Ghana’s economy had expanded at an average of seven percent per year since 2017 until the coronavirus pandemic reduced growth to 0.4 percent in 2020, according to the Ministry of Finance. Between 2017 and 2019, the fiscal deficit narrowed, inflation decreased, and GDP growth rebounded, driven primarily by increases in oil production. Ghana saw a 9 percent growth rate in the first quarter of 2019 and closed that year with a 6.5 percent GDP growth rate. Indicating a recovery from the pandemic, the Ghana Statistical Service reported a 6.6 percent growth rate in the third quarter of 2021, marking the fastest growth in GDP since the pandemic began. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expected growth to rebound to 4.7 percent in 2021 from the shock of COVID-19 and by 6.2 percent in 2022. The economy remains highly dependent on the export of primary commodities such as gold, cocoa, and oil, and consequently is vulnerable to slowdowns in the global economy and commodity price shocks. In November 2020, Ghana launched the 100 billion cedi (about $13 billion) Ghana COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalization of Enterprises Support (Ghana CARES) Program to address the effects of the virus on the economy. In 2020, the government also launched Ghana’s National Adaptation Plan Process by which it expects to develop strategies to build resilience against the impacts of both climate change and crises such as COVID-19. In general, Ghana’s investment prospects remain favorable, as the Government of Ghana seeks to diversify and industrialize through agro-processing, mining, and manufacturing. It has made attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) a priority to support its industrialization plans and to overcome an annual infrastructure funding gap.
Challenges to Ghana’s economy include high government debt, particularly energy sector debt, low internally generated revenue, and inefficient state-owned enterprises. Ghana has a population of 31 million, with over 14 million potential taxpayers, but only six million of whom filed their annual tax returns. As Ghana seeks to move beyond dependence on foreign aid, it must develop a solid domestic revenue base. On the energy front, Ghana has enough installed power capacity to meet current demand, but it needs to reduce the cost of electricity by improving the management of its state-owned power distribution system.
Among the challenges hindering foreign direct investment are: costly and difficult financial services, lack of government transparency, corruption, under-developed infrastructure, a complex property market, costly and intermittent power and water supply, the high costs of cross-border trade, a burdensome bureaucracy, and an unskilled labor force. Enforcement of laws and policies is weak, even where good laws exist on the books. Public procurements are sometimes opaque, and there are often issues with delayed payments. In addition, there have been troubling trends in investment policy over the last six years, with the passage of local content regulations in the petroleum, power, and mining sectors that may discourage needed future investments.
Despite these challenges, Ghana’s abundant raw materials (gold, cocoa, and oil/gas), relative security, and political stability, as well as its hosting of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat make it stand out as one of the better locations for investment in sub-Saharan Africa. There is no discrimination against foreign-owned businesses. Investment laws protect investors against expropriation and nationalization and guarantee that investors can transfer profits out of the country, although international companies have reported high levels of corruption in dealing with Ghanaian government institutions. Among the most promising sectors are agribusiness and food processing; textiles and apparel; downstream oil, gas, and minerals processing; construction; and mining-related services subsectors.
The government has acknowledged the need to strengthen its enabling environment to attract FDI, and is taking steps to overhaul the regulatory system, improve the ease of doing business, and restore fiscal discipline.
1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment
The Government of Ghana has made increasing FDI a priority and acknowledges the importance of having an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive. Officials are implementing regulatory and other reforms such as automation and digitalization of government processes and enhancing GIPC’s own support services, to improve the ease of doing business and make investing in Ghana more attractive. The 2013 Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC) Act requires the GIPC to register, monitor, and keep records of all business enterprises in Ghana. Sector-specific laws further regulate investments in minerals and mining, oil and gas, industries within Free Zones, banking, non-bank financial institutions, insurance, fishing, securities, telecommunications, energy, and real estate. Some sector-specific laws, such as in the oil and gas sector and the power sector, include local content requirements that could discourage international investment. Foreign investors are required to satisfy the provisions of the GIPC Act as well as the provisions of sector-specific laws. GIPC leadership has pledged to collaborate more closely with the private sector to address investor concerns, but there have been no significant changes to the laws. More information on investing in Ghana can be obtained from GIPC’s website, www.gipc.gov.gh.
Most of Ghana’s major sectors are fully open to foreign capital participation. U.S. investors in Ghana are treated the same as other foreign investors. All foreign investment projects must register with the GIPC. Foreign investments are subject to the following minimum capital requirements: USD 200,000 for joint ventures with a Ghanaian partner, who should have at least 10 percent of the equity; USD 500,000 for enterprises wholly owned by a non-Ghanaian; and USD 1 million for trading companies (firms that buy or sell imported goods or services) wholly owned by non-Ghanaian entities. The minimum capital requirement may be met in cash or capital goods relevant to the investment. Trading companies are also required to employ at least 20 skilled Ghanaian nationals.
Ghana’s investment code excludes foreign investors from participating in eight economic sectors: petty trading; the operation of taxi and car rental services with fleets of fewer than 25 vehicles; lotteries (excluding soccer pools); the operation of beauty salons and barber shops; printing of recharge scratch cards for subscribers to telecommunications services; production of exercise books and stationery; retail of finished pharmaceutical products; and the production, supply, and retail of drinking water in sealed pouches. Sectors where foreign investors are allowed limited market access include: telecommunications, banking, fishing, mining, petroleum, and real estate.
