Since the dawn of the fourth republic, Ghana has been extolled as a thriving business hub. This is largely down to the free market mantra she has practiced, a positive environment, and good policies promoted by her government. The second president of the 4th republic- President Kuffour was known for creating fertile grounds for all kinds of businesses to blossom. This is trend subsequent leaders have followed.
Nothing in life is foolproof though. There are always risks involved. Ghana is no exception from this. This article points lists out the important risks of doing business in Ghana. We also indicate measures you can take to either alleviate or avert them.
Unstable Dollar-Cedi exchange rate
Ghana is a country that is largely dependent on importation. Everything from toothpicks to planes is imported. Even the parts needed for servicing and maintenance are imported. The free market practice of allowing products to flood the market to compete with locally produced ones drives this trend. To acquire wares from abroad, one needs an internationally accepted legal tender. This is commonly the dollar.
The demand for this constantly pushes the dollar exchange rate upwards within a short space of time. If you are setting up a business in Ghana, you would have to keep this at the back of your mind. The implication of this is that you would need more cedi over time to acquire the dollar. This will lead to frequent increase in prices of your wares to make up for your needs. This inflation is frustrating to customers. With time they might move on to another merchant who sells at competitive prices.
Open a foreign currency account: Most banks operate foreign account services. You can save in the chunk of your money you would need for purchases. Irrespective of inflation in exchange rates, you would readily have the sum you need. This would give you the liberty to stabilize your prizing.
Lease nature of land
Foreigners are not permitted to own lands in Ghana. You can acquire such property on a lease basis. This may be 49 years or 99 years. This restrictive policy may affect long-term planning. This is most telling on urban lands that at a prime location. The reasons for these are many. The main ones being- firstly, location is key to the consistency and efficiency in the operations of any business. Secondly for an industrial-centered venture, one would need to install heavy machinery and gadget. The cost of moving such logistics in a short frame of time might be prohibitive to potential entrepreneurs. Lastly and more importantly, lease agreements always favor the owners of the property.
They may decide not to renew the lease agreements or to rent at a cost you can’t afford. Also, most lease agreements include a clause that prevents you from destroying whatever physical structure is built on the land. This implies that your building becomes theirs with little or no compensation.
Get a Ghanaian partner, register the company as limited liability, and then acquire the land in the name of the company.
Sudden policy changes
The politics in most African nations see the handing over of power to a different party usher in sweeping changes in policies. Ghana may be better but it is not exempted from this phenomenon. There is also the political gimmick of satiating the baying populace and promote a partisan agenda. These abrupt changes in policies can easily have a drastic effect on the operation of one’s business.
Take, for example, you have attained a steady import arrangement of a product like fruit juice from a foreign firm at a low price. Suddenly the government in a bid to placate local farmers announces that a ban would be placed on foreign juices. You would be left in a state of quagmire. This would even be worse if you already had a consignment of your product in transit.
Truth is- you can never be prepared enough for such changes. You would have to be forward-thinking. Study the political trends of both parties and plan accordingly. It is also important to be intensely involved in fulfilling your social responsibility. This way, you would have the populace on your side to push for negative policies to be changed.
The duopoly of the political stage of Ghana creates the right recipe for retribution. This is not as glaring as it is with other nations where political opponents are either killed or imprisoned. It is usually as subtle as the enactment and implementation of laws that would hurt political opponents and their sympathizers. This might either cause the business to fold up or be closed down by the state.
There is also the very common scenario where contracted companies believed to be inclined towards a particular party have their contracts abrogated. Usually, this occurs with little or no compensation. Companies usually have to resort to expensive legal wrangling and political lobbying to get their dues.
It is really important to project your company as one that upholds national interests ahead of any political inclinations. Create an image of an arbiter- a corporate institution that seeks the growth and progress of the nation. As stated earlier, it is also crucial to efficiently carry out your social responsibilities. Doing so will get you the backing of society. People will push for your brand in the event of any perceived victimization.
Fraud has been a big problem in this country for years. With the advent of better devices and technology these fraudsters now have better tools to carry out their nefarious activities. There have been reports of the accounts of companies being hacked and huge sums stolen. The security agencies have been chasing the wind as they neither have the apt modern tools nor skillset to keep up with these criminals. The fraudsters on the other hand are developing new tricks all the time.
Make sure you take the personal security of your data seriously. Link up with international experts. Implement the use of tried and trusted data protection technology. Constantly update your system in line with expert advice. Limit access to vital information to a subset of trusted executives. Regularly change passwords and set up rapid alert systems. Have monitoring systems in place to notice untoward activities. Make sure you have speedy trouble shooting measures to counter such events. Most especially screen potential staff properly during recruitment and keep tabs on them even after employment. Usually unscrupulous staff are in cahoots with these criminals.