sector accounted for 4.9% of GDP in 2018, making it the fourth-largest contributor after cocoa, gold and oil. Tourism supported 602,425 direct and indirect jobs that year, up 10% compared to 2017, when the sector employed 550,000 people. This chapter also contains an interview with Akwasi Agyeman, CEO, Ghana Tourism Authority.

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Health & Education

Progress has been made in expanding the coverage and treatment of infectious disease in Ghana. The rollout of public coverage has been central to these achievements, with the private sector also playing a pivotal role, both in terms of contracts with the government and through the operation of private facilities. A new generation of domestic start-ups has also begun to reshape the sector, utilising digital solutions to better address demand. Yet the sector still faces serious challenges, including shortages in medical professionals and the rise of non-communicable diseases. Education reform has been a major priority of the administration of President Nana Akufo-Addo. The government introduced the Free Senior High School policy in September 2017, which was followed by a number of reforms launched in 2019 to improve teacher training, and the establishment of a new national curriculum. Opportunities for future investment exist in the expansion of private sector schooling.

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This chapter examines the tax system of Ghana, including value-added tax, double taxation treaties, tax incentives, tax residency, deductions, import duties and tax administration. This chapter also contains a viewpoint from Vish Ashiagbor, Country Senior Partner, PwC Ghana.

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Legal Framework

This chapter examines the legal system of Ghana, including The Companies Act 2019, capital requirements, foreign investment regulation, incentives and guarantees, labour law, property law, governance of non-bank financial institutions and sector-specific regulations. This chapter also contains a viewpoint from Adelaide Benneh Prempeh, Managing Partner, B&P Associates.

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The Guide

This chapter contains selected listings of some of the country’s top hotels, contact details for embassies, ministries and organisations, helpful tips for business and leisure travellers and other useful suggestions for travel to Ghana.

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Table of Contents

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