The Republic of Ghana of “Ghana” for short, is a West African country located along the Gulf of Guinea (the north easternmost part of the tropical Atlantic Ocean) between the Republics of Ivory Coast and Togo. Ghana borders the Republic of Burkina Faso to the north, the Republic of Togo to the east, the Republic of Ivory Coast to the west and the Gulf of Guinea to the south.
Ghana has a total land mass of about 11,000sq km covered by water, with about 539km of coastline. Just about 20.7% of Ghana’s total land area remains arable (i.e. very good for farming).
Ghana has an estimated population of about 29.4 million people with the population growth rate around 2.2%. About 55% of Ghana’s population lives in urban areas in major cities and towns such as Accra the capital. Recent statistics show that Accra, the capital of Ghana contains about 2.3 million people and Kumasi (the capital of the Ashanti region) contains about 1.8 million people. Other major towns and cities in Ghana are: Tamale (the capital of the northern region)
Sunyani (the capital of the Brong Ahafo region)
Wa (the capital of the Upper West region)
Bolgatanga (the capital of the Upper East region)
Sekondi Takoradi (the capital of the Western region) and
Koforidua (the capital of the Eastern region).
Ghana was the first Sub-Saharan African country to gain independence from colonial rule. Ghana gained freedom from the United Kingdom in 1957, and became a republic on 1 July, 1960.
Lake Volta, the largest artificial lake in the world, is found in Ghana.
Ghana is one of the most culturally rich countries in all of Africa with a blend of several ethnic and racial groups living peacefully together. Ghana, without a doubt, is one of the most peaceful countries in all of Africa. Akans (the most populous ethnic group in Ghana today) make up about 45.3% of the total population. The Ewes (a major ethnic group) make up about 11.7% of the total population, followed by the Ga-Dangmes (7.3%), the Guans (4%), the Gurmas (3.6%), the Grusis (2.6%), the Mande-Busangas (1%), with several other minor groups forming the remaining fraction of the population.
Ghana (formerly known as Gold Coast), just like its neighbouring countries, is blessed with abundance of natural resources such as gold, silver, manganese, bauxite, timber, fish, petroleum, rubber, salt, limestone, industrial diamonds etc. However, despite its huge natural endowment, Ghana—just like its neighbouring countries—is crippled by so many socio-economic problems.
Ghana has a literacy rate of about 75% for the total population with the female literacy rate hovering around 58%. In other words, just about 58% of the total population of females above the age of 15 can read and write, which is very bad considering Ghana’s reputation as a “lower middle-income” country. Most “middle-income” and “lower middle-income” countries in the world today invest more in education because education is what powers economies into the next stages of development.
The two decades of political instability in Ghana has helped the country a lot in almost all sectors of its economy. However, despite the significant improvement in agriculture and other sectors of the economy, Ghana like most African countries today continue to face so many developmental challenges.
About 60% of the Ghanaian population is into agriculture. Most farmers in Ghana like in most other African countries today, are subsistence farmers who grow crops and rear animals just to feed themselves and their families. However, lack of farming subsidies, poor government regulations, poor market facilities, poor farming practices, poor climatic conditions in some areas, among others, continue to keep millions of people—especially rural farmers—in absolute poverty.
Ghana is the second leading producer of cocoa beans in the world (producing about 900 thousand tons a year). However, this major cash crop sometimes meet lower prices at the international market. Also, the state institution in charge of cocoa production and distribution, the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod), is one of the most corrupt institutions in the country. It may surprise you to know that the salary of the CEO of Ghana Cocoa Board is more than twice that of the president of Ghana. In other words, those corrupt executives in charge of cocoa production and distribution in Ghana benefit the most from Ghana’s cocoa. The poor farmers who toil days and nights in cocoa plantations across the country are left with nothing but poverty and despair.
Most villages and towns in Ghana today lack good drinking water, hospitals, quality education and basic sanitation—which has remained a major problem even in Accra, the capital city.
The northern parts of Ghana unlike the rest of the country, get very unpredictable levels of rainfall in a year, which leaves the upper East, the upper West, and the northern regions of Ghana mostly dry and dusty during much of the year. This doesn’t favour agriculture at all in most parts. Rainfall in the northern parts of Ghana is often unpredictable, sometimes causing flooding in some areas.
Lack of good drinking water was and remains a major problem in the upper regions of Ghana. Previous governments and NGOs did great for some of these areas by providing them with boreholes and pipe borne water, which has helped a lot in the eradication of guinea worm and other water-borne diseases. However, great help is still needed because most communities in Ghana still do not have access to good drinking water and water for domestic purposes.
Youth education, especially girl-child and sex education in Ghana, is helping a lot in breaking the cycle of new HIV/AIDS infections. However, more help is needed especially in the rural and sub-urban areas where illiteracy rate remains very high. According to UNAIDS, there were more than 290,000 adults and children living with HIV in Ghana in 2016, with over 20,000 newly infected cases. Ghana recorded more than 15,000 HIV/AIDS-related deaths in 2016, with the toll expected to rise in coming years unless more and more infected people receive antiretroviral treatment. Ghana’s HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate currently hovers around 1.6% with over 270,000 children orphaned due to AIDS. The sad things is that many of those living with the virus don’t even have access to antiretroviral treatment.
Just like in most other African countries today, poor governance and rampant corruption continue to hit Ghana from all corners, leaving the average Ghanaian with nothing but poverty and despair. Almost every political figure in Ghana today is corrupt in one way or the other.