major macro economic indicators
|2017||2018||2019 (e)||2020 (f)|
|GDP growth (%)||8.1||6.3||6.1||1.5|
|Inflation (yearly average, %)||12.4||9.8||8.7||11.2|
|Budget balance * (% GDP)||-4.8||-3.5||-5.0||-6.8|
|Current account balance (% GDP)||-3.4||-3.1||-2.5||-4.8|
|Public debt (% GDP)||55.6||75.8||76.8||78.8|
(e): Estimate. (f): Forecast. * Financial sector bailout cost included in 2018 and 2019.
- Health system highly-ranked in Africa
- Significant mining (gold), agricultural (cocoa), oil and gas resources
- Stable democracy
- Attractive business environment, favourable for FDI
- International financial support
- High level of indebtedness and risk of fiscal skidding
- Infrastructure shortcomings (energy, transport)
- Dependent on commodity prices (gold, oil, cocoa)
- Fragile banking sector
Coronavirus epidemic slashes growth
According to the WHO, with 41,000 cases and 215 Covid-19 deaths as of 13 August 2020, i.e. 0.5 deaths per 100 confirmed cases and 0.75 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, Ghana is one of the countries most affected by COVID-19. In order to halt the spread of the virus, social distancing measures were implemented as early as 16 March and borders were closed on 23 March. While these measures have been gradually lifted since end-April, they have been accompanied by a decline in domestic activity (consumption and investment). The decline in FDI observed in 2019 (-21% to USD 2.3 billion or 3.5% of GDP) should continue in 2020 and 2021. This could lead to a contraction in investments aimed at diversifying the economy and limiting its dependence on hydrocarbons, such as the “One district One industrial park” programme, designed to establish at least one industrial park in each of the country's 13 regions. The COVID-19 crisis also may delay reforms in sectors in difficulty, such as the Energy Sector Recovery Program, which aims to restore the currently unsustainable energy sector within 5 years (2019-2023).
Moreover, the global economic contraction has a strong impact on exports. Lower prices and shipments of oil and cocoa - the main export products (30% and 14% of exports respectively) - are causing a decrease of revenues. Those generated by crude oil fell by 15.1% in February 2020 year-on-year. However, Ghana, a major gold exporter following the rehabilitation of the Obuasi mine in 2019, is expected to benefit from the rise of gold prices, even though production should remain relatively stable due to disruptions in the production process and the implementation of health protocols. On the other hand, the decline in imports, linked to lower household income and lower demand for business inputs, is widely offset by the decline in exports. In addition, the current account deficit is expected to widen in 2020. In total, GDP is expected to grow by 1.5% (instead of a forecast of 5.8% in end-2019). Disruptions in production chains and obstacles to domestic and international trade are generating inflationary pressures, diverging the country from its target (i.e. 6-10%), which was met in 2019.
Finally, the financial sector is likely to be weakened, as it had just recovered from the banking crisis of 2017 with the percentage of non-performing loans decreasing from 22% in September 2017 to 13.9% in December 2019. The central bank, fearing an increase in banking incidents and a contraction in credit granting, has lowered its key rate by 150 basis points to 14.5% and lowered its requirements in terms of mandatory reserves.
The fight against the pandemic and its economic consequences are straining the budget
In 2020, the public deficit is expected to reach 6.8% of GDP (instead of a 3.4% forecast previously), raising public debt to 78.8%, of which almost 60% is external. This can be explained both by a drop in revenue (equivalent to 2% of GDP) and an increase in expenditure linked to the COVID-19 crisis (0.4% of GDP). In addition to fiscal measures amounting to GHS 10.6 billion or 3% of GDP (Coronavirus Alleviation Program), the Ghanaian government is deploying a program to revive the economy for GHS 100 billion (25% of GDP) for 2020-2023 (Coronavirus Alleviation and Revitalisation of Enterprises Support), 30% of which is financed by the government. In order to very partially compensate the expenses related to support plans, the government plans to cut public spending for a total of GHS 1.1 billion or 0.3% of GDP and has agreed with investors to postpone the payment of interest on non-marketable domestic bonds held by public institutions.
The current account deficit will likely widen slightly, in line with the decline in the trade surplus. The income deficit is also deteriorating, with rising debt servicing costs and falling remittances (5% of GDP in 2018), affected by the contraction of host economies. The services deficit is expected to widen, particularly because of the growing use of telecommunications. The decline in FDI, especially in oil, weakens the financing of the current account deficit, which is expected to be partly financed with assistance from the IMF (USD 1 billion) and other multilateral agencies. The cedi is under downward pressures due to risks to the global economy combined with the uncertainty surrounding the December 2020 parliamentary and presidential elections and the probable fiscal skidding. Foreign exchange reserves are expected to decline to 2.7 months of imports by the end of 2020.
2020 duel feels like déjà vu
Elected in December 2016, President Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party should stand for re-election in the November 2020 elections. He will face John Mahama, his predecessor, who was defeated in the 2016 election and will be running for the National Democratic Congress. Despite the efforts of the other opposition parties to make Ghana’s political life less bipolar, victory is likely to be contested by the two parties that have dominated the political scene since 1992. The political climate may become tenser as election day approaches, particularly regarding the new voter log implemented for the election, since the COVID-19 epidemic could hamper voter registration (between June and August 2020). Despite sometimes-fierce rivalries between the two main parties, the entrenchment of respect for constitutional norms for nearly three decades has ensured the country's political stability. The lack of progress in poverty reduction and the fight against corruption are some of the areas of popular frustration that should dominate the presidential campaign. The business environment remains favourable compared to regional peers (118th out of 190 countries in 2019).
Last updated: August 2020