You can start your investment in Ghana through the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE). The stock exchange, which was incorporated in 1989, currently has 38 companies listed on it.

To invest, you must be 18 years and above and should understand how the GSE operates, the Investment strategies and the risks involved.

The policy allows you to invest in trust for your children’s future if you are a parent. Firms can also open pension accounts for their employees ahead of retirement and invest the funds in the exchange.

To start, you need to open an account with a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) licensed stockbroker or fund manager. Always visit the SEC website to view the list of licensees to avoid scam brokers and fraudsters.

The process of opening an account is seamless, as you just need to provide self-identification and proof of address.  For those wondering where to invest in Ghana, experts recommend these options:

Shares

A share is a unit of ownership or equity in a company that allows you to vote in its meetings (depending on the type of share) and share in its profits and losses.

When you invest in the shares of a company, you hope it does well. If this happens, your shares would add value, and the price would increase. If the company records poor performance, the price could crash, and you would experience losses in that case. If a company loses, you likely won’t get paid any dividends.

When you want to buy a share, your broker will offer you a BID/ASK price like 25/25.50. The bid is the true market value of that share, and the Ask is the price the broker will sell to you so he can make a profit.

This means you always buy at a small loss. Experts suggest that you don’t have to worry too much as this is how brokers earn income, but you should compare other brokers’ BID/ASK prices and pick the lowest deal. As an investor, you can earn profits on the stock exchange differently.

Firstly, you could be paid dividends by the company. This is an amount of money paid per share of stock you own, given to you at the end of the financial year.

Secondly, you could sell your stocks after they appreciate in value to make a profit if the underlying reason for owning the stock has changed.

Unlike in some developed countries, short selling is currently unavailable in Ghana. It is done by borrowing stocks. In short selling, you can also make a profit when the price of a share falls. It requires you to borrow stock from your broker, sell it at the prevailing market price or higher, wait for its price to fall, and then buy it back and returning to your broker. Your profit is the difference in buy and sell prices.

As good as it may sound, it can be risky. Experts warn that short selling can quickly become a nightmare if the stock price starts rising. When you go short, you face unlimited risk as the price could remain high for a long time and the longer you wait for it to fall, the more margin interest you pay, which may erode any profits.

This is true because shorting is done via a margin borrowing account, which is set up to charge you interest. Another disadvantage is while you are waiting, the lender can ask for his shares back, and you have to return them. If you fail to do so, he can buy elsewhere at a high price, and you will be compelled to refund the money to him.

Also, if the company pays dividends while you short the stock, you will have to pay that dividend to the lender. Short selling is possible, but you need to tread carefully.

Generally speaking, you can buy shares through the Primary and Secondary Markets. In the Primary Market, companies offer new shares to investors directly for the first time, known as Initial Public Offering (IPO). While the secondary market is the stock exchange, where the stocks are subsequently listed and traded. 

We also have the Over The Counter (OTC) market, where stocks that don’t meet the stock exchange requirements are sold. From time to time, a stock exchange may de-list companies who then go to trade their stock in the OTC market. OTC stocks are less transparent compared to traditional exchanges.

Avoid Forex Trading

Forex Trading by retail traders is currently unregulated in Ghana & should be avoided. There are estimated to be around 35,000 forex traders in Ghana who are trading via unregulated foreign CFD brokerages.

Trading in the forex market involves the use of margin. Most forex brokers offer leverage, which the traders can use to amplify their potential profits. But they mostly end up amplifying their losses. It is estimated that as high as 80-90% of the retail forex traders lose their money.

The brokers in developed countries like the UK, EU & Australia have to report the percentage of losing traders on their platform. For example, as per this data of top ranking UK-based forex brokers, as high as 76.14% of the retail traders lost their money at one of the large forex brokers. We can see this data because it is public and mandated by its regulators.

But in countries like Ghana, where there is no local regulation for retail online forex trading, it is hard to estimate the actual percentage of retail traders losing their money. But the figure is estimated to be higher than 80%.

It is best for local forex traders to avoid trading with unregulated foreign forex brokers to protect their funds.

