Since independence in 1957, under the leadership of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s foreign policy has largely been shaped by global Influences,though there have been occasions where larger-than-life personality of Ghana’s first President, Dr. Nkrumah, also played a role in how Ghana conducted aspects of its foreign policy.

At independence, Ghana adopted the rigorous Pan-Africanist stance where the drive to spearhead the total liberation of the continent from the clutches of colonialism, was pursued. As a result, Ghana became inward-looking, is-à-vis relations on the global stage, and rather focused on greater Africa integration.

This therefore resulted in Ghana’s financial contributions to countries like Guinea, Gambia etc., while providing access of education to liberation fighters from South Africa, Rhodesia etc.


This approach was adopted by Dr. Nkrumah because he was bent on eliminating the foothold of the colonialists from the African continent, and also, prevent them their re-emergence in what he famously termed as “neo-colonialism”. This therefore motivated his call for the All-African People’s Congress summit in Accra-Ghana, from December 8 to 13, 1958, to explore the issue of political system that should be established in place of the departing colonial administration.

Though the focus was largely on greater African integration, there was some level of association with the Eastern Bloc, during the Cold War. This drive in Ghana’s foreign policy placed it in the good books of the Soviet-led Eastern Block, and was made to play the role of a mediator in the Sino-India conflict: on the contrary, the Western Block, led by the sole Superpower, the United States of America, felt uneasy with that cozy flirtations and therefore devised a scheme to also exert their influence.

But with his skill in seeking the interest of his country and broader pursuit of the greater Pan Africanism, Dr. Nkrumah managed to warm his way into the hearts of the West, which yielded the support to build both the Akosombo Dam and the Tema Motorway. But while the flirtations with both eastern and western blocs went on, the scale openly was shifting in the direction of the former, and that resulted in Western maneuverings to overthrow the Nkrumah regime.

Military eras

The National Redemption Council [NRC] which replaced the Nkrumah administration gravitated towards the West and therefore adopted the Foreign Policy of Liberalism. The influence and foothold of the East, spearheading by the Russians and Chinese, was systematically dismantled, as a result.

This continued through the Era of Dr. Busia-led administration. There was a reversal in this foreign policy direction under the General Kutu Acheampong-led Supreme Military Council which overthrew the Busia administration.

The Supreme Military Council, though did not completely do away with ties with the West, it spearheaded the most-comprehensive social policy of “Operation Feed Yourself” which made Ghana self-sufficient in food production, particularly grains, in our post-colonial existence. This enabled the SMC to take certain landmark decisions like nationalization of some State-Owned Enterprises that were in the hands of foreign interests.

This nationalization of enterprises being controlled by foreign instrests,coupled with the “YENTUA” proclamation, which basically meant we were not going to honor our debt-servicing obligations to our foreign trade partners who were largely from the Western Bloc, triggered both subtle and open disaffection for the SMC, which resulted in the squeeze on donner support, erosion of the modest gains in the Agric sector, severe socioeconomic meltdown and ultimate overthrow in a place coup by General Akuffo-led SMC-2.

The SMC-2,by way of Foreign Policy direction, was nothing different from SMC-1,with further tail-spin Ghana’s socioeconomic space, till it was overthrown in a military coup by the Jerry Rawlings-led Armed Forces Revolutionary Council [AFRC], on June 4 1979.

The AFRC, in a bid to woo the West for its survival, actually opened Ghana up for the IMF/WORLD BANK prescribed austerity measures which resulted in divestiture of many State-owned Enterprises and rationalization of our public service which resulted in a lot of workers being laid off.

Good neighborliness

When the Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party took over the reins of governance on 7th January, 2001, Ghana had been declared a Highly Indebted and Poor Country [HIPC]. There was therefore the need to fashion out a Foreign Policy direction to ensure quick inflows of donor support in order to stabilize the system and afford the government a level of fiscal space.

Kufuor therefore embarked on rigorous diplomatic engagements with his global counterparts, particularly the West. He also took immediate steps to repair the strained relations existing between Ghana and Togo, as well as other ECOWAS countries, with his “GOOD NEIGHBORLINESS” foreign policy drive.

Under the fourth Republic, Ghana’s foreign Policy has not markedly changed from contemporary geopolitics, with America as the sole global power, with Russia and China in the shadows; except a period under President Atta-Mills, with his “DZI WOFIE ASEM” pronouncement, decided not to be party to intervention in the Ivorian crisis.

Non-State actors

Other non-State actors, but key to our Foreign Policy formulation, are the Non-Governmental and Civil Society Organizations. These key actors, whose contributions have been enormous, were largely not very active under the military regimes due to lack of press freedom. Organizations like IMANI-Africa, ACEP etc., have been positively vociferous either in support or against, some decisions taken by governments under the fourth republic.

Justice Abeeku Newton-Offei
School of International Relations and Diplomacy
GIMPA-Greenhill, Accra


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