Accra – making a name for itself as one of Africa’s top business destinations

The deVere group opened an office in Accra just over 16 months ago, and the firm has further expansion plans for the country. “I know in 2012 Ghana was rated the fastest growing economy in the world,” he added. “We were literally totally surprised about the opportunity that exists there.”

South African coffee shop brand, vida e caffé, has stated its intention to enter other countries on the continent. Managing director of vida, Grant Dutton, told How we made it in Africa that he views Accra as an African city where the brand should do well.

“From a Ghana point of view you have a growth economy, so we know that,” said Dutton. “We have a scenario where it’s a lot easier to do business than a lot of African nations. There are many dynamics, but firstly it’s peaceful. There is the first tick. It’s safe to visit… trade is easy to do… So it ticks a lot of boxes.”

This year global research firm, Euromonitor International, recognised Ghana as being among the top five African frontier economies, outside of the larger and relatively well known markets of South Africa and Nigeria.

According to Media Eghbal, the country insight managing editor at Euromonitor, Ghana’s economy has seen strong growth due to stable governance and a wealth of commodity resources such as gold, cocoa and, more recently, oil. In 2007, off-shore oil reserves were discovered – catalysing foreign interest – and production started in 2010.

“The country has recently become an oil producer, which should lift economic growth in the medium term,” stated Eghbal. “As a result, Ghana has attracted strong capital inflows, especially to the oil industry.”

Euromonitor has also identified the economy as being a retail hot spot, with the growth of a mall culture, formal retail infrastructure, and a number of established brands entering the space to meet the demands of a rising consumer class.

In addition, Ghana has a mature mobile telecommunications infrastructure and it is estimated that more than 60% of the population are mobile phone subscribers.

However, the country still faces a number of challenges. According to Elikem Kuenyehia, founding partner at Oxford and Beaumont solicitors in Accra, access to credit is still the biggest barrier for business operations and growth for the many local entrepreneurs within Ghana.

“Without a proper credit referencing system and adequate information about companies, industries and opportunities, banks find it difficult to make credit evaluations. As a result banks treat entrepreneurs as an amorphous set and demand the same collateral package regardless of business sector or industry, instead of evaluating each proposal separately,” explained Kuenyehia. “It is near impossible for most SMEs to obtain credit from banks in Ghana without collateral.”

Nevertheless, the development of Ghana’s infrastructure (catalysed in part by the discovery of off-shore oil reserves) and the country’s movement to political stability, has paved the way to sustainable economic growth and attracted foreign attention across a variety of sectors.