U.S. Department of State
Background Notes: Ghana, February 1998
Released by the Office of West African Affairs, Bureau of African
Official Name: Republic of Ghana
Area: 238,538 sq. km. (92,100 sq. mi.); about the size of Illinois and
Cities: Capital--Accra (metropolitan area pop. 3 million est.). Other
cities--Kumasi (1 million est.), Tema (250,000 est.), Sekondi-Takoradi
Terrain: Plains and scrubland, rain forest, savanna.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Ghanaian(s).
Population (1997 est.): 17.7 million.
Density: 74/sq. km. (192/sq. mi.).
Annual growth rate (1996 est.): 2.3%.
Ethnic groups: Akan, Ewe, Ga.
Religions: Christian 35%, indigenous beliefs 31%, Muslim 27%, other 7%.
Languages: English (official), Akan 44%, Mole-Dagbani 16%, Ewe 13%, Ga-
Adangbe 8%. Education: Years compulsory--9. Literacy--64.5%.
Health: Infant mortality rate (1996 est.)-- 80/1,000. Life expectancy--
Work force: 4 million: Agriculture and fishing--54.7%. Industry--18.7%.
clerical--15.2%. Services, transportation, and communications--7.7%.
Independence: March 6, 1957.
Constitution: Entered into force January 7, 1993.
Branches: Executive--President popularly elected for a maximum of two
four-year terms. Legislative--unicameral Parliament popularly elected
for four-year terms. Judicial--Independent, Supreme Court Justices
nominated by President with approval of Parliament. Subdivisions: 10
Political parties: National Democratic Congress, New Patriotic Party,
People's Convention Party, National Convention Party, People's National
Convention, et alia. Names, slogans, and symbols of parties existing
prior to 1992 are banned by law.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.
Flag: Three horizontal stripes of red, gold, and green, with a black
star in the center of the gold stripe.
GDP (1997): $6.01 billion.
Real GDP growth rate (1997): 5.5%.
Per capita GDP (1997): $340.
Inflation rate (1997): 27%.
Natural resources: Gold, timber, diamonds, bauxite, manganese, fish.
Agriculture: Products--cocoa, coconuts, coffee, pineapples, cashews,
pepper, other food crops, rubber. Land--70% arable and forested.
Business and industry: Types--mining, lumber, light manufacturing,
fishing, aluminum, tourism. Trade (1997): Exports--$1.6 billion: cocoa
($600 million), aluminum, gold, timber, diamonds, manganese. Imports--
$1.9 billion: petroleum ($272 million), food, industrial raw materials,
machinery, equipment. Major trade partners--U.K., Germany, U.S.,
Official exchange rate (Dec. 1997): 2,295 cedis=US$1.
Fiscal year: Calendar year.
Ghana is located on West Africa's Gulf of Guinea only a few degrees
north of the Equator. Half of the country lies less than 152 meters (500
ft.) above sea level, and the highest point is 883 meters (2,900 ft.).
The 537-kilometer (334-mi.) coastline is mostly a low, sandy shore
backed by plains and scrub and intersected by several rivers and
streams, most of which are navigable only by canoe. A tropical rain
forest belt, broken by heavily forested hills and many streams and
rivers, extends northward from the shore, near the Cote d'Ivoire
frontier. This area, known as the "Ashanti," produces most of the
country's cocoa, minerals, and timber. North of this belt, the country
varies from 91 to 396 meters (300-1,300 ft.) above sea level and is
covered by low bush, park-like savanna, and grassy plains.
The climate is tropical. The eastern coastal belt is warm and
comparatively dry; the southwest corner, hot and humid; and the north,
hot and dry. There are two distinct rainy seasons in the south--May-June
and August-September; in the north, the rainy seasons tend to merge. A
dry, northeasterly wind, the Harmattan, blows in January and February.
Annual rainfall in the coastal zone averages 83 centimeters (33 in.).
Volta Lake, the largest man-made lake in the world, extends from the
Akosombo Dam in southeastern Ghana to the town of Yapei, 520 kilometers
(325 mi.) to the north. The lake generates electricity, provides inland
transportation, and is a potentially valuable resource for irrigation
and fish farming.
