Utafiti: Journal of African Perspectives


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The year was thoroughly dominated by the run-up to the presidential and parliamentary elections that were held on 7 December. Apart from the preparatory work carried out by the National Electoral Commission (NEC), most aspects of everyday policy and governance, including the budget, were interpreted in the light of the forthcoming polls. The proceedings of the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) and the continuing fall-out from the murder of the Ya Na (king of Dagomba) and up to 40 of his retainers in 2002, were similarly highly charged. Even President Kufuor's attempts to mediate in the Ivorian crisis served as a heated debating point between the government and the National Democratic Congress (NDC). The electoral contest itself, which brought victory for the incumbent New Patriotic Party (NPP), was far more evenly matched than most observers expected, and confirmed the entrenchment of a two-party system.

Authors: and

The principal political issue in 2013 was the challenge brought by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) against the Electoral Commission (EC) in the Supreme Court and the way this impacted on the country’s democracy and security. Economic growth was affected by rising inflation, which resulted in popular dissatisfaction with President Mahama’s economic policies. Throughout the year, the government of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) was confronted with allegations of corruption, including the infamous “Victoria Hammah saga”; a leaked recording of a telephone conversation revealed that a deputy minister of the ruling party was hoping to receive $ 1 m before leaving office. The country continued to consolidate its bilateral ties and abide by its bilateral and multilateral obligations, both in Africa and across the world.

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The growing economic meltdown was the main feature of 2014 as many complained of the failure of the Mahama government to deliver on its promise of ‘Building a Better Ghana’. Politically, inter-party tensions were minimal while there were many cases of intra-party controversy. Increasingly irregular power supplies, contested policies, numerous outbreaks of fire and high inflation further increased public agitation. As a result, there were widespread civil and political demonstrations across the country. Corruption continued to be a major challenge for the government, as ministers, parliamentarians and state workers were accused of diverting state resources.

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President Mahama and his National Democratic Congress experienced a challenging time. Incessant power irregularities, fire outbreaks and corruption allegations overshadowed an otherwise relatively peaceful year. Violent intra-party clashes within the New Patriotic Party dominated the political debate across the country. The release of a video recording of corrupt judges, and controversy over political advertising on buses and the Africa Middle East Resources Investments scandal shaped socio-economic issues.

After eight years of a National Democratic Congress (ndc) government, under two different presidents, the December elections were a referendum on the quality of ndc rule. Ghana also experienced the culmination of three long-term calamities: the last year of a three-year electricity crisis, a third year of diminished gdp growth, and the reverberating effects of massive public scandals exposed in the judiciary and other sectors in previous years. To solve its way out of at least the economic disasters, a series of taxes were introduced via a revised income tax law, an energy sector levy on fuel prices, and the removal of subsidies on electricity and water prices. Ghana had signed up to a three-year imf assistance programme in 2015, which resulted in a rise in the debt-to-gdp ratio to over 70%, a mere five years after Ghana was the fastest growing economy in the world. President John Mahama tried to answer for the economic calamity by seeking out fdi and implementing massive infrastructure and development projects throughout the year. Ultimately, however, New Patriotic Party (npp) opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo won the December election by a nearly 10% margin. The npp also gained a majority in Parliament, ending the ndc’s eight-year control over the legislature.

With the election of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as President of Ghana in the December 2016 elections, the New Patriotic Party (npp) was back in power for the first time in eight years. The transition from National Democratic Congress (ndc) to npp rule dominated the political scene. From taking control of national and district offices to rolling out the new administration’s social and economic platforms, 2017 was a year of major overhauls. These restructuring efforts decreased Ghana’s debt, generated economic growth and created jobs. The year also saw several controversies surface, including national issues involving the Delta Force vigilante group, the Ministry of Finance, and the Electoral Commission (ec). The extent to which Ghana’s economic growth was felt by everyday Ghanaians was also of concern, particularly given the increases in the price of petrol throughout the year.


Now in the second year of its four-year term, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s New Patriotic Party (npp) government needed to make good on a lot of campaign promises made in 2016. From building a factory in every district and getting tough on corruption, to providing support for farmers, offering free secondary education, and creating jobs, the npp claimed it had been hampered in its first year in power by a high gdp-to-debt ratio and by the poorly negotiated contracts it had inherited. Proponents and critics disagreed about whether progress on these items had been made. Economic growth was strong, although not as strong as in the previous year, and overall numbers were helped by a rebasing of the economy in October.


Throughout 2019, the New Patriotic Party (npp) administration pushed for development initiatives and brokered deals with international governments and agencies in the hope of better securing Ghana’s economic footing in the lead-up to the 2020 national elections. Economic growth was robust, particularly in comparison with other ssa nations. But critics instead point to the medium- to long-term nature of these plans, and that the economic growth is not reaching everyday Ghanaians. Diplomatically, the country successfully publicised the Year of Return, boosting tourism and celebrity visits and improving the country’s international reputation as a place to be. More oil was discovered, and oil and cocoa sales helped to boost the economy, though it is unclear whether 2019’s economic growth will continue in 2020.

The economic outlook for Ghana in 2020 was initially strikingly positive. In January, a number of credit agencies had raised Ghana’s rating, economic growth was projected at 6%, and, despite the election year, there was a strong belief that debt would remain below the 5% legal threshold. Once the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the two largest cities went through a military-enforced lockdown, schools closed and social gatherings were banned for much of the year, and the typically large and vibrant election campaign rallies went largely online. Nana Akufo-Addo was re-elected as president, again defeating former president John Mahama, but 63 New Patriotic Party (npp) parliamentarians lost their seats and Ghana now had a hung parliament for the first time. Former president J.J. Rawlings died at age 73 after a short illness. The special prosecutor abdicated his position in 2020, while the auditor-general was compelled to take his accumulated leave. Though greatly diminished, Ghana’s positive economic growth stood out in comparison with that of its peers. The country was also credited for activating oil savings to help buoy its economic outlook.

Ghana’s 2020 election results were contested in court, but the petition was ultimately dismissed in early 2021. The country’s first hung parliament led to heightened deliberations throughout the year, but particularly around the electronic transactions levy introduced in November. The disruption of a paralegal training session on responding to violations against lgbtq people, the closure and raiding of Ghana’s first lgbt+ centre, the introduction of an anti-lgbtq bill in parliament, and attacks on protesters and reporters by the police or military thrust the country into global dialogues on human rights considerations. Twitter announced Ghana as the new headquarters of its Africa operations, and Ghana hired a German firm to develop an e-cedi digital currency.