GIPC on translating investment into development | Video

World Finance speaks to Mawuena Trebarh, CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), about how the country is turning investments into opportunities as it positions itself as the gateway into West Africa

October 9, 2014

Globally Ghana stands at 67 out of 189 economies on the World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking and, with its vibrant culture and wealth of natural resources, is developing quickly. World Finance speaks to Mawuena Trebarh, CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, about how the country is positioning itself as the gateway into West Africa.

World Finance: Well Mawuena, how has Ghana developed over the past few years and, compared to neighbouring countries, how competitive is it?

Mawuena Trebarh: I think there’s much to be said for where Ghana is today, certainly from an economic perspective, but just in terms of the quality of the investments that we’re attracting as a country. I think it’s clear that what pertained in terms of investment promotion a decade ago, has changed significantly because of the economic growth on the continent.

What we’re seeing is a lot of enthusiasm around some of the things that are important to us, from a development perspective. So how we’re able to close ease of doing business gaps by investing more in infrastructure, the energy sector is really important. But also creating a lot of value in some of the non-traditional areas of focus like agriculture and manufacturing, which is really going to be at the heart of creating a lot of the jobs we are looking to generate.

World Finance: Well what challenges does the country face in terms of attracting investment and how are you tackling these?

Mawuena Trebarh: Ghana is taking the challenges that have been associated with attracting the right kinds of investments and turning those into opportunities. We’ve really showcased the strength of our political dispensation, the history of political stability, that’s really made Ghana recognised as an oasis of peace – which is really important for the international investing community.

I think as more and more investors are looking to African Continent, they will recognise Ghana as that gateway for access

By the same token we’ve been able to demonstrate that we are interested in partnerships. So, we want the investment to create profit for the investor, but it also needs to translate into development. So that win-win paradigm is what we’ve been looking for. The kinds of investors that really don’t know much about investing on the continent are now looking to start building a portfolio of investments.

It’s been our job as a country and certainly as an investment promotion centre, to reach out to them, to showcase a broad suite of services that they can acknowledge will assist them through the investment promotion process, and allows the investor to understand what the road map should be, what the legislative requirements would be, and support them through every stage of the investment process and I think as more and more investors are looking to African Continent, they will recognise Ghana as that gateway for access into the rest of the 350 million subscribers within the West African sub-region; and that’s really where Ghana has positioned itself.

World Finance: And how developed is infrastructure in the country, and what projects are you working on?

Mawuena Trebarh: We do have a lot to do in addressing the infrastructure requirements that will take us to upper-middle income status; that’s the trend that we’re anticipating. Infrastructure, especially on the side of energy, roads, transportation and port facilities are some of our key areas of opportunity.

We’re really looking for strategic investors, who are interested in long-term medium opportunities that will translate, again, into commercial benefits for them, but also into the right economic indicators by way of job creation for us as a country.

World Finance: What are the main industries for investment in the country, and what opportunities are there?

Mawuena Trebarh: A lot of our attention, obviously, has been on the energy sector. We’ll continue to raise the flag high of Ghana, when it comes to opportunities to invest in the energy sector. We have a long track record of also being able to export energy to the rest of the sub regions so that’s a real plus for us.

Infrastructure, especially on the side of energy, roads, transportation and port facilities are some of our key areas of opportunity.

We are also going to give a lot of attention to our port facilities and airport facilities. As we continue to see more and more people recognising Ghana as that gateway into the sub-region, there’s a lot more pressure on infrastructure that creates those efficiencies for the domestic, as well as the international business communities. So those two areas are very important but as I said, we want more beneficiation¬†in some of the areas like agriculture.

Sixty percent of our population is involved in agricultural activities. It’s really important to us, for instance, being recognised for cocoa production. We want to be able to take that a step further, and ensure that we’re able to produce the best chocolates in the world as well. So those partnerships and collaborations with the private sector, that allow us to do that, are some of the key opportunity areas, as well as tourism – because again of how Ghana is positioning itself within the sub-region.

World Finance: Is Ghana a safe and secure place to invest?

Mawuena Trebarh: The proof is in our positioning as the primary place of ease of doing business within the sub-region. Certainly if you look at the quality of the labour force that we have established in the country, again those opportunities present themselves very strongly to the international as well as domestic investing communities. So we’re very proud of where we’re at, but we are certainly looking to build on some of the opportunities, and develop long-term relationships with the investing communities.

World Finance: Well finally, Ghana of course has a very rich and colourful culture. So what are you doing to encourage entrepreneurship, and put made in Ghana products on the map?

Mawuena Trebarh: There’s a whole campaign being built around made in Ghana products. But we also believe there’s much more to be said than just patronising made in Ghana goods. The standards of an international level that are required for our products and services are the expectations that we are putting before our domestic business community. And as an investment promotion centre, we are very committed to collaborating with academic institutions, with the private sector to make sure we are building a base of entrepreneurial spirit behind the private sector. We are very excited about those partnerships that can emerge as a result of our investment promotion intervention.

World Finance: Mawuena, thank you.

Mawuena Trebarh: Thank you.