Ghana's population is concentrated along the coast and in the principal
cities of Accra and Kumasi. Most Ghanaians descended from migrating
tribes that probably came down the Volta River valley at the beginning
of the 13th century. Ethnically, Ghana is divided into small groups
speaking more than 50 languages and dialects. Among the more important
linguistic groups are the Akans, which include the Fantis along the
coast and the Ashantis in the forest region north of the coast; the
Guans, on the plains of the Volta River; the Ga- and Ewe-speaking
peoples of the south and southeast; and the Moshi-Dagomba-speaking
tribes of the northern and upper regions. English, the official and
commercial language, is taught in all the schools.
Primary and junior secondary school education is tuition-free and
mandatory. The Government of Ghana support for basic education is
unequivocal. Article 39 of the Constitution mandates the major tenets of
the free, compulsory, universal basic education (FCUBE) initiative.
Launched in 1996, it is one of the most ambitious pre-tertiary education
programs in West Africa. Since 1987, the Government of Ghana has
increased its education budget by 700%. Basic education's share has
grown from 45% to 60% of that total.
Students begin their 6-year primary education at age six. Under
educational reforms implemented in 1987, they pass into a junior
secondary school system for 3 years of academic training combined with
technical and vocational training. Those continuing move into the 3-year
senior secondary school program. Entrance to one of the five Ghanaian
universities is by examination following completion of senior secondary
school. School enrollment totals almost
The history of the Gold Coast before the last quarter of the 15th
century is derived primarily from oral tradition that refers to
migrations from the ancient kingdoms of the western Soudan (the area of
Mauritania and Mali). The Gold Coast was renamed Ghana upon independence
in 1957 because of indications that present-day inhabitants descended
from migrants who moved south from the ancient kingdom of Ghana.
The first contact between Europe and the Gold Coast dates from 1470,
when a party of Portuguese landed. In 1482, the Portuguese built Elmina
Castle as a permanent trading base. The first recorded English trading
voyage to the coast was made by Thomas Windham in 1553. During the next
three centuries, the English, Danes, Dutch, Germans, and Portuguese
controlled various parts of the coastal areas.
In 1821, the British Government took control of the British trading
forts on the Gold Coast. In 1844, Fanti chiefs in the area signed an
agreement with the British that became the legal steppingstone to
colonial status for the coastal area.
From 1826 to 1900, the British fought a series of campaigns against the
Ashantis, whose kingdom was located inland. In 1902, they succeeded in
establishing firm control over the Ashanti region and making the
northern territories a protectorate. British Togoland, the fourth
territorial element eventually to form the nation, was part of a former
German colony administered by the United Kingdom from Accra as a League
of Nations mandate after 1922. In December 1946, British Togoland became
a UN Trust Territory, and in 1957, following a 1956 plebiscite, the
United Nations agreed that the territory would become part of Ghana when
the Gold Coast achieved independence.
The four territorial divisions were administered separately until 1946,
when the British Government ruled them as a single unit. In 1951, a
constitution was promulgated that called for a greatly enlarged
legislature composed principally of members elected by popular vote
directly or indirectly. An executive council was responsible for
formulating policy, with most African members drawn from the legislature
and including three ex officio members appointed by the governor. A new
constitution, approved on April 29, 1954, established a cabinet
comprising African ministers drawn from an all-African legislature
chosen by direct election. In the elections that followed, the
Convention People's Party (CPP), led by Kwame Nkrumah, won the majority
of seats in the new Legislative Assembly. In May 1956, Prime Minister
Nkrumah's Gold Coast government issued a white paper containing
proposals for Gold Coast independence. The British Government stated it
would agree to a firm date for independence if a reasonable majority for
such a step were obtained in the Gold Coast Legislative Assembly after a
general election. This election, held in 1956, returned the CPP to power
with 71 of the 104 seats in the Legislative Assembly. Ghana became an
independent state on March 6, 1957, when the United Kingdom relinquished
its control over the Colony of the Gold Coast and Ashanti, the Northern
Territories Protectorate, and British Togoland.
In subsequent reorganizations, the country was divided into 10 regions,
which currently are subdivided into 110 districts. The original Gold
Coast Colony now comprises the Western, Central, Eastern, and Greater
Accra Regions, with a small portion at the mouth of the Volta River
assigned to the Volta Region; the Ashanti area was divided into the
Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo Regions; the Northern Territories into the
Northern, Upper East, and Upper West Regions; and British Togoland
essentially is the same area as the Volta Region.
