is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office
at the U.S. Embassy in Accra. OSAC encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Ghana. For
more in-depth information, review OSAC’s Ghana country page for
original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of
which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC
The current U.S. Department of State Travel
Advisory at the date of this report’s publication
assesses Ghana at Level 1, indicating travelers should exercise normal
precautions. Exercise increased caution in urban areas, on intercity highways
after dark, and areas near the northern border in the Upper East and Upper West
regions, due to crime. Exercise increased caution in parts of the Bono, Bono
East, North East, Northern, Savannah, and Upper East regions due to civil
unrest. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding
the Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and
U.S. Department of State has assessed Accra as being a CRITICAL-threat location for crime directed at or affecting
official U.S. government interests. Violent crime is on the rise, including
armed robberies in expatriate residential areas. Most cases occur at night.
Nationwide, violent crime results in more than 500 deaths per year. Criminals
frequently carry weapons; the most prevalent are locally manufactured pistols,
rifles, and shotguns. Reliable sources estimate that there are 1.2 million unregistered
guns in Ghana. Victims of robbery should comply with perpetrator demands, as
resistance may cause the situation to escalate to violence.
crime is a serious problem throughout the country, and is especially acute in
Accra and other large cities. Pickpocketing, purse snatching, and various scams
are the most common forms of crime expatriates encounter. Most frequently,
criminals target travelers in crowded areas and secluded beach areas.
of opportunistic and violent crime are more likely to be targets based on
perceived affluence and/or perceived vulnerability, not based on nationality.
Avoid walking alone, especially after dark and in poorly illuminated or
isolated areas; doing so may increase risk of criminal targeting. Opportunistic
crimes targeting motorists and passengers in vehicles are common. Criminals may
exploit unlocked car doors or open windows to steal belongings from vehicles
stopped in traffic. Motorists should exercise caution and heightened awareness
if opening doors/windows to give money to beggars or street vendors. Review
OSAC’s reports, All
That You Should Leave Behind.
to tourist and historic areas of the country is popular and generally safe, but
highway robberies are common on rural roads, especially near border areas. Bandits
typically place obstructions in the road or simulate a crash/broken-down
vehicle to stop traffic to steal vehicles or belongings. There are occasional
reports of clashes between government forces and criminal groups, but these
seldom affect foreigners. Check with local authorities before venturing off
main roads into outlying areas.
Accra and other urban areas, thieves and armed robbers target motorists using
ruses to extort money. In some cases, robbers have intentionally caused minor
accidents or pretended to be hit to get vehicles to stop. Others have attempted
to “warn” drivers of a mechanical problem or flat tire. Maintain sufficient
distance between your vehicle and the one ahead while stopped in traffic to
enable evasive action and to avoid being in a situation where criminals box you
crimes against foreigners remain a concern, especially residential burglaries
and vehicle theft. Carjacking occurs sporadically; on average fewer than ten
incidents occur each month nationwide, half of which occur in Greater Accra.
There have been burglary attempts against expatriate residences, but
perpetrators generally lack the sophistication required to overcome home alarm
systems and security guards. Guard dogs have also been known to scare off
intruders. Robbers may wait outside houses to ambush residents as they enter or
exit the property. Review OSAC’s reports, Hotels:
The Inns and Outs and Considerations
for Hotel Security.
Ghana Police Service (GPS) has labeled certain areas as “flashpoints” because
of the large amount of crime, the lack of police presence, and other factors in
the area that make them dangerous for everyone, including the police. The U.S.
Government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens
in these areas, as U.S. government employees may not travel at night outside of
major cities. These flashpoints include:
City: Madina & environs; Adenta & environs; and Dansoman & environs.
