- Download our Moving to Ghana Guide (PDF)
New arrivals don’t need to be overly concerned with safety and security in Ghana. Violent crime rates are relatively low, and petty crime can often be avoided by simply being vigilant.
Ghana is relatively safe compared to nearby African countries, and as long as new arrivals familiarise themselves with relevant issues and take the necessary safety precautions, they should enjoy a safe stay.
Crime in Ghana
Despite Ghana’s reputation as a generally safe country, the country has seen an increase in pickpocketing and residential and vehicle burglary.
Due to their relative visibility and perceived wealth, foreigners will find themselves targeted more frequently than locals. Awareness of one’s surroundings is essential, especially in crowded marketplaces and when withdrawing cash from ATMs. Walking at night should be avoided where possible.
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. Pickpocketing and opportunistic crime are a concern, and there are certain risk areas where one should exercise extra care. When in a vehicle, doors should be locked and windows wound up.
Choosing safe and secure accommodation is a crucial aspect of expat life in Ghana. Gated communities and apartments with 24-hour security are popular among expats for enhanced safety. These housing options often come with additional amenities like swimming pools, gyms and proximity to international schools and healthcare facilities, making them a convenient choice for expatriates.
Driving safety in Ghana
One of the most pressing dangers in Ghana is the hazardous standard of transport infrastructure and driving behaviours. The country has a high road death toll, and it’s no secret that driving in Ghana can be a stressful experience. Many expats in Ghana hire a full-time driver, though this is a matter of personal preference, and many others prefer to navigate the roads themselves.
In an accident or emergency, gathering crowds are common and can sometimes hinder the effectiveness of emergency response. Expats should remain calm and seek help from local authorities. Having a local contact who can assist with communication is beneficial, as English might not be widely understood, especially in rural areas. This is an instance where a local driver would be helpful, as they will know how to handle the situation.
The roads are not always well-lit, and some are in a state of disrepair. Driving at night should be avoided, and those driving on main highways should stay alert in case of road difficulties.
Health and environmental hazards in Ghana
Preventative measures are crucial to maintaining one’s health in Ghana. Vaccinations for yellow fever, hepatitis A and B and typhoid are recommended. Malaria is endemic, and anti-malarial prophylaxis and mosquito avoidance measures are essential.
Waterborne diseases are also a concern; drinking bottled or boiled water and avoiding ice in beverages is advisable. Maintaining a good personal hygiene routine and being cautious with food choices, especially street food, can further prevent gastrointestinal illnesses.
Ghana is also susceptible to certain environmental hazards. Seasonal flooding is common during the rainy seasons, particularly in low-lying areas and urban centres with poor drainage systems. It’s advisable to be aware of the weather forecasts during these periods and to heed official safety measures to protect oneself.
Bushfires are also common during the dry Harmattan season due to the dry and windy conditions. These fires can cause damage to property and agriculture and can also result in road visibility issues due to smoke. It’s essential to adhere to fire safety practices, especially in rural and farming areas, to mitigate the risk of bushfires.
LGBT rights and attitudes in Ghana
Ghana has a conservative social outlook, and the legal framework concerning LGBTQ+ rights reflects this conservatism. The criminalisation of homosexual acts under Ghanaian law has led to a society where discrimination and prejudice against LGBTQ+ individuals persist. Expats belonging to the LGBTQ+ community should be aware of the legal and social landscape concerning LGBTQ+ rights, exercising caution in public and private spaces.
Community attitudes towards LGBTQ+ individuals can be less than tolerant, with societal norms heavily influenced by traditional and religious beliefs. While the urban centres might exhibit a slightly more liberal attitude, the rural areas are generally more conservative.
What do expats say about safety in Ghana?
"Almost all compounds have security staff, but this does not preclude theft from your house. Also, road safety can be an issue." Our interview with Chris, an Australian expat in Accra, gives useful advice on safety in Ghana.
"Ghana is generally a peaceful country and there are no dangerous or out of bounds areas. However, there are occasional armed robbery and petty theft incidents reported." Read dual citizen David's interview for more on security in Ghana.
►Read Culture Shock in Ghana to learn about Ghanaian cultural differences.
►Transport and Driving in Ghana provides information on the transport options available to expats living in Ghana.
Are you an expat living in Ghana?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Ghana. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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