Ghana’s vice-president, John Dramani Mahama, has called for the country’s foreign investment laws to be reviewed. In an exclusive interview with fDi Magazine, the vice-president said the rules were outdated and needed to be simplified and made more investor-friendly.

Mr Mahama said: “The rules have been in place since 1994. The investment environment has changed and the rules need to be more appropriate for the times. A general review is needed.” The vice-president added that he would like to make it easier for both foreigners and Ghanaians to establish companies in the country. He believes it would be a step in the right direction if a ‘one-stop shop’ for investment and business regulation could be formed.

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Ghana fdi reform

A potent force: Ghana has the raw materials but its FDI laws are holding it back, according to its vice-president

Another reason behind the drive for a reformed investment system is a desire on the part of Ghana’s government to attract more business and development to the country’s poorer northern regions. To date, most investment into the country has been concentrated in the capital, Accra, and in the coastal regions, particularly following the discovery of one of Africa’s largest offshore oil deposits, which has been claimed by Ghana.

Mr Mahama’s remarks came at the UK-Ghana Investment Forum in London, where Ghana’s finance minister and oil minister were also present. The conference aimed to attract investment to Ghana’s tourism, infrastructure, mining, agriculture and energy sectors.

While there appeared to be a great deal of enthusiasm from both conference attendees and government officials to increase investment, concerns remain about investor rights and contractual obligations following controversy over a Ghanaian oil deal with US firm Kosmos.

 The dispute relates to Kosmos’s desire to sell its stake to oil giant ExxonMobil, causing protests from the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, which said it wants to control who is involved in exploiting the country’s oil. The Ghanaian government also claimed that Kosmos broke the rules by sharing sensitive data with bidders without first informing the authorities.

At the conference, the Ghana’s energy minister, Dr Joe Oteng-Adjei, lashed out at accusations that the country was not a safe place to invest, saying the Kosmos incident was only one of many investments that the country has received over the years and that these disputes were rare.

Mr Oteng-Adjei asked the conference audience: “If Ghana is not a safe place to invest, then why are so many people here? Why is there so much interest?”

Spencer Anderson