Ghana was the first place in sub-Saharan Africa where Europeans arrived to trade – first in gold, later in slaves. It was also the first black African nation in the region to achieve independence from a colonial power, in this instance Britain.
Despite being rich in mineral resources, and endowed with a good education system and efficient civil service, Ghana fell victim to corruption and mismanagement soon after independence in 1957.
Ghana is the world’s second largest cocoa producer behind Ivory Coast, and Africa’s biggest gold miner after South Africa. It is one of the continent’s fastest growing economies and has made major progress in the attainment and consolidation of growth. Significant progress has been made in poverty reduction. In fact, Ghana is the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to achieve the Millenium Development Goal 1, which is the target of halving extreme poverty.
Ghana has recently become a middle income country. The discovery of major offshore oil reserves was announced in June 2007, encouraging expectations of a major economic boost. Production officially began at the end of 2010, but some analysts expressed concern over the country’s ability to manage its new industry, as laws governing the oil sector had not yet been passed.
In July 2009, Ghana secured a 600 million dollar three-year loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), amid concerns about the impact of the global recession on poorer countries. The IMF said the Ghanaian economy had proved to be relatively resilient because of the high prices of cocoa and gold. Beside economic development, Ghana has made real progress in good governance, youth and gender empowerment.Important pieces of relevant legislation have been enacted and institutional arrangements improved to promote inclusive society. Government for instance has enacted the Domestic Violence and Disability Laws, established Domestic Violence Victim Support Units and the implementation of the National Social Protection Strategy.
Over the last decade, Ghana has enjoyed increasingly stable and deepening democratic governance. Four successful elections in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 have strengthened the effectiveness of key national institutions, enhanced investor confidence and anchored the new economy in an environment for positive growth. Ghana has a high-profile peacekeeping role; troops have been deployed in Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone and DR Congo.
Ghana enjoys a high degree of media freedom and the private press and broadcasters operate without significant restrictions. The media are free to criticise the authorities without fear of reprisals, says Reporters Without Borders. The private press is lively, and often carries criticism of government policy. Animated phone-in programmes are staple fare on many radio stations. Radio is Ghana’s most popular medium, although it is being challenged by increased access to TV.