Region: Adum & Asafo areas, and Ejura-Manpong-Yeji Highway
Region: Sankore; Hwidiem; and Kenyasi
East Region: Kintampo-Buipe-Tamale Highway
and Atebubu-Prang-Yeji Highway
Region: Kibi (aka Kyebi); Akim Oda; and Kwahu Afram Plains (usually highways)
- North East Region: Masia-Bulgataya Road
Region: Tamale (primarily robberies at fuel stations)
Region: Sawla- Damongo- Fufulso-Highway
- Tema City: Ashaiman & environs;
Community 25; and Golf City
East Region: Bolga-Wa Road
West Region: Sawla-Tuna Highway
- Western Region: Tarkwa
sexual assault, and domestic violence remain significantly underreported. Rape
is punishable by 5-25 years in prison, though police often lack capacity to
investigate and prosecute cases effectively. While domestic violence is a crime
punishable by up to two years in prison and/or a fine, police rarely respond to
reports of domestic violence. Avoid sharing itineraries with strangers,
including on social media, and be alert to anyone following you to your
accommodations. If someone is following you, proceed to a police station or
other public venue and do not continue to your original destination. Police
rarely respond to reports of domestic violence. Review the State Department’s
webpage on security for female
card fraud and related scams are common. Skimming, the primary means of credit
fraud, is undetectable until fraudulent charges appear on statements. Exercise
caution when using credit cards; a growing number of travelers have been
victims of credit card fraud. If you use a credit card anywhere in Ghana,
monitor credit card activity closely. Review OSAC’s reports, The
Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud and Taking
Four telecom operators offer mobile money transactions
in Ghana. Fraudsters have taken advantage of the expansion of mobile money
platforms to scam users of the service. Most scams involve someone alerting you
to a transaction “made in error” and asking to reverse the charges. Often the caller
claims to be an employee of the telecom company or a vendor with whom you have
recently transacted. Mobile money users should never disclose their PIN to
anyone, never approve any transaction they have not initiated, and call 100 if
you want to verify any information. This number connects to the customer
service department for any telecom in Ghana.
U.S. citizens frequently consult
the U.S. Embassy regarding questionable business offers originating
or claiming to originate from Ghana. Perpetrators of business fraud often
target foreigners, including U.S. citizens.
Such fraudulent schemes are now prevalent throughout West Africa.
Business scams typically begin with an unsolicited communication (usually by
e-mail) from an unknown individual who pitches a business opportunity promising
quick financial gain. These “opportunities” usually involve the transfer of a
large sum of money or valuables out of the country and the payment of a series
of “advance fees,” such as fees to open a bank account or to pay certain
taxes in order to complete the transaction; however, the
final payoff never occurs. The purpose of the scams is to collect money
from the victim through these fees. The Embassy has received reports of
fraudulent charities soliciting contributions via the internet or direct mail.
If you receive business offers or charity requests, particularly unsolicited
ones, carefully check out the requesting entity before committing any funds,
providing any goods or services, or undertaking any travel.
Email spear-phishing campaigns originating or claiming
to originate from Ghana also frequently target U.S. citizens.
Spear-phishers make contact under the guise of a business contact or possible
future business associate, and attempt to pass information via emails that
contain questionable links. Unwitting recipients click on these links,
compromising their email accounts and making personally identifiable
information readily available to cyber criminals. Many of these operations
link to internet cafés in Accra, with some cafés developing reputations for
certain types of fraud based on trends in schemes originating from their
location. Victims in Ghana have recently reported ransomware attacks,
common throughout the world. Take necessary precautions, including vetting IT
staff, preventing unauthorized access to servers, installing a virtual
private network (VPN), controlling administrator passwords, and updating
software and anti-virus programs.
Multiple variations of internet romance or friendship
scams target Westerners through various dating and social networking websites.
Scam artists use fake social media profiles, steal photos and identities from
other social media accounts, and swindle victims out of thousands of dollars.
Some perpetrators may claim to have a U.S. visa; often these are fake, even
when they provide images. The perpetrators, once in a virtual relationship,
typically ask for money for hospital expenses, travel expenses, visa costs, or
expensive gifts. Do not travel to meet internet romantic partners or friends
who have requested large sums of money; doing so may increase risk of
kidnapping for ransom.
In recent years, U.S. citizens have reported
substantial financial losses from questionable transactions allegedly involving
the purchase of gold and other precious metals. The Government of Ghana
maintains strict regulations on the sale of these natural resources; all agents
must have licenses and all transactions must be certified.
OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity
Practices for Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, Traveling
with Mobile Devices: Trends & Best Practices, and Satellite
Phones: Critical or Contraband?
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Travelers may encounter road conditions that differ
significantly from those in the United States. Primary roads are
generally paved and well maintained; however, side roads within major
cities and many roads outside of urban areas are in poor condition. Poor road
conditions may cause delays, making travel times variable.
