people to watch 2011

people to watch 2011


This year is a significant year for Ghanaian business. As it is the first full year of oil production, much is expected of the country. As a matter of fact, some analysts have predicted a growth rate of anything from twelve to sixteen per cent. Of course, much will also depend on the drive, initiative and innovation of our business leaders, policy makers and even analysts.

Our list, this year, thus, spans the breadth of actors on whose steam the “action year” will turn. Some are directly involved in oil; some, on the periphery; still others, far removed. Yet, all of them bring a certain verve that has seen them play active roles in their particular industries which will be crucial this year and in many cases, of course, beneficial to them and the organisations they run or represent.




Any year is a year to watch out for the retired army officer whose UT brand, revolutionized the lending culture in Ghana.  With his partner, Joseph Nsonamoah, Prince Kofi Amoabeng owns UT Holdings, which is the majority shareholder in UT Bank and other subsidiaries such as UT Collections, UT logistics,  UT Properties, UT Germany and UT Nigeria. The former lecturer at the Ghana Stock Exchange has won several awards including: Ghana’s Most Respected CEO for 2008/2010; Marketing Man of the Year (2006) and Order of the Star of the Volta-Officer’s Division in 2008. He is one of two Ghanaians profiled in Moky Makura’s Africa’s Greatest Entrepreneurs which profiles 16 of Africa’s top entrepreneurs.

A tireless innovator, Mr Amoabeng recently announced a first premium finance scheme which aims at assisting individuals and companies pay their annual insurance premiums. This collaborative effort, named Premium Finance Consortium, will make direct lump sum payments on behalf of clients to insurers to pay the premiums and then spread payment of the amount and interest over a period of 10 months. The scheme aims to reduce insurance costs and the overall cost of doing business and make financial resources available to reduce cash-flow worries for both the insurer and the insured and facilitate flexible payment.

From previous experience, it can be asserted that it is unwise to bet against the King Midas of Ghanaian finance. This project is therefore one to watch in 2011.




Ghanaian think tanks have a tendency to play it safe as advocates of the fuzzily defined concept “good governance”. One that has bucked the trend and established a reputation as an eloquent and ardent advocate for a particular economic model – free market, in this case – is the Imani Centre, founded—in 2004—and run by the young Franklin Cudjoe. Mr Cudjoe is an Earhart doctoral fellow at Buckingham University, UK focusing on the impact of corporate social investment in Ghana and donor driven projects. He is also a member of the April 2011 graduating class of the Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education for Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation’s Think Tank MBA programme. He is one of the nine African think tank leaders and Commissioners of The Zimbabwe Papers–a blueprint which examines the causes of Zimbabwe’s social and economic problems and offers urgent and practical reform that will enable the country to become a thriving, peaceful and prosperous country. As further sign of Imani’s relevance, it was asked by the World Bank to help shape the Bank’s strategy for Africa, even though Franklin and his colleagues have been calling for an exit strategy for the bank and arguing against over-reliance on aid for development and encouraging African governments to run freer economies and transparent governance.

Through their Imani Alerts, the think tank has come to establish a reputation for clear and lucid arguments that take out the heat and shed light on economic discourse in the country–discourse that is so often clouded by partisan considerations and hampered by lack of adequate knowledge.

As the economy matures and public policy takes centre stage, expect Mr Cudjoe and the hard-working, straight-talking guys to be even more prominent in the search for a workable business model for Ghana Inc.




A real estate company established some nine years ago primarily as a Land Development Company, Comet Properties is now one of the major players in the housing industry. The company kick-started its operations with the acquisition of 400 acres of land for the development of its maiden estate known as Hill City Housing Estate, which is located at the Southern end of the Akwapim hills near Kwabenya, a surburb of Accra. The company, spurred on by the overwhelming success of its Hill City project has set its eyes on the construction of low-cost high-rise residential buildings at its Hill City site.  The company plans to construct at least 20 blocks of these low-cost apartments, with each block containing 32 apartments to cater for the housing needs of workers. Comet  is  in  the  process  of  establishing  new  industries  to manufacture  downstream products  to  be  used  in  its  housing projects – these include:  the manufacture of  concrete products and roofing materials, plastic T&G for ceiling and panelling, etc.

This year promises to be an interesting year for the company, with its provisional listing on the Ghana Stock Exchange – first for a real estate company in the country – Comet hopes to raise some $62,000,000 for expansion. This makes Nana Odeneho Kyeremateng, the Executive Chairman and driving force of the firm, one to keep a close eye on in 2011.



Dai Jones is President and General Manager of Tullow Ghana—the operator of the Jubilee field, which straddles the Deepwater Tano and West Cape Three Points—and the company credited with the pumping of Ghana’s first oil. Tullow Oil Plc, through its subsidiary, Tullow Ghana Limited, has a 34.7% share in the Jubilee field. Tullow’s success in Ghana and its record at pumping out oil three years after discovery, through its cutting-edge technology, have been spearheaded by Dai Jones, a former army officer with 32 years industry experience. Tullow is one of the few operators in the world to take technology straight from the shelf, put it together and apply it in Ghana. Only 5% of the oil fields in the world are developed with the speed with which Tullow has done with Jubilee in three years. Dai’s unique breadth of global expertise in leading major oil and gas businesses in over 32 countries and his extensive global and regional expertise in securing complex technical and commercial business development has made it possible for Ghana to join the league of Oil Producing nations.

The story of Ghana’s success is and will be the story of Tullow’s success. With production in full gear and the oil industry set to provide a huge fillip to economic activity in the country, expect Tullow’s actions and the direction that will come from Mr Jones, to be of huge significance this year and certainly for much of the 40 years that Tullow plans to stay in the country.




