as a partner for strengthening a values and rules-based world order

01 — The key questions for the Partner-Atlas

RELEVANCE: What relevance does Ghana have for Germany with regards to "strengthening a values and rules-based world order"?

Despite its relatively small size of 238.000 square kilometers (Germany: 357.000 km2) and a population of approximately 30 million, Ghana’s relevance for Germany keeps growing. This is reflected by the fact that Ghana was included in the Compact with Africa project in 2017 and became one of Germany’s reform partner countries in the same year. It was not only Ghana’s willingness to accept reforms in the economic and fiscal policy sector, but also the relatively stable general conditions in the country, compared to many other Sub-Saharan African countries that made Ghana an interesting partner for the G20, and especially for Germany (as a candidate for the reform partnership).

Although Ghanaian democracy does have to overcome some challenges, it has achieved a stability that has lasted for almost 30 years, marked by several peaceful changes of government and presidents in largely transparent elections. Ghanaians can be proud of this achievement. As far as good governance is concerned, Ghana ranks 8th among Sub-Saharan African countries in the 2020 Ibrahim Index. And it ranks even 5th in the categories “democratic participation“, “freedom and human rights“ as well as “equality and gender“. In terms of economic policy, Ghana could play an even more interesting role for German companies if, on the one hand, protectionist barriers were dismantled and more secure investment opportunities were established, and if, on the other hand, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) actually functioned as a trading area without borders. The government under President Nana Akufo-Addo, which was re-elected in December 2020, sent a message of economic commitment by managing to bring the Secretariat of the African Union’s African Continental Free Trade Area to Ghana.

Ghana also stands out from other African countries in how it has handled the Covid pandemic, which has held the country in its grip since mid-March 2020. Close cooperation with the World Health Organisation, active communication regarding the spread of the virus, and measures the government has taken to contain it, attest to its professional handling of the situation. This includes the systematic testing of all individuals entering the country via the airport as well as an ambitious vaccination campaign that aims at administering about 20 million vaccine doses by the end of 2021. Ghana was also the first African country to have received vaccine doses from the international COVAX programme in February 2021.

All of these individual factors make Ghana an anchor of stability for Germany in the region. Nevertheless, it should be pointed out that the vast majority of the Ghanaian population do not support the social values and practices of Europe or Germany (such as homosexuality), but indeed firmly rejects them. People feel a strong bond to religious institutions, which, along with family hierarchies and rules, determines the set of values espoused by both individuals and society.

WILLINGNESS: To what extent is Ghana willing to work with Germany in realising this interest?

Many people are aware that Ghanaian democracy needs to keep developing. Ghana has had a presidential democracy since the start of the Fourth Republic in 1993, which is, to some extent, a sign of the influence of the important partners Great Britain and the United States. However, the political importance of these countries has declined in recent years, for various reasons. China has not (yet) been able to occupy this space.

In the economic sector, there has been a German-Ghanaian, mixed economic commission at ministerial level since 2019 which will meet regularly to exchange views on issues of trade and investment in the respective countries. Ghana has recognised the importance of regular communication with trading partners. At the same time, this initiative is interpreted by the German business community as an encouraging sign that Ghana wants to initiate economic reforms. In addition to this cooperation, Germany is involved through various institutions in the economic promotion of (young) entrepreneurs and in vocational training, where the responsible Ghanaian ministry wants to pick some ideas from the German dual model which includes both classroom and on-the-job vocational training.

Ghana’s willingness to commit itself internationally within the framework of the United Nations and to stand up for the values and rules of this international community should also be mentioned. Both President Mahama and President Akufo-Addo have been involved as co-chairmen of the SDG Advocate Group since 2015 and 2017, respectively. In addition, Ghana has deployed approximately 3,000 soldiers to participate in various UN peacekeeping missions throughout the world. It should be emphasised that Ghana, even though it is a relatively small country, plays a remarkable role not only at the UN level, but also in ECOWAS and in the African Union (AU) and tries to promote peace processes.

STATUS QUO: How close is Germany and Ghana's current cooperation in this area?

German development cooperation with Ghana is particularly striking. German government institutions have considerably expanded their programmes in recent years, mainly because of Ghana’s special status for Germany, whereas there is a contrary trend in other European nations, which are tending to reduce or phase out their engagement.

Ghana is especially impressed by Germany’s economic development. The country would like to learn and benefit from this achievement (more than in the past). Mutual visits by high-ranking politicians and entrepreneurs have become particularly frequent under the current president. Akufo-Addo himself has travelled to Germany five times since taking office in January 2017, while Chancellor Merkel visited Ghana in 2018. A partnership between the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and Ghana, which has existed since 2007, is very dynamic and has spawned forward-looking cooperation projects in areas such as public administration and environmental policy.