Avoid nighttime travel outside the major cities due to armed banditry,
hazards posed by disabled vehicles, lack of street lighting outside of urban
areas, inadequate road markings, and the unpredictable behavior of farm animals
and pedestrians in the roadway. Daytime travel between cities is generally
safe, though armed robbery does occur on intercity highways, even during
Local drivers do not abide by the rules of the
road, and police enforce traffic laws unevenly, even in major cities.
Excessive speeding, unpredictable driving behavior, and lack of adherence to
basic safety standards for local vehicles are widespread. Many vehicles are
unlicensed, and most drivers lack basic driver training or insurance. Use
defensive driving techniques, including maintaining sufficient following
distances to avoid accidents.
On average, six pedestrians die each day in Ghana.
Pedestrians must maintain awareness of dangers at all times: large commercial
vehicles are slow to brake, vehicles may swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid
potholes, motorcycles travel between vehicles and on shoulders and sidewalks,
and drivers often pull out or turn despite oncoming traffic. Drivers should be
prepared to avoid pedestrian crossings and expect sellers and panhandlers to
mingle with traffic.
Due to poor driving conditions, unsafe driving
behaviors, and the poor mechanical state of many vehicles, vehicle accidents
are common and often result in serious injury and/or death. Reports of
vehicular fatalities over the past few years have increased. Emergency services
are limited or nonexistent in many parts of the country in case of vehicular
accident or breakdown. Drivers should carry emergency medical supplies, spare
tires, fuel, and tools on long trips, as emergency medical response may be
delayed and there is no roadside assistance. If possible, use convoys to
mitigate breakdown issues.
involved in a traffic accident while in Accra who cannot reach settlement at
the scene should report the accident immediately to the traffic police, who
will respond and conduct an investigation. Large crowds may gather at the site of an accident and
could become hostile and aggressive against those they perceive to be at fault.
If you fear for your safety, go to the nearest police station. Normal
investigative procedures require the police to conduct an on-scene
investigation, after which all involved parties go to the Traffic Department
for a vehicle inspection and provide details about the accident for a final
report. If possible, obtain the names and contact information of all persons
involved in the accident and note the extent of any injuries and damage; note
of any registration information (tag number) of other vehicle(s) involved;
obtain the other driver’s permit data; and give similar information or
registration/permit data to the other driver and to the police upon request.
Police routinely stop travelers at checkpoints, and
may search vehicles and passengers. Foreign nationals should carry
identification and documentation of their immigration status. Drivers must
possess an international driver’s license.
OSAC’s reports, Road
Safety Abroad, Driving
Overseas: Best Practices, and Evasive
Driving Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving
and road safety abroad.
Public Transportation Conditions
Public transport is unregulated and
unsafe. If travelers do use public transport, they should use taxis, not tro-tros (small private buses). Tro-tros do not meet Western safety standards
and often transport more passengers than is safe. Avoid communal and shared
taxis due to greater risk of robbery. U.S.-based rideshare companies offer
service in the cities of Accra and Kumasi, and are a preferred option for
public transportation. Factor public transportation safety into travel plans,
and pre-arrange travel with trusted transportation service providers when
OSAC’s report, Security
In Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
The newly constructed Terminal 3 at Kotoka
International Airport (ACC) has greatly improved the arrival and departure experience
in Accra. Only arriving passengers may enter the baggage claim area, and
drivers or others greeting arriving passengers must wait in a cordoned area
just outside the terminal main doors. Pre-arrange with your hotel or
company for transportation services from the airport, and confirm the identity
of drivers before entering vehicles; criminals posing as drivers have robbed
travelers. Taxi drivers have a reputation for taking newly arrived passengers on
circuitous routes and charging excessive fares.
Theft of luggage and pickpocketing occurs at the
airport. Do not leave luggage unattended. Ensure that identification documents,
wallets, and portable electronics are secure. Impostors posing as airport
porters and strangers offering assistance with luggage have stolen belongings.
Remain wary of unsolicited help unless offered from uniformed airport staff
with visible ID cards bearing their name and photo.
Armed robbers have targeted travelers leaving the
airport, including following them to accommodations to rob them there. A common
tactic is to deliberately cause a minor accident to stop a car and then rob the
occupants. If another car hits yours, or you suspect someone is
following you, drive to the nearest police station and report the incident.
