Article: 66 years into Ghana’s independence, reflections and projections: 34 more years to a century

The research divides Ghanaian development into four categories: constitutionalism, economic growth, democracy and good governance

Development essentially symbolises the improvement of life. Due to the occurrence of colonisation, exploitation, and oppression, the desire for independence, a sign of maturity, and self-reliance predominate in minds.

It represents the time when the state was free of colonial control. With this perfect board, Ghana will be independent and able to manage its affairs. Ghana’s independence has notable characteristics, including democracy, wise leadership, and a free market, among others.

But even after independence has been proclaimed, development is not a given. Throughout its 66 years of independence, Ghana has experienced both challenging and rewarding times. These 66 years are characterised by economic upheavals, international help and support disguised as support, cultural infiltration, constitutionalism, social and political stability, and pandemics.

To be able to cast a well-informed practical vision, one must have a thorough understanding of historical narratives and how previous events led to the current state of affairs. In this study, the 66-year development trajectory of Ghana is examined.

It examined the nation’s past growth trajectory to pinpoint accomplishments, difficulties, and chances to create prospective future paths. It also makes policy recommendations for the remaining 34 years of Ghana’s century.

Concept of Development

There are many different perspectives on development; thus, this paragraph investigates a notion that will serve as the study’s framework. Beginning in the 1940s, the term “development” was first used to describe a country’s financial growth in the United States about a major foreign policy consideration of the country: how to mould the destiny of states that had recently gained independence in a manner that might prevent them from being sucked into the communist Soviet bloc.

The ideas of modernization and dependent development are avoided in this study because of the debate surrounding them. The significant improvement of a country aimed at raising a population’s standard of living is known as national development.

Development is defined as including the improvement of several issues, such as economic, social, political, gender, cultural, religious, and environmental ones. The improvement of human life quality is essential to Ghana’s growth. Hence, the research will examine Ghana’s development trajectory in four distinct categories. They include legal systems, economic growth, government capacity, and human resource development.

66 years of Ghana’s Development Trajectory

The research divides Ghanaian development into four categories: constitutionalism, economic growth, democracy and good governance.


In 1957, Ghana became its sovereign after the United Kingdom, and the financial system seemed secure and thriving. The economy makes a significant and wide-ranging commitment through the production and exportation of goods connected to digital technology, the construction and export of vehicles and ships, and the exportation of diverse and bountiful assets like hydrocarbons and industrial minerals.

Due to these characteristics, Ghana presently boasts one of the highest GDPs per capita in West Africa. Ghana’s economy grew at the world’s quickest rate between 2011 and 2019 as a consequence of a rebasing of its GDP. The epidemic and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine are being seen as the primary causes of the present economic difficulties.


Ghana has been the world’s top cocoa exporter since 1957. Agriculture accounted for 53.6% of jobs in Ghana in 2013. (FAPDA, 2015)

The primary sector was estimated by the GSS to contribute 19% of the GDP and 34% of the labour force in 2017. Due to its influence on employment, income production, and poverty reduction, it continues to be crucial for the nation’s long-term prosperity. It is also a major income earner for many people.

The principal industries include forestry, cassava, cocoa, vegetables, fruits, and maize. (Ferreira et al., 2022). After Ivory Coast, Ghana then became the world’s second-largest exporter of cocoa. According to Danso-Abbeam and Baiyegunhi (2020), cocoa is a significant source of foreign exchange and employment and a major engine of economic growth. Nonetheless, it is now Africa’s top gold exporter after surpassing South Africa in 2019.

Low production, droughts, climatic conditions, and a lack of infrastructure are the key issues affecting Ghana’s agricultural economy.

Secondary Sector

Around 24.5% of the GDP is made up of the secondary sector (CIA.gov, 2021). Manufacturing, construction, mining and quarrying, electricity, water, and sewerage are some of the subsectors. From an import substitution industrialization plan to the present private sector-led industrialization programme, Ghana’s post-independence industrial growth has undergone significant change.

