The constitution entered into force on January 7, 1993, to found the Fourth
Republic. On that day, Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings was inaugurated as
President and members of Parliament swore their oaths of office. In 1996,
the opposition fully contested the presidential and parliamentary elections,
which were described as peaceful, free, and transparent by domestic and
international observers. In that election, President Rawlings was re-elected
with 57% of the popular vote. In addition, Rawlings' NDC party won 133 of
the Parliament's 200 seats, just one seat short of the two-thirds majority
needed to amend the Constitution, although the election returns of two
parliamentary seats face legal challenges.
In the December 7, 2000 elections, John A. Kufuor of the New Patriotic Party
(NPP), won the largest share of the presidential vote with 48.17% of the
vote, compared to 44.54% for Rawlings' vice president and hand-picked
successor, John Atta Mills of the NDC. The NPP also won 100 of the 200 seats
in Parliament. The NDC won 92 seats, while independent and small party
candidates won eight seats. In the December 28 run-off election, with
pledges of support from the other five opposition parties, Kufuor defeated
Mills by winning 56.73% of the vote and the NPP picked up one additional MP
by winning a by-election, giving them 100 seats and a majority in
Parliament. Both rounds of the election were observed, and declared free and
fair, by a large contingent of domestic and international monitors.
President Kufuor took the oath of office on January 7, 2001, becoming the
first elected president in Ghana's history to succeed another elected
The constitution that established the Fourth Republic provided a basic
charter for republican democratic government. It declares Ghana to be a
unitary republic with sovereignty residing in the Ghanaian people. Intended
to prevent future coups, dictatorial government, and one-party states, it is
designed to establish the concept of powersharing. The document reflects
lessons learned from the abrogated constitutions of the 1957, 1960, 1969,
and 1979, and incorporates provisions and institutions drawn from British
and American constitutional models. One controversial provision of the
constitution indemnifies members and appointees of the PNDC from liability
for any official act or omission during the years of PNDC rule. The
constitution calls for a system of checks and balances, with power shared
between a president, a unicameral parliament, a council of state, and an
Executive authority is established in the Office of the Presidency, together
with his Council of State. The president is head of state, head of
government, and commander in chief of the armed forces. He also appoints the
vice president. According to the Constitution, more than half of the
presidentially appointed ministers of state must be appointed from among
members of Parliament.
Legislative functions are vested in Parliament, which consists of a
unicameral 200-member body plus the Speaker. To become law, legislation must
have the assent of the president, who has a qualified veto over all bills
except those to which a vote of urgency is attached. Members of Parliament
are popularly elected by universal adult suffrage for terms of 4 years,
except in war time, when terms may be extended for not more than 12 months
at a time beyond the 4 years.
The structure and the power of the judiciary are independent of the two
other branches of government. The Supreme Court has broad powers of judicial
review. It is authorized by the Constitution to rule on the
constitutionality of any legislation or executive action at the request of
any aggrieved citizen. The hierarchy of courts derives largely from British
juridical forms. The hierarchy, called the Superior Court of Judicature, is
composed of the Supreme Court of Ghana, the Court of Appeal, the High Court
of Justice, regional tribunals, and such lower courts or tribunals as
Parliament may establish. The courts have jurisdiction over all civil and
Principal Government Officials
President--John Agyekum Kufuor
Vice President-- Alhaji Mahama Aliu
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Hackman Owusu-Agyeman
Minister of Defense--Dr. Kwame Addo-Kufuor
Minister for Presidential Affairs and Chief of Staff--Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey
Minister of Communications and Transport --F.K. Owusu Adjapong
Minister of Finance--Yaw Osafo Maafo
Minister of Agriculture--Courage E.K Quashigah
Minister of Justice and Attorney General--Nana Akufo-Addo
Minister of Local Government--Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu
Minister of Energy--Albert Kan Dapaah
Minister of Trade and Industry--Kofi Apraku Minister of Mines, Land, and
Minister of Economic Planning--Dr.Kwesi Nduom
Minister of Works and Housing--Kwabena Bartels
Minister of Education--Prof. Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi
Minister of Women's Affairs--Gladys Asmah
Minister of Media Relations--Elizabeth Ohene
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court--Justice Isaac Kobina Abban
Speaker of Parliament--Justice Daniel F. Annan
First Deputy Speaker--Freddie Blay
Second Deputy Speaker--Kenneth Dzirasah
Majority Leader--J.H. Mensah
Deputy Majority Leader--Papa Owusu Ankomah
Minority Leader--Alban Bagbin
Deputy Minority Leader--I.K. Adjei
Ambassador to the United States--Alan Kyeremateng
Permanent Representative to the United Nations--Nana Effah-Apenteng
Ghana maintains an embassy in the United States at 3512 International Drive,
NW., Washington, D.C. 20008 (tel. 202-686-4500). Its permanent mission to
the United Nations is located at 19 E. 47th Street., New York, N.Y. 10017
By West African standards, Ghana has a diverse and rich resource base. The
country is mainly agricultural, however, with a majority of its workers
engaged in farming. Cash crops consist primarily of cocoa and cocoa
products, which typically provide about two-thirds of export revenues,
timber products, coconuts and other palm products, shea nuts, which produce
an edible fat, and coffee. Ghana also has established a successful program
of nontraditional agricultural products for export, including pineapples,
cashews, and pepper. Cassava, yams, plantains, corn, rice, peanuts, millet,
and sorghum are the basic foodstuffs. Fish, poultry, and meat also are
important dietary staples.
Minerals--principally gold, diamonds, manganese ore, and bauxite--are
produced and exported. The only commercial oil well has been closed after
producing 3.5 million barrels over its seven-year life, but signs of natural
gas are being studied for power generation, while exploration continues for
other oil and gas resources.
Ghana's industrial base is relatively advanced compared to many other
African countries. Import-substitution industries include textiles; steel
(using scrap); tires; oil refining; flour milling; beverages; tobacco;
simple consumer goods; and car, truck, and bus assembly.
Tourism has become one of Ghana's largest foreign income earners (ranking
third in 1999), and the Ghanaian Government has placed great emphasis upon
further tourism support and development.
At independence, Ghana had a substantial physical and social infrastructure
and $481 million in foreign reserves. The Nkrumah government further
developed the infrastructure and made important public investments in the
industrial sector. With assistance from the United States, the World Bank,
and the United Kingdom, construction of the Akosombo Dam was completed on
the Volta River in 1966. Two U.S. companies built Valco, Africa's largest
aluminum smelter, to use power generated at the dam. Aluminum exports from
Valco are a major source of foreign exchange for Ghana.
Many Nkrumah-era investments were monumental public works projects and
poorly conceived, badly managed agricultural and industrial schemes. With
cocoa prices falling and the country's foreign exchange reserves fast
disappearing, the government resorted to supplier credits to finance many
projects. By the mid-1960s, Ghana's reserves were gone, and the country
could not meet repayment schedules. To rationalize, the National Liberation
Council abandoned unprofitable projects, and some inefficient state-owned
enterprises were sold to private investors. On three occasions, Ghana's
creditors agreed to reschedule repayments due on Nkrumah-era supplier
credits. Led by the United States, foreign donors provided import loans to
enable the foreign exchange-strapped government to import essential
Prime Minister Busia's government (1969-72) liberalized controls to attract
foreign investment and to encourage domestic entrepreneurship. Investors
were cautious, however, and cocoa prices began declining again while imports
surged, precipitating a serious trade deficit. Despite considerable foreign
assistance and some debt relief, the Busia regime also was unable to
overcome the inherited restraints on growth posed by the debt burden,
balance-of-payments imbalances, foreign exchange shortages, and
Although foreign aid helped prevent economic collapse and was responsible
for subsequent improvements in many sectors, the economy stagnated in the
10-year period preceding the NRC takeover in 1972. Population growth offset
the modest increase in gross domestic product, and real earnings declined
for many Ghanaians.
To restructure the economy, the NRC, under General Acheampong (1972-78),
undertook an austerity program that emphasized self-reliance, particularly
in food production. These plans were not realized, however, primarily
because of post-1973 oil price increases and a drought in 1975-77 that
particularly affected northern Ghana. The NRC, which had inherited foreign
debts of almost $1 billion, abrogated existing rescheduling arrangements for
some debts and rejected other repayments. After creditors objected to this
unilateral action, a 1974 agreement rescheduled the medium-term debt on
liberal terms. The NRC also imposed the Investment Policy Decree of
1975--effective on January 1977--that required 51 % Ghanaian equity
participation in most foreign firms, but the government took 40% in
specified industries. Many shares were sold directly to the public.
Continued mismanagement of the economy, record inflation (more than 100% in
1977), and increasing corruption, notably at the highest political levels,
led to growing dissatisfaction. The post-July 1978 military regime led by
General Akuffo attempted to deal with Ghana's economic problems by making
small changes in the overvalued cedi and by restraining government spending
and monetary growth. Under a 1-year standby agreement with the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) in January 1979, the government promised to undertake
economic reforms, including a reduction of the budget deficit, in return for
a $68 million IMF support program and $27 million in IMF Trust Fund loans.
The agreement became inoperative, however, after the June 4 coup that
brought Flight Lieutenant Rawlings and the AFRC to power for 4 months.
In September 1979, the civilian government of Hilla Limann inherited
declining per capita income; stagnant industrial and agricultural production
due to inadequate imported supplies; shortages of imported and locally
produced goods; a sizable budget deficit (almost 40% of expenditures in
1979); high inflation, "moderating" to 54% in 1979; an increasingly
overvalued cedi; flourishing smuggling and other black-market activities;
unemployment and underemployment, particularly among urban youth;
deterioration in the transport network; and continued foreign exchange
Limann's PNP government announced yet another (2-year) reconstruction
program, emphasizing increased food production and productivity, exports,
and transport improvements. Import austerity was imposed and external
payments arrears cut. However, declining cocoa production combined with
falling cocoa prices, while oil prices soared. No effective measures were
taken to reduce rampant corruption and black marketing.
When Rawlings again seized power at the end of 1981, cocoa output had fallen
to half the 1970-71 level and its world price to one-third the 1975 level.
By 1982, oil would constitute half of Ghana's imports, while overall trade
contracted greatly. Internal transport had slowed to a crawl, and inflation
remained high. During Rawlings' first year, the economy was stagnant.
Industry ran at about 10% of capacity due to the chronic shortage of foreign
exchange to cover the importation of required raw materials and replacement
parts. Economic conditions deteriorated further in early 1983 when Nigeria
expelled an estimated 1 million Ghanaians who had to be absorbed by Ghana.
In April 1983, in coordination with the IMF, the PNDC launched an economic
recovery program, perhaps the most stringent and consistent of its day in
Africa, aimed at reopening infrastructural bottlenecks and reviving moribund
productive sectors--agriculture, mining, and timber. The largely distorted
exchange rate and prices were realigned to encourage production and exports.
Increased fiscal and monetary discipline was imposed to curb inflation and
to focus on priorities. Through November 1987, the cedi was devalued by more
than 6,300%, and widespread direct price controls were substantially
The economy's response to these reforms was initially hampered by the
absorption of one million returnees from Nigeria, the onset of the worst
drought since independence, which brought on widespread bushfires and forced
closure of the aluminum smelter and severe power cuts for industry and
decline in foreign aid. In 1985, the country absorbed an additional 100,000
expellees from Nigeria. In 1987, cocoa prices began declining again;
however, initial infrastructural repairs, improved weather, and producer
incentives and support revived output in the early 1990s. During 1984-88 the
economy experienced solid growth for the first time since 1978. Renewed
exports, aid inflows, and a foreign exchange auction have eased hard
Since an initial August 1983 IMF standby agreement, the economic recovery
program has been supported by three IMF standbys and two other credits
totaling $611 million, $1.1 billion from the World Bank, and hundreds of
millions of dollars more from other donors. In November 1987, the IMF
approved a $318-million, 3-year extended fund facility. The second phase
(1987-90) of the recovery program concentrated on economic restructuring and
revitalizing social services. The third phase, focused on financial
transparency and macroeconomic stability is scheduled for March 1998.
Ghana intends to achieve its goals of accelerated economic growth, improved
quality of life for all Ghanaians, and reduced poverty through macroeconomic
stability, higher private investment, broad-based social and rural
development, as well as direct poverty-alleviation efforts. These plans are
fully supported by the international donor community and have been
forcefully reiterated in the 1995 government report, Ghana: Vision 2020.
Privatization of state-owned enterprises continues, with about two-thirds of
300 parastatal enterprises sold to private owners. Other reforms adopted
under the government's structural adjustment program include the elimination
of exchange rate controls and the lifting of virtually all restrictions on
imports. The establishment of an interbank foreign exchange market has
greatly expanded access to foreign exchange.