After independence, the CPP government under Nkrumah sought to develop
Ghana as a modern, semi-industrialized, unitary socialist state. The
government emphasized political and economic organization, endeavoring
to increase stability and productivity through labor, youth, farmers,
cooperatives, and other organizations integrated with the CPP. The
government, according to Nkrumah, acted only as "the agent of the CPP"
in seeking to accomplish these goals.
The CPP's control was challenged and criticized, and Prime Minister
Nkrumah used the Preventive Detention Act (1958), which provided for
detention without trial for up to 5 years (later extended to 10 years).
On July 1, 1960, a new constitution was adopted, changing Ghana from a
parliamentary system with a prime minister to a republican form of
government headed by a powerful president. In August 1960, Nkrumah was
given authority to scrutinize newspapers and other publications before
publication. This political evolution continued into early 1964, when a
constitutional referendum changed the country to a one-party state.
On February 24, 1966, the Ghanaian Army and police overthrew Nkrumah's
regime. Nkrumah and all his ministers were dismissed, the CPP and
National Assembly were dissolved, and the constitution was suspended.
The new regime cited Nkrumah's flagrant abuse of individual rights and
liberties, his regime's corrupt, oppressive, and dictatorial practices,
and the rapidly deteriorating economy as the principal reasons for its
The leaders of the February 24 coup established the new government
around the National Liberation Council (NLC) and pledged an early return
to a duly constituted civilian government. Members of the judiciary and
civil service remained at their posts and committees of civil servants
were established to handle the administration of the country.
Ghana's government returned to civilian authority under the Second
Republic in October 1969 after a parliamentary election in which the
Progress Party, led by Kofi A. Busia, won 105 of the 140 seats. Until
mid-1970, the powers of the chief of state were held by a presidential
commission led by Brigadier A.A. Afrifa. In a special election on August
31, 1970, former Chief Justice Edward Akufo-Addo was chosen president,
and Dr. Busia became prime minister.
Faced with mounting economic problems, Prime Minister Busia's government
undertook a drastic devaluation of the currency in December 1971. The
government's inability to control the subsequent inflationary pressures
stimulated further discontent, and military officers seized power in a
bloodless coup on January 13, 1972.
The coup leaders, led by Col. I.K. Acheampong, formed the National
Redemption Council (NRC) to which they admitted other officers, the head
of the police, and one civilian. The NRC promised improvements in the
quality of life for all Ghanaians and based its programs on nationalism,
economic development, and self-reliance. In 1975, a government
reorganization resulted in the NRC's replacement by the Supreme Military
Council (SMC), also headed by now-General Acheampong.
Unable to deliver on its promises, the NRC/SMC became increasingly
marked by mismanagement and rampant corruption. In 1977, General
Acheampong brought forward the concept of union government (UNIGOV),
which would make Ghana a non-party state. Perceiving this as a ploy by
Acheampong to retain power, professional groups and students launched
strikes and demonstrations against the government in 1977 and 1978. The
steady erosion in Acheampong's power led to his arrest in July 1978 by
his chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Frederick Akuffo, who replaced him as head
of state and leader of what became known as the SMC-2.
Akuffo abandoned UNIGOV and established a plan to return to
constitutional and democratic government. A Constitutional Assembly was
established, and political party activity was revived. Akuffo was unable
to solve Ghana's economic problems, however, or to reduce the rampant
corruption in which senior military officers played a major role. On
June 4, 1979, his government was deposed in a violent coup by a group of
junior and non-commissioned officers--Armed Forces Revolutionary Council
(AFRC)--with Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings as its chairman.
The AFRC executed eight senior military officers, including former
chiefs of state Acheampong and Akuffo; established Special Tribunals
that, secretly and without due process, tried dozens of military
officers, other government officials, and private individuals for
corruption, sentencing them to long prison terms and confiscating their
property; and, through a combination of force and exhortation, attempted
to rid Ghanaian society of corruption and profiteering. At the same
time, the AFRC accepted, with a few amendments, the draft constitution
that had been submitted, permitted the scheduled presidential and
parliamentary elections to take place in June and July, promulgated the
constitution, and handed over power to the newly elected president and
parliament of the Third Republic on September 24, 1979.
