Gov’t makes big assurance to investors

Government will ensure there are enough incentives for foreign investors even as it reviews the investment climate to increase opportunities for locals, Minister of Trade and Industry Haruna Iddrisu has said.

Speaking to a mission of US energy companies that are in the country to scout investments, he further assured that the Bank of Ghana (BoG) will review some of its recent foreign exchange restrictions to address unintended consequences that may affect the flow of foreign  direct investments into Ghana.

"Much as we are looking at building local competitiveness and local capacity within the context of I promoting indigenous Ghanaian business, we will be flexible – such that it does not become a disincentive to those I seeking to invest in Ghana,” he told the mission led by United States Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.

About 20 companies including General Electric and Acorn Energy are on the mission which will also visit  Nigeria — where a wave of privatisations in the power a sector has gained the attention of investors.

The Minister's assurances were an attempt to assuage the concerns of investors over a massive local content drive, underlined by a new investment law — the Ghana Investment  Promotion Council (GIPC) Act  that was enacted in 2013 — well as the local content regulations for the oil and gas industry.

Gene Cretz, the US ambassador to Ghana, is one of those who has criticised the regulations on local content for the oil and gas industry  — warning that the penalties against non-complying foreign companies could deter  investment.

In an interview last November, Mr. Cretz  said while the US government is supportive of Ghana's efforts to develop viable local companies through affirmative policies, it is concerned that the specific regulations for the oil and gas sector “may make it more difficult for [the country] to continue being the regional leader in attracting the best source of foreign capital, technology and expertise”.

The new GIPC Act has also drawn criticism from Ishmael Yamson, a former chairman of the centre, and Robert Ahomka-Lindsay, a former chief executive — who have both said the law worsens the bureaucracy in investment registration instead of simplifying it through a one- stop-shop.

Despite Ghana's challenges such as weak macroeconomic conditions which have created some unease, the country in the main remains the darling of foreign investors, as high-value projects continue to be registered with the GIPC annually.