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20.04.2007 Business & Finance

Ghana aims to lure S.African IT, farming investors

By JOHANNESBURG (Reuters)

Ghana wants to boost South African investment in its agriculture and technology and is offering tax breaks and advice on securing land and navigating its legal system as an incentive, officials said on Thursday.

A group of senior government officials and industry captains from the West African country are in Johannesburg to showcase Ghana's investment opportunities to South African companies.

Almost half of Ghana's exports are destined for the European Union with about 18 percent going to other West African countries and just over two percent to the rest of the continent. Ghana wants to boost trade with Africa by luring more investors from the continent.

"South Africa is our 14th biggest investor in terms of the number of companies in Ghana and we would like to increase that," Ghana's Vice President Alhaj Aliu Mahama told the Ghana-South Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg.

Ghana wants to entice South African companies to invest especially in agriculture and technology. Fifty-eight South African companies operate in Ghana, the biggest of which is MTN,, Ghana's largest cellular operator.

"Any investment in the IT sector would push the economy forward," Mahama said, adding that Ghana offered investors specific incentives through the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), which promotes investment in Ghana.

Fifty years after independence, agriculture accounts for 42 percent of gross domestic product in the West African country and employs 54 percent of the workforce.

Robert Ahomka-Lindsay, the head of GIPC, said investors in Ghana get tax breaks and added the organisation would help foreign companies set up their businesses in the country.

Ghana has a taxation agreement with 21 countries including South Africa, so that companies do not have to pay taxes in countries of their origin and in Ghana.

The government will write off up to 100 percent of a company's tax outside the regional capitals to attract investment to poorer areas of the country, said Ahomka-Lindsay.

"Our role is to smoothe the way into Ghana for investors, we'll handhold you through everything from securing land to finding partners and helping you sort the legal issues," he said.

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