List of major rivers in Ghana and where they are located

List of major rivers in Ghana and where they are located

Rivers in Ghana beautify the country and play a significant role in the country's ecosystem. Ghana has permanent, periodic, episodic, and exotic rivers. Several dry up or experience reduced flow in the dry seasons of the year, while flooding is common in the rainy seasons. The article will help you discover the rivers in Ghana, their locations, sizes, primary uses, and more.

List of major rivers in Ghana
Photo: (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Rivers in Ghana support multiple agricultural economic activities, including irrigation. Local inhabitants also fish and mine from the streams. Some rivers have dams for energy production and serve as tourist attractions and recreation centres.

Top ten rivers in Ghana and where they are located

A large number of natural streams and rivers supply water in Ghana. The country also has numerous coastal lagoons and artificial waterbodies like Lake Volta and Lake Bosumtwi. Below is a list of big rivers in Ghana, their locations, and other details:

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1. The Volta River

Rivers in Ghana
Akasombo dam on the Volta River. Photo: @Kulturstudier
Source: Twitter
  • Length: 1,500 km
  • Discharge: 1,210 m³/s
  • Basin area: 407,093 km²
  • Location: Northern Region, Ghana
  • Sources: Black Volta, Nakambe, Red Volta River
  • Mouths: Gulf of Guinea, Atlantic Ocean
  • Bridges: Adomi Bridge
  • Dam: Akasombo/Volta dam

Volta River is the longest river in Ghana. Its stretch covers 1,500 km. The river flows south into Ghana from Burkina Faso's Bobo-Dioulasso highland and has three main parts; the Black Volta, Red Volta, and the White Volta.

The Portuguese named it Volta, which means "twist" or "turn". The famous Adomi Bridge crosses the Volta River at Atimpoku in Ghana. Ghana. It is a latticed steel arch suspension bridge.

The Akosombo Dam (also called Volta Dam) on the Volta River produces 1,038 MW (1,392,000 hp) of hydroelectricity. It is the largest artificial lake in the world by surface area. Volta dam covers 8,502 km² (about 3.6% of Ghana's land area).

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2. The Black Volta River

List of rivers in Ghana
Bui Gorge dam on the Black Volta River. Photo: @ResearchGate
Source: Twitter
  • Length: 1,352 km
  • Basin size: 147,000 km²
  • Location: Ghana, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire
  • Source: The Cascades Region of Burkina Faso, near Mount Tenakourou
  • Mouth: Volta River
  • Dam: Bui Gorge dam

The Black Volta (also called Mouhoun) is the second-largest river in Ghana. It originates from the Cascades Region of Burkina Faso, close to Mount Tenakourou, the country's highest point.

The river flows through Burkina Faso for about 1,352 km and pours into the White Volta (the upper end of Lake Volta) in Dagbon, North of Ghana. It then flows eastwards, creating a barrier between Burkina Faso and Ghana.

The Black Volta separates Ghana from Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire. The Bui Gorge hydroelectric dam is on the Black Volta river, close to the Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire border. Bui Gorge is the second largest hydroelectric dam in Ghana.

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3. The White Volta River

Ghana rivers
Pwalugu Multipurpose Dam across the White Volta River. Photo: @bra_louis
Source: Twitter
  • Length: 885 km
  • Basin area: 106,000 km²
  • Source: Bobo-Dioulasso highlands of Burkina Faso
  • Mouth: Volta River
  • Location: Burkina Faso and Ghana
  • Dams: Pwalugu and Bagré dams

The White Volta is the third-largest river in Ghana. It flows from the Bobo-Dioulasso highlands of Burkina Faso, enters Ghana through the north, and pours into Lake Volta in Ghana.

The Volta River then cuts through the country and empties into the Atlantic Ocean through the Gulf of Guinea. The White Volta stretches a total of 855 km.

Pwalugu and Bagré dams are on the upstream side of the White Volta in Burkina Faso, while the Akosombo and Kpong dams are on the downstream side. The dams are essential for the Volta river basin management.

4. River Pra

major rivers in Ghana
River Pra in Ghana. Photo: @C_RealMC
Source: Twitter
  • Length: 240 km
  • Source: Volta River
  • Tributaries: Birim, Anum and Ofin rivers
  • Mouth: Gulf of Guinea
  • Location: Southern Ghana

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River Pra is the largest of the three principal rivers that drain the area south of the Volta divide. It was used as a borderline between the Ashanti Empire and Gold Coast.

