Economic and Political Overview

flag Ghana Ghana: Economic and Political Overview

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline | COVID-19 Country Response

 

Economic Indicators

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

Ghana was consistently placed among Africa’s ten fastest-growing economies before the economic recession induced by falling oil prices and the Covid-19 pandemic, but this trend has changed. After rebounding to 5.4% GDP in 2021, economic growth slowed down to 3.6% GDP in 2022, in the context of the global economic shock caused by the war in Ukraine. According to IMF estimates, GDP growth is expected to further decrease to 2.8% in 2023 before increasing to 3.9% GDP in 2024. Lower oil prices and production level, fiscal and debt vulnerabilities and a challenging external environment will impede growth prospects.

In 2022, Ghana’s economy, still recovering from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the collapse in export revenues from oil and cocoa, was further hit by the consequences of the war in Ukraine. Public debt increased from 82.1% GDP in 2021 to 90.7% GDP in 2022, and investors’ concerns triggered credit rating downgrades, capital outflows, loss of external market access, and rising domestic borrowing costs (IMF). The debt is driven in part by exceptional energy and financial sector costs. Indeed, government arrears to the energy sector represent 1% of GDP each year (Coface). Debt interests payment weights heavily on the fiscal deficit, despite higher tax revenue and external demand for oil, gold and cocoa. Budget deficit decreased from -11.4% GDP in 2021 to -9.2% GDP in 2022, and while it is expected to further reduce, it will remain high in 2023 (-8.6% GDP), and 2024 (-8.9% GDP) (IMF). The price and supply-chain shocks caused by the war in Ukraine exacerbated the situation, leading to a large exchange rate depreciation, a surge in inflation and pressure on foreign exchange reserves (IMF). From 10% in 2021, inflation soared to 27.2% in 2022, and while declining, it is expected to remain very high in 2023 (20.9%) and 2024 (14.7%) (IMF). In December 2022, it reached 54.1% (Focus Economics). In December 2022, the IMF team reached staff-level agreement with the Ghanaian authorities on a three-year program supported by an arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) in the amount of USD 3 billion. The program aims to restore macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability while laying the foundation for stronger and more inclusive growth. In February 2023, the government closed its domestic debt restructuring program, shifting maturities to 2028 from 2023 and reducing coupon rates (Focus Economics). Talks have been initiated with Paris Club members regarding external debt restructuring. According to IMF estimates, public debt will remain as high as 87.8% GDP in 2023 and 89.2% GDP in 2024. The Ghanaian authorities have committed to a wide-ranging economic reform program, which builds on the government’s Post-COVID-19 Program for Economic Growth (PC-PEG) (IMF). The government also remains committed to the Energy Sector Recovery Programme (2019-2023) established in collaboration with the World Bank.

Ghana is facing high inequalities, increasing poverty and unemployment. The country was ranked 133rd in the 2021 Human Development Index. According to World Bank estimates, unemployment rate in the country was around 3.9% in 2021.

 
Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 72.2476.6375.6576.7181.79
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 3.11.22.74.64.9
GDP per Capita (USD) 2,2522,3292,2422,2172,305
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 92.484.981.578.875.8
Inflation Rate (%) n/a42.223.211.58.0
Current Account (billions USD) -1.52-1.91-2.11-2.30-2.74
Current Account (in % of GDP) -2.1-2.5-2.8-3.0-3.3

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

Ghana, Africa’s largest gold producer, is rich in natural resources and benefits from a fertile soil. Agriculture represents 19.7% of GDP (World Bank), and employs 30% of the country’s workforce. Arable lands cover approximately 57% of the country's total land area (FAO). Most of the cultivated lands (95%) consist of small and medium-sized farms (up to 10 hectares). Crops vary considerably depending on the region. In the forest zone (southwest), tree crops, including cocoa, oil palm, coffee and rubber, are common. Maize, legumes, cocoyam or yam, with tobacco and cotton are among the most harvested crops in the middle belt of the country. Tobacco and cotton are also harvested in the north of the country, in addition to sorghum, millet, cowpeas and groundnuts. While livestock production is important, particularly in the north, Ghana still imports meat and dairy products to meet demand.

Industry accounts for 28.3% of GDP and employs 21% of the workforce. It is dominated by mining, lumbering, light manufacturing, aluminium 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 aluminium smelting. Ghana also has a relatively sophisticated automotive industry and exports cars to other parts of Africa.

The service sector is the largest component of the economy comprising 45.9% of GDP and employing 49% of the workforce (World Bank). The banking sector has developed and modernized in recent years but has more room to grow. Telecommunications is the main service sector due to a rapid growth of mobile phone users and the emergence of mobile payment technologies.

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 39.5 19.1 41.4
Value Added (in % of GDP) 18.8 31.5 44.1
Value Added (Annual % Change) 0.4 5.7 2.3

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 

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Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Ghanaian Cedi (GHS) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 MUR 0.110.130.140.150.14

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 
 

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Indicator of Economic Freedom

Definition:

The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Score:
59,2/100
World Rank:
101
Regional Rank:
11

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation

 
 

Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.