U.S. Department of State has assessed Accra as being a LOW-threat location for terrorism directed at or affecting official
U.S. government interests. There
have been no terrorist acts specifically targeting U.S. interests or citizens
in Ghana. However, over the past year, terrorist groups have conducted a string
of attacks throughout neighboring Burkina Faso. Consult travel advisories from
the U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou prior to crossing into
Burkina Faso or visiting areas in close proximity to the Burkina Faso border.
Regional terrorist groups, including al-Qa’ida and ISIS affiliates in the Sahel have demonstrated their
desire and ability to conduct kidnappings and active shooter-style attacks
targeting Westerners. There have been multiple active shooter-style attacks on
locations foreigners frequent in West African capital cities since 2015. Soft
targets (e.g. hotels, resorts, restaurants), hard targets, security forces, and
areas of congregation could also be targets. Road travelers and foreigners
operating in rural areas have been the victims of kidnapping in Burkina Faso,
Mali, and Niger. None of the aforementioned acts have occurred in Ghana.
Religious, and Ethnic Violence
U.S. Department of State has assessed Accra as being a LOW-threat location for political violence directed at or affecting
official U.S. government interests. Ghana is a stable democracy that has held seven elections
since 1992, with three peaceful transitions of power between political parties.
The most recent election occurred in 2016. While there was sporadic
election-related violence, particularly between grassroots supporters of the
two major parties, Ghanaian politics generally takes place in a peaceful
context. In recent years, vigilante groups (politically affiliated gangs) have
disrupted local elections, public meetings, and court proceedings, and staged
protests at government facilities. The Government of Ghana has set up a
commission to address ways to disband political vigilante groups to head off
potential violence. Elections scheduled for 2020 may increase inter-party
tensions, creating a potential for increased political violence.
are common but generally peaceful, and there has been little serious or
widespread civil unrest in the past few years. Expect larger and more frequent
demonstrations in the run-up to the 2020 presidential elections in Ghana. Avoid
large crowds and demonstrations. Review OSAC’s report, Surviving
Ghana has numerous chieftaincy
disputes every year that generally involve competition over limited resources.
Some of these disputes have prompted episodes of localized
violence. Increase caution when traveling to the Bono, Bono East, North
East, Northern, and Upper East regions. Civil unrest due to chieftaincy disputes
can occur at any time. While such disputes are typically non-violent, the
likelihood for violence developing from a tribal dispute is greater
in parts of these regions. Travelers to rural areas, especially
in northern Ghana, should consult travel advisories before travel
and remain aware of the potential for episodes of unrest.
Critical Infrastructure Concerns
construction standards are often lower than those found in the United States.
These lower standards have contributed to building collapses, fires, and
Swimming in Ghana’s coastal waters,
especially along its southern beaches, is dangerous and strongly discouraged,
even for excellent swimmers. The ocean currents along the coast are powerful
and treacherous; several people drown each year.
Economic Espionage/Intellectual Property Theft
and pirated goods (including pharmaceuticals) are widely available in Ghana.
Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In
addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures
Personal Identity Concerns
criminal code outlaws “unnatural carnal knowledge,” which local authorities
apply almost exclusively to consensual same-sex sexual relations. This is a
misdemeanor in Ghana. OSAC is unaware of any prosecutions under this law within
the last two years. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI+
OSAC’s report, Freedom
to Practice, and the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based
law explicitly prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory,
intellectual, and mental disabilities in employment, health care, air travel
and other transportation, and other domains. The government does not
systematically or overtly discriminate against persons with disabilities, but
such persons may experience societal discrimination. The law provides persons
with disabilities access to public buildings “as far as is practical.” However,
most buildings, transportation, and educational facilities do not provide for
people with special needs. Because many streets are unpaved or not well
maintained, and sidewalks are not prevalent, individuals in wheelchairs or who
have difficulty walking face challenges. Review the State Department’s webpage
on security for travelers
Ghana has become a significant
trans-shipment point for illegal drugs, particularly cocaine from South America
and heroin from Afghanistan. Ghana has taken limited steps to combat illicit
trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. Trafficking has also
fueled increasing domestic drug consumption. The U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA) has an office in the Embassy and works closely
with the Narcotics Control Board, which coordinates Ghanaian government
counter-narcotics efforts. These activities include enforcement and control,
education, treatment, rehabilitation, and reintegration. Penalties for
possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Ghana are severe;
convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. The use of
illegal drugs procured in Ghana may have life-threatening consequences.
