Ghana: The Best Place to Start A Business In Africa – Part I

In August 2013 I spoke at the Emerging West Africa Conference at the London Museum about starting a business in Ghana. This article is a summary of my presentation.


If you are serious about starting a business in Ghana you will do all the desk research and find out about the necessary processes and procedures on how to register your company, the taxes you need to pay etc.

What this article will try and do is give you the crucial bits of information on starting and doing business in Ghana that much of the desk research won’t give you!

It will cover:

–       What the media and the data tells us about Ghana

–       The Reality – what really happens on the ground

  • Research & Planning Phase
  • The Business Culture
  • Understanding the Market

–       Last few words of advice and support



What the media and the data tells us about Ghana


There’s lots of data supporting why you should do business in Ghana:


  • World Bank Projections in 2011 indicated that Ghana would have the fastest growth rate on the continent, and GDP did peak at 14.4% in 2011 due to the discovery of oil in late 2010.
  • One of the most politically stable countries in Africa – which makes it attractive to international businesses.
  • Ranked 64th for ease of doing business whilst UK is 7th, Nigeria is 131th  (Source: World Bank)
  • It takes on average 12 Days to start a business. 12 days in the UK and 34 in Nigeria (Source: World Bank)
  • 100% foreign ownership is permitted
  • Immediate access to all member states in the ECOWAS facilitating expansion in the region
  • Expanding stock market
  • Competitive labour force
  • Availability of skilled and trainable labour force
  • Quota-free access to US and EU markets
  • Fast developing financial infrastructure
  • Comparatively high degree of personal safety
  • Warm and friendly people



The Research & Planning Stage


To most entrepreneurs the ‘Idea’ stage is the easy part. The research and planning stage, which is the most crucial, is far from easy.


Research! Research! Research!


This cannot be emphasised enough, particularly when starting a business in a country you are not familiar with. Your research will be the hard evidence that determines your idea’s potential.


–       The size of the particular market you want to serve

–       The type of customer you are targeting

–       Who is already doing what you plan to do? What’s good about what they offer? How can you offer more/better value to customers?


Don’t just do the desk research, research on the ground…


“Many returnees have returned to Ghana and plunged straight into setting up a business based on an idea they developed while outside Ghana. The problem with this is that entrepreneurship requires context – it is important for these ideas to be tested out locally first before launching it large scale.

Also entrepreneurship requires local knowledge and lots of it. So to be successful, the entrepreneur if he or she is a returnee would need to partner or employ people with good local knowledge.

The international perspective alone is not enough.”


Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia, Partner at Oxford & Beaumont

Author of Kuenyehia On Entrepreneurship


Test your idea

If you have a product get prototypes made and allow a sample of your target market to touch, feel and trial it. If it’s a service you offer develop some brochures or flyers describing the service or create a draft website so people can get more information on what you’ll be offering.


Make lots of visits

Even if you do have a local partner, there’s nothing like seeing and understanding how things work for yourself.


Infrastructure issues

Ghana is still a developing country therefore has many growing pains, particularly with power outages and water shortages.


You need to think about how these will affect your business. Such issues will affect a catering or food business maybe more so than a delivery business. Back up supplies/sources of energy such as a generator are a must. The use of solar panel for residential as well as commercial properties is becoming increasingly popular.


Another factor apparent in Ghana’s emerging economy is the on-going development of major roads causing traffic chaos – a major issue in Ghana. Allow lots of extra time for things to be done and just assume everything will take 10 times as long to complete.


Continued in Part II…

Categories : GBM on Africa

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