|On March 6, 1957, the former Gold
Coast — a British colony — became the Republic of Ghana and the
first African state south of the Sahara to win its independence. At
the time, Ghana was economically strong and was believed to have a
bright future under the leadership of its founding father and first
president, Kwame Nkrumah. However, chronic political instability and
financial mismanagement during the ‘60s and ‘70s left the country
with a crumbling infrastructure and a largely bankrupt economy.
Today Ghana has a new constitution restoring multiparty choices
which was approved in 1992. Ghana is a constitutional democracy with
a legal system based on English common law and customary law. The
president is chief of state as well as head of government. A
unicameral Parliament with 200 seats has its members elected by
direct, popular vote to serve four-year terms.
Under a vigorous reform program, the economy has grown rapidly,
the infrastructure is being repaired, the markets are full, and
Accra once again has the appearance of a bustling coastal city.
Well endowed with natural resources, Ghana has roughly twice the
per capita output of poorer countries in West Africa. Even so, Ghana
remains heavily dependent on international financial and technical
assistance. Gold, timber and cocoa production are major sources of
Ghanaians are warm, hospitable, and polite, and have a strong
traditional culture that they enjoy sharing with foreigners. Through
shared history and a natural affinity, they are especially open to
Americans assigned here will enjoy the professional challenge of
working in a developing country with a future. Those who make the
effort will learn that a tour in Ghana is also a special opportunity
to “discover” and experience an African culture and society.
The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 4/29/2004 9:10 AM
Ghana is situated on West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, and its
capital, Accra, is 4 degrees north of the Equator. Ghana covers
238,540 square kilometers and is about the size of Oregon. Half of
the country lies less than 152 meters above sea level and the
highest point is 883 meters. The 537-kilometer coastline is mostly a
low, sandy shore backed by a narrow coastal plain with scrub brush,
and intersected by rivers and streams, navigable only by canoe. A
tropical rain forest belt, broken by heavily forested hills and many
streams and rivers, extends northward from the shore near the border
with Côte d’Ivoire. This area, traditionally known as Ashanti, but
now divided into several administrative regions, produces most of
Ghana’s cocoa, minerals, and timber. North of this belt the country
varies from 91 to 396 meters above sea level and is covered by low
bush, savanna, and grassy plains.
Current environmental issues include recurrent drought in north
which severely affects agricultural activites; deforestation;
overgrazing; soil erosion; poaching and habitat destruction which
threatens wildlife populations; water pollution and inadequate
supplies of potable water.
Ghana is bordered on the west by Côte d’Ivoire, on the north by
Burkina Faso, and on the east by Togo. A major feature of the
country’s geography is the Volta Lake, the world’s largest manmade
lake (8,900 square kilometers), which extends from the Akosombo Dam
(completed in 1966) in southeastern Ghana to the town of Yapei, 520
kilometers to the north. The dam generates electricity for all of
Ghana as well as some exports to neighboring countries. The lake
also serves as an inland waterway and is a potentially valuable
resource for irrigation and fish farming.
Ghana’s climate is tropical with temperatures between 21ºC and
32ºC (70ºF and 90ºF). Rainy seasons extend from April to July (heavy
rains) and from September to November (light rains). Annual rainfall
exceeds 200 centimeters on the coast, decreasing inland. Accra’s
annual rainfall averages about 76 centimeters, low for coastal West
Africa. The southern part of the country is humid most of the year,
but the north can be very dry.
It is coolest from May until October. In December the harmattan,
a dry dusty wind from the Sahara, covers the country, and lasts
through February. The desert wind reduces humidity, and early
mornings and nights are relatively cool. Visibility during the
harmattan can be poor, as the air is filled with fine dust.
Population Last Updated: 4/29/2004 9:12 AM
Ghana’s population numbers 20.4 million (July 2003 est.), with an
annual growth rate of over 1.4 %. Accra is the largest city with
some 3.8 million inhabitants. Other major cities include Kumasi (1.3
million est.), Tema (250,000 est.), Sekondi/Takoradi (200,000 est.),
and Tamale (105,000).
The majority of Ghanaians belong to one of four broad ethnic
groups: Akan (44%), Mole-Dagbane (16%), Ewe (13%), and Ga-Adangbe
(8%). Subgroups exist within each of these, along with many other
smaller ethnic groups. A large number of Ghana’s inhabitants have
roots in neighboring countries or are citizens of those countries. A
few communities of foreigners come from outside West Africa,
including Lebanese, Syrian, Indian, and Chinese. English is the
official language, but about 100 other languages and dialects are
common. Most urban Ghanaians speak some English, and many Ghanaians
speak Twi (an Akan language), an unofficial second language. Ga is
also widely spoken in Accra.
All religious beliefs are accepted in Ghana. Approximately 63% of
the population are Christians, and Christian holidays are celebrated
nationally. Roughly 21% are traditional animists and 16% are
Muslims. People in the south have been influenced by Western
education and Christianity, and those in the north by Islam, but
members of the three major religious groups are found throughout the
Even where Christianity and Islam have the greatest influence,
traditional social structures and customs remain important. Ethnic
identification and kinship, traced paternally among some peoples and
maternally among others, are the basic building blocks of Ghanaian
society. However, their impact has been reduced by internal
migrations, contact with Western cultures, and urbanization. Since
independence, the authority of traditional rulers has declined, but
local and regional chiefs continue to play an extremely important
role in day-to-day life, especially in rural areas. Traditional
annual festivals are popular, and basic rituals — such as naming
ceremonies for newborns, customary marriage and divorce rites, and
elaborate funerals — are still performed.
The existence of many different ethnic traditions makes
generalizing about Ghanaian cultural values and practices difficult.
However, most Ghanaians consider their responsibilities to their
extended families a guiding principle in their lives. This can
create a heavy burden for those who have good, salaried jobs in the
cities. Education is universally recognized as the key to economic
and social advancement. Even the poorest families do all they can to
educate their children and prosperous relatives often “adopt” young
relatives, housing them and paying their school fees. Polygamy is
rare among the educated elite, but is still practiced in much of the
country, even by Christians. Economic pressures and official
policies are discouraging it.
Public Institutions Last Updated: 10/11/2004 8:29 AM
Europeans first came into contact with the area known today as
Ghana when Portuguese and Dutch merchants and slave traders landed
on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea in the late 15th century. The
British took control of the area, then called the Gold Coast, in the
early 1800’s. When the Gold Coast became the first sub-Saharan
African colony to gain its independence in 1957, the name was
changed to Ghana, after an ancient African empire (700–1200 B.C.E.)
along the Niger River.
Under Kwame Nkrumah and the Convention People’s Party (CPP),
which had led the country to independence, Ghana began as a
parliamentary democracy, but gradually evolved into a single party,
socialist state. Nkrumah was overthrown in 1966 in a military coup,
and the National Liberation Council ruled by decree until 1969, when
a new constitution took effect and K.A. Busia was elected as
President of the Second Republic. The Busia government compiled a
reasonably good record in the human rights field but failed to solve
Ghana’s mounting economic problems. The government was overthrown in
January 1972 by a military coup led by Army Colonel I.K. Acheampong.
Under Acheampong’s National Redemption Council, the economy
continued to decline and corruption flourished. Efforts to establish
a nonparty “Union Government” created a backlash, which led to a
takeover by Lt. General Frederick Akuffo on July 5, 1978. Akuffo
moved to restore constitutional rule, naming a constituent assembly
and restoring political rights and activity. However, his regime
failed to reduce corruption or improve the economy. On June 4, 1979,
Flight Lt. Jerry John Rawlings led a group of junior officers and
enlisted men, called the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC),
in a successful coup against the Akuffo government.
The AFRC executed eight senior military officers, including
several former heads of state, for corruption and abuse of power.
The Council established “People’s Courts” and other tribunals, where
dozens of former government officials and others were sentenced to
long prison terms and their property confiscated. It also permitted
the previously scheduled presidential and parliamentary elections to
take place in June and July of 1979. The People’s National Party
(PNP), the new name for Nkrumah’s CPP, won both the Presidency and
71 of the 140 seats in parliament. A new constitution took effect in
September 1979, and Dr. Hilla Limann became President. The Limann
government had little success in solving Ghana’s economic problems
or in reducing corruption. It came to an early end when Flight Lt.
Rawlings led a second coup on December 31, 1981, and established the
Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC).
