Exclusive interview with Mrs. Mawuena Adzo Trebarh, CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Council

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  1. Introduction- Chief Executive Officer of the Centre

Mrs. Mawuena Adzo Trebarh is the first female to be appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC). GIPC is the government agency charged with the facilitation and promotion of investments in all sectors of the Ghanaian economy. Prior to this, she was the Founding Director and Chief Business Strategist of Inspire Africa Consult Ltd a business strategy-consulting firm.

As the CEO of GIPC, Mawuena has been at the helm of Ghana’s investment drive.  Her focus has been to promote specific projects in key areas for investment by local and foreign investors. During her tenure in 2013, the new GIPC Law, Act 865 was passed by parliament. As a result of this, she has been a key influence for educating the Centre’s stakeholders on the importance of adhering to the contents of the Act through various engagements and forums.

Her passion and creative approach to finding solutions to various challenges has changed the face of GIPC to one that is customer focused to better facilitate the investor. Her initiatives over time have lifted the Centre’s image and improved the work culture of its staff as well as relations with stakeholders.

Under her leadership, the Centre has realized a surge in foreign direct investment despite the challenging economic climate. In the first quarter of 2015 foreign direct investment of USD 1122.19 million was recorded, representing an increase of over 1000% over the same period in 2014.

Mawuena has been recognized through a number of national and international awards including the Millennium Leadership Forum Award for championing excellence in trade investment and agro-processing and the National Youth Role Model Award for being a role model and youth leader.

Her occupation of senior executive positions in Ashanti Goldfields Company Ltd, Newmont and Mobile Telecommunications Network (MTN) has allowed her to contribute immensely to the mining and telecommunications sectors.

With a background and recognition as an astute strategist, she believes in the need for continuous value creation. Mawuena is passionate and believes strongly in service to society and humanity.

 

  1. Overview of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre

The Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) is a Government agency, responsible under the GIPC Act, 2013 (Act 865): to encourage and promote investments in Ghana, to provide for the creation of an attractive incentive framework and a transparent, predictable and facilitating environment for investments in Ghana.

The object of the Centre is to create an enhanced, transparent and responsive environment for investment and the development of the Ghanaian economy through investment. The functions of the Centre among other things is to formulate investment promotion policies and plans, promotional incentives and marketing strategies to attract foreign and local investments in advanced technology industries and skill-intensive services which enjoy good export market prospects. The Centre is also mandated to register, monitor and keep records of all enterprises in Ghana as well as records of all technology transfer agreements.

 

  1. How would you rate Foreign Direct Investment into Ghana in the last 2 years?

The GIPC is seeing a change in focus and direction as we make sure that we are meeting with investors who already have a commitment to make an investment. Now we are showing them very specific projects with timelines, with details of the initial capital outlay so they are very clear on what the specific opportunity is. So obviously it’s easy for them investors to make a decision. These among many others have culminated in the remarkable investment results.

For example whiles Ghana attracted less than USD 500 million of FDI per year from the year 2000 to 2005, it has attracted an average annual FDI of USD 4.4 billion from the 2006 to 2012. The country continues to record impressive inflows of FDI with the total FDI inflows from January to September 2014 reaching US$ 1.3 billion.

 

 

  1. What are the major investments done by the government to enable foreign investors thrive mostly in terms of infrastructure?
  • Schemes by Government to enhance FDI
  • Deepening of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework.
  • Establishment of the Ghana Infrastructure Fund to give further boost for local participation in PPPs.
  • Ghana Open Data Initiative to promote efficiency, transparency and accountability in governance as well as to facilitate economic growth by means of the creation of Mobile and Web applications for the Ghanaian and world markets.
  • Completion of the 150 million metric standard cubic feet per day Atuabo Ghana Gas project to fuel the Volta River Authority gas power plant.
  • The release of USD 498.2 million under Compact 2 of the Millennium challenge account to support various power and infrastructure projects for the next 5 years.
  • Development of a One Stop Shop at the GIPC

 

  • Developments in cutting business red tape and investor protection regulation
  • Automation of Registrar General Department processes for company registration.
  • E-Governance project, expected to automate various processes in the public service among MDAs.
  • Introduction of customized electronic system for processing trade and customs documents through the GCNET platform.
  • The merger of the three revenue collecting agencies, culminating into the formation of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA)
  • Streamlining of public procurement policies through the establishment of the Public Procurement Authority.

