Ghana’s economy is considered one of Africa’s success stories, with strong growth of 8.1% of GDP in 2017. GDP per capita now stands at over US$2,000 and the share of people living on less than US$1.90 a day has fallen to 13.3%. The West African country is also characterized by high rates of urbanisation, with over half (55%) of the population now living in towns and cities. Nonetheless, Ghana’s successful agricultural sector remains important, employing 40% of the working age population despite now accounting for less than 20% of the country’s GDP (2017).
Ghana’s land governance is characterized by a pluralistic legal system in which customary and statutory systems overlap. Alongside land that falls exclusively under a state authority (around 20%), a majority is held informally under stool and skins (customary authorities or chieftancies) families and lineages. Stool and skin land is held in trust for the stool’s community, including their ancestors, living members and future generations. The customary land tenure framework distinguishes between allodial title (held by chieftancy families and lineages), freehold title, customary freehold title, leaseholds and abuna (one-half) or abusa (one-third) sharecropping arrangements. Land markets are expanding and land rights are therefore becoming increasingly individualized, even within customary tenure systems.
Although the Constitution prohibits gender discrimination, exceptions are granted in personal law allowing for discrepancies between statutory and customary law. In common practice, men – not women – therefore hold and have authority over land rights.