Ghana is a hospitable country and a model of peace and political stability in the West African region. It has a presidential system of government, with presidential elections held every four years. As in any foreign country, it is, however, important to know what to do and what not to do under certain circumstances. This guideline contains health and security guidelines to help you enjoy your stay in Ghana.
WHAT TO TAKE WITH YOU
- Malaria prevention medication (Malarone or doxycycline recommended).
- Mosquito repellent
- You may take along a radio or other electronic equipment, but note that Ghana uses 220 volts, not 120. Most bathrooms at the University Guest Centre and other hotels, however, have dual voltage sockets for driers and shavers. Remember to take along European-style adapters (a round one and a rectangular one) to plug into sockets.
Telephone: You may bring a cell phone. Best option is a GSM phone with a 900 or 1800 frequency (850 and 1900 frequency receive signals in North America). The device must be “unlocked,” and upon arrival, you can buy a local SIM card, register it, and buy units (credit) at your hotel or at numerous locations. A used phone can also be purchased easily.
Internet service is available at most hotels!
International Dialing Codes: Ghana – 233 / Accra - 302, 288, 289
To dial within Ghana, you need to include 0 for city code: e.g. 0302-555-5555
To call Ghana from the U.S, DO NOT USE 0 in the city code: e.g. 233-302-555-5555
To call outside from Ghana, dial 00 plus country code plus city code plus number.
You will not be able to cash any personal checks drawn on any bank while in Ghana. Travelers' checks can also be a problem. ATM's are common for cash withdrawals. You can also easily exchange foreign currency at Forex Bureaus (very common, with better rates) or at any major bank. It is recommended that you not use credit cards, which are not accepted at most places.
IMPORTANT: If you plan to take US dollars, take along only newer currency issued after 1993; exchange bureaus will not accept currency older than this.
To get into town from the University of Ghana campus, intra-city buses called “tro-tro” or local mini-buses as well as taxis are widely available both within the campus and at the gates of the university. A taxi from campus to downtown Accra costs about $US10.00.
University Hospital is located right across from the main gate to the campus. Also recommended are two private clinics in Accra: A) Lister Hospital, on Spintex Road, about 5 miles from Legon; B) Nyaho Clinic, located in the Airport Residential Area, also about 5 miles from Legon. Also good is the 37 Military Hospital, some 7 miles from Legon.
SHOPPING AND MARKET CENTERS
Convenience Shops: Several convenience shops are located on the Legon campus and surrounding areas. These include general grocery stores, card and gift shops, bookshops, pharmacies and hair salons / barber shops. The closest to the Guest Centre is an All Needs Store.
Others are the Central Cafeteria, The Night Market next to the All Needs Store (fruits, vegetables, etc. are sold here), Legon Mobil Mart (near the main gate), Legon Shell Shop (South Legon), Total shop (near the main gate), the Legon Bookshop (by the library), The Legon Bookshop (at the Jones-Quartey Building near the main gate).
Pharmacies: Pfago Pharmacy (Legon Hall Annex B, near the Guest Centre), Pills & Tabs (next to the Mobil Station near campus Main Gate)
Highly Recommended Market Centers:
- Tetteh Quarshie Circle [3 miles from campus] (local clothing, crafts and arts)
- Accra Mall [at Tetteh Quarshie Circle]
- Makola Market [Accra city center, a hustle-&-bustle venue]
- Accra Arts Center, next to Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park (a conglomerate of shops – local clothing, jewelry, arts & crafts…; similar to T. Quarshie Circle stalls)
- Oxford Street in Osu (grocery shops, fast-food joints and brisk nightlife.)
Note: when shopping in open markets, it is always a good idea to bargain down the price before paying for the item.
SECURITY & HEALTH PRECAUTIONS
- If possible, always lock your handbags/baggage. If the item has a shoulder strap, wear the strap across your body.
- Do not wear or carry expensive items, including expensive luggage. Do not wear attractive jewelry.
- Be aware of pickpockets, as they tend to prey on people who look lost or unfamiliar with their surroundings. Do not put valuables in the exterior pockets of your pants, your backpacks, or in bags that are open at the top. You may keep your wallet in your exterior pocket only if the pocket is buttoned. Hold on tightly especially to your camera and cell phone. On the bus, in taxis, or in crowds, hold your handbag or wallet tightly to your body (do not hang them loose).
- At the Guest Centre you may keep important belongings and money in a safe deposit box at the front desk or in the account office.
- It is all right to walk at night, but avoid dark areas. If you go out at night, it is a good idea to do so in groups. It is better to stay on heavily traveled streets.
- Beware of traffic; drivers in Ghana sometimes do not wait for pedestrians; they expect pedestrians to give way all the time. Avoid walking too close to streets or buildings. Walk against the flow of traffic so oncoming vehicles can be observed.
- At sundown everyday (about 5pm), apply your mosquito repellent if you plan to be outdoors or in hallways. Always keep your door closed to avoid mosquitos entering your room. Keep well hydrated, especially when in the sun. Drink bottled water only (not from tap or plastic sachets).