By Kester Kenn
Klomegah (GNA’s Moscow Bureau Chief)
Moscow, May 31, GNA - The Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted on Thursday the Russia-Ghana business forum which attracted representatives from Russian industrial and commercial sectors. The forum was also attended by a Ghanaian delegation.
It was meant to highlight investment opportunities as well as find ways of promoting trade between the two countries. There were various presentations on the economic and investment potential of Ghana.
In a welcome speech, Ghana's Ambassador to the Russian Federation and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Dr. Kodzo Kpoku Alabo, noted that Ghana is rich in gold and diamond, in addition to which it recently found oil and gas reserves.
According to him, Ghana is investing heavily in industries including agriculture, timber processing, telecommunications and tourism. He also told the business gathering that the country‘s stable political atmosphere contributes to the attraction of foreign investors, and expressed the hope that Russian investors and business people would engage in joint projects with local Ghanaian partners.
Russia and Ghana are linked by nearly 60 years of diplomatic relations, but business relations are not well developed, as markets in both countries still remain largely untapped and unexploited.
Ghana is one of the fastest developing countries on the African continent, interested in attracting foreign capital. The factors that attract foreign investors to Ghana can be attributed to the favorable investment climate, rapidly developing infrastructure and a skilled labour force. The country has developed a stable political environment in the last two decades, leading to economic growth.
In his contribution, the Russian Vice-President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Vladimir Padalko noted that relations between Russia and Ghana can be regarded as f riendly and partnership. In recent years, constructive dialogue at the political level, both in bilateral and multilateral formats, have been established between the countries.
However, it has to be acknowledged that the economic activity between Russia and Ghana is insignificant. Ghana is Russia’s 6th trade partner among African countries South of the Sahara. In 2015, bilateral trade increased by 32 per cent and amounted to $216 million dollars.
Mr Padalko pointed out that perspective directions of bilateral trade, economic and investment cooperation between the two countries include mining, energy, housing, utilities, transport infrastructure, agriculture, information technology, telecommunications, tourism and health.
But a significant deterrent to the development of bilateral relations is the absence of information on Russian companies doing business in Ghana. To resolve this task, the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2009 created the Coordinating Committee on Economic Cooperation with Africa (South of Sahara), combining about 120 Russian companies and organizations interested in working on African issues.
Mr Padalko therefore urged representatives of Russian companies to make relentless efforts to obtain the most relevant information about the current economic situation in Ghana, its investment potential, as well as discuss promising areas of business in the country.
In his discussion, the Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, who is also the co-Chairman of the Intergovernmental Russia-Ghana Commission on Trade-Economic and Scientific-Technical Cooperation, Mr. Yevgeny A. Kiselyov, drew attention to the implementation of the already signed agreements between Russia and Ghana, in particular, the contract Russian State Corporation "Rosatom", with the Government of the Republic of Ghana on cooperation in the field of nuclear energy. According to Kiselyov, Ghana also has excellent prospects as a country with a large number of minerals.
Mr Alexander Dianov, the Deputy Chairman of the Intergovernmental Russia-Ghana Commission on Trade-Economic and Scientific-Technical Cooperation, said with the resumption of the work mechanism, the Commission must significantly step up cooperation in trade, economic and scientific-technical spheres.
Speakers at the forum expressed the optimism that both Russia and Ghana had the chance to strengthen their business contacts, increase exchange of visits and participation in economic events to significantly promote trade and investment between the two sides.
Russia and Ghana will soon sign two agreements, one on protection of investment and the other on avoidance of double taxation, as additional measures to bolster mutually beneficial economic cooperation.