At the outset, the PNDC took a radical direction, banning all
political activities, confiscating property, placing the country
under curfew for 2 years and imprisoning or even executing citizens
for political or economic crimes. Gradually, the PNDC took a more
pragmatic line, both economically and politically, although some of
the radical rhetoric remains. Since 1983, Ghana has been
implementing a successful IMF-sponsored Economic Recovery Program (ERP).
Annual economic growth has averaged 5–6% since the inception of the
plan, with the exception of 1990, when bad rains resulted in a
growth of only 3%. In 1989, with the election of nonpartisan
District Assemblies, the PNDC began a slow process of returning
Ghana to constitutional rule.
In 1992, the voters in a nationwide referendum accepted a new
constitution, and elections for President and Parliament late that
same year ushered in Ghana’s Fourth Republic. Jerry John Rawlings
was elected President with nearly two-thirds of the vote, and was
reelected in 1996. The major opposition party boycotted the 1992
Parliamentary elections, but took part in 1996; the present
Parliament is made up of roughly two-thirds ruling party members and
one-third opposition members. Presidential and parliamentary
elections were held in December 2000. Rawlings was constitutionally
prevented from running for a third term in 2000. He was succeeded by
John Agyekum Kufuor, who defeated former Vice President John Atta
Mills in a free and fair election. In December 2004, presidential
and parliamentary elections will again be held.
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 4/29/2004 9:17 AM
Ghana has a long tradition of formal education, dating back to
the “Castle Schools” of the early 17th century. During the colonial
period schools were established by both the British Government and
missionary groups. The government at all levels has traditionally
provided tuition. However, parents find themselves paying fees for a
wide range of services, depending on the level of school. These can
include annual fees for services and activities such as the use of
textbooks, sports, arts and culture, electricity and water, and
board and lodging.
A student loan scheme has been introduced at Ghanaian
universities and other institutions for tertiary education under
which students are able to finance a substantial portion of the cost
of tertiary education. Such loans are repaid when the students have
graduated and are employed. Meals and some other on-campus services
have been commercialized. University-level user fees for
accommodations, electricity and water were started in 1997. The
degree to which students should contribute to their own university
education continues to be a very lively debate. Graduates from
Ghana’s universities and other institutions of higher education are
required to complete a period of National Service ranging from 1 to
A reform program was initiated in 1987 to help reduce the
educational system’s emphasis on academic subjects and university
preparation. Under the reform program, the preuniversity schooling
period has been shortened from a maximum 17 years to 12 years (6
years primary, 3 years junior secondary, and 3 years senior
secondary, vocational and technical). The reform program has
introduced vocational and technical education at the junior
secondary school level and seeks to make basic education more widely
In 1996, the government launched a major initiative in Basic
Education (grades 1–9) called FCUBE (Free, Compulsory and Universal
Basic Education). Donor assistance to this effort has been massive.
The medium of instruction is a local language through primary grade
3 and English from primary 4 through university.
Ghana has five state-run universities. The University of Ghana at
Legon (near Accra), the University of Cape Coast in the Central
Region, and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
in Kumasi are well-established and have broad, comprehensive
curricula (though UCC emphasizes training secondary teachers and
KNUST emphasizes science and technical education). In addition, two
new institutions of higher education were recently established in
Ghana. The multi-campus University for Development Studies in the
Northern Regions emphasizes agriculture and development of
technology, and has a medical school. The University College of
Education at Winneba (about midway between Accra and Cape Coast) is
exclusively a teacher training institution, and also offers distance
learning programs. Many faculty members have earned advanced degrees
from abroad, including the U.S. Academic exchanges of lecturers,
researchers, and students are increasingly common. All five
universities currently operate on a semester system.
In the past few years, a half dozen private “universities” have
been established. They are mostly affiliated with one or another
Christian denomination and their general focuses are business and
Salaries in Ghana have been severely eroded through a decade of
economic reforms, which limited public expenditures. In addition to
poor pay and working conditions for lecturers, other frequently
cited challenges facing Ghanaian universities include pressures to
provide residential accommodations for increased numbers of
students; the need for more books, professional journals, computers,
and scientific equipment despite rising costs; and the problems of
maintaining the universities’ generally attractive but deteriorating
buildings, grounds, and equipment.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 4/29/2004 9:20 AM
Independent Ghana’s economy, rich in natural and human resources,
was among the most advanced and prosperous in West Africa. By
1982–83, two decades of instability and mismanagement had led to
virtual economic collapse. A bloated public sector, neglected
infrastructures and agriculture, and grossly overvalued currency
spurred production declines. The slide, accelerated in the early
1980s by drought, bush fires, and the forced repatriation of about 1
million Ghanaians from Nigeria, left the country with virtually no
foreign exchange and severe food shortages.
The Economic Recovery Program, adopted in 1983, drastically
devalued the Ghanaian cedi, stabilized prices, improved fiscal and
monetary discipline and public sector rationalization, reduced
foreign debt arrears, and began the task of rehabilitating Ghana’s
infrastructure. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank,
the U.S., and other Western multilateral and bilateral donors have
lent strong support. From 1993–1996, Real Gross Domestic Product
(GDP) grew at an annual rate of 5%.
Inflation in 1999 was at an annual rate of about 13%. The cedi,
which in 1983 traded at the rate of 2.75=US $1, by March 2001 had an
exchange rate of about 7,195=US$1. In April 2004, the cedi had an
exchange rate of 8,900 = US$1. Private foreign exchange bureaus
operate throughout the country buying and selling cedis at free
market rates. Agriculture dominates the economy, accounting for
almost 60% of the workforce and 36% of the GDP. Cocoa, the main cash
crop, generates about 34% of export earnings and substantial tax
revenues. Ghana is no longer the world’s major cocoa producer, but
its output has recovered after sliding to less than one-third of its
peak. Other major crops, consumed internally, include cassavas,
yams, cocoa, plantains, shea nuts, oil palms, and cereals (maize,
millet, and rice). The Ashanti region around Kumasi is a center of
cocoa, tobacco, and timber production.
The semiarid savanna of the north (covering nearly half the
country) is the main livestock and cereal growing area. The
southwest’s humid forests produce timber, rubber, and plantains,
while the drier southeast produces livestock, poultry, citrus
fruits, and vegetables. The government is offering farmers greater
incentives to diversify output in order to reduce heavy dependence
on imported foodstuffs and provide domestic inputs for the nation’s
industry. Ghana has rich mineral resources, notably gold, manganese,
diamonds, and bauxite. While its gold reserves are among the world’s
largest, output has been far below former and potential levels.
Since the mid-’80s, major foreign investments in the mining sector
have resulted in large increases in gold production. Ghana’s Ashanti
Goldfields Company is the only African corporation listed in the New
York Stock Exchange.
Ghana currently imports all its crude oil. The Akosombo Dam on
the Volta River and the smaller Kpong Dam downstream supply
virtually all the country’s electricity, though a new thermal plant
in Takoradi came on line in early 1998 to supplement the supply. In
recent years, the power grid has gradually been extended to the
northern two-thirds of the country.
Ghana has the natural resources, industrial capacity, skilled
labor, and relatively inexpensive power necessary to be a successful
producer of goods for both domestic consumption and export. While
the situation has been improving, industry still is hampered by
dilapidated plants and machinery, a high dependence on scarce
imported replacement parts and raw materials, slowness in developing
domestic supply sources, and rundown infrastructure.
Given the importance of agriculture, the economy remains
dependent upon the variable rainfall patterns. These patterns are
affected by significant environmental deterioration.
One of the largest foreign investments in Ghana (and Africa’s
largest aluminum smelter) is the Volta Aluminum Company (VALCO),
owned by the U.S. companies Kaiser (90%) and Reynolds (10%). It
processes imported bauxite into aluminum ingots, primarily for
export. A U.S. company is majority owner of Ghana’s second national
telephone service provider. Other U.S. firms have invested in
Ghana’s information technology and communications sectors. Other
significant U.S. investments involve tuna fishing and processing
(Star-Kist), small-scale manufacture of pharmaceuticals and
household products (Johnson Wax and Phyto-Riker), petroleum products
distribution (Mobil), public accountancy (Deloitte & Touche and
Price WaterhouseCoopers), electronics products distribution and
service (IBM, NCR, Motorola), and wood treatment (KIC
International). Many more U.S. firms have active local agents and
Automobiles Last Updated: 10/11/2004 8:21 AM
Most employees find it advantageous to import a vehicle, although
new and used vehicles may be obtained locally. Public transportation
is unreliable, overcrowded, and generally inadequate. As in the
U.S., driving is on the right side of the road. Importation of
right-hand-drive vehicles into Ghana is not permitted. Street
conditions are fair but strewn with potholes. Higher
ground-clearance vehicles, while preferable, are not necessary,
unless you plan to make excursions outside of Accra “off the beaten
track.” There are no safety, color, or emission restrictions related
to imported vehicles. Vehicles over 10 years of age on the date of
importation cannot be brought into Ghana. A vehicle imported by a
diplomat that reaches 10 years of age while in Ghana cannot be sold
in Ghana and must be exported when the diplomat leaves the country
at the conclusion of the assignment. The Government of Ghana levies
a substantial tax on buyers of diplomatically imported vehicles if
sold in Ghana to a person who does not hold diplomatic status. The
tax is computed on the basis of the declared value of the vehicle
upon importation that is generally the value of the vehicle when
new. Consequently, the tax liability for a non-diplomat is
prohibitive. Please contact the GSO for additional information
regarding the importation and sale of vehicles, since the
regulations are subject to frequent changes.
