Exciting times for business in West Africa in 2013

Tuesday, December 25 2012

Elvina Quaison, Silk Solutions

2012 saw business expand, but what does 2013 hold as the World Bank and others downgrade their forecasts? Tradewinds invited business consultant Elvina Quaison, director of Silk Solutions in Ghana, to sum up her thoughts on doing business in the region as 2013 starts. Perhaps unsurprisingly, she’s bullish on her home country.

Elvina Quaison
Elvina Quaison
These are exciting times on the continent of Africa as the ages old perceptions – what I call the “War, Coup, Famine” scenario – are withering before our very eyes. There’s Africa is a prime investment proposition for the intrepid entrepreneur. One particular pot of gold, Ghana, is attracting a great deal of interest.

Ghana has just completed another peaceful election which has seen the incumbent party, National Democratic Congress (NDC), come back into power to pursue their Better Ghana Agenda. A key element of the Agenda is to increase Foreign Direct Investment to create a more robust Private Sector.

While improvements in setting up a business have been taking place there is still room for more, however the ease (or challenge) of doing business in this environment should not be your deciding factor. With the right assistance, doing business in Ghana can be a very worthwhile endeavour.

Of particular interest is the shift that Ghana’s current status as a low middle income country has had on the class system in Ghana. There are distinctive signs of an emerging middle class interested in the associated services and accoutrements that come with this demographic.

This strata combined with the increasing foreign presence is making a very visible impact on the life and culture of urban Ghana, particularly in Greater Accra. Following the success of the Accra Shopping Mall plans are underway for similar structures around the country. One of which, the Marina Mall also in Accra, has just opened. These structures are bringing a new experience to the Ghanaian consumer and also creating space for global retail units in Ghana.

There really isn’t a sector in Ghana that is not ‘open for business’ in Ghana’s investment environment. Many global brands are recognising this; no more clearly can this be seen than in the hospitality sector. Hotel brands such as The Holiday Inn, Best Western, Protea Hotels and currently under construction Marriott Hotel are just a few of the expanding number of hotels responding to the shortage of hotel accommodation in Ghana.

According to the Government of Ghana ‘The confidence generated in the Ghanaian economy remains strong, leading to the attraction of major investors into the country— the United States of America ranking first with an FDI of US$ 407.21 million and China as the top source of FDI’ (www.ghana.gov.gh 11 May 2012).

Aside from major investors you also have skilled individuals coming to Ghana to set up enterprises that are responding to the increasing demand for various services that are new to Ghana, but common place in other countries such as Laundromats and Coffee Shops.

So what should be your next steps now your interest is piqued? I would suggest the following:
Participate in at least two Trade Missions at different times of the year
Thoroughly carry out research into your chosen sector

Get advice from those who have done it before – but do not regard the information you receive as an accurate guide as to what your experience will be like. This is just to help give you a picture.

Obtain advice from trade support services such as:

  • USAID Trade Hub
  • Ghana Investment Promotion Centre
  • Silk Solutions

Relevant information is hard to find online so do not let that put you off, plan your trip well with a view to getting an understanding of the business environment and getting an insight into the different ways of life in Ghana.

Ghana truly offers something for everyone and there is no better time than now to get involved. Tread carefully, let due diligence be your watch word and legitimate assistance be your guide and you will find Ghana very welcoming indeed.

What do you think? Post a comment below or send us jlamport [at] watradehub [dot] com?subject=Elvina%20Quaison's%20column">an email.

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