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Economy - Development | Politics

Investors decry introduction difficulties in Ghana

, 10 October - Investors from the Spanish Canary Islands, which are animated by their local government to do business with neighbouring West Africa, decry the difficulties of getting started. In Ghana, for example, slow bureaucracies and costly permits to be paid to state officials are said to be the common situation.

Ghanaian and Spanish government and business leaders this week are meeting at the Fifth Exposition of Spanish Products in Ghana, held at the Ghana Trade Fair Site in Accra. Also a large delegation from the Canary Islands is present at the Fair. While the autonomous government of the Canary Islands urges local businessmen to invest in neighbouring West Africa, some of the investors however decried their difficulties at the Fair.

Vicente Rivero is executive director of Coinca, a Canary Island company distributing products from the company Kalise in Ghana. Mr Rivero at the fair emphasises on the assumed easiness for Spanish investors in Africa, as described by government officials.

He told of investors' numerous encounters with bureaucratic traps, of paying "costly" permits and of problems that suddenly occur in the business process and that find their solution through bribes paid to Ghanaian state officials. Mr Rivero's tales were recognised by a large number of other foreign businessmen installed in the country.

The Canary Island businessman told the special correspondent of ACN Press in Accra that his company had been present in Ghana since May this year. He however noted that, to be able to open the doors of his company, he had to obtain up to eight different permits from Ghanaian authorities, and one of these had cost him euros 300,000. Mr Rivero assumed he had spent a total of euros 800,000 in these permits.

According to the Coinca executive director, "it costs many years of work and many economic sacrifices to be able to get definitively installed in an African country," no matter what type of businesses. He maintained that "achieving this objective isn't easy, but it isn't impossible," and added that also he wanted to animate other Spanish businessmen to start investing and exporting to Africa.

Other sources reveal that the payment of mentioned permits to Ghanaian authorities is usually not enough to have the ball rolling as it is normal that the same administration gets delayed in issuing the permits, with no reasons given. The delay is however abruptly ended when a bribe is paid to state officials at the delaying department.

Mr Rivero further lamented that the international flight and seaway connections with Ghana were "insufficient and very expensive" to enable him to ship products from the Canary Islands to West Africa. He thus demanded more support from the governments of Spain and the Canary Islands and from business associations to enable investors to realise the door-opening to West Africa that they talked so warmly about.

Other sources contacted further admitted that it also happened "all too often" that containers sent from the Canary Islands to Ghana and other African countries were "opened before arriving their destination and that on many occasions a big part of the products that should reach us without problems simply disappears."

The autonomous Spanish Canary Islands are located just off North-West Africa. Lately, both the island's government and their chambers of commerce have focused on trade with neighbouring Western Africa. Canary Island businessmen especially focus on Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal and the Cape Verde islands. Secondary, focus is on Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire and Nigeria.

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