Minerals -- principally gold, diamonds, manganese ore, and bauxite -- are produced and exported. The only commercial oil well has been closed after producing 3.5 million barrels over its seven-year life, but signs of natural gas are being studied for power generation, while exploration continues for other oil and gas resources.
Ghana's industrial base is relatively advanced compared to many other African countries. Import-substitution industries include textiles; steel (using scrap); tires; oil refining; flour milling; beverages; tobacco; simple consumer goods; and car, truck, and bus assembly.
Tourism has become one of Ghana's largest foreign income earners (ranking third in 1997), and the Ghanaian Government has placed great emphasis upon further tourism support and development.
Economic Development At independence, Ghana had a substantial physical and social infrastructure and $481 million in foreign reserves. The Nkrumah government further developed the infrastructure and made important public investments in the industrial sector. With assistance from the United States, the World Bank, and the United Kingdom, construction of the Akosombo Dam was completed on the Volta River in 1966. Two U.S. companies built Valco, Africa's largest aluminum smelter, to use power generated at the dam. Aluminum exports from Valco are a major source of foreign exchange for Ghana.
Many Nkrumah-era investments were monumental public works projects and poorly conceived, badly managed agricultural and industrial schemes. With cocoa prices falling and the country's foreign exchange reserves fast disappearing, the government resorted to supplier credits to finance many projects. By the mid-1960s, Ghana's reserves were gone, and the country could not meet repayment schedules. To rationalize, the National Liberation Council abandoned unprofitable projects, and some inefficient state-owned enterprises were sold to private investors. On three occasions, Ghana's creditors agreed to reschedule repayments due on Nkrumah-era supplier credits. Led by the United States, foreign donors provided import loans to enable the foreign exchange-strapped government to import essential commodities.
Prime Minister Busia's government (1969-72) liberalized controls to attract foreign investment and to encourage domestic entrepreneurship. Investors were cautious, however, and cocoa prices began declining again while imports surged, precipitating a serious trade deficit. Despite considerable foreign assistance and some debt relief, the Busia regime also was unable to overcome the inherited restraints on growth posed by the debt burden, balance-of-payments imbalances, foreign exchange shortages, and mismanagement.
Although foreign aid helped prevent economic collapse and was responsible for subsequent improvements in many sectors, the economy stagnated in the 10-year period preceding the NRC takeover in 1972. Population growth offset the modest increase in gross domestic product, and real earnings declined for many Ghanaians.
To restructure the economy, the NRC, under General Acheampong (1972-78), undertook an austerity program that emphasized self-reliance, particularly in food production. These plans were not realized, however, primarily because of post-1973 oil price increases and a drought in 1975-77 that particularly affected northern Ghana. The NRC, which had inherited foreign debts of almost $1 billion, abrogated existing rescheduling arrangements for some debts and rejected other repayments. After creditors objected to this unilateral action, a 1974 agreement rescheduled the medium-term debt on liberal terms. The NRC also imposed the Investment Policy Decree of 1975--effective on January 1977--that required 51 % Ghanaian equity participation in most foreign firms, but the government took 40% in specified industries. Many shares were sold directly to the public.
Continued mismanagement of the economy, record inflation (more than 100% in 1977), and increasing corruption, notably at the highest political levels, led to growing dissatisfaction. The post-July 1978 military regime led by General Akuffo attempted to deal with Ghana's economic problems by making small changes in the overvalued cedi and by restraining government spending and monetary growth. Under a one-year standby agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in January 1979, the government promised to undertake economic reforms, including a reduction of the budget deficit, in return for a $68 million IMF support program and $27 million in IMF Trust Fund loans. The agreement became inoperative, however, after the June 4 coup that brought Flight Lieutenant Rawlings and the AFRC to power for 4 months.
In September 1979, the civilian government of Hilla Limann inherited declining per capita income; stagnant industrial and agricultural production due to inadequate imported supplies; shortages of imported and locally produced goods; a sizable budget deficit (almost 40% of expenditures in 1979); high inflation, "moderating" to 54% in 1979; an increasingly overvalued cedi; flourishing smuggling and other black-market activities; unemployment and underemployment, particularly among urban youth; deterioration in the transport network; and continued foreign exchange constraints.
Limann's PNP government announced yet another (2-year) reconstruction program, emphasizing increased food production and productivity, exports, and transport improvements. Import austerity was imposed and external payments arrears cut. However, declining cocoa production combined with falling cocoa prices, while oil prices soared. No effective measures were taken to reduce rampant corruption and black marketing.
When Rawlings again seized power at the end of 1981, cocoa output had fallen to half the 1970-71 level and its world price to one-third the 1975 level. By 1982, oil would constitute half of Ghana's imports, while overall trade contracted greatly. Internal transport had slowed to a crawl, and inflation remained high. During Rawlings' first year, the economy was stagnant. Industry ran at about 10% of capacity due to the chronic shortage of foreign exchange to cover the importation of required raw materials and replacement parts. Economic conditions deteriorated further in early 1983 when Nigeria expelled an estimated 1 million Ghanaians who had to be absorbed by Ghana.
