Several initiatives are being pursued by industry players in a bid to promote improvements in the policy framework in which they operate so as to enhance activities in the minerals extraction sector. A number of these initiatives that can be expected to stand out this year include the following.
The Chamber of Mines is expected to partner Government, through the Ministry of Energy and key partners in the oil and gas industry to work on a legislative framework to guide the development of onshore exploration activities in the sector.
This follows an official appeal made by the Deputy Minister of Energy, Dr. Mohammed Amin Adam in October, 2019 on the Ministry’s quest to partner the Chamber in this regard.
According to the Deputy Minister, the Chamber has the experience, technical knowhow and the wherewithal regarding onshore exploration activities – even though the kind of exploration activities that exist in solid mineral mining and in the oil and gas sector have differences as well as similarities – and so the Ministry of Energy believes that the Chamber’s inputs in the impending policy framework will be essential.
Again, as part of local content efforts in the mining industry, collaborations are progressing between the Chamber of Mines, Minerals Commission and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – being sector regulator and equity financier for mining companies respectively – in ensuring that certain key mining inputs that can be manufactured in large scale quantity in Ghana for the mining industry.
Although some mining inputs such as grinding media are produced in the country, having the capacity to produce such inputs in large scale quantity for the industry has always been the problem. This is the reason why the Chamber has insisted that this year, it will continue to build capacity of local manufacturers to enable them produce such mining inputs in sufficient quantities.
Procurement opportunities in the mining industry for local enterprise will abound since the Chamber’s preference is for local manufacturers to manufacture and supply inputs in the value chain of its members rather than importing and supplying them to the industry. Importantly, local manufacturing generates more value to the country through linkages with the mining industry than imports.
The Chamber insists that its members source certain inputs locally – currently there are 19 such inputs on what it calls the Procurement List – but lots of such inputs even though they are supplied by local suppliers, are imported largely because even the ones manufactured in Ghana are not produced in sufficiently large scale quantities to meet industry demand. This measure leaves the mining companies with no option than to import production inputs. Since this is done through local suppliers, this meets local participation requirements but not actual local content.
Overall production can be expected to increase this year because artisanal mining has resumed following government’s ban introduced in April 2017. To this end expect government to iron out the lingering bottlenecks with regard to the newly introduced concept of community mining, such as access to land, before the run up to this year’s general elections, so as to make all stakeholders happy.
This year significant mining will resume at Ghana’s oldest and most productive mine at Obuasi as AngloGold Ashanti works with government to put the requisite operational framework in place.
The biggest event in the trade sector across Africa this year will be the commencement of the impending Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which is expected to be implemented from July this year. The huge importance Ghana is placing on this is vividly illustrated by its successful bid to become the administrative headquarters for this massive new initiative.
A number of trade analysts and technocrats have argued that this Pan African trade regime is one of the biggest game changers that will ever happen to the continent in terms of trade as it has the capacity to enable various indigenous companies to produce more and sell across borders duty free despite the negative impressions created by some international stakeholders.
This ambitious initiative aims to increase intra-African trade from the existing 12 percent to anticipated 52 percent of all international trade by African countries by 2022. The initiative is expected to accelerate intra-African trade and boost Africa’s trading position in the global market by strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations.
Instructively, a number of 17 African-Americans in the diaspora, specifically from the United States and the Caribbean nations present during the official launch of the operational phase in Nigerien capital, Niamey expressed interest in making substantial investments towards the success of the policy.
Among the sectors being targeted by the diasporans for immediate investment include the automobile industry, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), Information Communication Technology among other sectors of which Ghana is expected to benefit.
Between this year to 2023, a total of 600,000 SMEs and various business entities are expected to be created across the continent. According to the African Union Trade and Industry Commissioner, Ambassador Albert M. Muchanga, each SME is expected to create a minimum of five jobs, which translates to at least three million new jobs.
Since Ghana is hosting the Secretariat of the agreement, the Government will soon commence crucial multi-stakeholder discussions with the private sector on various key adjustments needed to be instituted before implementation of the policy and this will capture the attention of both importers and exporters in Ghana during the first half of this year.
The discussions are expected to empower the private sector under the overall umbrella of the Private Enterprise Foundation (PEF) and the business community consisting the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), and Ghana National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GNCCI) among others in their quest to empower the private sector to harness opportunities in the AfCFTA when its implementation commences.
In effect therefore, the discussions will serve as a platform to devise key policy initiatives and strategies aimed at supporting the private sector.
There are likely to be some other major upheavals in Ghana’s trade sector too although these are by no means certain. For instance government may take another look at its 50 percent reduction in import benchmark values, introduced last year as sharp reductions in international trade tax revenues have not generated commensurate increase in trade traffic through Ghana’s ports.
This year, agro-processing machinery purchased from Brazil by the Ghana Government through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) to enable the State effectively utilize its agricultural crop surpluses by adding value to the produce are expected to arrive.
The plan is to process the produce immediately in its raw form at the farms, and sell the processed foods to the wider markets.
This has become necessary because after more than two years of operationalization of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) programme, Ghana is now facing the challenge of adequately managing its resultant new agricultural surpluses.
