September 16, 2020 / 10:54 AM / 8 days ago

Ghana's economy contracts for the first time in 37 years

Workers are pictured at the Stena forth drill rig for Springfield Group, the first independent African energy company to discover oil in deep sea at the sea near Takoradi, Ghana November 15, 2019. REUTERS/Kweku Obeng

ACCRA (Reuters) - Ghana’s economy contracted for the first time in almost four decades in the second quarter, by an annual 3.2%, as coronavirus restrictions stalled activity, the statistics office said on Wednesday.

The West African nation, a major producer of gold, oil and cocoa, imposed a three-week lockdown in March to halt the spread of the pandemic, forcing many businesses to close, government statistician Samuel Kobina Annim told a news conference.

“Even after the restrictions have been lifted, many businesses across sectors have continued to close down,” Kobina Annim said.

“For the first time in 37 years, Ghana’s economy has seen a contraction of 3.2%, compared with a growth rate of 5.7% in the same quarter in 2019.”

The fall in output was mostly felt in manufacturing and in the services sector, where hotels and restaurants were shuttered to stop the virus spreading.

Ghana’s finance minister has said in July that the economy was expected to grow at its slowest rate in 40 years, at around 0.9% this year compared with a previous forecast of 6.8%.

Reporting by Christian Akorlie; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Aaron Ross and Catherine Evans

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