Small businesses are gradually gaining the attention that they so clearly deserve. The government of Ghana has, over the last decade or so, sought to craft imaginative solutions to the many problems that bedevil the sector; notable among them, credit. One such vehicle is the Venture Capital Trust Fund (VCTF), established by an Act of Parliament and tasked to provide capital to SMEs. Daniel Duku is the man currently at the helm of this organization.. With a Masters Degree from The McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA, Daniel Duku is more than sufficiently armed with an impressive scholarly background. Possessed of varied experiences in fund management, project financing, development consulting among others, Duku has worked with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Deloitte and Touche, and the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, where he served as a Principal Consultant. Mr. Duku also served with The Africa Project Development Facility, the Enterprises Support Services for Africa and the Millennium Africa fund. With his eyes set on increasing the pool of funds available for the VCTF, there is bound to be an increase in investment to SMEs, which, ultimately, will lead to the creation of wealth and jobs for more Ghanaians. In this year, dubbed “The Double Action Year” by the fund, it intends to expand the resources available to it to over a $100,000,000 for onward lending to SMEs. For SMEs particularly and all business and economy watchers, Mr Duku and the few venture capital companies he funds are the ones to keep an eye on this year.




Nana Boakye Asafu-Adjaye heads what is undoubtedly one of the most strategic national institutions today: the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation. A geophysicist and petroleum geologist by training, he has been involved in the oil and gas sector for well over 25 years, contributing in varied ways towards the discovery of the nation’s oil in commercial quantities. Nana, in addition to his technical expertise, possesses a solid background in management and executive development. He has worked with the Ministry of Energy, the GNPC, where he held the position of Exploration Manager for well over 10 years, and Vanco Energy serving as the Country Manager from 2005 to 2009. He rejoined GNPC once again in June 2009. As the head of the GNPC, Nana Asafu-Adjaye is tasked, as per the objectives establishing the Corporation, among other things, to ensure that Ghana obtains the greatest possible benefit from the development of its petroleum resources, and to ensure that petroleum operations are conducted in such a manner as to prevent adverse effects on the environment, resources and people of Ghana. The GNPC has an interesting role in  Ghana’s oil industry –not only as the vehicle through which government retains its interest but also as issuer and regulator in down and upstream oil activity–and indications are that government would want it to play an even more proactive role in the industry. One that some liken to Brazil’s hugely significant Petrobras. As the man chosen to lead this charge, Nana Boakye Asafu-Adjaye  moves are sure to cause ripples in not only the oil industry  but in the larger economy as well.




Bernard Kwadwo Asamoah – STX Ghana

The STX Project, the ground for which was broken by the President in January, would qualify as the biggest project in any year. An initial 30,000 houses will be built at the cost of some $1,500,000,000. A collaboration between STX Ghana and STX Korea, the mother company, as well as with the government of Ghana, the project is expected to eventually turn out 200,000 houses over a five year period. Officials say it will also entail the construction of “Green Satellite communities” with roads, schools, clinics, shopping malls and other amenities. A housing project of this scale should have a positive effect on job creation and wages in construction and allied industries which should in turn have a knock-on effect in other areas as those so employed spend their money on goods and services. Bernard Kwadwo Asamoah, head of STX Ghana, is thus, a man to pay attention to this year as the project takes off and STX considers forays into other areas of the Ghanaian economy including a recently announced attempt to rejuvenate the Saltpond Ceramic Factory.



Roland Agambire – R.L.G Communications

Roland Agambire has brought RLG communications farther than many would have imagined when he started out. RLG has so far trained over 6,000 youths in the assembling and repair of mobile phones. Today, RLG  has not only a significant presence in Ghana – where it  assembles mobile phones and trains young people in mobile phone repairs as part of the ICT module of the National Youth Employment Programme – but has also expanded into the Gambia and the Ivory Coast. The company has set up new assembling plants in Cape Coast and is set to add another on the Spintex road in Accra—a state-of-the-art-multi-purpose mobile phone assembling plant available nowhere else in Sub-Saharan Africa.  The plant is intended to help RLG achieve its stated target of capturing 80% of the Ghanaian cell phone market, up from the 305 so far accounted for with its varied 18-model range. With collaborative deals with Huawei in China and Ke Zhi Guang (KZG) Holding Limited of Hong Kong under his belt, Mr Agambire is set to scale even greater heights this year. Recently honoured at the ECOWAS Entrepreneurship and Innovation Awards, Roland Agambire now intends to take his company public with a stock exchange listing in the course of the first half of 2011. Given the success of the firm, the listing is expected to attract frenzied attention, money from which is meant to go into a West African push to achieve sub-regional dominance. From all indications thus, Mr Agambire will have a busy and eventful year.


Air Commodore Kwame Mamphey – Ghana Civil Aviation Authority

A certain corollary to the oil boom and the expected economic expansion  is an explosion in the airline industry. Even before that, stable political conditions and reliable economic growth over the last decade(?) have meant that Ghana now plays host to several major airlines that were previously not flying its way, among them Delta and Virgin Atlantic. The domestic travel routes are also set to get busier as traffic increases between the capital, the oil producing areas and other business centres. Government is also keen to revive the national carrier and has announced plans to seek investment and start flying the national colours on the lucrative Accra-London and Accra-New York routes. At the centre of all this frenetic activity is the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority which will be expected to play a steadying role in regulating and encouraging superior service delivery and robust competition to the benefit of the passenger. At the helm of  authority is former Air Force pilot Air Commodore Kwame Mamphey who will bring his experience and intimate knowledge of the industry and its technical conditions to positive effect.