Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, and other issues that affect trade.
Ghana is a country of 31 million people with a fast-growing, young, globally and digitally connected population. Many Ghanaians have strong personal or business ties to the United States, and a strong affinity for American brands and technology. Ghana is the third largest U.S. export market for goods in Sub Saharan Africa. Beyond its traditional industries of agriculture, mining - and more recently, oil and gas production – Ghana’s digital, financial services, education, and franchising sectors are growing fast.
Ghana’s developing healthcare system, tourism sector, roads, rail, shipping, and port infrastructure offer opportunities for U.S. companies. Ghana’s Atlantic ports and daily direct flights from the United States make it an excellent platform for doing business in Africa. As the host to the new African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, Ghana is at the heart of Africa’s transformative regional integration and is a great place to launch your business strategy for the African continent. See ongoing market intelligence reports about Ghana’s dynamic economy.
The country’s capital, Accra, is a bustling metropolitan area that is home to roughly two 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. 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 several budget to mid-priced hotels.
In 2022, the country is experiencing a period of fiscal tightening as the government grapples with balancing its growing deficits and debt financing obligations. Nonetheless, Ghana’s medium and long-term growth prospects remain strong.
Ghana enjoys a vibrant 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.
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 the primary medium of instruction in all schools. Ghanaians speak local languages, as well, and many are conversant in several.
Ghanaians are known to be very hospitable people. They are also very religious, with roughly 95% engaging in an 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 traditional leadership succession, Ghana has enjoyed peaceful transitions of government following elections for decades.
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 0.5 percent in 2020 and it bounced back with a growth of 5.4 percent in 2021. 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 49% 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 30% 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 in 2020, a year that was influenced by the global downturn in economic activity. The top countries supplying Ghana’s merchandise imports in 2021 (the last year in which full international data is available) included: China (23%); the United States (9%); India (7%) Belgium (5%); United Arab Emirates (4%); Canada (3%); and the United Kingdom (3%).
Ghana exported $1.7 billion in goods to the United States in 2021. Ghana’s top exports include cocoa, gold, and oil. Ghana’s top export markets include China, Switzerland, India, South Africa, the Netherlands, and the United Arab Emirates.
Further, Ghana’s services imports and exports have grown exponentially in recent years; Ghana’s growth in imports of services has been one of the fastest in Sub Saharan Africa. Ghana imported $12 billion in all types of services from the world in 2020 and exported approximately $9 billion in the same year. This growth is led by imports of business services, a category that includes computer and related services, as well as architectural/engineering, legal, accountancy and advertising services. Inward travel/tourism as well as freight services are other growth areas.
Precise statistics showing the U.S. proportion of Ghana’s $12 billion in services imports are not available. However, we know that U.S. companies play a very significant role in Ghana’s services sector. There is a strong presence of U.S. ICT services providers in the market (see ICT section). The number of Ghanaians studying in the United States is growing (an educational export for the United States). Finally, U.S. providers of financial services, express delivery, logistics, consultancy/legal services, and companies providing services to Ghana’s oil and gas and mining sectors play a prominent role and contribute to U.S. services exports to Ghana.