More information about Ghana is available on the Ghana Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
The United States established diplomatic relations with Ghana in 1957, following Ghana’s independence from the United Kingdom. In 1961, Ghana hosted the first cohort of Peace Corps Volunteers to serve overseas and currently hosts 150 volunteers. The United States and Ghana share a long history of promoting democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Ghana has set an example for countries throughout Africa in promoting resilient democratic institutions, transparent and peaceful transitions of power, and regional stability.
The United States and Ghana work together on various defense and law enforcement issues. Both countries’ militaries cooperate in numerous joint training exercises through U.S. Africa Command. The United States and Ghana have a bilateral International Military Education and Training program, a Foreign Military Financing program, and numerous humanitarian affairs projects, including a relationship between the Government of Ghana and the North Dakota National Guard under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Defense State Partnership Program. Ghana continues to participate in the African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program, in which the United States facilitates the development of an interoperable peacekeeping capacity among African nations. Ghana is a partner country for the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership and the Security Governance Initiative. These programs seek to address security sector governance challenges in Ghana and enhance Ghana’s ability to rapidly deploy peacekeepers. Ghana is also a priority country for efforts to address transnational organized crime in West Africa. The Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) aims to help the government of Ghana to: 1) build capacity for complex criminal investigations and case packages on transnational organized crimes including financial crimes, drug trafficking, and human trafficking incidents; 2) conduct fair trials of transnational criminals and drug traffickers; and 3) combat rising drug abuse. In furtherance of these objectives, INL has supported institutional development across the criminal justice sector.
Through the U.S. International Visitor Leadership Program, Ghanaian parliamentarians and other government officials have become acquainted with U.S. congressional and state legislative practices and have participated in programs designed to address other issues of interest. Youth exchanges and study abroad programs are also robust and growing between U.S. and Ghanaian universities and NGOs. At the U.S. state level, the State Partnership Program aims to promote greater economic ties between Ghana and U.S. institutions, including the National Guard.
The United States has enjoyed good relations with Ghana at a nonofficial, people-to-people level since Ghana’s independence. Ghana is host to 40 Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) Mandela Washington Fellows (MWF) and hosts one of four YALI Regional Leadership Centers that train young leaders in leadership, entrepreneurship and professional development. Thousands of Ghanaians have been educated in the United States. Close relations are maintained between educational and scientific institutions, and cultural links are strong, particularly between Ghanaians and African-Americans.
U.S. Assistance to Ghana
U.S. development assistance to Ghana is implemented by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and others. USAID-managed development assistance to Ghana has supported the country in improving the power sector, increasing food security, enhancing basic health care, increasing access to quality basic education, and strengthening local governance to benefit all Ghanaians. The West Africa Trade and Investment Hub, located in Accra, provides technical assistance to help small businesspersons to grow their businesses and access new customers in the United States and the West African region. The Peace Corps has a large program in Ghana, with volunteers working in education, agriculture, and health (including HIV/AIDS, malaria, sanitation, and nutrition).
Bilateral Economic Relations
The United States and Ghana enjoy a strong economic partnership that has the potential for further growth. Bilateral trade between the two countries reached $1.6 billion in 2017, with the U.S. maintaining a $110 million trade surplus, and Ghana’s exports more than doubling due to a surge in oil production. Political stability, generally sound economic management, a low crime rate, competitive wages, and an educated, English-speaking workforce, enhances Ghana’s potential as a West African hub for American businesses. A number of major U.S. companies currently operate in the country, including IBM, ExxonMobil, Coca-Cola, Cargill, and Newmont Mining. Complementing the presence of American companies, Ghana also houses a fairly engaged American Chamber of Commerce that reports over 100 active members.
Ghana’s economy has historically been regarded as one of the drivers for West Africa. Today the country remains highly dependent on the export of primary commodities such as gold, cocoa, and oil – leaving the economy vulnerable to potential slowdowns in the global market and commodity price shocks. One of the fastest growing economies in the world in 2011, Ghana’s rate of growth slowed to 2.2% in 2015, but rebounded to 8.1% (real) in 2017 and remained robust at 5.6% in 2018 (using the country’s newly rebased GDP). While inflation has declined to 9.0% in January 2019 from a peak of 19.2% in March 2016, the cedi remains susceptible to global and domestic risks, depreciating by about 7% at the end of February 2019. Overall, the macroeconomic situation has fluctuated but has been improving since late 2016. According to government estimates, Ghana’s total public debt rose to 58% of GDP in 2018 from 56% in 2017, contrasting to the pre-rebasing figures of 73% in 2016 and 69% in 2017.
In December 2016, the current government was elected on a platform to promote private sector-led growth, attract foreign direct investment (FDI), and to make Ghana “the most business friendly country on the continent.” In order to improve the ease of doing business, the current Administration has discussed eliminating ‘nuisance’ taxes, streamlining business regulations, and introducing a more efficient clearance process at the port. Industry players have also expressed concerns with under-developed infrastructure, ambiguous property laws, the need for a more skilled labor force, and a politicized business environment. The follow-through on the mentioned topics has received mixed reactions from the business community. Notably, the Administration received international attention with the announcement of President Akufo-Addo’s “Ghana Beyond Aid” campaign, and the ultimate goal to eventually eliminate the country’s reliance on aid funds.
In 2015, the Government of Ghana signed a $918 million extended credit facility (ECF) agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in an effort to stabilize the country’s economy. Ghana has been complimented for its successful performance under the IMF program, but excessive end-of-year government expenditures in 2016 raised questions about Ghana’s commitment to fiscal consolidation. At the end of August 2017, the nation faced the challenge of addressing its massive state-owned enterprise debt, mostly in the power sector, estimated to be around $2 billion. The sustainability of the sector has become a priority for the government and a focus-area for the IMF, World Bank, and the broader international donor community. In May of 2018, the IMF announced that Ghana’s program performance improved in 2017 and that the country’s macroeconomic conditions have strengthened considerably. The last review under the IMF program is scheduled to end in March 2019.
Ghana is also participating in its second Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact, after successfully completing a five-year $547 million compact in 2012. The ongoing agreement, launched in September 2016, is a five-year $498 million MCC compact focused on reforming the country’s electricity distribution system and several other aspects of the power sector.
Ghana exports goods to the United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and is a Feed the Future, Power Africa, Trade Africa, and Partnership for Growth country.
Ghana’s Membership in International Organizations
In foreign affairs, Ghana generally follows the consensus of the Nonaligned Movement and the African Union on economic and political issues that do not directly affect its own interests. Ghana and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Ghana also is an observer to the Organization of American States. Ghana has a strong track record of contributing troops to international peacekeeping forces. In 2017, Ghana completed a two-year term on the UN Human Rights Council and has aspirations to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
More information about Ghana is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here: