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24.05.2007 Business & Finance

Barclays boss lauds Ghana’s investment climate

By D. Guide

Margaret Mwannakatwe, the Managing Director of Barclays Ghana Limited has stated that Ghana has over the last five years proved to be the best investment destination in the West African sub-region.

She said Ghana's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at the moment was at a 16-year high, inflation was tumbling and the country was rated as one of the most peaceful in Africa with a B+ credit rating by international credit rating agencies.

Addressing the Ghana Investment Forum in Accra on the theme, "Ghana: The Golden Gateway to Africa", Mrs. Mwanakatwe said the country since independence had experienced mixed development, swinging between military and civilian regimes and adopting several economic adjustment policies.

The forum, under the auspices of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GPIC) and funded by the Barclays Bank, was aimed at creating a platform for the business community and other stakeholders to deliberate on ways of improving trade and investment relations and also formed part of Ghana's 50th anniversary celebrations.

It would discuss strategic areas of development such as agriculture, banking and finance and tourism.

Mrs. Mwannakatwe said despite the 50 years of economic struggles and numerous challenges, Ghana was steadily making progress and poised to take her rightful place as a pacesetter in the sub-region and a star on the continent.

She stressed the forum would lead to invaluable insights that would feed into the development of the private sector, particularly Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs).

"As a bank, we are passionate about the SMEs primarily because of how vital they are to the growth of the economy,” she emphasised.

Mrs. Mwannakatwe urged the forum to help address the problems of SMEs and other private operators in accessing credit facilities, lack of proper guidance and direction as well as skills and competence building.

She expressed happiness that the forum, which comprised the crème de la crème of corporate practitioners from the local and international investment think-tanks and resourceful Ghanaian entrepreneurs, would explore ways of attracting increased investment flow.

The MD said Barclays was proud to be associated with the Ghana Investment Forum, which would contribute toward enhancing economic policies and programmes and ultimately improved private sector performance.

Onye Uzoukwu, Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer of Global Procurement Organization, who spoke on “Banana Export Opportunities”, said the recent changes in European Union banana-import quotas and trade agreements had made Ghana's banana sector a leading investment zone.

Although previous EU quotas severely limited Ghana's export potential, he said, the new EU regime now favoured Ghana over most other sources of banana supply to the EU market.

“Ghana enjoys an attractive natural environment for banana production as well as an advantageous policy setting,” he added.

Mr. Uzoukwu said Ghana had the potential to become perhaps the most attractive location in Africa for banana production, adding, “Analyses of Ghana's climate, soil, and infrastructure have shown that Ghana fits the profile for commercially viable banana production.”

The Board Chairman of GPIC, Mr. E. R. Ofori, in his welcome address, said domestic and foreign investment were critical to development and that the council was working towards harnessing resources in those areas for accelerated economic progress.

He stated that as part of the forum, banana investment opportunities would be highlighted to showcase the area to the business community.