The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has urged the global investor community to turn their attention to the country's interior.
"It is about time you moved away from the coastal breeze to smell the coffee and cocoa, where they are grown, and engage with the men and women who till the land and extract the wealth out of the depths of our soil.," he said at the World Meets in Ghana Investors’ Forum and Executive Dinner Ball in Kumasi last Friday.
The forum, which was one of the principal events commemorating the 20th anniversary of the enstoolment of the Asantehene, was aimed at attracting investment to Asanteman and beyond.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu said it was refreshing to see an array of distinguished people from many friendly countries, including the two leading economies of the world, the United States and China, participate in the forum.
The E ON 3 Group, headed by a young Ghanaian entrepreneur, Mr Richard Ofori Atta, affectionately known in business circles as ‘Tom, Tom’, and the Manhyia Palace, the official seat of the Asantehene, organised the two-day event with support from the Ministry of Finance, the Ghana Investment Promotions Centre and other partner agencies.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu stated that over the years, the government had engaged with the international business and investment community to showcase the country’s potential as an investment destination.
"Our government has been constantly on the move in many of the world capitals and has spared no effort in receiving economic and investment missions at home, but this is the first time such a forum has been held outside the nation’s capital," the Asantehene said.
He said in the course of the anniversary, the Manhyia Palace “had engaged with our up and coming young professionals and executives.”
“We have also engaged with our established business leaders from all fields. Our aim has been to inspire them to greater enterprise and greater endeavour.”
Ghana Beyond Aid
The Asantehene said he had felt the need to encourage Ghana to seek a large dose of the national consensus on the direction of the national economy to minimise the risks associated with extreme policy swings.
“It may seem hugely optimistic but nonetheless we remain truly hopeful that the great majority of Ghanaians will welcome a conscious effort to protect the economy from the vagaries of partisan political conflict,” the Asantehene stated.
In that vein, he welcomed the President’s vision for Ghana Beyond Aid, saying, “It is not a vision for the faint-hearted. It is bold. It is brave.
But it is a vision that deserves support, not only from Ghanaians but from all her friends across the world.”
Otumfuo Osei Tutu, however, sounded a word of caution on the vision.
“ In order to appreciate the true measure and the essence of that vision, we must consider our circumstance and consider where we are coming from.
Our 60-year history as an independent sovereign nation is plastered with painful scars of the consequences of our failure to manage our resources with prudence and integrity. “
“We bear the scars of armed intervention, and we bear the scars of HIPC, a humbling acknowledgement of the depths of failure.
It is only a decade and a half since we surrendered to the seeming indignity of a heavily indebted poor country.
Might we be on the brink of an economic miracle to find suddenly weaned from aid and so-called donor support in a Ghana Beyond Aid? There must be many well-meaning Ghanaians who worry whether we may not be biting more than we can chew,” he added.
He told the gathering that in bringing them to Kumasi, “we seek first to assure the international business and investment community that Ghana Beyond Aid is a Policy Beyond Political Conflict and the world can buy into it without fear of uncertain political risks.
The Asantehene said agriculture also presented incalculable possibilities.
Almost all the ambassadors who attended the event assured the Asantehene that they would use their revered positions to help boost Ghana’s economy.
During the two days, the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, and top businessmen from Ghana and abroad sat under one roof and brainstormed what needed to be done to help accelerate national growth, especially the business sector.
Ghana needs bridges
The Group Executive Chairman, GBSH Consult Group Worldwide, Prof. Dr Ambassador Tal Edgars, who was the keynote speaker at the forum, said Ghana was properly currently well positioned to develop at a fast pace and, therefore, urged the state to work with investors in that regard.
“So far, from geographical wealth, Ghana needs to give a compelling narrative to the world,” the famous public speaker who is respected all over the world remarked.
According to him, “Progress in developing countries can be achieved through focusing on quality Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Foreign Institutional Investment (FII) and non-resident Ghanaian investment.”,
He also recommended for the immediate “setting up of an Investment Promotion Agency (IPA) to target foreign investors and serve as a link between them and the domestic economy, adding that “provide access to credit by reforming domestic financial markets”.
He predicted that Ghana would soon emerge as a mighty economic force in the world in the next 10 to 20 years, saying “Ghana’s tax code is replete with tax concessions that considerably reduce the effective tax rate for both foreign and local firms.”
Prof. Dr Edgars admonished Ghanaians to be patriotic by sacrificing for the state by doing away with all forms of illegal practices, notably corruption, which had the potential of drawing the country backwards from the path of growth and prosperity.
For his part, the Minister of Finance said gradually the economy was getting back on its feet, which had been demonstrated by the interest shown in the bond issued by the government.
He said the last bond issued by the government was hugely oversubscribed and it was the first time a country from the sub-region had issued a bond with a tenure of 31 years.
Mr Ofori-Atta said both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank had projected Ghana to be the fastest growing economy on the continent with a growth rate of 8.8 per cent.
That, according to him, should be attractive for investors to invest their money in Ghana.
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