Ghana, officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country in West Africa. It spans the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean to the south, sharing borders with the Ivory Coast in the west, Burkina Faso in the north, and Togo in the east. Wikipedia
Dialing code: +233
Most visitors to Ghana have a pleasant experience, however criminal activity does occur, and it can vary from small theft to serious violence. Robbery, burglary, and violent assault have all increased in 2021, and such incidents sometimes include the use of weapons. Foreign nationals have been attacked and robbed at gunpoint in cases of violent robberies. In Accra, street crime such as pickpocketing and bag theft is on the rise. Take the necessary safeguards. When possible, avoid carrying significant sums of money or valuables, use a hotel safe, and be very cautious when taking cash from ATMs. Be particularly vigilant at night (after 6:30pm), and avoid travelling alone.
Take particular care when stationary. Keep windows up and doors locked. Some of these attacks on vehicles also involve the use of weapons. A British national died in one such attack in August 2021. Make long trips during daylight hours, travel in convoys, and seek advice from local police before travelling along long sections of open road (see Road travel). Local police also highlight the risk of attacks on vehicles when driving the Tamale-Wa road, at any time of day.
Take care at public beaches and avoid going to the beach on your own. Theft is the main problem, but there have been isolated incidents of violent crime and sexual assault in areas popular with tourists.
Theft of luggage and travel documents occurs at Kotoka International Airport and in hotels. Make sure your passport is secure at all times and don’t leave baggage unattended. Be wary of offers of help at the airport unless from uniformed porters or officials. All permanent staff at the airport wear an ID card showing their name and a photo. ID cards without a photo are not valid. If you are being collected at the airport, confirm the identity of your driver by asking for ID. British nationals have been robbed by impostors who have approached them before the main arrivals area pretending to be their driver.
The main locations of risk in Greater Accra highlighted by the police are: Graphic Road, George Walker Bush Highway, Accra Mall Roundabout, Awudome Cemetary Road, Pokuase-Amasaman Road, Teshie-Nungua road, Labadi beach area, GIMPA road and surrounding areas, and the Kokrobite beach area. You should be especially vigilant in these locations.
Make sure you lock windows and secure accommodation both at night and before you go out. There have been cases of burglaries in areas used by the international community living overseas, including Airport Residential, Cantonments, Ridge and Kokrobite, with increased frequency over the Christmas period.
There have been reports in the media of criminally-motivated kidnapping in Accra, Takoradi, and Kumasi, including the targeting of foreign nationals. Kidnaps can be for financial or political gain, or can be motivated by criminality. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence in Ghana is unlikely to serve as a protection or secure your safe release.
The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage-taking.
People are increasingly being targeted by scam artists operating in West Africa. The scams come in many forms – romance and friendship, business ventures, work, and employment opportunities, and can pose a great financial risk to victims. You should treat with considerable caution any requests for funds, a job offer, a business venture or a face to face meeting from someone you have been in correspondence with over the internet who lives in West Africa.
If you or your relatives or friends are asked to transfer money to Ghana you should make sure that it is not part of a scam and that you have properly checked with the person receiving the money that they are requesting it. If the caller claims to be in distress, you should ask whether they have reported the incident (by phone or e-mail) to the British High Commission in Accra.
If you have sent money to someone you believe has scammed you and are contacted by a police officer for more money to help get your money back, then this is possibly another part of the scam. Scam artists have also been known to use the identity of officials at the British High Commission in Accra. If you receive an email from someone claiming to be an official at the British High Commission, contact the officer using the phone numbers or contact details for the British High Commission.
You can drive in Ghana using an International Driving Permit or a local driving licence. If you’re applying for a local driving licence from the Ghana DVLA, you must get your national driving licence authenticated by the country DVLA. You should carry your driving licence or International Driving Permit with you at all times when driving. An International Driving Permit is usually valid for a year and it cannot be renewed in Ghana.
