Staying safe in Ghana is much the same as in any other part of the world when you travel. Stay safe by staying smart. Be mindful that you are in a different country where things are different. After all, we travel most of the time to see and experience those differences.
The following is the text from the UK Government and their advice about visiting Ghana. It makes sense, it is simple enough and it is reasonable to follow. Of course the chance of experiences any of these highlighted issues are as likely as they are in London with similar local issues. My one key advice is this, respect where you are and it will respect you.
Demonstrations in the capital Accra are normally well policed and peaceful, but sometimes they occur at short notice and can cause disruption. You should remain vigilant and avoid any demonstrations, monitor local media for up-to-date information and follow the advice of the local authorities.
Most visits to Ghana are trouble free, but criminal activity does occur and can range form incidents of petty crime to opportunistic crime, to violent crime such as robbery, burglary and serious assault that can include the use of weapons. Take sensible precautions. Avoid carrying large sums of money or valuables, use a hotel safe whenever possible and be particularly vigilant when withdrawing cash from ATMs.
Take care at public beaches and avoid going to the beach on your own. Theft is the main problem, but there have been isolated incidents of violent crime and sexual assault in areas popular with tourists.
Theft of luggage and travel documents occurs at Kotoka International Airport and in hotels. Make sure your passport is secure at all times and don’t leave baggage unattended. Be wary of offers of help at the airport unless from uniformed porters or officials. All permanent staff at the airport wear an ID card showing their name and a photo. ID cards without a photo are not valid. If you are being collected at the airport, confirm the identity of your driver by asking for ID. British nationals have been robbed by impostors who have approached them before the main arrivals area pretending to be their driver.
There has been an increase in street crime in Accra. If you’re visiting Accra you should be vigilant, particularly at night. Avoid travelling alone and where possible try not to walk to and from destinations. There have been cases of violent robberies involving foreign nationals who have been attacked and robbed at gun point.
There has been an increase in petty crime, like pick pocketing, bag snatching and opportunistic theft on certain roads in Accra. The main areas of risk highlighted by the police are: Graphic Road, George Walker Bush Highway, Accra Mall Roundabout, Awundome Cemetary Road, Pokuase-Amasaman Road, Teshi-Nunga road, Labadi beach area and the Kokrobite beach area. You should be especially vigilant in these areas; keep windows up and vehicle doors locked.
If you’re unlucky enough to be caught up in an armed robbery, you should immediately comply with the attackers’ demands. Those who have suffered injury or worse during such attacks have been perceived as not complying fully or quickly enough.
Most armed robberies occur at night though some incidents have happened during daytime. Be vigilant and drive with doors locked.
Make sure you lock windows and secure accommodation both at night and before you go out. There have been cases of burglaries in areas used by the international community living overseas, including Airport Residential, Cantonments, Ridge and Kokrobite.
British nationals are increasingly being targeted by scam artists operating in West Africa. The scams come in many forms – romance and friendship, business ventures, work and employment opportunities, and can pose great financial risk to victims. You should treat with considerable caution any requests for funds, a job offer, a business venture or a face to face meeting from someone you have been in correspondence with over the internet who lives in West Africa.
If you or your relatives or friends are asked to transfer money to Ghana you should make absolutely sure that it is not part of a scam and that you have properly checked with the person receiving the money that they are requesting it. If the caller claims to be in distress, you should ask whether they have reported the incident (by phone or e-mail) to the British High Commission in Accra.
If you have sent money to someone you believe has scammed you and are contacted by a police officer for more money to help get your money back, then this is possibly another part of the scam. Scam artists have also been known to use the identity of officials at the British High Commission in Accra. If you receive an email from someone claiming to be an official at the British High Commission, contact the officer using the phone numbers or contact details for the British High Commission.
As a result of occasional local Chieftaincy, land disputes and political tension, isolated inter-ethnic violence and civil unrest can occur at any time; specifically but not exclusively in the Northern, Upper East and Volta Regions.
There remains a risk of localised civil unrest in Yendi, Tamale and surrounding areas after the conclusion of Chieftaincy funerals. The government has imposed a 6pm to 6am curfew in Yendi Township to maintain peace and security. If you’re in these areas, you should remain vigilant, exercise caution and follow the advice of local authorities, given the risk of localised civil unrest. When there’s unrest, it’s normal practice for local police to impose curfews that usually run from 7pm to 5am but these times can vary.
Over the last 2 years there has been violence and unrest in Bimbilla and Bolgatanga which has resulted in the deaths of several people. There have been periodic government curfews on conflict areas over this period, including Bimbilla, Alavanyo and Nkonya townships, Nakpanduri and the surrounding communities of Kpatritings, Bonbila, Borgni Boatarrigu and Sakagu. If you’re visiting the area, check local advice about curfew times before you travel.
If you’re travelling to the Northern Region, remain alert to the potential for new outbreaks of fighting. Keep in touch with daily developments through the local media.
Flooding is common in the upper west, upper east and northern regions during the rainy season (March to November). You should monitor local weather reports and expect difficulties when travelling to affected areas during this season.
You can drive in Ghana using an International Driving Permit or a local driving licence. A UK driving licence is not valid. If you’re applying for a local driving licence from the Ghana DVLA, you must get your UK driving licence authenticated by the UK DVLA. You should carry your driving licence or International Driving Permit with you at all times when driving.
Roads are mainly in a poor condition, particularly in rural areas. Street lighting is poor or non-existent. Avoid travelling by road outside the main towns after dark, when the risk of accidents and robbery is greater. Grass or leaves strewn in the road often means an accident or other hazard ahead. If you choose to drive at night be aware of impromptu police checkpoints.
Safety standards on small private buses, known as ‘Tro-Tros’ and taxis are often low. Don’t use ‘Tro-Tros’ outside the major towns and cities. Avoid travelling alone in taxis after dark.
The FCO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.
A list of recent incidents and accidents can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.
In 2006 the International Civil Aviation Organisation carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Ghana.
There have been attacks against ships in and around Accra’s waters. Be vigilant and take appropriate precautions.
Swimming is dangerous on the beaches along the southern coast of Ghana due to rip tides and undertows.