Ghana has not conducted an investment policy review (IPR) through the OECD recently. UNCTAD last conducted an IPR in 2003.
The WTO last conducted a Trade Policy Review (TPR) in May 2014. The next review is scheduled for May 4-6, 2022. The 2014 TPR concluded that the 2013 amendment to the investment law raised the minimum capital that foreigners must invest to levels above those specified in Ghana’s 1994 GATS horizontal commitments and excluded new activities from foreign competition. However, it was determined that overall, this would have minimal impact on dissuading future foreign investment due to the size of the companies traditionally seeking to do business within the country. An executive summary of the findings can be found at: .
Although registering a business is a relatively easy procedure and can be done online through the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) at , businesses have noted that the process involved in establishing a business is lengthy and complex, and requires compliance with regulations and procedures of at least four other government agencies, including GIPC, Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Ghana Immigration Service, and the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT). In 2019, Ghana passed a new Companies Act, 2019 (Act 992), which among other things, created a new independent office called the Office of the Registrar of Companies, responsible for the registration and regulation of all businesses. A new office is expected to be in place which would separate the registration process for companies from the Registrar General’s Department; the latter would continue to serve as the government’s registrar for non-business transactions such as marriages. The new law also simplifies some registration processes by scrapping the issuance of a certificate to commence business and the requirement for a company to state business objectives, which limited the activities in which a company could engage. The law also expands the role of the company secretary, which now requires educational qualifications with some background in company law practice and administration or having been trained under a company secretary for at least three years. Foreign investors must obtain a certificate of capital importation, which can take 14 days. The local authorized bank must confirm the import of capital with the Bank of Ghana, which confirms the transaction to GIPC for investment registration purposes.
Per the GIPC Act, all foreign companies are required to register with GIPC after incorporation with the RGD. Registration can be completed online at www.gipc.gov.gh. While the registration process is designed to be completed within five business days, but there are often bureaucratic delays.
The Ghanaian business environment is unique, and guidance can be extremely helpful. In some cases, a foreign investment may enjoy certain tax benefits under the law or additional incentives if the project is deemed critical to the country’s development. Most companies or individuals considering investing in Ghana or trading with Ghanaian counterparts find it useful to consult with a local attorney or business facilitation company. The United States Embassy in Accra maintains a list of local attorneys, which is available through the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service ( ) or U.S. Citizen Services ( ).
Ghana Investment Promotion Centre
Post: P. O. Box M193, Accra-Ghana
Note: Omit the (0) after the country code when dialing from abroad.
Telephone: +233 (0) 302 665 125, +233 (0) 302 665 126, +233 (0) 302 665 127, +233 (0) 302 665 128, +233 (0) 302 665 129, +233 (0) 244 318 254/ +233 (0) 244 318 252
Note that mining or oil/gas sector companies are required to obtain licensing/approval from the following relevant bodies:
Ghana has no specific outward investment policy. It has entered into bilateral treaties, however, with a number of countries to promote and protect foreign investment on a reciprocal basis. Some Ghanaian companies have established operations in other West African countries and there are a number of active Ghanaian investments in the United States in the food processing and personal care sectors.
3. Legal Regime
The Government of Ghana’s policies on trade liberalization and investment promotion are guiding its efforts to create a clear and transparent regulatory system.
Ghana does not have a standardized consultation process, but ministries and Parliament generally share the text or summary of proposed regulations and solicit comments directly from stakeholders or via public meetings and hearings. All laws that are currently in effect are printed by the Ghana Publishing Company, while the notice of publication of the law, bills, or regulations are made in the Ghana Gazette (equivalent of the U.S. Federal Register). The non-profit Ghana Legal Information Institute ( ) re-publishes hard copies of the Ghana Gazette. The Government of Ghana does not publish draft regulations online, and the Parliament publishes only some draft bills ( ), which inhibits transparency in the approval of laws and regulations.
The Government of Ghana has established regulatory bodies such as the National Communications Authority, the National Petroleum Authority, the Petroleum Commission, the Energy Commission, and the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission to oversee activities in the telecommunications, downstream and upstream petroleum, electricity and natural gas, and water sectors. The creation of these bodies was a positive step, but the lack of resources and the bodies’ susceptibility to political influence undermine their ability to deliver the intended level of oversight.
The government launched a Business Regulatory Reform program in 2017, but implementation has been slow. The program aims to improve the ease of doing business, review all rules and regulations to identify and reduce unnecessary costs and requirements, establish an e-registry of all laws, establish a centralized public consultation web portal, provide regulatory relief for entrepreneurs, and eventually implement a regulatory impact analysis system. The government continues to work towards achieving these goals and in 2020 established the centralized public consultation web portal ( ), the Ghana Business Regulatory Reforms platform. It is an interactive platform to allow policymakers to consult businesses and individuals in a transparent, inclusive, and timely manner on policy issues. Ghana adopted International Financial Reporting Standards in 2007 for all listed companies, government business enterprises, banks, insurance companies, security brokers, pension funds, and public utilities. Projects likely to have significant impacts on the environment are required to obtain environmental permits from the Ghanaian Environmental Protection Agency before commencement of construction and operations. The government, however, does not have a policy that requires or promotes companies’ environmental, social, and governance (ESG) disclosure.
