Safety in Ghana
- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Ghana Guide (PDF)
New arrivals don't have to be overly concerned with safety and security in Ghana. Violent crime rates are relatively low and petty crime can often be avoided simply by being aware of one's surroundings.
Ghana is one of the safest countries in Africa, and as long as new arrivals familiarise themselves with relevant issues and take the necessary safety precautions, they should enjoy their time there.
Crime in Ghana
Despite Ghana's reputation of being a generally safe country, the influx of people into the cities with limited chances of gainful employment have increased instances of pickpocketing, residential burglary and vehicle burglary.
The police and judicial system are both ill-equipped and too corrupt to cope with these crimes. Due to their relative visibility and presumed wealth, foreigners will find themselves targeted more often than locals. It is important to be aware of one's surroundings, especially in crowded marketplaces.
Although Ghana’s history of equal rights may not be on par with that of a developed country, there is no special concern for women’s safety. Modest dress is advisable yet definitely not adhered to, especially in cities, and harassment is not common. Many local women tend to leave the traditional garb at home in favour of jeans and a T-shirt.
Although some foreigners in Ghana live in guarded gated communities, it is perfectly safe to live in stand-alone houses in most areas. Many expats hire either independent guards and/or set up an alarm system in their house. This is mostly for precautionary reasons, as break-ins are quite rare.
Ghanaians are renowned for being friendly and helpful toward foreigners, but it is best to keep overly-friendly strangers at arm's length, as petty crime and scams are increasingly common.
Driving safety in Ghana
One of the most pressing dangers in Ghana is the poor standard of driving. The country has one of the highest road death tolls in the world, and it is no secret that driving in Ghana can be a stressful experience.
It's fairly common for unlicensed drivers to charge down the road with little regard for safety. Taxi and bus drivers are also quite reckless and ignore many basic road rules.
Many expats in Ghana hire a full-time driver, though this is a matter of personal preference as many others prefer to use their own skills to navigate the roads. One safety issue that foreigners driving in Ghana should consider is that any crowds that form after an accident often involve themselves in the situation, which can complicate matters. In these cases, an expat can be vulnerable if driving alone without knowledge of the local language. A local driver can take charge in these situations, and a swift exit is usually best.
The roads are also not always lit and may be in a state of disrepair in some areas. For this reason, driving at night should be avoided and those driving on main highways should stay alert in case there are any road difficulties.
Police in Ghana are known to rarely enforce traffic laws. Traffic lights in Ghana are also usually broken, making for harrowing intersections. Expats driving in Ghana should exercise extreme caution and drive defensively at all times. It is often worth buying (or negotiating as part of a contract package) a large SUV that has a high standard of safety.
As child safety seats are not commonly used by locals, it is a good idea for those with young children to bring a children's car seat from overseas.