Google’s ‘minor glitch’ sent the currency of Ghana into freefall

26 Mar 2019

Image: © Piotr Pawinski/

Google has apologised after a so-called ‘minor glitch’ in its search engine incorrectly showed Ghana’s currency to have collapsed.

In days gone by, a country’s currency could be seriously impacted by the stroke of a pen from a greater superpower; now, the same result can come from an unintentional glitch in Google’s code.

It has come to light that Ghana’s currency, the cedi, was thrown into chaos on 15 March after Google’s currency conversion rates in its search engine showed the currency to be trading at 22.72 to one US dollar. This alarmed many Ghanaians given that this would have marked an increase of 300pc on the previous day, indicating some enormous financial crash had occurred.

However, the reality of the situation was that a bug within the search engine had set off the chain reaction that made it appear as if the currency was in freefall.

In a letter to the Ghanaian government – published by the country’s ministry of finance – Google said that it was aware of the issue and that it was “caused by a minor glitch that was quickly fixed”.

However, the government said that the damage had already been done by this point, as its incorrect currency price was spread quickly across social media as Ghanaians sought to see whether the “ludicrous rates” were true.

“We always aim to provide people with the most relevant, useful information to help them to make the right decisions. But sometimes there are temporary issues that can cause people to have undesired experiences, like the one this past Friday. This was regrettable,” Google said.

The tone of the government’s release was quite critical of Google, with it saying it “stopped short of apologising for the glitch”.

This isn’t the first time that a west African nation has been harmed by glitches in Google’s search results, with Nigeria affected in February – for the second time – when its naira currency was shown to be trading at twice its normal value for a period of time.

The timing of this glitch couldn’t have been worse for Ghana, as Bloomberg reported in February that the cedi had fallen to a record low against the dollar, having weakened by 8.6pc in 2019.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic