Well endowed with natural resources, Ghana has roughly twice the per capita output of the poorest countries in West Africa. Even so, Ghana remains heavily dependent on international financial and technical assistance. Gold and cocoa production and individual remittances are major sources of foreign exchange. The domestic economy continues to revolve around agriculture, which accounts for about 43 percent of GDP and employs about 55 percent of the work force, mainly small landholders.
With the 2007 confirmed discovery of commercially viable offshore oil reserves in Ghana (Jubilee Field) and predicted production set for late 2010 or 2011, there has been increased international interest in the Ghanaian market on the part of oil and gas and auxiliary services sectors – as well as companies from unrelated sectors anticipating future economic growth in the country. Further oil and gas exploration continues and optimism is high for further discoveries.
Real GDP growth over the past ten years has averaged 5.1 percent with the most recent GDP figure (2007) at 5.5 percent (1997-2007) with the most recent GDP figure (2008 estimated) at 6.3 percent. The inflation rate throughout 2008 ballooned to 18 percent and is reported to have grown unexpectedly further to almost 20 percent in January 2009, almost double the 2007 figure. Public debt rose to a figure of almost 52 percent of national income at the end of 2008.
Ghana’s main export partners (2007) were the Netherlands (11 percent), the United Kingdom (9 percent), France (6.2 percent), the United States (5.9 percent), Germany (4.6 percent) and Belgium (4.4 percent). Ghana’s main import partners (2007) were Nigeria (15.1 percent), China (14.9 percent), the United Kingdom (5.2 percent) and the United States (5.1 percent).
Relatively strong economic growth over the past few years has created capacity issues in some sectors – notably electrical power. The government of Ghana has invested significantly in generation, distribution and transmission recently, with further investment expected in the near future. Nonetheless, access to the electrical grid and to consistent power remains a challenge for many businesses in the country. Even before the financial developments at the end of 2008, access to lending for Ghanaian businesses was relatively challenging. The cost of credit is also relatively high. For this reason, attractive financing can be a significant decision-making factor for Ghanaian buyers of international products and services.