Ghana has been a World Trade Organization (WTO) member since January 1995 and a member of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade since 1957. Ghana issues its own standards for many products under the auspices of the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA). The GSA has promulgated more than 500 Ghanaian standards and adopted more than 2,000 international standards including European Union and U.S. standards for certification purposes. The Ghanaian Food and Drugs Authority is responsible for enforcing standards for food, drugs, cosmetics, and health items. Ghana has a WTO obligation to notify all draft technical regulations to the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT).
Ghana’s legal system is based on British common law and local customary law. Investors should note that the acquisition of real property is governed by both statutory and customary law. The judiciary comprises both lower courts and superior courts. The superior courts are the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, and the High Court and Regional Tribunals. Lawsuits are permitted and usually begin in the High Court. The High Court has jurisdiction in all matters, civil and criminal, other than those involving treason and some cases that involve the highest levels of the government – which go to the Supreme Court. There is a history of government intervention in the court system, although somewhat less so in commercial matters. The courts have entered judgments against the government. However, the courts have been slow in disposing of cases and at times face challenges in having their decisions enforced, largely due to resource constraints and institutional inefficiencies.
The GIPC Act codified the government’s desire to present foreign investors with a transparent foreign investment regulatory regime. GIPC regulates foreign investment in acquisitions, mergers, takeovers and new investments, as well as portfolio investment in stocks, bonds, and other securities traded on the Ghana Stock Exchange. The GIPC Act also specifies areas of investment reserved for Ghanaian citizens, and further delineates incentives and guarantees that relate to taxation, transfer of capital, profits and dividends, and guarantees against expropriation.
GIPC helps to facilitate the business registration process and provides economic, commercial, and investment information for companies and businesspeople interested in starting a business or investing in Ghana. GIPC provides assistance to enable investors to take advantage of relevant incentives. Registration can be completed online at www.gipc.gov.gh.
As detailed in the previous section on “Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment,” sector-specific laws regulate foreign participation/investment in telecommunications, banking, fishing, mining, petroleum, and real estate.
Ghana regulates the transfer of technologies not freely available in Ghana. According to the 1992 Technology Transfer Regulations, total management and technical fee levels higher than eight percent of net sales must be approved by GIPC. The regulations do not allow agreements that impose obligations to procure personnel, inputs, and equipment from the transferor or specific source. The duration of related contracts cannot exceed ten years and cannot be renewed for more than five years. Any provisions in the agreement inconsistent with Ghanaian regulations are unenforceable in Ghana.
Ghana is reportedly working on a new competition law to replace the existing legislation, the Protection Against Unfair Competition Act, 2000 (Act 589); however, the new bill is still under review.
The Constitution sets out some exceptions and a clear procedure for the payment of compensation in allowable cases of expropriation or nationalization. Additionally, Ghana’s investment laws generally protect investors against expropriation and nationalization. The Government of Ghana may, however, expropriate property if it is required to protect national defense, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, town and county planning, or to ensure the development or utilization of property in a manner to promote public benefit. In such cases, the GOG must provide prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation to the property owner, but the process for determining adequate compensation and making payments can be complicated and lengthy in practice. The Government of Ghana guarantees due process by allowing access to the High Court by any person who has an interest or right over the property.
Ghana does not have a bankruptcy statute. A new insolvency law, the Corporate Restructuring and Insolvency Act, 2020 (Act 1015), was passed to replace the Bodies Corporate (Official Liquidations) Act, 1963 (Act 180). The new law, unlike the previous one, provides for reorganization of a company before liquidation when it is unable to pay its debts, as well as cross-border insolvency rules. The new law does not have a U.S. Chapter 11-style bankruptcy provision but allows for a process that puts the company under administration for restructuring. The new law complements the law for private liquidations under the Companies Act, 2019 (Act 992), but does not apply to businesses that are under specialized regulations such as banks and insurance companies.
4. Industrial Policies
Investment incentives differ slightly depending upon the law under which an investor operates. For example, while all investors operating under the Free Zone Act are entitled to a ten-year corporate tax holiday, investors operating under the GIPC law are not. Tax incentives vary depending upon the sector in which the investor is operating.
All investment-specific laws contain some incentives. The GIPC law allows for import and tax exemptions for plant inputs, machinery, and parts imported for the purpose of the investment. Chapters 82, 84, 85, and 89 of the Customs Harmonized Commodity and Tariff Code zero-rate these production items. In 2015, the Government of Ghana imposed a new five percent import duty on some items that were previously zero-rated to conform to the new Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) common external tariff.
The Ghanaian tax system is replete with tax concessions that considerably reduce the effective tax rate. The minimum incentives are specified in the GIPC law and are not applied in an ad hoc or arbitrary manner. Once an investor has been registered under the GIPC law, the investor is entitled to the incentives provided by law. The government has discretion to grant an investor additional customs duty exemptions and tax incentives beyond the minimum stated in the law.
