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Ghana - an economic success story
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Africa - A continent of contrasts - Ghana: An economic success story

Africa - a continent of contrasts

This lesson focuses on Ghana and how it has become a succesful African nation.

Key questions

  • Where in the world is Ghana?
  • How has Ghana become a successful African nation?

Key concepts

  • Place
  • Space
  • Physical and human processes
  • Diversity

Where in the world is Ghana?

The Republic of Ghana is a country in West Africa. It borders Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south.

How has Ghana become a successful African nation?

Well endowed with natural resources, Ghana has twice the per capita output of the poorer countries in West Africa. Even so, Ghana remains somewhat dependent on international financial and technical assistance as well as the activities of the large number of Ghanaians living and working abroad. Gold, timber, cocoa, diamond, bauxite, and manganese exports are major sources of foreign exchange. An oilfield which is reported to contain up to three billion barrels of light oil was discovered in 2007.This discovery may not only help offset the current high cost of oil imports but may in time generate large revenues for the country.

The domestic economy continues to revolve around subsistence agriculture, which accounts for 50% of GDP and employs 85% of the work force, mainly small landholders.

Ghana has made good economic progress under a three-year structural adjustment program in cooperation with the IMF. Ghana remains one of the more economically sound countries in all of Africa.




Ghana's export products

Download the Ghana's export products document which shows the range of items that Ghana exports to make money.

  • Name the products shown
  • What might each of these products be used for
  • Is there a common link between the kids of exports that Ghana sell
  • Are you surprised that Ghana exports any of the products shown
  • Which of the products do you think Ghana makes most money from? Why



The Ghana exports data spreadsheet shows the main products that Ghana exported between 2003 and 2007. It gives both the volume of the product exported and the value of that product. Because the units for volume are different depending on the product, we will have to compare the value of the product exported (given in millions of US$).

Rank the value of the products exported from highest to lowest for 2003 and then again for 2007.

  • What are Ghana's main export products?
  • Does this match what you thought?
  • Are there any differences in the products exported in 2003 and 2007?
  • What do you notice about the value of the different products?

We are now going to look at changes in the volume and value of individual export products from year to year.

First draw a graph (either by hand or using ICT) to show the volume of cocoa beans exported between 2003 and 2007. Next to it, draw a graph to show the value of cocoa beans exported between 2003 and 2007.

Do the graphs show the same trends?

Now do the same for the volume and value of gold exported between 2003 and 2007.

Do these graphs show the same trends?

The Ghana exports commodity prices data spreadsheet should help you to explain why there may be a difference in the shape of your graphs for the volume and value of these products. Can you work it out? Which product does this affect the most?

Where do Ghana's exports go?

Finally, the Ghana export partners data spreadsheet shows you which countries receive Ghana's exports. Study the data and answer the following questions:

  • Which named country received the highest proportion of Ghana's exports in 2000?
  • Which named country received the highest proportion of Ghana's exports in 2007?
  • Was the amount of exports to this country greater or smaller in 2007?
  • Is this trend reflected in the other named countries?
  • What has happened to the amount of exports to Other countries?
  • Which countries do you think this might include? Why?
  • How does this compare to the pattern of imports shown?
  • What do you think is happening here?

Note: Exports refer to products leaving Ghana and Imports refers to products that Ghana buys in from other countries



Should we - shouldn't we?

Ghana has made some progress in developing its economy, and of course would like to see this continue into the future. One of the dilemmas that the country faces is whether to exploit resources (especially gold, aluminium and timber) in areas that are environmentally sensitive. The Forest Reserves of Ghana are legally protected but in recent years, large deposits of gold have been found there.

Follow these links to find out more about the issue:

What do you think Ghana should do?

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