Technology History

Ghana, has been a global hub since the 14th century. Fast forward till today, Ghana is still a central hub in Africa with a focus on its natural resources. However, an emerging tech scene is growing.

Since becoming the first sub-Saharan country to gain independence in 1957, Ghana has been a trailblazer in many fields.

  • First country in Sub-Saharan Africa to have a satellite launched into orbit
  • Ghanaian Thomas Mensah, known as “The Engineer who Revolutionized the Internet” was fundamental in working on fibre optics leading to the backbone of internet revolution we have today.
  • Google’s First Artificial Intelligence Centre in Africa was launched in Ghana

A combination of government policy and seeking for greater market share has seen the total subscriptions of 2G/3G mobile data in the country reach over 26 million with a penetration rate of 89% at the end of December 2018 (National Communication Authority, 2018). Considered by some to be the gateway to Africa, many underlying aspects makes Ghana an ideal place to do business. Its geographic position as the country closest to the centre of the world (GMT & Equator) allows for ease of communication and short flight distances.

Compared to its peers of Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire and Kenya, Ghana performs well on several key metrics such as GDP per capita, percentage of population on the internet and access to electricity. Ghana’s GDP per capita at $4,700 is above Kenya at $3,500 and Côte d’Ivoire at $3,900. Ghana also has a higher percentage of the population with access to the internet (34.7% compared to Nigeria 25.7%, Côte d’Ivoire 26.5% and Kenya 26%). With a very critical infrastructure provision in terms of access to electricity it exceeds the rest with 79% of the population having access to electricity compared to 54.5% in Nigeria, 65.6% Côte d’Ivoire and 63.8% Kenya (CIA FACTBOOK). Ghana’s infrastructure (roads, power, internet), political stability, location and ranking on ease of doing business according to the World Bank all contribute to the attractiveness of Ghana as a business destination.

For a country 7 times smaller than Nigeria, Ghana attracted almost double the foreign direct investment (3.5 billion USD to 1.9 billion USD) in 2018. That serves as an indicator of the positive business and investment environment in Ghana. The Ghanaian government is playing a role in making Ghana a conducive environment for businesses and entrepreneurship to flourish with the focus moving from traditional businesses to include tech entrepreneurship.

Over the years the government has taken strides to establish:

  • a digital addressing system, which enables locations to be found readily and has in turn supported the growth of delivery, ride hailing, ecommerce services;
  • interoperability of mobile money services, which allows people to pay and receive money from various networks thus boosting trade and commerce and catering to a previously unbanked population.
  • the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP) to drive awareness, engagement and support for entrepreneurs across the country.
  • tax breaks for start-ups to enable them to grow and utilize their earnings for reinvestment. · digitization of various services including the passport service and the ports and harbours in Ghana.
  • the Accra Digital Centre, which hosts both the Ghana Innovation Hub and the Ghana Tech Lab which falls under the eTransform program of the Ministry of Communications with funding from the WorldBank Group and Rockefeller Foundation.

These digitization efforts provide an indication of the commitment that government has to embracing technology and creating an enabling environment for tech innovations to flourish.

The entrepreneurship ecosystem was dominated by grassroots operators, over the last decade the landscape has changed dramatically. From a few hubs and incubators located in the capital city to over 30 tech and business hubs across the country which means that access to support has increased drastically. There has also been an increase in support from corporates and international agencies.