Ghana has emerged as an important business centre in West Africa. Recent amendments to Ghana’s Investment Code have opened up a wide range of new business opportunities. The Ghana Investment Promotion Act guarantees the freedom for non-Ghanaians to establish and run enterprises in potentially lucrative areas such as natural gas; hydropower projects; fruit and vegetable farming; food processing, including fish canning; production of agro- chemicals; pharmaceuticals; and information technology.
The government’s ongoing privatisation initiatives have also opened up a number of sectors for new business partnerships and investment, notably the banking and the state petroleum and telecommunications sectors.
Tourism is an especially strong area for new business projects. Key opportunities in this sector include: tourist accommodation, particularly beach resorts; tourist transportation; catering enterprises; eco-tourism projects; night life and leisure; and tourist servicing enterprises. The Government of Ghana estimates that tourism will generate over $300 million annually in the next five years.
The country is endowed with abundant natural wealth, including vast agricultural, mining and human resources. Along with its growing manufacturing sector, agriculture remains a key sector of the economy. The agrarian sector employs 60 per cent of the Ghanaian workforce and makes up almost 44 per cent of the country’s GDP. Cocoa is the second-largest export, and new exports such as wood products, textiles, jewellery, pineapples, tuna fish and cotton are rapidly diversifying Ghana’s agricultural export profile. The country has over 13.6 million hectares of arable land suitable for crops or livestock, and a potential annual production of 655,000 metric tons of fisheries products.
In addition to agricultural wealth, Ghana is also rich in mineral resources. Gold recently replaced cocoa as the country’s primary export, with diamonds, aluminum and bauxite accounting for a large part of the country’s exports. The mining industry was liberalised in 1987, and strategic investors such as de Beers, Lonrho, and others from the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa and Britain have already taken advantage of the new business opportunities.
Ghana is a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a regional economic organisation comprising a thriving market of 250 million people in West Africa. Formed in 1975, ECOWAS allows for the free movement of goods and people across the borders of its 16 member nations. Since its creation, implementation of the ECOWAS protocol on trade has greatly enhanced intra-regional trade as well as Ghana’s status as an economic force in the sub-region.
Ghana’s trading access to other African nations is expected to increase significantly in the coming years, especially as African nations move toward implementation of the African Economic Community, established by African heads of state and government in 1991. The AEC will take effect in 2025.
The most commonly imported products into Ghana include Rice, sugar, corn, wheat, meat (frozen/canned), fish (frozen/canned) cooking oil, clothing, shoes, medical equipment and pharmaceutical products, machinery and parts, chemicals, air-conditioning and refrigeration units, agricultural equipment, diary products, confectionery, condiments/sauces, wines, alcoholic beverages, cosmetics, computers and accessories, electronic gadgets, motor vehicles and spare parts (new and used), vehicle tyres, books, building materials.
The leading import sectors in Ghana include telecommunication equipment, computers and peripherals, automobiles, electrical power systems (generators) construction and earthmoving equipment, mining equipment, as well as food processing and packaging equipment.
Accra, capital and largest city of Ghana, is an important commercial, manufacturing, and communications centre. It is the site of an international airport and a focus of the country’s railroad system, including a link to nearby Tema,which since 1962 has served as the city’s deepwater port. Industries in Accra include vehicle and appliance assembly, petroleum refining, and the manufacture of foodstuffs, textiles, metal and wood products, plastics, and pharmaceuticals.