Ghana Travel Guide: Essential Facts and Information

BY JESSICA MACDONALD

Ghanaian Castle
Tim Cockrem/ Getty Images

As one of the most popular tourist destinations in West Africa, Ghana has something for every kind of traveler. From its cosmopolitan capital to historic cities steeped in Ashanti culture, the country is known for its urban flair; while its parks and game reserves are filled with exotic wildlife. On the coast, secluded beaches are interspersed with forts that serve as a reminder of Ghana’s tragic role in the slave trade. This is one of the region’s wealthiest, most stable countries – making it a great starting point for first-time visitors to Africa

Location:

Ghana is located on the shores of the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa. It shares land borders with Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Togo. 

Geography:

With a total area of 92,098 miles/ 238,533 square kilometers, Ghana is similar in size to the United Kingdom.

High Angle View Of Buildings By Sea Against Sky in Accra
Kwame Appah / EyeEm / Getty Images

Capital City:

The capital of Ghana is Accra, located on the country’s southern shore. 

Population:

According to July 2016 estimates by the CIA World Factbook, Ghana has a population of almost 27 million people. Akan is the largest ethnic group, accounting for approximately half of the total population. 

Languages:

English is the official language and the lingua franca in Ghana. However, around 80 indigenous languages are also spoken – of these, Akan dialects like Ashanti and Fante are the most widely used. 

Religion:

Christianity is the most popular religion in Ghana, accounting for 71% of the population. Just over 17% of Ghanaians identify as Muslim. 

Currency:

Ghana’s currency is the Ghanaian cedi. For accurate exchange rates, use this currency converter.

Climate:

Thanks to its equatorial location, Ghana has a tropical climate with hot weather all year round. Although temperatures vary slightly according to geographical region, you can expect daily averages of around 85°F/ 30°C. The wet season generally lasts from May to September (although in the south of the country there are two rainy seasons – March to June, and September to November). 

When to Go:

The best time to visit Ghana is during the dry season (October to April), when precipitation is limited and humidity is at its lowest. This is also the time of year with the least mosquitoes, while unpaved roads are usually in good condition. 

Canopy walk rope bridge in Kakum National Park
Jennika Argent / Getty Images

Key Attractions:

Cape Coast and Elmina Castles

The whitewashed castles at Cape Coast and Elmina are the most impressive of Ghana’s remaining slave forts. Built in the 17th and 15th centuries respectively, both served as holding stations for African slaves en route to Europe and the Americas. Today, castle tours and museum exhibits offer an emotional insight into one of the darkest periods of human history.

Accra

With a reputation as one of the safest capital cities in West Africa, Accra is a bustling metropolis known as much for its traditional culture as it is for its music scene, restaurants and nightclubs. Top attractions include colorful Makola Market (a great place to shop for souvenirs); and the National Museum, home of Ashanti, Ghanaian and slave trade artifacts. 

Kakum National Park

Located in southern Ghana, Kakum National Park offers visitors the chance to explore a tract of unspoiled tropical rainforest filled with fascinating animals – including rare forest elephants and buffalo. Over 250 different bird species have been recorded within the park, and there’s an excellent canopy walkway measuring some 1150 feet/350 meters. 

Mole National Park

As Ghana’s largest national park, Mole is the top safari destination for visiting wildlife lovers. It is home to elephant, buffalo, leopard and the rare roan antelope. If you’re lucky, you may spot one of the park’s recently re-introduced lions, while the birdlife here is also fantastic. There are options for vehicle and walking safaris under the supervision of a local guide. 

Getting There

Located in Accra, Kotoka International Airport (ACC) is Ghana’s main gateway for overseas travelers. Major airlines that fly to Kotoka International Airport include Delta Airlines, British Airways, Emirates and South African Airways. Visitors from most countries (including those in North America and Europe) will need a visa to enter the country – check this website or consult with your nearest embassy for further details on requirements and processing times.

Medical Requirements

As well as ensuring that your routine vaccines are up-to-date, you will need to be vaccinated against yellow fever before traveling to Ghana. Anti-malaria prophylactics are strongly recommended, as are vaccines for Hepatitis A and typhoid. Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive should be aware that Zika virus is a risk in Ghana, too. For a full list of medical requirements, check the CDC website. WAS THIS PAGE HELPFUL?

Ghana Gets $14 Billion of Orders as It Issues 40-Year Eurobond

Moses Mozart DzawuBloombergFebruary 5, 2020

Ghana Gets $14 Billion of Orders as It Issues 40-Year Eurobond

(Bloomberg) — Sign up to our Next Africa newsletter and follow Bloomberg Africa on Twitter

Ghana sold sub-Saharan Africa’s longest-ever Eurobond as part of a $3 billion deal that was almost five times oversubscribed.

West Africa’s second-biggest economy issued a $750 million tranche, which amortizes and has an average life of 40 years, at 8.875%, making it the highest-yielding sovereign dollar bond so far this year. Pricing was reduced from the initial talk of 9.4%

The government also sold $1.25 billion of debt with an average maturity of six years and a yield of 6.375%. A third segment of $1 billion has an average life of 14 years, yielding 8%.

Bids topped $14 billion, a person familiar with the transaction said.

Ghana said in September 2018 that it planned a century bond in dollars. While that didn’t happen, it did issue a $1 billion, 2051 instrument at 8.95% six months later. The yield on that dropped 12 basis points on Tuesday to 8.66%.

