At independence in 1957, Ghana had one of Africa’s strongest economies, but over the next 25 years it stagnated as a result of neglect, corruption and falling world market prices for cocoa. After the introduction of two economic recovery programs in 1983-90 and a continued liberalization of the economy during the 1990s, the economy began to recover. Growth continued during the 1990s, thanks in large part to high prices of gold and cocoa.
Agriculture is the most important sector of Ghana’s economy. However, the country’s role as a world-leading cocoa producer has been taken over by Ivory Coast. In addition to cocoa, gold, oil and timber are the most important export products. Since oil began to be mined in 2010, the country’s prospects have improved further.
Cocoa, which covers more than half of the cultivated area, is the most important barley crop. The cultivations are located mainly on the Ashanti and Kwahu plateaus. The production of cocoa dropped sharply from the 1960s and several decades ahead despite extensive new planting. The causes of the decline were low and fluctuating world market prices, internal organizational problems and the relatively high age of cocoa trees. In addition, large parts of the cocoa cultivations were destroyed due to fires in the early 1980s. Production recovered during the 1990s and during the 1990s it has been at record levels. Ghana is now one of the world’s three largest cocoa producers.
In addition to cocoa, the cultivation of food crops plays a major role. Dominating are cassava, jams and flour bananas. However, production does not respond to domestic demand, which is why it is forced to import food crops from neighboring countries.
About 20 percent of the country is covered by forest. Large forest areas are located in the south-eastern part of the country. In the 1960s, an export-oriented forest industry was developed in Ghana. Production decreased from about 1.4 million m 3 in the 1970s to about 500,000 m 3 in the mid-1980s, but has subsequently recovered. The forest industry’s expansion during the 1990s has led to deforestation, but since 2009, in an agreement with the EU, Ghana has undertaken to export only legally harvested timber.
Fishing is important in the coastal area and in Lake Volta. The theme is the most important fishing port, followed by Elmina and Takoradi. The total catch is over 300,000 tonnes annually, of which the vast majority are caught in the Atlantic. However, the catch volumes account for only about half of the domestic demand, which is why Ghana also imports fish.
Ghana has large deposits of gold, diamonds, manganese, bauxite and other minerals. In the 1870s, modern gold mining began; The Ashanti mine in Obuasi is one of the richest in the world. For many years, gold has been Ghana’s most important export commodity; Minerals accounted for just over 1/3 of the country’s export income, with gold alone accounting for about 90 percent.
In 2010, mining began in the offshore Jubilee oil field and oil exports have already contributed strongly to the country’s income and high economic growth. In addition, there are natural gas deposits that have not yet begun to be mined.
Before the Akosombo hydroelectric power plant at Lake Voltas came into operation in 1966, Ghana was completely dependent on electricity from diesel generators. For a long time, the country’s electricity needs were largely covered by the Akosombo power plant (912 MW) and the Kpong power plant (160 MW).
Ghana could also export electricity to Togo and Benin. However, the production of water electricity varies with the rainfall and periodically low water levels have caused electricity shortages to damage the important mining industry. In order to reduce dependence on water electricity, thermal power plants have been developed, so far powered by imported gas. Firing with firewood and charcoal is still the most important source of energy for a majority of households.
Ghana has a relatively diversified industrial sector, which focuses both on exports and on importation. Processing of agricultural products, the textile and paper industry and the chemical industry are important industrial branches. The Tema oil refinery is also important. The industry’s contribution to GDP was 22 percent in 1973. This then declined sharply and in 1983 was less than 5 percent. However, the economic reforms and the growth of the oil industry have led to an increase of the share to 24 percent in 2015.
The industry’s need for imported equipment has resulted in low capacity utilization. One of the largest industries is the Tema aluminum smelter with a capacity of 200,000 tonnes per year. In the mid-1980s, less than 50,000 tonnes were produced due to low demand and energy supply problems. Since the 1990s, the industry has gradually recovered but is still struggling with problems such as high raw material costs and electricity shortages. Most of the industry is located in the Accra-Tema and Sekondi-Takoradio areas as well as Kumasi.
The decline in cocoa production since the 1960s and 1970s has led Ghana to have a deficit in its trade balance for many years. The situation has been the same since the 1990s despite record-high cocoa crops and good economic growth. Exports are dominated by primary products such as gold, cocoa and timber. In 2011, oil passed gold as the most important export commodity. The country also exports bauxite, manganese and diamonds. Imports are dominated by capital goods, oil and food.
- COUNTRYAAH: Find major trading partners of Ghana, including major exports and major imports with latest trade value and market share as well as growth rate.
The most important export recipients are India, China and Switzerland. Imports come mainly from China, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Tourism and gastronomy
Ghana is not a major tourist country, but the number of tourists has increased since the end of the 1990s; In 2011, the country was visited by 931,000 people.
Just east of Accra, as well as elsewhere along the coast, there are nice beaches. A major tourist attraction in Ghana is the national parks; the larger ones, such as the mole, harbor antelopes, elephants and many interesting bird species.
Accra is a modern metropolis, with remnants of flaky 1960s booms, from the time when Kwame Nkrumah, through monumental facilities, wanted to emphasize the newly independent role of Ghana in the alliance-free states.
- According to AllCityPopulation, the capital city of Ghana is Accra with a population of 2.5 million (estimated 2020). Other major cities include Kumasi, Sekondi-Takoradi, Tamale.
Worth noting is the National Museum (wood sculptures and tissues) and the large market (an even more extensive one is found in the old Ashanti capital, Kumasi, which has, however, preserved very little from its brilliant past). For a Nordic resident, Christiansborg Castle (presidential residence) on the coast next to Accra is of particular interest. The fortress is reminiscent of the fact that the Danish trading company here lasted until 1850.
In the old capital of Cape Coast, the castle was originally built by Swedes; during the short Swedish colonial era (1650–63) it was called Carolusborg. Situated stately on the sea shore, this, along with the Portuguese-Dutch castle of Elmia, is a reminder of how the leading European maritime powers from the 1600s became interested in the Gold Coast and its trade opportunities. These castles, along with some forty smaller fortifications, constitute Ghana’s most important cultural historical sites.
The food in Ghana is predominantly vegetable. Rice, corn, manioc and starchy flour bananas are the main food. Fish are caught in the sea or Lake Volta. Dried fish and dried shrimp are common, for example in gari photo, where buns of tapioca are eaten with sauce of eggs, onions, tomatoes and dried shrimp. Chickens are often prepared in peanut stew. The Ghanaians themselves also admit that the interaction between traditional West African cuisine and British has not always been good. Anyone who has the opportunity can take advantage of the short distance from Accra to the border and the French-style Lomé in Togo to get a really good meal. On the plus side, however, should be mentioned excellent fish dishes and seafood as well as a tasty light beer.