Ghana Country Report
Visiting certain regions of Ghana (population 26 million), a West African country located on the Gulf of Guinea, requires some precautionary measures to be taken by the traveler.
While security is good in the majority of the country, travel to the northeast should be undertaken with caution due to frequent ethnic and intertribal clashes (e.g. between herders and farmers), particularly in the Upper East region, the Volta region, and the Northern region, which are often plagued by land disputes. Such clashes have become particularly frequent in recent years, including in the west of the country. Consequently, curfews are regularly imposed to ease tensions, typically between 19:00 and 05:00 (local time); this has been the case in the Upper East region (town of Bawku), in the Volta region, in Yendi, and most recently in the towns of Bunkpurugu, Nakpanduri, Bimbilla and the areas surrounding Kpatritings, Bonbila, Borgni Boatarrigu, and Sakagu.
The interior minister, Prosper D.K. Bani, published a declaration on Novmeber 1, 2016, renewing ongoing curfews in the cities of Nkonya (west) and Alavanyo, Kpatinga, and Bunkpurugu (east). All curfews should be strictly adhered to; inquire ahead of travel if such curfews are in place in planned destinations.
As a precaution, the government has banned the carrying of guns and ammunition in the above areas.
In recent years, Ghana has become a major transit point for drug trafficking, particularly cocaine from South America and heroin from Afghanistan. The government has taken measures to fight against smugglers. The American Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has an office at the US Embassy in Accra, and works closely with the Narcotics Control Board (NCB), which coordinates government efforts against the drug trade. Anyone caught possessing, using, or trafficking drugs is subject to serious penalties, including long prison sentences and heavy fines.
CRIMECrime rates are on the rise in the capital and other large cities. Pickpocketing, bag snatching, and muggings are the most common crimes.
In mid-2016, the American Embassy in Ghana issued a warning regarding the rising crime rates in Accra. Assaults targeting foreign nationals have been reported. A number of Western governments advise against walking or traveling by taxi in Accra and its surrounding towns (Grand Accra) after nightfall, as well as in the cities such as Kumasi, Tamale, and Takoradi. In Grand Accra, it is advisable to avoid the working class neighborhoods of Nima and Jamestown at night. Bag snatching has been reported on shopping streets in the capital (Osu) as well as in residential neighborhoods (Cantonment, Ridge) even during the day.
Highway banditry in Accra is also increasingly common. Cases are most often reported in the following areas: Graphic Route, the George Walker Bush highway, the Accra Mall rotary (roundabout), the Awudome cemetery road, the Pokuase-Amasaman route, areas along the coast, and along the Teshie-Nungua route.
It is advisable to remain vigilant when traveling through Ghana, including in hotel rooms. Concealing any signs of affluence, avoiding heavily crowded areas (markets, parks, tourist sites), and driving with the windows closed and doors locked are recommended precautions. Never offer resistance if attacked.
Fraud carried out via dating websites is on the rise in the country. Western governments have issued warnings advising their citizens to be vigilant regarding the solicitation of money for various purposes (romance, friendship, business opportunities, the payment of airline tickets, hospital fees, bail after an arrest, etc.).
The French Embassy has made a list of higher-risk zones in the country as of late 2016: the Accra Airport, the city of Tema (east of Accra), and at the Aflao border crossing (Ghana-Togo). Travelers are advised to keep a close eye on their bags and travel documents (criminals sometimes pose as unofficial porters and taxi drivers). Travelers should also be vigilant while visiting Kokrobite beach (some 20 km [12 mi] west of Accra), as incidents of violent crime have been reported there in the past.
Travelers should be aware of the high risk of credit card fraud. As such, it is preferable to pay in cash when possible and to only use ATMs located inside banks during opening hours.
Acts of piracy in Ghanaian waters in the Gulf of Guinea are regularly reported: a Singaporean oil tanker was attacked there in July 2014, before being released the following month.
According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), the Gulf of Guinea is the only area in the world where the rate of piracy is on the rise; everywhere else rates are falling.
In part due to the regional security context and in part due to Ghana's contribution to the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA), travelers are urged to exercise vigilance while in the country due to the possibility of acts of reprisal perpetrated by terrorist groups; however, the terrorist threat is lower in Ghana than in the rest of the region.
