The US Ambassador to Ghana, Robert Jackson, has cited the high cost of air travel and the undue delays in visa acquisition as two major challenges for foreign businessmen who wish to invest in Ghana.
According to him, the development has compelled most investors to divert attention to other countries within the sub-region as businesses are more lucrative there.
Ghana’s trade volume with the US is estimated at $1.2billion, with the US contributing about $900million of that figure.
The US Ambassador made the observation when he paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Business Development, Mohammed Awal, in Accra.
“There are some things that are also holding them (investors) back like very expensive travel costs here. Your airport is very expensive relative to other airports. Secondly, we see that the speed with which your embassy in the United States processes visas is about three weeks. I know we have our own visa issues but we process all of our visas within 48 hours. I don’t know what process occurs in your embassies overseas but I know some of your embassies in Europe are faster than your embassy in the US,” he stated.
For his part, Mr Awal said his ministry was seeking to partner the America Chamber of Commerce to train Ghanaian tertiary students on the job to give them work experience and the skills to own their businesses after they come out of school.
“We want to identify young brilliant Ghanaian men and women in the tertiary institutions, that is universities and polytechnics, so that I can link them up to these businesses. By the time they finish school they will have some skill set. They will not be only job seekers but job owners. It is only that that we can expand the frontiers of business… So we want to have a relationship with the America Chamber of Commerce where we are able to assign some of our young men and women from the polytechnics and universities where they can learn on the job in all sectors of the economy. We want to grow Ghanaian men and women into global competitive businesses and we want to count on you. This ministry was set up to ensure that obstacles to businesses are removed and the first port of call is that we are not interested in bribe issues,” he stated.