Information (Media and IT)
Ghana has a vibrant media industry that offers many attractive opportunities for investors. It is one of the most successful on the continent and has made rapid economic and professional developments since inception. Although growing rapidly, Ghana’s media industry has lots of room for expansion.
Daily Graphic, the government-run newspaper, is the country’s largest in circulation. The rest of the industry is occupied by private companies, the largest of which is the Daily Guide. There are around 100 – 120 newspapers currently in circulation, although only about 20 to 30 are recognized by the Ghana Journalism Association. The largest newspapers circulate up to 100,000 copies nationwide. Major players in the print industry include; Graphic Communication Group, Daily Guide (Western Publications), Ghanaian Times, and the Business and Financial Times.
Radio and Television
Radio and television have a wider reach than print media because they do not face the same literacy and language barriers as print media. Radio stations do tend to be confined to their immediate areas as long-distance coverage is lacking. The major players in radio include Joy FM (Multimedia Ghana) and Peace FM. The only nationwide television station is GTV. Other private stations are making headway, but have not yet achieved nationwide coverage. The other major players in television are Metro and TV3.
- Literacy – Ghana currently has a literacy rate of 65% for adults. Literacy is highest in the greater Accra Region and dips to as low as 35% in the Northern Region
- Media Engagement – Ghanaians don’t engage the media as much as citizens of other counties do. A large portion of the rural population is unaware of major social, political and news happenings due to lack of access to information and media sources.
- Equipment – There are still many Ghanaian families that do not own a television set and may rely on television sets that are publicly available in their neighborhood.
- Power – Lack of consistent power throughout the country makes relying on television for information somewhat impractical at times. Radios are certainly more accessible and affordable, and can easily be battery powered, so they offer a reliable source of information.
- Advertising Revenue – Privately owned newspapers have difficulty getting advertising because many of the advertisers have long-standing relationships with the government-run newspaper. This has caused privately-owned newspapers to rely heavily on circulation income. Radio and television companies do not face this issue, as 100% of their income comes from advertising. Advertising is a huge market in Ghana, and multimedia companies, like Joy FM, do very well in this area.
- Since privately-owned newspapers are dependant on income from circulation, they cannot distribute their publication for free or use self-serve distribution boxes like many publications in the US and Europe use. Distribution must be done through vendors who take as much as 25% of the profits. Print media companies must work closely with their vendors and maintain good working relationships in order to control these costs.
- Infrastructure – Unpaved or poorly maintained roads make distribution difficult in some areas, and inaccessible in times of flooding.
- Capital – Ghana lacks the financial capital to adequately support private industries with start up costs, such as office/warehouse rental and purchase of large machinery and other materials needed to produce newspapers. Most newsprint machines and materials in the country are imported at very high costs.
Solutions to the challenges provide opportunities.
- Advances in education and outreach on behalf of the media industry will help to eradicate illiteracy and disengagement in the media.
- The financial sector needs to put more accessible options in place to assist private industries with operating costs and start up capital.
- The government can assist with infrastructure issues by ensuring that taxes paid by private companies go toward improving the infrastructure issues that are limiting them.
- Ghanaian businesses and individuals can make efforts to patronize local vendors and service providers, thereby keeping more money circulating within the system.
- Improving access to the materials and machinery needed to develop the media industry in Ghana – either finding affordable sources to import needed materials into the country or setting up facilities to produce and manufacture them in Ghana.
- The radio industry has current needs for information technology, broadcasting networks and infrastructure so that they will be able to broadcast over wider areas.
- There is high demand for new television stations to enter the country. As Ghana’s middle class emerges and more families are purchasing television sets, international television stations and programs are in high demand. Services such as DSTV and PayPerView have recently entered the market and are popular among Ghana’s middle class.
- The print media industry needs investment in established privately-owned companies to aid their growth. Financial assistance toward start up and operating costs could go a long way in improving the state of individual print houses and the industry in general. New magazines are popping up all over the place, some industry-specific and some general. High-quality publications such as Canoe Magazine and others are well-received by the public and generate significant income through Ghana’s enormous advertising industry. There is lots of room for investment and growth in this area