Western Africa Economy


Ghana is today a functioning multi-party democracy with a relatively strong economy. The trade union movement in Ghana has traditionally had a great influence in the country. For many years, the Ghana Trade Union Congress, GTUC, was closely allied with political power but is now often in sharp opposition to the regime.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic

Surface: 238,537 km

Capital: Accra

Language: English official language. Other major languages ​​are Akan, Twi, Gaa

Labor market and economy:

According to Countryaah.com, compared to many other African states, the economy is good. The exploitation of the country’s natural resources cocoa, forest, gold, industrial diamonds, minerals and, since 2010, above all oil, has led to significant export revenues that have been used for investments in the country’s infrastructure. Since 2017, natural gas has been extracted and operates several power plants. Statistics show that Ghana has met the UN’s Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty by 2015. While just over half of the country’s people lived in poverty in 1992, that proportion is now down to less than a quarter, according to the National Statistics Authority. The low oil price in recent years has led to major cuts in the state budget.

Only just over a quarter of the workforce has a formal employment. Just over half of the population makes a living from agriculture, which accounts for 20 percent of GDP. Most grow for self-sufficiency, but there are also many larger plantations that grow for export, mainly cocoa. Unemployment is relatively low in Ghana.


According to Bridgat.com, with more than half of the world’s bauxite and fertile soils, Guinea has the potential to become a prosperous country. Today, however, it is one of the poorest in the world. The country was hit hard by the Ebola epidemic in 2014-15. Basic trade union freedoms and rights are guaranteed by law but are poorly enforced.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic

Surface: 245 857 km²

Capital: Conakry

Language: French official language

Labor market and economy:

Guinea is rich in fertile soil and minerals, mainly bauxite. Despite this, the country is extremely poor. The World Bank has granted Guinea amortization of part of its debt. The Ebola epidemic hit the country hard and more than 2,500 people died. It also meant that a promising economic development was severely disrupted.

Only a small proportion of the population has a formal job, most are small farmers or work in the informal sector, without being employed and completely without job security.


Guinea-Bissau gained its independence in 1974 after a long war of liberation against Portugal. The country, which is a republic with a functioning multi-party system, is one of the 20 poorest in the world. There is a central trade union organization in the country, UNTGB. The organization is affiliated with the International Trade Union Confederation, ITUC.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic

Surface: 36 125 km²

Capital: Bissau – see AllCityPopulation.com for more capitals on African continents

Language: Official language is Portuguese

Labor market and economy:

The economy is mainly based on agriculture and over 80 percent of the population are farmers. Agriculture is strongly concentrated on a few crops, especially rice, soil and cashews. Only about 10 percent of the workforce has a formal job, most in the public sector. The economy has gradually been opened up to private initiatives and foreign investment. China and Angola have largely replaced the EU as financiers. The industrial sector is very small.

Guinea Bissau’s major role in drug trade between South America and Europe is a source of conflict both domestically and internationally.


Liberia has never been colonized. The country is rich in natural resources but the civil war for more than a decade until 2003 devastated the economy. The trade union movement has begun to recover after the war. There is a central trade union organization, the Liberia Labor Congress, which is affiliated with the world trade union ITUC.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic, unitary state

Surface: 97,000 km²

Capital: Monrovia

Language: Official English language

Labor market and economy:

Under President Tubman’s (1943–1971), a very liberal economy developed. This led, among other things, to the country having one of the world’s largest merchant fleets (“sailing under the Liberian flag”) and to the establishment of LAMCO, the Swedish-American-Liberian mining company that mined iron ore to the civil war began in the late 80’s. Now the company ArcelorMittal has resumed iron ore mining and in 2017 also opened a new gold mine.

Liberia is rich in natural resources with forest, gold, iron ore, diamonds and rubber. In recent years, Liberia has also begun exporting cocoa and palm oil. Before the outbreak of the Civil War, the country had a trade surplus. The economy has grown steadily by about 6 percent per year, but the Ebola epidemic also meant a break for the economy in 2014-15. According to the WHO, 4,100 people died from the disease.


The desert country of Mali in West Africa is a country with rich cultural traditions. Mali, which became independent from France in 1960, is politically unstable with differences between different ethnic groups. The country is one of the poorest in the world. The central trade union organization has been an important factor in democratic development.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic, unitary state

Surface: 1 240 192 km²

Capital: Bamako

Language: French official language

Labor market and economy:

Mali consists of two thirds of the desert. Despite economic reforms, Mali has remained one of the world’s poorest and most aid – dependent countries. About 80 percent of the population lives on agriculture and animal husbandry, as well as fishing along the rivers (Niger and Senegal) where cotton and meat are also produced.

The informal sector is completely dominant and even in the larger cities, a fairly small part of the labor force has a formal employment. The public sector is the largest employer. There are no reliable figures for unemployment, but it is judged to be very high.

Climate change has made Mali increasingly hard hit by droughts and even grasshoppers. Many have been forced to emigrate in order to support themselves and their families. The money sent home is an important addition to the economy.

The country is rich in minerals. Gold, along with cotton, accounts for about 80 percent of Mali’s export earnings.

The proportion of children who go to school has increased in recent years, but child labor is still very common.