Hailed as one of West Africa’s most stable states since its 1992 transition to a multi-party democratic system,1 Ghana has made significant strides in economic development and poverty reduction. The West African state has also been steadfast in its digital transformation over the past four years, and is poised for incredible economic growth and a boom in fintech. Although the economy contracted in the second and third quarters of 2020, it grew by 1.1% overall thanks to a strong performance before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.2 In 2019, the economy grew at a breakneck 6.5%,3 and it is set to resume this rapid growth as it emerges from the health crisis. Fitch Ratings predicts a 2021 growth rate of 4.8%, which would make the state Sub-Saharan Africa’s fastest-growing economy.4
Digitalization will likely be a major cornerstone of Ghana’s further socioeconomic development, as regulators have been eager to adopt innovative technologies, digitalize public services and foster a favorable regulatory environment for fintechs. Government initiatives like the Mobile Money Interoperability System, Digital Financial Services Policy, Universal QR Code and Ghana Card are driving economic resilience, progress and financial inclusion.5 Meanwhile, startups are increasingly being established, and the payments and remittances sector will be one to watch.6 Ghana is now Africa’s fastest-growing mobile money market, and mobile payments revenue is estimated to increase from its current USD$3.5 billion to USD$14-20 billion in 2025.7 Fintech will prove invaluable in attracting foreign direct investment and expanding access to financial services. Only 57.7% of the Ghanaian adult population has a bank account,8 and poverty reduction efforts have stalled over the past nine years.9
This year, regulators are spearheading initiatives in central bank digital currency (CBDC), the digitalization of public services, anti-money laundering, cybersecurity and a fintech regulatory sandbox pilot. A Startup Bill is also in the works, and it would facilitate the establishment of innovative companies and offer tax breaks. As digital transformation progresses, regulators must ensure that they continue to collaborate with the private sector and develop a fintech-friendly environment. Partnerships between regulators, fintech startups and international companies like Mastercard and Visa will streamline Ghana’s efforts to achieve sustainable development goals and nurture its digital economy.
Financial Regulatory Authorities
The Bank of Ghana (BoG) is the central bank of Ghana.
The Data Protection Commission is the national data protection authority of Ghana.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulates the equity capital markets in Ghana.
Policy, Laws and Regulations
Retail Central Bank Digital Currency Trial, 11 August 2021
The central bank announced that it had partnered with German firm Giesecke+Devrient (G+D) to trial a retail CBDC. According to the joint press release, “The project is part of the 'Digital Ghana Agenda', which involves the digitization of the country of 30 million people and its government services. The digital Cedi, or 'e-Cedi', is intended to complement and serve as a digital alternative to physical cash, thus driving the Ghanaian cashlite agenda through promotion of diverse digital payments, while ensuring a secure and robust payment infrastructure in Ghana. It also aims to facilitate payments without a bank account, contract, or smartphone, by so doing boosting the use of digital services and financial inclusion amongst all demographic groups.”10 The experiment will be conducted in three phases: design, implantation and pilot. Beyond the technical infrastructure, the project will focus on IT security, legal implications and a CBDC’s impact on monetary policy and the national payment system.
Ghana.gov Account, 14 July 2021
Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia launched the Ghana.gov platform, which allows citizens to access and make payments for online government services. According to Dr. Bawumia, "It is estimated that about 10 to 15% of government collections are lost through inefficiencies, theft and other accounting schemes. Going digital means that we can improve our revenue collections by an estimated three billion Cedis [approximately USD $501,510,000] annually…This government's aim of making Ghana a globally competitive market is anchored in the belief that increasing access to public services through technology will have a strong positive impact in the general ease of doing business within Ghana. In the process, this will boost our ranking among other nations and thereby help grow our foreign direct investments.”11
Regulatory and Innovation Sandbox Pilot, 25 February 2021
The central bank launched a regulatory and innovation sandbox pilot, available to banks, specialized deposit-taking institutions and payment service providers, including dedicated electronic money issuers and unregulated entities. According to the bank’s press release, “the Bank of Ghana would give preference to products and services leveraging blockchain technology, remittance products, crowdfunding products and services, e-KYC (electronic know your customer) platforms, RegTech (regulatory technology), SupTech (supervisory technology), digital banking, products and services targeting women financial inclusion and innovative merchant payment solutions for micro, small and medium size enterprises (MSMEs).”12 Besides facilitating the development of innovative ideas and effective regulations, the sandbox aims to promote financial inclusion, reduce time-to-market and lower the cost of innovation.
