Ghana at a Glance
Safety and Traffic in GhanaiStockphoto
If driving on your own is too risky for your taste, a taxi might be a better idea.
In part one of this article, we have already hinted at the fact that Ghana is generally a peaceful country. The crime rate is amongst the lowest in the West African region, and violence is fairly rare. In contrast to many other African countries, expats in Ghana have little to worry about, especially in the city centers of the large metropolises. Police presence made them safe places to be in. However, there is still the possibility of becoming a victim of theft or robbery, particularly in the early evening hours. Robbers use the heavy traffic to make away on small, maneuverable scooters or similar vehicles.
The international airport as well as empty streets in residential neighborhoods are also among the preferred areas for criminals, so be cautious. If you should ever be confronted with an armed robber, please comply instead of resisting, reasoning with them, or even engaging them. Apart from this, expats should not encounter many problems when sticking to common sense and the usual safety measures they are used to from any metropolis around the globe.
Scams and Fraud
While the credit card is undoubtedly an important part of the average expat life, you should try to reduce usage of your card to a minimum. Ghanaian criminals have all but mastered the art of credit card fraud, so it is best not to risk losing money in the first place. Other scams involve fraudulent business and employment offers directed at future expats via the Internet. Only use reputable job portals or, if possible, intra-company transfers when the wish to gather professional experience in Ghana. Do not react to unsolicited business offers!
We are sorry to have to state this next piece of advice: if you should receive emails and messages from a Ghanaian professing some kind of romantic interest to you, more often than not this is a criminal out for a quick scam. In fact, the possibilities of getting scammed in Ghana are manifold, so it is best to be wary of any unsolicited emails of any kind, or any offers that seem “too good to be true”: they often are.
The majority of roads in Ghana’s urban areas are well (or at least reasonably) paved and maintained. Outside of major cities, you can expect roads to be of inferior quality. Potholes, unpaved roads and lack of side rails are major hazards. Street lighting is often insufficient all across the country. This, coupled with the fact that drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and all manner of livestock may behave erratically or get in front of you unexpectedly, makes travels at night a very risky endeavor we recommend to steer clear from.
When maneuvering the city, you will quickly find that while the government does indeed give the streets names, hardly anyone uses them. It’ll be best if you try to find your way using landmarks or any other striking features of the cityscape for orientation. This is also the usual way to give directions.
If you will be depending on your car during your time in Ghana, make sure you acquire an international driver’s permit from the responsible authority in your home country. Other means of getting around do exist, such as public transportation networks, but they are often rather hard to grasp for the uninitiated and also rather daunting.