Ghana was one of the first countries in Africa to connect to the Internet, and now the main economic sector in the country is telecommunications, according to the statistics of the World Bank due to the Ghana liberal policy around Information and communications technology (ICT). The fastest growth is found in the mobile sector, with intense competition and a high mobile phone teledensity, hampered only by heavy taxes that elevate the cost of smartphones.
The Internet penetration rate in Ghana was of almost 28% by early 2017. The Ghana territory is a landing point for the SAT-3/WASC, Main One, and GLO-1 fiber-optic submarine cables that provide connectivity to South Africa, Europe, and Asia. There are satellite earth stations – 4 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean), and a microwave radio relay link to Panaftel system connects Ghana to its neighbors (2015).
The privatisation of the incumbent company in 1996 was the catalyst for an extraordinary growth in market competition across the mobile, internet and fixed-line sectors. The landing of two submarine fibre optic cables in 2012 and 2013 helped to dramatically increase international bandwidth, generating significant activity in the broadband sector. In addition, the government’s investment in fibre infrastructure has decisively helped to link businesses and agencies, as well as a number of Community Information Centres, helping push ICT into rural communities.
Since the launching of the first cellular mobile network in sub-Saharan Africa in 1992, Ghana has developed one of the continent’s most vibrant mobile markets, with six competing operators including regional heavyweights. While growth in the voice market has slowed with higher penetration, there is enormous potential in coming years for mobile data and mobile broadband. The National Communications Authority (NCA) is in charge of granting licenses for operation of communication systems and services, ensuring fair competition among licensees, and establishing and monitoring quality indicators for operators and service providers.
Ghana’s economy was strengthened by a quarter century of relatively sound management, a competitive business environment, and sustained reductions in poverty levels, but in recent years has suffered the consequences of loose fiscal policy, high budget and current account deficits, and a depreciating currency. Ghana has a market-based economy with relatively few policy barriers to trade and investment in comparison with other countries in the region, and Ghana is well-endowed with natural resources.
Agriculture accounts for about 20% of GDP and employs more than half of the workforce, mainly small landholders. Gold and cocoa exports, and individual remittances, are major sources of foreign exchange. Expansion of Ghana’s nascent oil industry has boosted economic growth, but the recent oil price crash reduced by half Ghana’s 2015 oil revenue. Production at Jubilee, Ghana’s offshore oilfield, began in mid-December 2010 and currently produces roughly 110,000 barrels per day. The country’s first gas processing plant at Atubao is also producing natural gas from the Jubilee field, providing power to several of Ghana’s thermal power plants.
As of 2016, the biggest single economic issue facing Ghana is the lack of consistent electricity. While the MAHAMA administration is taking steps to improve the situation, little progress has been made. Ghana signed a $920 million extended credit facility with the IMF in April 2015 to help it address its growing economic crisis. The IMF fiscal targets will require Ghana to reduce the fiscal deficit by cutting subsidies, decreasing the bloated public sector wage bill, strengthening revenue administration, and increasing revenues.
Vodafone Ghana, formerly known as Ghana Telecom, is the national telecommunications company of Ghana. In 2006, it had around 400,000 customers for fixed and mobile telephony and Internet services. On 3 August 2008 it was announced that Vodafone had agreed to acquire 70% of Ghana Telecom from the Ghanaian government. In 2009, the company was rebranded as Vodafone Ghana. As of 2015 Vodafone Ghana is the country’s second largest operator.