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Cumulative direct investments into the country through the Export Processing Zones (EPZs) under the management of the Ghana Free Zones Authority (GFZA) have topped $4 billion as of the end of 2020, data has shown.
The figure, from the GFZA, translates to an average annual investment in the region of US$160 million from domestic and foreign sources since the establishment of the GFZA in 1995, a move that formed part of measures aimed at promoting the manufacturing and export base of the country.
The investment value has so far yielded a total production value in excess of US$21 billion over the period, from value-addition in sectors such as agro-food processing, floriculture, petrochemicals, textile manufacturing, metal fabrication, and ethnic beauty products, amongst others.
Additionally, a look at the total value of exports since inception currently stands at US$27 billion, with the past five years averaging US$1.5 billion in exports from the Zones. During the period under consideration, some 30,000 direct jobs have been created, with an additional 25,000 indirect jobs, the data suggests.
Dispelling the notion that the GFZA was overly focused on foreign investors, its Chief Executive Officer, Ambassador Michael A. Oquaye Jnr. stated in a wide-ranging interview with the B&FT that the prevailing regulatory regime ensures “fairness and equity” for domestic and foreign investors, alike.
He added that recent checks by his outfit revealed that 65 percent of actively licensed Free Zones companies had Ghanaian interest, with 31 percent of the said companies being wholly Ghanaian-owned and another 34 percent, joint ventures between Ghanaians investors and their foreign partners. “We have done a very good job over the years in attracting indigenous investment in the operations of the Zone and it is our priority to intensify this drive even further,” he remarked.
Key to deepening the participation of domestic players, Ambassador Oquaye said, there is the progressive increase in knowledge about the numerous opportunities presented by the Ghana Free Zones Authority. He stated. “It is our goal to further enhance local participation, and this will be evident as the year pans out,” he said, pointing to several domestic engagements, including imminent roadshows and its planned 2022 Investment Week program scheduled for June.
“The average investor in some jurisdictions is fully aware of and takes advantage of special economic arrangements, sadly, it is not so where we are, our awareness is not very pervasive with the business community although growing by the year. We need to be aggressive in our quest to change that narrative. We want to meet as many associations and business groupings as possible and we believe that before the end of the year, people would have a better understanding of the free zones concept and how they can partake in it,” he explained.
Ambassador Oquaye noted that special emphasis will be given to businesses willing to invest in the Authority’s priority areas which include, Agro – food processing, Textile/ Apparel Manufacturing, Floriculture, Metal Fabrication, JewelryProduction, Seafood Processing Pharmaceuticals, Light Industry.