Ghana

Ghana, in long form the Republic of Ghana, is a country in West Africa located on the edge of the Gulf of Guinea. The countries bordering Ghana are Côte d’Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north and Togo to the east. Its capital is the city of Accra and its inhabitants are Ghanaians. The country is part of ECOWAS. The official language is English. The currency is the cedi. Ghana has been an associate member of the International Organization of La Francophonie since 2006 and places increasing importance on French. Modern Ghana has no direct geographic or historical ties to the Empire of Ghana. The first, former Côte-de-l’Or, was renamed in homage to the second by Kwame Nkrumah at the time of independence. The colonial name of Côte-de-l’Or comes from the numerous gold mines in the country which, before being exploited by the British, German, Dutch and French colonists, were abundantly used by the Ashanti ethnic group, who kept the tradition of gold jewelry, a tradition that has also spread to the neighboring Abron ethnic group.

One of Ghana’s main politicians was the pan-Africanist Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972). From 1966 to 1980, numerous coups d’etat made the country particularly unstable, until the seizure of power by Jerry Rawlings who had a new constitution voted in 1992. Elected twice thereafter, he peacefully ceded the power to his opponent John Kufuor in 2000. Since then, the alternations between the two main political parties, the NDC and the NPP, have been regular and peaceful, including that of 2016, which sees the victory of Nana Akufo-Addo against the president outgoing John Dramani Mahama.

Ghana’s history

The history of the part of Africa that will become Ghana today is relatively unknown before 1500. Archaeological research has shown that human occupation there is very old, both on the coast and at inland. Recent research has highlighted, in the forest zone, the presence of habitat sites surrounded by deep ditches dating from the 7th and 14th centuries. This type of site, which is also known from Côte d’Ivoire to Nigeria, testifies to the existence of a sedentary civilization mastering iron metallurgy, probably living on the culture of yams and exploitation of oil palm, and particularly well suited to the forest environment. These sites were brutally abandoned in the fourteenth century. The black plague and its devastating consequences on demography, well known in Europe and North Africa at the same time and whose study in sub-Saharan Africa remains to be carried out, could be at the origin of these large-scale upheavals. Almost a century and a half later, it is therefore a very different society and undoubtedly still marked by the chaos that has struck previous generations, which welcomes the first Portuguese ships. They reached this part of the coast for the first time in 1471. They found gold there to exchange for manufactured goods from Europe and therefore baptized this portion of coast, Côte de l’Or ( Costa do Ouro) or Mine Coast (Costa da Mina). To protect this gold trade from the merchants from other European nations, in 1482 they built an imposing fortress, Saint-Georges-de-la-Mine (São Jorge da Mina) in the village of Edina (Elmina) . This fortress remained the headquarters of the Portuguese until 1637, when the Dutch dislodged it, asserting itself as the dominant European power on the Coast. They remained so until the 1870s, when they ceded their possessions to the English. The latter then embarked on the colonization of territories located inland, including the Ashanti (Asante).

The presence of European merchants and then soldiers and missionaries on the Gold Coast should not obscure the complex history of African political entities, of which they were only the hosts. From the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, many entities developed, negotiated, allied and clashed to dominate trade and ensure their political domination. This history is marked by a great diversity and inventiveness of socio-political constructions. The trade in gold, then in slaves, which exceeded it in volume from the turn of the 18th century, was the subject of numerous monographs, some of which were in French. Ghana was a British colony under the name of Gold Coast, with an apostolic vicariate of the same name entrusted to the missionaries of Lyon. After the First World War, the Gold Coast expands from part of German Togoland. The other part was entrusted to France already present in Dahomey (Benin), and will form contemporary Togo.

Twentieth century

Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972) was the politician who led Ghana to independence. To this end, he called for a boycott and civil disobedience, which resulted in him being imprisoned by the British authorities from 1948 to 1951. That same year, the British authorities organized legislative elections which were won by the CPP. Nkrumah, released, was then appointed Prime Minister and collaborated closely with the British authorities. Based on the policy of “Africanization of the administration, of Pan-Africanism”, he decided to develop the infrastructure of his country thanks to the surpluses of the Cocoa Marketing Board. Thus, the education and health fields registered real progress. After the 1956 legislative elections, the CPP won three-quarters of the seats. Nkrumah, very successful, then forced the United Kingdom to concede independence, which was proclaimed on March 6, 1957. The Gold Coast thus became the first colony to obtain its independence after Sudan (1956) . On Independence Day, Nkrumah decided to abandon the country’s colonial name in favor of the present one, in reference to the Ghana Empire. In addition, unlike the Gold Coast, this name is no longer likely to be translated differently depending on foreign languages. While remaining in the Commonwealth, Ghana became, on July 1, 1960, a republic.

