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Business News of Monday, 23 May 2016

Source: B&FT

Ghana to present investment projects at Moscow business forum

A number of Ghanaian companies will have the opportunity to present their investment projects and network for Russian partners at the forthcoming business forum scheduled for Thursday, May 26 in Moscow.

The projects span five sectors -- natural resources, energy and power, agri-business and infrastructure development as well as tourism – and could bolster economic cooperation between the two countries.

Preparations for this forum began last year with a significant meeting between Ghana's Ambassador to the Russian Federation and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Dr. Kodzo Kpoku Alabo, and Vice-President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Georgy Petrov, at the Chamber in Moscow.

The meeting noted with keen interest to promote the investment opportunities available to government, industry, financial and business investors; and place on the agenda particularly growth-stimulating areas such as infrastructure, trade, energy, agriculture, and agro-processing.

This has been followed by a series of consultative meetings with individuals, business groups and government officials during the past few months in both Russia and Ghana.

Last week, for instance, Ambassador Alabo also held discussions with the newly-appointed Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, who is also the co-Chairman of the Ghana-Russia Permanent Joint Commission for Cooperation, Mr. Evgeny A. Kiselev.

Both shared similar sentiments of working toward effective cooperation between the two countries within the Permanent Joint Commission for Cooperation framework.

As a co-Chairman of the Ghana-Russia Permanent Joint Commission for Cooperation, Mr. Kiselev will be addressing the forum when it finally opens next week. Other key speakers are invited from Russian ministries, institutions, departments and trade organisations.

The one-day forum, organised by the Embassy of the Republic of Ghana in conjunction with the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will host more than 300 Russian companies (both large and medium-scale) and potential corporate investors looking forward to investment and businesses in Ghana.

A sizeable delegation from Ghana representing government ministries, departments, trade and industry will pitch top government priority projects and make business presentations with the aim of informing the business gathering.

Officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Industry, Power, Petroleum, Tourism and Culture are expected to attend; as are representatives from the Ghana Tourist Board, Ghana Association of Travel Agencies, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, Ghana Export Promotion Authority, Ghana Cocoa Board, Ghana Free Zones Board, Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ghana Minerals Commission, Ghana Association of Farmers and Fishermen, and Precious Minerals Marketing Company.

The Ghana Association of Farmers and Fishermen might find a market niche, as Russian authorities have been looking for potential agricultural products exporters in Latin American, Asian and African regions.

South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco have already shown their preparedness to cooperate and are looking at a wider possibilities to boost exports of agricultural products, especially fruit and vegetables, to the Russian food market to help fill in the gap after President Vladimir Putin slapped on sanctions that severely limit food imports from European countries.

Furthermore, the Ghana Tourist Board and Ghana Association of Travel Agencies have possibilities to research the market for tourism business and present tourism destinations as it could become really interesting for Russian tourists. This makes their participation most significant at this forum.

The Ghana Tourist Board is a government agency mandated to popularise the country's tourism destinations in order to attract foreign tourists from abroad. In a quick survey polled for this article, more than 20 top Russian tourism agencies indicated their readiness to seek mutually beneficial partnership with agencies in Ghana.

Russia has a huge tourism potential, and considering the stability and peaceful environment in Ghana the country can emerge as an attractive spot among Russian travellers. Besides the fact that Ghana’s coastline offers sunny beaches and scenic views, historical and cultural landmarks, the Russian tourism directors admitted in the survey that there is a possibility of developing medical tourism.

In a brief comment, Dr. Alabo said that the key aim of the forum was to create awareness among the potential investors, business leaders and industry directors about existing business and investment opportunities in some economic sectors of the Republic of Ghana.

As expected, the business forum will help to raise the level of economic cooperation through interaction among participating government officials from ministries and departments, and invited participants from carefully selected economic and industrial sectors as well as medium-scale businesses from the private sector in Russia.

Through this Ghana-Russia business forum, both Russian and Ghanaian participants will be able to reach various mutual agreements, and take steps to lay a complete road map for establishing strong commercial or economic leverage between Russia and the Republic of Ghana.

Lyubov Demidova, Deputy Chairperson of the Regional Council for Development of Relations with Africa, in an interview discussion explained that: “Such events are always useful and help representatives of the business communities get to know each other and offer a platform for business interaction. We expect more and more Ghanaian industry and business leaders to take advantage of this particular Russia-Ghana business forum”.

She believes that the business forum is one of the efforts made by authorities to continue strengthening relations between the two countries. For most Russian businesses, Ghana is an important and trustworthy partner. On the continent, Ghana remains an attractive and important destination for investors, and thus is considered as a gateway to the West Africa region.

Demidova further pointed out that business leaders from her trade organisation who will be participating in the forthcoming forum view trade and economic cooperation, education, health, science, culture among others as important spheres for mutual engagement. At the same time in Russia, she informed, there are many Russian companies ready to establish joint ventures and cooperate in various directions in Ghana.

In addition, Ghana business leaders should also learn to knock on the doors of Russian authorities with potentially viable and initiative proposals that could be mutually beneficial for both partners, she suggested; and finally concluded that: “Russian companies are not familiar with the country. Sometimes there is no clear knowledge where to invest and/or where the investment is really needed (required).

In my opinion, the first step has to come from the side that is waiting for investment: describe the industries that need investors, and the rules or regulations on which to create joint investment projects”.

The Regional Council for Development of Relations with Africa under the Chamber of Commerce and Trade (Moscow Region) was created last year to facilitate trade and corporate investment between Russia and African countries. Since its creation, it has already been working to gain market access at business-to-business level with a number of countries in Eastern and Southern Africa.