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EDITORIAL COMMENT

Foreign Investors in Ghana: Sieving the Chaff

For several decades now, governments and the relevant stakeholders led by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) have made frantic efforts in perusing a foreign direct investment drive (FDI) that seeks to position Ghana as an investor’s destination of choice in Africa.

Efforts have been made to simplify the complex and lengthy procedures while also offering tax incentives. Ghana trades on her most enviable democratic credentials and most peaceful country in Africa image. Furthermore, she counts on a large and inexpensive labour force, a substantial agricultural base, numerous natural resources and stable institutions.

According various reports,FDI into Ghana had been constantly increasing in recent years. In late 2013, Ghana was reported to be the fourth largest recipient of FDI in sub-Saharan Africa. FDI decreased slightly in 2015 to 3.19 billion but increased again in 2016 to an all-time high of USD 3.48 billion, the reports said.

Mining and oil exploration are said to be the main sectors that attract most of the FDI with China, Mauritius, Canada, Lebanon and the United Kingdom as the main investing countries.

Ghana ranked 108th out of 190 countries in the 2017 Doing Business classification issued by the World Bank, which represents a slight improvement compared to 2016, when it ranked 114th

The foregoing positives notwithstanding, experts contend, there are still factors militating against for maximizing the quantum of FDI in Ghana. They say, its includes, burdensome bureaucracy, weak productivity, costly and difficult to obtain financing services and under-developed transport infrastructure. Others include ambiguous property laws, power and water supply deficit challenges and a sizable unskilled labour force.

The fraudulent  activities of some foreign nationals  hiding in Ghana under the cover of foreign investors is causing Ghana a lot and has since become an additional factor militating against the desired quantum and impact of FDI in Ghana.

A number of criminal activities has been and continue to be committed by some foreigners of various nationalities some reported, and some unreported .They find their way to  Ghana with a sinister agenda but  under the cover of foreign investors, pay to acquire the requisite residence related papers and  mining concession documents then the game starts.

They unilaterally and illegally start their own version  of FDI investment drive playing on the sentiments and ignorance of some genuine potential investors .They extoll investment opportunities in Ghana’s mining sector, and sometimes succeed in  deceiving least suspecting folks  that, they were already successfully investing in Ghana and could help them acquire concessions and what have you.

A number of genuine foreign investors have in the past fallen prey to such trickery. The supposed investor already here after impressing their foreign resident victim would then ask for money to acquire gold concessions and buy mining equipments on their behalf to prepare the ground for them before their arrival.

For the most unfortunate victims, they arrive to their dismay that it was nothing but a ploy to defraud them. Then to close the chapter so as to enjoy their booty, the fraudsters would then turn round to blackmail their victims and work out their way to get them deported rather as ‘criminals’. There are many of such cases that really took place but went unreported.

Such elements don’t intend to invest a dime in the country but only enjoy their booty and leave when they choose to leave. They are even hurt and embarrassed to see their fellow nationals investing genuinely in Ghana and more so doing well.

They even see other foreign investors investing and working to earn descent living in Ghana as fools and would have liked to have them as partners in crime rather if they oblidge.If they don’t like in the case of Mr.Ramazan,then they become targets to be thought a lesson.

Time to Act Long over due

Criminal activity on the part of any foreign resident claiming to be a foreign investor but is something the law enforcement agencies should not take kindly to in the interest of the nation. Carrying their activities to much more unpardonable levels of alleged abduction like in the case under review should make our security authorities sit up.

We of the African Development magazine, as a development oriented media house, devoted to the progress and development of Ghana and Africa; wish to call on the GIPC to liaise with the Criminal Investigation Department of the Ghana Police Service, BNI, immigration and other stakeholders to fish out such undesirable foreign elements hiding in Ghana under the guise of foreign investors.

Those of them found and proven guilty of fraudulent activities including causing harm in any way to real and hardworking foreign investors resident in Ghana, must be made to face the full rigours of the laws of Ghana as a deterrent.

Ghana, and Africa as a whole, welcomes only real foreign investors who are here to genuinely invest in a manner that ensures a win-win situation and not foreign criminals posing as investors to illegally devour the genuinely acquired wealth of successful foreign investors.

Our security agencies must wake up. The government needs your action urgently within the context of its ongoing efforts to change Ghana’s development narrative.

They even see other foreign investors investing and working to earn descent living in Ghana as fools and would have liked to have them as partners in crime.

We of the ADM ,is fully aware of the various strategic investments initiatives the Ramazan Kaffarov-led GPS Ltd & Group of Companies have embarked upon since 2010.

The core Eco-friendly mining models, value addition to locally mined gold in form of jewelry products, contract mining and mining support services in terms of equipment supplies, feasibility studies, geological and geochemical studies,etc.

As a demonstration of serious investor attitude, the nine-story newly built office corporate office of GPS Ltd at Aburi in the Eastern Region has the following facilities of strategic importance to Ghana’s development .Gold laboratory, diamond cutting and polishing plant, jewelry manufacturing plant, and gold refinery.

Mr.Ramazan believes Ghana and all mineral rich African countries can only maximize returns from the exploitation of their mineral resources if they process and add value to them for exports instead of the decades long over reliance on raw gold ore export revenues.

Ghana and other African countries periodically encounter fiscal and monetary challenges during moments of prolonged fall in primary commodity exports prices upon which Ghana rely for the bulk of national revenue earnings.

It is most unfortunate that Ghana as the second largest producer of gold after South African on the continent cannot as of today boast of a commercial gold refinery with state of the art facilities.

Ghana is not only losing billions of dollars annually for maintaining the status quo, but loosing revenue through missing the  refining the estimated 300 tons of total annual West Africa’s gold production were Ghana to have a commercial gold refinery .

A South African commercial precious metals refinery and smelting facility, the Rand Refinery has been offering these services for great gains in place of Ghana.

Rand Refinery is the largest integrated single-site precious metals refining and smelting complex in the world. Since 1920, it has refined nearly 50 000 tons of gold – almost one third of all the gold mined worldwide.

Gold is touted in Ghana as the second largest foreign exchange earner for the country with the country reported to have produced a total of 4.4 million ounces of gold in 2014

So after 61 years of independence what are doing to change the status quo? It is not about small gold refineries dotted here and there in the country. What is the total refinery capacity of all the small refineries in Ghana put together as 4.4 million ounces annual output. Ghana must wake up! We are no more a kid at this age.

 

About the author

MOHAMMED ABU

Chief Correspondent,,West Africa Region,African Development magazine

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