A major producer and exporter of gold, cocoa and oil, Ghana was once considered the economic powerhouse of West Africa but is now in crisis.
On Monday it suspended payment of part of its external debt as it restructures in line with a bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
A fact file about the country:
– Top Gold Producer –
Once dubbed the Gold Coast, Ghana overtook South Africa in 2019 to become the continent’s largest producer of precious metals.
It is also the second largest cocoa producer in the world after Ivory Coast.
It also exports oil, diamonds, bauxite and manganese.
Once heralded as a regional growth model, it is experiencing its worst economic crisis in decades, fueled by the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine crisis.
It faces more than 50 percent inflation, a debt burden that eats up half of government revenues and a sharp decline in its cedi currency since the beginning of the year.
She was forced to turn to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with whom she secured a $3 billion loan deal in early December.
– Independence Pioneer –
In 1957, the former British colony became the first sub-Saharan African country to gain independence, which had a ripple effect across the continent.
In 1966, nationalist leader Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in the first of a series of coups.
Jerry Rawlings came to power in a coup in 1979 as an Air Force captain.
Although he staged a second coup in 1981 after allowing elections, Rawlings introduced a constitution that has proved a stable basis for democratic rule.
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It has made Ghana a model in a region often rocked by coups and post-election crises.
The next presidential election will be held in two years.
After President Akufo-Addo was prevented from running again after two terms in office, the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) is preparing to hold primary elections in 2023.
– Kingdom of the Ashanti –
Modern-day Ghana is home to the Ashanti, a nation and ethnic group that has wielded power in the region for over 300 years.
Built on gold, the Ashanti empire expanded into neighboring countries and fiercely resisted British colonial rule.
Ashanti monarchs still preside over an area of around five million people, roughly the size of Britain, or 10 percent of Ghana.
– diplomacy –
Ghana has played an important mediating role in wars and crises that have hit its neighbors.
Akufo-Addo served as Chair of the region’s Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) from 2020 to July 3, 2022, working to resolve political crises in Mali and Guinea.
The late Kofi Annan, a Ghanaian, was the first black African to head the United Nations and won the Nobel Peace Prize for his nine-year tenure that ended in 2006.
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Barack Obama chose Ghana for his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa in 2009 after becoming US President.
Although Ghana has been spared the jihadist attacks that have plagued some of its neighbors in the volatile Sahel, Ghana has launched a seven-country regional effort to fight the spread of violence towards the Gulf of Guinea coast.
– Bastion of the Slave Trade –
Cape Coast, the former European colonial capital, was once the largest slave trading center in West Africa, from where slaves were shipped to North and South America and the Caribbean.
Today it’s a fishing village that has become a major tourist attraction since Obama’s visit with his family.
Akufo-Addo has declared 2019 the “Year of Return” to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first recorded landing of a ship carrying Africans to the US and to encourage their descendants to “Come Home”.