Gasoline now sold in Ghana is unleaded or diesel fuel. The
catalytic converters do not/not need to be removed at this time.
Air-conditioning is strongly recommended, as are first-aid kits and
car seats for small children. A single Mission employee may import
or purchase locally, free of duty charges, one car. Married
employees accompanied by their spouse may import or purchase locally
two cars duty free.
Many Mission members drive European, Japanese, or South African
manufactured cars since parts and service for most American-made
cars are not readily available. Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota (both
sedan and 4x4 types), Honda, Peugeot, or the European or South
African versions of General Motors or Ford products are popular and
the easiest to maintain. Duty-paid vehicles are widely available in
all price ranges. Used duty-free vehicles are occasionally available
from departing colleagues at the U.S. and other embassies.
Unleaded gasoline and diesel fuel are available locally. Diesel
fuel and unleaded gasoline may be purchased at the Embassy pump. The
Government of Ghana sets the price. As of July 2004 it is about
$1.74 per U.S. gallon. Fuel prices continue to fluctuate with the
increase/decrease in crude oil prices.
Most Mission personnel have radios and cassette or CD players in
their cars. CB radios are not permitted. Several private FM stations
broadcast in Accra with AM stations broadcasting to their parts of
the country, although coverage is not complete.
Americans patronize several repair facilities. Though the quality
of work is mixed, labor costs are low with used parts common for
vehicles widely available and reasonably priced. Dealer installed
new parts and labor is high. Some people arrange with the
Mission-employed mechanics to service their vehicles during off duty
Driving. Driver expertise in Accra and outside Accra leaves much
to be desired. Defensive driving techniques must be employed at all
times. Driving outside of Accra after dark must be absolutely
avoided. Plan any trip outside of Accra during daylight hours only.
In addition to the almost total absence of any roadside lighting,
many drivers drive at night without using headlights under the
mistaken impression that they are saving electric power.
Over-the-road heavy-duty truck drivers often drive at night in a
totally sleep-deprived condition. Driving at night outside Accra is
an open invitation to disaster. Most Americans killed in Ghana die
by virtue of nighttime auto accidents.
Local Transportation Last Updated: 4/29/2004 9:23 AM
Ghana has about 9,300 kilometers of hard surface roads, in
varying degrees of upkeep. While the construction of improved
laterite roads has been a major priority for several years, some
roads are still not passable during the rainy seasons, especially in
rural areas. It is possible to drive east to Lome, west to Abidjan,
and north to Kumasi and Tamale. Once you leave the major routes,
road conditions can become very rough. Many streets in Accra are
narrow and bordered by hazardous open culverts without curbs.
Buses and “tro-tros” are always overcrowded, poorly maintained,
odoriferous, and driven by incompetent, reckless and inattentive
drivers. Taxis are abundant and cheap in Accra and generally
available in other major cities. One must, however, negotiate the
cost before entering the taxi. Most taxi drivers speak some English
but it is wise to know where you are going before getting in the
taxi. Addresses mean little in Accra with most taxi drivers
operating by landmarks. Drivers tend to be reckless and do not obey
traffic laws since the enforcement of traffic laws is almost
nonexistent. Taxis can be hired for an entire day or for a long
duration trip. Hiring a taxi for a trip out of town, however, is not
recommended. Rental cars are available but tend to be expensive. It
is not possible to rent a car without a driver.
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 10/11/2004 8:26 AM
CTK City Link and Antrak Air Travels, which are domestic
carriers, provide Monday to Friday service to Accra and Kumasi.
Antrak also offers flights to Tamale on selected days. A number of
international airlines provide service outside Ghana. At present
there are "open skies" agreements and "code shares" with British
Airways/American Airlines, KLM/Northwest Airlines as well as
Lufthansa/United Airlines. Official travelers are routed between the
U.S. and Ghana via Amsterdam on Northwest/KLM, via Frankfurt on
United/ Lufthansa and via London on American/ British Airways.
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 4/29/2004 9:25 AM
Ghana Telecom (GT) and Westel (a U.S. majority-owned firm)
provide local telephone service. The average monthly rental for a
telephone is about $3.00 and this must be paid regardless of whether
the telephone is working. Local call charges vary. As of March 2003,
the cellular phone companies that offer mobile phone services are
Celltel, Spacefon, and Mobitel.
The embassy also has the International Voice Gateway (IVG)
system, which ties in directly to the U.S. Calls can be made on IVG
toll-free from the Chancery to the Washington, D.C. area and to any
800 number. Calls can be made any day of the week from the chancery.
It is also possible to call other locations in the U.S. by using IVG
to access the 1-800 commercial long-distance service such as Sprint,
MCI and AT&T. You must obtain a calling card before arrival as there
is no direct-dialing service from your home except on weekends when
the IVG line is available (only for U.S. Direct Hire employees).
Internet Last Updated: 4/29/2004 9:25 AM
It is possible to obtain Internet service in your home. There are
several local companies to choose from with prices ranging from
approximately $25 to $50 a month. The CLO office can provide more
information on arrival. It is advisable to ship voltage regulators
and an uninterruptible power source (UPS) along with quality power
strips with surge protection.
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 4/29/2004 9:26 AM
International service for incoming mail is slow and unreliable.
American personnel use the Department of State diplomatic pouch for
Pouches may not contain liquids, glass, pressurized containers or
items that are illegal to import into the country of destination and
items that are harmful to human life or to the environment. Outgoing
mail is restricted to envelopes up to 2 pounds, and boxed mail that
is the size of a video or audio tape up to 2 pounds. U.S. postage
stamps may be purchased at the commissary. Incoming restrictions are
40 pounds and a maximum of 62 inches length and girth combined.
Pouch delivery time to or from the U.S. averages 2 weeks. The pouch
address for personal letters and packages is as follows:
2020 Accra Place
Dulles, VA 20189–2020
The critical element in this address pattern is the use of the
accurate 9-digit zip code. Post office addresses for local and
international mail are:
P.O. Box 194, Accra, Ghana
USAID, P.O. Box 1630, Accra, Ghana
P.O. Box 2288, Accra, Ghana
P.O. Box 5796, Accra, Ghana
INS, American Embassy,
P.O. Box 194, Accra, Ghana
Twice weekly DHL shipments of personal mail (letters only) to the
U.S. continues to run smoothly. Homeward bound mail weighing over 2
pounds is also available at the commissary, but very expensive.
Other express deliveries, Federal Express and UPS are available.
Services are reliable and fairly expensive.
Radio and TV Last Updated: 4/29/2004 9:45 AM
Accra enjoys a variety of FM radio stations. The government-owned
GAR and university-run Radio Univers aside, all are privately owned.
Broadcasts are dominated by music, and more and more by lively
public affairs programming, including popular call-in shows. GAR
(95.7) is the first source for those eager for the government’s take
on current events. Radio GOLD (90.5) is the Voice of America (VOA)
affiliate in Accra, and rebroadcasts several VOA news and other
programming several times during the day. The British Broadcasting
Corporation (BBC) and Radio France Internationale (RFI) both
broadcast their Africa-oriented programming full-time on FM
rebroadcast stations in Accra (101.3 and 89.5, respectively).
The government-owned GTV dominates television in Ghana. A typical
transmission day begins with some CNN news. From 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
each weekday GTV broadcasts the U.S. Government's WorldNet programs,
including “The Newshour with Jim Lehrer,” which appears at 10:00 am.
Competing with GTV in Accra are two private TV broadcasters,
METRO TV, which is primarily entertainment programs, and TV3, which
screens news, entertainment, documentaries, and sports programs.
