DURBAN, Ghana’s Minister of Railways Development, Joe Chartey, says the government plans to conntruct approximately 1,200 kilometres of railways over the next three and a half years to boost Ghana’s economy.

The building of a modern railway network, coupled with our programme of developed associated rail infrastructure under the programme, From Stations to Cities, seeks to take advantage of the rail network to bring accelerated economic development to the rail corridors to transform Ghana’s economy,” he says.

This programme of developing associated infrastructure, including new industrial estates, inland rail terminals, new suburban housing and commercial centres all create opportunities for investors.”

Ghartey said this in an address which he delivered on behalf of Ghanaian Vice-President Mahamadu Bawaumia at the AI CEO African Pension And Sovereign Wealth Fund Leaders’ Summit held in Durban, South Africa, last week.

The summit, held under the theme, Facilitating Pension Fund Investment Partnerships with African Asset Owners, focused on investment strategies and governance and showcase institutional-grade opportunities and instruments to de-risk and catalyse global and African institutional capital.

In the energy sector, the Ghanaian government had announced a policy to move to new power projects from terminal to renewable energy with a focus on solar and bio-energy to offer opportunities for investors.

Chartey noted that at the last AI Heads of State Investment Working Lunch, a stated priority outcome was to mobilise Africa’s sovereign wealth and pensions funds for investment across the continent over the next 10 years, with the clear aim to track and boost intra-Africa investments from its current low level of five per cent of total stock to 60 per cent over the next ten years.

Unfortunately, the pension sector in Africa is not as large as it ought to be. With the exception of South Africa, the continent is still on the fringes of the global pensions industry, Ghartey said. According to the Global Pension Assets Study, the 10 biggest African markets comprise a combined asset value of 37 billion US dollars and half of these assets are held in South Africa.

In Nigeria, the continet’s other leading economy, the value of pension fund assets under management as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) was five per cent, which compared rather poorly with some countries where pension fund assets under management as a proportion of GDP is more than 100 per cent.

The bright side of the low pension penetration rate was that there were opportunities for growth, Chartey said. In Ghana, for example, assets under management in the pensions fund industry grew five-fold form 2008 to 2014.

Thus whilst Africa adopts measures to increase pension penetration it must also take steps to create an enabling environment for other pension funds, including US and Global Pension Funds and Institutional Investors. It is clear from the above that private sector investment has been identified as being key to bridge the infrastructure deficit in Africa. It is important therefore that clear strategies are developed to attract African sovereign wealth funds and pension funds for investment across Africa,” he said.

He expressed the Ghanaian government’s commitment to partner the private sector to accelerate development hence the implementation of programmes that sought to move Ghana’s economy from focusing on taxation to focusing on development.

We are ready as a nation for investment and we are confident that our investment and business friendly legal and institutional framework, political stability, improving and expanding economy, availability of investment opportunities in the infrastructure sector provides an interesting cocktail of opportunity for investors in Ghana, he said.

Also at the summit were Kwaku Agyenim-Boateng, the Deputy Minister of Railways Development, Mohammed Habib Tijani, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, and Solomon Asamoah, the chief executive officer of the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund.