It’s been a rough 2019 for Ghana’s currency, the cedi.
It fell to a record low against the dollar in February, according to Bloomberg, and has depreciated by 8.6% this year – the most of more than 140 currencies tracked by the financial news agency.
Ghanian President Nana Akufo-Addo has attributed the cedi’s poor performance to an over-reliance on imports.
But it was still a shock for Ghanians who checked Google’s currency conversion rates on March 15 to discover that the cedi was trading at a rate of 22.72 to one US dollar – an increase of more than 300% on the previous day.
The figure was the result of an error from the search engine, not a disastrous financial crash.
Google explained the mistake in a letter to Ghana’s Ministry of Finance, which the ministry publicized in a press release Wednesday.
“We are aware of the issue of inaccurate conversions for Ghanaian Cedi currency on Friday the 15th of March. This was caused by a minor glitch that was quickly fixed,” wrote Titi Akinsanmi, Google’s head of Public Policy & Government Relations, West and Francophone Africa.
“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,” Akinsanmi added.
The Ministry of Finance also noted in the release that Nigeria and Pakistan have suffered similar errors in presenting their currency values this year.
A Google spokesman did not dispute the ministry’s account but emphasized that the mistake was rectified within an hour. The spokesman added that the problem in Nigeria was resolved even more swiftly.
As of March 22, Google’s software was giving a rate of 5.23 cedis to one US dollar.