Report: GNBCC's 2023 Business Breakfast for Premium Members


Report: GNBCC's 2023 Business Breakfast for Premium Members

On Tuesday morning, the 19th of December, GNBCC organized its annual business breakfast on the status of Ghana as an investment destination. Close to 30 participants were welcomed at La Villa Boutique Hotel in Osu by GNBCC’s General Manager, Tjalling Yme Wiarda, exactly at 9 am. By then, most of the Premium Members had enjoyed a nice buffet breakfast.


Mr. Wiarda welcomed all speakers and presenters: the Hon. Deputy Ambassador of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ghana, Mrs. Wendy van Meel MBA; Mr. R. Yofi Grant, CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre(GIPC); Mr. Vish Ashiagbor, Senior Partner of PwC Ghana; and Mr. Dennis Asare, researcher at IMANI.


The business breakfast started with an introduction on the subject by Mr. Wiarda, where he began listing the benefits of investing in Ghana for the Dutch, such as the short distance between the Netherlands and Ghana, nearly the same timeline, English speaking, skilled labor availability, etc.


After that, he continued with a number of challenges for the future and current (foreign) investors, ranging from bad and incomplete rail and road construction, a high threshold when investing in Ghana, corruption, local content rules, etc. In general, he stated that back in 2017, the GoG was very ambitious in building Ghana as the No. 1 investment destination by removing all unnecessary rules and regulations, improving the business climate, etc. 

Now, at the end of 2023, the GoG is tied to the IMF demands which target financial consolidation as opposed to growth. There are no direct measures to improve the business investment climate.


The next presentation was by Mr. Dennis Asare of the IMANI foundation, with whom GNBCC cooperates in a project to understand the investment challenges of the GNBCC Members and identify possible solutions to improve the investment climate and business environment in Ghana. 

This is done by sending out questionnaires to GNBCC Members. At the moment, we only have 26 results where we target at least 70 answered questionnaires.


Preliminary findings state that the key obstacles of investment in Ghana are a complex regulatory compliance process and bureaucratic discretion of public entities. The major cost items of business in Ghana are import and export duties & fees, energy and utilities, labor cost, and regulatory and compliance fees. More than half of the businesses have recorded up to a 50% increase in their cost items compared to last year. Most of the businesses described the economic as well as the political environment as unstable for investment.


Despite these uncertainties about the political and economic environment, most of the businesses are certain of their future investment plans in Ghana.

The next speaker, Deputy Ambassador Mrs. Wendy van Meel, spoke about the role of The Netherlands in Ghana and explained that the Netherlands fully supports the change of the GoG from aid to trade. With that in mind, The Netherlands is supporting business development in Ghana and trade with The Netherlands, especially focusing on Horticulture and Cocoa. For example, she financially supports the Private Sector Development project executed by the GNBCC, in which the Horticulture Business Platform is set up with all Horticulture stakeholders. She stressed to the audience that the best advocates for foreign investment in Ghana are the companies who have already invested in Ghana, hence the importance of a good and fair business climate.


After Mrs. van Meel, Mr. Vish Ashiagbor held a presentation relating to the economic situation where we were last year, December, and where we are now, and the 2024 expectations. Back in December 2022, Ghana was in a difficult situation, but current expectations for 2024 are a growth of 2.4%, an average inflation of 15%, and a budget deficit of 4.1%. Looking at the future economy, agriculture and industry are still important concerning the number of Ghanaians who are active in these sectors. Industry is predominantly the extractive industries instead of manufacturing. The service industry employs many fewer people. The bulk of the revenue for GoG comes from taxation, although the tax GDP ratio is still too low (12.7%), but it is planned to increase to 15.1% in 2027. 


The challenge remains who are the ones which should pay because most Ghanaians avoid tax. Looking at the GoG expenses, the majority is spent on salaries and interest payments. PwC remains cautiously optimistic about Ghana’s economy; we are on the way, but we have not yet turned the corner. The GHS has become a more stable currency, which is due to more investor confidence. 2024 will be hard; GoG should prevent accumulation of new arrears and will have a major challenge because of the coming elections, which can be dangerous due to the possibility of resulting fiscal laxity.


Finally, Mr. Yofi Grant spoke to the audience about Ghana’s economy. He told the audience that Ghana will have a continuing fast-growing middle class from this year up to 2025. He also indicated the increasing number of restaurants which have been opened in Accra. This was, according to him, in contradiction with some economic statistics. He stated that Ghana should continue to add value to the extractive sector (gold, iron ore, etc.). It is building a strategic anchor industry in each province of Ghana, and the GoG is developing industrial parks; he spoke about the success of 1D1F and planting for food and jobs. These initiatives might be ‘exported’ to other African countries due to their success. Also, GIPC has started its aftercare division to support foreign investors who have problems or to preempt problems.


At present, The Netherlands is investing 4.7 billion in Ghana.

On the review of the GIPC act, which now has its 2nd reading in Parliament, he could not tell much but told the audience that unfortunately, there was not enough time for an investment code. He stated that some equity requirements will be removed but not on trading and confirmed that protectionism was not working; forbidding foreign companies to invest in, for instance, supplying mining companies was a bad idea because that would restrict business. Foreign investments remain crucial for Ghana because they create tax income and employment for Ghana. 


Also, the focus with companies should be on turnover and returns instead of ownership – this in connection with all local content initiatives. He finished with the 3 O’s for Ghana: Optimism, Opportunity, and Openness.


After the speakers and presenters, the audience asked a number of questions, after which a group picture was taken with all speakers, and Tjalling wished everybody a Merry Christmas to end the business breakfast 2023.


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