By Dennis Kabatto – From many indications, the hundreds of diverse potential investors the Ghana Transformational Agenda: An Opportunity for Business and Investment forum attracted at the Espace event gallery Tuesday in midtown Manhattan exhibited an immense success.
Surprisingly, a large number of Ghanaians in the Diaspora who attended the forum expressed their readiness to repatriate and invest in the development of their country.
Moderated by Ghanaian born Ben Dotsei Malor, Chief of United Nations Radio, the forum organized by pan-African media group Face2Face Africa boosted of a stellar speaker lineup of executives from both private and public sectors including Mrs. Mawuena Trebarh, CEO of Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC), Dr. Abdul-Rashid H. Pelpuo – Ghana’s Minister for Private Sector Development, Nicole Bivens Collinson, President, International Trade & Government Relations, Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A and Jeffry Krilla, Vice President, Global Public Policy & Government Affairs, Kosmos Energy.
“We are really looking for a certain kind of investors and we must be very upfront about it. Most of the people in this room I would imagine are looking up to what will happen in the medium to long term range and that fits exactly into our development agenda,” Mrs. Trebahr insisted during Tuesday’s forum
Mrs. Trebahr said the Ghanaian government’s focus from a purely investment promotion stand point is long term, what happens 5 to 20 years from now. She said the sectors that are available for investments are directly linked to Ghana’s national development and transformational plan and that they transcend political dispensations.
She cautioned potential investors to make a first point of contact with institutions such as the Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC) because as she puts it “A lot of the things that people are aware of may not necessary be the facts, therefore striking the right balance between the information that we have and the facts on the ground is one of the reasons that we are here at the forum today.”
Panelist Dr. Pelpuo, Ghana Minister for Private Sector Development said the investment climate in Ghana is not crowded with businesses that will offer hard competition.
He announced the availability of Public Private Partnership (PPP) investments arrangements for the rebuilding of Ghana’s infrastructure “We are looking now to see an extension of some of our road networks, we want to extend our rail networks and modernize them, we want to ensure that we expand our harbors and give our airports a new look. All these areas are areas you can invest your money in.”
Dr. Pelhuo said these investments are arrangements of mutual benefits where investors put in their money, get the benefits of their money and Ghana gets the benefits of the product and services that they provide.
Despite the many exciting investment opportunities in Ghana, there are key challenges and issues likely to face investors such as corruption and fraud.
But Ms Collinson assured the panel of steps prospective investors could take to mitigate the risk and protections that are available including a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) between Ghana and the United States which provides a level of security for US investors who go into the country. A mechanism through which if there is a dispute the countries have agreed that there is a peaceful and political way to resolve things.
“They have also started talks on Bilateral Investment Trade (BIT) those have not yet concluded but that gives you an idea that there is a commitment level from Ghana with the United States and how they can try to help ensure and get some additional assurances to investors particularly from the United States and how they are willing to resolve any potential issues,” Ms Collinson said.
A festive celebration with a lengthy cocktail reception, closing gala and a live band performance ensued after the forum.
Ghana has $113.3 billion GDP (purchasing power ranking 81 in the world) and $37.68 billion GDP (official exchange rate) according to the CIA’s World Fact Book 2015 estimates.