Thursday, 20 August 2009

Ghana - Power, Agriculture and AIF 2010

While visiting Ghana for the first time in several years I was fortunate to have the opportunity to call on the President, HE John Atta Mills. It was good to continue our conversation started when CBC hosted him and his team for the Ghana Investment Forum back in May in London.

During my meetings with the President and several Ministers two main themes running through the government’s programme became apparent.

Managing the proceeds of the newly discovered petroleum and gas reserves for growth and development. The President is inviting international investors to work with his government to develop the infrastructure that will make growth happen.

One of the Key restraints on Ghana’s growth and development is access to power. The county’s current capacity is around 2000 Megawatts, Ghana needs to produce around 5000 a year to match the demand. The Government is looking for investors and technology to help produce power from the country’s gas, petroleum and other sources including renewable, and in its delivery to the public.

The second theme of government policy is on agriculture. The Government is determined to enhance production and encourage commercial farming practices, to take Ghana from a net importer of food to an exporter in the shortest time possible.

Ghana, having built on the solid base of democratic principles and an open economy, is fast becoming the model of a modern African economy. I am glad to see Ghana aiming high; to achieve its goal of becoming a middle income country by 2015 the country will have to achieve growth of between 8 and 10% a year and attract international investors to help bridge the infrastructure gap.

My advice to investors everywhere is to use Ghana as the window to Africa, and join us at our Africa Investment Forum in February next year as we hold it in Ghana for the first time.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

African agriculture solution to future food shortages

In recent comments from DEFRA about Food Security in the UK, it was suggested that global food production would have to double by 2050 to feed the growing global population. The Report went on to highlight the Role Genetically Modified crops are likely to play in increasing production as higher yield crops are needed to bring production up to the required level.

While GM will have a role play in the coming years, greater emphasis should be put on Africa as a potential global supplier.

The Current state of much of the agricultural production on the continent is still subsistence based, where families or small communities produce, in many cases, barely enough to live on, let alone a surplus to export.

Africa's potential to become the food basket of the world and supply a large percentage of the Global requirement is enormous, and CBC is working with private sector partners and governments to help increase investment into agriculture across the continent. An upturn in Production has the added benefits of increasing food security, reducing the threat of famine, creating jobs and wealth and driving up the general standard of living across Africa.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Commonwealth Conversation and the Commonwealth Factor

I was very pleased to note that the Foreign Secretary the Rt Hon David Miliband has initiated the dialogue on the future role of the Commonwealth, in this 60th year of operation.

Those of us who work in the Commonwealth recognise its importance, but are disappointed by the lack of recognition the association receives. The Commonwealth is underutilized and I hope this ‘commonwealth conversation’ can help to remedy this.

I was delighted to see that the CBC was identified as one of the key organisations within the commonwealth family alongside the Secretariat and the Commonwealth Foundation, in the Foreign Secretary’s paper ‘Two Billion Voices’.

I believe that member countries benefit most from the commonwealth when they leverage the ‘commonwealth factor’, such as similar administrative, legal, financial and business practices to help enhance trade and investment in their countries. These shared features make trade easy and cheap, and CBC is delighted to have made some small contribution to the increase in Commonwealth Trade from 2 trillion to 3 trillion dollars since its inception in 1997.

The Commonwealth can become an even stronger force for good, promoting, multi party democracy, human rights, the rule of law, good governance and socially responsible market orientated economic policies. Another key factor that binds the commonwealth is the use of the English language, which is a key asset for the economic development of member countries.

Countries that subscribe to these beliefs should be welcomed into the Commonwealth Club and join in its success.