Ghanaian politicians often mention that they would rather work with the Germans than the Chinese – but their impression is that either German financial resources are insufficient or the administrative processes for implementing a project take far too long.

POTENTIAL: What is the potential for strengthening the partnership between Germany and Ghana in this area?

Germany has managed to become an important partner for Ghana in the past decade. Not only Chancellor Merkel and President Akufo-Addo have developed friendly ties that go beyond just a good working relationship. This friendly atmosphere can be felt in other areas as well, such as politics, business or civil society. Germany provides millions of euros to help Ghana deal with the consequences of the Covid pandemic.

If more and more win-win situations can be created between the two countries, this partnership can also serve as a model for other African countries. Ghana’s reputation in the region is excellent, and many neighbouring countries admire Ghana’s peaceful democratic development, which has now lasted for three decades. This may mean that Ghana will not only remain the anchor of stability that it is, but that it will also serve as a positive example for neighbouring countries.

POLICY RECOMMENDATION: What in German foreign policy has to change in order to fully exploit this potential?

Ghanaians regard Germany as the most successful European country. Germany is not only perceived as the economic but also as the political driving force in and for Europe, a strong partner with whom they want to develop a good relationship. The Compact with Africa and the reform partnership, for example, have raised this relationship to a new level, an achievement that must be consolidated. At the same time, it is a European responsibility to offer Ghana a real alternative to the growing Chinese engagement.

Apart from development policy, some serious thinking should also be given to how entrepreneurial engagement can be promoted between the countries. This can be achieved by creatively expanding existing foreign investment tools, but should also include a significant improvement of the economic environment in the relevant countries. The German side does not only need to play an active and decisive role in this process, but it should be much more aggressive in supporting these improvements at a political level, while protecting German interests.

Most of all, Germany should emphasise its own interests much more clearly in its policy towards Ghana, interest-driven policy which, however, should be based on partnership.

Dr. Arne Wulff heads the KAS Office in Ghana.

Last update: September 14th, 2021


  • Population: 31,072,940
  • Capital: Accra
  • Interest: Strengthening a Values and Rules-based World Order
  • Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Potential partner countries: Ethiopia, Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa

04 — The region

Sub-Saharan Africa



According to Federal Minister Müller, Africa is to become the “green continent of renewable energies”. South Africa, the continent’s most developed economy, is pursuing ambitious goals in this field, similar to what is being debated in Germany. Examples include the reduction of CO2 emissions and minimizing the dependence on coal. In order to do so, South Africa has introduced a carbon tax in 2019.

  • Population: 59,308,690
  • Capital: Bloemfontain, Capetown, Pretoria


Kenya is the most stable country in East Africa and is an economy that is oriented toward the west. With consistently strong economic growth in the twelve years before the coronavirus crisis and a GDP of just under 88 billion US dollars (2018), Kenya is the largest economy in East Africa and a growth engine for the entire region. Thanks to the port of Mombasa and the airport in Nairobi, the country is an important hub for trade and finance. Many international companies have chosen Kenya as the seat of their (East) Africa branches.

  • Population: 53,771,296
  • Capital: Nairobi


Despite its relatively small population of approximately 28 million inhabitants, Ghana is growing in relevance for Germany. This is evident not least of all from the fact that Ghana has been included in the Compact with Africa project since 2017 and became one of Germany’s reform partner countries in the same year. Ghana’s willingness to accept reforms in the economic and fiscal policy sector, along with its framework, which is relatively stable and reliable compared to many other Sub-Saharan African countries, made Ghana an interesting partner for the G20, and especially for Germany (as a reform partnership).

  • Population: 31,072,940
  • Capital: Accra


With a population of around 200 million, Nigeria is not only the largest country in Africa, but it has also been the continent’s largest economy for some years now. The country is rich in oil and gas and is one of the largest oil exporters in the world. Nonetheless, Nigeria faces immense security and economic problems, which are worsening as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and could further destabilise the entire region in the medium to long term, posing major challenges for Europe. This applies both to the European interest in supporting the Sahel states in their fight against terrorism and to reducing irregular migration from Africa.

  • Population: 206,139,589
  • Capital: Abuja


The unstable security situation throughout the Sahel region reveals the weakness of state authorities in the region. Niger’s security forces are also struggling to exercise effective control of the country. Several terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State or Boko Haram, regularly attack military bases and also civilians. Niger is also one of the poorest countries in the world and is dealing with numerous governance problems, including regular accusations of corruption against government representatives or officials. There have even been deaths during demonstrations by young people against the rampant corruption and bad governance. The Nigerien government’s measures against the coronavirus, especially the closure of mosques, have also led to violent clashes between mainly young demonstrators and the security forces. Amnesty International is also protesting against the use of the controversial cybercrime prevention law to suppress voices critical of the government in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Population: 24,206,644
  • Capital: Niamey