The West African country of Ghana is bordered by Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Togo and the Gulf of Guinea. In 1957, Ghana was the first sub-Saharan country in colonial Africa to gain independence.
The Republic of Ghana is a presidential constitutional democracy. President John Dramani Mahama, the head of state and government, has been in office since 24 July 2012 following the death of his predecessor. The most recent presidential elections were held on 7 December 2012 (and were won by the incumbent) and the next are planned for December 2016.
Ghana is a member of ECOWAS, the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the African Union, and is an associate member of Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. Ghana is the site of Lake Volta, the largest artificial lake in the world by surface area, and is one of the largest cocoa producers in the world. Other resources include gold, timber, diamond, bauxite and manganese, which are important sources of foreign trade. Oil production began in December 2010 in the Jubilee offshore oilfield, which has proven reserves of some three billion barrels of light sweet crude oil.
Ghana has a market-based economy, and compared to many other countries in the region, there are relatively few policy barriers to investment and trade. However, the economy is expected to slow to an estimated growth rate of 3.9% in 2015, partly due to a severe energy crisis and growing macroeconomic imbalances. An increase in oil and gas production, private sector investment, and improved public infrastructure as well as political stability is expected to lead to a 6% growth rate in 2016.
In 2011, the service sector accounted for 48.5% of goods and service, followed by the industry sector with 25.9%, and the agricultural sector with 25.6%. In that year, the service sector grew at a rate of 8.3%, however, the industry reached an impressive 41.1% mainly due to mining and quarrying, which increased by 206%. The agricultural sector only reached a low rate of 0.8%. Ghana has an estimated labour force of 10.6 million people with 56% working in the agricultural sector, 29% in the service sector, and the remaining in the industry sector. Potential improvements in the agricultural sector include irrigation technology which could benefit an estimated 500,000 ha. As 90% of farm holdings are less than 2 hectares in size, an estimated 225,000 farm holdings would benefit from improved irrigation. Several renewable technologies can be used can be used for irrigation.
In late 2010, the World Bank reclassified Ghana as a lower middle-income country. The national currency is the Ghanaian cedi (average exchange rates, Sep. 2014-Sep. 2015: USD 1 = GHS 3.76, EUR 1 = GHS 4.23). Ghana was ranked 138th on the Human Development Index in 2013, with a value of 0.573.