The 1979 constitution was modeled on those of Western democracies. It
provided for the separation of powers among an elected president and a
unicameral parliament, an independent judiciary headed by a Supreme
Court, which protected individual rights, and other autonomous
institutions, such as the Electoral Commissioner and the Ombudsman. The
new president, Dr. Hilla Limann, was a career diplomat from the north
and the candidate of the People's National Party (PNP), the political
heir of Nkrumah's CPP. Of the 140 members of parliament, 71 were PNP.
The PNP government established the constitutional institutions and
generally respected democracy and individual human rights. It failed,
however, to halt the continuing decline in the economy; corruption
flourished, and the gap between rich and poor widened. On December 31,
1981, Flight Lt. Rawlings and a small group of enlisted and former
soldiers launched a coup that succeeded against little opposition in
toppling President Limann.
The PNDC Era
Rawlings and his colleagues suspended the 1979 constitution, dismissed
the president and his cabinet, dissolved the parliament, and proscribed
existing political parties. They established the Provisional National
Defense Council (PNDC), initially composed of seven members with
Rawlings as chairman, to exercise executive and legislative powers. The
existing judicial system was preserved, but alongside it the PNDC
created the National Investigation Committee to root out corruption and
other economic offenses, the anonymous Citizens' Vetting Committee to
punish tax evasion, and the Public Tribunals to try various crimes. The
PNDC proclaimed its intent to allow the people to exercise political
power through defense committees to be established in communities,
workplaces, and in units of the armed forces and police. Under the PNDC,
Ghana remained a unitary government.
In December 1982, the PNDC announced a plan to decentralize government
from Accra to the regions, the districts, and local communities, but it
maintained overall control by appointing regional and district
secretaries who exercised executive powers and also chaired regional and
district councils. Local councils, however, were expected progressively
to take over the payment of salaries, with regions and districts
assuming more powers from the national government. In 1984, the PNDC
created a National Appeals Tribunal to hear appeals from the public
tribunals, changed the Citizens' Vetting Committee into the Office of
Revenue Collection and replaced the system of defense committees with
Committees for the Defense of the Revolution.
In 1984, the PNDC also created a National Commission on Democracy to
study ways to establish participatory democracy in Ghana. The commission
issued a "Blue Book" in July 1987 outlining modalities for district-
level elections, which were held in late 1988 and early 1989, for newly
created district assemblies. One-third of the assembly members are
appointed by the government.
Under international and domestic pressure for a return to democracy, the
PNDC allowed the establishment of a 258-member Consultative Assembly
made up of members representing geographic districts as well as
established civic or business organizations. The assembly was charged to
draw up a draft constitution to establish a fourth republic, using PNDC
proposals. The PNDC accepted the final product without revision, and it
was put to a national referendum on April 28, 1992, in which it received
92% approval. On May 18, 1992, the ban on party politics was lifted in
preparation for multi-party elections. The PNDC and its supporters
formed a new party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), to contest
the elections. Presidential elections were held on November 3 and
parliamentary elections on December 29 of that year. Members of the
opposition boycotted the parliamentary elections, however, which
resulted in a 200 seat Parliament with only 17 opposition party members
and two independents.
The Constitution entered into force on January 7, 1993, to found the
Fourth Republic. On that day, Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings was
inaugurated as President and members of Parliament swore their oaths of
office. In 1996, the opposition fully contested the presidential and
parliamentary elections, which were described as peaceful, free, and
transparent by domestic and international observers. In that election,
President Rawlings was re-elected with 57% of the popular vote. In
addition, Rawlings' NDC party won 133 of the Parliament's 200 seats,
just one seat short of the two-thirds majority needed to amend the
Constitution, although the election returns of two parliamentary seats
face legal challenges.
The Constitution that established the Fourth Republic provided a basic
charter for republican democratic government. It declares Ghana to be a
unitary republic with sovereignty residing in the Ghanaian people.
Intended to prevent future coups, dictatorial government, and one-party
states, it is designed to establish the concept of powersharing. The
document reflects lessons learned from the abrogated constitutions of
the 1957, 1960, 1969, and 1979, and incorporates provisions and
institutions drawn from British and American constitutional models. One
controversial provision of the Constitution indemnifies members and
appointees of the PNDC from liability for any official act or omission
during the years of PNDC rule. The Constitution calls for a system of
checks and balances, with power shared between a president, a unicameral
parliament, a council of state, and an independent judiciary.
