The future of entrepreneurship in Ghana is very bright, thanks to innovators and ecosystem facilitators working tirelessly to create lasting change. As we round off what has been the best year in Ghana’s entrepreneurship ecosystem, I want to share some predictions for 2019.
About this time last year, I wrote that the Ghanaian entrepreneurship ecosystem will see an incremental growth from this year, 2018. Well, true to that prediction, the ecosystem has, indeed, flourished. There have been remarkable projects like Google’s AI center, U.S-Ghana Business forum, Vice-Chancellor Merkel’s visit, Germany Ghana Investors Forum, UK-Ghana Investment Summit, the inaugural Student Entrepreneurship Week, Euromoney Conference, Prince Charle’s visit and so on.
From increased funding to new startup clusters to foreign direct investment, below are my predictions about the future of entrepreneurship in Ghana.
Number 1: An upward funding trend – Startup funding to triple
Startups in Ghana raised about $20.4M in 2017, an improvement from the $8.67M raised the previous year. As at January 2018, African Tech Startups Funding Report released by tech startup news and research platform Disrupt Africa recorded that startups in Ghana had already raised $22.3M. By the end of December 2018, interest in funding Ghanaian startups may have increased by more than 150% from last year.
With this in mind, my prediction is that the startup funding revolution will continue to unwind. In fact, I think there will be three times more investment in Ghana’s tech ecosystem in 2019. Unsurprisingly, we shall see more interests in fintech, followed by e-commerce (e-commerce could reach a growth margin of 56% by 2020) and agri-tech. Also, with the increasing need for innovation in Ghana’s education system, I foresee a spike in education funding by 2019.
Number 2: Beyond Silicon Accra – An emergence of new startup clusters
There are three major players that make up every functional ecosystem: entrepreneurs, investors, and enablers (tech hubs, universities, corporates, and the government). The future of entrepreneurship in Ghana will go beyond Accra.
For a very long time and often to the concern of various stakeholders, many activities and innovations in Ghana’s entrepreneurship space take place in Accra. In fact, most of the startups that raised funding in Ghana this year work in or from Accra. More so, a greater number of events in Ghana’s entrepreneurship space happens here, in Accra.
However, there has been a progressive argument on the need to decongest the metropolitan city to make these opportunities equally distributed across the country.
I predict that from 2019, we shall see a sprout of startup clusters elsewhere like Kumasi, Tamale, and Takoradi. In my opinion, Kumasi is prime for a considerable amount of the action. Hapa Space and Kumasi hive – two of the active hubs in Kumasi – are laying the bricks through partnerships with institutions like British Council, The Indigo Trust, and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). Tamale is known for its clean air, good road network and is only 618.22 km from Accra. These are some of the merits for a “peace of mind” for entrepreneurs seeking to escape the high cost of living and traffic congestion in Accra.
Number 3: A hotbed for FDI and increased multi-stakeholder collaborations
With Nigeria going into a definitive Presidential election, I foresee that Ghana will be the focus of many foreign direct investments in West Africa in the New Year.
According to provisional figures put forward by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) for Ghana from January to September has hit 1.3 billion dollars. The IMF records that Ghana experienced a 6.3% economic growth in 2018 and is among the top ten fastest-growing economies on the continent.
On the heels of Chancellor Merkel’s visit in August, three German companies – Volkswagen, Robert Bosch Packaging Technology GmbH, and Voith Hydro Holding GmbH & Co KG – signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with Ghana to invest in economic transforming projects such as energy, health, and automobile. Nissan was also reported to have signed an MoU to work with the Ghanaian government to set up an automotive manufacturing industry in the country.
Granted, the recent shake-up in the banking sector and consistent fluctuations in the exchange rate has left some investors in doubt about the future of entrepreneurship in Ghana. Nevertheless, I think Ghana will see more international economic transactions as well as an increased multi-stakeholder collaboration in 2019. The recent Accra SDG Impact Investment Fair organized by the Ministry of Finance and GIPC is the beginning of such collaborations for driving change at scale.
Once again, I believe the future of entrepreneurship in Ghana is very bright. It is not a surprise that President Akufo-Addo has declared 2019 as ‘year of return for Diasporans’. Indeed, 2019 will not only see Ghana being the focus for millions of African descendants tracing their ancestry and their identity, but it will also see the country being the focus of many development leaders and investors around the world.
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Tom-Chris Emewulu is the Founder & President of SFAN (Stars From All Nations). He is an education enthusiast, entrepreneurship and career coach, a consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana, and an aspiring Venture Capitalist. He is also the author of the forthcoming book: Breaking the Limits.