RULES OF ATTRACTION

Ghana 2016 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Mawuena Trebarh, CEO of Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, on increasing the ease of doing business, cyclical instability, and the “Made in Ghana" campaign.

Mawuena Trebarh
BIOGRAPHY
Mawuena Trebarh holds a degree in geology and mining from the University of Jos, Nigeria and an MBA in strategic planning and new business from Bentley College's McCallum Graduate School of Business, in Massachusetts, US. Mawuena worked with Ashanti Goldfields Company Ltd, and was its first female underground exploration geologist. In 2003 she became responsible for communications for Newmont's first mine projects in Africa in Ghana, managing a total investment of over $1 billion. She later served as the Corporate Services Executive at Mobile Telecommunications Network (MTN) in Ghana and in February 2013 was appointed by HE President John Mahama as the CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre reporting directly to the Office of the President.

In which areas of the economy do you see significant opportunities for investment?

The Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) is a government agency established under Act 865 2013 to promote, coordinate and facilitate the growth of the economy. Investment opportunities abound in the entire value chain of the oil and gas sector in Ghana. Aside from the opportunities in this sector, there is potential in infrastructure, particularly in expanding existing roads, ports, rail, and airport facilities. The power sector also presents opportunities. The center will be seeking to meet the investment targets articulated by the National Development Plan. With the increase in demand for housing solutions, investors can consider investment in the real estate sector for opportunities in both low-cost and luxury housing. The luxury segment in particular ties in with the tourism and hospitality industry and we are working with the Ministry of Tourism to channel investment into that area. Opportunities exist in agriculture, where we are seeking to significantly increase investment and our collaboration with the Ghana Free Zones Board and the Ghana Export Promotion Authority will help stimulate this sector. We are also looking to attract investors to collaborate with local businesses in manufacturing, assembly of light electrical parts, and electronic accessories.

What impact is Ghana's short-term and cyclical instability having on investor interest?

In 2015, Ghana had challenges like currency depreciation and interruption of power supply; however, investors remained interested in the country and it continues to be a safe and secure investment destination. In addition to political stability and streamlined investment procedures, Ghana possesses a robust legal and regulatory framework. According to the World Bank's 2015 Doing Business report, Ghana ranks as the best destination in West Africa in terms of the ease of doing business and ranks among the top five in Africa. Despite the short-term cyclical instability, the GIPC recorded appreciable levels of FDI inflows in 2015 after two years of implementing the GIPC Act. The total number of registered projects was 170, with a total estimated value of $2.68 billion.

Recently there has been a large focus on the role of ECOWAS in building sustainable economic growth models. What is being done to encourage this regional investment flow?

West African countries have enormous potential to strengthen competitiveness, which will drive growth, reduce poverty, and deliver jobs in the region. The ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) for instance is one of the means through which regional investment is being encouraged. It seeks to provide impetus to the process of economic integration and development in the West African sub-region. It is expected to provide easier access to markets in other ECOWAS countries and thereby encourage local manufacturing outfits to compete favorably with cheap imported products. The scheme is also expected to encourage entrepreneurial development through the provision of preferential treatment in specific areas among member states. Extensive progress has also been made on freedom of movement, a crucial part of ensuring a sustainable regional market. In 1980, visa requirements or entry permits for ECOWAS citizens were eliminated and, from July 2016, Ghana will be allowing citizens of AU member states to enter the country and obtain visas on arrival with the option to stay for up to 30 days. This measure is expected to stimulate air travel, trade, investment, and tourism in the long run.

The “Made in Ghana” campaign is helping to galvanize local companies and promote them overseas. How can domestic investment be encouraged to support these flagship companies?

The GIPC actively encourages, promotes and facilitates investment both into and within Ghana, and we work to do this in a number of ways like ensuring awareness of investment and business opportunities. We also celebrate corporate excellence and successful enterprise building through initiatives like the Ghana Club 100 awards. In addition, the GIPC is also facilitating domestic investment through its Call for Projects initiative, which allows domestic investors to submit project profiles for screening and packaging for inclusion in the GIPC's project catalogue. We employ this worldwide as a promotional instrument aimed at various categories of investors that may be interested in establishing partnerships and providing financing. As part of our strategy for 2016, the GIPC will focus on improving upon its operational efficiency, provide higher level services and roll out the second phase of our “Think Ghana Make it Happen” campaign with the target of propelling Ghana to become the preferred investment destination in Africa.