Ghana is the second-largest economy in West Africa and has enjoyed significant economic growth since the early 2000s, particularly following the commercialisation of its offshore oil and reserves, which helped GDP growth reach about 14% in 2011. But the global collapse in oil price and other commodities – which saw GDP growth fall to just 3.6% in 2016 – merely served as reminders of the need to diversify the economy to reduce dependence on natural resources (GhanaWeb, 22.05.2018).

While still not considered one of Ghana’s dominant economic activities, the high quality and abundance of the country’s tourism resources means that tourism is nonetheless becoming increasingly recognised by the government as an important potential driver of economic growth and development.

Notably, ahead of the 2016 election, the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) manifesto identified the country’s nascent tourism sector as having significant development potential; and the Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture (MoTAC) Catherine Ablema Afeku has since affirmed that the it was the new administration’s vision to promote tourism to become one of the main drivers of the economy, through the generation of foreign exchange earnings, the creation of jobs and the stimulation of other sectors of the economy (Ghana Tourism Authority, 25.05.2018).

Moreover, while the government appears to be making a dedicated push to develop and expand tourism, it has recognised that private investment is critical to realising this vision. Thus, while attracting foreign direct investment is a priority for the government, further regulatory and legislative reforms aimed at creating a more favourable businesses and investment climate in the short- to medium-term are necessary; ultimately if Ghana is to transform itself into an attractive destination for foreign capital.

Impact Points

  • Over the past several years Ghana’s economy has suffered from a slowdown in economic growth, highlighting the need to diversify the economy away from its dependence on natural resource extraction.
  • Since coming to power in January 2017, the newly-elected NPP government appears to have identified the country’s nascent tourism sector as having significant development potential, and has recognised the role that tourism can play as a key economic driver.
  • Over the past 16 months, Ghana’s increasingly active tourism authorities have continuously proven the government’s commitment to developing the industry, through the creation of a new tourism strategy plan and the introduction of a number of key initiatives.
  • While obstacles remain, Ghana appears to be positioning itself as an increasingly attractive foreign investment destination.