Growth in Ghana - Disproving the Myth of African Stagnation

University essay from Lunds universitet/Ekonomisk-historiska institutionen

Author: Sofie Moberg; [2013]

Keywords: Social Sciences;

Abstract: The aim of this thesis is to investigate two periods in the history of Ghana that have been characterised by strong growth, namely 1891-1919 and 1983-2013. The study is important as it will provide a better understanding of the current situation in Ghana and as it contributes to the attempt to disprove the myth of Africa as a stagnant continent. As this myth is so widespread, it is highly important to also report on processes of change and growth taking place in Africa. To understand the situation of this continent today we must stop seeing it a homogenous whole and study both the successes and the failures. This study is contributing by focusing on the main products of these two export-driven growth periods and why Ghana was such a successful producer of them. For the first period the products were rubber, palm produce, gold and cocoa while gold, cocoa and oil dominated in the second one. It will be shown that Ghana’s exports to a large extent have been based on natural resources or cash crops dependent on the tropical climate and that foreign investments have been utilised to extract valuable resources such as gold and oil. The introduction of cocoa as a main crop over the course of about two decades and its huge impact on the livelihoods of small-scale farmers will be compared to how oil became a major export product immediately after extraction started, but is expected to only have indirect effects on most of the population. Processes that started during the first period, such as the commercialisation of land, have together with the changing relative scarcity of production factors transformed Ghana from the land-abundant, labour-scarce economy it once was. The result has been a country that still exports similar products but have service and manufacturing as important domestic sectors.

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