City Focus: Accra Ghana.
The vibrant city of Accra is the capital and largest city of Ghana. The word Accra was derived from the Akan word “nkran”, which means “ants”, a reference to the manner in which the native of Accra kept re-appearing like an army of ants during a war with the Ashanti’s. Accra stretches along the Ghanaian Atlantic coast and extends north into Ghana’s interior. Accra served as the capital of the British Gold Coast between the years 1877 and 1957.
Accra remains the economic and administrative hub of the nation. Its central business district is the seat of the Ghanaian government, it also houses the main banks and department stores. Economic activities such as the financial and agricultural sectors, Atlantic fishing, and manufacturing of processed food, lumber, plywood, textiles, clothing and chemicals all occur in Accra.
Accra typically stays warm and humid all through the year with the effect of the Atlantic Ocean. The average daily temperature of Accra is 30C (86F).Accra experiences two rainy seasons in mid-June and October. Warm and humid as Accra could be, the nights are mostly cool, The weather of Accra just inland from the coast is a bit more humid and slightly hotter.
The coolest time of the year in Accra is usually between June and September when rainfall occurs. Variations in temperature both annually and daily are small. The minimum temperature is around 23C (73F) warm and comparatively dry along southeast coast; hot and humid in southwest; hot and dry in the north.
Accra has an estimated urban population of 2.269.143 million people (2012). The Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) is inhabited by 4 million people, thus making it the second largest metropolitan conglomeration in Ghana by population and the eleventh largest metropolitan area in Africa.
Getting to Accra
The Kotoka Internatinal Airport, named after Lieutenant General Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka (1926-1976), a member of the ruling National Liberation Council who was killed in an abortive coup attempt. The Kotoka International airport, formerly known as Ghana International Airport is operated by Ghana Airports Company Limited and it’s the country’s first international airport.
Kotoka International Airport (KIA) has two passenger terminals.
International passenger airlines shuffling this airport include Egypt air (Cairo), Ethiopian Airline (Addis Ababa), British airways (London Heathrow), Kenyan Airways.
Getting around Accra
Road travel is the major form of transportation in Accra. The rail system is not very effective as very few people make use of it, its very uncommon to come across trains in the city
Resident mostly use their cars while tourists or residents who do not have private vehicles make use of the available public transportation system.
Getting a taxi in Accra is easy! The Ghanaian capital has an extensive taxi network and a lot of taxi ranks. The price system is flexible; it usually depends on the negotiation between the passenger and driver. This is so because most of the taxis lack a meter system. Metered taxis however also operate in the city, and are usually more expensive. Taxis in Ghana are painted in two colours: the four bumpers, fenders are yellow/orange, the other parts of the car are painted depending on the operators colour choice.
This is probably the most common form of transport in Accra, TroTros are motor vehicles repurposed for passenger transport. It is a very efficient and cost effective way of moving around Accra. The buses are usually minibuses or vans, the Nissan Urvan 15-seaters and Mercedes Benz Sprinter or D 309 vans are the most commonly used. These buses are usually decorated with flags and stickers of football teams, witty sayings, wisecracks, local proverbs (in English or local languages) and even Bible verses printed on the bus’s rear. They stop at bus stops or where people are gathered, and can also be found at truck and taxi stations.
The Metro Mass Transit Company was inaugurated in 2003. The newly introduced transportation system was to serve as a more comfortable and cost effective alternative to the trotros.There are more plans in progress to develop a more advanced transit bus system in Accra and its metropolitan area. This project is aimed at creating an “integrated, efficient, cost-effective and sustainable transportation system responsive to the needs of society.
The Monorail project was completed in 2012. It is to be followed by the construction of rail tracks in the following five years. The project is privately funded and is to be undertaken by the Intercontinental Development Corporation (IDC).
Where to go
Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and Mausoleum
The Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and Mausoleum was erected in memory of Ghana’s first President, Legend and founding father; Doctor Kwame Nkrumah. This intriguing park is built where Nkrumah declared independence in 1957. The park consists of five acres of land and has a museum tracing Nkrumah’s life. The centerpiece of the park is the mausoleum, Nkrumah and his wife’s final resting place. Lots of other personal items are on display. Events are held at this park at every Independence Anniversary celebrations on 6th March and the celebration of Emancipation Day on 1st August.
