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Ghana and its Development
What is Ghana like?
How developed is Ghana?
What problems does Ghana face?
Large scale aid
Intermediate Technology
Find Out More

Attempt this climate graphing exercise

Watch Video 1 and write down as many key features of Ghana as possible

What does video 2 show about life in Northern Ghana?

Watch the videos at the base of the page and DECIDE which type of aid you prefer - big projects or intermediate technology

Try the dustbin game at the bottom of the page

What is Ghana like?

Ghana is a large Country in West Africa that is home to over 23 million people with a population that is growing.  It sits on the prime of Greenwich Meridian so is there fore on the same time zone as the UK.  You can see a graph of Ghana population’s below, and how it has increased rapidly over time. 


Ghana has wealthy areas; a rich culture with music and dancing, traditional ceremonies; a fantastic national football team; and millions of people living in poverty.  Its neighbours include the Ivory Coast to the West, Togo to the East and Burkina Faso to the North, whilst its southern edge is on the Gulf of Guinea.  This website contains lots of fantastic information about Ghana, which was formally known as the Gold Coast and that was the first African state to gain Independence after WW2.  A recent discovery of oil in the Gulf of Guinea could make Ghana an important oil producer and exporter in the next few years. However, the country's economy is dominated by agriculture, which employs about 40 percent of the working population. Ghana is one of the leading exporters of cocoa in the world. It is also a significant exporter of commodities such as gold and lumber.


The video on the right gives an idea of what Ghana is like, write down as many features as possible.

Ghana also has a varied climate, with Tropical forests in the South West were the South Westerly prevailing wind brings lots of rainfall to this region.  It is slightly drier in the South East, where savannah vegetation dominates rather than the tropical forests of the West.  As you go increasingly North through Ghana, it gets increasingly dry, with a more and more pronounced dry season. 



Video 1 
Click on the image for a clearer version

How developed is Ghana?

Look at the data below from the CIA fact book 2010.  It shows that Ghana is less developed that the UK, which statistics show this and why?




Population size

23.9 million

61.1 million

Birth rate per 1000



% of people living in towns and cities



Infant Mortality per 1000 live births



Life expectancy



AIDS prevalence rate



Adult literacy rate



School life expectancy

9 Years

16 years




Population below poverty line



Population working in agriculture



Public debt

55.2% of GDP

68.1% of GDP

Electricity consumption

5.702 billion kWh

345.8 billion kWh

Mobile phones

11.57 million

75.565 million



What problems does Ghana have? – Poverty in Ghana

Ghana has many problems, the video below summarises the problems of one woman from Northern Ghana.


Video 2 - What does the video show about life in Northern Ghana?


There is a long history of problems in Ghana, despite large resources of cocoa, gold and diamonds.  Historically, the Portuguese were the first people to arrive in Ghana in 1471, they found gold and the name “the Gold Coast” was given to the area.  By 1650, the next major industry developed – slavery.  Over 100,000 people a year were bought from the Gold coast and transported across the Atlantic to work on plantations in the Caribbean.  The British occupied Ghana as a colony in 1901, and used it a s a base to ship gold, metal ores, ivory and cocoa.  This long history of exploitation by foreigners left Ghana very poor, so when independence was declared in 1957 the country faced huge problems.  These have had a long lasting legacy, coupled with current problems of debt repayments and desertification. 

In northern Ghana  many areas are at risk of becoming desert, this is because the savanna is too heavily used because of chopping down trees and overgrazing by cattle, and natural causes such as increased drought and wind erosion.  The end result is soil erosion and desertification.

Ghana is also over reliant on Cocoa – when the price fell it left Ghana with a shortage of income.  Ghana has also borrowed a lot of money, and rising debt repayments are difficult for the country to deal with.



The map below shows a clear trend, the North of Ghana has serious problems with poverty.
Poverty in Ghana

Indeed, although there has been an overall decline in poverty in Ghana, poverty still has a firm grip on rural areas, especially in the north. There is a wide gap in income between people living in the drought-prone northern plains, and those living in the south, where there are two growing seasons and greater economic opportunities.

Just over half of the country’s population lives in rural areas. The poorest parts of Ghana are the savannah regions of the north (the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions), where chronic food insecurity is widespread and livelihoods are more vulnerable. Poor rural people have limited access to basic social services, safe water, roads that are accessible year round, and electricity and telephone services. Poverty is most severe among food crop farmers, who are mainly traditional small-scale producers. About six in ten small-scale farmers are poor, and many are women. Women bear heavy workloads. In addition to their domestic chores, they are responsible for about 60 per cent of agricultural production. More than half the women who head households in rural areas are among the poorest 20 per cent of the population. (Source)


The video reveals what life is like for the rural poor in and around the town of Tamale in Northern Ghana.  What challenges do these people face and what would it be like to live there?


Large Scale Aid in Ghana

The Akosombo Dam


The Akosombo dam is a 124m tall, 340m wide dam in Southern Ghana that dams the mighty River Volta.  The River Volta empties into the Atlantic Ocean and drains an area that spans 6 West African countries.  The damming of the Volta created Lake Volta, at 850,000ha the world’s largest artificially created lake. 


The Akosombo dam is an example of LARGE SCALE aid projects.  The main reason for the dam was to produce Hydro Electric Power for the Aluminium Industry in Ghana.  However, the flooding that created the Lake Volta reservoir displaced many people (over 80,000!) and had an impact on the environment.  The dam was funded by an American company, Valco, and also from loans from the World Bank, the UK and the USA.  Valco benefitted from exemptions from government tax and got a guarantee of cheap electricity for 50 years.  The cost of the project was estimated at $258million and was built between 1961 and 1965. Valco actually had the rights to 80% of the electricity produced, whilst the Ghanaians only got 20% despite putting up 50% of the money for construction costs.  However, Ghana does get to process its valuable Bauxite into Aluminium, generating money. Valco does not always buy Ghanaian Bauxite though, it often sources its bauxite from Jamaica.

The lake produced has generated small lake transportation, increased fishing, new farming activities along the shoreline, and tourism.   The electricity is sometimes sold to neighbouring Togo and Benin, but only when there is an excess.  This is becoming less often as there has been a noticeable drop in lake levels.  The dam has also provided space for the water weeds which provide the necessary habitat for black-fly, mosquitoes and snails, which are the causes of water-borne illnesses such as bilharzia, river blindness and malaria.  There has also been a loss in the river based fishing industry.  Traditional farming practices have also been lost as the fertile soils of the River Volta are now under the Lake. (Source)


Small Scale Intermediate Technology – appropriate for the people, appropriate for the land, appropriate for the economy.

Intermediate technology is designed to help the world’s poorest people have a better quality of life by making appropriate changes to their way of life that THEY are involved in.  One example in Ghana is that wind power is being developed to help provide rural communities with electricity and this effort is led by two non-profit organizations, Enterprise Works Ghana and Rural Energy and Environment Systems. By using local expertise and materials, project leaders hope not only to enhance energy generation, but put money into the pockets of local artisans as well. (source)

The other main focus in Northern Ghana is to provide safe drinking water.  Many people still drink muddy unsafe water that contains the bacteria that cause diarrhea, typhoid and cholera, and tiny eggs that can grow into worms inside of you.  It is estimated that around 9 million Ghanaians have no access to safe drinking water.  WaterAid are trying to invest in pumps to correct this major problem, and you can find out how here.  Research this site, what need is there for improving water resources in Ghana?  Where do Water Aid work? What case studies are there of their work and how successful do you think they are?

Videos 3, 4 and 5



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