 

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Foreign Trade in Figures

Ghana is very open to foreign trade that represented 58% of GDP in 2021 (World Bank). The government wants to create an economic environment that facilitates the development of the private sector thus guarantying transparent trades and promoting competitiveness in foreign markets. Ghana mainly exports gold and other ore and gems, petroleum oil, cocoa, nuts, woods, fish, and vegetable oils. The country mainly imports machinery, vehicles, petroleum oils, iron, electrical products, plastics, cereals and other food products, medicines and capital goods (ITC, 2021).

Ghana is a member of the World Trade Organisation and of the ECOWAS. It has also signed numerous partnership agreements, including with the EU. The European Union also supports the Ghana “Beyond Aid” program aimed at reshaping trade dynamics between the country and developed economies. Customs duties are not high but they are applied to every imported product. Ghana is using the common external customs tariffs of the ECOWAS. The import of some products such as mercury soap, hazardous wastes or contaminated products is prohibited.

Ghana's main clients are China, Switzerland, India, South Africa, and the Netherlands. The Netherlands is its main client for horticultural products. Ghana's main suppliers are China (18.2% of total imports), the United States, the United Kingdom, India and Belgium (ITC, latest data available).
 
According to WTO data, in 2021 Ghana exported goods for a total value of USD 14.73 billion while it imported goods with a total value of USD 13.63 billion. Regarding services, Ghana exported USD 9.17 billion worth of services while it imported 12.34 billion worth of services. In March 2022, the merchandise trade surplus reached an all time high of USD 676.21 million (Bank of Ghana).

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 13,13413,41112,42913,62914,621
Exports of Goods (million USD) 14,94315,66814,47214,72717,494
Imports of Services (million USD) 10,08613,49812,11712,33811,854
Exports of Services (million USD) 7,5729,9257,6069,1748,302
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 5.015.9-54.5113.813.0
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 6.612.7-50.769.19.4
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 34.539.417.828.525.0
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 33.537.420.729.927.5
Trade Balance (million USD) 1,8092,2572,0431,0992,873
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -706-1,316-2,468-2,066-585
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 68.076.838.558.452.6

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank , Latest Available Data

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2019
China 16.7%
Switzerland 14.7%
India 14.2%
South Africa 11.8%
Netherlands 5.8%
See More Countries 36.8%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2019
China 18.2%
United States 9.4%
United Kingdom 6.6%
India 5.6%
Belgium 5.1%
See More Countries 55.2%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 
 

Main Products

16.8 bn USD of products exported in 2019
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought...Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 37.0%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 31.3%
Cocoa beans, whole or broken, raw or roastedCocoa beans, whole or broken, raw or roasted 11.0%
Cocoa paste, whether or not defattedCocoa paste, whether or not defatted 2.4%
Manganese ores and concentrates, incl. ferruginous...Manganese ores and concentrates, incl. ferruginous manganese ores and concentrates, with a manganese content of >= 20%, calculated on the dry weight 2.1%
See More Products 16.1%
10.4 bn USD of products imported in 2019
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 8.4%
Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl....Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl. chassis with engine and cab 4.2%
RiceRice 3.6%
Cement, incl. cement clinkers, whether or not...Cement, incl. cement clinkers, whether or not coloured 3.1%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 2.3%
See More Products 78.4%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 
 

To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows.

 
 

Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministries
Ministry of Finance
Ministry of Trade and Industry
Ministry of Energy
Statistical Office
Ghana Statistical Service
Central Bank
Bank of Ghana
Stock Exchange
Ghana Stock Exchange
Search Engines
Ghana Web
Google Ghana
Economic Portals
Ghana Trade

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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Nana Addo Dankwa AKUFO-ADDO (since 7 January 2017) ; the president is both chief of state and head of government
Next Election Dates
Presidential: December 2024
Parliament: December 2024
Main Political Parties
New Patriotic Party: Ruling party, centre-right, liberal conservative
National Democratic Congress: main opposition, social democratic
People's National Convention: socialism
Progressive People's Party: social liberalism
Type of State
Constitutional Democratic Republic.
Executive Power
Executive power is exercised by the government. The President of Ghana is both head of state and head of government. Their term length is four years and can only be renewed once. The president appoints the vice president and ministers; however, at least half of them must come from the Parliament.
Legislative Power
Legislative power is vested in the Parliament. The Parliament of Ghana bears similarities with the British Parliament and its members are elected through simple majority (or First Past the Post) voting system. Ghana is divided into 275 constituencies each electing one member of the parliament. Members serve four-year terms.
 

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

Definition:

The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
30/180
 

Indicator of Political Freedom

Definition:

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Ranking:
Free
Political Freedom:
2/7

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House

 

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COVID-19 Country Response

Travel restrictions
Regularly updated travel information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related entry regulations, flight bans, test and vaccines requirements is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
To find information about the current travel regulations, including health requirements, it is also advised to consult Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on a daily basis by IATA.
Import & export restrictions
A general overview of trade restrictions which were adopted by different countries during the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) undertaken by the government of Ghana, please consult the country's dedicated section in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For an evaluation of impact of the Covid pandemic on SMEs and an inventory of country responses to foster SME resilience, refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.

 

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Latest Update: December 2023