Ghana is very serious about attracting foreign investment, says Mawuena Adzo Trebarh, chief executive of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC). During an exclusive interview with our correspondent Francis Sackitey in Accra recently, she talked about the incentives offered by her country, the preferred sectors for investment and the advantages of doing business in Ghana, among other issues.
Why should an investor come to Ghana?
Ghana can boast of a premier location to do business on the African continent. Conditions present include political stability, a growing economy, increasing consumer demand, accessibility to the wider West African market and viable local partners.
I will take this opportunity to invite potential investors from all over the world, including Ghanaians in the Diaspora, to come and invest in Ghana. Investors in Ghana have recorded average profits in excess of 35 per cent of their total investments. This is a huge return that I urge potential investors to take advantage of.
In which areas of the Ghanaian economy do you see significant opportunities for investment?
All sectors of the Ghanaian economy are viable. However, some of our priority sectors are manufacturing, agriculture & agro-processing, energy, oil & gas, infrastructure (roads, railways, ports, airports) and services.
What incentives does Ghana offer foreign investors?
In Ghana, investors are guaranteed unconditional transferability of dividends and net profits after tax to their home countries; transferability of payments for loan servicing in the case of foreign loans and royalties and other fees in respect of technology transfer transactions.
We also guarantee the remittances of proceeds in the event of sale and liquidation of investment assets in the currency in which the investment was originally made to their home countries so far as they meet their tax obligations.
Moreover, Ghana uses the instrumentality of double taxation agreements to protect the affected investors from double taxation by both their home governments and the host country.
What support does GIPC provide for both local and foreign investors?
From making known your intention to invest in Ghana through to business set-up, we accompany you all the way. Under our investor relation services, we make sure that the business is smoothly established and all linkages to the various relevant government agencies are established.
GIPC engages with all governmental agencies at various levels to provide support to the foreign investor. Key among these institutions are the National Development Planning Commission, the Ghana Revenue Authority, the Registrar General’s Department, the Ghana Immigration Service and the Ministry of Finance.
Can you tell us some of the resources GIPC provides for investors?
Access to the GIPC land bank: land remains a delicate issue and the GIPC land bank helps investors to find the appropriate land for their use. We also provide access to the Catalogue of Joint Venture Projects: this is to those investors who are looking for the right local partners to implement their project.
Moreover, we make available information on Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) projects: these are usually large-scale projects that government is seeking investments for, either on the basis of PPP or BOTs [Build, Operate and Transfer]. And we encourage local entrepreneurs by finding them the right foreign partners in order to create growth, and grow synergies within our local business community.
What protection does investment enjoy in Ghana?
Ghana’s 1992 Constitution, which is the basic framework for the governance of the country, offers guarantees of protection to investors and their investments. The GIPC Act guarantees against expropriation as well. Similar to the provisions in the Constitution, expropriation is allowed only in the national interest and must be accompanied by fair and adequate compensation.
Moreover, we offer commitment at the bilateral level to protect investors and their investments. The GIPC is mandated to encourage and promote investments in the Ghanaian economy through the negotiation of Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITS) with interested countries. Under these treaties, government gives the right to the investor to take Ghana to arbitration in any of the selected and pre-agreed dispute settlement forums. To date, Ghana has concluded more than 21 BITS.
What do investors need to keep in mind when it comes to executing large-scale projects in Ghana?
For very large-ticket projects that will qualify as strategic investments (that is, investments in excess of US$50 million), the Centre rolls out the red carpet for the investors, offering every assistance they need. I will like to say to those large-ticket investors that meet the strategic investor status to come to Ghana as we will offer you the very best of support.
What is the outlook for foreign direct investment in Ghana?
We anticipate continued increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) over the medium to long term, driven by our consistently stable political environment and abundance of opportunities for the foreign investor. The continuous growth of the oil & gas sector also indicates a further growth prospect there. Significant growth in FDI is also expected in agriculture, manufacturing and infrastructure in the next two to three years.
The future is very bright and certainly holds a lot of exciting prospects for investors who decide to do business in Ghana.
What are some of your challenges as chief executive of GIPC?
I don’t really use the word challenges; I see challenges rather as opportunities. I think the opportunity that I have is to project the right image of Ghana, to create the right experiences for the investor, both domestic and international, so that they feel confident to invest in the country.
There is also an opportunity to co-ordinate with all the other institutions to create the right image for Ghana. It is important that we are very consistent in the quality of our interactions, and our ability to co-ordinate will help us to present Ghana the best possible way globally.
And how easy or smooth is the co-ordination?
Well I think that we are getting better; I think that we are making a lot of progress. We are a very optimistic people. Investment promotion officers are always optimistic people. There’s always an opportunity to do much, much better and be the benchmark. Continued improvement is the watchword.
Many thanks for speaking to us.
You are always welcome.