On May 26, 2011, the Ghana Embassy hosted a Ghana-Korea Investment Forum at the Shilla Hotel's Dynasty Hall, with 29 some Ghanaian representatives from the Ghanaian government and private sector attending. In addition to supporting this event, BusinessKorea also hosted exclusive special meetings the following day on May 27 with Yoon Sang-jick, Vice Minister of Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE) and Lee Dong-geun, Executive Vice Chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI). BusinessKorea also conducted an exclusive interview with George Aboagye, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) in order to get more information on Ghana’s needs and strategies to attract investments from South Korea. Below are some excerpts from that interview:
Q: What accomplishments do you foresee be coming from your visit to Korea?
A: I believe the results from the Ghanaian delegation’s visit have been excellent. We were overwhelmed by the participation of so many Korean businesses in the event. These businesses came from every sector, as well as numerous institutions. Every member of the Ghanaian delegation made at least four new Korean contacts during the trip.
Q: In regards to investment, what do you believe is the priority for Korea?
A: I believe oil and gas services are the priority, as well as energy manufacturing and agricultural produce processing. In addition, it is in the consumer's nature to be interested in electronic products, especially in the ICT part which is the base to undertake knowledge base technology.
Furthermore, real estate is another important area. STX has been launched and was approved to build 200,000 to 300,000 new houses by the Ghanaian Parliament. Therefore, in view of such a project in the long-term, other areas of infrastructure, such as hotels, resorts and tourist sectors also need to be developed. Of course, this is not feasible in a short-term, but is rather something of a long-term development. Still, in the short-term, infrastructure such as "business tourism" that provides people with opportunities to visit Ghana and experience the country is something that can be developed immediately.
Q: What can you tell us about Korea's investment situation in Ghana, as well as which countries are currently making major investment in Ghana?
A: Korea’s active investment started in 1994 following the establishment of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act (Act 478), with Korea investing US$65 million. Currently, Korea’s private sector investment is much bigger than that of Japan, and as we see Korean non-oil investments such as STX construction materialize, we feel further Korean investments in other sectors, such as the service & manufacturing industry, agriculture & processing, as well as construction will follow.
In terms of projects, China is the leading country in Ghana. However, in terms of value of projects, the UK is No.1 due to long established ties between the two countries. Following are Nigeria, S. Africa, and the US, along with the offshore financial facilities of Trinidad.
Q: Compared to other neighboring African nations, what do you believe differentiates Ghana's investment environment, and what are some of the investment benefits?
A: What differentiates Ghana's investment environment from other African nations is Ghana's political environment.
Ghana is an established and proven democracy, successfully electing presidents through democratic elections for the past 20 years. Most recently, in the Ghanaian presidential election of 2008, the candidate won by a very close margin. This could have easily provoked a coup d'état or riots. However, the peaceful transition of political parties was made possible through the smooth surrender of political power from the former presidency, clearly showing that all Ghanaians wish to continue the nation’s 20 years of democracy and economic progress.
Ghanaians are a tolerant and peaceful people, who are determined to maintain the country’s safe environment and allow people to continue conducting business there.
By promoting foreign investment projects, the Ghanaian government aims to increase foreign investment. In order to do this, the Ghanaian constitution guarantees against nationalizing foreign investment projects and such roles have been taken over by the government, while all investment funds are guaranteed by the Ghanian government, and investment gains allowed to be freely taken from Ghana without restrictions.
Other measures, such as an economic recovery program and structure adjustments, continue to take place so as to ensure an economically secure environment for investors. Even in financial sectors, measures are being put in place to ensure and provide stability for foreign investors.
Q: What do you believe are Korea's potential investment areas? In particular, are there any areas you'd like to ask the Korean government for support?
A: I would like to ask the government of Korea to provide necessary guarantees of funds for investment projects in Ghana. In particular, exceptional clauses for special case projects as well as differentiating measures with exceptions that are only towards Ghanaian investments should be placed into policy. In doing so, I hope that Ghana will enjoy and receive necessary support from more Korean private sector businesses.