Ghana welcomes Norfund

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From the investors seminar in Accra (Photo: Kristen Ulstein)

The Norfund management and board of directors visits Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire last week of January 2017. An investor seminar in Accra on Wednesday gathered more than a hundred representatives from a wide variety of businesses.

The visiting Norfund delegation of 15 was headed by the Chair of the Board of Directors Ms. Kristin Clemet and the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Norfund Mr Kjell Roland. The visit focused on the investment climate in general and in the agriculture and energy sectors in particular.

HE Ms Hege Hertzberg, Norway’s Ambassador to Ghana, quoted HE Nana Akufo-Addo in her opening address to the seminar: “Ghana is graduating from aid to business and trade”. She pointed out that the government cannot create the jobs. Public sector can only facilitate. “We want to support your efforts to create new jobs, and the best tool we have is Norfund.”

The Ambassador advised the new government to solve the land issue and fight corruption – two of the main obstacles for anyone wanting to build a business in Ghana. She also urged government to rethink the role of the state in commercial activities. She said that “monopolies, subsidies and quotas are the policies of the past.”

The Investor Seminar took place at Mövenpick Hotel. The Minister designate for Investment and Business Development Hon Mr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal graced the occasion with his presence. He took the opportunity to welcome Norfund to Ghana and promised consultations with the business community over policy and conditions.

Mr Kjell Roland presented Norfund. The fund has so far committed 1.9 billion USD, through 124 direct investments and 750 companies altogether. Value adjusted equity stands at about 2.3 billion USD. 300-400 million USD in fresh money is committed every year. Africa is prioritised and investments on the continent stood at well above 1 billion USD at yearend 2016.

“We want to be an active and strategic, minority investor. Sectors we know and countries we know are selected to maximise the development impact. Contributing to better investments is at the core of what we do,” said Mr Roland. Clean energy is the largest sector today, followed by financial institutions, food and agribusiness and SME-funds.

Former CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Mr Robert Ahomka-Lindsay walked the audience through Ghana’s recent economic history and shared his advice with the investors. He urged the community to take advantage of the new opportunities – like the “one-district-one factory”-policy. “An equity investor like Norfund is exactly what we need to catalyse what we try to achieve,” he told the seminar.

Norfund is already represented in Africa with offices in Nairobi and Maputo. Most of their portfolio is in eastern and southern Africa. The news that Norfund is opening an office in Accra in the second quarter this year, and will increase their investments in West-Africa, has been very well received by both cabinet, government and businesses.

“Doing business in Ghana” was the theme of an interactive section of program, moderated by Mr Sydney Casely-Hayford. In the panel was Mr Edmund Poku from Niche, Mr Yofi Grant from Grant Dupuis and Mr Nana Osei Bonsu from Private Enterprises Federation. There were also several interventions from the floor.

Tuesday night the Ambassador hosted a dinner for the delegation at her residence in Accra. Amongst the 80 guests were the Ministers designate for Fisheries and Aquaculture Hon Ms Elisabeth Afoley Quaye (Here interacting with Chair of the Board Ms Kristin Clemet, photo) and for Trade and Industry Hon Mr Alan Kyeremantin.

The delegation met with a string of Ministers designate during their visit to Ghana. In addition to those already mentioned, they also met the Minister designate for Finance Hon Mr Ken Ofori Atta and for Agriculture Hon Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto.