Industry contributed about 30 percent of the GDP in 1999, when it employed about 15 percent of the work-force. A policy of industrialization has resulted in the establishment of a wide range of manufacturing industries, producing food products, beverages, tobacco, textiles, clothes, footwear, timber and wood products, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and metals, including steel and steel products. Almost all of them began as state-owned enterprises, but now are mostly privatized.
Ghana possesses substantial bauxite reserves, though the output, all of which is exported, is less than half of capacity. High-quality sand in the Tarkwa mining area provides the basis for a small but important glass industry. Cement factories have been developed at Tema and Takoradi. The development of export zones (areas where raw materials can be imported without customs duties, provided the products are for export) and industrial estates (areas with good transport links, electricity, and water supplies, for groups of enterprises able to provide services for each other) is underway.
Apart from traditional industries such as food processing, Ghana also has a large number of long-established large and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises. The large-scale manufacturing sector includes textiles, drinks, food, plastics, vehicle assembly, and aluminum processing. Much of it is owned and managed by the Lebanese community, but multinational companies such as Unilever and Valco also run factories. Various state-owned enterprises also used to be involved in manufacturing, but since liberalization opened up the market to foreign competition in the 1980s, many factories have been closed, leading to substantial job losses.
Gold remains central to the Ghanaian economy, although diamonds, manganese, and bauxite are also mined. The privatization of the Ashanti Goldfields Corporation, the largest producer of gold in the country, has been regarded as a great African success story, as it has been managed by Ghanaians and was one of the first indigenous companies to be listed on the international stock market. From a 15 percent share of export earnings in the mid-1980s, gold now vies with cocoa as the largest source of Ghana's export earnings.
Ghana's diamond sector is smaller and has struggled to survive its legacy of corruption. Production is mainly industrial grade. Structural adjustment ended the state's control over large-scale extraction but the private businesses now involved have not been able to restore official production to even a quarter of the 1970s level. Smuggling is rife, and the official figures do not reflect the actual level of output.
Ghana is also one of the world's largest exporters of manganese. There is considerable potential for expansion of bauxite extraction in conjunction with Ghana's relatively abundant supply of cheap hydro-electricity for aluminum smelting.