Ghana - Country Commercial Guide
Market Overview

Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, and other issues that affect trade.

Last published date: 2022-03-16

Ghana is a country of roughly 31 million people. It is a young and fast-growing country, with a relatively high population growth rate of 2.2 percent. More than half the population (57 percent) is under 25 years old.

The country’s capital, Accra, is a bustling metropolitan area that is home to roughly 2 million people. Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti Region north of Accra, is another large population center and an active commercial center with roughly the same population.

At present, Delta operates a daily, direct flight to Accra from New York (JFK), and United operates frequent flights to Accra from Washington, Dulles (IAD).  International visitors arriving by air will enter Accra through Kotoka International Airport, which opened in 2018. Business travelers are advised to check with Ghanaian authorities regarding visitor visas and requirements for obtaining visas upon entry into Ghana.

There are several business hotels in Accra. Restaurants offering Ghanaian cuisine as well as food from around the world are plentiful. Taxis are available at the airport and Uber and other ridesharing services are well established in the market.  Money can be exchanged for Ghanaian Cedis at Kotoka International Airport or at hotels and at some banks.  ATMs accepting international bank cards are plentiful in Ghana’s city centers.  Kumasi offers a few hotels that meet international business standards; other locations offer a smattering of budget to mid-priced hotels.

With its fast-growing, youthful population, Ghana offers a market with many opportunities for sales of foreign products and services. American products are valued for their quality, durability, state-of-the-art technology, customer service, and after-sales customer care. Ghana is also an excellent platform for market entry into 55 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, a market of 1.3 billion people.  Many Ghanaians have strong personal or business ties to the United States, and a strong affinity for American brands and technology. They are open to new American brand ideas and customer experiences.

In early 2022, the country is experiencing a period of fiscal tightening as the Government grapples with balancing its growing deficits and debt financing obligations with investments in Ghana’s development.  Nonetheless, Ghana’s medium and long-term growth prospects remain strong. 

Ghana enjoys vibrant and free media, with over 350 radio stations, more than 120 television operators on air, and approximately 250 newspaper and magazine publications, plus active and growing internet use and social media presence.  The number of internet users nearly doubled between 2017 and 2020. 

U.S. companies seeking to do business in Ghana are advised to take a long view, taking time to get to know potential business partners and to develop relationships that go beyond email and texts. U.S. companies that can send a representative to visit Ghana and meet potential partners, undertake site visits, and walk Ghana’s bustling streets, will make a favorable impression.

Ghana is blessed with a rich diversity of ethnic groups, each with its own unique culture and way of life. The major ethnic groups are Akans (45.7%), Mole Dagbon (18.5%), Ewe (12.8%), Ga-Dangme (7.1%), Gurma (6.4%), Guan (3.2%), Grusi (2.7%),  Mandi (2.0), and other 1.6%.  Less than 1% of the population is non-Ghanaian, and 90% of that population comes from other ECOWAS countries.  See 2021 Ghanaian Census Data for more information.

The official language and the language of business is English, which is taught in all schools. Ghanaians speak indigenous languages, as well, and many are conversant in several local languages.

Ghanaians are known to be very hospitable people, and this trait spans all ethnics groups. They are also very religious, with roughly 95% engaging in organized religion. Approximately 71 percent of the population is Christian, 19 percent is Muslim, 5 percent adheres to indigenous or animistic religious beliefs, and the remaining 5 percent belongs to other religious groups or has no religious beliefs.

Although there are occasional disagreements in rural areas among ethnic groups, mainly over land ownership or succession, Ghana has enjoyed peaceful transitions of government following elections for decades.

Effects of the Covid 19 Pandemic: Like most countries around the world, Ghana has been affected by the pandemic. Periodic lockdowns and supply chain and workforce interruptions due to quarantines affected the economy. Land borders with neighboring countries remain closed to travelers but not cargo as of March 2022.  Ghana has launched a broad public vaccination campaign and vaccine supply is generally available.  Working with international and domestic public health organizations, the government has tried to achieve a balance between fighting the pandemic with land border closures, limits on large gatherings, school closings; contract tracing and quarantine measures, and keeping the economy running. Funding protective equipment, testing, and the additional healthcare system burden have added to government expenditures.  As of March 2022, Covid 19 positivity rates were declining to encourage levels after Ghana navigated the Omnicron wave, but masking and social distancing requirements remain common in stores and formal settings. 

Economy

In the three years preceding the COVID-19 pandemic, Ghana enjoyed average annual economic growth approaching seven percent, making it one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.  Despite the economic slowdown brought on by the pandemic, Ghana still managed to sustain a growth rate of 0.4 percent in 2020.   The economy, however, is largely dependent on the export of commodities such as gold, cocoa, oil, and gas, which makes it vulnerable to global economic slowdowns and declines in commodity prices. GDP growth is expected to average more than five percent over the next three years. 

The services sector is the largest contributor to Ghana’s GDP – it constituted 48% in 2020 and is estimated to have surged to more than 50% of GDP in 2021 as a result of growth in the education, health, and ICT service industries, among others.  The industrial sector is the next largest - contributing around 32% of GDP followed by the agricultural sector at roughly 21%. Agriculture employs about 45 percent of Ghana’s workforce, mainly consisting of small landholders.

Ghana imported $983 million in goods from the United States in 2021, a significant rebound from the $828 million in imports 2020, a year that was influenced by the global downturn in economic activity.  The top countries supplying Ghana’s imports in 2020 (the last year in which full international data is available) included: China (23%); the United States (9%); Belgium (perhaps reflecting wider EU trade - 6%); India (6%); the United Kingdom (5%); and Turkey (4%).  

Ghana exported $1.7 billion in goods to the United States in 2021. Ghana’s top export markets include China, Switzerland, India, South Africa, the Netherlands (perhaps reflecting wider trade with the European Union), and the United Arab Emirates.