The GIPC website ( ) provides a thorough description of available incentive programs. The law also guarantees an investor all the tax incentives provided for under Ghanaian law. For example, rental income from commercial and residential property is exempt from tax for the first five years after construction. Similarly, income from a company selling or leasing out premises is income tax exempt for the first five years of operation. Rural banks and cattle ranching are exempt from income tax for ten years and pay eight percent thereafter.
The corporate tax rate is 25 percent, and this applies to all sectors, except income from non-traditional exports (eight percent tax rate), companies principally engaged in the hotel industry (22 percent rate), and oil and gas exploration companies (35 percent tax rate). For some sectors there are temporary tax holidays. These sectors include Free Zone enterprises and developers (0 percent for the first ten years and 15 percent thereafter); real estate development and rental (0 percent for the first five years and 25 percent thereafter); agro-processing companies (0 percent for the first five years, after which the tax rate ranges from 0 percent to 25 percent depending on the location of the company in Ghana), and waste processing companies (0 percent for seven years and 25 percent thereafter). In December 2019, to attract investments under the Ghana Automotive Development Policy, corporate tax holidays among other import duty and value-added tax exemptions were granted to manufacturers or assemblers of semi-knocked-down vehicles (0 percent for three years) and complete knocked down vehicles (0 percent for ten years). Tax rebates are also offered in the form of incentives based on location. A capital allowance in the form of accelerated depreciation is applicable in all sectors except banking, finance, commerce, insurance, mining, and petroleum. Under the Income Tax Act, 2015 (Act 896), all businesses can carry forward tax losses for at least three years.
Ghana has no discriminatory or excessively burdensome visa requirements. While ECOWAS nationals do not require a visa to enter Ghana for 90 days, they need a work and residence permit to live and work in Ghana. The current fees for work and residence permit for ECOWAS nationals is USD 500 while that for non-ECOWAS nationals is USD 1,000. A foreign investor who invests under the GIPC Act is automatically entitled to a specific number of visas/work permits based on the size of the investment. When an investment of USD 50,000 but not more than USD 250,000 or its equivalent is made in convertible currency or machinery and equipment, the enterprise can obtain a visa/work permit for one expatriate employee. An investment of USD 250,000, but not more than USD 500,000, entitles the enterprise to two visas/work permits. An investment of USD 500,000, but not more than USD 700,000, allows the enterprise to bring in three expatriate employees. An investment of more than USD 700,000 allows an enterprise to bring in four expatriate employees. An enterprise may apply for extra visas or work permits, but the investor must justify why a foreigner must be employed rather than a Ghanaian. There are no restrictions on the issuance of work and residence permits to Free Zone investors and employees. Overall, the process of issuing work permits is not very transparent.
Free Trade Zones (called Free Zones in Ghana) were first established in May 1996, with one near Tema Steelworks, Ltd., in the Greater Accra Region, and two other sites located at Mpintsin and Ashiem near Takoradi in the Western Region. The seaports of Tema and Takoradi, as well as the Kotoka International Airport in Accra and all the lands related to these areas, are part of the Free Zone. The law also permits the establishment of single factory zones outside or within the areas mentioned above. Under the law, a company qualifies to be a Free Zone company if it exports more than 70 percent of its products. Among the incentives for Free Zone companies are a ten-year corporate tax holiday and zero import duty.
To make it easier for Free Zone developers to acquire the various licenses and permits to operate, the Ghana Free Zones Authority ( ) provides a “one-stop approval service” to assist in the completion of all formalities. A lack of resources has limited the effectiveness of the Authority. Foreign employees of Free Zone businesses require work and residence permits.
In most sectors, Ghana does not have performance requirements for establishing, maintaining, and expanding a business. Investors are not required to purchase from local sources or employ prescribed levels of local content, except in the mining sector, the upstream petroleum sector, and the power sector, which are subject to substantial local content requirements. Similar legislation is being drafted for the downstream petroleum sector, and a National Local Content Policy is being debated by Cabinet that may extend to a broad array of sectors of the economy, but there is no clear timeline for its approval.
Generally, investors are not required to export a specified percentage of their output, except for Free Zone enterprises which, in accordance with the Free Zone Act, must export at least 70 percent of their products. Government officials have intimated that local content requirements should be applied to sectors other than petroleum, power, and mining, but no local content regulations have been promulgated for other sectors.
As detailed earlier in this report, there are a few areas where the GOG does impose performance requirements, including the mining, oil and gas, insurance, and telecommunications sectors.
5. Protection of Property Rights
The legal system recognizes and enforces secured interest in property. However, the process to get clear title over land is difficult, complicated, and lengthy. It is important to conduct a thorough search at the Lands Commission to ascertain the identity of the true owner of any land being offered for sale. Investors should be aware that land records can be incomplete or non-existent and, therefore, clear title may be impossible to establish. Ghana passed a new land law, Land Act, 2020 (Act 1036), which revised, harmonized, and consolidated laws on land to ensure sustainable land administration and management. The new law makes it possible to transfer and create or register interests in land by electronic means to speed up conveyancing, supports decentralized land service delivery, and includes provisions relating to property rights of spouses by ensuring that spouses are deemed to be party to the interest in land that is jointly acquired during the marriage. These changes are expected to improve accessibility and secured tenure.
