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 spanning across five sectors; natural resources, energy and power, agri-business and infrastructure development as well as tourism could bolster the economic cooperation between the two countries.
Preparations for this forum began last year with a significant meeting between the Ghana's Ambassador to the Russian Federation and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), H.E. (Dr.) Kodzo Kpoku Alabo and the 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 the government, industry, financial and business investors, and place on the agenda particularly growth-stimulating areas such as infrastructure, trade, energy, agriculture and agro-processing.
That has been followed by a series of consultative meetings with individuals, business groups and government officials during the past few months both in Russia and in Ghana.
Last week for instance, Ambassador Alabo also held discussion 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 towards the effective cooperation between the two countries within the framework of the Permanent Joint Commission for Cooperation.
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 organizations.
The one-day forum, organized 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 for 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.
According to an official document made available on Thursday, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Industry, Power, Petroleum, Tourism and Culture are expected to attend, so also representatives from Ghana Tourist Board, Ghana Association of Travel Agencies, Ghana Investment Promotion Center, 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 possibility to boost exports of agricultural products especially fruits and vegetables to Russian food market to help fill in the gap after President Vladimir Putin slapped sanctions that severely limit food imports from European countries.
Furthermore, the Ghana Tourist Board and Ghana Association of Travel Agencies have the possibilities to research the market for tourism business, 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 popularize 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 travelers. Besides the fact that the coastline offers sunny beaches and scenic views, historical and cultural landmarks, the Russian tourism directors admitted in the survey that there is 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 in 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, take steps into laying a complete road map in 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 the 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 the 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 Ghana is considered as a gateway to west Africa region.
Demidova further pointed out that business leaders from her trade organization and 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 that, there are many Russian companies ready to establish joint ventures and to 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 industry that needs 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.
Reference: Ghana and Russia have accumulated a valuable experience of mutual respect and trust for more than 50 years of cooperation in their diplomatic relations. Relations are very friendly and close. Ghana-Russia relations refers to the bilateral relationship between the two countries, Ghana and Russia. Russia has an embassy in Accra and Ghana has an embassy in Moscow.
By Kester Kenn Klomegah
Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent research writer on Russia-African affairs and a member of the Regional Council on Development of Relations with Africa.