Executive authority is established in the Office of the Presidency,
together with his Council of State. The president is head of state, head
of government, and commander in chief of the armed forces. He also
appoints the vice president. According to the Constitution, more than
half of the presidentially appointed ministers of state must be
appointed from among members of Parliament.
Legislative functions are vested in Parliament, which consists of a
unicameral 200-member body plus the Speaker. To become law, legislation
must have the assent of the president, who has a qualified veto over all
bills except those to which a vote of urgency is attached. Members of
Parliament are popularly elected by universal adult suffrage for terms
of four years, except in war time, when terms may be extended for not
more than 12 months at a time beyond the four years.
The structure and the power of the judiciary are independent of the two
other branches of government. The Supreme Court has broad powers of
judicial review. It is authorized by the Constitution to rule on the
constitutionality of any legislation or executive action at the request
of any aggrieved citizen. The hierarchy of courts derives largely from
British juridical forms. The hierarchy, called the Superior Court of
Judicature, is composed of the Supreme Court of Ghana, the Court of
Appeal, the High Court of Justice, regional tribunals, and such lower
courts or tribunals as Parliament may establish. The courts have
jurisdiction over all civil and criminal matters.
Principal Government Officials
President--Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings (ret.)
Vice President--Dr. John Atta Mills
Minister of Foreign Affairs--James Victor Gbeho
Minister of Defense--Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu
Minister of Communications--Amb. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah
Minister of Finance--Kwame Peprah
Minister of Food and Agriculture--Dr. Kwabena Adjei, MP
Minister of Justice--Dr. Obed Yao Asamoah
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development--Kwamena Ahwoi
Minister of Mines and Energy--Ferdinand Ohene-Kena
Minister of Trade and Industry--John Frank Abu, MP
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court--Justice Isaac Kobina Abban
Speaker of Parliament--Justice Daniel F. Annan
First Deputy Speaker--Kenneth Dzirasah
Second Deputy Speaker--Freddie Blay
Majority Leader--J.H. Owusu-Acheampong
Deputy Majority Leader--Alhaji M. A. Seidu
Minority Leader--J.H. Mensah
Deputy Minority Leader--Gladys Asmah
Ambassador to the United States--Koby Koomson
Permanent Representative to the United Nations--Jack Wilmont
Ghana maintains an embassy in the United States at 3512 International
Drive, NW., Washington, D.C. 20008 (tel. 202-686-4500). Its permanent
mission to the United Nations is located at 19 E. 47th Street., New
York, N.Y. 10017 (tel. 212-832-1300).
By West African standards, Ghana has a diverse and rich resource base.
The country is mainly agricultural, however, with a majority of its
workers engaged in farming. Cash crops consist primarily of cocoa and
cocoa products,which typically provide about two-thirds of export
revenues, timber products, coconuts and other palm products, shea nuts,
which produce an edible fat, and coffee. Ghana also has established a
successful program of nontraditional agricultural products for export,
including pineapples, cashews, and pepper. Cassava, yams, plantains,
corn, rice, peanuts, millet, and sorghum are the basic foodstuffs. Fish,
poultry, and meat also are important dietary staples.
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.
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
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
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
Ghana is active in the United Nations and many of its specialized
agencies (including the World Trade Organization), the Nonaligned
Movement, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), and the Economic
Community of West African States. Generally, it follows the consensus of
the Nonaligned Movement and the OAU on economic and political issues not
directly affecting its own interests. Ghana has been extremely active in
international peacekeeping activities under UN auspices in Lebanon,
Afghanistan, Rwanda, the Balkans, and Pakistan, in addition to an eight-
year sub-regional initiative with its ECOWAS partners to develop and
then enforce a cease-fire in Liberia. Ghana maintains friendly relations
with all states, regardless of ideology.
The United States has enjoyed good relations with Ghana at the
nonofficial, personal level since Ghana's independence. Thousands of
Ghanaians have been educated in the United States. Close relations are
maintained between educational and scientific institutions, and cultural
links, particularly between Ghanaians and African-Americans, are strong.
After a period of strained relations in the mid-1980s, U.S.-Ghanaian
official relations are stronger than at any other time in recent memory.
Ghanaian parliamentarians and other government officials have through
the U.S. International Visitor Program acquainted themselves with U.S.
