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Ghana: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Ghana

Appointments are customary and visitors should always be punctual for meetings (even though Ghanaians are often quite tardy and fond of citing the acronym GMT - Ghana Maybe Time - as a justification for their lack of punctuality). Dealing with any government or corporate type set-up, dress codes are still quite formal, but smaller businesses tend to be more relaxed. Bribes are often required to oil the machinery of government or when dealing with local chiefs. Best time for business visits is from September to April.

Anyone thinking of establishing a business in Ghana should make contact with the Ghana Promotion Investment Centre (www.gipcghana.com) to get advice.

Office Hours

Mon-Fri 0800-1200 and 1300-1700.

Economy

Ghana is one of the 16 members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Despite high inflation rates, the recent liberalisation of economic policies led to Ghana being ranked the world’s fastest growing economy in 2011, with an astonishing 20% increase in its annual GDP (next best was Qatar with 14%).

The main industry is mining. Indeed, Ghana is now Africa’s largest gold exporter (after South Africa), and the ninth-largest in the world, with production standing at more than 3 million ounces since 2011. Diamond exports have topped 700,000 carats annually since 1991, and the country is also a major producer of bauxite and manganese. An important growth industry is offshore drilling for gas and oil off the west coast between Takoradi and Beyin. 

Some 80% of the population is directly or indirectly supported by agriculture, which contributes almost 50% of the country's GDP. The most important cash crop is cocoa, of which Ghana is one of the world's major producers. Ghana has suffered from consistently low world prices, but in 2003/4, it became the world's second largest producer of cocoa for the first time in 30 years. Cocoa production has increased by an average of around 10% annually since 2000. 

After gold and cocoa, tourism is the third-largest earner of foreign revenue, generating an income of US$1.7 billion in 2011 (by comparison to US$233 million in 1995).

GDP

US$42.7 billion (2016).

Main exports

Gold, cocoa, timber, bauxite and diamonds.

Main imports

Industrial raw materials, equipment, petroleum and food.

Main trading partners

Nigeria, USA, Togo, UK and Germany.

Keeping in Touch in Ghana

Telephone

Ghana Telecom was privatised in 2008, and Vodafone Ghana is now the main service provider for land lines. Land lines are reasonably efficient (Ghana is one of the easiest African countries to get through to from overseas), but the ubiquity and relative efficiency and portability of mobile phones has caused many hotels and other organisations to discontinue their landlines.

Mobile Phone

Roaming agreements exist with numerous companies, but if you are spending any time in the country, it is usually cheaper and more efficient to buy a local SIM card. The major networks are MTN, Tigo and Vodafone, all of which offer good network coverage in and around main towns and patchier coverage in more out-of-the-way places. Mobile phone numbers, like land lines, are ten digits long but always start with '02' or '05'.

Internet

Internet popularity is rapidly growing and service is improving to keep up with demand. Internet facilities can be found in most towns. The connection used to be very slow, but it is greatly improved in recent years. Several mobile phone operators offer affordable and efficient data services and modems, allowing you to access the internet and to send emails through your phone, tablet or laptop.

Media

A free press operates in Ghana. There are no major restrictions on private press and broadcasters, who are regularly critical of government policy. Lively radio phone-in programmes are common and popular. Numerous private radio stations compete for limited advertising revenue in Accra and elsewhere. The state-run Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) runs national TV and radio networks. Many hotels also offer bouquets of satellite networks provided by the South African company DSTV.

Post

Airmail letters to Europe may take two weeks or more to arrive.