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

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. In 2022, Ghana's economy faced a severe macroeconomic crisis due to existing imbalances and external shocks. The country's significant financing requirements and tightening financial conditions worsened concerns about debt sustainability. Capital outflows, coupled with tighter monetary policies in advanced economies, intensified pressure on the exchange rate. Additionally, monetary funding of the budget deficit led to high inflation rates. These factors disrupted the post-COVID-19 recovery, causing GDP growth to drop from 5.1% in 2021 to 3.1% in 2022. During the first half of 2023, GDP growth recovered to 3.2%, driven by robust expansion in services (6.3%) and agriculture (6.2%), while the industrial sector experienced a contraction of 2.2%. Due to a worse performance in the second part of the year, the IMF estimated the overall growth at only 1.2%. Nevertheless, the economy is expected to pick up this year (+2.7%) and in 2025 when growth should accelerate to 4.6%.

The deterioration of public finances, debt unsustainability, currency depreciation, and rampant inflation led Ghana to seek assistance from the IMF in July 2022. An Extended Credit Facility (ECF) of USD 3 billion over three years was granted to Ghana in May 2023, along with a rigorous reform program. Ghana has adopted a two-pronged approach to debt restructuring, completing a domestic debt exchange plan (DDEP) covering 47% of its public debt locally by September 2023, while suspending payment of external debt service (53% of public debt), including Eurobonds, commercial loans, and bilateral loans. This suspension is concurrent with negotiations within the G20 Common Framework led by the Paris Club. According to the recently passed 2024 Budget, the budget deficit is projected to reach 4.8% in 2024 (compared to -5% according to the IMF), down from 7.5% in 2023. In the medium term, the Government aims to achieve a budget deficit below 3% of GDP by 2027 (3.1% according to IMF estimates). Meanwhile, the debt-to-GDP ratio decreased to 84.9% in 2023 (from 92.4% one year earlier) and is expected to follow a downward trend, reaching 78.8% by 2025 (IMF). Inflation, which has been driven by food prices, remained elevated above 40% in 2023 but should gradually moderate to 23.2% this year and 11.5% in 2025.

Ghanaian households have faced challenges due to high inflation and a decelerating economy. Projections by the World Bank indicate that poverty will worsen by 2025, with the rate rising to almost 34% (according to the international poverty line), up from 27% in 2022. This trend aligns with a subdued growth outlook in services and agriculture and escalating prices. Despite significant inflation, the country's minimum wage has only risen by 10%, which is deemed inadequate considering the inflation rate. According to World Bank estimates, the unemployment rate in the country was around 3.5% in 2022 (latest data available).

 
Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 72.2476.2875.2476.0281.08
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 3.12.32.84.44.9
GDP per Capita (USD) 2,2522,3182,2302,1972,285
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 93.386.183.680.977.9
Inflation Rate (%) 31.737.522.311.58.0
Current Account (billions USD) -1.52-1.26-1.39-1.68-1.93
Current Account (in % of GDP) -2.1-1.7-1.9-2.2-2.4

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 fertile soil. Agriculture represents 19.6% of GDP and employs 40% of the country’s workforce (World Bank, latest data available). 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 32% of GDP and employs 19% of the workforce. The sector is dominated by mining, lumbering, light manufacturing, aluminum smelting, food processing, cement production, small commercial shipbuilding, and petroleum. Gold, bauxite, and manganese mining play a key role thanks to the country's rich subsoil resources. Rich bauxite reserves coupled with high hydro stocks provide strong potential for aluminum 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 42% of GDP and employing 41% of the workforce. The banking sector has developed and modernized in recent years but has more room to grow. In the past, the banking sector in Ghana was largely controlled by state-owned institutions and lacked significant competition. However, over the last decade, there has been a shift as certain state-owned banks underwent privatization through the government's Divestiture Implementation Program. Telecommunications is the main service sector due to rapid growth in mobile phone users and the emergence of mobile payment technologies. According to data from the Ministry of Tourism, in the first half of 2023, the country recorded half a million visits, with tourism revenue estimated at USD 3.4 billion for the year as a whole.