The river was a major timber transportation route in the 20th century. People used River Pra to float timber to the Ghanaian coast. It is, therefore, appreciated for developing lumber trade in the region.

The Pra River flows through some of the most fertile lands in Ghana. Its three main tributaries, the Birim, Anum and Ofin rivers, cut through the Akan lowlands, which have fertile cocoa farmlands.

The Ghana Water Company Limited taps water from River Pra and distributes it to about a million residents in Sekoondi-Takoradi and Wassa East. The river passes through dense forests that bring out its stunning beauty and pours into the Atlantic Ocean at Shama.

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5. River Ankobra

List of rivers in Ghana
River Ankobra. Photo: @madjetey
Source: Twitter
  • Length: 190 km
  • Basin size: 1,900 km²
  • Source: Nini River
  • Mouth: Gulf of Guinea, Atlantic Ocean
  • Location: Southern Ghana
  • Dams: Three small hydro dams

The Ankobra River rises northeast of Wiawso, and the Nini River pours into it. Ankobra covers about 190 km as it flows south to the Gulf of Guinea. Its upper reaches have several hydroelectric schemes because it has intense rapids.

Although Ankobra is navigable, only small ships can use it. Most people do not use the river for transportation because they fear the strong rapids. Mercury and arsenic were discovered in the Ankobra River Basin in 2003.

The fish farming business is popular around the river. The Galamsey mining, water pollution by mining companies, fishing using harmful chemicals, deforestation, erosion and many reasons have changed Ankobra's water from crystal clear to yellowish. The government is trying to contain the situation.

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6. River Densu

Ghana's major rivers
The Weija Dam on the Densu River. Photo: @Ghanaspotlight
Source: Twitter
  • Length: 116 km
  • Basin size: 2,490 km²
  • Source: Atewa Range
  • Mouth: Atlantic Ocean
  • Location: South-eastern Ghana
  • Dam: Weija dam

The Accra inhabitants benefit a lot from River Densu. For instance, half of the city's drinking water is from this river. River Densu is 116 km long and is in southeastern Ghana.

It rises from the Atewa mountain range and stretches wetlands towards the Atlantic Ocean. Densu passes through three regions and eleven government assemblies of Ghana. People surrounding the river mainly engage in agriculture and fishing.

People surrounding the river mainly engage in agriculture and fishing. Densu host about 18 species of fish, including Tilapia and Mudfish. People living close to the river cause deforestation. They farm on the river banks using chemicals and dump waste in the river.

7. Afram River

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List of major rivers in Ghana
Afram River, Ghana. Photo: @zoomafrika1
Source: UGC
  • Length: 100 km
  • Basin size: 1,000 km²
  • Source: Mampong
  • Mouth: Volta River
  • Location: Southern Ghana

The Afram River is about 100 km long and runs in southern Ghana. It was a principal tributary of the Volta River before the Akosombo dam's construction. Today is an important tributary of Lake Volta. The river rises 16 miles (26 km) northwest of Mampong and flows southeast into Lake Volta.

8. Nini River

rivers in Ghana
A body of water during the day. Photo:, @Mabel Amber
Source: UGC
  • Length: 10 km
  • Mouth: Tano River
  • Location: Ghana

The famous Nini River is in southwestern Ghana. The Nini-Suhien National Park (now incorporated into the Ankasa Conservation Area) was named after it. It is about 10 km long and flows into the Tano River.

9. Ofin River

big rivers in Ghana
Gold miners operating on the Ofin River near Buabenso. Photo: @ResearchGate
Source: UGC
  • Length: 10 km
  • Riverbed: 90 metres above mean sea level
  • Mouth: Pra River
  • Location: Atwima Mponua District, Ashanti Region, Ghana

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The Ofin River is an easterly-flowing waterway in Ghana. It runs through the Tano Ofin Reserve in Atwima Mponua District. Gold is mined from the river's sediment.

The Ofin riverbed is 90 metres above mean sea level. It has cut steep side channels of about 12-15 metres in depth. Pra and Ofin rivers form the boundary between the Ashanti and Central regions of Ghana. Dunkwa-on-Offin is a major town on the river.

