Andre Ayew scored a penalty as Ghana beat Uganda 1-0 on Tuesday in a lacklustre opening to the four-time champions' bid for a first African Nations Cup title in 35 years.
Ayew, a West Ham winger, netted in the 32nd minute after Asamoah Gyan was held back by Isaac Isinde in the penalty area in Port-Gentil.
Former Chelsea manager Avram Grant is looking to lead Ghana to a second successive final but go better than 2015, when his team lost to Ivory Coast.
Uganda has also finished as runners-up in the continental championship, but the trip to the final in 1978 was the last time they qualified until making the Gabon event.
Ghana took control of Group D after seven-time champions Egypt struggled in a 0-0 draw with Mali in the other group match.
Egypt goalkeeper Essam El Hadary became the oldest player in tournament history at 44 when he came on for the injured Ahmed El-Shenawy midway through the first half.
El Hadary, who celebrated his birthday two days ago, is participating in his seventh African Cup, having picked up winners' medals in 2006, 2008 and 2010.
Egypt's standout forward Mohamed Salah struggled and was replaced midway through the second half.
Mali, looking to improve on its third-place finishes in 2012 and 2013, produced many more chances.