 
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

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Foreign Trade in Figures

Ghana maintains a highly open stance towards foreign trade, with trade accounting for approximately 71% of its GDP, according to the latest data from the World Bank. The government's objective is to foster an economic environment conducive to private sector development, transparent trade practices, and enhanced competitiveness in foreign markets. In terms of exports, Ghana's main commodities include gold (37%), petroleum oils (31.3%), cocoa beans and paste (13.4%), and manganese (2.1%). On the import side, the country's primary imports consist of motor vehicles (12.6%), rice (3.6%), cement (3.1%), and refined petroleum oil (2.3%), as per Comtrade data for 2022.

As a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Ghana has engaged in various partnership agreements, including with the European Union (EU). The EU supports Ghana's "Beyond Aid" program, aimed at restructuring trade dynamics between Ghana and developed economies. Customs duties, while not excessively high, are applied to all imported products, following the common external customs tariffs of the ECOWAS. Ghana's top export destinations in 2022 were China (16.7%), Switzerland (14.7%), India (14.2%), South Africa (11.8%), and the Netherlands (5.8%). On the import side, the country's major import partners were China (18.2%), the United States (9.4%), the United Kingdom (6.6%), India (5.6%), and Belgium (5.1%), according to Comtrade data.

Data from the WTO indicates that in 2022, Ghana exported goods worth USD 17.5 billion and imported goods valued at USD 14.6 billion, marking increases of 18.8% and 7.2% year-on-year, respectively. However, while Ghana maintains a trade surplus in goods, it is a net importer of services. In 2022, service exports totaled USD 8.3 billion compared to service imports amounting to USD 11.8 billion. In 2023, Ghana experienced a contraction in its favorable trade balance, which decreased by 10% to USD 2.6 billion, as reported by the Bank of Ghana. This decline was attributed to a 5% decrease in total exports, driven by an 8.7% decline in cocoa income and a 30% decrease in revenue from oil shipments.f Ghana).

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20192020202120222023
Imports of Goods (million USD) 13,41112,42913,62914,62113,715
Exports of Goods (million USD) 15,66814,47214,72717,49415,868
Imports of Services (million USD) 13,49812,11712,33811,7080
Exports of Services (million USD) 9,9257,6069,1748,2500
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 15.9-54.5113.813.0n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 12.7-50.769.19.4n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 39.417.828.525.0n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 37.420.729.927.5n/a
Trade Balance (million USD) 2,2572,0431,0992,873n/a
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -1,316-2,468-2,066-585n/a
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 76.838.558.452.6n/a

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

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2023
Switzerland 18.2%
South Africa 11.7%
United Arab Emirates 10.2%
China 8.2%
India 7.0%
See More Countries 44.8%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2023
China 18.7%
Netherlands 9.6%
India 6.4%
Russia 6.4%
United States 6.1%
See More Countries 52.7%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data

 
 

Main Products

17.4 bn USD of products exported in 2022
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 37.6%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 29.9%
Cocoa beans, whole or broken, raw or roastedCocoa beans, whole or broken, raw or roasted 7.3%
Cocoa paste, whether or not defattedCocoa paste, whether or not defatted 3.0%
Coconuts, brazil nuts and cashew nuts, fresh or...Coconuts, brazil nuts and cashew nuts, fresh or dried, whether or not shelled or peeled 1.7%
See More Products 20.6%
18.0 bn USD of products imported in 2022
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 25.5%
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) 4.2%
Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl....Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl. chassis with engine and cab 2.7%
Cement, incl. cement clinkers, whether or not...Cement, incl. cement clinkers, whether or not coloured 2.5%
RiceRice 2.1%
See More Products 63.0%

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
Since Ghana's democratisation in 1992, two parties have been dominating the political scene:

- New Patriotic Party (NPP): ruling party, centre-right, liberal conservative
- National Democratic Congress (NDC): main opposition, social democratic.

Other parties include:

- All Peoples Congress (APC)
- Convention People's Party (CPP)
- Ghana Freedom Party (GFP)
- Ghana Union Movement (GUM)
- Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP)
- Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG)
- National Democratic Party (NDP)
- People's National Convention (PNC)
- Progressive People's Party (PPP)
- United Front Party (UFP)
- United Progressive Party (UPP).

Type of State
Constitutional presidential 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: April 2024