TAPPING INTO POTENTIAL ECONOMIC GROWTH IN AFRICA: GHANA IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS
The 2016 total value of imports to Middle Eastern countries was valued at nearly US $600 million of which gold accounted for over US $27 million and petroleum just under $18 million. The countries that imported the most from Middle Eastern countries included China, the United States, and India. Reports however show that there are considerable untapped potential energy resources such as oil and gas, within African countries. This potential of additional imports suggests the need for greater economic cooperation between Middle Eastern countries and the African continent.
Energy potential that has not yet been utilized is estimated at between $13 trillion to $14.5 trillion in hard coal, natural gas, crude oil, and uranium. South Africa, for instance, is the fifth largest coal producer, after economic giants such as China, the United States, and India.
Sone investments have already flowed into Africa. For example, in 2009 China and Africa “conducted some $100 billion in trade.” The primary African countries for Chinese investments are Nigeria and Ghana. However, other countries on the continent are also seeking meaningful economic partnerships.
Large-scale Middle Eastern investment efforts are already evident. For example, in 2012, Saudi Arabia increased its investments into African farmland. Saudi Arabia has land that is unsuitable for agriculture and this has made the country look outside its borders for arable land. Many African countries do have such arable land for potential investors. About 60% of the world’s uncultivated land is within the borders of the African continent. Investing in African land has alleviated some of the food shortages that Saudi Arabia has had and this explains the Kingdom’s interest in expanding to countries along the Nile, such as Sudan and Ethiopia.
Other Investments in Africa
Although historically Middle Eastern countries have invested more in North African countries, there has been increasing interest in Africa. For example, in 2015, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, and Nigeria received the largest number of Gulf investors.
“Ghana is Open for Business”
As of this year, there has been an increased interest in economic cooperation between Ghana and Middle Eastern countries. In May, the Ghana Gulf Cooperation Chamber of Commerce (GGCCC) was launched, the main objective of which is to facilitate economic cooperation and relations between Ghana and Gulf countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, and Bahrain. Ghana aims to strengthen mutually beneficial business ties with Gulf States.
Earlier this year, President Akufo-Addo of Ghana, also spoke on the country’s desire to seek economic relationships with countries, like Qatar, stating that “Ghana is open for business.”
And in September of this year, the newly installed 19th Ghanaian Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Dr. Barfuor Adjei-Barwuah, echoed the same sentiment while being honored at the Global Oved Dei Seminary and University (GODSU) Empower U Women’s Conference and Fall 2017 Graduation, in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. The conference, hosted by Chancellor Dr. Diane Moore-Eubanks, JD, invited the Ambassador, to network with American entrepreneurs, such as Billion-dollar empire builder, Dr. Michael V. Roberts, Dean of Entrepreneurship, GODSU, as a way to invite foreign investment in Ghana.
L-R: Chancellor of Global Oved Dei Seminary and University, Dr. Diane Moore Eubanks; Queen Mother Dr. Delois Blakely; Ambassador His Excellency Dr. Barfuor Adjei-Barwuah, with his wife Dinah
Need for investments, perfect for long-term investments
Previous concerns about investing included that many of these African countries were high-risk due to their instability, as well as the cost for building infrastructure within the countries before reaping the benefits. With an increase in political and economic stability, the perception that Africa was too unstable to invest in, is now untenable, especially with Ghana.
And countries like Saudi Arabia recognize the benefit of assisting in building the infrastructure within Africa. For, once the proper infrastructure is implemented, those untapped resources can be economically exploited. The missing link is not resources, but capital and funding to unearth those resources.
Ambassador Adjei-Barwuah says, “Ghana has embarked on an audacious programme of ‘One District One Factory’ – a programme that relies on agricultural production and attendant agro-processing enterprises. The idea is to add value to traditional agricultural products with the view to increase exports. Ghana’s improved investment climate is reflected in her political stability and social cohesion besides favourable investment legislation and trained workforce.
Ghana also puts priority on textiles manufacturing, mining, infrastructural development such as rail, highways and airports.
Ghana is the jewel of the African continent. Come support us to polish it. We are indeed open for business.”
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