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

Subscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.

©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

we always look to the central GOVERNMENT for answers.we should look at the local levels too.

Ghanaians should show interest in local government system-Expert

Dr-Eric-Oduro-Osae

By Lydia Kukua Asamoah, GNA

Accra, Dec 19, GNA – Dr Eric Oduro Osae, Technical Advisor, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has urged Ghanaians to change their attitudes towards local government elections.

“Because everybody lives in a local government area and it is the local government that determines the kinds of structures that should be put in the communities. It is the local governments that works on roads, and works on your security and so you must show interest in the system”, he said.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in an interview in Accra, Dr Osae said:

“If you are not interested in your local government and are interested in only the national government you are doing a great disservice to yourself”. 

Expressing his disappointment over the low turnout at the just ended district level elections, he explained that there were four people who are very important when it comes to democracy and development; which are the Unit Committee member, the assembly member, the Member of Parliament and the President. 

“If you are not interested in getting good leaders to represent you in these four categories, development will delay, so people must be interested”, he advised.

He said it was not just enough to vote for members of the Unit Committee and Assembly Members, but “after you have voted, hold them accountable and make sure that they deliver. 

“Let them appreciate the fact that you have voted for them and you will be watching their activities closely and ensure that they will bring development to the people. 

Dr Osae said people should also be interested in what the assemblies do, because they collect their moneys in the form of taxes meant for developing their areas.

“Be an active citizens and not a passive citizen”, he said.

Explaining the work of the Assembly member, Dr Osae said the assembly member is like a local Parliamentarian who represent the entire electoral area at the District Assembly level.

“He is a facilitator of development, who listens to people and under the law, he is expected to consult his people before attending to assembly meetings so that he will know their needs.

“He puts the needs of his people on the table at the Assembly meeting 

“The Assembly member is expected to make by-laws for the proper management of the assembly’s areas of jurisdictions as well as to help in working with the people to increase revenue for the development of the areas”.

He said once elected, if any assembly member was seen not to perform to the satisfaction of his or her people, the people could recall him or her, through the petitioning of the Electoral Commissioner who would arrange for a new assembly member.

He said the Unit Committee members and Assembly members live within the electoral areas in the communities and operate at the Unit Committee’s office in the same area.

The Unit Committee members and Unit members are the first points of call when there were developmental issues, he said, adding, “they are “our messengers and the people who carry our messages to the assembly on our behalf.

He said technically, assembly members do not have common funds to carry out developmental projects, but they lobby and facilitate development so people should not have a higher expectations that an assembly member is coming to construct a school.

He said all assembly members are resourced with motor bikes to serve their communities and to attend meetings while  sitting and transport allowances are given to them when they attend assembly meetings.

GNA

Minister advised to attach seriousness to parliamentary emergency sitting By Ghana News Agency – May 4, 2019

The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye, on Thursday sent an apparent fatherly appeal and order to absentee ministers to report to the House to work during the one-week emergency call.

“Honourable ministers should please come and let us work upon the emergency matters duly before us,” the Speaker said, adding; “This is my order.”

The order followed the absence of the ministers of Food and Agriculture, and Aviation, who were scheduled to be present at the plenary on Thursday morning to lay some papers.

The House has been called for five-day emergency meeting. Running from Monday, April 29, to Friday, May 3, 2019 for some urgent Government Business including the suspended treatment of the Vigilante Bill.

It, however, had to join the rest of the world on May 1 for the International Labour Day celebration.

When business resumed in the House on Thursday morning, Minority Leader and Member of Parliament for Tamale South, Haruna Iddrisu, registered his displeasure at the absence of the ministers, with a reminder that the May Day holiday was over.

“It is not for us to get to an item, where you called us to suspend holidays and come and work and you are still, as I may assume, rightly or wrongly on holiday. They must be in the mood for an emergency,” he said.

It was then that the Speaker, Professor Oquaye, entreated ministers to treat the one-week emergency sitting of the House with seriousness.

“This is my order,” he declared.

An explanation by Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, to justify the absence of the ministers, however, did not go down well with the Speaker.

The Speaker said: “Honourable Majority Leader, I am simply saying let us make progress.”

It would be recalled that the Speaker, in his welcoming address to the emergency meeting on Monday, April 20, called for maximum cooperation from the leadership and members of the House to creditably discharge their obligations.

He had said: “I hope the Executive will also cooperate with leadership by ensuring dispatch delivery of information to the House and its committees.”

“Their presence to the House as and when needed should not be a matter of explanation but actualised indeed.”

EPA Says Ghana is not in position to enforce outright ban on plastics

Mr John Pwamang, the Acting Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the country cannot put a total ban on plastics due to the large number of plastic industries in the country.

“If you look at the kind of manufacturing system we have in Ghana and the number of people that are employed, it’s not practicable to be banned outright but something can be done to ban certain uses that creates the maximum waste”.

Mr Pwamang was speaking at a sensitization cleanup exercise held in Tema Fishing Harbour as part of the activities by the EPA to mark the 2019 World Oceans Day on Saturday on the theme; “Gender and the Ocean”.

The Acting Executive Director said, they focused mainly on plastics this year because it was the major issue that affects fishing business and the government was putting good measures in place to limit the use of plastics.

Mr Pwamang said EPA was targeting to stop the use of carrier bags in order to reduce the plastic waste in the ocean.

“The carrier bags are what we are going to target because carrier bags may be something that is very strong and can be used for long time but what we are having here are very light and we think that if we are able to stop the use of this carrier bags it can reduce our plastic load”, he said.

He said EPA has received a proposal from the Ghana Tourism Authority to do Marine drive behind the independence square area to make it beautiful and attract tourists.

Mr Pwamang added that, going forward, EPA would make sure that the Chemu Lagoon would not bring waste load into the ocean and would put out some sieves to prevent the plastics from getting into the ocean and also sensitize the people not to dump plastics into lagoons.

Mrs Joana Frances Adda, Marketing and Public Affairs Manager of Tema Fishing Harbour said, they were not happy about the presence of plastics in the sea because of the effects on the fishes.

She added that, research from the EPA and Fisheries indicated that some of the fishes swallowed the plastics in the sea, which was not good for human consumption.

Mrs Joana said, it was one of their responsibilities to get the ocean cleaned and they are ready to assist the EPA to keep the oceans clean.
She urged the public to keep the oceans clean from plastic waste.

The EPA donated five wheel barrows, 10 rakes, 20 shovels and 10 brooms to the Tema Fishing Harbour.

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