Ghana’s politics 

Ghana is a presidential republic in which the president fulfills both the role of head of state and that of head of government. The government exercises the executive power while the legislative power is shared between the parliament (mono-cameral system) and the government. The Constitution of Ghana, which inaugurates the Fourth Republic, lays the foundations for a democratic republican state, declaring Ghana as a united republic whose sovereignty belongs to the people. The sharing of power between the president, the parliament, the government as well as an independent judicial system, must contribute to avoid coups, the seizure of power by a dictatorial government or by a single party. The current constitution, which succeeds those of 1957, 1960, 1969 and 1979, is partly inspired by provisions and institutions stemming from the British and American constitutions. A controversial provision ensures the immunity of PNDC members for any act or omission during the years when the PNDC was in power.

On July 24, 2012, John Dramani Mahama replaced President John Atta Mills, who died brutally at the age of 68, following a short and brutal illness. Under the terms of the Ghanaian Constitution, John Mahama is the head of the country until December 2012, the date of the presidential election. He was re-elected president of the Republic of Ghana on December 7, 2012 and was invested in his office on January 7, 2013 despite the opposition which contested his accession to power. In the 2016 general elections in Ghana, the opponent Nana Akufo-Addo was elected president.

Ghana’s economy

Like many African countries, Ghana is rich in raw materials, especially minerals and petroleum. Its economy, however, remains essentially based on agriculture. Ghana has long been the world’s leading producer of cocoa (more than 1.6 million hectares of village plantations) before being largely surpassed by its neighbor Côte d’Ivoire, which today represents a harvest of more than double. During the first six years of the decade of the 2010s, the latter has always maintained itself as the second world producer of cocoa, ahead of Côte d’Ivoire, the first in Africa and in the world, both remaining the first two exporters worldwide. The industry is more developed there than in the rest of the West African countries. In addition, after the discovery of the vast Jubilee oil field, Ghana embarked in 2010 on oil production, which in 2012 became its second export post after gold, with a total production of 110,000 barrels per day, expected to rise. About 10% of the Ghanaian population depends on fishing. The sector is however threatened: the number of fish caught off the country has decreased by almost half in fifteen years, going from 420,000 tonnes in 1999 to 202,000 tonnes in 2014. In question, the practices of foreign factory ships, which devastate the seabed, and some artisanal fishing techniques, such as lighting up the water overnight to attract fish and poison them with chemicals, or kill them with dynamite. The continued reduction of fish stocks threatens the country’s food security and reduces the number of jobs.

Currency

The official currency of Ghana has been the cedi since 1965. A cedi is itself broken down into 100 pesewas. On July 3, 2007, Ghana changed currency. The new Ghanaian cedi is then worth 10,000 old cedis. Right after this change, 1.4 cedi was equivalent to one euro. In 2012, around 2.4 cedis were equivalent to one euro. In September 2015, it takes about 4 cedis for one euro, but the currency is no longer negotiable.

Ghana’s demography

According to the 2010 census, the population of Ghana is estimated at 24,658,823. About 51% of the population lives in urban areas. The main ethnic groups are the Akans (47.5%), the Mole-Dagbani (16.6%), the Ewes (13.9%) and the Ga-Dangme (7.4%).

Ghana’s education

Ghanaian national education is provided in the English language. It is compulsory and free until the age of 15. The school year generally lasts from August to May. The Ghanaian educational cycle is divided into three parts: basic education, the secondary cycle and the tertiary cycle. Basic education (compulsory and free education) begins at the age of 4 and lasts 11 years. It is divided into kindergarten (2 years), primary (2 modules of 3 years) and “Junior High school” equivalent to college (3 years). The end of this cycle is sanctioned by an exam: the “Basic Education Certificate Examination” (BECE – Certification Exam for Basic Education). It gives access to the secondary cycle, which can be general within a “Senior High School” (equivalent to the lycée) or vocational and technical within technical lycées (“technical Senior High School”), institutes of professional and technical training, or from private establishments. The general secondary cycle is sanctioned by an examination: the “West African Secondary School Education Certificate Examination” (WASSECE – West African examination for certification of the secondary education cycle). The tertiary cycle, or higher education, is divided between university studies (4-year cycle, culminating in a Bachelor, which can be followed by a master’s degree of one to two years, then a doctorate) and Polytechnic education, in with regard to vocational and technical training (two to three year cycle).

Ghana’s languages 

According to the 2010 Ghanaian census, Ghana has 67.1% English speakers in its population. This figure includes people who can read and write English, which shows that the population of Ghana has a good general knowledge of this Western language. Asante Twi, one of the main national languages, is spoken between 16 and 47.5% of the population. There are also nine national languages ​​and 81 African languages ​​in Ghana according to SIL International. Ghana is also an English-speaking “landlocked” state between French-speaking states (Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Togo) and therefore maintains many relationships with them, hence the will of the authorities in recent years to introduce French to Ghanaians. Ghana is an associated state of the International Organization of La Francophonie.