In April 1983, in coordination with the IMF, the PNDC launched an economic recovery program, perhaps the most stringent and consistent of its day in Africa, aimed at reopening infrastructural bottlenecks and reviving moribund productive sectors--agriculture, mining, and timber. The largely distorted exchange rate and prices were realigned to encourage production and exports. Increased fiscal and monetary discipline was imposed to curb inflation and to focus on priorities. Through November 1987, the cedi was devalued by more than 6,300%, and widespread direct price controls were substantially reduced.
The economy's response to these reforms was initially hampered by the absorption of one million returnees from Nigeria, the onset of the worst drought since independence, which brought on widespread bushfires and forced closure of the aluminum smelter and severe power cuts for industry and decline in foreign aid. In 1985, the country absorbed an additional 100,000 expellees from Nigeria. In 1987, cocoa prices began declining again; however, initial infrastructural repairs, improved weather, and producer incentives and support revived output in the early 1990s. During 1984-88 the economy experienced solid growth for the first time since 1978. Renewed exports, aid inflows, and a foreign exchange auction have eased hard currency constraints.
Since an initial August 1983 IMF standby agreement, the economic recovery program has been supported by three IMF standbys and two other credits totaling $611 million, $1.1 billion from the World Bank, and hundreds of millions of dollars more from other donors. In November 1987, the IMF approved a $318-million, 3-year extended fund facility. The second phase (1987-90) of the recovery program concentrated on economic restructuring and revitalizing social services. The third phase, focused on financial transparency and macroeconomic stability is scheduled for March 1998.
Ghana intends to achieve its goals of accelerated economic growth, improved quality of life for all Ghanaians, and reduced poverty through macroeconomic stability, higher private investment, broad-based social and rural development, as well as direct poverty-alleviation efforts. These plans are fully supported by the international donor community and have been forcefully reiterated in the 1995 government report, Ghana: Vision 2020. Privatization of state-owned enterprises continues, with about two-thirds of 300 parastatal enterprises sold to private owners. Other reforms adopted under the government's structural adjustment program include the elimination of exchange rate controls and the lifting of virtually all restrictions on imports. The establishment of an interbank foreign exchange market has greatly expanded access to foreign exchange.
The medium-term macroeconomic forecast assumes political stability, successful economic stabilization, and the implementation of a policy agenda for private sector growth, and adequate public spending on social services and rural infrastructure. The ninth Consultative Group Meeting for Ghana ended November 5, 1997 after deliberations in Paris. Twenty-four countries and donor entities were represented at this meeting called by the World Bank on behalf of the Ghanaian Government. The World Bank announced that, of the targeted disbursement level of $1.6 billion sought from the donor community for 1998-99, they foresaw only a $150 million shortfall in commitments, and that this shortfall would be easily realized should Ghana rapidly enact its macroeconomic program.
The government repealed a 17.% value-added tax (VAT) shortly after its introduction in 1995, which resulted in wide-spread public protests. The government reverted to several previously imposed taxes, including a sales tax. The government has set in motion a program to reintroduce a VAT bill, with implementation in 1998 after an extensive public education campaign.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $35.5 billion (1999 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 4.3% (1999 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,900 (1999 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
services: 30% (1999 est.)
Population below poverty line: 31.4% (1992 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3.4%
highest 10%: 27.3% (1992)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 12.8% (1999 est.)
Labor force: 4 million
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 60%, industry 15%, services 25% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate: 20% (1997 est.)
revenues: $1.39 billion
expenditures: $1.47 billion, including capital expenditures of $370 million (1996 est.)
Industries: mining, lumbering, light manufacturing, aluminum smelting, food processing
Industrial production growth rate: 4.2% (1996 est.)
Electricity - production: 6.206 billion kWh (1998)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 0.1%
other: 0% (1998)
Electricity - consumption: 5.437 billion kWh (1998)
Electricity - exports: 400 million kWh (1998)
Electricity - imports: 65 million kWh (1998)
Exports: $1.7 billion (f.o.b., 1999)
Imports: $2.5 billion (f.o.b., 1999)
Imports - commodities: capital equipment, petroleum, foodstuffs
Debt - external: $6 billion (1998 est.)
Economic aid - recipient: $477.3 million (1995)
Currency: 1 new cedi (C) = 100 pesewas
Exchange rates: new cedis per US$1 - 3,466.60 (December 1999), 2,647.32 (1999), 2,314.15 (1998), 2,050.17 (1997), 1,637.23 (1996), 1,200.43 (1995)
Fiscal year: calendar year