238. Special National Intelligence Estimate0

SNIE 64.1-61


The Problem

To estimate Ghana’s present situation and the prospects for political stability and foreign policy orientation over the next year or so.


Nkrumah remains the pivotal factor in Ghana. Considering himself the messianic deliverer of his country, he has used authoritarian means to reinforce his personal control at home and continues political adventures abroad to promote his claim to be Pan-Africa’s leading figure. (Paras. 7-8)
However, challenges to his political position have recently developed and Ghana faces severe economic problems. As a result of dissension within the ruling Convention Peoples’ Party (CPP) Nkrumah has replaced many of the moderate figures in the government.1 The more radical elements are now in positions of importance in government and will continue to be so in the immediate future. He has also imprisoned large numbers of critics outside the party. These moves, plus unpopular steps the government has taken to alleviate Ghana’s economic troubles, have increased the number but weakened the power of his opposition. (Paras. 13-15)
We believe Nkrumah will be successful in suppressing any elements within or without the CPP which might challenge his pre-eminence, at least over the next year or so. But the internal strains will remain and may erupt into sporadic disorders. We believe that he will retain the support of the army and the police during the period of this estimate. If he should be assassinated, an all-out struggle for power would be almost certain. (Paras. 17-20)
Ghana’s economic problems arise principally out of the fall of the price of cocoa, coupled with the continuing use of income and reserves for development projects, extravagances at home and sizable expenditures and adventures in other African countries. Nkrumah is not likely willingly to reduce any of these activities but will probably not be able through his attempted forced savings and austerity measures to mobilize sufficient internal resources to finance them. He will look to foreign aid to fill the gap. (Paras. 21-24)
We do not believe that President Nkrumah has decided to align himself completely with the Bloc. The Bloc has been assiduous in cultivating Nkrumah, recognizing in him an invaluable instrument for furthering its ambitions in Africa. Assistance in the way of credits, barter agreements, offers of training, etc., has already been supplied. Nkrumah and the extreme radicals among his followers are attracted by the apparent success of the Communists in promoting rapid economic development, and their avowed anticolonialism. He almost certainly believes that he can use the Bloc to further his own objectives without becoming inextricably committed to the Communists. Nevertheless, Nkrumah will probably try to maintain a Western presence in Ghana to offset the Bloc and to improve his prospects for aid from both sides. As a consequence of the interplay of these attitudes, we believe that for the immediate future there will be both the appearance and the fact of a close congruence between Bloc and Ghanaian actions and policies. (Paras. 8-11, 29)
Nkrumah’s leftist policies and positions will probably increase the difficulties of his obtaining private or governmental investment and aid from the West. If this trend is aggravated by the West’s refusal to honor what is in his view a commitment to finance the Volta River project, Nkrumah will almost certainly react violently and turn even more to the Bloc. Even should the Volta project be backed by the US, we do not believe that Nkrumah will significantly change the present policies of his regime. We believe that he will continue his attempts to reduce the dominating influence which private Western interests have in many sectors of the Ghanaian economy and will continue to develop close economic and political relations with the Bloc. (Para. 25)

[Here follows the Discussion section of the estimate.]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency,DCI Files, Job 79 R 1012, Box 189. Secret. According to a note on the cover sheet: “The following intelligence organizations participated in the preparation of this estimate: The Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organizations of the Department of State, Defense, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and The Joint Staff.” All members of the U.S. Intelligence Board concurred in this estimate on November 16, except the Atomic Energy Representative and the Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who abstained because the subject was outside their jurisdiction.
  2. On October 26, Russell reported that Gbedemah had fled Ghana several days earlier. He noted that there was little doubt that the government had planned to place him under preventive detention and that he had undoubtedly decided to get out while still free. (Telegram 754; Department of State, Central Files, 745J.00/10-2661)