Various protests have been held since 2015 to denounce poor governance at the federal level. During the recent campaign period, the incumbent President John Dramani Mahama promised to spark economic growth by introducing a serious of reforms and attracting international aid. The country's economy has been severely affected by a global decline in commodity prices (gold, oil) and poor cocoa harvests; gold, oil, and cocoa are country's three main exports. In 2015, the GDP per inhabitants rose by only 3 percent.
Heavily criticized for his inability to manage economic issues (fall in growth to 3.7 percent in 2015, regular blackouts, etc.) and fight corruption, Mahama was voted out of office in the presidential election held on December 7, 2016. The election took place without major incident despite the campaign period being marked by unrest. The election was won by opposition candidate Nana Akufo-Addo with 53.85 percent of the vote, ushering in a period of unexpected domestic stability to the country.
Roads in Ghana are in decent condition but traffic accidents are common, particularly on the main highways (e.g. linking Accra with Kumasi and Takoradi). Due to the absence of street lighting, driving at night is not advisable.
Illegal roadblocks are sometimes reported, particularly outside large cities. Assaults and carjackings are on the rise, particularly in the following areas: Graphic Route, the George Walker Bush highway, the Accra Mall rotary (roundabout), the Awudome cemetery road, the Pokuase-Amasaman route, areas along the coast, and along the Teshie-Nungua route.
Be wary of drivers claiming to have mechanical issues or flat tires as this could be a ruse to induce good Samaritans to pull over before being robbed. Be particularly vigilant to these risks in the above zones.
Generally speaking, always drive with windows closed and doors locked, be aware of your surroundings, ensure you are not being followed, and check that there is no one hiding inside your vehicle before entering it. In the event of an assault, do not offer resistance.
It is not advisable to use public transit, including private minibuses called "Trotros," particularly after nightfall.
Shipwrecks are common on Lake Volta. If travel by ferry is necessary, make sure that health and safety conditions are sufficient, i.e. that there are enough lifejackets and that the ferry's radio is in good working order.
Regarding domestic flights, a number of airlines connect Accra with Kumasi, Takoradi, and Tamale. Domestic airlines adhere to international safety regulations.
Medical infrastructure is lacking throughout the country and healthcare, where available, is generally poor in quality. All travelers are advised to take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance, covering emergency repatriation (necessary for any serious or urgent health issue), prior to departure.
Various mosquito-borne diseases are present in Ghana. All travelers over nine months of age are required to present a certificate of immunization against yellow fever to enter the country. Malaria affects the whole country and is one of the leading causes of death in Ghana (more than three million cases in 2014-2015). Your doctor may advise a preventive treatment for malaria. In any event, it is imperative to take measures to protect yourself from mosquito bites (use of mosquito netting, wearing long-sleeve clothing, etc.).
Tap water is not potable and diarrheal diseases are endemic in the country. Ghana is currently facing an outbreak of cholera, particularly the city of Cape Coast where 400 cases of the disease were reported between October 21 and November 2, 2016. It is imperative to only drink bottled or decontaminated water, to eat food prepared in sanitary conditions, and to wash ones hands regularly.
To avoid contracting a parasitic disease, it is advisable to avoid bathing or washing clothing in bodies of fresh water, as well as to avoid walking barefoot outdoors.
Rates of HIV-AIDS are relatively high in Ghana, and appropriate preventive measures should be taken.
Travelers to the country are strongly advised to have themselves vaccinated against meningitis. Ghana is located along the "meningitis belt" and outbreaks are common during the dry season (November to April in the south, October to May in the north).
It should be noted that two rainy seasons (April-May and August-October) sometimes bring torrential rain and floods that can cause significant damage to road infrastructure.
Swimming in waters off the Ghanaian coast is dangerous due to rip tides.
All foreign nationals residing in Ghana are required to register with the National Identification Authority (NIA) and to obtain a non-citizen card.
Permission must be granted before filming or photographing any public buildings. Beware of individuals posing as officials demanding money in exchange for authorization.
Smoking is banned by law in public spaces, with the exception of designated smoking zones.
The wearing of military uniforms as well as camouflage-print clothing is illegal in public areas.
Homosexuality is illegal; sexual relations between people of the same sex is punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
Ghana's climate is tropical. Conditions are hot and dry in the north of the country and hot and humid in the southwest (plains and forests). The rainy season lasts from May until October in the south and from June until September in the north. The ocean is warm all year long.
Useful NumbersCountry Code: +233 Police: 999 ou 191 Ambulance: 999 ou 192 Fire Dept.: 999 ou 193 Ghana National Fire Service: 66 49 37
Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz
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