Indian IT firms urged to head for Ghana | SupportBiz


Indian IT firms urged to head for Ghana

Ghana is the ideal investment destination for Indian IT companies, which could also leverage on a $40 million World Bank grant for an e-governance project, a leading Indian businessman in Accra says.

"Ghana has lower labour costs. The same time zone as Europe, cheaper bandwidth costs, lower taxation and many more benefits make Ghana the ideal place for opening call centres or making any other IT specific investment. What has also added to the country's attraction is a World Bank grant of $40 million for the eGhana project which needs to be used in the next two years," Amar Hari, CEO of IPMC (Indian Intercom Programming and Manufacturing Company), told IANS.

Hari has been roped in by the Ghana Investment Promotion Authority (GIPA) as its brand ambassador for getting more investments from India.

It's not that Indian investors are unfamiliar with Ghana.

While there are no reliable figures available, Indian investments "run into billions of dollars. It dates back to the colonial days when Indians came to the Gold Coast (as the country was then called)," a GIPA official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Indian investors have pumped in $10 million in the first two quarters of the current year alone and rank third behind the British Virgin Islands and China. Prominent Indian companies that have a presence in Ghana include Airtel, NIIT, the Tata group and construction major Shapoorji Pallonji. This apart, the Melcom group that has interests in retail, electronics and tours and travels, is headed by a prominent NRI, Bhagwan Khubchandani.

Hari attributed Indian interest in Ghana to the historic ties between the two countries from the days of the first president Kwame Nkrumah, when Jawaharlal Nehru was India's first prime minister.

"There is a Jawaharlal Nehru Road and the first house on that road is the Indian high commissioner's residence," he added.

He said there is a good telecommunication network with landlines, mobile phones and cheap broadband internet access. In addition, there are a vibrant banking industry and well-established ports.

"Ghana is the only country in Africa after Mauritius where the customs department is online. Whether you are an importer or exporter, all you need is a PC in your office," he said, adding that attributes like this have placed Ghana in a strategic position to attract investors.

"Countries are courting West Africa because oil has been discovered off its shores. It is projected that West Africa will be the next Middle East and Ghana will be the next Dubai," Hari added.

Rated among the top 10 of Ghana Club 100 businesses and in its 20th year of distributing IT products and providing IT solutions & training, Hari's IPMC is one of West Africa's largest IT companies with a 600-plus workforce and footprint on 19 locations. With its $10 million worth of local IT inventory and $50 million turnover, IPMC is facilitating the growth of IT infrastructure and serves as many as 8,000-plus businesses in the region, supported by 50-plus suppliers globally.

The eGhana project is meant to develop the IT Enabled Services industry and contribute to improved efficiency and transparency of selected government functions through e-governance applications.