The colonial economic system’s small-scale industrial sector existed in Ghana before its independence in 1957. Ghana’s industrial base is currently well-developed. West Africa’s largest information and communications technology (ICT) and mobile phone manufacturing firm, Rlg Communications, is the first indigenous African company to build laptops, desktops, and mobile phones (Njie, 2014).

During 2017 and 2019, Ghana’s industrial sector—which had average annual growth of more than 10% (AfDB)—was a key contributor to the country’s economic expansion (gipc.gov, nd).

Researchers frequently point to infrastructure issues, significant fiscal deficits, macroeconomic instability, a lack of foreign currency, a lack of raw resources to support industrialization, etc. as reasons for this failure (IFS, 2018).

The production of cocoa, food and agricultural products, textiles and apparel, and pharmaceuticals are among the recommended businesses that might support manufacturing in Ghana.

The creation of value chains for some local raw materials, the upcoming implementation of GCAP to guarantee that goods imported into Ghana adhere to certain standards, and the removal of the minimum capital threshold for international investors joining the manufacturing sector are some current and future projects that may have a substantial impact on the sector.

Tertiary Sector

Transport, storage, communications, wholesale and retail commerce, travel and hospitality, banking, insurance, real estate, and business services are its subcategories. In 2010 (O’Neil, 2021), it accounted for 43.1% of all employment in Ghana.

The majority of the GDP and 28% of all jobs in Ghana’s domestic economy were in the service sector in 2012; exports and imports, which together made up 15.9% and 17.3% of all products and services exported and imported by Ghana in 2012, respectively.

As of now, the services sector continues to be the major contributor to Ghana’s GDP; it made up 49% of GDP in 2021 as a consequence of expansion in the sectors of education, health, and ICT, among others.

The agricultural sector comes in second at about 21% of GDP, behind the industrial sector, which accounts for 30% of GDP. Around 45% of Ghana’s workforce is employed in agriculture, primarily smalby l landowners (ITA, 2022; World Bank Group, 2019).

High property taxes, high-income taxes, insufficient investment capital, credit availability, and the necessity for SMEs to strengthen internal resource sourcing are a few of the issues that have been mentioned (Brixiová et al., 2020; Rita & Huruta, 2020).

Development is linked to structural change or the transition from agriculture to industry and services. Mechanized or industrial agriculture should be the goal of policy to boost production while shifting manual labour to technology. Priority must be given to digitalization, artificial intelligence, cyber systems, and entrepreneurship.

The government must modify the incentives and regulations that support commercial agriculture and improve market integration. Public investment should also prioritise agricultural R&D to increase the production of the nation’s most vital commodities as well as associated infrastructure.



The newly independent Gold Coast adopted the name Ghana when it did so in 1957. In a coup orchestrated by the National Liberation Council, Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah was deposed in 1960, a year after being elected as Ghana’s first president. Ghana was once again a republic on October 1, 1969, thanks to the National Liberation Council’s transfer of power to the civilian administration. Based on the British parliamentary system, a new constitution was drafted.

Ghana was controlled by a variety of military regimes between 1972 and 1979. On June 4, 1979, John Jerry Rawlings organised an insurrection that, by September of that year, had brought the nation under democratic governance.

When John Rawlings ousted the president in a coup in 1981, Ghana was governed by a military administration until 1993, when a transitional process was put in place to return power to civilian control. The Fourth Republic came into being on January 7, 1993. (Asamoah, 2014; UNDP, 2022).

With active political parties, a thriving media, a history of smooth elections, press freedom, an independent judiciary, and a robust civil society, Ghana is today a recognised democratic country (UNDP, 2022). Since 1992, Ghana has held eight free and fair elections facilitated three peaceful transfers of power between its two main political parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), which is currently in power, and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), which is currently in opposition.

