The past year has shown low rates of economic growth in Ghana, with Bloomberg rating the cedi as one of the worst-performing currencies in the world. Concerns over the country’s short-to-medium-term economic prospects have prompted its recent outreach to the International Monetary Fund and listing its third Eurobond on the Ghana Stock Exchange to shore up its finances.
For a nation that has maintained an average annual growth rate of 6 per cent over the past six years, Ghana is determined to reverse the current climate with an accelerated growth tactic known as the “home-grown” strategy.
A recent visit to the UK from Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama continued discussions of the proposed policy, which will set out to create more employment opportunities, reduce foreign exchange, and enhance the country’s agricultural, transport and trade industries.
He said that while Ghana exports large amounts of gold, cocoa, timber and minerals, one of the main drivers of the deficit leans towards uncontrolled spending on imports. Ghana imports almost all of its consumer goods, including foods that authorities are confident it can produce itself. In 2013 alone, it cost the nation US$467.2 million to import rice; US$217.2 million to import sugar and US$234.4 million to import vegetable oil. The trade industry is largely based on selling the country’s raw materials then buying back the finished product and in 2013, funds spent on imports far exceeded the amount earned on exports, putting the country in a very precarious position.
For ordinary people, the price of imported commodities creates a huge impact on the cost of living, particularly with inflation running at 14.8 per cent. Consumer prices have risen and business owners fear losing their customers.
But with all this said, Ghana maintains a positive outlook committed to the growth and acceleration of the country and to that end millions of US dollars have been pumped into development programmes nationwide as part of the “home grown” strategy.
In October 2014, the government of Ghana approved a total of US$19 million to build three pharmaceutical manufacturing companies, and the Export Trade, Agricultural and Industrial Development Fund requested a further US$8.9 million to build new factories and expand existing factories to meet the World Health Organization’s Good Manufacturing Practice standards.
US$15 million has so far been awarded by the government to support several poultry farmers with the aim of reducing the importation of poultry, and work has commenced on the construction of a new sugar processing plant in the Central Region of Ghana, one of two plants to help reduce the importation of sugar.
Procurement lawyers are gearing up for the changes in government spending and we list three “top” experts who specialise in this area.
Last year we recognised the contribution the financial sector had on the performance of the country and this year and further developments have raised the future of the economic profile. A rise in the popularity of public-private partnerships and an increase in interest rates have contributed to activity in the market. We recognise 21 practitioners, a small decline from last year, with solid experience in the financial field.
The energy sector remains a strong area of growth and last year we highlighted the huge potential revenues of the crude oil industry. This year the government of Ghana has increased the production of solar plants in its aim for the country to become the first to get 6 per cent of its energy from solar generation by 2016. The Nzema project based in the capital is the largest solar energy plant in Africa and will be able to provide electricity to more than 100,000 homes. The 155-megawatt plant will also increase Ghana’s electricity generating capacity by 6 per cent, and we list 10 “outstanding” lawyers who “shine” for their work in this sector.
Despite the activity in the energy sector, current trends indicate that the government of Ghana is committed to diversifying the economy to ensure that the energy sector does not become the sole driver of the financial system.
The Bank Group’s strategy for supporting Ghana’s development will oversee plans to create a positive impact on green growth, economic diversification and job creation through enterprises and businesses particularly in the telecommunications sector. We list five lawyers in our telecoms chapter, a slight increase on last year.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) continue to contribute to almost half of the country’s GDP, with the bulk of SMEs stemming from the services sector - particularly hotels, restaurants, transport and real estate. However, the business sector is also feeling the burden of the economic despair. Last year we recounted that the World Bank’s annual Doing Business report ranked Ghana 63rd in the world for ease of doing business. This year the ranking dropped to 69th, creating more issues for corporate lawyers. We list 24 corporate lawyers in this year’s edition – an increase of five from last year.
In 2015 the economy is expected to register a robust growth of around 8 per cent, bolstered by improved oil and gas production, increased private-sector investment and sustained political stability. Though this year reflected major weaknesses in the Ghanaian economy, recent developments have shown that the nation’s demands for more a sustainable infrastructure are not far off being achieved.
Arbitration is fast becoming one of the most popular forms of dispute resolution in Ghana, with many seeing it as a necessary step towards boosting investor confidence in the country’s main sectors. Listed below are 11 leading experts in this area.
Litigation in Ghana is often considered a last resort in many disputes, but with the increase in business activity, the “highly expensive but effective” form of dispute resolution remains a busy area for lawyers. We identify 14 practitioners who stand out in for their litigation practice.
Corporate lawyers in Ghana are in high demand as global and national enterprises seek effective structures to help them survive a challenging business climate. Up five from last year, we list 24 leading practitioners in this chapter.
The energy industry in Ghana remains very fruitful. With solar plant developments and plans to increase Ghana’s electricity supply by 2016, energy lawyers are gearing up for one of the busiest seasons yet. We list 11 experts with strong expertise in this area.
The government of Ghana recently listed its third Eurobond on the Ghana Stock Exchange to help tow the country out of a weak infrastructural state. Seth Terkper, the Finance Minister, suggested that its “wide infrastructural gap” can only be closed by tapping into long-term financing options and thus this newest solution is expected to attract prospective investors to buy and trade on the market. Lawyers are preparing themselves for a huge upsurge in activity and we list 21 of the best finance practitioners in the country.
An increase in corporate immigration activity has led to stricter rules regarding international work permits – particularly within the energy sector. Although the general consensus conveys a thriving marketplace, lawyers are dealing with an increased workload including sanctions for non-compliance matters, applications for salary increases and cases concerning the threat of strike action from large corporations and government firms. We list seven lawyers with experience in this extremely busy marketplace.
Mining activity in Ghana has wound down. Financing for the sector has decreased rapidly and the cost of gold, diamonds and limestone has declined. Although activity remains slow, we list seven practitioners who show particular strengths in this industry.
Ghana is working towards a more sustainable public procurement system where public funds are spent on products, services or projects that achieve value for money over the period of a lifetime. Public procurement lawyers are adapting to this change and we list three leading experts, all from AB & David Law Affiliates, who stand out for their work in this area.
Telecommunications is fast becoming a dominating industry in Ghana. As operators continue to invest in high-speed networks and competition between mobile phone providers intensifies, the future for the communications sector is showing strong promise and we list five practitioners, an increase on last year, who are highly skilled in this sector.
Known as “one of the most successful full-service firms in Ghana”, AB & David’s achievements are reflected in this year’s research, with eight listings over five practice areas.
Bentsi-Enchill Letsa & Ankomah is the leading firm in our research with 11 listings across six practice areas. With over three decades since its incorporation, the firm is known as a home to some of the most “well respected leaders” in the legal industry.
With six listings across three practices areas, the “very popular” Minkah-Premo & Co provides “effective legal solutions” to over 10 corporate and commercial sectors including finance, mining, real estate, insurance and manufacturing.
Oxford & Beaumont Solicitors is one of the pre-eminent law firms in the Ghanaian market and the only one of our leading firms with a London office. The firm focuses on corporate and commercial work and is represented by six listings across four chapters in this year’s research.
Part of the DLA Piper Africa Group, Reindorf Chambers provides services within the finance, corporate, dispute resolution, employment, energy and telecommunications sectors. It achieves eight listings across five sectors and is a “dominant” player in the legal market.
Founded in 1971, Sam Okudzeto & Associates is one of the pioneering law firms in Ghana and is made up of 17 lawyers experienced in corporate and commercial practices such as mining, labour, international trade and investment, finance, real estate and transport law. The firm is represented by seven listings across five chapters in our research.
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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.