Many affluent Ghanaians subscribe to cable television, the most
popular of which is Multichoice, which offers a number of channels,
including CNN and BBC World as well as cartoon, movie, and sports
Most Mission personnel bring TV’s, VCR’s and DVD players to post.
Ghana TV uses the European (625) PAL system, which is incompatible
with American receivers. In order to pick up Ghana TV and watch
Videos or DVDs, you will need a multi-system, dual-voltage TV, DVD,
or VCR (NTSC, PAL-B, and PAL-G). Be sure your TV, VCR or DVD are the
same type. AFRTS television programming is available to direct-hire
American personnel. If you wish to receive only AFRTS and watch
movies, your American TV (NTSC) will be sufficient. There is a
deposit (refunded upon departure from post) and a monthly
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
4/29/2004 11:22 AM
During your first days in Ghana you will discover the Ghanaian
media —g overnment-owned and independent, print and electronic. To
prepare you for the encounter, may we offer the following brief
introduction to Accra’s media scene:
You will find four government-owned newspapers on Accra’s
streets: The Daily Graphic, a Monday through Saturday tabloid. The
Ghanaian Times, also published Monday through Saturday. The Mirror,
a weekender published on Saturday by the Graphic. The Spectator, a
weekender published on Saturday by the Times.
Accra also supports a lively collection of independent
newspapers, which appear weekly, biweekly, or tri-weekly. Among them
are The Business & Financial Times, a commercial weekly: The Free
Press, an anti-government biweekly: The Ghana Palaver, a pro NDC
biweekly: The Ghanaian Chronicle, an independent weekly: The
Ghanaian Democrat, a pro-NDC weekly: The Guide and The Crusading
Guide, both left-of-center biweeklies: The High Street Journal and
The Financial Post, both commercial weeklies: The Independent, an
independent weekly: and The Statesman, a pro-NPP biweekly. Other
independents on the scene are the Daily Guide and the National
The newest media sign of the current constitutional era is the
flowering of electronic media. As of September 1999, there were a
dozen FM radio stations broadcasting in Accra (only one of them
government-owned), with another three dozen spread out throughout
the country, and roughly a dozen TV stations (some on-air, and some
cable) serving the three largest regional markets of Accra, Kumasi,
and Takoradi. The numbers have increased. In July 2003, 49 FM
stations, 10 TV broadcast stations and 12 Internet Service Providers
were available. Although many rural communities are not yet
connected, the expansion of services continues.
Health and Medicine
Community Health Last Updated: 10/8/2003 8:14 AM
Communicable diseases found at most posts in tropical developing
countries are endemic to Ghana. Take proper preventive measures to
avoid serious diseases such as malaria, TB, typhoid, cholera,
hepatitis, HIV, endemic fevers, rabies and parasitic diseases.
Malaria, including dangerous chloroquine-resistant cerebral malaria,
is an ever-present threat throughout Ghana, including Accra. It is
recommended that a rabies vaccine be obtained either prior to or
after arrival at post. Malaria suppressants must be taken regularly.
The recommended regime is weekly Mefloquine, now deemed safe for
children under thirty pounds and pregnant women. Contact Medical
Services for updates on preventive medication recommendations and
for a supply of available medication. Any recommended malarial drugs
not available in the U.S. may be obtained at post immediately upon
Strict cleanliness in food and water preparation is important.
All drinking water must be filtered and boiled. All government
housing is equipped with water distillers. Vegetables and fruits
must be peeled or scrubbed and soaked in an iodine or bleach
solution if they are to be eaten raw. All food must be cooked
thoroughly. Household help should undergo health examinations before
hiring and periodically throughout employment.
Due to the warm, moist climate, skin infections are common. These
can be avoided by scrupulous cleansing of even a minor injury. It is
unsafe to swim in fresh water streams or lagoons. Schistosomiasis, a
parasitic disease transmitted through the skin, is prevalent.
Rabies is prevalent in many animals in Ghana. If you decide to
import a pet, make sure it is inoculated against rabies. Veterinary
services are available and vaccine is periodically available.
HIV, the virus causing AIDS, is widespread. Transmission, as in
the U.S., occurs through sexual contact, contaminated needles, or
blood transfusion. Abstinence from new sexual contacts, use of latex
condoms, and HIV testing of any blood used for transfusion remain
the most reliable means of preventing HIV infection. The Mission
operates a “walking blood bank.”
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 4/29/2004 9:49 AM
All personnel and dependents should have typhoid, tetanus,
meningitis, rabies, hepatitis A and B vaccinations before coming to
post. Malarial suppressants should be started 2 weeks prior to
arrival at post. Yellow fever vaccination is required to enter
Ghana. You will not be allowed to enter the country without proof of
vaccination. Consult with the Office of Medical Services in
Washington, D.C. and have as many immunizations as possible before
leaving the U.S. All vaccines are not always in supply at post.
Bring a good supply of first-aid items, insect repellant,
sunscreen, oral thermometer, and basic nonprescription medicines to
post. The commissary stocks only a limited selection of such items
and supplies are spotty. If you use prescription drugs, bring
several months’ supply and a written prescription for ordering
refills from the U.S. Only a very limited number of American and
European drugs are available locally and are extremely costly.
A copy of your last medical clearance exam should be brought or
sent to post, along with other records from specialists you may have
seen for serious or ongoing problems.
Carry eyeglass and/or contact lens prescriptions with you in case
you need to order replacements. Some expatriates have had eyeglasses
reliably replaced in Accra.
Poor emergency facilities make seat belts and child/infant seats
essential. Bring these with you to post.
Persons assigned to Accra are urged to attend to all pending
medical problems before departing for post. Guidance should be
obtained from the Office of Medical Services to maintain a valid
medical clearance. Minimal supplies of equipment and medications
limit specialty care in Ghana. All of these factors may make
diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of a chronic problem difficult
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 4/29/2004 9:49
A number of program and support jobs in the Mission are performed
by dependents. In addition, the Mission occasionally needs temporary
clerical help during leave periods, illness, or seasonal rushes. As
a result, many dependents who want to work can find jobs within the
Mission, although not necessarily in their preferred fields. The
U.S. and Ghana have also concluded a dependent employment agreement
and dependents may seek employment on the local economy.
American Embassy - Accra
Post City Last Updated: 4/29/2004 9:49 AM
With a population of 3.8 million, Accra is Ghana’s capital and
largest city. It has developed into the Greater Accra/Tema area and
embraces several towns along the coast. Accra is Ghana’s major
commercial, education, and transportation center. Formerly a fishing
village, it became the capital of the Gold Coast in 1877 and
remained the capital after Ghana's independence in 1957.
Some 4,400 Americans live in Ghana, including U.S. Government
employees, business people, retirees, and missionaries and their
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 10/11/2004 9:57 AM
In August 1983, the Embassy relocated to the current Chancery
building, situated a few kilometers from downtown and the
ministries. It houses most State personnel, the Health Unit, and CLO.
The Annex Compound, about 1 kilometer from the Chancery, houses the
Consular Section and General Services Office in one building as well
as the DHS offices and GSO shops in a number of smaller structures.
The USAID/WARP Mission is located about 4 kilometers west of the
Embassy; the Public Affairs Section and Commercial Service offices’
compound is about 1 kilometer further away on the same main road.
The Peace Corps office is about 3 kilometers to the north of the
In winter 2004, construction will begin on a new embassy compound
Of the 103 U.S. direct hire employees, 44 are Foreign Service
employees with State, 3 with Public Affairs, 2 with DHS, 6 with DAO,
1 with ODC, 38 with USAID/WARP and 4 with Peace Corps. In addition,
the Marine Security Guard detachment is composed of 6 Marines. About
a dozen dependents hold Eligible Family Member (EFM) positions.
Approxinately 150 Peace Corps volunteers currently work in-country.
Street addresses and telephone numbers of U.S. Government offices
Ring Road East near Danquah Circle,
Tel: 775–347/8/9 FAX: 776–008
(Consular Section; GSO, INS)
Corner of 10th Lane and 11th Lane,
Tel: 776–601/2, 776–944, 776–775
4513 Independence Avenue
Tel: 228–440, 228–467, 228–482, 225–087 FAX: 773–465
Public Affairs Section and Commercial Services Office
Castle Road and Independence Avenue at Africa Liberation Circle
Tel: 229–179, 229–829, and 229–882
Switchback Lane near Akuafo Circle
Tel: 775–984, 773–831 FAX: 774–383
Embassy/USAID/PA hours are Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. –
5:00 p.m.; and Friday, 7:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
A Marine Security Guard is on duty 24 hours daily at the
Peace Corps hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
and 1:30 p.m. –5 p.m.
