Volunteer Guide to Ghana

Map of Ghana

About Ghana

Ghana is an African country situated on the west of the continent.  It is surrounded by Burkina Faso which is to the North, to the south is the Atlantic Ocean, to the west is Côte d’Ivoire and to the east is Togo.Ghana’s official name is Republic of Ghana.  It used to be a British colony which was known as the Gold Coast. The country gained independence in 1957 and was the first black nation in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence from British rule.

 

The population of Ghana is estimated to be about 27 million and Accra, the capital has about 10% of the total population.  Much of the economy is generated by agriculture and it is estimated that about 40% of the population work in this sector.

 

Ghana has a wealth of natural resources such as industrial minerals, hydrocarbons and precious metals. Also, it is an emerging designated digital economy and is also the largest producer of Cocoa globally. Ghana’s economy is diversified and one of the strongest in Africa. Ghana can be classified as a middle income country in which services account for 50% of GDP, followed by manufacturing (24.1%), extractive industries (5%) and taxes (20.9%).

Other regions in Ghana are the Ashanti and Sekondi regions and the major cities include Tema, Tamale, and Cape Coast.

Since independence, Ghana has been devoted to neutrality and is a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement. Ghana’s non-alignment means that it promotes international, political and economic co-operation, and is an active member of the United Nations and the African Union.

Ghana’s climate is beautiful as it is tropical and therefore you are guaranteed to have hot weather most of the year.

Ghana’s culture

Ghana is a very multicultural nation which includes a large variety of ethnic groups.  English is the main language and is widely spoken along with French.

Their culture includes a diverse mixture of practices and beliefs as there are over 100 ethnic groups, each with its own distinct language.67.1% of Ghanaian speak English, however there are over 11 other languages which are sponsored by the state: Akuapem Twi, Asante Twi, Ewe, Mfantse, Ga, Dangme, Dagbani, Nzema, Dagaare, Gonja and Kasem.

Native West Africans make up 98% percent of the population. There is also a new population emerging which includes Asians, Middle Easterners, Europeans and other recent immigrants.  Currently, the most significant immigrant populations in Ghana are Africans from other countries on the continent, Asians (Indians and Chinese) and Middle Easterners, particularly Lebanese and Syrians.

As Ghana has a large variety of ethnic groups, there are also many religions.  However, the main religion in Ghana is Christianity.

Ghana arts and leisure

Ghana’s cultural diversity is most evident in its cuisine, arts, literature, heritage, music, dance, clothing, and sports.  Ghana’s diverse population reflects its colorful history and its citizens who have populated the region from ancient times to the present.

Ghanaian dress consists of a ceremonial cloth known as the Kente which is traditionally used as the national costume. Kente is a hand-woven piece of cloth, which comes in various colors, sizes and designs, and many have different meanings, and are worn on important social occasions. It is not unusual to see the traditional cloth worn by many of the Ghanaian people today.

Hip life is the most popular Ghanaian music.  Another popular type of music is called high life. Hip life is a mixture of Ghanaian culture and hip hop and is also influenced by dance hall and reggae.  Ghanaian dance is globally well known for its various complex and coordinated movements of the arms, torso, hips, feet and head.

Football is probably one of the most popular sports in Ghana which is represented by the Ghana Premier League and the Ghana national football team, also known as the Black Stars.  They first qualified for the FIFA World Cup in 2006 and have won the African Cup of Nations four times.

About Ghana food

The Ghanaian cuisine includes a wide range of soups and stews and various seafood.  Every region has its own food specialties.

Popular dishes include Kenkey, Banku.  Kenkey is usually served with hot pepper and fried fish and banku is served with fried fish and pepper or with okro or groundnut soup.  Other dishes include fried plantain or tatale, omotuo (rice balls) served with palm or groundnut soup.  Banku is starchy food made from ground corn.  Banku and Kenkey are usually accompanied by some sort of fried fish or grilled tilapia and a very spicy condiment made from raw red and green chilies, onions and tomatoes.

The main types of drinks include asana or maize beer, palm wine, coconut juice and akpeteshie or palm wine.

Ghana education                                                                                                            

The Ghanaian Education system is quite good for a developing nation and basic education is funded by the Government.  Basic education is provided from the age of 4 to 15 and lasts about 11 years.  Basic education is mainly provided by public primary schools and public junior high schools.  With over 95% of its children in school, Ghana currently has one of the highest school enrollment rates in all of Africa.

About Gbawe

Gbaweis a town in the Greater Accra Region of southeastern Ghana, about seven miles from the capital Accra. The closest airport is Kotoka International Airport (IATA: ACC) with a distance of 10 miles east of the city centre.

Gbawe is a deprived community in terms of socio-economic amenities, has a population of roughly 44, 645 people and about 19,000 children under 13 years old.

Gbawe has one public school, and because of the problem of congestion on amenities, it is being run on a shift basis. Though there are a few private primary schools around, the fees are high and most residents cannot afford the tuition to send their children to school.

Visas to Ghana

You need a visa to travel to Ghana along with a valid passport.

Contact the Ghanaian Embassy or High Commission in your country to get information on visa requirements.

Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond stay in Ghana, with at least one blank passport page available for the Ghana visa stamp. The following website provides the required information on getting a visa for Ghana – https://ghana.travisa.com.

Additionally, on arrival in Ghana you will receive a customs stamp indicating the extradition date of your current Ghanaian visa (normally one to two months). Visa renewals are handled at the local Ghana Immigration office, and require two passport size pictures per application. PAAJAF Foundation will assist volunteers in extending their stay if required.

To obtain Ghanaian nationality, one must be naturalized after seven years of Ghana Card permanent residency.

It is advisable to take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.

Immunizations

The only immunization you are required to have for Ghana isYellow Fever. All the others are optional, and at your discretion, so talk to your doctor or travel medicine clinician about it.

The necessity or otherwise of the optional immunizations may depend on how long you intend to stay, and whether or not you plan to stray from the cities off the beaten path.

Health & safety precautions

You shouldn’t drink the water from the tap. You can purchase bottled water from most any shop, or pure water sachets on the street. Don’t buy water called “ice water” which is just chilled tap water in a tied plastic bag.

It is advisable not to bring or use your Credit Cards.  Unfortunately, credit card fraud is rife in Ghana. Don’t use your credit cards, even in big hotels.  Bring and convert travelers cheques or use the ATM, as cash is the best way to pay for your purchases. Only use your credit card at an ATM or at POS terminal, in which there are very few anyway.

Most visits to Ghana are trouble-free. However, there are incidents of crime, particularly in and around Accra and the other main urban areas and particularly after dark. Therefore, you should take sensible precautions:

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together – leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place.
  • Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.