Roads can be in a poor condition, particularly in rural areas. Some areas do not have streetlights. Avoid traveling by road outside the main towns after dark, where the risk of serious road accidents is much greater, and there is a heightened risk of attacks on vehicles (see Crime section). Grass or leaves strewn in the road often means an accident or other hazard ahead. If you choose to drive at night be aware of impromptu police checkpoints. Do not give cash to the police.
Safety standards of taxi services in Ghana are often low. There have also been isolated incidents of crime taking place in all types of taxis (including licensed taxis, ‘Tro Tros’ and app-based taxi services). If you travel by taxi, we recommend you use licensed taxis only, making sure to check driver IDs and the vehicle condition before you travel. Avoid travelling alone in taxis after dark.
Africa World Airlines (www.flyawa.com.gh) operates domestic flights in Ghana.
There are several daily flights from Accra to Kumasi (45 minutes), Takoradi (35 minutes) and Tamale (1 hour, 15 minutes). They tend to be relatively cheap and a huge time saver when travelling north.
Buses are preferable to tro-tros (minibuses) for long journeys as they tend to be more comfortable and reliable.
There are bus services to all of Ghana’s main towns and cities. Intercity STC (http://stc.oyawego.com/) is Ghana’s main long-haul bus company. After near collapse, during which rival company VIP took much of its business, it’s back on its feet again, with new routes and a fleet of swish new buses. Other relevant bus companies for travellers include VIP (www.vipbusgh.com), which runs half-hourly buses between Accra and Kumasi, VVIP, which runs north of Accra to Kumasi and Tamale, and Metro Mass (www.metromass.com), which runs local services in various parts of the country. It’s wise to book in advance as tickets get snapped up fast on the more popular routes.
Services are usually less frequent on Sunday.
There is always a charge for luggage. Theoretically, it should be per kilogram, but in practice, large rucksacks or suitcases just tend to be charged a flat fee. Baggage handlers will expect a tip for loading your bags.
CAR & MOTOCYCLE
Driving is on the riset in Ghana. Most main roads are in pretty good condition, though most secondary roads are untarred and could be bumpy. You will need an international driver’s licence to drive in Ghana. Fuel is inexpensive at around 4cedis per litre. Hiring a car with a driver is a good option if you’re short on time; travel agencies can usually arrange this. Depending on the distance, car and driver experience, factor in anything from US$100 to US$150 per day, plus fuel. Ghana Car Rentals is an excellent, professional company with reasonably priced vehicles.
The railway sector and service are being re-developed. The only few trains that exist are mostly for mining and cargo transport.
Within towns and on some shorter routes between towns, shared taxis are the usual form of transport. They run on fixed routes, along which they stop to pick up and drop off passengers. Fares are generally very cheap (1-2cedis).
Private taxis don’t have meters and rates are negotiable. It’s best to ask a local in advance for the average cost between two points.
Taxis can be chartered for an agreed period of time, anything from one hour to a day, for a negotiable fee.
Uber officially arrived in Accra in September 2016 and has since been operating within Accra
Tro-tro is a catch-all category that embraces any form of public transport that’s not a bus or taxi. Generally, they’re minibusses.
Tro-tros cover all major and many minor routes. They don’t work to a set timetable but leave when full. Fares are set but may vary on the same route depending on the size and comfort (air-con) of the vehicle.
There is generally an additional luggage fee. The area where tro-tros and buses congregate is called, interchangeably, lorry park, motor park or station.
River and ferry transport is still under development in Ghana. However, the Akosombo–Yeji cargo ferry accepts a limited number of passengers on its once-weekly service and is an adventurous way of reaching Tamale (you can pick up transport to Tamale from Yeji). The journey is a relatively long one. It leaves Akosombo Port on Mondays and Yeji on Wednesdays. Standard seats cost about 20cedis, while an air-conditioned double cabin goes for about 90cedis per person.