Payroll is processed differently by various agencies: State,
State FMA, PA, and regular, nonvolunteer Peace Corps employees are
payrolled by the Consolidated American Payroll System (CAPS) in
Washington based on detailed payroll data furnished from the
Regional Administrative and Management Center (RAMC) in Charleston,
South Carolina. AID employees are payrolled from AID’s central
payroll office in Washington, D.C. Direct deposit of pay is required
for all employees. State, PA, and Peace Corps employees transferring
from Washington, D.C. or a post served by RAMC, other than Paris,
may experience a delay of one or more pay periods in receipt of
earnings and leave statements and/or payroll checks if not deposited
directly to their checking accounts. However, base salary will
continue to be paid by CAPS. Adjustments to leave, overtime, and
allowances can only be made once the employee has processed in at
the gaining post and authority to pay has been requested and
All newcomers should notify the post of their travel plans in
advance. You will be met at the airport and assisted through
customs. Basic orientation briefings occur within the first week of
arrival and in-depth orientation programs are scheduled
periodically. All new arrivals are assigned a sponsor to assist them
during their first weeks at post.
Housing Last Updated: 10/11/2004 9:50 AM
Housing at post is good with a nice variety of residences located
in Cantonments, Labone and Osu areas. The post housing boards makes
housing assignments based on family size, availability and position
requirements. A 4-house compound, a 6-house compound as well as
single houses throughout the area offer furnished accommodations
complete with small yards with lush vegetation, lawns and 24 hour
guard coverage. The embassy in Fall 2004 is in the process of
leasing and/or purchasing several other locations as the American
Mission continues to grow. Houses are located within 10 minute drive
of all Embassy compounds.
Houses are equipped with refrigerators, freezers, washer and
dryers, microwaves, water distillers, lawnmowers, large generators
and water tanks. Houses are furnished with USG furniture including
sofas, chairs, rugs, draperies, lamps, bookcases, beds, dressers,
mirrors, end tables, dining room and master bedroom suites. Newly
assigned personnel should check with GSO. Welcome Cable also
contains additional information.
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 10/8/2003 8:21 AM
Permanent quarters are usually available upon arrival. If
necessary, temporary arrangements will be made at the Embassy staff
apartment compound or a local hotel.
TDY or WAE rover personnel are housed based on availability and
length of stay at either the apartment compound at BudField or at a
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 4/29/2004 9:53 AM
Housing ranges from fair to very good in Accra. Most personnel
live in government-owned or leased houses or in the Embassy’s
six-unit apartment compound (“BudField”). Three units are used as
permanent quarters and the other three units are used on an interim
basis for TDY staff. Except for a four, single-family housing
compound near the annex, all houses are on separate lots. No one
commutes more than 15 minutes to work and most commute 5 to 10
minutes. Twenty-four hour daily, unarmed guard service is provided
at each residence.
The staff apartments at BudField include (two) two-bedroom units
and (one) four-bedroom unit. All have balconies and servants
quarters. All the units have been completely renovated and
All housing units are constructed of concrete block or stucco
with terrazzo or wood parquet floors. Most have two stories with a
kitchen and living and dining rooms on the ground floor, bedrooms on
the second floor, and detached servants quarters. Many have large
gardens and/or covered patios.
Furnishings Last Updated: 4/29/2004 9:54 AM
All homes have living room, dining room, and bedroom furniture,
assorted end tables, coffee tables and lamps plus rugs and drapes.
The master bedroom usually has a queen-size bed, but twin-size can
be provided, if available. All homes are equipped with refrigerator,
freezer, washer, dryer, stove, a vacuum cleaner, a water distiller,
a microwave oven, and air-conditioners.
The residences of the Ambassador and the DCM are equipped with
representational china, glasses, and silverware. Service for up to
16 is recommended for those providing their own dishes. Lawnmowers
and garden furniture are usually available for issue, varying
somewhat from agency to agency. Check with your administrative
office for details.
A Welcome Kit is provided for new arrivals until their airfreight
arrives. The Kit consists of basic kitchen and dining supplies,
linens, and an iron and ironing board. As you pack your airfreight,
keep in mind that household effects often take several months to
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 4/29/2004 9:55 AM
All houses have hot and cold running water. Water shortages do
occur, so each house has a water storage tank. Electric current is
220v, 50 cycle. Power rationing is rarely required. Outages have
become less common but do occur from time to time and sometimes last
for several hours. All homes have diesel-powered generators. The
inconvenience and noise of the generators should be considered a
factor in post’s living conditions.
Up to five transformers are furnished at each
government-furnished housing unit. Bring voltage
regulators/stabilizers for expensive electrical items (e.g., audio
and video equipment, etc.). Both a voltage regulator and a UPS are
strongly recommended for computers. Electric fittings are British
three pin, some round and some flat. Adapters are available locally.
Screw type and bayonet light bulbs are usually stocked at the
commissary or are available locally. Have tape recorders and
turntables adjusted for 50-cycle current. Battery-powered or windup
clocks are the most practical due to power outages. When buying new
appliances, choose 220v/240v equipment. Computer equipment,
television sets, radios and stereos must be kept in air-conditioned
rooms to prevent deterioration.
Food Last Updated: 10/11/2004 8:59 AM
Mission members rely on the local market for their fresh produce,
seafood, poultry and eggs, meat, and a few other staples. Familiar
American brands are increasingly available, though with some
patience comparable items can be found for substitution. With some
exceptions (such as some vegetables), prices are generally higher
than U.S. prices. Common vegetables are cabbage, carrot, cucumber,
eggplant, garlic, green pepper, lettuce, okra, onion, potato,
squash, string beans, and tomatoes. Plantain, yams, potatoes, and
several varieties of starchy tubers are on the market year round.
Some excellent fruits are available year round or seasonally:
avocado, banana, grapefruit, lemon, mango, orange, papaya,
pineapple, and watermelon.
Two well-stocked supermarkets have opened in recent years and
have a wide selection of staples, fresh produce, meats, personal
care and cleaning products. There are poultry, meat and fish markets
in Accra as well as specialty foods, wines and spirits.
The American Employees’ Association (AEA) runs the Mission
commissary. Commissary membership is open to all U.S. Official
Mission personnel; a monthly fee of $5.00 is assessed. Purchases are
paid by U.S. bank check.
The commissary stocks a variety of staples, including canned,
frozen, and packaged foods; UHT and powdered milk; condiments; paper
and cleaning products; soft drinks, ginger ale, tonic, U.S. and
local beer, imported wine and liquor. Pet food is not sold, so if
you have a pet, ship a good supply. Baby food and products are not
stocked in the commissary; include it in your surface shipment.
Ordering from ELSO has improved commissary prices as well as the
variety of goods. The commissary will also place special orders for
Commissary members may place orders with several dry and frozen
food orders yearly. An additional charge for shipping and handling
is added. Some Mission personnel also use Internet web sites for
buying dry goods, diapers, pet foods or other items that can be sent
through the pouch. During the first year at post it is possible to
have freight costs covered under your consumables allowance. Most
personnel use their consumables allowance to ship large supplies of
paper products, cleaning supplies, toiletries, canned goods,
personal care products, and specialty items they may want while at
Some Mission personnel occasionally have vegetable gardens.
Certain seeds are available locally (e.g., cabbage, eggplant, okra,
onion, hot pepper, and tomato), and some imported American seeds do
well in Accra with amended soil (e.g., lettuce, field peas,
tomatoes, watermelon, lima beans, green peppers, and herbs such as
basil, dill, parsley, thyme, and rosemary).
The Government of Ghana runs one diplomatic shop in Accra and
foreign currency shops in several cities. Prices in the diplomatic
shop are generally comparable to or better than those in the
commissary, but the availability of goods is unpredictable.
Local beer is good, imported wine and popular drinks such as
Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite are available locally.
Clothing Last Updated: 4/29/2004 10:02 AM
Lightweight summer clothing is appropriate year round. Bring a
good supply for all family members; underwear, clothes, and shoes
wear out quickly and good quality clothing is unavailable in Ghana.
Cottons and cotton blends are recommended; fabrics that must be
drycleaned are not. For the occasional cool evening, a light jacket,
sweater, or shawl will suffice. An umbrella is essential during the
rainy seasons. A few people find light raincoats useful, but they
are not necessary. Swimsuits are a must and sun hats are useful.
