May 16, 2023
We arrived in Ghana, officially known as the Republic of Ghana, on May 15. Located on the West Coast of Africa, Ghana was the first sub-Saharan country to gain independence from colonial rule on March 6, 1957. Ghana is the second largest cocoa producer in the world, and claims that it produces the best quality cocoa. It has a growing oil industry, is a major exporter of gold and has large deposits of bauxite, manganese and diamonds.
Ghana is classified as a lower middle income country. It also has a medium Gini coefficient of 43.5 signifying a relatively benign distribution of income. Per Capita income expressed in terms of Purchasing Power Parity is just under $7,000, about 2.5 times that of neighboring Togo.
When Mary Anne and I got there it poured rain, so our tour was kind of attenuated. But from our vantage point, Ghana looked like a fairly poor, but developing, country. There was the usual assortment of shacks, and a limited number of top hotels. One hotel we visited was billed as a 5 star hotel and we saw African dancers perform in native costume. Another aspect of the continuing story of West Africa is that the people with whom we came into contact were very friendly.
Ghana is generally regarded as a stable democracy. But it wasn’t easy getting there. Its first President as an independent state was was Kwame Nkrumah who ruled as president and prime minister from 1957 to 1966. Nkrumah was an authoritarian leader however and aligned himself with Mao Tse Tung’s China. He was deposed in a military coup in 1966.
Nkrumah eventually became known as Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and formed the Kwame Nkrumah Technological Institute, dedicated to teaching his theories of communism and socialism.
Ghana seems to be on the right track, but it has a lot of challenges, not the least of which is the influence China seems to have in Africa with its belt and road initiative. We can only wish Ghanians well.