 

  1. Are there any incentives for foreign Investors?

Under section 30 of the GIPC Act 865, it states that

  1. a foreign investor, employer or worker, shall enjoy the same rights and be subject to the same duties and obligations applicable to citizens
  2. the Centre, an official agency, or any other legal representative of the Centre shall not discriminate against an investor from a country or give special treatment to a prospective foreign investor based on that investor’s country or origin or nationality
  3. a foreign investor is subject to the same laws that apply to domestic enterprises

 

Incentives offered by the GIPC are applicable to both domestic and foreign investors.

  1. Investment incentives: Corporate tax
Type of Company  Percentage (%)
All companies 25
Companies engaged in non-traditional exports 8
Hotels 22
Companies listed on the Stock Exchange 22
Financial Institutions Income from loan to farming enterprises 20
Income from loan for a leasing company 20

 

  1. Tax holidays (from start of operation)
Sector No. of years
Real Estate 5 years in partnership with Government
Rural Banks After 10 years tax holiday
Agriculture and Agro-Processing Cocoa farmers and producers Income tax exempt
Cattle ranching 10 years
Tree cropping (e.g. coffee, oil palm, shea-butter and coconut) 10 years
Livestock excluding cattle and poultry 5 years
Fish farming, poultry and cash crops 5 years
Agro-Processing – converting fish, livestock into edible canned products 5 years
Waste processing (including plastics and polythene) 7 years
Free Zones Enterprise/Development (after 10 years of operation) 8%

 

  1. Locational Incentives (Tax Rebates)

 

  1. Manufacturing industries located in

Accra and Tema                                                                  25%

All other regional capitals                                                   18.75%

Located outside regional capitals                                        12.50%

 

  1. After the initial 5-year tax holiday period, Agro-processing enterprises which use local agricultural raw materials as their main inputs shall have corporate tax rates fixed according to their location as follows:
  • Accra – Tema 20%
  • Other Regional Capitals (except Northern,

Upper East and Upper West Regional Capitals)              10%

  • Outside Regional Capitals 0%
  • Northern, Upper East and

Upper West Regions (capitals and all other locations)    0%

Exemptions

Industrial plant, machinery and parts thereof are exempted from customs import duty under the HS Codes chapter 82, 84 and 85.

 

 

  1. As an Agency promoting investment in Ghana, why do you think investors should invest in Ghana and not anywhere else in Africa?

Ghana has successfully transitioned from one government to the next through peaceful, democratic and close run elections, oblivious to the unrest experienced in neighboring countries and other parts of the African sub-region.

The country’s strategic location, as the land mark closest to the centre of the world, and serving as a gateway to the sub region offers time advantages, allowing easy access to markets on other continents and to the West African market.

The discovery and production of oil – yet another natural resource (Ghana is second in gold and cocoa production) – has multiplied the opportunities available to investors in every area of the petroleum industry, both upstream and downstream. This adds to the abundance of opportunities accessible to investors in Governments’ priority sectors of Energy and infrastructure. Finance, Telecommunications, ICT, Real Estate, Agric and Agri-business are other sectors riddled with bright prospects for investors.

Ghana ranks highly in Africa on several ease of doing business(doing business 2014 report) indices – steps involved in setting up a business, registering a property, enforcing contracts, registering property, paying taxes.

Improved legislation reinforces incentives and guarantees on offer to investors assuaging any preconceive fears they may have about investing in Ghana. These include Customs duties exemptions, graduated and reasonable corporate taxes, automatic Immigrant quotas, relief from double taxation, guaranteed repatriation of dividends and net profits, guarantees against expropriation and many others.

  1. How do you rate the relationship between local players and foreign investors as local businessmen are in tune with the terrain?

The GIPC on several platforms continue to promote partnerships and collaborations between domestic and foreign investors. The GIPC through our nationwide Project Sensitization tours, solicit business projects and package them for investment promotion. Through business match-making seminars and workshops the GIPC creates the enabling environment for partnerships.