New Anti-Money Laundering Law, 29 December 2020
A new Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2020 (Act 1044) was enacted. The new Act aims to improve upon the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2008 (Act 749), bring Ghana’s AML/CTF framework in line with international standards and consolidate all AML/CTF regulations into one. It expands the authority of Ghana’s anti-money laundering authority, the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC); widens the scope of illegal activities; introduces modifications in response to the emergence of innovative technologies; and imposes harsher penalties for violations. The FIC is expected to collaborate with relevant national agencies in enforcing the Act, and is authorized to share information with international counterpart agencies and issue notices and directives.13 Persons who aid in the execution of illegal activities—including but not limited to fraud, bribery, insider trading, currency counterfeit and corruption—are now included under the scope of the Act. In light of the increasing popularity of cryptocurrencies and their role in illegal activities, the Act defines virtual asset service providers (VASPs) and imposes requirements on them. In the case of violations of the Act, guilty persons are subject to a fine no less than 100% and no greater than 500% of the proceeds of the crime. Guilty corporate entities face a fine of no less than 300% of the proceeds of the crime.”14 In summer 2021, Ghana was removed from the Financial Action Task Force’s “grey list.”15
The Cybersecurity Act, December 2020
The Cybersecurity Act, 2020 (Act 1038) was passed. The Act aims to strengthen the detection and deterrence of cybersecurity threats, promote collaboration with international agencies and raise awareness on cybersecurity. The newly-created Cyber Security Authority is authorized to issue licenses for cybersecurity services, set certification standards for cybersecurity products, advise the government on cybersecurity, protect children online and provide technical support to law enforcement and security agencies in the prosecution of violators.16 The Act also established a Cybersecurity Fund, to provide financial assistance in strengthening national cybersecurity; and a National Computer Emergency Response Team, that is responsible for responding to and coordinating responses to cybersecurity incidents affecting public institutions, private institutions and international bodies. In addition, the Act imposes requirements for incident reporting and the licensing of cybersecurity service providers. Ghana ranks #3 in Africa on the Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) 2020, developed by the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The index notes that Ghana’s areas of relative strength are legal and technical measures.
1. “Ghana country profile.” BBC, 11 December 2020. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13433790
2. “The World Bank in Ghana.” The World Bank, 15 April 2021. https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/ghana/overview
3. “The World Bank in Ghana.” The World Bank, 15 April 2021. https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/ghana/overview
4. Larnyoh, Magdalene Teiko. “Fitch Solutions projects Ghana’s economy to be the fastest-growing in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2021.” Business Insider Africa, 21 July 2021. https://africa.businessinsider.com/local/markets/fitch-solutions-projects-ghanas-economy-to-be-the-fastest-growing-in-sub-saharan/r34qt51
5. Chabry, Anthony Xavier. “Ghana’s digitalization revolution, a catalyst for economic development.” Face2Face Africa, 11 July 2021. https://face2faceafrica.com/article/ghanas-digitalization-revolution-a-catalyst-for-economic-development
6. “Finnovating for Africa 2021: Reimagining the African financial services landscape.” Disrupt Africa. https://disrupt-africa.com/finnovating-for-africa/#prettyPhoto
7. Collins, Tom. “Kenya and Ghana lead world in mobile money.” African Business, 26 July 2021. https://african.business/2021/07/technology-information/kenya-and-ghana-lead-world-in-mobile-money/
8. “Share of population with an account at a financial institution in Ghana from 2018 to 2021.” Statista, February 2021. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1176015/bank-account-owners-ghana/
9. “Ghana Poverty Assessment.” The World Bank, 2020. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/34804
10. “Press Release: Bank of Ghana partners with Giesecke+Devrient to pilot first general purpose Central Bank Digital Currency in Africa.” Bank of Ghana, 11 August 2021. https://www.bog.gov.gh/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/CBDC-Joint-Press-Release-BoG-GD-3.pdf
11. “Ghana: VP Bawumia Unveils One-Stop Portal Ghana.gov.” AllAfrica, 15 July 2021. https://allafrica.com/stories/202107150827.html
12. “Press Release: Bank of Ghana Sandbox Pilot.” Bank of Ghana. https://www.bog.gov.gh/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/PRESS-RELEASE-BANK-OF-GHANA-SANDBOX-PILOT.pdf
13. “The Start of a New Era in Ghana’s Anti-Money Laundering Enforcement.” Lexology, 18 March 2021. https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=bbbafc17-b863-4f49-aa7f-8b75fc08a098
14. “Ghana's Anti-Money Laundering Act 2020, Act 1044.” N. Dowuona & Company, 12 April 2021. https://www.ndowuona.com/insights/105-anti-money-laundering-act-2020-act-1044
15. “Ghana is off the FATF 'grey list' - Finance Minister.” GhanaWeb, 01 July 2021. https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/business/Ghana-is-off-the-FATF-grey-list-Finance-Minister-1298923
16. “Ghana Introduces Cybersecurity Act.” Lexology, 25 May 2021. https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=ca5cb51c-7b36-4943-ac81-f5ccfd2e0370
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Last updated: November 2021