Mortgages exist, although there are only a few thousand due to factors such as land ownership issues and scarcity of long-term finance. Mortgages are regulated by the Home Mortgages Finance Act, 2008 (Act 770), which has enhanced the process of foreclosure. A mortgage must be registered under the Land Act, 2020 (Act 1036), for it to take effect. Registration with the Land Title Registry is a reliable system of recording the transaction.
The protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) is an evolving area of law in Ghana. There has been progress in recent years to afford protection under both local and international law. Ghana is a party to the Universal Copyright Convention, the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PTC), the Singapore Trademark Law Treaty (STLT), and the Madrid Protocol Concerning the International Registration of Marks. Ghana is also a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the English-speaking African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), and the World Trade Organization (WTO). In 2004, Ghana’s Parliament ratified the WIPO internet treaties, namely the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performance and Phonograms Treaty. Ghana also amended six IPR laws to comply with the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), including: copyrights, trademarks, patents, layout-designs (topographies) of integrated circuits, geographical indications, and industrial designs. Except for the copyright law, implementing regulations necessary for fully effective promulgation have not been passed.
The Government of Ghana launched a National Intellectual Property Policy and Strategy in January 2016, which aimed to strengthen the legal framework for protection, administration, and enforcement of IPR and promote innovation and awareness, although progress on implementation stalled. Enforcement remains weak, and piracy of intellectual property continues. Although precise statistics are not available for many sectors, counterfeit computer software is regularly available at street markets, and counterfeit pharmaceuticals have found their way into public hospitals. Counterfeit products have also been discovered in such disparate sectors as industrial epoxy, cosmetics, drinking spirits, and household cleaning products. Based on cases where it has been possible to trace the origin of counterfeit goods, most have been found to have been produced outside the region, usually in Asia. IPR holders have access to local courts for redress of grievances, although the few trademark, patent, and copyright infringement cases that U.S. companies have filed in Ghana have reportedly moved through the legal system slowly.
Ghana is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or the Notorious Markets List.
Please contact the following at Mission Ghana if you have further questions regarding IPR issues:
U.S. Embassy, Economic Section
No. 24 Fourth Circular Road, Cantonments, Accra, Ghana
Tel: +233(0) 302 741 000 (Omit the (0) after the area code when dialing from abroad)
The United States Embassy in Accra maintains a list of local attorneys, which is available through the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service ( https://www.trade.gov/ghana-contact-us) or U.S. Citizen Services ( /).
American Chamber of Commerce Ghana
No. 10 Mensah Wood Avenue, East Legon, Accra.P.O. Box CT2869, Cantonments-Accra, Ghana
Tel: +233 (0) 302 247 562/ +233 (0) 307 011 862 (Omit the (0) after the area code when dialing from abroad)
6. Financial Sector
Private sector growth in Ghana is constrained by financing challenges. Businesses continue to face difficulty raising capital on the local market. While credit to the private sector has increased in nominal terms, levels as percentage of GDP have remained stagnant over the last decade, and high government borrowing has brought interest rates above 20 percent and crowded out private investment.
Capital markets and portfolio investment are gradually evolving. The longest-term domestic bonds are 20 years, with Eurobonds ranging up to 41-year maturities. Foreign investors are permitted to participate in auctions of bonds only with maturities of two years or longer. In January 2022, foreign investors held about 16.6 percent (valued at USD 5 billion) of the total outstanding domestic securities. In 2015, the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) added the Ghana Fixed-Income Market (GFIM) – https://gfim.com.gh/, a specialized platform for secondary trading in debt instruments to improve liquidity.
The rapid accumulation of debt over the last decade, and particularly the past three years, has raised debt sustainability concerns. Ghana received debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative in 2004, and began issuing Eurobonds in 2007. In February 2020, Ghana sold sub-Saharan Africa’s longest-ever Eurobond as part of a $3 billion deal with a tenor of 41 years. At the end of December 2021, total public debt, roughly evenly split between external and domestic, stood at 80 percent of GDP, according to the Bank of Ghana, partly as a result of the economic shock of COVID-19 as revenue declined and expenditures spiked.
The Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) has 36 listed companies. Both foreign and local companies are allowed to list on the GSE. The Securities and Exchange Commission regulates activities on the Exchange. There is an eight percent tax on dividend income. Foreigners are permitted to trade stocks listed on the GSE without restriction. There are no capital controls on the flow of retained earnings, capital gains, dividends, or interest payments. The GSE composite index (GGSECI) has exhibited mixed performance.
Banks in Ghana are relatively small, with the largest in the country in terms of operating assets, Ecobank Ghana Ltd., holding assets of about USD 2.3 billion in 2020. The Central Bank’s minimum capital requirement for commercial banks is 400 million (USD 57 million), effective December 2018. As a result of the reforms and subsequent closures and mergers of some banks from 2017 to 2019, the number of commercial banks dropped from 36 to 23. Eight are domestically controlled, and the remaining 15 are foreign controlled. In total, there are over 1,500 branches distributed across the sixteen regions of the country.
Overall, the banking industry in Ghana is well capitalized with a capital adequacy ratio of 19.6 percent as of December 2021, above the 11.5 percent prudential and statutory requirement. The non-performing loans ratio increased from 14.8 percent in December 2020 to 15.2 percent as of December 2021. Lending in foreign currencies to unhedged borrowers poses a risk, and widely varying standards in loan classification and provisioning may be masking weaknesses in bank balance sheets. The BoG has almost completed actions to address weaknesses in the non-bank deposit-taking institutions sector (e.g., microfinance, savings and loan, and rural banks) and has also issued new guidelines to strengthen corporate governance regulations in the banks.