 

 

  1. Which areas have seen more foreign participation in the last five years?

The discovery and production of oil – yet another natural resource (Ghana is second in gold and cocoa production) – has multiplied the opportunities available to investors in every area of the petroleum industry, both upstream and downstream. This adds to the other Government priority sectors of Energy and infrastructure, Finance, Telecommunications, ICT, Real Estate, Agric and Agri-business which have all received a lot of investments over the last 5 years.

  1. What other areas of the economy are the government seeking foreign investment and what are your projections for the next 5 years (2020) in those areas?

We at the GIPC have moved on from a broad based investment promotion approach to an approach focused on promoting specific investment projects so that it’s easy for investors to make the investment decision.

Ghana is focusing on creating an integrated industry value chain system by building on forward linkages in the agric sector. Investment opportunities have been identified through analysis of a number of value chains based on their market growth potential, investor interest and contribution to development. Key among them includes;

  • Large scale mechanized farming
  • Production and processing of rice, cashew, soya, sorghum, oil palm and cassava
  • Production and processing of poultry

Other key opportunities also exist in the following areas;

  1. Energy
    • Power generation
      • Upgrading the transmission and distribution systems
      • Scaling up rural electrification to ensure increasing access to electricity by households and industry
    • Hydropower
      • Policy objectives of the expansion programme are to ensure security of electricity supply, minimise negative environmental impacts in electricity supply and ensure universal access to affordable electricity service
    • Renewable energy
      • Government is in the process of establishing a Renewable Energy Law to provide a basis for the rapid development of renewable energy for inclusion in the national grid
    • Investment opportunities for IPPs
      • Supply to distribution utilities and bulk customers
      • Export to neighbouring countries
      • Provision of ancillary services e.g. reactive power; reserve capacity.
      • Thermal
      • Hydro
      • Renewable energy
        • Biogas, bio-fuels, gasification and waste-to- energy
        • Solar – potential radiation levels with monthly average of between 4.0 and 6.5kWh/m2/day.
        • Wind – about 2,000MW of raw potential for wind energy
      • Investment in Transmission infrastructure
      • Natural gas infrastructure such as transmission pipelines.
  1. Manufacturing
    • Food and cocoa processing
    • Pharmaceuticals
    • High value textiles and garments
    • Wood processing and manufacturing
    • Salt production and processing
    • Manufacture of electrical and electronic products
  2. Tourism
    • Hospitality services ,Food and Beverage, Travel, Financial Services,
    • Entertainment, Leisure and Sports
    • Shopping, Meeting Facilities
    • Information Shops, Cultural Centers
    • Training institutions for the Tourism sector
    • Tourism transport , Medical and Financial service
  3. Infrastructure
    • Ports – Various expansions and modernizations
      • Tema / Takoradi Ports
      • Inland port at Boankra, Kumasi
      • River Port at Buipe
    • Railways
      • Emphasis on Accra – Tema railway line modernization and expansion
      • Major railway linking southern to northern part of Ghana
      • Western, Eastern and Central lines
    • Roads
      • Accra-Tema Motorway rehabilitation
      • The National mass transport facilities
      • Maintenance and improvements of various stretches
        • 54,084km maintenance
        • 250 km improvements

 

  1. What is the relationship between your Agency and the Ghana Export Promotion Council and is there an existing pact or synergy between both agencies of Government?

The Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) works closely with the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) in several fronts. Being sister agencies engaged in investment promotion, the GIPC and GEPA collaborates quite frequently in organizing investment promotion missions. The two agencies share information on emerging investment opportunities in Ghana and statistics that aid in investment targeting. We also collaborate in training programs, workshops and seminars both locally and internationally.

  1. What are the challenges you face as an agency in attracting foreign investment and how are you tackling such challenges?

The major challenge has been attracting the right kind of investment that will propel Ghana’s development. Ghana has grown over the years and for us at the GIPC our focus now is to attract strategic investors in key priority sectors of the economy. We have indeed succeeded in attracting some multinationals and brands into Ghana however, the challenge remains that many of the investors that come to invest are often small and may undertake projects which are not priority areas of Government.

We have moved on from a broad based investment promotion approach to promoting specific projects so that it’s easy for investors to make the investment decision.

 

 

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