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Ghana Elections: Nail-biting polls keep investors on edge

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The stalemate in Ghana’s presidential elections is causing some anxiety among the investor community, according to a report carried by the Daily Graphic, Ghana’s leading newspaper.

The newspaper says local business owners are going through stressful times trying to convince their foreign partners to remain calm, stay in the country and keep their businesses running.

Some of the difficulties the entrepreneurs faced according to the Daily Graphic was to counter news of riots in the streets and incidents of violence in some parts of the country.

The paper quoted an anonymous consultant as saying to his German enquirer, “this is a normal political process by which we select our next leaders. This is mainly because of the closeness of the polls, which has understandably created anxiety among supporters of the two political parties.”

The two political parties contending for the very close election are the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).

The votes likely to decide the eventual winner after two elections on December 7 and December 28, 2008 failed to elect an outright winner is ongoing at the Tain constituency in the Brong Ahafo region, Friday January 2, 2009.

The NPP have reportedly boycotted the elections, but the Electoral Commission (EC) is going ahead with the polls.

The report indicated that one foreign investor has plans of postponing his flight to Ghana for business. The investor the report said has been persuaded by the local consultant not to reschedule his flight to Ghana, which is in the middle of January to February 2009.

The local consultant was also said to have dispelled rumours that there have been a military take-over and Ghanaians are fleeing the country to neighbouring countries.

The concerns of the investor community is based on the electoral antecedents on the continent in countries like Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire and Zimbabwe.

The newspaper made reference to Ghana’s oil find. Ghana would start earning revenue from oil in 2010.

One of the companies drilling for oil in Ghana for instance, UK registered Tullow says it is focusing on exploration and development of fields in Uganda and Ghana. It intends to invest at least $3.1 billion in the first phase of its Jubilee field development in Ghana, with crude production expected to start in the second half of 2010.

According to the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Paul McDade, the company plans to pump 68,000 to 70,000 barrels of oil a day in 2008 and output is expected to stay “flat” in the next two years.

There are projections that the oil industry would create an estimated $5 billion ancillary industry.

According to the Country Leader of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Mr. Charles Egan, the concerns of the international investor community is legitimate, considering the past and recent African history, the newspaper reported.

He was also quoted by the newspaper saying, “we have to begin to do more to assure the world that Ghana presents a different case and that nothing will happen before and after the elections.”

The EC would be set to announce the results of the Tain constituency after all the votes have been counted and certified, and barring any possible legal encumbrances, it would announce the winner of the elections who would be sworn into office January 7, 2009 as the third president of the Fourth Republic of Ghana.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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