Animal imports require a permit from the Veterinary Head Office. Arms and ammunition legally entering the country require a permit from the Ministry of the interior. Poultry products entering from certain high-risk countries require a permit from Ministries of Trade and Agriculture. Live plants and products require a permit from the Ministry of Agriculture. Rough and uncut diamonds need a licence from the Ministry of Finance.
Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
Customs duty is levied on goods imported into Ghana, at varying rates up to 20%. Special concessionary rates are available to members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Excise duty based on the ex-factory price is levied on certain products. The rates are as follows:
Beer, other than domestic beer and “cider beer”: 10%-47.5% Tobacco products (cigarettes and cigars): 150% Water, including mineral water and distilled water: 17.5% Malt drinks: 7.5%- 17.5% Spirits (other than for use solely in laboratories or in the compounding of drugs): 10%-25% Plastic and plastic products: 10% Cider beer: 17.5%
Ghana is a member of the World Customs Organisation and complies with the harmonised customs system.
The following documents are required for goods entering Ghana:
Bill of lading;
Certificate of origin;
Customs Packing list;
Import declaration; and
Technical standard/health certificate
The clearance and shipping of goods are processed through a single-window portal called GC-Net. Additional procedures apply to rice, medicine, auto spare vehicle and vegetable oil imports.
Goods that are considered "high risk" by Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) cannot be imported until their samples have been tested to the applicable standard and found to have satisfied the requirement. These goods include:
Pharmaceuticals, Cosmetics, Medical Devises
Alcoholic and nonalcoholic products
Chemicals and Allied Products
Electrical products: e.g. bulbs, switches, sockets, Cables, etc
With a GDP per capita of USD 2,370 (IMF, 2021), Ghana is a relatively rich country compared to the rest of West Africa and has one of the highest growth rates in the regions (6.5% in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic according to the IMF). The country boasts a sizeable consumer market with a population of 30.78 million (IMF, 2020). Ghana is also one of the most densely populated countries in Africa. Ghana also has a very young population with a median age of 21 years (CIA Wolrd Factbook, 2020 est.) and an urban population much higher on average than most African countries (56.7% of the population live in urban areas compared with the Sub-Saharan average of 40.7% - World Bank, 2019 latest data available). The young generation is educated (with a youth literacy rate exceeding 90% against 79% for the adult population - World Bank, latest data available) and attracted to foreign products and show a broader interest in shopping in general.
Ghana's rapid economic growth, spurred by political stability, high gold and cocoa prices and oil revenue, has transformed its retail market. Affordability and trust are the two main criteria that determine the purchase decisions of Ghanaians. Compared to other African countries, Ghanaian consumers are more receptive to advertisements and show a stronger interest in promotions and attractive packaging. They are also more willing to try new brands and are better connected with the media (Nielsen Survey). As the retail market became more sophisticated, Ghanaians have grown to appreciate foreign products, especially clothing and pharmaceuticals. That being said, supermarkets and modern retail outlets have difficulty gaining a foothold, as traditional channels such as container shops and roadside kiosks maintain their strong position.
Ghana's retailing industry is more developed than most other countries in West and Sub-Saharan Africa and has grown steadily thanks to a continuous economic growth. Ghana's first shopping mall opened in Accra in 2008 and it remains one of the most modern shopping centres in West Africa to this day. Owing to the country's relatively small geography and dense population, distributor networks are divided more equally than in most other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nevertheless, distribution and retailing industries are not as developed in the less populous and wealthy north as in the south, particularly the southeast, which has bigger and wealthier cities.
Ghana's inflation edged down throughout 2018, and food and non-alcoholic drink price index rose at its slowest since 1992, which supported retail growth in 2018 (Bank of Ghana, Oxford Business Group). Nevertheless, Ghana's Ministry of Trade and Industry published a public notice in July 2018, threatening to take legal action against all non-Ghanaians who sell goods and services in markets or in stalls. This decision, which is believed to target Chinese retailers in particular, could hamper the growth of the informal sector, which accounts for more than 90% of all retail transactions in Ghana (Deloitte).
While the informal market dominates the retailing industry with small and local merchants, international companies, particularly South African or Pan-African brands are also present in the country. South African mass retailers and supermarkets such as Massmart, Shoprite, Edcon and Woolworths have stores in the country whereas Famous Brands, Africa's largest branded food service franchiser, entered the market in 2017. The food distribution sector in Ghana has experienced impressive growth recently. In terms of retail food outlets, supermarkets account for 4% of the industry whereas convenience stores represent 36% and traditional markets the remaining 60% (USDA, latest data available). Traditional markets retain their dominant position as importers and distributors prefer doing business with buyers from these markets who tend to make instant payment for deliveries. Hotels, restaurants and industries also tend to get their supplies from traditional markets.
The number of Internet users rose to 10.11 million in Ghana, accounting for 35% of the total population, according to latest estimates from Hootsuite. This rate puts Ghana below the regional and African average despite rapidly growing penetration rates (27% year-on-year growth in January 2018). As in the rest of Africa, Internet access is mostly mobile with 9.28 active mobile Internet users and broadband subscriptions are rather low. 75% of the web traffic comes from mobile phones (7% year-on-year change) against 22% for laptops & desktops (-13% year-on-year change) and 3% for tablet devices.
Ghana has a more sophisticated e-commerce market than most other nations in West Africa; however, it is still in an early development stage. The introduction of special Visa and MasterCard services has enhanced business practices, allowing many Ghanaian companies and individuals to carry out online financial transactions. Furthermore, the Ghanaian government introduced a regulation that allowed telecommunication companies to apply for a licence from the Central Bank rather than asking them to partner with a commercial bank, enabling more mobile payments. Ghana concluded preliminary discussions with PayPal last year, with the first mobile money payments interoperability system introduced in May 2018. The country is expected to be fully PayPal compliant by 2020, which could potentially boost e-commerce. Nevertheless, only 13% of Ghanaians receive or make mobile payments (Hootsuite Survey) at the moment, putting the country below the African average. The Pan-African online platform Jumia is active in the Ghanaian market whereas two local firms, Zoobashop and Tonaton.com are also among leading online shopping websites.
Industry accounts for 24.5% of GDP (35.3% in the third quarter of 2018 according to Ghana Statistical Service). It is dominated by mining, lumbering, light manufacturing, aluminum smelting, food processing, cement production, small commercial ship building and petroleum. Gold, bauxite and manganese mining plays a key role thanks to the country's rich subsoil resources. Rich bauxite reserves coupled with high hydro stocks provide strong potential for aluminum smelting. Ghana also has a relatively sophisticated automotive industry and exports cars to other parts of Africa.
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