In the past few days, we visited quite a few local companies and organizations in Ghana.
Data Bank was the first bank we visited. Ken Ofori-Atta; Chairman of the bank and author of “Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Values” started the conversation. He said 60% of population is under 35 and only 10% of population uses a bank; change can happen at any time and anything can change. There were opportunities for transformation; not only for Ghana but also the continent. He was a very soft spoken and spiritual leader.
Ghana Commercial Bank used to be the largest bank in Ghana and has existed for 57 years. It was listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange in 1996. It has $67,000 of loans to individuals because of Ghana’s culture of distrusting banks and a high interest rate. In the next six months, they will launch new products to improve lending.
We talked to some passionate politicians in the Parliament. They debated between themselves when they answered our questions. They were eager to share their thoughts and needed to be reminded about the available time. They felt they had an endowed country with unique rights. They have no power over finance nor can they make a decision on anything that has a financial implication.
We visited the Ghana stock exchange. It had 11 listed companies in 1990 and now has 35 listed companies. The Bank of Ghana supervises the Exchange. On March 27th, 2009, it launched its automated systems by using funding from a World Bank loan. They transformed the trading process to near real-time and received a reward for innovation.
Ghana National Petroleum Corp shared with us their oil production process and the oil industry value chain. They have also started to produce natural gas.
Vesterergaard Frandsen West Africa shared with us their water purification device and their cause-related marketing. The Regional director, Michael Steen Lunde was very humorous. He said that to do business in Africa is high risk and has a high reward.
We visited one of Anglo Ashanti mining sites and their office. We learned that there were two mining sites with a projected thirty year life. Ashanti merged with Anglo during the 1980s when gold price had a significant drop.
All of the companies that we visited provided us with food and drink. We were well taken care of. They prepared power point presentations to share information with us and answered our questions with an open and friendly presence. I found their hospitality very impressive.