Recent developments in the non-banking financial sector indicate increased diversification, including new rules and regulations governing the trading of Exchange Traded Funds. Non-banking financial institutions such as leasing companies, building societies, and village savings and loan associations have increased access to finance for underserved populations, as have rural and mobile banking. Currently, Ghana has no “cross-shareholding” or “stable shareholder” arrangements used by private firms to restrict foreign investment through mergers and acquisitions, although, as noted above, the Payments Systems and Services Act, 2019 (Act 987), does require a 30 percent Ghanaian company or Ghanaian holding by any electronic payments service provider, including banks or special deposit-taking institutions.
Ghana’s main sovereign wealth fund is the Ghana Petroleum Fund (GPF), which is funded by oil profits and flows to the Ghana Heritage Fund and Ghana Stabilization Fund. The Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA), 2011 (Act 815), spells out how revenues from oil and gas should be spent and includes transparency provisions for reporting by government agencies, as well as an independent oversight group, the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC). Section 48 of the PRMA requires the Fund to publish an audited annual report by the Ghana Audit Service. The Fund’s management meets the legal obligations. Management of the Ghana Petroleum Fund is a joint responsibility between the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Ghana. The minister develops the investment policy for the GPF, and is responsible for the overall management of GPF funds, consults regularly with the Investment Advisory Committee and Bank of Ghana Governor before making any decisions related to investment strategy or management of GPF funds. The minister is also in charge of establishing a management agreement with the Bank of Ghana for the oversight of the funds. The Bank of Ghana is responsible for the day-to-day operational management of the Petroleum Reserve Accounts (PRAs) under the terms of Operation Management Agreement.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
Ghana has 94 State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), 51 of which are wholly owned, while 43 are partially owned. While the president appoints the CEO and full boards of most of the wholly owned SOEs, they are under the supervision of line ministries. Most of the partially owned investments are in the financial, mining, and oil and gas sectors. To improve the efficiency of SOEs and reduce fiscal risks they pose to the budget, in 2019 the government embarked on an exercise to tackle weak corporate governance in the SOEs as well as created the State Interests and Governance Authority (SIGA), a single institution, to monitor all SOEs, replacing both the State Enterprises Commission and the Divestiture Implementation Committee.
As of December 2021, only a handful of large SOEs remain, mainly in the transportation, water, banking, power, and extractive sectors. The largest SOEs are Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), Volta River Authority (VRA), Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), Ghana Ports and Harbor Authority (GPHA), Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Ghana National Gas Company Limited (GNGC), Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL), Consolidated Bank Ghana Limited (CBG), Bui Power Authority (BPA), and Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo). Many of these receive subsidies and assistance from the government. The list of SOEs can be found at: .
While the Government of Ghana does not actively promote adherence to the OECD Guidelines, SIGA oversees corporate governance of SOEs and encourages them to be managed like Limited Liability Companies to be profit making. In addition, beginning in 2014, most SOEs were required to contract and service direct and government-guaranteed loans on their own balance sheet. The government’s goal is to stop adding these loans to “pure public” debt, paid by taxpayers directly through the budget.
Ghana has no formal privatization program. The government has announced its intention, however, to prioritize the creation of public-private partnerships (PPPs) to restructure and privatize non-performing SOEs, although progress to implement this goal has been slow. Procuring PPPs is allowed under the National Policy on Public Private Partnerships in Ghana, which was adopted in June 2011. The Public Private Partnership Act, 2020 (Act 1039) was passed in December 2020.
8. Responsible Business Conduct
There is no specific responsible business conduct (RBC) law in Ghana, and the government has no action plan regarding OECD RBC guidelines.
Ghana has been a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative since 2010. The government also enrolled in the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights in 2014.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is gaining more attention among Ghanaian companies. The Ghana Club 100 is a ranking of the top performing companies, as determined by GIPC. It is based on several criteria, with a 10 percent weight assigned to corporate social responsibility, including philanthropy. Companies have noted that Ghanaian consumers are not generally interested in the CSR activities of private companies, with the exception of the extractive industries (whose CSR efforts seem to attract consumer, government, and media attention). In particular, there is a widespread expectation that extractive sector companies will involve themselves in substantial philanthropic activities in the communities in which they have operations.
Department of State
- Country Reports on Human Rights Practices;
- Trafficking in Persons Report;
- Guidance on Implementing the “UN Guiding Principles” for Transactions Linked to Foreign Government End-Users for Products or Services with Surveillance Capabilities;
- U.S. National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises; and;
- Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory
Department of the Treasury
Department of Labor
Ghana’s national climate strategy is contained in the Ghana National Climate Change Policy published in 2013 and Ghana’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The revised NDCs, submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in September 2021, outline Ghana’s strategies in various sectors regarding climate change. To reduce its carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), Ghana aims to reduce carbon emissions by 64 MtCO2e through the adoption of 47 climate actions across 19 policy areas.
