Business News of Wednesday, 12 July 2017
Mr Michael Okyere Baafi, Executive Secretary of the Ghana Free Zones Board (GFZB), has assured investors that his outfit is charting a new strategy to improve its operations and change its face in the eyes of investors.
He said the new strategy was also to market Ghana as a destination of choice for investments that have the potential to generate exports.
Mr Baafi was speaking at the GFZB 2017 Annual Chief Executives Conference dubbed: “GFZB -Poised for Enhanced Delivery of Service,” at Koforidua in the Eastern Region.
He said the Mission of the Board was to help transform Ghana into the Gateway to West Africa by creating an attractive and conducive business environment through the provision of competitive Free Zone incentives and operation of an efficient “one-stop-shop”, for the promotion and enhancement of domestic and foreign investment.
This, Mr Baafi said, could be achieved through the promotion of economic development with the attraction of Foreign Direct Investments, creation of employment opportunities and increasing foreign exchange earnings.
He said the GFZB was committed to improve in quality service delivery in Enclave Development, Manufacturing, Service and Commercial/warehousing.
The Executive Secretary said the GFZB had tapped into the expertise of its staff to bring valuable experience, new ideas and opportunities, which would dwell on Client satisfaction, a comprehensive approach to improvement, continuous improvement and mutual respect and teamwork.
“We have also introduced speed as a business strategy to improve on quality of service delivery with regards to GFZB License and Exemption application processes, Visa application, renewal and Vehicle registration processes”.
He said the GFZB would purposefully open independent offices across the country to carry out the same functions with the reason to give investors the opportunity to gain access to different geographic markets.
“Another reason is to meet the GFZB clients’ needs who travel far and wide to seek our services. Our offices in Tema and Takoradi would be upgraded into client/investor friendly offices”.
Mr Baafi said the GFZB was introducing a number of projects, which would generate revenue for the board.
The projects include the construction of a business centre with meeting and conference halls, Event Centres, Health Care Centre and Shopping Mall and a multi-purpose office to let.
He said these projects targets investors who may not have offices to operate.
He said a tolling system would be introduced at the Tema Enclave as a scheme to stop Non-Free Zones vehicles plying the route as a thoroughfare.
“A modern conference centre within the newly constructed Head Office complex is available for rentals to FZEs at subsidised rates,” he added.
Mr Baafi said due to the alarming number of complaints from investors the GFZB would established a land acquisition unit which would be tasked to mediate, negotiate and secure problem-free properties for investors and to provide information on rights and responsibilities to both parties
He said the GFZB would soon launch its maiden ‘Investment Promotion Week Celebration’, aimed at encouraging business executives and entrepreneurs who have surplus funds to invest in the ‘Export Oriented Businesses’.
“Journalists would be invited to interact with Free Zones Enterprises (FZEs) and potential investors and would give FZEs the opportunity to discuss their benefits and challenges in a business point of view regarding the Free Zones concept,” he said.
Mr Baafi said over the years FZEs were not given the opportunity to participate in International Fairs.
He said the board had taken the decision to consciously invite enterprises to participate in International Fairs so as to interact, learn, and adopt new ideas in running their businesses.
The Executive Secretary said the Board intended to build state of the art Export Processing Zones (EPZ), which was expected to support light and heavy industrial specific businesses.
“Also two Industry-Dedicated-Sites, Eshiem and Ningo EPZs close to Takoradi and Tema Ports…have been allocated for these projects to house the anchor clients”.
He said these projects would be fully supported by Tanger Med FZ of Morocco who has pledged technical assistance in a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the two bodies.
“The GFZB recently acquired specific enclaves in Bomfah, Obomeng-Kwahu and Pong-Tamale in the Ashanti, Eastern and Northern Regions… and also in the process of acquiring lands in the other regions by the close of this year.”
Mr Baafi encouraged Offshore oil companies to join the Free Zone Programme by taking advantage of the Shama and Eshiem enclaves, which would specifically cater for the companies.
“We are also seeking both local and foreign investors to partner in the development of these enclaves through the participation of the Build, Operate and Transfer model, Joint Venture and Sector Specific Development.”
Officials of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority, Narcotics Control Board, Ghana Immigration Service, Ghana Community Network and the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority took the participants through presentations and the participants raised their concerns and frustrations they encounter during their operations.
The GFZB was established by an Act of Parliament – Free Zone Act, 1995 (Act 504).
It was designed to promote processing and manufacturing of goods and services for export and combines both enclave and single factory enterprise schemes, make Ghana accessible to potential investors.
It is a government policy implemented to promote export oriented investments and is completely driven by the private sector.