The medium-term macroeconomic forecast assumes political stability,
successful economic stabilization, and the implementation of a policy agenda
for private sector growth, and adequate public spending on social services
and rural infrastructure. The ninth Consultative Group Meeting for Ghana
ended November 5, 1997 after deliberations in Paris. Twenty-four countries
and donor entities were represented at this meeting called by the World Bank
on behalf of the Ghanaian Government. The World Bank announced that, of the
targeted disbursement level of $1.6 billion sought from the donor community
for 1998-99, they foresaw only a $150 million shortfall in commitments, and
that this shortfall would be easily realized should Ghana rapidly enact its
The government repealed a 17.% value-added tax (VAT) shortly after its
introduction in 1995, which resulted in widespread public protests. The
government reverted to several previously imposed taxes, including a sales
tax. The government has set in motion a program to reintroduce a VAT bill,
with implementation in 1998 after an extensive public education campaign.
Ghana is active in the United Nations and many of its specialized
agencies--including the World Trade Organization--the Nonaligned Movement,
the Organization of African Unity (OAU), and the Economic Community of West
African States. Generally, it follows the consensus of the Nonaligned
Movement and the OAU on economic and political issues not directly affecting
its own interests. Ghana has been extremely active in international
peacekeeping activities under UN auspices in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Rwanda,
the Balkans, and Pakistan, in addition to an 8-year subregional initiative
with its ECOWAS partners to develop and then enforce a cease-fire in
Liberia. Ghana maintains friendly relations with all states, regardless of
The United States has enjoyed good relations with Ghana at the nonofficial,
personal level since Ghana's independence. Thousands of Ghanaians have been
educated in the United States. Close relations are maintained between
educational and scientific institutions, and cultural links, particularly
between Ghanaians and African-Americans, are strong.
After a period of strained relations in the mid-1980s, U.S.-Ghanaian
official relations are stronger than at any other time in recent memory.
Ghanaian parliamentarians and other government officials have through the
U.S. International Visitor Program acquainted themselves with U.S.
congressional and state legislative practices and participated in programs
designed to address other issues of interest. The U.S. and Ghanaian
militaries have cooperated in numerous joint training exercises, culminating
with Ghanaian participation in the African Crisis Response Initiative, an
international activity in which the U.S. is facilitating the development of
an interoperable peacekeeping capacity among African nations. In addition,
there is an active bilateral international military and educational training
program. The Office of the President of Ghana worked closely with the U.S.
embassy in Accra to establish an American Chamber of Commerce to continue to
develop closer economic ties in the private sector.
The United States is among Ghana's principal trading partners. The American
privately owned VALCO aluminum smelter imports many of its supplies from,
and exports almost all the aluminum ingots to, the United States. With a
replacement value of more than $600 million, U.S. investments in Ghana form
one of the largest stocks of foreign capital. VALCO--90% owned by Kaiser,
and 10% by Reynolds--is by far the biggest investment, but other important
U.S. companies operating in the country include Mobil, Coca Cola, S.C.
Johnson, Ralston Purina, Star-Kist, A.H. Robins, Sterling, Pfizer, IBM,
Carson Products, 3M, Pioneer Gold, Stewart & Stevenson, Price Waterhouse,
Great Lakes Shipping, and National Cash Register (NCR). Several U.S. firms
recently made or are considering investments in Ghana, primarily in gold
mining, wood products, and petroleum. In late 1997, Nuevo Petroleum
concluded an oil exploration agreement accounting for the last of Ghana's
offshore mineral rights zones. Two other U.S. oil companies, Sante Fe and
Hunt, also are engaged in offshore exploration.
U.S. development assistance to Ghana in fiscal year 1997 totaled $52
million, divided between small business enterprise, health, education, and
democracy/governance programs. Ghana was the first country in the world to
accept Peace Corps volunteers, and the program remains one of the largest.
Currently, there are more than 150 volunteers in Ghana. Almost half work in
education, and the others in various fields such as agroforestry, small
business development, health education, and water sanitation, as well as
Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador--Kathryn Dee Robinson
Deputy Chief of Mission--G. Dennise Mathieu
Director, USAID Mission--Frank Young
Defense Attaché -- Lt. Col. Dean Bland
Public Affairs Officer--Brooks Anne Robinson
Political Chief--Stephanie Sullivan
Economic Chief--Michael Owen
Administrative Chief--Isiah Parnell
The U.S. embassy is located on Ring Road East, near Danquah Circle, Accra
(tel. 233-21-775347/8/9). The mailing address is P.O. Box 194, Accra, Ghana.
For American citizen services and visa questions, the embassy consular
section telephone number is 233-21-776602.
[end of document]
See http://www.state.gov/r/pa/bgn/ for all Background notes
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