Doing business

Current Business Situation

Ghana is recognised as one of the most stable and open democracies in Africa. The country has experienced decades of political and economic progress.

With vast reserves of natural resources, Ghana is one of the world’s top gold and cocoa producers and has twice the per capita output of any other West Africa country. Other exports are major sources of foreign exchanges, such as:

  • oil and gas
  • timber
  • diamonds
  • bauxite and manganese.

Economic progress has remained steady, particularly since the turn of the millennium, during which time Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown between four and six per cent. This expansion was in part a result of statistical re-basing, double digit growth, a jump in commodity prices and an increase in service activity.

The domestic market in Ghana is relatively small, but growing. The government is striving to make Ghana the gateway to West Africa, by positioning the country as a hub for:

  • import and export
  • storage and assembly
  • distribution, manufacturing and transhipment of goods, services and passengers.

Ghana’s labour force is estimated to be around 11 million people, with the agriculture sector employing about 50 per cent of the labour force. Much of the economy revolves around the services sector which accounts for around 50 per cent of GDP.

While the economy saw significant progress in recent years underlined by the relative political stability and macroeconomic reforms, 2013 and much of 2014 have been challenging years for the Ghanaian economy. Rising inflation, hikes in utility and fuel prices, fall in currency as well as strangling budget deficit are some of the prevailing challenges that have to be overcome by the current Government.

There is a regional market provided by the 15 members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), though economic integration of the individual countries is yet to be achieved.

Business culture

Generally, a hand shake is expected when meeting a guest for the first time, though it is offensive to shake hands with the left hand.

Ghanaians have a friendly and personable nature and it is not advisable to take an aggressive approach, especially in the early stages of the business relationship. Rejecting gifts can cause offense in certain situations and it is important to build relationships with potential business partners prior to closing any business deals.

Formal business attire is expected during business meetings and customary or traditional wear is common, however, most people tend to wear more relaxed clothing on Fridays.

Ghana has a more relaxed attitude towards time compared to Western culture and visitors should be wary and adapt their attitude to time accordingly.

Setting up in Ghana

The government has implemented policies that reduce the general cost of doing business and to promote investor confidence in Ghana.

The Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) is the agency responsible for promoting investment into the country and have developed a simplified seven step registration process for any business setting up in the country.

The Austrade office in Accra can assist businesses with understanding the legal and financial steps necessary to start operating in Ghana.

Banking and finance

There are around 30 banks in Ghana and the market is dominated by six major banks. The top six banks include two state-owned banks alongside four foreign owned banks:

  • British banks Standard Chartered and Barclays
  • South Africa’s Standard Bank and Togo’s Ecobank.

Credit card facilities are available, but are not widespread and visitors are advised to have cash at hand to pay for most services.

Despite some turbulence in global markets in recent years, the banking sector in Ghana remained consistently profitable. High yield Treasury bills have enabled banks to make good returns on investments. An emerging salaried middle class, combined with broader credit transparency is enabling the retail sector to boost lending activity.

Links and resources

Government, business and trade

Ghana Investment Promotion Centre – www.gipcghana.com

Ghana Revenue Authority – www.gra.gov.gh/

Minerals Commission – www.ghana-mining.org/ghanaims/Institutions/MineralsCommissionMC/tabid/155/Default.aspx

Environmental Protection Agency – www.epa.gov.gh/

Ghana Chamber of Mines – www.ghanachamberofmines.org/

Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry – www.ghanachamber.org/

News and media

Below is a list of major media vehicles in Ghana. The language used in all these is English.

Newspaper/Print

Daily Graphic – www.graphic.com.gh/

Business and Financial Times – www.thebftonline.com

Radio

Joy FM 99.7

Citi FM 97.3

Internet/online

Ghana News Agency – www.ghananewsagency.org

Myjoyonline – www.myjoyonline.com

Citi News – www.citifmonline.com

Please note: This list of websites and resources is not definitive. Inclusion in this list does not imply endorsement by Austrade. The information provided is a guide only. The content is for information and carries no warranty; as such, the addressee must exercise their own discretion in its use. Australia’s anti-bribery laws apply overseas and Austrade will not provide business related services to any party who breaches the law and will report credible evidence of any breach. For further information, please see foreign bribery information and awareness pack.