Local company on Ghana’s hub potentialDecember 5, 2018
Nana Asenso-Okyere, the CEO of Nyna Oil, talks to TOGY about Ghana’s potential as a hub, the challenges for foreign companies in the country and the Petroleum Commission’s licensing process. Nyna Oil is a wholly Ghanaian company that offers services ranging from workforce supply, human resources training and development to maintenance, sanitation and general consultancy services.
• On security: “We do not produce as much as Angola or Nigeria, but everyone wants to come to Ghana. We do not have the capacity to attract such big players, but the country is attractive, stable and business friendly.”
• On the business climate: “It is too difficult for foreigners to open a business here. They should soften the regulatory barriers. There are multiple steps you have to take, whereas in other countries you could do the same thing in one step.”
• On competition: “There is a little monopoly in Ghana’s oil industry, worldwide also. It is a very closed sector as companies do not want new people in.”
Most TOGY interviews are published exclusively on our business intelligence platform, TOGYiN, but you can find an abridged version of our interview with Nana Asenso-Okyere below.
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The government is trying to make Ghana a petroleum hub. Do you believe the Western Region is the ideal location?
Definitely. Ghana has the zeal. I know people who used to do freight forwarding for other companies and now are focused on oil and gas. We are gradually building a whole economy around oil and gas.
We have learned our lessons and started local content early. We will not have the problems they have had in Nigeria because we are putting the local people into business. We are gradually getting to where almost everyone in the country has some idea of oil and gas, and we are building expertise around it.
We are building refineries and warehouses. We are developing lawyers and bankers who are specialised in oil and gas. If you go to most commercial banks, they have specific desks for oil and gas. We have government agencies for oil and gas. We are really heading towards becoming a hub. We are open for business and ready to hype Ghana on the international stage so everyone knows that we are the country to come to.
We do not produce as much as Angola or Nigeria, but everyone wants to come to Ghana. We do not have the capacity to attract such big players, but the country is attractive, stable and business friendly. The systems are in place, not to forget that it is safe. When we discovered oil, we set up marine police just for oil and gas, so we have put our systems in place. The NPP government put these systems in place. The NDC government improved on it, and now the NPP is back to the same systems in place.
How would you describe the oil and gas industry in Ghana?
Ghana does not have the capacity yet. We still need foreign companies. Springfield have an exploration company now and they have operated in Nigeria, so they have some expertise, but apart from them there is no company in Ghana that has experience and expertise to do exploration and production. We need foreign companies and we need to make it more lucrative and attractive to them to want to open up here.
However, the business environment is quite hostile for foreign companies in Ghana. It is too difficult for foreigners to open a business here. They should soften the regulatory barriers. There are multiple steps you have to take, whereas in other countries you could do the same thing in one step.
GIPC [Ghana Investment Promotion Centre] has a minimum capital requirement, which is too high for small companies, and you cannot expect to have that amount of money before you can open here. Ghana should want to attract someone, probably like a petroleum engineer with about 20 years of experience, who wants to start a new company and thinks Ghana is the right way to start. He probably has around USD 50,000, he moves to Ghana, rents a house and office, and then starts. We have made it too difficult for them to start. It should be easy because we want and need the investment and expertise.
How would you describe the process of getting the licence for activity from the Petroleum Commission?
It is a very comprehensive process. You have to pay your taxes and social security for your workers and have a good HSE and business plan. It is not like any other business. You have to have your books in order. It is not a difficult process, but it is a learning process and teaches you a lot because they are probably the most supportive regulators I have worked with. They send you information periodically and they are very helpful to local companies. For example, I recently received an email from the Petroleum Commission saying they would send a trade delegation to Norway for partnerships. I will go with them to look for partners or JVs.
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