ON THE OCCASION OF GHANA’S INDEPENDENCE DAY 2020-HER EXCELLENCY DIFIE AGYARKO KUSI, AMBASSADOR OF THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA TO THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA met with the NDN Media Group(www.ndnnews.co.kr) & Seoulcity magazine to brief about Ghana’s investment environment for Korean investors & her bold diplomatic goals to bolster ties between Korea & Ghana etc,. - Ed.
Please touch upon promising investment areas in Ghana for Korean investors.
During a courtesy call on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo by the then Ambassador for South Korea to Ghana, Mr. Lyeo Won-Ki, to bid him farewell as his tour of duty had come to an end in 2017, President Akufo Addo said :
“We are particularly interested in attracting Korean industries to Ghana as a basis for producing things not just for the country, but for the regional and continental markets. We are about to institutionalize the Continental Free Trade Area. All of this is to give us an opportunity to develop our own industrial and manufacturing bases. I think the involvement of Korea in this exercise will be mutually beneficial for all of us”, Potentially, Ghana would like Korean investors and companies to invest in infrastructure developments like railways, highways, information communication technology (ICT), agro processing, tourism, renewable energy, smart cities, manufacturing, assembly plants for vehicles and electronics as well as household products among others. On the other hand, Ghanaian businessmen and women will be interested in the packaging and marketing of products, Public-Private Partnerships, Tourism, Transport and Health Services.
What are ambitions or plans for Your Excellency’s tenure as Ghana Amb. to Korea to achieve diplomatic goals or outstanding performances to bolster bilateral relations between Korea & Ghana in the coming years ?
Ghana and Korea established diplomatic relations in 1977 and as part of the measures aimed at deepening our relationship, the Government of Ghana opened a resident diplomatic mission in Korea on 8th November, 1999. With Korea’s economic growth over the last seven decades, the country has become increasingly attractive to Ghana both as a potential source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and a market for our non-traditional exports. Since then, the trajectory of diplomatic and political intercourse between the two countries have remained positive and advantageous to both. Our relations have also witnessed a steady growth, a deepening of cooperation, collaboration and exchanges in many diverse areas of mutual interest including trade, investment, construction and industry.
On the political front, the two countries being multi-party democracies, and committed to constitutional government respect each other’s achievements in democratic governance. Suffice it to say that on the other hand, Ghana enjoys enormous goodwill among Korean politicians and businessmen as a consequence of the political stability and respect for human rights, freedom of the press and the promotion of a liberal market economy. The challenge however, is to transform this goodwill into concrete trade and economic cooperation that will favour both countries. Against this backdrop, my ambition to bolster the bilateral relations between Korea and Ghana has been and will continue to be the promotion of people-to-people cooperation; by encouraging as many Koreans to visit Ghana and vice-versa. In addition to that, I will endeavor to raise the level of cooperation and mutual respect through the sharing of our experiences and aspirations in education, culture and development in general.
What is Ghana Government’s strategy to improve external image all over the world with a view to attracting many more investments into Ghana, taking advantage of its cultural heritages and so on in various areas ?
The Government of the Republic of Ghana has outlined some key policy measures to influence and enhance Ghana’s image internationally, such as:
A)The promotion of a globally competitive foreign service by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of its foreign missions, and expanding markets for intra-regional trade and economic cooperation.
B)The creation of a favourable business environment with rules and regulations that will attract foreign investments and reopen markets for Ghanaian goods and services.
C)Above all, conscious efforts are being made by the government to integrate the Ghanaian diaspora in national development.
Coinciding with this, are interventions such as promoting and protecting the welfare of Ghanaian nationals abroad to ensure they participate in national development; developing and implementing a diaspora engagement policy; attracting and retaining mutually beneficial and sustainable partnerships with Ghanaians in the diaspora.
Are there any specific strategies or plans for the Government of Ghana to enlarge its influence within the African region?
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration (MOFARI)- the mouthpiece for government on international relations, developed the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Strategic Policy, and is to provide the direction and serve as the guide for all engagement with other ECOWAS member states. This will give Ghana an opportunity to play a more purposeful and coordinated role as a member of ECOWAS in the interest of peace, stability and economic development, while enhancing national capacity to implement effectively ECOWAS programmes, projects and commitments.
