Interview with Alex Apau Dadey, Executive Chairman of KGL Group, and Board Chairman, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC)


Top Guide: Despite the challenging economic environment, KGL has continued to grow over the last year. How have you managed to do this and what can other investors and entrepreneurs learn from your success?

Alex Apau Dadey: I think what we have tried to do at KGL is to bring in the experiences that we accrued from our operations outside the country. I always see myself as a diasporan investor because I worked outside the country for a long time. So, moving back here, what I sought to do was to bring in the good practices and that is what my partners and I have been doing. We haven’t really done anything different; we have just tried to replicate the approach that was working for us in the United Kingdom and other places.

We take good corporate governance very seriously at KGL and I think that is one of our hallmarks. We also believe in sharing the rewards of our business with our employees. We take good care of them. We also invest in the communities that we operate in and we are now one of the largest taxpayers in the country. Our ethos is essentially to be a good corporate citizen and observe the highest ethical standards.

TG: You are now expanding into new markets in Africa, as well embarking on new initiatives in Ghana, such as your intervention in the distribution of premix fuel. What is the big idea behind these moves and what impact do you expect them to have in the long term?

AAD: Our vision is quite simple. What we want to do is create a huge African conglomerate that can compete anywhere in the world. One of the problems we have here is the volatility in the value of our local companies, which is partly because we have firms here that operate as foreign companies and so can send their money back home. Now, what if we also had big Ghanaian companies elsewhere that can also send money back into our economy? That is what

we are doing. When we go into these new markets, we operate as Ghanaian entities, we do not set up as local firms in those countries and that means we can also repatriate our profits back to Ghana. I believe that is one of the solutions and a way that we can change the current narrative. Yes, we have gold, cocoa and oil but I think we will benefit greatly if we can provide services like ours in other countries, make some money and bring it home – that is how we can expand our economy.

TG: How are you hoping to transform the distribution of premix fuel with the innovations that you have introduced?

AAD: Well, we realised this was one of the areas where we have huge problems in this country. Unfortunately, there is a lot of corruption there, as the government can spend $40 million or $50 million and fishermen will still not get the product. That means the government is essentially throwing money away. So, we identified that as an area we can assist with through technology and the financial resources we have.

We are building 300 sites on a build-operate-transfer basis. It is a multi-million-dollar intervention, and the government will pay us over a ten-year period. Our aim is to use technology to reduce corruption and eliminate the bottlenecks so that our fisherfolks can get the fuel they are entitled to.

TG: What are some of the factors that influence the investment choices you make at KGL?

AAD: I think what you find is that when you have credibility, you do not need to go looking for opportunities; they come to you. My belief is that credibility is the currency of business and that is what is often missing in our space. Once you have credibility, opportunities tend to come your way. We speak to a lot of investors, and we have some of them introducing us to new ventures. I am proud to say that we have the pick of opportunities because we have built a brand that is credible. In deciding which opportunities to take, we look at several factors. We like to partner with companies that already have a track record. For example, with the premix fuel venture, we are working with a company that has been in the business for over twenty years so they are not new. What we are bringing in is the new technology and the investment. We don’t typically invest in startups, as we have another arm,


‘At The Forefront of Digitalization’

KGL Group is a wholly-owned Ghanaian group of companies, with interests in Technology Innovation, Fin-Tech, Logistics, Trade, Property Development, Gaming and Commerce. The parent company commands a network of specialized business units that promote efficient solutions and effective tech-based related services to customers across Ghana and partner operating regions.

KGL Group’s expansion is based on carefully planned corporate strategy that relies on leveraging our core competencies and working within our corporate governance guidelines to achieve below:

• Building synergies to drive productivity for business

• Crafting bespoke sector relevant techbased solutions

• Developing sustainable growth plans to deliver value

• Remaining accountable to the environments we work within

‘Our History’

KGL Group started operations in 2018 and has since grown to current staff strength of 100+ local Ghanaian workforce, priding itself in actively recruiting class leading talent across multiple disciplines.

Significant investments in top-in-class platform solutions and global vendor partnerships, both local and abroad with a client and strategic partner scope spanning multiple sectors across different sectors Private, Public, Government and NonProfits.

KGL Capital for exactly that purpose. We currently have about ten startups that we are investing in and offering support and guidance to.

TG: The KGL Foundation is also doing some great work. What is the long-term vision for it, especially in the area of mental health, which you have announced plans for?

AAD: The foundation is very important to us. In fact, 5 per cent of our profits is committed to the foundation. We believe that the communities that we operate in should benefit and people should be better off after their experience with us. That’s very important to us. Our philosophy of wealth is that it must touch lives. What we have done this year is institute a partners’ participation programme, where the companies we work with also have to support our vision. Luckily, we have a lot of companies that want to work with us and so we are asking them to support the same thematic causes that we are supporting. Mental health is one of five areas that we are focusing on. There are so many young people struggling with mental health issues and unfortunately, it is seen as a spiritual matter in Ghana. Elsewhere, it is treated properly as a medical problem, and we want to see that happen here too. This is a conversation that we want to lead here in Ghana.

TG: What assurance can you give to other investors, including Ghanaians in the diaspora, who are considering Ghana as a destination?

AAD: Well, I am a living example of the potential that Ghana has as an investment destination. I lived in the United Kingdom for over 30 years, and I have been permanently resettled in Ghana for the last 6 years. What I would say is that most of the financial resources that we are deploying now were made elsewhere. We are a 100 per cent Ghanaian-owned company and 99 per cent of our staff are Ghanaians, but we bring in expertise that is not available here. Take fuel automation, we are able to rely on funding from outside, where we have a track record, and so we are able to raise the needed funds. We also have foreign partners who come in with the technology and expertise to enable us to replicate the systems here.

What I will tell my fellow diasporans is that once you have the expertise, the resources and the contacts, Ghana is the best place to get results and also make an impact. Otherwise, those assets are just being wasted where they are. What we need here are the resources and the expertise so once you have that, bring them in to take advantage of the local opportunities and let’s work together to build a prosperous country.

TG: As chairman of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), what can you tell investors about Ghana’s prospects and why they should put their money into the country?

AAD: Ghana has always been a business-friendly destination. We have the most robust legal protections for foreign investors in the region. Of course, just like any other country in the world, we are having some economic turbulence but that is very much a normal trend in the economic life of any country, where periods of growth alternate with periods where you have a slowdown. In the UK, they refer to it as boom and bust. We are going through that cycle, and with our human and natural resources, we are still a prime destination and I believe investors should seriously consider Ghana.

Now that we have the International Monetary Fund (IMF) coming in to offer policy credibility, I believe we will soon recover, and the economy will start growing again. ■TG

Interview with Akwasi Awua Ababio, Director, Diaspora Affairs Office

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