The latest offering comes at a time when the premium investors demand to hold riskier assets is rising, in large part due to the coronavirus outbreak. Spreads on emerging-market government dollar bonds have widened to 307 basis points over U.S. Treasuries, from 291 basis points at the start of the year, according to a JPMorgan Chase & Co. index.

Bank of America, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, Standard Bank Group Ltd. and Standard Chartered Plc arranged Tuesday’s sale.

(Updates from first paragraph with final size and pricing)

–With assistance from Maciej Onoszko, Yinka Ibukun and Alex Nicholson.

To contact the reporter on this story: Moses Mozart Dzawu in Accra at mdzawu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andre Janse van Vuuren at ajansevanvuu@bloomberg.net, Paul Wallace, Justin Carrigan

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

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©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Why Ghana Is Africa’s Top Candidate for an Economic


The country scores high on development metrics; it just needs to break free of dependence on commodities.By Noah SmithFebruary 9, 2020, 7:00 PM EST

On the road to industrialization. 
On the road to industrialization.  Photographer: Cristina Aldehuela/AFP via Getty Images

Every time a region of the world goes from being poor to being rich one country tends to be responsible for getting the process started. In Europe that was the U.K., which was the first to industrialize. In East Asia it was Japan. In West Africa it could be Ghana.

Ghana has a number of big advantages over other countries in the region in terms of geography, institutions and human capital. It’s on the coast and has plenty of ports that can be used to ship and receive goods. With about 31 million people, it has a large enough population to create a substantial domestic market but small enough that providing jobs and food won’t be too insurmountable of a challenge. Members of the Akan ethnic group make up about half of the population, meaning that Ghana has less of the ethnic fragmentation plaguing many post-colonial states. It scores well on international indicators of governance quality, freedomdemocracy, ease of doing business and corruption. Ghana has lower child mortalitythan its neighbors, indicating a relatively healthy populace. It also has a head start in terms of literacy rates and education:

The Education Advantage

These advantages have helped to make Ghana one of the fastest-growing countries on the continent. Although its 2019 growth rate ended up being only 7% rather than the world-beating 8.8% forecast by the International Monetary Fund, that is still very solid growth.

But to become the Japan of West Africa, Ghana is going to have to undergo a structural transformation. The country’s main exports are all commodities:

Too Dependent on Commodities


Specializing in commodities is not necessarily a economic death sentence for a nation. Ghana doesn’t have the resource endowment of Norway or Saudi Arabia, but with wise and stable policy it could aspire to the comfortable middle-income status of Namibia, Botswana or perhaps even Chile.

Indeed, Ghana in recent decades has done a good job of moving in this direction. Agricultural productivity has increased, which allowed many Ghanaians to move from farms to cities, where they have been mostly employed in the service sector. This has been a typical pattern in a number of commodity-rich developing countries. In a 2016 paper, economists Douglas Gollin, Remi Jedwab and Dietrich Vollrath found:

But the service sector isn’t great at creating secure, well-paying jobs. Much of thisemployment is informal and precarious. And a large share of the gains from the commodity boom have flowed to the wealthy, worsening inequality. Gollin and his co-authors find that the residents of so-called consumption cities do considerably worse than residents of cities with economies based on manufacturing.

Meanwhile, industrialization has proved to be a much more reliable path to national wealth. Manufacturing is less subject to the whims of global price movements than commodities, allowing for a more diversified and complexeconomy and — most importantly — it encourages learning and rapid productivity growth.

But when a country is strong in natural resource industries, it can be hard to ignite the kind of manufacturing boom that countries such as South Korea rode from rags to riches. Strong commodity exports raise the value of a country’s exchange rate, making manufactured exports more expensive. They also make wages in the industrial sector uncompetitive.

This helps explain why Ghana’s laudable efforts to switch to manufacturing haven’t yet borne fruit. The country tried establishing export-oriented special economic zones similar to those of China. But these ended up specializing in commodities rather than manufacturing.

Ghana needs to keep trying. One idea is to provide subsidies specifically to manufactured exports. If these subsidies were stable, reliable, large and long-lasting, they might tilt the balance of comparative advantage. This could include subsidizing wages for workers in export-oriented manufacturing; that would allow workers to earn a decent living while factory investors save on costs. It could also mean providing export-oriented factories with cheap dedicated sources of electric power, because generation has been a problem in Ghana. That would help make the country more attractive to investors from China, as well as a place where domestic entrepreneurs can flourish. Taking in skilled immigrants, especially from nearby Nigeria or the African diaspora, could also help build a pool of expertise that makes the country an attractive destination for investment.

The raw materials for a Ghanaian manufacturing boom are there. The country has entrepreneurial and innovative talent, as demonstrated by the introduction a few years ago of the first Ghana-made car. And both China and other industrialized nations are clearly interested in Ghana as a production base for the burgeoning West African market. To get there, the country’s leaders will simply have to refuse to be satisfied with the recent boom driven by commodities and urbanization. Ghana has enjoyed great success; sustaining that progress will require a new model.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Noah Smith at nsmith150@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
James Greiff at jgreiff@bloomberg.netNoah Smith is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He was an assistant professor of finance at Stony Brook University, and he blogs at Noahpinion.Read more opinionFollow @Noahpinion on TwitterSHARE THIS ARTICLE