Ghana also continues to combat corruption, weak governance, and weak accountability, which slow the country’s progress towards self-reliance (Adetula, 2016; UNDP, 2022). Dr Akwetey contends that;

(I) the persistent risk of political viciousness in national elections,

(II) the deterioration of national cohesion,

(III) the politicisation, corruption, and paralysis of the public service bureaucracies,

(IV) the contest resulting from a political duopoly that encourages self-serving politics and exclusionary government, and

(V) the dearth of sustained political dialogue and countrywide consensus on measures for resolving the challenges when taken as a whole, they highlight how fragile the multiparty governing system is and represent significant hazards to its long-term stability, peace, and viability (newsghana.com, 2014).

Ghana performed below average between 2010 and 2019, with an average score on total regime effectiveness of just 48.2%. (UNDP, 2021).

Public Sector Capacity and Governance

From Ghana’s declaration of independence in 1957 until his ouster in a coup in 1966, Kwame Nkrumah served as its first president. Later African independence movements were influenced by him.

His reign was criticised for being autocratic and for making economic mistakes that caused Ghana’s economy to suffer, among other things, leading to his downfall (Britannica, 2023).

Moreover, from 1981 to 2001, Jerry John Rawlings served as president twice, first from 1979 for a brief period. He presided over a military coup until 1992, after which he was democratically elected president of Ghana for two terms.

He is also credited with bringing power to Ghana’s northern regions, founding the University of Development Studies, restoring democracy to Ghana in 1992, and implementing the VAT, among other things (Britanica, 2022).

His successor, Kufuor, was known for the Metro Mass Transit System, the School Feeding Program, the Capitation Grant, and the National Health Insurance Scheme, which replaced the previous cash-and-carry system.

The 2009 Glo-CAF Platinum Award went to Mills as Head of State for his “commitment and support to sports and football growth in the nation.”

As the 2012 Lifetime Africa Achievement Award Laureate on Democratic Government and Development in Africa, Mills received the greatest honour posthumously.

The late President Mills would have approved of the Single Spine Salary Plan and the expansion of the school food programmes.

Several development initiatives, like the Nkrumah Circle Interchange and the Legon Hospital, are also associated with President Mahama.

In particular throughout the years 2019, the current president Akuffo Addo has excelled in the areas of Planting for Food and Employment, Nation Builders Corps (NABCO), improved digitalization, and a stable economy.

The state is criticised for the poor quality, coverage, and dependability of its public services. Governments have limited capability, make minimal investments in infrastructure, and struggle to raise money from within their own ranks. The state is forced to abandon a lot of initiatives. Public sector governance and capability are lacking.

The report suggests enhancing the capability and governance of the public sector. This cannot be used in its place because the government needs smart human resources to make sure investors invest and do not take advantage.

The 34 years ahead to a century will require a National Plan to guide progressive development, against private regime interest (UNPD, 2022).


A nation’s wealth is its human resources, and it is people that drive economies forward. Ghana will need to make the biggest leaps to catch up if it is to join the league of fast-growing economies since a long-standing dedication to education and health has been essential to economic growth and development in nations throughout the world.

Even with the best policies, Ghana will not be able to attain the quick development witnessed abroad if it does not increase its investment in human capital, even though fast growth is not a given. This section specifically examines Ghana’s health and education trends.


In Ghana before colonisation, education was informal; skills were passed down verbally and via apprenticeships. New types of education were introduced throughout the 16th century with the migration of European immigrants. Buildings for formal schools that taught through books were constructed.

Following Ghana’s 1957 declaration of independence, the British-inspired education system underwent a number of adjustments. Particularly in the 1980s, changes were made to the educational system to make it more in line with the demands of the country in terms of labour force.

The current regular educational system involves , pre-primary to age 6, 6 years of primary schooling. Both Junior and senior highs school are 3 years each while first degree is 4. The basic education lasts for the first nine years, which are both free and required.

The School Feeding Programme, a social protection strategy aimed at raising school enrolment, participation, and attrition, decreasing malnutrition and starvation, and enhancing domestic food production, is one of Ghana’s most effective education strategies.