10. Todzie River

List of major rivers in Ghana
A flowing river. Photo:, @Baskin Creative Studios
Source: UGC
  • Length: 267 km
  • Basin size: 2,200 km²
  • Mouth: Volta River
  • Location: Ghana, Togo

Todzie stream is in Ghana and partly forms the Ghana-Togo border to the southwest. Its estimated terrain elevation is 5 metres above sea level. The monthly and annual variability in the Todzie River's flow could significantly contribute to flooding in the Keta lagoon.

Advantages of rivers in Ghana

The river and stream pattern is denser in Ghana's wetter south and southwest areas. The pattern is more open in the north of the Kwahu Plateau, thus making access to water more difficult. Below are the advantages of rivers in Ghana:

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1. Dams

Dams built on rivers in Ghana are essential electricity resources for the country. In addition, they regulate floods and are used for irrigation to combat famine during dry seasons. Dams in Ghana are recreational centres for fun recreational activities like boat racing.

2. Crop production

A substantial percentage of Ghana's food is from irrigation schemes surrounding the rivers. Irrigation schemes like Dawheya produce large quantities of food for domestic consumption and exportation. When rivers flood, fertile soil accumulates in dams. Experts remove the soil and put it on nearby farms.

3. Habitats for plants and animals

Ghanaian rivers are home to a myriad of flora and fauna. They provide safe havens for living things. Unpolluted flowing rivers possess a sacred power that makes ecosystems thrive.

4. Water sources

Rivers are also an important water source. Most water animals, plants, and humans use is from rivers. In addition, water is vital for daily chores in homes, industries, and recreational purposes.

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5. Transportation

Navigable rivers in Ghana are suitable means of transport for people and heavy cargo. It is slower but cheaper than road, air and railway transport. Most big rivers are boundaries between Ghana and neighbouring countries like Togo and Burkina Faso. Hence, people can use them to transport exports and imports.

rivers in Ghana
A river flowing down the mountains. Photo:, @Rido Alwarno
Source: UGC

Efforts the Ghanaian government make to protect rivers

The government uses drones to monitor dam floods. The drones also help authorities to curb deforestation around river banks, illegal mining activities in rivers, and dump toxic waste around the river basins.

How many rivers are in Ghana?

Ghana has more than 30 rivers. The six longest and largest rivers in the country are famous worldwide. Below is a list of rivers in Ghana and where they are located:

AframSouthern Ghana
Agrumatue Upper East Region, Ghana
Angongwi Southeastern Ghana
Ankobra RiverSouthern Ghana
Anum RiverCentral Region, Ghana
Atakora RiverSouth Ghana
Ayensu RiverCentral Region, Ghana
Bia RiverWestern Ghana
Birim RiverEastern Region of Ghana
Black VoltaVolta Region, Ghana
Daka RiverNortheastern Ghana
Densu RiverSoutheastern Ghana
Dortsedor RiverGreater Accra Region, Ghana
Gyimi RiverAshanti Region, Ghana
Kulpawn RiverNorthwestern Ghana
Mo RiverNorthern Region, Ghana
Nini RiverSouthwestern Ghana
Ofin River Atwima Mponua District, Ashanti Region, Ghana
Oti RiverNorthern Region, Ghana
Pra RiverSouthern Ghana
Pru RiverSoutherneastern Ghana
Red VoltaUpper East Region, Ghana
Sene RiverSene District, Bono East Region, Ghana
Sisili RiverNorthwestern Ghana
Tain RiverJaman North District, Brong Ahafo Region, Ghana
Tano RiverBono East Region, Ghana
Todzie RiverVolta Region, Ghana
Volta RiverNorthern Region, Ghana
White Volta The entire Upper East Region, 70% of the Upper West Region, and 50% of the Northern Region, Ghana

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How many rivers do we have in Ghana?

There are six major rivers in Ghana and numerous streams. The longest and largest rivers in Ghana are the Volta River, White Volta, Black Volta, Pra River, Densu River, and Ankobra River.

Why are some towns in Ghana named after rivers?

Many towns in Ghana are named after rivers because people cherish the historical significance of rivers. Communities used rivers are sacred places of worship, boundaries for kingdoms, places for defense during wars, etc.

Rivers in Ghana need a lot of care because they serve millions of human beings, plants, and animal species. The people and the government should work together to prevent water pollution caused by reckless mining, farming, lumbering, and waste disposal activities.

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Artificial water sources result from human activities. For example, constructing control structures can modify and restrain how they operate.

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