Local tailors and dressmakers can make everyday clothes reasonably
well and at good prices. Western-style fabric selections are fair,
but African-style prints are plentiful. Many Americans shop by mail
order. The Community Liaison Office (CLO) has a large library of
Men Last Updated: 4/29/2004 10:03 AM
In the office and at informal events, men wear business suits,
“safari suits,” or short-sleeved dress shirts and ties. Senior
officers need at least two dark suits for evening and important
daytime functions. Dark suits are also expected at national days.
All types of shoes and sandals are worn. Hats are rarely worn except
at the beach, on the golf course, and on the baseball field.
The dress code is most often “smart casual”, business suit or
national dress. Formal clothes are used infrequently, except for the
annual Marine Corps Ball and an occasional Ghanaian event.
Women Last Updated: 4/29/2004 10:03 AM
In the office and at most social events, women wear dresses,
blouses and skirts, or lightweight suits. At informal evening
functions, women sometimes wear dresses or skirts, or tunics over
slacks, though short dresses are acceptable. All sleeve lengths are
acceptable. Senior officers and spouses of senior officers may need
a few dressy gowns for more formal functions. For other women, one
or two dressy gowns will suffice. Most women prefer low, open
footwear. Stockings are worn by few American women in Accra and are
not considered necessary even at formal functions.
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 4/29/2004 10:03 AM
Some essential nonfood items (such as cleaning and personal care
products, adhesives, film, and audio and videocassettes) are
available at the commissary or on the local market. Availability of
these products is constantly improving and prices are varied. Most
Americans ship a supply of such items to post or order them
periodically from the U.S.
Some items are harder to get here and should be shipped. These
include hobby supplies, sports equipment, beach and camping gear
(ice chests and barbecue grills are particularly useful), shower
curtains, dehumidifiers, anti-mildew preparations, lightweight
blankets for air-conditioned bedrooms, baby supplies (diapers,
clothing, food, and medications), toys, school supplies, and
special-sized batteries, such as camera batteries.
Basic Services Last Updated: 4/29/2004 10:49 AM
Local tailoring and dressmaking are reasonably priced, but the
quality of workmanship varies. Drycleaning is available at the
commissary with moderate to high prices. There are other outlets
available with varied prices including the local hotels. Shoe repair
facilities are basic and inadequate. Film and developing and
printing facilities are available in Accra. Some Mission members use
mail service to develop their film in the U.S. Barber and beauty
shop prices are less than those in the U.S. and facilities are
adequate. A full range of beauty treatments (i.e., pedicure,
manicure, massage, sauna, etc.) is available at reasonable prices.
Some stereos, radios, TVs and computers can be repaired locally.
However, spare parts are scarce and expensive. Parts are generally
ordered from abroad. Computer supplies are available, but quality
varies and prices are high. Mission members bring extra computer
supplies or order through the mail.
For information on car repair facilities, see Transportation.
The availability of a range of books is increasing with varied
costs. The bookshop at the University of Ghana at Legon (just
outside Accra) has an extensive selection of pocket books,
especially African fiction, at prices equivalent to or lower than
those in the U.S. Public Affairs and the British Council have
libraries that anyone can join. Some people join one or more book
clubs in the U.S or order through the Internet. The CLO office has a
collection of paperback books for borrowing and there are various
outlets throughout Accra where you may find a bargain in used books.
Domestic Help Last Updated: 4/29/2004 10:50 AM
Domestic help is readily available. Most Americans employ at
least one domestic. Those with representational responsibilities or
children usually employ two or more. Those living in houses may also
hire a gardener. A 24-hour guard is posted at every residence.
Often, the best way to get good help is to hire someone who worked
for a departing Embassy family. The CLO keeps a list of people
looking for domestic staff positions.
The following types of domestics are available: cook/steward or
housemaid (performs all household duties), cooks, stewards, nannies,
gardeners, guards and drivers. The salary range is $75–$90 per month
for a 5- or 6-day week, less for part-time work. Unfurnished
servants’ quarters are located in the homes. Employers usually
provide at least one or two uniforms per tour, and many pay medical
expenses. A bonus of 1 month’s salary is normally given at
Christmas. A “dash” (tip) is usually paid on special occasions and
for extra duty.
Religious Activities Last Updated: 4/29/2004 10:51 AM
Christians have no difficulty finding a church of their
denomination. Churches in Accra include Anglican, Assemblies of God,
Baptist, Christian Science, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Lutheran,
Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Seventh-day
Adventist and Quakers. The Church of the Latter Day Saints has
opened a beautiful Mormon Temple on Independence Avenue in Accra.
The Moslem Mosque is located in Korle-Bu. Currently there are no
synagogues available. However, there are informal gatherings in
At Post Last Updated: 4/29/2004 10:52 AM
The Lincoln Community School is a chartered private, coeducational
American school that offers educational programs from
pre-kindergarten (age 4) through grade 12 for students of U.S.
diplomatic mission families and others who desire an American
education. It is a Department of State-supported school. The
Director is American and there are 44 instructors, most of whom are
U.S. or U.K. certified. Enrollment at the beginning of the 2002–2003
school year was 416 students from 42 different countries.
Approximately 24% of the students are U.S. citizens.
The curriculum matches U.S. standard public elementary, junior
high, and high schools using American textbooks and teaching
materials. The school, established in 1968, is located in a
residential area of Accra. School facilities include 28 classrooms,
a visual and performing arts center, 2 state-of-the-art science
laboratories, a counseling center and administrative offices. The
library has modern computer equipment including Internet
accessibility via a radio link. A multipurpose hall contains a large
gymnasium, a stage and dressing room facilties. Playground space
includes two grassy playing fields with recreational apparatus and a
large playground with a multipurpose court. There is no cafeteria
facility so lunch boxes or small coolers and water bottles are
necessary; however, a lunch is offered each day, prepared through a
local restaurant. Each classroom has a refrigerator to keep
students’ lunches cool. Extracurricular activities include PM
Academy, offered through the school each marking period. Students
sign up for various activities offered that term. Additionally,
basketball, soccer, and taekwondo are available.
The Ghana International School (GIS) offers a British curriculum
from the nursery level (3 years) through grade 12 and beyond, for
those interested in studying for the British “A” -level exams. GIS
offers an extensive extracurricular after-school program for the
upper form (high school). Activities include a computer club,
aerobics, swimming, a yearbook, a school newspaper, drama club,
wilderness club, and art club. Libraries are small. Graduates from
GIS have achieved good SAT scores and have been accepted at
competitive American universities.
Away From Post Last Updated: 4/29/2004 10:52 AM
An “Away From Post” education allowance is authorized for children
in kindergarten through grades 12.
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 10/11/2004 9:21 AM
Mission personnel play softball, volleyball, tennis and golf.
Ghanaians like sports and play most of the above. Commercial
recreational facilities around Accra include an 18-hole golf course
at Achimota (on the outskirts of town); a 9-hole course at Tema
(30-minute drive from Accra), several tennis facilities, aerobic
exercise and workout facilities for members and non members as well
as a variety of sports clubs. Horses can be boarded at the Accra
Polo Club and at Burma Camp.
Currently, the compound at BudField has a swimming pool, tennis
court, volleyball court, and a large playing field open to all
Mission employees. Softball and soccer are played regularly on
weekends. However, a new embassy compound (NEC) project starts
winter 2004 which will discontinue use of these facilities.
Alternate facilities are being reviewed. The embassy gym has been
permanently relocated to the GOIL House adhacent to the Budfield
complex until the NEC is completed.
Many beaches can be found around the city and along the coast,
but the undertow can be dangerous. It is not wise to swim alone.
Boating and sailing are practical only at Ada, a 90-minute drive
east of Accra, at the mouth of the Volta River. Swimming in any
freshwater area is unsafe due to the presence of schistosomiasis (bilharzia),
a serious parasitic disease.
Bush fowl are hunted a few kilometers from Accra. Bigger game,
such as antelope and bush buck, are found in the northern region 500
kilometers away and in neighboring Burkina Faso. Hunting licenses
must be purchased each year for the season (December to August).
Chief of Mission approval is required for Mission personnel to bring
firearms into Ghana. Mission policy is to discourage importation of
firearms. Surf and boat fishing are possible along the coast and Ada.
No license is required for fishing.