In 2019, Ghana experienced a string of high-profile kidnappings of locals and foreigners alike. Although it is too soon to tell whether there is a clear change in risk to foreigners, reports of kidnappings and other violent crime trends are always something to track. Proactive or particularly concerned security managers with personnel or travelers in Ghana may want to review their kidnapping-related measures. Security managers responsible for younger or inexperienced travelers may want to review common security practices and stress the importance of situational awareness in high-crime environments, particularly those that, like Ghana, may seem comparatively safer and welcoming of travelers at first glance. Review OSAC’s reports, Recent Kidnappings and Risks to Foreigners in Ghana and Kidnapping: The Basics.
Public smoking is illegal in Ghana.
The U.S. Embassy is aware of arrests for cigarette smoking in public places,
but has not received reports of prosecutions.
Ghanaian law prohibits wearing military clothing or
and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea present ongoing challenges for regional
Ghanaian law prohibits photography of sensitive
installations, including military sites, government buildings, bridges, and the
airport. Review OSAC’s report, Picture
This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography.
the State Department’s webpage on customs
and import restrictions for information on what you cannot take into or out
of other countries.
The emergency line in Ghana is 191. Reach
the Ghana Police Service Information Room (emergency services) at
+233-0302-773-906 or +233-0302-787-373, or use MTN/Vodaphone short code 18555. The Ghana Police Service (GPS) is almost
solely a reactive force and demonstrates only moderate proactive techniques and
ability to deter crime. Police often lack the equipment, resources, training,
and personnel to respond to calls for assistance or other emergencies. The police
have a poor record of investigating and solving serious crimes. Local police
may lack the resources to respond to serious crime throughout the country,
including areas of Accra. There is a visible police presence in Accra. The
Embassy receives good support from the GPS and the Special Police Units that
protect U.S. government facilities in Accra.
maintains a specialized Domestic Violence Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) to
assist victims of domestic violence, especially women and children. In addition
to its law enforcement responsibilities, the Unit can refer victims to medical
providers and counselors, as well as to community support services. Download
the State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.
any prospective security or private guard company for quality and reliability
when considering using their services
Medical facilities are limited,
particularly outside Accra. Find contact information for
available medical services and available air ambulance services on the U.S. Embassy
Carry adequate supplies of any needed
prescription medicines, along with copies of prescriptions, the generic name of
the drugs, and a supply of preferred over-the-counter medications. If traveling
with prescription medication, check with the Government of Ghana to ensure the
medication is legal. Review OSAC’s report, Traveling
Serious medical problems requiring
hospitalization and/or medical evacuation can cost thousands of dollars or
more; they often require medical evacuation (medevac) to a location where
adequate medical attention is available. Medevac services are very expensive,
and are generally available only to travelers who either have travel insurance
that specifically covers medevac services or who are able to pay for the
service in advance. The cost for medical evacuation may range from US$40,000 to
U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing international health
insurance before traveling internationally. Review the State Departments
webpage on insurance
Authorities require proof of yellow fever vaccination to
enter the country.
Mosquito-borne illnesses (e.g., malaria, yellow
fever, and dengue) are a significant problem; prevention of bites and proper
yellow fever immunization are important throughout Ghana. Before coming to Ghana, consult with your physician regarding
malaria prophylaxis and obtaining vaccinations. Carry
and use insect repellents containing either 20% DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon
eucalyptus, or IR3535; treat clothing and tents with permethrin; and sleep in
screened or air conditioned rooms under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets.
Meningitis is a concern within the northern parts
of the country.
Diarrheal illnesses, including typhoid fever and
cholera, also remain a concern, as are sexually transmitted
diseases, including HIV.
Tuberculosis, and Schistosomiasis are also prevalent. The CDC offers additional
information on vaccines and health guidance for Ghana.
OSAC’s reports, The
Healthy Way, I’m
Drinking What in My Water?, Shaken:
The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare
for Travel, and Fire
OSAC Country Council
Country Council in Accra is active, meeting every other month. Contact OSAC’s Africa
team for more information or to join.
U.S. Embassy Contact
#24 Fourth Circular Road, Cantonments, Accra
Business hours: Monday-Thursday, 0730-1700; Friday, 0730-1230
Switchboard: +233 0302 741-000
US Marine Security Guard Post One: +233 0302 741-775 (Emergencies
you travel, consider the following resources: