Starting a Company
To start a business in Accra, you must register with the Registrar General’s Department (RGD). The entire registration process can be done on the RGD website (rgd.gov.gh), and you should know within two weeks whether your registration was successful. Hair salons, barber shops, petty trading and pool betting (except football pools) businesses are reserved for Ghanaians, so consider other options. You’ll need to provide company director details, a company address and a mandatory, self-generated digital address from ghanapostgps.com. You will also need a tax identification number (TIN), which you can apply for through the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) website (gra.gov.gh). You can register your business at a home address, but ensure this does not violate your tenancy agreement.
As a foreigner, you must register your company with the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) for an investment certificate and other permits, even if your company is partly Ghanaian owned. A minimum equity value of $200,000–$1 million is required for foreign-owned companies, either in cash, machinery or equipment. The equity value will depend on your company ownership structure and on the industry. For companies partly owned by Ghanaians, the Ghanaian applicant is expected to have 10 percent equity participation. See the GIPC website (gipcghana.com) for details on capital requirements and incentives like tax holidays. Schedule an appointment with GIPC or a professional business consultant for further guidance.
Opening a Bank Account
Opening a personal bank account is straightforward and can be done without an appointment. You’ll need your work and residence permits, your TIN, proof of residence and a letter of introduction from your home banking institution. For a business account, you’ll also need your company’s registration and financial documents. Bank of Ghana (bog.gov.gh) lists over twenty registered banks with branches across Ghana. Many expats prefer international banks like Absa Bank, Stanbic Bank and Standard Chartered Bank due to their global presence and experience. A small initial deposit of less than GH₵50 (less than $10) may be required, so make sure you have this on hand and ask about account fees and conditions. Most banks issue debit cards, but note that many small businesses only take cash. The MoMo digital transfer app is popular and can be linked to your bank account, but note that transactions often incur a 1 percent fee. The expressPay app allows you to make bank transfers and pay your bills.
Individuals and businesses are required to register with the GRA, and foreign tax payers are grouped as residents and nonresidents. Nonresidents are those who have been in Ghana under 183 days in a year and they pay a flat 25 percent tax rate, while residents pay taxes based on income brackets. Ghanaian and foreign-owned companies generally pay a fixed 25 percent tax with some variation based on industry. Built Accounting (builtaccounting.com) and Jayset Consulting (jaysetconsulting.com) offer accounting and tax advisory services. You must also register with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) at ssnit.org.gh to make social security contributions, whether as an employee or an employer. Ghana has a pension system with contributions on three different levels, two of which are mandatory. The first tier constitutes a 13 percent contribution to SSNIT, with an additional 5 percent contribution to a private scheme. Social security contributions are optional for the self-employed.
Phone and Internet
MTN, Vodafone and AirtelTigo are the three major telecommunications companies in Ghana. Phone and internet service are on a pay-as-you-go, no-contract basis. MTN is the most widely used network with the best coverage and internet speed, while AirtelTigo offers the cheapest rates. Vodafone falls midway on cost and is a favorite alongside MTN for home internet. To sign up, buy a prepaid SIM card for GH₵5 ($0.90). With a valid ID, you can register your SIM at a telecom company store or with an authorized vendor and buy phone credit or internet data. A gigabyte costs GH₵10–GH₵20 ($1.80–$3.60) but you can save money with a data bundle. Many Ghanaians sign up with more than one telecom company to avoid service disruptions. Find out which one has the best coverage in your home or office neighborhood before signing up. You can always transfer your number to a new network without buying a new SIM card.