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 4/29/2004 10:59 AM
Places of interest in Accra include Independence Square, which is
used for ceremonial events; the National Museum, which houses a
collection of Ghanaian and African cultural and historical
artifacts; and the Makola Market, where hundreds of merchants carry
on traditional commerce. Accra also has a small zoo and several
parks, but they are in poor shape. There are local handicrafts,
artifacts, African art, clothing, kente cloth, carved stools, beads,
jewelry, drums, brass, leather and various other locally made
handicrafts available at the Arts Centre Market and the African
Several enjoyable day trips can be made in the Accra area. The
beaches are popular, as is the 19th-century botanical garden in the
Aburi hills, a 40-minute drive from Accra. Just 110 kilometers
northeast of Accra is Akosombo Dam on the Volta River. Tours of the
dam can be easily arranged. The many colonial forts and castles
along the coast are not to be missed. One of the best is Elmina
Castle, 2 hours west of Accra, where guided tours are held daily.
Trips farther afield are possible, but require some planning
because roads are rough and tourist facilities are limited and
usually of poor quality. Pack food, water, and sanitary supplies,
and take a good first-aid kit, a spare tire, and even emergency
spare parts for your car. You may also want to take sheets and
Kumasi, capital of the Ashanti region, is a 3½ hour drive
northwest of Accra. It is the site of the National Cultural Center,
where artisans make traditional Ghanaian cloth, woodcarvings, and
brass weights. On Saturdays, the Center schedules music and dance
Ho, about 3 hours from Accra in the Volta region, has a large
market. Not far from Ho are the Wli Falls.
The adventurous may want to travel farther afield. Tourist
facilities are less than satisfactory outside the main cities, but
you will see a different way of life and find that Ghanaians are
friendly and hospitable. Overland travel is rough and slow. It is
possible to go to a few larger towns (Kumasi, Cape Coast,
Sekondi-Takoradi, and Tamale) and rent a car with driver once you
Lome, the capital of neighboring Togo, is a 2½ hour drive from
Accra. It has good hotels and restaurants, and is popular for
weekend trips. Côte d’Ivoire’s capital city, Abidjan, is an 8-hour
drive from Accra.
Photography buffs will find a wealth of interesting subject
matter here. Ghanaians are generally happy to have their pictures
taken, but ask permission first. You are not allowed to take any
photographs of government buildings or castles. Be cautious when
taking photographs in Accra.
The designated R & R point is London.
Entertainment Last Updated: 4/29/2004 11:01 AM
There are a few cinemas in Accra. The venue is mostly Ghanaian
and foreign films. The Marine House shows movies once or twice a
month. Public Affairs and the British, German and French cultural
centers occasionally show films. Many Embassy personnel watch movies
on video recorders or DVD players. VHS tapes as well as DVDs can
also be rented from local video centers. (Bring multisystem
[PAL/NTSC], multispeed equipment — see Radio and TV).
There are a variety of nightclubs in Accra and they feature a
wide range of music including jazz, disco, contemporary, highlife
and live bands.
Music, drama, and dance performances are scheduled frequently by
the Cultural Center, the University of Ghana, several other Ghanaian
organizations, and a few foreign missions. Several popular clubs
feature traditional music or dance groups as well as Western-style
Restaurants are numerous in and around the Accra area. You will
find a variety of Chinese, Lebanese, Italian, French, Thai,
Vietnamese, Korean, Indian, German, Mexican, and Ghanaian
restaurants to choose from. Prices range from moderate to expensive.
Food servers in the casual drinking bars or “chop bars” (which
serve Ghanaian dishes) don’t expect tips, but they appreciate them.
Some restaurants add a service charge of 15% to the bill, which most
Ghanaians consider an adequate tip. Few published sources of general
information exist, so most people rely heavily on word-of-mouth for
news on everything from where to shop to where to stay when
traveling outside Accra.
Many traditional festivals are held during the year with colorful
parades, dancing, and drumming. The festivals sometimes are built
around a “durbar” in which the paramount chief sits in state to
receive his chiefs, distinguished guests, and the homage of his
people. Visitors are welcome on these occasions. Picture-taking is
welcome, but request permission first.
Social Activities Last Updated: 4/29/2004 11:01 AM
Accra is an informal city where friendships are formed easily. A
good deal of casual entertaining is done within the American
community as well as among Ghanaians, and people of other
nationalities. Dinner parties are common. Other activities include
cocktail parties, luncheons, beach picnics, and dart leagues.
The North American Women’s Association of Accra is open to
American and Canadian women and women married to Americans and
Canadians. The Ghana International Women’s Club is open to all
nationalities, but membership is limited. Both clubs hold monthly
meetings and sponsor social, cultural, and fundraising activities
throughout the year.
There are many other organizations such as the British Women’s
Association (BWA), Caledonia Society of Ghana, Canadian Business
Association-Ghana, Ghana Bead Society, Ghana Muslim Women’s
Association (GIMWA) and the International Players to name a few.
Official Functions Last Updated: 10/8/2003 9:26 AM
The diplomatic community in Accra entertains frequently.
Attendance at national day receptions is often required of the top
two or three Embassy officers and heads of U.S. agencies. The
largest event is the Independence Day Celebration on July 4 in which
all American mission staff and spouses attend along with invited
guests from the Ghanaian government, diplomatic corps, local
businesses, religious bodies and media professionals.
Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 4/29/2004 11:03 AM
Calling/business cards are recommended for officers, as well as
printed invitations. Order business cards in the U.S. for better
quality. Local printing is acceptable for both raised lettering and
gold seal, but the service is slow. Check with the appropriate
agency to determine wording and necessary quantities.
Personal Security. While Ghana may appear to be a very peaceful
and friendly place, it is not a nation devoid of political and
economic problems, and one should exercise caution in daily
activities. Americans traveling in Ghana should remember that they
are in a high-crime environment and that the most effective means of
protecting themselves and their property is the liberal use of
common sense reinforced with a high state of security awareness.
Pickpocketing, purse snatching, and scams are the most common
forms of crime confronted by visitors. Crowded market areas,
beaches, parks, and tourist attractions are areas that are prone to
this type of activity. Carrying large amounts of cash or wearing
expensive jewelry is strongly discouraged. Men should keep their
wallets in a front pocket. Women should be extremely careful when
carrying a purse or a handbag. In the past few years, there have
been numerous drive-by purse snatchings in Accra. Purses should be
tucked under the arm and not carried with the straps over the
shoulder or around the neck. It is not recommended that credit cards
or bank cards be used due to increasing fraud.
Practice good security procedures at home and while away. Doors
and windows should be locked at all times. While driving, keep doors
and windows locked. Criminals have been known to reach into vehicles
while they are stopped at busy intersections. Cars should always be
parked in well-lit, secure parking lots. Avoid driving outside large
urban areas after dark. Police coverage on rural roads is scant and
poor road conditions and lack of sufficient lighting combine to make
driving conditions dangerous.
Report all crimes and suspicious incidents in which you have been
involved to the Regional Security Officer or to the Marine Security
Guard at Post 1.
FYI: Post 1 is manned 24-hours daily and will assist you in
reaching the RSO during an emergency.
Special Information Last Updated: 4/29/2004 11:04 AM
Post Orientation Program
On arrival at post, you will receive an information kit and basic
briefings in key sections. A Mission-wide orientation program is
scheduled periodically to familiarize new personnel and their
spouses with post operations, with briefings by section heads. The
CLO office is instrumental in providing welcome pamphlets and an
insiders guide to Accra as well as local maps and current area
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 10/11/2004 9:16 AM
Due to the “Fly America” policy, official transportation is
booked via U.S. carriers across the north Atlantic connecting with
flights daily to Accra from London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Zurich, or
Geneva. Most official travel between the U.S. and Ghana is via
Northwest/ KLM, United/Lufthansa or American/British Airways which
have “code share” agreements. Official travelers are met at the
airport and assisted through customs. Notify the post of your flight
number and arrival time; avoid arriving on a holiday.
Household effects take 2 to 4 months to arrive, and unaccompanied
airfreight about 3 weeks. The post supplies a Hospitality Kit that
includes basic cooking and dining equipment, bed and bath linens,
and an iron and ironing board, but essentials should be sent by air.
Most people find it useful to pack kitchen, dining room, bedroom,
and bathroom supplies as well as extra clothing, toys, a radio, a CD
player or cassette player, hobby, sports, and beach/picnic gear
including ice chest and blue ice. Bring 12 passport-sized
photographs and 6 visa-sized photographs of each family member for
identity cards, drivers licenses, and visas.