Although Ghana has not officially announced a policy to reach net-zero emission by 2050, policies are being designed to reduce energy and CO2 intensity driven by the transition to renewable and low-carbon energy sources. In December 2021, the government established the .National Energy Transition Committee to prescribe risk mitigation measures towards environmental sustainability. Policies introduced to reduce carbon emissions include the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Promotion Policy, the Renewable Energy Master Plan, and improved charcoal stove distribution. Ghana has set a target of increasing the share of renewable energy (including hydropower capacity up to 100 MW) from 42.5 MW in 2015 to 1363.63 MW by 2030.
The government, however, does not include environmental and green growth considerations in public procurement policies for businesses aimed at preserving biodiversity, clean air, and other ecological benefits.
Corruption in Ghana is comparatively less prevalent than in most other countries in the region, according to Transparency International’s Perception of Corruption Index, but remains a serious problem, with Ghana scoring 45 on a scale of 100 and ranking 73 out of 180 countries in 2020. The government has a relatively strong anti-corruption legal framework in place, but enforcement of existing laws is rare and inconsistent. Corruption in government institutions is pervasive. The Government of Ghana has vowed to combat corruption and has taken some steps to promote better transparency and accountability. These include establishing an Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) in 2017 to investigate and prosecute corruption cases and passing a Right to Information Act, 2019 (Act 989) (similar to the U.S. Freedom of Information Act) to increase transparency. The President named a new Special Prosecutor in 2021 but the OSP still has not prosecuted a significant anti-corruption case. The Auditor-General, was appointed in an acting capacity in 2021 and was confirmed as the substantive Auditor-General in September 2021.
Businesses have noted that bribery is most pervasive in the judicial system and across public services. Companies report that bribes are often exchanged in return for favorable judicial decisions. Large corruption cases are prosecuted, but proceedings are lengthy and convictions are slow. A 2015 exposé captured video of judges and other judicial officials extorting bribes from litigants to manipulate the justice system. Thirty-four judges were implicated, and 25 were dismissed following the revelations, though none have been criminally prosecuted.
The Public Procurement (Amendment) Act, 2016 (Act 914) was passed to address the shortcomings identified over a decade of implementation of the original 2003 law aimed at harmonizing the many public procurement guidelines used in the country and to bring public procurement into conformity with WTO standards. (Note: Ghana is a not a party to the plurilateral WTO Agreement on Government Procurement). Nevertheless, complete transparency is lacking in locally funded contracts. There continue to be allegations of corruption in the tender process, and the government has in the past set aside international tender awards in the name of alleged national interest. The Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921) provided for stiffer sanctions and penalties for breaches, but its effectiveness in stemming corruption has yet to be demonstrated. In 2016, Ghana amended the company registration law (which has been retained in the new Companies Act, 2019 (Act 992)) to include the disclosure of beneficial owners. In September 2020, Ghana deployed a Central Beneficial Ownership Register to collect and maintain a national database on beneficial owners for all companies operating in Ghana. The law requires each person who creates a company in Ghana to report the identities of the company’s beneficial owners on the Beneficial Ownership Declaration form at the Registrar-General’s Department (RGD). There are different thresholds for reporting beneficial owners, depending on the sector the company belongs to and who the beneficial owner is. For the general threshold, a person who has direct or indirect interest of 10 percent or more in a company must be registered as a beneficial owner. A Politically Exposed Person (PEP) in Ghana who has any shares or any form of control over a company in any sector must be registered as a beneficial owner, while for a foreign PEP, shares must be five percent or more. For companies in the extractive industry, financial institutions, and businesses operating in sectors listed as high risk by the RGD, the threshold for reporting beneficial owners is five percent. Failure to comply with the requirements may attract a fine of up to 6,000 cedis (USD 856) or two years in prison, or both.
The 1992 Constitution established the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ). Among other things, CHRAJ is charged with investigating alleged and suspected corruption and the misappropriation of public funds by officials. CHRAJ is also authorized to take appropriate steps, including providing reports to the Attorney General and the Auditor-General in response to such investigations. The effectiveness of CHRAJ, however, is hampered by a lack of resources, as it conducts few investigations leading to prosecutions. CHRAJ issued guidelines on conflict of interest to public sector workers in 2006 and issued a new Code of Conduct for Public Officers in Ghana with guidelines on conflicts of interest in 2009. CHRAJ also developed a National Anti-Corruption Action Plan that Parliament approved in July 2014, but many of its provisions have not been implemented due to lack of resources. In November 2015, then-President John Mahama fired the CHRAJ Commissioner after she was investigated for misappropriating public funds.
In 1998, the Government of Ghana also established an anti-corruption institution, called the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), to investigate corrupt practices involving both private and public institutions. The SFO’s name became the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) in 2010, and its functions were expanded to include crimes such as money laundering and other organized crimes. EOCO is empowered to initiate prosecutions and to recover proceeds from criminal activities. The government passed a “Whistle Blower” law in July 2006, intended to encourage Ghanaian citizens to volunteer information on corrupt practices to appropriate government agencies.
Like most other African countries, Ghana is not a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery.
