Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has said Ghana is the best investment destination, because the government is committed to pursuing business-friendly programmes and policies to improve the business climate for domestic and foreign investments. He said the government believed that private sector participation was crucial in achieving the President’s vision of building a ‘Ghana Beyond Aid,’ since the public sector alone could not shoulder all the challenges of national development. To that end, he said the government was embarking on bold and innovative reforms to de-risk the business environment and lay the right foundation for business development. Vice President Bawumia said this when he delivered a keynote address at the Ghana-Norway Business and Investment Forum in Accra, on Monday.
The two-day forum is being organised by the Norwegian Embassy, Norwegian African Business Association and Norfund, aimed at fostering co-operation and partnerships between Ghanaian and Norwegian companies and businesses. It also aims at enhancing business and investment opportunities in the country, towards achieving economic growth and job creation.
There are 30 business delegations from Norway, Germany, Holland and other G-20 countries taking part in the forum to explore investment opportunities in Ghana.
The event is a follow-up on the Norwegian-African Business Summit, held in Oslo, Norway, in October last year, at which Vice President Dr Bawumia made a presentation on the need for Norway and other developed countries to invest in Africa.
The forum was used to launch the new West Africa office of the Norwegian Investment Fund (Norfund) in Accra for developing countries, as well as the signing of the Norwegian-German Investment Facilitation Agreement to bolster investment in Ghana. Vice President Bawumia used the opportunity to share with the business delegation the government’s vision and strategic focus in the short, medium and long-term development agenda.
He underscored the need for the Ghanaian business community and its foreign counterparts participating in the forum to strike strategic partnerships that would be mutually beneficial. The Vice President said the Akufo-Addo-led government, on assumption of office had been initiating programmes and policies that would be conducive for investment.
Some of these programmes include the National Digital and Property Addressing System, the Paperless Port System, the National Identification System, the Interoperability of the Payment System, and Electronic Registration of Businesses. Vice President Bawumia noted that those programmes would fast-track business transactions and curb corruption in the public sector. “To build the ‘Ghana Beyond Aid,’ we need long-term pillars. Ghana must endeavour to strengthen the knowledge, scientific and technical capacity of citizens, by improving access to quality education. “We have to leverage on our natural resources for national development through value addition in a fair and mutually understanding of exchange. “We have to place greater premium on cross-border and overseas trade and investment, as well as deepen and enhance efficiency of domestic revenue mobilisation in the allocation of public resources, and greater accountability in the use of these resources,” he stated.
Vice President Bawumia said in February, this year, the government launched the Petroleum Register, which contained all the 17 published petroleum active agreements and permits, thereby making Ghana one of the leading countries in Africa with resource contract transparency, and a demonstration of the government’s commitment to fight corruption in the extractive industry.
In recognition of the capacity and skills gap in the petroleum sector, he said the government launched the Accelerated Oil and Gas Capacity Programme in fulfilment its promise to train the Ghanaian youth in various skills, including welding, mechanics, and engineering, and positioning them to play front roles in the oil and gas sector.
He said the programme would also target and support small-and-medium scale enterprises to become competitive, in order to win contracts in the petroleum sector, in compliance with the local content policy.
“Our new strategy for the upstream oil industry is aggressive exploration. This is aimed at reviving the industry and to accelerate discoveries to replace the depleting reserves from our current oil and gas producing fields. “Government will, therefore, embark on Ghana’s first bidding round later this year to allocate oil blocs to competent companies in our offshore basins. The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation is actively undertaking seismic work on onshore Voltaian Basin,” he said. These efforts, Vice President Bawumia said, would ensure the revival of the oil industry locally and create more business opportunities for Ghanaian firms and businesses to create jobs and ensure wealth creation.