All freight should be well-packed, waterproofed, and banded to
protect against rough handling and tropical conditions. Full
commercial insurance is strongly recommended. When shipping a POV,
remove all loose items from the vehicle including first aid kits,
tools, glove compartment items, etc. before shipping. Do not pack
them in the trunk of the car. Pilferage occurs from time to time.
Address all personal effects to:
P.O. Box 194
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 10/8/2003 9:43 AM
All diplomatic personnel assigned to Ghana are entitled to
duty-free importation of articles for personal use throughout their
tour. Nondiplomatic, administrative, and technical staff are
entitled to duty-free importation of articles for personal use
during their first 6 months at post. Allowable shipments include
airfreight, POV(s), and HHE. Consumable shipments are also allowed
to post in accordance with applicable Department of State rules.
Limits are set on the exportation of Ghanaian currency, but none on
the importation of dollars, whether in currency or travelers checks.
Check the Department of State website at state.gov for the most
current information related to customs and duties.
Passage Last Updated: 4/29/2004 11:07 AM
To enter Ghana, all U.S. citizens must have a valid visa and an
international certificate of vaccination showing inoculation against
yellow fever. The Embassy will obtain a multiple entry visa after
your arrival if the initial visa is single entry. Visas are required
for Côte d’Ivoire, Togo and Burkina Faso and advance visas are
required for travel to other West African countries.
Check the Department of State website at state.gov for the most
Pets Last Updated: 4/29/2004 11:07 AM
Pets must have a recent certificate of vaccination against rabies
and a certificate of good health signed by a veterinarian not more
than 10 days before arrival. If the certificate does not have a
block that can be checked to clear the pet for international travel,
the words “international health certificate” must be typed onto the
form itself. Notify the embassy well in advance if you plan to ship
a pet. Fax copies of your pets’medical credentials to the post GSO
as soon as you have them in hand. Except under the most unusual
conditions, your pets should arrive with you on the same flight and
be checked baggage. Should the pets be shipped by airfreight, they
must be processed through customs and animal control at a remote
location of the airport where clearance procedures are much more
stringent and very time-consuming. Several veterinarians practice in
Accra. Rabies is prevalent in Ghana; however, the local vets can
administer the vaccine.
Check the Department of State website at state.gov for the most
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 4/29/2004 11:08 AM
The Chief of Mission may authorize the importation or acquisition
of personal firearms and ammunition by Mission personnel. However,
it is post policy to strongly discourage the importation of weapons
to Ghana by Mission personnel for personal use. Any employee who
wishes to import or locally purchase any firearm must forward a
written request to the Chief of Mission through the RSO. Such
permission must be secured prior to the employee’s arrival at post
or local purchase and will be granted only in exceptional
circumstances. Ghanaian law specifies that only single shot
firearms, manually cycled repeating firearms (revolvers, bolt or
pump action) and semiautomatic firearms can be imported. Fully
automatic firearms are strictly prohibited. Any firearm imported
without Chief of Mission approval must be turned over to the
Regional Security Officer until departure from post.
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated:
10/11/2004 9:12 AM
The unit of currency used in Ghana is the cedi. Currency notes
are available in denominations of 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, and
1,000. Also available are 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, and 10 cedi coins.
The exchange rate as of October 2004 was 9,000 cedis = US$1.
Official personnel may purchase cedis or request for U.S. dollars
daily up to a limit of $1,500 or weekly up to a limit of $2,500 from
Standard Chartered Bank which maintains a location at the Chancery
Monday through Friday with limited hours. U.S. dollar personal
checks drawn on a U.S. bank with a minimum value of $50 can also be
used to purchase cedis, U.S. dollars, or other major convertible
currencies from the Standard Chartered Bank or at licensed foreign
exchange bureaus. Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted, but can
be cashed at the Standard Chartered Bank or at some foreign exchange
bureau for a reduced rate.
Credit cards are not widely accepted, except at some major hotels
and restaurants. Bank cards for ATM withdrawals or payment for goods
are strongly discouraged due to increasing fraud and misuse. ATM
disbursements are in local currency so one must have a cedi account.
Foreign currency exchange bureaus are available in Accra. It is
wise to consult with several forex bureaus as exchange rates vary.
All the major banks and the larger hotels will cash traveler’s
Ghana changed to the metric system officially in 1975, but it is
not in universal use. Many items continue to be measured in the
British customary system.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 4/29/2004 11:13
A Ghanaian drivers license is mandatory for operating a motor
vehicle in Ghana. To obtain a Ghanaian license, you must provide to
the GSO section a copy of your valid U.S. drivers license and five
current visa-sized photographs. An international drivers license is
recommended for anyone who intends to travel outside of Ghana. To
obtain an international drivers license, you must provide the GSO
section with a completed form accompanied by two passport-sized
photos. You may also obtain an international drivers license through
AAA prior to departing for post; forms are available at the Overseas
Briefing Center at FSI. If you have a valid international drivers
license that was obtained outside Ghana, it can be used temporarily
while your Ghanaian license is being processed.
Locally procured third-party liability insurance is required by
law and covers only damage to a second party’s car and its
occupants. This coverage is good only in Ghana and payment is
limited; the present minimum is 10,000,000.00 cedis and costs
approximately $60 per year at 2003 exchange rates. Higher coverage
can be obtained on request. Temporary third-party liability for
travel to neighboring countries is locally available through the GSO
at reasonable rates. Driving conditions are hazardous due to poorly
maintained roads and vehicles. Mission personnel are strongly urged
to secure more comprehensive international coverage, particularly
collision and comprehensive coverage, through a U.S. insurance
Upon departure, employees can sell their vehicles to other
persons with diplomatic status or sell on the open market. Sales to
nondiplomatic personnel will require the purchaser to pay import
duties. Import duties are based on the value of the vehicle and its
engine capacity; smaller engines attract lower rates of import duty,
as bigger engines attract higher rates ranging from 10%–100%. The
Ghanaian Government confiscates vehicles over 10 years old as of
date of importation into Ghana.
Other personal property can be sold locally upon departure after
submitting Department standard clearance forms to the Administrative
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 4/29/2004 11:16 AM
These titles are provided as a general indication of the material
published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse
The standard history of Ghana is W.E.F. Ward’s A History of the
Gold Coast. Those interested in Ashanti history and customs may
refer to works by K. A. Busia, R.S. Rattray, and Eva E. R.
Mayerowitz. Perhaps the best account of more recent political events
is Politics in Ghana, 1946-1960, by Dennis Austin. A book dealing
with the same general period is David Apter’s Ghana in Transition.
Forts and Castles of Ghana, by Albert van Dantzig, is an interesting
description of castles built by European colonial powers along the
Gold Coast. Peggy Appiah, Efua Sutherland, Ama Ata Aidoo and Ayi
Kwei Armah are Ghanaian novelists of repute. The Beautiful Ones Are
Not Yet Born, by Ayi Kwei Armah, is a novel which gives a vivid
picture of present day urban life in Ghana.
Addae, Dr. Stephen. The History of Western Medicine in Ghana.
Assimeng, Max. Social Structure of Ghana.
Barker, Peter. Operation Cold Chop.
Bouret, F.M. Ghana, The Road to Independence 1919–1957.
Bretton, Henry. The Rise and Fall of Kwame Nkrumah: A Study of
Personal Rule in Africa.
Crowder, Michael. West Africa, An Introduction to Its History.
Fitch, Robert and Mary Oppenheimer. Ghana, End of an Illusion.
Lystad, Robert A. The Ashanti: A Proud People.
Mahoney, Richard D. J.F.K.: Ordeal in Africa.
Markowitz, I. Ghana Without Nkrumah: The Winter of Discontent.
McLeod, David. The Ashanti.
Moxon, James. Volta, Man’s Greatest Lake.
Nugent, Paul. Big Man, Small Boys, and Politics in Ghana.
Opoku, A.A. Festivals of Ghana.
Page, John D. Ghana: A Historical Interpretation.
Ray, Donald. Ghana’s Politics, Economics, and Society.
Thompson, W. Scott. Ghana’s Foreign Policy, 1957–1966 (a standard
Local Holidays Last Updated: 4/29/2004 11:17 AM
In addition to U.S. Government holidays, the Mission observes the
following Ghanaian holidays:
New Year’s Day January 1
Independence Day March 6
Good Friday Variable(April/May)
Easter Monday Variable (April/May)
May Day May 1
Republic Day July 1
Farmer’s Day Variable (December)
Christmas Day December 25
Boxing Day December 26