Why Africa's richest province Gauteng is looking to drive investment into West Africa

PUBLISHED: Mon, 20 Feb 2017 06:41:10 GMT
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The Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA) is looking for opportunities in East and West Africa in a bid to encourage business growth and economic prosperity in these respective regions. This is according to Saki Zamxaka, the Chief Executive Officer of the GGDA. 

READ:Africa’s richest province Gauteng is working hard to attract businesses

Speaking at a panel discussion in Ghana, organised by CNBC Africa, on how the agency could improve business relations between Gauteng and West Africa he said: “Some of the companies here [in South Africa] have grown to the point that the South African market is not enough for them. They need to look at markets outside.” 

He also stressed the need to attract expertise from West Africa into Gauteng, to improve growth prospects. 

“We’re open for business and we’re open to learn from what other people are doing.” The chief executive added. 

Gauteng generates a third of South Africa’s gross domestic product. Zamxaka boasts that the province is the factory of Southern Africa. 

His position is one that South African High Commissioner to Ghana, Lulu Xingwana agrees with. Using Ghana as an example she pointed out industrial similarities and comparative advantages that both countries could leverage on for mutual development. 

She said: “We have a lot in common with Ghana. Both of us are mining countries. Both of us are agricultural countries and both of us have great opportunities in agriculture.”

“You have some of the most brilliant engineers and technicians, scientists. We need your skills your experiences and expertise. So we’re inviting you to come and invest in South Africa.” She later added. 

The invitation for partnership was well received by some captains of industry including Alhassan Andani, the Chief Executive and Executive Director of Stanbic, Ghana. However, he said that the Ghanaian government had some work to do in improving the business environment especially where policy is concerned. 

“Actions speak louder than words. Policy is words, words, words. Private enterprises getting on to the ground and doing things is action and that’s where policy is tested out.” 

He emphasised that that there could be improvements in the length of time it takes to get through the bureaucratic red tape. 

“It takes a long time to get services that MNCs need. Delays need to be dealt with.” He said.

Carl Nelson, the Chief Operating Officer of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre pointed to a new law passed in parliament that could help improve the ease of conducting business in Ghana.

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He said: “In our new law we have a technical committee that reviews the economic climate from time to time and advises on the kind of policies or incentives that need to be put in place to make sure that investors are interested and to make the economy attractive.” 

He asserted that the policy infrastructure could not remain static if Ghana hopes to continue to attract foreign direct investment. “Things change and as things change the policies must change to reflect the current situation.” He said. 

Ghana’s efforts in improving the business environment were acknowledged by Eric Asubonteng, the Managing Director of the AngloGold Ashanti Obuasi Mine, the product of the merger between a South African mining company and a Ghanaian one in 2004. He said, “The fundamental attraction in Ghana that brought us in hasn’t changed. If anything at all it has improved and that has a lot to do with the fact that Ghana is a stable democracy and has been so for a long time.”