Interview with Søren Robenhagen
– Commercial Attaché, Embassy of Denmark, Accra, Ghana
You have been supporting the BIC’s African Vision project for some time. How would you evaluate the progress and BIC’s preparations?
Is it doing well?
I have been involved in supporting BIC’s African Vision right from the beginning which started with their participation in the state visit in November last year. BIC have since then been very determined to reach their goal of setting up an operation in West Africa with a strong focus on creating continuous progress. BIC have managed this investing time and resources in visiting the market to get a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges but also to collect important information and facts for developing their strategy. I would say that BIC has been very well prepared and have taken a very professional approach towards the project. So all in all BIC is doing very well with project.
What do you think about the BIC’s project? How big is the chance to succeed?
I think it’s a very good project because it touches upon some very important issues here in Ghana and West Africa, namely job creation, knowledge transfer and creating economic growth but also at the same time exploring the many opportunities that lies in the Sub-Saharan Africa. With the dedication that BIC have shown I’m confident that they will succeed.
How long have you been living in Ghana?
I have lived almost 1.5 year in Ghana now.
How much has Ghana and the West African region changed during past 5-10 years?
West Africa and especially Ghana have shown some impressive growth rates the last 10 years and the trend is a continued growth of about 5-7%.
Which sectors in Ghana / West Africa are developing the most?
In Ghana the oil & gas and industrial sectors are developing very fast, but there is also a strong focus on modernizing the agriculture sector, ICT and other sectors.
Where do you see the biggest potential for BIC? I see a large potential for BIC within the oil & gas and industrial sector. The latter fueled by the government flagship program One District One Factory that will help facilitate expansion of existing and building of new factories in the country’s more than 250 districts. A lot of these factories will have modern European machinery installed which will create a potential pipeline for BIC.
Foreign investments – which countries are most present recently? Which sectors?
The Chinese are very active in Africa, this also includes West Africa. We also see more investments from India, Turkey and of cause US and Europe – especially UK and France. This is within many different sectors such as services, manufacturing, mining, energy including oil & gas, food and agriculture and the industrial/manufacturing sector.
What is your observation reg. Danish companies in Africa?
There is an increased interest from Danish companies to explore the opportunities in West Africa and Ghana is an easier country to start up in, why many Danish companies chose to establish their West African hub in Ghana. Almost all of the larger Danish companies are already operating in Sub-Saharan Africa, but more and more of the Small and Medium sized companies are starting to eye the opportunities in SSA.
Starting the business in Africa is a challenge. How are the companies being supported?
Starting a business in Ghana or West Africa is not without challenges, but they can be overcome with proper advice. The Trade Council helps Danish companies overcome of the challenges and offer a wide range of services including market research, partner search, addressing trade barriers, stakeholder mapping and management, registration of company and establishment including office incubator facilities and recruitment but The Trade Council also helps with setting up meetings with potential customers and arrange promotional events. The Embassy also has an important role in improving the framework conditions in Ghana both bilateral with the Government of Ghana but also through a coordinated effort with EU delegation here in Ghana.
Danida is also supporting companies with feasibility studies, developing sustainable partnerships, skills development of local staff / partners, business advocacy and better access to finance.
In the upcoming weeks and months we will host some West African technicians in our company.
How would you describe Ghanaians? What we will like the most in them? 😊
Ghanaians are very happy and smiling people. They are very talkative and have a similar humor to the Danish.