National Museum of Ghana
The National Museum of Ghana opened on the 5th day of March, 1957 by the Duchess of Kent as part of the country’s independence celebration. It is the largest and oldest of the six museums under the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board (GMMB). Objects from the Stone Age period to the recent historical past, regalia, indigenous Ghanaian musical instruments, gold weights, beads, traditional textiles, stools and pottery are all on display at the museum. The chair used in Kwame Nkrumah’s inauguration and the chair of the last British governor is also available. Exhibition about slave trade showing the brutal history, poignant relics like shackles are onsite. Objects acquired through exchange from other countries are also available; the senfu masks from Ivory Coast, Zulu wooden figures and bead-ware from South Africa, Ife bronze heads from Nigeria and Bushongo carvings from the Congo.
Located on the beach road in Accra Ghana, Labadi Pleasure Beach popularly called La pleasure beach is the busiest beach on Ghana’s coast. The beach is maintained by local hotels. All you need is an entry fee for those not staying in the beach hotels. Musical Performances usually from reggae, hip life, and playback often take place on this beach, especially on weekends or holidays.
Reggae DJs also play on Wednesday night near an open bar that is stocked with local and imported beer. High standard performances from live bands, acrobats that come from all parts of Accra and other nations are also available. This is a worthwhile trip for visitors especially if you are reggae, Rastafarian lover!!!
Kakum National Park
The Kakum National Park was established by the locals in 1992 after a survey of avifauna was conducted, although it has been a reserve since 1931. The park is on the coastal part of the central region of Ghana and covers an area of 375 square kilometers. The park is covered with tropical rainforest and it’s the only park in Africa with a canopy walkway which is 350 metres (1,150 ft) long and connects with seven three tops that provides access to the forest. You can find species like the Diana monkey, giant Bongo antelope, yellow-backed duiker and African Elephant. You can find an overlapping bird area in this park with 266 confirmed species. Kakum also boasts of having the densest population of forest Elephants in Ghana.
W.E.B Du Bois Memorial Centre
The W.E.B Du Bois Memorial Centre has a small museum of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois who was an African-American civil rights activist regarded as the ‘Father of Pan-Africanism”. He later became a citizen of Ghana in the 1960’s. He lived at the W.E.B DU Bois Memorial Centre with his wife and they were buried at the centre. The centre houses his personal library, a museum and lots of personal belongings like his graduation gown. The W.E.B Mausoleum is surrounded by a seminar room, a restaurant, an amphitheater, Asante stools and a research centre for Pan-African history and culture.
James town Lighthouse has a panoramic view from the top of its spiral staircase. The colonial-era lighthouse was built in the 1930s and though it doesn’t have ticket offices or gift stores, visitors can have the top view at the venue by paying a few cedi to available guides.
The Elmina Castle is a World Heritage Site. It was founded in 1482 and it’s the oldest extant European building in sub-Saharan Africa. The Castle is a key attraction in the country; it has strong links with slave trade. Enjoy a fascinating tour at the Elmina castle exploring the dungeons and stairways of the interior for a GH¢8 fee and some extra if you would take pictures.
Independence Square and Independence Arch
The independent square was built under Kwame Nkrumah for huge events and military marches. The vast area usually used for commercial events like concerts, fashion shows can seat 30,000 people.
The independence Arch stands as a representation of Ghana as the ‘black star of Africa’. The sculpture is right at the centre of the busy roundabout known as the Black Star Square. It stood as the flame for African Liberation and served as an inspiration for other African countries trying to attain independence.
Formerly known as the Christianborg Castle, the Osu castle reflects the history of the Ghanaian nation. It was built by Danish colonialists in 1659 on a land brought from a tribal chief in Accra. The site was renovated and used by the British as the British Gold Coast seat. Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana’s first president) also used it after independence in 1960. This site in past years has been claimed by force and by payment by the Portuguese, Swedish and Danish. At certain point in 1693, the Akwamu ethnic group occupied the site for months until their leader; Assameni sold it again to the Danish for reportedly 50 marks of gold ($350,000). The leader however never officially handed the key to the Danish and thus the fort is still in the Akwamu ethnic group’s possession till now. This site is a reminder of the slave trade activities that was carried out from the building; the building was also used to house slaves before they were shipped abroad. The road to Osu Castle is often blocked by soldiers but this should change since the government would move to the Golden Jubilee House.
Where to Shop:
Oxford Street Mall
Oxford Street Mall is a shopping Centre located in Oxford Street, Osu a suburb of Accra. The popular mall has a range of very popular restaurants, anchor shops, cinemas, banks, casinos and many more. Some of these occupants include MTN, shoprite, Unibank.
Arts Centre Market (Centre for National Culture)
Shop for lots of textiles, carvings, bags, musical instruments, jewelry and clothing at the Arts Centre Market. It’s a popular market frequented by tourists that desire to shop for arts and craft. It has a main hanger that leads into an outdoor market that posseses even more interesting treasures like metal ornaments, wood furnishing, antiques, drums and leather goods. Prices are negotiable so test your pricing skills!!
