The former Southampton winger struck with just eight minutes left on Monday to settle a heavyweight game in the Cameroonian capital of Yaoundé.
Morocco, the 1976 winners, quickly took control of Group C, with Gabon – without Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and former Juventus midfielder Mario Lemina due to positive Covid tests- 19 – due to face debutant Comoros in the tournament later this evening.
Boufal hammered home from close range after a wild run into the penalty area from Zakaria Aboukhlal which saw him tease the Ghanaian defense, only to be checked by Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey with the ball then working perfectly for Boufal to score.
The goal came on a rare occasion in a game where both teams showed defensive prowess but did little to impress on offense.
Both countries are looking to end a long wait for success in the continental championship, but have shown few early signs of making an impact at the tournament in Cameroon, albeit after disrupted preparations.
Boufal’s goal opened a tricky deal and Morocco had two more decent chances when captain Romain Saiss nodded a header after a 87th-minute free kick and then in stoppage time Ghanaian goalkeeper Joe Wollacott stopped a thunderous shot at point blank range.
So far, there had only been two opportunities for Ghana, four-time CAN winner who last triumphed in 1982.
Joseph Paintsil hit a tied shot into the top corner in the 70th minute, but Moroccan goalkeeper Yassine Bounou deflected the effort around the post.
Ghana also had a good free kick opportunity in the 31st minute, but Partey took their free kick over the bar.
The victory extended to 10 consecutive game winning streaks for Morocco, including the six World Cup qualifiers played between September and November.
In Monday’s other game at 4 p.m. GMT, left-back Issiaga Sylla’s first-half goal was enough for Guinea to face exhausted Malawi in a Group B affair at Bafoussam’s Kouekong Stadium.
Reuters additional reports.