President woos United Kingdom investors

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Tuesday called for investors and business leaders from the United Kingdom to participate in the extraordinary and unlimited investment opportunities available in Ghana.

He told them that Ghana is the ideal place in the West Africa region and on the continent in which to invest and conduct business.

“Ghana is a haven of peace, security and stability; a country where the principles of democratic accountability are now firmly entrenched in its body politic, and where the separation of powers is real to promote accountable governance,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo made the call when he gave the keynote address at the Second Edition of the UK-Ghana Investment Summit, organised by the UK-Ghana Chamber of Commerce in London.

At the head of a government delegation, the president is in the United Kingdom attending the week-long 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) currently ongoing in the United Kingdom.

President Akufo-Addo said his government is keen on establishing a business-friendly economy that attracts foreign direct investments to exploit Ghana’s great potential on mutually satisfactory terms.

He said investments are protected by law in Ghana, and assured investors that “the rule of law in Ghana is not a slogan, but an operating principle of state development.

“We want to participate in the global marketplace; not on the basis of exporting raw materials, but on the basis of things we make,” he said, adding: “We want to bring greater dignity to the lives of millions of people in Ghana. We want to build a Ghana Beyond Aid.

“I believe very strongly that Ghana is on the cusp of a new, bold beginning that will repudiate the recent culture of failure,” he said.

The president stated firmly that the private sector’s role in the development of Ghana’s economy is crucial: “It is the very essence of our economic philosophy and has been so for 70-odd years”.

He related how his administration over the past 15 months had instituted the required actions to ease the cost of doing business and improve the business environment in Ghana.

These measures, he said, have resulted in macro-economic stability, reduction in inflation and the abolition of nuisance taxes – aimed at shifting the economy’s focus from taxation to production, as well as reining-in fiscal deficit from 9.5 percent to 5.6 percent at the end of the 2017 fiscal year.

Ghana’s fiscal deficit has been projected to go down to 4.5 percent in 2018. Inflation has also declined from 15.6 percent at the end of 2016 to 10.4 percent at the end of March 2018, with an expected decline to an end-of-year single-digit target of 8.9 percent.

Also, normalisation of the power situation in Ghana, the president noted, has led to the revival of Ghanaian industries – from a growth rate of negative 0.5 percent in 2016 to 17.7 percent in 2017.

“Interest rates are declining and we are now witnessing a more stable cedi, our national currency. Our macro-economy is growing stronger,” he said – adding that the government has implemented specific measures to lead the economy into the new digital age.

These measures include the introduction of an e-business registration system, a paperless port clearance system, digital addressing, mobile interoperability and the national identification card systems.

These are all designed to formalise the Ghanaian economy, reduce the cost of doing business, and facilitate interaction between businesses and their clients – particularly in a technology-driven era, wherein connectivity through digital services is an important element in achieving competitiveness.

President Akufo-Addo told the meeting that Ghana is embarking on an aggressive public-private-partnership programme to attract investment in the development of both the country’s road and railway infrastructure.

“We are hopeful that with solid private sector participation, we can develop a modern railway network with strong production centre linkages and with the potential to connect us to our neighbours: i.e. to the north, Burkina Faso; to the west, Cote d’Ivoire; and to the east, Togo.

“We believe that this is an area where British technology and expertise would be very welcome. There are several projects in roads, water transport, industry, manufacturing, agriculture, petroleum and gas, renewable energy; the exploitation of our mineral wealth of bauxite, iron ore and gold; and the ICT sector, amongst others, which are being structured to attract private sector financing,” he said.