Italy and Ghana closer than ever
Accra - The day after the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi met in Accra to discuss Eni's activities in the Country, where operational activities are complemented by programs to enhance access to energy, socio-economic development, health promotion and development of renewable energy sources, Italy and Ghana look closer than ever.
"Let's make Ghana a great business destination" Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC), Mr. Yoofi Gran, said on Friday underscoring the need for reforms in creating an enabling environment for investors. "Government is engaged in several reforms, for example, paperless port, enabling us to do e-registration at the Registrar General so you can sit anywhere in the world, register your business and pay for it" he said speaking to the media at the 2017 edition of the Global Business Forum on Africa.
In order to check if Ghana could really become a great business destination for Italy as well, we met with the Italian Trade Agency-Ice director in Ghana, Paolo De Vito, who confirmed us "it's time for Italy to make an effort to deepen trade and investment with Ghana". Opened in January 2016, the Italian Trade Agency branch in Accra, witnessed how in 2016, Italian Made in Italy obtained in Ghana the better performance ever with an increase on the export's rate close to 30%, compared to the previous year performance. "Last year - told us Paolo De Vito - Italian exports reached 264.6 million euros (+ 29.7% compared to the end of the previous year). Such a brilliant result is not only due to the growth in our export of refined petroleum products (32.6 million euros vs. 16.8 in 2015, an increase of 94.4%), but also to the sale of general and special machinery, a sub-sector in which mining, quarry and construction machinery alone increased by more than 54%. Not to mention the furniture and furnishing compartment sector, where Italy is the third commercial partner for Ghana behind China and the United States".
The last Info Mercati Esteri Overview published on the 24th of October confirms the Italian Trade Agency-Ice conclusions giving the Import figures. "In 2016, Italian imports from Ghana amounted to 223.4 million euro, with an annual contraction of 35.2%. In 2016, trade turnover amounted to 488.1 million euro (-11.1% on an annual basis) with a balance of bilateral trade in favor of Italy for 41.3 million euro (in 2015 the balance was in favor of Ghana for 140.2 million euros).
In 2016, machinery and equipment accounted for 28.7% of our exports to Ghana, followed by coke and refined petroleum products (12.3%), by metal products, excluding machinery and equipment (9%), by electrical equipment and non-electrical household (8.3%) and by chemicals (6.9%). In 2016, the main item of Italian imports from Ghana was represented by mining and quarry products (50.3%), followed by agricultural, fisheries and forestry products (23.8%), foodstuffs (11, 2%) and metallurgical products (7%).
In January-July 2017, Italian exports to Ghana amounted to 136 million euros, recording an annual contraction of 2.1%. In the same period, Italian imports from Ghana exceeded 117.5 million euros, with an annualized contraction of 15.6%. In the first seven months of 2017, trade turnover exceeded 253 million euros (-8.8% on an annual basis) with a bilateral trade balance in favor of Italy for 18.5 million euro".
This numbers - according to Ice Director Paolo De Vito - are able to show how much Italy and Ghana have good bilateral relations. "Italy-Ghana relations - he recalls - have been consolidated by the political missions at the highest levels that have characterized the last few years. On July 17, 2015, the then President of Ghana Mahama attended the National Day at Expo Milano, an event where Ghana attended the Cluster Cacao and Chocolate. The visit followed a mission to Accra in December 2015, of the then Deputy Minister (current Minister) for the Economic Development, Carlo Calenda and Deputy Foreign Secretary (Current Deputy Minister) to the Foreign Affairs, Mario Giro. Also Matteo Renzi, in February 2016, came to Ghana on the first mission in the West African Country of an Italian Prime Minister".
De Vito also highlights that in Ghana there is a dynamic Italian business community, partly established some decades ago, mostly operating in the buildings and construction sector and in the production and marketing of cocoa and timber. "Recent investments - he carries on explaining us - range from the oil&gas (Eni has been present in Ghana since 2009 through its subsidiary Eni Ghana, and with the startup of OCTP Integrated Oil&Gas Development Project - Eni 44.44%, Vitol 35.56%, GNPC 20% - the Company has become one of Ghana's main operators), to the cultivation of plants and shrubs for the production of bioenergy, to production plants in the aluminum sector, to catering and transport".
Thanks to a population of 28.7 million people and proven democratic stability, Ghana can be considered an ideal landmark for those who are interested in doing business throughout the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States ), which includes demographic growth markets. Politically, the country can rely on a multiparty and stable democratic system. The two political forces, who have been replacing the government in recent years, are the center-left National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the Liberal Conservative New Patriotic Party (NPP). During the last elections of December 7, 2016 the victory went to Nana Akufo-Addo, the NPP representative. The President-elect sworn in on January 7, 2017, and with the new government he promised to revive the economy, to reduce corruption and promote an accelerated industrialization of the country.
The Ghanaian community registered in Italy consists of about 60,000 people, mostly resident in the north, particularly in the provinces of Brescia and Verona.
Ghanaian territory is rich in mineral resources including: gold, diamonds, manganese (of which it is one of the world's leading producers) and bauxite. Another point in favor of the country is the good availability of fertile areas so that for some products two crops can be produced per year. In addition, after Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana is the second cocoa producer in the world.
According to the last Ghana Statistical Service, Ghana¥s economy advanced 9 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2017, above a 6.6 percent rise in the previous period. It is the highest growth rate since the third quarter of 2014, mainly boosted by a 188 percent jump in the oil and gas sector. On a quarterly basis, the economy expanded 2 percent. The industrial sector went up 19.3 percent, following an 11.6 percent rise in the previous period. Mining jumped 75 percent (33.1 percent in Q1) and manufacturing rose 6.6 percent (5.9 percent in Q1) while construction went up at a slower 0.8 percent (2.9 percent in Q1). The services sector increased 5.6 percent, also higher than 3.4 percent in the previous period. Agriculture slowed (3.4 percent compared to 7.7 percent in Q1), mainly due to a 17.6 percent drop in fishing (+13.6 percent in Q1). GDP growth for 2016 was revised higher to 3.7 percent from an earlier estimate of 3.5 percent.
Italian Trade Agency-ICE operates worldwide from a large network of Trade Promotion Offices linked to Italian embassies and consulates and working closely with local authorities and businesses. It provides a wide range of services overseas helping Italian and foreign businesses to connect with each other: identification of possible business partners, bilateral trade meetings with Italian companies, trade delegation visits to Italy, official participation in local fairs and exhibitions, forums and seminars with Italian experts.