The most common commercial fraud scams are procurement offers tied to alleged Ghanaian government or, more frequently, ECOWAS programs. U.S. companies frequently report being contacted by an unknown Ghanaian firm claiming to be an authorized agent of an official government procurement agency. Foreign firms that express an interest in being included in potential procurements are lured into paying a series of fees to have their companies registered or products qualified for sale in Ghana or the West Africa region. U.S. companies receiving offers from West Africa from unknown sources should contact the U.S. Commercial Service in Ghana ( ), use extreme caution, and conduct significant due diligence prior to pursuing these offers. American firms can request background checks on companies with whom they wish to do business by purchasing the U.S. Commercial Service’s International Company Profile (ICP).
Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ)
Old Parliament House, High Street, Accra
Omit the (0) after the area code when dialing from abroad: +233 (0) 242 211 53 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Executive Director
Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO)
Behind Old Parliament House, High Street, Accra
Omit the (0) after the area code when dialing from abroad: +233 (0) 302 665559, +233 (0) 302 634 363
An Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre (ALAC) Ghana – Transparency International
Abelenkpe Rd Accra, Accra
Omit the (0) after the area code when dialing from abroad: +233 (0)302 760 884
Ghana offers a relatively stable and predictable political environment for American investors when compared to the broader region and has a solid democratic tradition. In December 2020, Ghana completed its eighth consecutive peaceful presidential and parliamentary elections and transfer of power since 1992, with power transferred between the two main political parties three times during that period. On December 7, 2020 New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidate (and incumbent) Nana Akufo-Addo was re-elected over the National Democratic Congress (NDC) candidate, former President John Mahama. The NDC disputed the 2020 presidential election result. The Supreme Court heard the case and ruled that Akufo-Addo had, indeed, won the election. There were isolated cases of violence during the election but no widespread civil disturbances. The next general elections are scheduled for December 7, 2024.
Ghana has a large pool of unskilled labor. English is widely spoken, especially in urban areas. However, according to the Ghana Statistical Service, nationwide illiteracy remains high at 30 percent in 2021. While the unemployment rate was 13.4 percent in 2021, 32.8 percent of Ghanaians aged 15 to 24 were unemployed. About 77 percent of Ghana’s employed population are in the informal sector and contributed about a quarter of its GDP in 2020. Labor regulations and policies are generally favorable to business. Although labor-management relationships are generally positive, occasional labor disagreements stem from wage policies in Ghana’s inflationary environment. Many employers find it advantageous to maintain open lines of communication on wage calculations and incentive packages. A revised Labor Act of 2003 (Act 651) unified and modified the old labor laws to bring them into conformity with the core principles of the International Labor Convention, to which Ghana is a signatory.
Under the Labor Act, the Chief Labor Officer both registers trade unions and approves applications by unions for a collective bargaining certificate. A collective bargaining certificate entitles the union to negotiate on behalf of a class of workers. The Labor Act also created a National Labor Commission to resolve labor and industrial disputes, and a National Tripartite Committee to set the national daily minimum wage and provide policy guidance on employment and labor market issues. The National Tripartite Committee includes representatives from government, employers’ organizations, and organized labor. The Labor Act sets the maximum hours of work at eight hours per day or 40 hours per week but makes provision for overtime and rest periods. Some categories of workers, including trades workers and domestic workers, are excluded from the eight hours per day or 40 hours per week maximum.
The Labor Act prohibits the “unfair termination” of workers for specific reasons outlined in the law, including participation in union activities; pregnancy; or based on a protected class, such as gender, race, color, ethnicity, origin, religion, creed, social, political or economic status, or disability. The Labor Act also provides procedures companies are required to follow when laying off staff, including under certain situations providing severance pay, known locally as “redundancy pay.” Disputes over redundancy pay can be referred to the National Labor Commission. The Act’s provisions regarding fair and unfair termination of employment do not apply to some classes of contract, probationary, and casual workers.
There is no legal requirement for labor participation in management. However, many businesses utilize joint consultative committees in which management and employees meet to discuss issues affecting business productivity and labor issues.
There are no statutory requirements for profit sharing, but fringe benefits in the form of year-end bonuses and retirement benefits are generally included in collective bargaining agreements. Child labor remains a problem. Child labor is particularly severe in agriculture, including in cocoa and fishing. In general, worker protection provisions in the Labor Act, including health and safety provisions, are weakly enforced. Post recommends consulting a local attorney for detailed advice regarding labor issues. The U.S. Embassy in Accra maintains a list of local attorneys, which is available through the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service (https://www.trade.gov/ghana) or U.S. Citizen Services (
Ghana signed an agreement with the Overseas Private Investment Cooperation (OPIC), the predecessor agency to the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC). DFC is active in Ghana, providing financing and insurance for a number of projects – particularly in the energy, housing, agriculture, and health sectors. All OPIC activities have been assumed by the DFC. The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), African Project Development Facility (APDF), African Trade Insurance Agency, and the African investment program of the International Finance Corporation are other sources of information.
|Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data (2019)|
|From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)|
|Inward Direct Investment||Outward Direct Investment|
|Total Inward||13,594||100%||Total Outward||N/A||N/A|
|British Virgin Islands||1,288||9%||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.|
U.S. Embassy, Economic Section
No. 24 Fourth Circular Road, Cantonments, Accra, Ghana
Tel: +233 (0) 302 741 000 (Omit the (0) after the area code when dialing from abroad)