Congressional and state legislative practices and participated in
programs designed to address other issues of interest. The U.S. and
Ghanaian militaries have cooperated in numerous joint training
exercises, culminating with Ghanaian participation in the African Crisis
Response Initiative, an international activity in which the U.S. is
facilitating the development of an interoperable peacekeeping capacity
among African nations. In addition, there is an active bilateral
international military and educational training program. The Office of
the President of Ghana worked closely with the U.S. Embassy in Accra to
establish an American Chamber of Commerce to continue to develop closer
economic ties in the private sector.
The United States is among Ghana's principal trading partners. The
American privately owned VALCO aluminum smelter imports many of its
supplies from, and exports almost all the aluminum ingots to, the United
States. With a replacement value of more than $600 million, U.S.
investments in Ghana form one of the largest stocks of foreign capital.
VALCO--90% owned by Kaiser, and 10% by Reynolds--is by far the biggest
investment, but other important U.S. companies operating in the country
include Mobil, Coca Cola, S.C. Johnson, Ralston Purina, Star-Kist, A.H.
Robins, Sterling, Pfizer, IBM, Carson Products, 3M, Pioneer Gold,
Stewart & Stevenson, Price Waterhouse, Great Lakes Shipping, and
National Cash Register (NCR). Several U.S. firms recently made or are
considering investments in Ghana, primarily in gold mining, wood
products, and petroleum. In late 1997, Nuevo Petroleum concluded an oil
exploration agreement accounting for the last of Ghana's offshore
mineral rights zones. Two other U.S. oil companies, Sante Fe and Hunt,
are also engaged in offshore exploration.
U.S. development assistance to Ghana in fiscal year 1997 totaled $52
million, divided between small business enterprise, health, education,
and democracy/governance programs. Ghana was the first country in the
world to accept Peace Corps volunteers, and the program remains one of
the largest. Currently, there are more than 150 volunteers in Ghana.
Almost half work in education, and the others in various fields such as
agroforestry, small business development, health education and water
sanitation, as well as youth development.
Principal U.S. Officials
Deputy Chief of Mission--Sharon Lavorel-Rutherford
Director, Peace Corps--Harriet Lancaster
Public Affairs Officer--Brooks Robinson
Acting Director, USAID Mission--Thomas Hobgood
Administrative Chief--Perry Adair
Political Chief--Stephanie Sullivan
Economic Chief--Robert Merrigan
The U.S. Embassy is located on Ring Road East, near Danquah Circle,
Accra (tel. 233-21-775347/8/9). The mailing address is P.O. Box 194,
Accra, Ghana. For American citizen services and visa questions, the
Embassy Consular Section telephone number is 233-21-776602.
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides
Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are
issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel
to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for all
countries and include information on immigration practices, currency
regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and
security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in
the country. Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate
information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-
term conditions overseas which pose significant risks to the security of
American travelers. Free copies of this information are available by
calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-
on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Travel Warnings and Consular Information
Sheets also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page:
http://travel.state.gov and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB).
To access CABB, dial the modem number: (301-946-4400 (it will
accommodate up to 33,600 bps), set terminal communications program to N-
8-1 (no parity, 8 bits, 1 stop bit); and terminal emulation to VT100.
The login is travel and the password is info (Note: Lower case is
required). The CABB also carries international security information from
the Overseas Security Advisory Council and Department's Bureau of
Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs Trips for Travelers publication
series, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a
safe trip abroad, can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents,
U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-
7954; telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250.
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be
obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-
5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-
Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour, 7-
day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m.
to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-
225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate
of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648)
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at
(404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization
recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water
safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information
for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is
available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC
20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.
Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to
travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's
embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see "Principal
Government Officials" listing in this publication).
U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas
are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country
(see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials" listing in this publication).
This may help family members contact you in case of an emergency.
Further Electronic Information:
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet,
DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy
information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch,
the official magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings;
Country Commercial Guides; directories of key officers of foreign
service posts; etc. DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at
U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published annually by the U.S.
Department of State, USFAC archives information on the Department of
State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of official foreign
policy information from 1990 to the present. Contact the Superintendent
of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954,
Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or fax (202)
National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of
Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information. It is
available on the Internet (www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the
NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-1986 for more information.
[end of document]
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