Amissah-Arthur was born at Cape Coast on 29 April 1951, the capital of the Central Region of Ghana, at the time organized as British Gold Coast Colony. His mother is from the Hutchful family and his father is from the Amissah-Arthur family.Both families originated from Cape Coast. He completed his secondary education at the Mfantsipim School, where he obtained the GCE Ordinary Level in 1969 and the GCE Advanced Level in 1971. He proceeded to the University of Ghana at Legon, where he obtained the B.Sc. in 1974 and M.Sc. in 1976, both in Economics.
Economics and consultancy
Amissah-Arthur was a research assistant at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research between 1974 and 1975. He later joined the Economics Department as a teaching assistant from 1977 to 1978, going on to become an assistant lecturer in 1979. He lectured at the Department of Economics at the University of Ghana between 1980 and 1988. He was also a lecturer at the Department of Economics, Anambra State College of Education, Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria (August 1981 – July 1983). He went into politics until 1997. He worked as a consultant for the World Bank in The Gambia. He also served as a consultant for the Netherlands‘ government education project in Ghana. He then worked as Senior Economist for the Sigma One Corporation in Ghana between 1998 and 2000. Between 2001 and 2002, he was on assignment for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.
From 1983 to 1986, Amissah-Arthur served as a special assistant to the Secretary of Finance and Economic Planning, Kwesi Botchwey, in the Provisional National Defense Council government. Subsequently, he was Deputy Secretary for Finance in the PNDC government from February 1986 to March 1993. From April 1993, he continued as the Deputy Minister for Finance in the Rawlings government after the establishment of constitutional rule until March 1997.
Amissah-Arthur was appointed as Governor of the Bank of Ghana in October 2009 by President John Atta Mills. He held this position until 6 August 2012, when he became Vice-President of Ghana following the death of Atta Mills.
Amissah-Arthur died on 29 June 2018 at the 37 Military Hospital after reportedly collapsing at the Air Force Gym during his routine morning workout session.