With an equal rise in spending, the number of students receiving school meals has climbed from 1,900 in the program’s initial year of introduction in 2005 to 1.7 million in 2017. By projecting it as an investment rather than a cost, the cost-benefit analysis demonstrates the necessity to invest in school nutrition (WFP, 2019).

Free compulsory universal basic education (FCUBE) also contributes to addressing the international concern that everyone should have access to equal educational opportunities and resources, and that basic education should be free, mandatory, and accessible to all in order to fully realise that right (Nudzor, 2013).

Although the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) programme has had some success, the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) statistics indicate that over 1.2 million children are still not in school owing to a number of societal issues (Eduwatch, 2022).

An important change in Ghana’s education has also been made with the adoption of STEM. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics is referred to as STEM.

STEM has evolved to stand for a distinctive method of instruction and learning that is based on the learning preferences and interests of each individual student. It is mostly intended for students interested in majoring in or pursuing professions in STEM fields.

Africa has the greatest deficit, at 47%, according to the Human Capital Index (HCI) and the World Economic Forum (WEF) in their study on the Global Human Capacity Index (GHCI), suggesting that the region has only met 53% of its human capacity requirements (Moyo, 2018).

The majority of schooling is of poor quality. Despite the fact that colleges generated graduates who the economy could scarcely use as workers. More funding for STEM education is one of the proposals for policymakers.

Moreover, the current economic climate necessitates that education be focused on addressing social and state problems and resolving intra-state conflicts; digitalization must also be a key development tool in the years to come.

Health in Ghana

During the course of Ghana’s history, healthcare has evolved considerably. Traditional priests, clerics, and herbalists served as the major caretakers throughout the pre-colonial era and provided guidance (Berry 1995). In Ghana’s rural areas, traditional healers are still mostly used.

Via a range of policies under various governmental regimes, government involvement on behalf of healthcare first appeared throughout the post-colonial era.

These measures lead up to the National Health Insurance Scheme’s adoption (NHIS). The NHIS now provides services to those working in both official and informal settings, and it aims to improve access to healthcare for all Ghanaians (Alhassan et al., 2016).

The NHIS package includes inpatient and outpatient treatment, complete maternity care, diagnostic tests, generic medications, and emergency care. It covers roughly 95% of the most prevalent causes of disease in Ghana (ibid).

Under Ghana’s National Health Insurance System, a free maternal health policy was put in place to encourage the use of these services. Women are entitled to free care during pregnancy and delivery under the programme.

A total of 10.5 million individuals, or 40% of Ghana’s population, were covered by the NHIS as of 2014. From slightly under 0.5 visits per person in 2005 to over 3 visits per person in 2014, the total inpatient and outpatient visits to healthcare institutions increased (Wang,et al., 2017). However, the prominent cycle to challenge includes sustainable funding and mismanagement.


Governmental institutions are necessary for maintaining state peace. The foundation of a just legal system and the creation of sustainable societies is the respect for human rights. According to the UN, human rights must be maintained in order for there to be rule of law within a society.

The paper covers a crucial part of Ghana’s stance on violations of human rights. It is time to review ideas like constitutionalism, the separation of powers, the rule of law, and an independent judiciary after 66 years.

Constitutionalism and Separation of Powers

Ghana has faced a wide range of difficulties in its attempt to establish constitutional democracy. The country has had four constitutions since gaining its independence (Van Gyampo, & Graham, 2014). Under Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s political direction, the first constitution was in effect from 1960 to 1966.

The second constitution, authored by Dr. K.A. Busia in 1969, was in place until 1972. The third, authored by Dr. Hilla Limann in 1979, was likewise repealed in the wake of a military takeover in 1981.

The 1992 Constitution, which has been in effect for more than 20 years and is thought to be the only one to have done so, was chosen by the country in the end and has functioned as the main legal framework under four successive regimes (ibid.).

Ghana’s 1992 constitution stipulates a hybrid framework. This was a blend of the British Westminster and the US Presidential government structures.

The two systems have modelled three different constitutions since 1960, and in 1992, constitutional hybridity was chosen as the optimal choice. In doing so, it was assumed that the perfect constitution would combine the two main types of government. Because Ghana is a democratic nation, the constitution must support democracy.

Yet, voting power is best used by the populace, and party interests are served by party rule. Ghana’s president selects “nearly everyone” and wields enormous influence over sponsorship decisions. He has a voice in the selection of officers who are not immediately under his direct control (Van Gyampo, & Graham, 2014).

He is the one who appoints ministers, heads of boards, agencies, commissions, mayors, and members of the council of state on behalf of the government of Ghana. Fountain of honour and mercy in addition to serving as head of the Ghana Armed Forces.

The constitution gives extensive protection even when a country is not in power, giving the impression that it was written to defend a colonial ruler.

Moreover, experts have claimed that the constitution needs to be completely overhauled due to its unlawful nature in order to restore Ghana’s democracy.

In addition, rules and laws are in danger. For instance, immunity is a privilege given to some people in positions of power that protects them from punishment while they are in such positions, whatever crime they may have perpetrated.

Presidents, governors, and ambassadors fall into this category. This is a restriction on the application of the legislation.

In addition, after more than 20 years in place, Ghana’s 1992 Constitution disturbs the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches, favouring the former in a way that weakens constitutionalism.

The general perception of the legislature is that of rubber stamps. In particular, when the executive, who is the direct representation of the people, engineers legislation rather than them.

Independent Judiciary

Over the years, the legal system in Ghana has been largely supported by the judiciary of the nation. It is criticised, nonetheless, for lacking accessibility, closeness, understandability, and attentiveness, which are absent for certain Ghanaians (African Union, 2019).

The formal court system include that it is very expensive (mentioned by 54% of respondents), that the system rewards the wealthy and powerful (31%), and that it takes a long time for a decision to be made (31%) (Essima, & Asiamah, 2020).

There increasing dominance of purposivism blurs the separation between law drafters and law implementers, there is no-cap on the number of supreme court judges and noted corruption among others. They pose a danger to Ghana’s judicial system.

In essence, Ghana’s judicial system fell from first place in 2018 to sixth place in Africa in the 2019 Rule of Law Index (World Justice Project, 2019).

So, just having a constitution may not be enough to ensure constitutionalism as certain constitutions, like Ghana’s 1992 Constitution, lack the necessary checks and balances on the exercise of power.

According to an Afrobarometer poll, the percentage of Ghanaians who supported military rule rose from 10.3% in 1999 to 23.7% in 2018.

In a similar vein, 11.6% of Ghanaians said they preferred a non-democratic administration in 2018 as opposed to 4.7% in 2003. The percentage of persons who voiced unhappiness with Ghana’s democracy between 2002 and 2015 rose from 16.4% to 35.4%.

According to a study on local government conducted by the Ghana Center for Democratic Development in September 2021, over 71% of Ghanaians opposed political parties’ participation in the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) at the local level (Aikins,2022).

They are a cause for worry that has to be addressed in terms of policy. Ghana’s democratic successes can be protected by amending the constitution.

Illiteracy doesn’t support decision-making in democracies, hence education of the populace is necessary to support democracy.


Ghana’s 66 years of independence has made great strides but has also faced numerous challenges. The study recommends the following policy objectives

  • Economic development investment must prioritise addressing basic population needs
  • Industrialisation, digitisation, AI Technology are modern developments to invest in.
  • Improving public sector capacity and governance
  • Investment in STEM education
  • Amend the 1992 Constitution to foster and entrenched democracy

Click on the link below to read the full research paper

66 years into Ghana’s independence, reflections and projections 34 more years to a century

The writer is Palgrave Boakye Danquah, Government’s spokesperson on governance and security

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