Statistics from the ministry indicate that by 2018, more than 677,000 farmers out of the nearly three million selected onto the PFJ programme were already having problems in marketing their agricultural crop surpluses generated by the improved farming methods and strategies implemented in the initiative – such as use of improved seeds and fertilizer.
The surpluses in many crops such as plantain, cassava and yam are evident as they are reflected in Ghana’s statistics of food exports to neighbouring countries including Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria, Togo and other countries in the sub-region. For instance, in 2018, Ghana exported over 150,000 metric tonnes (MT) of 19 food items including maize, sorghum and soybean.
“What we are seeking to do is not just building cathedral factories, but village level agriculture machinery by putting up small factories at the village level where primary processing of their produce can take place before moving to the market”, Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto says.
Importantly this fits in perfectly with government’s one district one factory flagship initiative aimed at nationwide industrialization.
The cocoa sector will see major change this year too. COCOBOD is armed with a US$600 million medium term loan from the African Development Bank and has very useful plans for how to use it to induce significant increases in productivity in the cocoa sector. Late this year, the new pricing model for international market cocoa sales, drawn up by Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire will come into play with guaranteed improved prices for farmers and this will serve as a much needed incentive for increased production.
Norwegian investment firm Aker could launch its planned initial public offering (IPO) of Aker Energy in this year, depending on when Ghana approves the development plan of its revised US$4.4 billion Pecan oilfield. Whether it does or not, development of what will be Ghana’s most productive oilfield to date will begin.
The company, controlled by Norwegian billionaire Kjell Inge Roekke, wants to make Aker Energy a leading exploration and production company on Ghana’s continental shelf.
Aker Chief Executive Oeyvind Eriksen when asked about the IPO plans in 2019 and about the planned Pecan field development, told Reuters, “my strong views are that it’ll happen during the course of 2020.”
Aker Energy itself is confident of raising the capital it needs for the development, despite volatility in the oil and gas market.
Meanwhile, a first step towards attracting capital had already been taken last year, when Aker Energy issued subordinated convertible bonds of US$100 million to Africa Finance Corporation (AFC).
The bonds have a coupon of 5.5 percent and would be converted to equity in the event of an IPO.
Possibly, an even bigger field may also go into development during 2020, this deriving from the record sized discovery by Springfield. Definitely, a plan of development will be devised, involving a foreign technical partner which Springfield, an indigenously owned firm, will select. No matter how much progress is made towards developing what is slated to be Ghana’s 5th producing oilfield, and its biggest to date, this year will be a major victory for indigenous participation in Ghana’s upstream oil and gas industry because of Springfield’s mammoth find. There is also a good possibility that GOIL will become the next indigenous upstream oil resource owner, with exploration ongoing by Exxon, the world’s biggest producer, in a Ghanaian offshore block in which GOIL is a five percent minority partner.
Tax measures for 2020
The Finance Ministry and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) will introduce critical measures to deepen tax revenue collection in 2020.
Key to this is that the GRA, with the backing of the Ministry of Finance will see to the passage of the Revenue Administration Regulations and updated Transfer Pricing Regulations this year.
The move is laudable, and GRA has explained that the measures are intended to consolidate the gains made as a result of the implementation of reforms in the revenue sector in 2019.
The Finance Ministry has also reiterated that it is also taking a closer look at existing legislation that requires taxpayers to disclose their aggressive tax planning arrangements to drive compliance.
Albeit, there is the need to strengthen and improve the legal basis of tax policies to ensure fairness and equity in taxing individuals and businesses and this is on the agenda for 2020.
Key measures to address the challenges militating against tax mobilization in 2020, according to the GRA, will be to continue the intensification of tax education and stakeholder engagements, expedition of digitization drives to make tax payment more taxpayer-convenient and the increased registration of taxpayer identification numbers (TIN) among others.
“Beyond the Return” is 2020’s follow-up to the successful ‘Year of Return, Ghana 2019’ campaign which commemorated the 400th Anniversary of the arrival of the first recorded enslaved Africans in Jamestown Virginia in 1619. The landmark campaign also celebrated the resilience of the African over the past 400 years while creating the enabling environment to welcome all people of African origin to return to Africa especially Ghana.
The Year of Return Ghana 2019, was an completely government initiative, which ended in the first week of January, 2020. It was intended to encourage African diasporans to come to Ghana to settle and invest on the continent.
The move has put a positive spotlight on Ghana and has attracted many people of African descent, mainly from the Caribbean and the USA to Ghana in 2019.
President Akufo Addo has said as the “Year of Return” initiative came to a close, it was time to engage Africans in the Diaspora and all persons of African descent to help make Ghana and Africa a place for investment and economic development and this will be the most intense focus of tourism development policy for 2020.
The ‘Beyond the Return’ campaign is to assist those who have decided to settle in Ghana and other parts of Africa, and assimilate them into the Ghanaian society so the country can derive maximum dividends from such relationships through mutually beneficial co-operation, and as partners for shared growth and development.
Such returnees and investors from the diaspora, will have significant opportunity to participate in the development of key sectors particularly real estate and housing, starting from this year.
Another opportunity which will be readily available to Ghana as a country is the knowledge and expertise which these returnees and diasporans will bring to the economy this year and beyond.