Ghana is seen as the ‘leader in development’ in Africa on the level of private sector development (PSD). The country’s private sector is developing rapidly by the implementation of different policies and programs, including strategies to improve the investment climate. With having an increase of foreign investment over the past thirty years, the question rises whether these investors act responsible and whether they contribute to the development Ghana. This research tries to link up with this, and tries to gain a deeper understanding about the private sector development of Ghana, and the role of foreign investors and CSR in this. Therefore, the central research question of this research is:
How is the private sector of Ghana developing, and do foreign investors contribute to this with responsible business practices? In order to answer this research question, the research combines a web-research with fieldwork. The field research is conducted in Ghana, more specifically in the Greater Accra Region. This part of the country is chosen because most of the foreign investors are located there. The fieldwork is done with semi-structured interviews and surveys for three case studies of foreign investors in agricultural sector. This sector is chosen because of its major economic contribution for the country and the investment opportunities. In these case studies the impact and responsible business is are compared on economic-, social-, and environmental level. And responsible business activities are measured by scores on statements for different themes. In order to see whether there is a ‘best practice’ for responsible business and contribution to development, the three cases have different business models; “The Green Lab” is a medium sized Dutch company, “The Big Nut” is an Malaysian multinational, and “the Multitasking NGO” is a Dutch-Ghanaian small sized association.
The research findings suggest that Ghana is working hard to improve their business climate and attract foreign investments through different policies, strategies and programs. This approach seems to work since Ghana has a high ranking in the Doing Business report of the World Bank and the World Investment Report of the UNCTAD. The political stability, and increasing economic climate in Ghana, together with natural resources and active investment policies make Ghana attractive for foreign investors, and makes FDI inflows keep increasing. Most investments are done by Chinese, Indian or Korean and most investments are in the service and general trading sector. There is not much foreign investment in the agricultural sector so far, however there are a lot of investment opportunities according to the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC).
Over the last years there seems to be a new debate about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and business practices of foreign investors. While Ghana is making significant efforts to attract these investors, there is hardly any legal framework for CSR requirements for them. In some sectors like the banking, mining and forestry there are some laws and requirements for impact reports, but in others the term is hardly known. The findings of the case studies are in line with this, since in none of the organizations an active CSR strategy is found. However all the organizations have some forms of responsible business practices and contribution to development.
The three case studies; “the Green Lab”, “The Big Nut” and “The Multitasking NGO” are compared on the level of; impact, responsible business (activities) and the contribution to development. The small sized NGO turns out to be ‘the best practice’, with having the highest score on every responsible activity theme and with the contribution to development on economic, social and environmental level. All the organizations have an economic responsibility in terms of providing job opportunities and investing in human capital, and responsible business activities towards employees score the highest. However “The Green Lab” and “The Multitasking NGO” show lower scores on social- and environmental responsibility. In terms of contribution to development, all the organizations contribute to this by taking up different investment opportunities (in the agricultural sector) as the GIPC suggested.