GHANA’S FREE ZONES: Developing Ghana Through Export-Oriented Trade

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Born on 6th March 1957, Ghana can pride herself in the year 2014 as the beacon of hope for Africa, a country with an unbeaten peaceful and stable political environment resulting in good democratic credentials worthy of emulation by her peers. Ghana has an enabling and conducive environment for business which continues to make her the most attractive and preferred investment destination in the West African Sub-region. The good people of Ghana, naturally hospitable, have undoubtedly contributed to making Ghana Stand tall among her peers. Ghana………the pride of Africa!!!!!!!!

As the nation celebrates her 57th independence anniversary, it is worth trumpeting the achievements of the Ghana Free Zones Board (GFZB). The Ghana Free Zones Board which is under the Ministry of Trade and Industry was established in 1995 to help promote enterprise development and job creation and thereby contribute to economic growth and development. Since its inception, a lot of progress has been made in attracting both local and foreign investors who produce goods and services for export. Investors are allowed to export all goods and services produced (100%) or export not less than 70% and sell not more than 30% locally.

The Export Processing Zone (EPZ) is being positioned to attract more export-oriented investments that can generate foreign exchange, create employment and improve the living conditions of Ghanaians. Since its establishment, the GFZB has created employment for 30,905 Ghanaians. While capital invested over these years amount to some US$BN 2.50, export values of US$BN 35.58 have been recorded. All these have undoubtedly augmented the contribution of both traditional and non-traditional export oriented activities to the nation’s socio-economic development. In 2013, the GFZB licensed 23 new companies that are expected to generate more than 10,000 jobs over the next three years.

Ghana’s strategic location as a middle coastal belt country, with two ports (Tema and Takoradi) serving the landlocked countries (Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and beyond) in the sub-region, makes it an ideal location to set up industries to supply the West African market of around 300 million people. As we celebrate 57 years of Independence, we as Ghanaians, must pride ourselves in the fact that Ghana is well endowed with lots of natural resources which serve as business opportunities for Ghanaian investors especially to take advantage of.

The main idea of establishing the Free Zones is to develop Ghana into a hub for manufacturing and processing through value addition for export. The Free Zones Programme focuses on development through exports, to encourage investors to produce goods and services for export-oriented development. Through this, Ghana can gradually, move away from an exporter of raw materials to an exporter of value added goods and services to enable her compete keenly with other emerging economies and entrench our position in the global marketplace.

The President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama has stated in recent times that despite the current challenges facing the country’s economy, Ghana still remains the most attractive investment destination in West Africa, noting that investors are guaranteed peace, safety, stability and security. The president has also assured the business and investment community that all agreements governing their investments remain in force and repatriation of profits and dividends are guaranteed.

The Honourable Minister of Trade and Industry, Haruna Iddrisu has also spelt out compelling reasons why Ghana is the preferred destination of choice. At the opening ceremony of the 18th International Trade Fair in Accra, he said that Ghana is an island of peace in Africa with a stable political environment, which is underpinned by strong institutions of democratic governance. This guarantees not only the rule of law for investors but also enhances their personal safety and security. Besides, the Minister said Ghana offers very generous incentives including guarantees against expropriation, which are provided for under the Ghana Free Zones Act. The recent measures by the Bank of Ghana are only to prevent “dollarization” of the economy and would not in any way affect any of the incentives being offered to investors.

According to the Executive Secretary of the Ghana Free Zones Board, Kwadwo Twum Boafo, Ghana is open for business and the country has already become the preferred investment destination for enterprise in West Africa. It is a favoured destination because Ghana has a policy of not expropriating investments therefore, making investments safe in the country. He further reiterated to clear the misconception about the Free Zones programme which many think has been designed for only foreign investors. There are many Ghanaians operating efficiently within the Free Zones. In fact, up to 47% of the investments in Ghana’s Free Zones programme are Ghanaians some of whom have gone into partnerships with other foreign entities.

In conclusion, the Ghana Free Zones Board would like to call on all Ghanaian entrepreneurs to invest with the Free Zones which has numerous and generous incentives for export-oriented businesses. Ghana has a comparative advantage in many of the products we import and we have no excuse not to produce them. Much as the government is striving to revamp local industries to boost manufacturing for both local and export markets, we would like to urge individuals and groups to take advantage of the Public-Private Partnership framework to produce more goods and services to feed Ghanaians and to export. By exporting, Ghana would generate a lot of foreign exchange to help offset her trade deficits, create jobs for the unemployed, enhance standards of living and improve the entrepreneurial skills of the Ghanaian workforce. One sure way to continue strengthening the economy is to minimize importation of products which can be produced locally and strive to add value to our raw materials for export. It must be noted that any product that is imported into Ghana results in millions of jobs created by Ghanaians for citizens of the countries where the products are coming from. The nation loses Trillions of Ghana Cedis through imports. Such monies could be gained through exports for investment in infrastructure such as roads, schools, hospitals, ICT Parks, just to mention a few. Ghana can steadily become the “Singapore” of Africa if we focus on exports to strengthen the Ghana Cedi for our development in the long-term.

LONG LIVE GHANA
LONG LIVE GHANA FREE ZONES BOARD
BE EXPORT-ORIENTED FOR A BETTER GHANA.

By: Hajia Hanatu Abubakar,
Investor Support Services Manager,
Ghana Free Zones Board

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