In addition, Ghana is leveraging its democratic heritage to enhance our international image; making Ghana a favoured destination for businesses, education and tourism; committing to membership of relevant regional and international organizations; creating a competent group of experts to be promoted to take leadership roles regionally and internationally-a recent typical example is the African Union’s endorsement of a Ghanaian intellectual for the post of Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) at elections held in Geneva on 5 and 6 March, 2020; improving Ghana’s stake and role in a strong and vibrant regional market. Not too long ago Ghana was designated to host the secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). For us in Ghana, this is a watershed that should give Ghana the advantage to leverage its influence in Africa, and it goes without saying that Ghana’s strong frontline role as a trailblazer in the journey of Africa’s regionalism and integration since the time of its first President, Dr. Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah is still relevant.
Please deliver Your Excellency’s esteemed opinions with regard to ways to cooperate between African countries & Korea, in the fields of infrastructure construction cooperation projects etc.
Korea’s development history makes it the near-perfect model for Africa’s aspirations. Ghana and other African countries would do well to emulate the qualities of determination, self-reliance, hardwork and single-minded purpose that brought Korea where it is today. The market for development and cooperation is wide open: infrastructure, energy, transportation, education, health, tourism-you name it; and Korea should be ready to step in. Africa would welcome the challenge. Thankfully, Korea has been extending ODA to support quite a number of projects; notable among them are:
-Korea EximBank/EDCF financing of a University of Environment and Sustainable Development (UESD) at Bunso in the Eastern Region of Ghana;
-the Techiman Water Supply Project in the Bono East Region of Ghana;
-Wa Water Supply Project;
-KEPCO E&C Expansion Project of Takoradi T2 Combined Cycle Power Plant;
-Prestea-Kumasi Power Enhancement Project;
-Akumadan Irrigation System and the Vegetable Production Project in Offinso North District in the Ashanti Region of Ghana;
-Construction of a 14,000 barrels per stream day Residential Fluid Catalytic Cracker (RFCC) at Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) by Sunkyong Engineering with financing from Samsung Corporation.
Here, we should not forget the role being played by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) through grant aid by providing important development projects in Ghana. A few example of their intervention are the Dawhenya Integrated Rural Development Project, the Maternal Healthcare, Water and Sanitation projects in the Volta and Eastern Regions etcetera.
I would like to state at this juncture however, that I have a feeling Korean business people are a little too wary of dealing with most African countries because they consider the risks to be too high. But really and truly, I think a lot of African countries are taking bold steps to reduce those risks. Korean companies should ‘go and check it out’. In business, it is no pain, no gain. High rewards for high risks.
Please touch upon outstanding Korean companies operating in Ghana or Ghana’s investment environment.
Over the last decades, Ghana has enjoyed increasingly stable and deepening democratic governance. Seven successful elections have strengthened the effectiveness of key national institutions, enhanced investor confidence and anchored the economy in an environment for growth (UNDP). Today, Ghana is not only the best place to do business in West Africa, but the fastest growing economy in the world according to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report 2019. At a visit by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Korea to Ghana in July, 2019 where the latter met her counterpart Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey and other sector Ministers, Hon. Ms. Kang Kyung-wha pledged to encourage more Korean private investors and businesses to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) Secretariat to trade in Ghana.
We do hope that this development will soon come to fruition so that Ghana can have more Korean companies taking their places and adding to those already established; namely: City Construction Limited; Samsung; Koreana Bus Company Limited; BSK Marine Company Limited; Korea Global Limited; Hanna Transport Systems Limited; Payswitch Company Limited.
Are there any specific plans for the Head of Ghana or any high-ranking officials to visit Korea to bolster bilateral relations including to host Economic Committee between the two nations sooner or later within this year?
Regarding specific plans for a possible visit by the head of government, I wish to mention that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of the Republic of Ghana and the Korea Embassy in Ghana, acting on behalf of the government of the Republic of Korea, are cooperating to facilitate a possible state visit by the President of Ghana to Korea to strengthen the bilateral relations existing between the two governments. In the meantime, the Embassy is devising plans by collaborating with the Ghana Investment Promotion Agency (GIPC) and other captains of industry in Ghana to visit Korea to organize a business and investment forum, purposely to raise awareness of the new investment environment in Ghana, especially with the coming on stream of the AfCFTA to be headquartered by Ghana.
In January this year, Ghana’s Deputy Minister for Energy led a delegation of officials from a state institution - the National Petroleum Agency (NPA) to the headquarters of the Korea Petroleum Quality and Distribution Authority (K-Petro) to complete a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two institutions. Other high-ranking government officials have also visited. Ghana’s Minister of Roads and Highways, was in Korea in 2019 to meet with officials of City Construction Limited and signed an MOU. It is important to underscore that City Construction Limited is currently in Ghana undertaking some road construction projects. Last but not least, Ghana’s Minister for Defence visited Korea in February this year for specific purposes.