major macro economic indicators
|2016||2017||2018 (e)||2019 (f)|
|GDP growth (%)||3.4||8.1||6.3||6.6|
|Inflation (yearly average, %)||17.5||12.4||9.8||10.5|
|Budget balance (% GDP)||-7.2||-4.8||-3.7||-4.3|
|Current account balance (% GDP)||-5.2||-3.5||-3.2||-3.1|
|Public debt (% GDP)||56.9||55.6||57.1||56.8|
(e): Estimate. (f): Forecast.
- Significant mining (gold), agricultural (cocoa), oil and gas resources
- Stable democracy
- Attractive business environment, favourable for FDI
- International financial support
- Infrastructure gaps (energy, transport)
- Dependent on commodity prices (gold, oil, cocoa)
- Fragile banking sector
Robust growth, despite constraints on the banking sector
Although the one-off effect of bringing the TEN and Sankofa hydrocarbon fields onstream faded in 2018, growth remained robust and is expected to remain so in 2019. The oil and gas sector should continue to drive growth, notably owing to the expected increase in production at the Jubilee and the Tweneboa, Enyenra and Ntomme (TEN) oil fields. In addition to the contribution from hydrocarbons, exports should also benefit from the opening of the country's first gold refinery, scheduled for mid-2019. Manufacturing industries are expected to contribute to the expansion too, supported by public investments through the One District, One Factory programme and improved electricity supply. Meanwhile, the construction sector should also contribute to the growth of the secondary sector through increased public investment in infrastructure, including the transport network. While agriculture is set to continue to grow, difficulties in the cocoa sector are likely to persist, with international prices remaining relatively low and the fight against Cacao swollen-shoot virus (CSSV) expected to continue. Forestry activities will play a part in primary sector growth. Domestic consumption, boosted by the increase in the minimum wage, should continue to fuel growth in services: ICT, trade, as well as education and health should thus keep expanding briskly. However, inflation – which is flirting with the top end of the Bank of Ghana's target range (between 6% and 10%) – could eat away at the contributions from these consumption-dependent sectors. In addition, while non-performing loans remain high, the fragile local banking sector is expected to continue to drive service growth down.
From fiscal consolidation to fiscal discipline
The budget deficit is expected to widen in 2019, linked to debt interest payments. The government will, however, try to preserve the primary surplus. After a major push to curb expenditure under the IMF programme completed at the end of 2018, spending is expected to keep pace with rising revenues. Efforts to contain the wage bill, which takes up almost half of tax revenues, will likely be continued in order to increase the resources allocated to capital investment expenditure. On the revenue side, measures to broaden the tax base will be a focus, with steps to automate tax procedures. In addition, the government is planning to reform the system of tax exemptions. The deficit will be chiefly financed by bond issuances on international capital markets, project loans, and loans from the local banking sector. The primary surplus and strong growth should enable the debt-to-GDP ratio to be brought down. Nonetheless, the debt trajectory will remain exposed to the vulnerability of state-owned energy companies and banks, with the government already being forced to take over debt in 2018. In addition, while debt levels look to be at a less worrying level thanks to the rebasing of GDP, they remain relatively high.
In 2019, the current account deficit is expected to narrow slightly, reflecting changes in the trade balance. Specifically, despite a likely rise in imports of capital goods, the trade surplus is poised to increase thanks to higher exports, particularly of oil and gas. Expatriate remittances will also make a positive contribution to the current account balance. However, the technical services related to the development of these resources will continue to affect the balance of services. Profit repatriation by foreign companies and debt interest will maintain the income deficit. FDI and external loans will finance the current account deficit while also building up foreign exchange reserves, which are sufficient to cover between three and four months of imports. Despite the support provided by foreign exchange earnings in the oil and gas sector, the cedi – which came under pressure in 2018 due to currency sales following the tightening of US monetary policy and difficulties in the banking sector – could continue to depreciate.
A stable political environment, despite fierce rivalry
Elected in December 2016, President Nana Akufo-Addo and his New Patriotic Party (NPP) succeeded John Mahama and the National Democratic Congress (NDC). The peaceful political handover, despite the sometimes fierce rivalry between the two main parties, underlined the country's democratic credibility and political stability. Although growth rates are high, progress in curbing poverty and stopping corruption – two central themes of the campaign run by the NPP and President Akufo-Addo – will be the focus of public scrutiny as the November 2020 elections approach. Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, who was elected head of the NDC in November 2018, will be in charge of (re)structuring his party in a bid to lead it to victory in the elections.
The business environment remains relatively favourable when compared with Ghana’s regional peers, despite ongoing issues relating to the infrastructure deficit and red tape. The country has moved up six places to 114th (out of 190 countries) in the 2019 Doing Business ranking, benefiting in particular from measures that make it easier to obtain building permits. However, the cost of insolvency proceedings and the limited recourse available to creditors remain major weaknesses.
Last update: February 2019