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Life without remittances in Ghana

While people try to get by, Ghana looks to cocoa, gold and oil to prop up its economy.

And while the United States and other developed nations rely on gigantic spending plans to stimulate their economies, Ghana looks forward to new revenue from oil discovered offshore in 2007. Pumping begins next year and Ghana’s cut of the revenue should exceed $1 billion annually.

During a financial pinch, people spend less on entertainment, and Ghana’s tourism industry hasn’t been spared, according to the Ghana Association of Travel and Tourist Agents.

“People are not too sure if they want to spend their last penny on fun,” said Hillarius McCash Akpah, GATTA’s vice president. “People were trying to be extra careful where they spend.”

Ghanaians living abroad comprise about one-third of the international arrivals annually, but McCash Akpah said many of them stayed in the U.S. or Europe during December.

“Ghanaians themselves were not even coming for holiday,” he said. “Usually you have a lot of people coming in to celebrate Christmas here. This time around very few of those cases were registered.”

And economists predict Ghanaians living abroad will send home less money than they have in past years. Remittance to Ghana in 2007 was $1.6 billion, more than overall aid from donor countries.

Romeo Dagadu, the student looking for the loan to stay enrolled at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, hopes things improve soon. Even if he gets his $1,250 loan, he’ll still have to pay a late-registration fee at the school.

“It’s been a very tough year,” he said.

More GlobalPost dispatches from Ghana:

Democracy wins in Ghana

Ghana gushing with optimism over oil