Mutual Funds

A mutual fund can be defined as a company run by financial professionals that pools money from many investors and invests the funds in a range of securities such as equities and fixed income like bonds.

Buying shares in a mutual fund would give you the right to a part of the returns earned by the fund’s portfolio of stocks and other investment assets. Mutual Funds can be in the form of Open-end and Closed-end, depending on the fund managers.

Firstly, an Open-end Mutual Fund is one that doesn’t limit or close the door to new share clients. You can buy their shares at any time you want. You can also sell your shares back to the fund manager anytime and exit.

Secondly, Closed-End mutual funds are the ones that deal in a fixed number of shares, such that once the required number of shares are sold, no new shares can be created.  Its shares can trade on an exchange.

Open-end mutual fund prices, also known as Net Asset Value, are calculated at the end of each trading day on the exchange and reflected the next day. Market forces determine close-end mutual fund prices.

There are several mutual funds in Ghana; here are a few of them and their strategies:

  • EDC Ghana Balanced Fund: (50% of this fund’s net asset is invested in fixed income and the remainder in stock with Management Fees of 2.50 %.)
  •  EDC Ghana Money Market Unit Trust: (100% of its net asset is put into short-term, high-quality money market securities. with Management Fees of 1.25%.
  • EDC fixed income fund: (it invests 100% in discount bonds carrying high yields. Management fee is 2%)

Treasury Bonds

The government issues a Treasury bond to the public to raise funds for expansion projects. When you buy a bond, you lend to the government and are compensated with annual interest payments.

The Ghanaian government also issues Euro bonds denominated in foreign currency to woo foreign investors who are scared of interest rate risk in Ghana. You can also invest in Euro bonds if you have the funds.

The bonds or Treasury Bill (short-term bonds) available are 91-day Treasury Bill, 182-day Treasury Bill, 1 and 2-Year Treasury Notes, and 3 and 5-Year Bonds.

During the bond’s lifespan, you would enjoy interest payments on the bond principal (the exact money you lent), and after maturity, the principal is refunded to you. For example, the 91-day treasury bill in Ghana currently pay 24% interest. You can view Treasury bill interest rates on the Bank of Ghana website.

To buy bonds, as a retail investor, you can buy from the secondary market, the Ghana stock exchange, because there you can buy smaller units. If you want to buy directly from the government during public bids, you will need to buy larger units, and you may not have the funds. 

Here are some bond terms:

  • Yield: same thing as interest rate or coupon rate. It’s the total interest you will get on the bond at maturity if you don’t sell it along the way.
  • Yield to Maturity: This is a sum of what the bonds will be worth at maturity, assuming you reinvest all the interest you are paid
  • Current yield: if you were to sell your bond today, the current yield is the interest rate the new buyer will enjoy, but this depends on how much you are selling the bond to him for.
  • Par Value: This is the principal, also known as the face value of the bond. The amount the issuer agrees to repay at the stage of maturity.

Risks you may face

Firstly, Ghana’s capital market does not have a derivative market where you can hedge or manage your risk exposure.

Derivatives are financial contract that allows you to buy and sell an asset for a future date. You can earn returns by betting on the future value of an underlying asset. Some derivatives allow you to bet on the price movements of an asset without actually owning the asset!

Secondly, the Ghanaian inflation rate is 27.6%, and the government will always increase interest rates in an attempt to tame inflation. As of today interest rate in Ghana is 19%. The higher the interest rates move, the less marketable and profitable the old bonds become since they carry the old rate.

This is the major risk of bond investing due to the fixed income rate. For example, if you are earning a 5% per year coupon, and the inflation is increasing at the rate of 8%, it’s very simple, you are losing money in real terms (inflation-adjusted returns).

Do your Research & Learn

Investing in the Ghana market and all parts of the globe needs proper research and knowledge to have a breakthrough. Doing your homework and research properly before putting in your hard-earned money will go a long way in reducing your exposure to risks. As you begin the journey of your investment activities, the road is a mixture of both profits and losses.