Regarded as Accra’s most dynamic commercial hub, the Makola Market is one of the most entertaining! The hot and noisy market offers kitchen wares, jewelry, shoes textiles and many more. Items at this market are displayed in various ways ranging from hawking to shops to baskets and even racks.
Koala Shopping Centre
The popular large supermarket is located at Dancquah Osu in Accra, Ghana. The supermarket offers a range of international goods, basic food stuff for the home, a bakery, glassware, linens, cookware, electronics and many more. The supermarket also has a car park outside.
The Accra Shopping Mall offers a range of local and international shop outlets, restaurants, bars and even a cinema. Here you can find clothing boutiques like Jil boutique, Kiki clothing, Levis, Puma etc. and fabric specialist like Vlisco and Woodin. There’s Barcelo’s and the upmarket bar and restaurant Rhapsody. Parents can have a break and let the kids go to the central play area.
Where to Stay
Root Apartment Hotel
The Roots Apartment Hotel is an award winning hotel located off oxford at the city centre in Osu Accra, Ghana. The luxurious hotel offers a fitness room, restaurants and bar, business center and Wi-Fi.
The hotel has 42 apartments and rooms all modernly designed, with a private bathroom. All rooms also have LCD TVs with satellite channels. The hotels self-catering apartments also have a fully equipped kitchenette, a lounge and a dining area. Excursions around the city and in the region are organized by the staff.
The guests in this hotel can relax at the sky Deli continental Restaurant which is located on the 7th floor of the hotel or the Purple Café where they serve their guest “fresh innovative smoothie recipes” at the lobby of the hotel.
A continental breakfast is served in the morning.
The Root apartment Hotel is a 5 minutes drive away from the Kinbu Gardens and the Achimota golf club is a 20-minutes drive away. The Hotel is also a 10-minutes drive from Kotoka Airport.
Movenpick Ambassador Hotel
This luxurious hotel is backed by 16 acres of palm studded grounds and an azure pool. The hotel has an onsite luxury shopping Centre filled with nice goods from fashion to art work. The waiters and staff are welcoming and pleasant. It has an onsite restaurant “Sankofa” growing in popularity. The restaurant offers a range of international flavours. The breakfast is rated the best in the city. Don’t miss out on all the splendid activities here, whether you are staying or not!
Where to Eat
Fall in love with the Ghana Kitchen Restaurant in La Palm Kitchen Hotel, Teshi in Accra. Have a lovely experience with the restaurant that is right on the beach. Try the deliciously made sea food splatter here and thank me later!
The popular Buka restaurant in Osu, Accra is rated as one of the best spots for lunch in Accra. The food is perfect consisting of mainly Ghanaian and Nigerian meals. Enjoy live music and good service here.
Santoku Restaurant and Bar
Santoku is a very popular and great place to eat. Known for its incredible food, effortless service and beautiful surrounding it is regarded the best restaurant in Ghana at the moment. The stunning flavoured signature dish of Sankou is pan fried scallops with foiegras and orange tobiko. They also offer mixed cocktails, designed by Hubert de Givenchy, regarded as the bar that mixes the cocktails in Accra. Don’t miss the Santoku!! (meaning Innovation)
Bistro 22 is new in the market, offering nice gourme burgers, local fish and more at the venue. The menu here is unique and creative. Try Malinesa, roasemary chicken and chicken satay. Sandwiches are available during break.
D café offers European meals like Iced cupcakes, golden pastries and crunchy bulging pannis . The treats are prepared in France and frozen then shipped for baking in Accra. Also find bresaola, parmesan and olive oil baguette in the calm environ of D- Café.
A must visit for sandwich lovers. All sorts of sandwiches are offered here, calorific chicken, cheese, bacon and avocado. Other meals include rice and chicken dishes, burgers and lots of salads. Fresh fruit smoothies are also made here.
Café Dez Amis
Café Dez Amis has a good environment with excellent meals at reasonable prices. The café makes its meals from high quality ingredients and is central around lots of embassies. The Café is also around the Golden Jubilee House and thus we expect market to sky rocket soon. Offering live music usually on Sundays. Good place to have a casual meal.
The yard stick restaurant opened in August 2014 and they mix American style diner food with Ghanaian spices. Menu usually features chicken, fried and blended with Yard birds spice shake, sspicy rice, cornbread, crispy fried okra and creole black eyed peas. Enjoy fresh Lemonade and alcoholic Moonshine milkshakes. Guest here also play games of football and can take pictures at the Yard Bird photo booth. The Yard Bird restaurant is from the same owners as Santoku so you know what to expect!!!