Accra is the capital city of Ghana, the first country to gain independence in sub-Saharan Africa and also considered as the gateway to Africa. Accra is inhabited by about 4 million people out of the nation’s population of about 29.6 million as at 2018. The capital city can be considered as the most diversely populated in the country. It is revealed that 45% of residents in Accra are African immigrants from countries across the African continent. Fifty-one (51%) of the population are females, and 56% of the population are under 24 years of age, making Accra a very youthful city. The indigenous people of Accra are the Ga people.The name of Accra in the Ga language is Ga or Gaga, the same name as that of the Ga people. The Ga group arrived by sea and when the Guan people on the coast saw them on their canoes at sea, they looked like ants. Hence, the Guans refer to them as “Nkran” (ants). Nkran was later corrupted by the Danes (who at the time were colonial masters) to Akra, then to present-day Accra.
Accra is one of Africa’s largest cities undergoing one of the continent’s fastest rates of urbanization. The introduction of cocoa to Ghana by Tetteh Quarshie in 1879 has been a breakthrough in Ghana’s economy. Cocoa contributes 25% to Ghana’s GDP. In 2014/2015 seasonal year, the total amount of cocoa produced in the world was 3,327,000 tons, with Ghana producing 740,000 tons of the total quantity. The Cocoa Processing Company located in Tema in the Greater-Accra region of Ghana claims to probably be the only factory in the world that processes only the choicest premium Ghana cocoa beans without any blending.
Accra is the administrative, economic and educational centre of Ghana which accommodates the head offices of most banks, trading firms and international organizations.
Relying heavily on the service sector, Accra’s economy is about $3 billion, or 10 percent of Ghana’s GDP overall. With most of Accra’s residents engaged with the informal sector, these activities comprise a crucial portion of the overall economy.
Ghana has been ranked by the World Bank as one of the countries with the fastest growing GDP in the world. This is as a result of a surge in oil and gas production. The oil and gas surge of about 80.4% accounted for almost one-fourth of the economy. However, Accra is home to the service sector which is the anchor of Ghana’s economy ( $43 billion). The sectors of Accra’s economy consist of the primary, secondary (manufacturing, electricity, gas, water, construction) and tertiary sectors (supermarkets, shopping malls, hotel, restaurant, transportation, storage, communication, financial inter-mediation, real estate service, public administration, education, health and other social services). Today, Accra is one of the wealthiest and most modern cities on the African continent with a high quality of living by African standards. In 2010, the Globalization and World Cities Research Network think tank designated Accra as a Gamma level world city, indicating a growing level of international influence and connectedness.
There is never a dull moment for residents in Accra all year round. These are popular events and social places that attract people from far and near;
The Chale Wote Street Art Festival is a platform that brings art, music, dance and performance out into the streets of Jamestown – a neighbourhood decorated with colonial buildings and corrugated iron shacks. The festival targets exchanges between scores of local and international artists and patrons by creating and appreciating art together. Since 2011, Chale Wote has included street painting, graffiti murals, photography, theater, spoken word, interactive art installations, live street performances, extreme sports, film shows, a fashion parade, a music block party, recyclable design workshops and a lot more. It brings together thousands of people to Ghana’s capital for an electrifying week of festivities to showcase the rich culture and honour the country’s great history.
- W.E.B. DuBois Memorial Centre
William Edward Burghardt DuBois was an African-American civil rights activist who became a citizen of Ghana in the 1960s. He was known as the ‘Father of Pan-Africanism’. The centre, where he and his wife once lived, and where they are now buried, houses his personal library, a small museum with a handful of personal effects such as his graduation robes.
The couple’s mausoleum is surrounded by Asante stools, a seminar room, a restaurant, a gallery, an amphitheatre and a research centre for Pan-African history and culture. The Centre remains a lovely memorial to Dr. DuBois, his collection of relevant works and its awakening influence and interest aroused in the community, Africa, the diaspora and the world at large.
Situated in a very serene environment off the Haatso-Atomic road, Accra is the Legon Botanical Gardens. This is an exquisite outdoor play area where people come to connect with nature while engaging in a variety of fun activities. The grounds boasts of:
- A children’s playground with first class play equipment
- A high rope course which makes you navigate through a series of platforms connected by cable, wood and rope creating a different challenge at each platform
- Junior rope course and obstacle challenge
- Canoeing – This is an opportunity to cruise around and see beautiful birds and monitor lizards
- Canopy walk – Discover the thrills of walking on a canopy high above the ground
- Events in the Woodlands – Just enjoy some fun and alone time with loved ones in the woodlands. This is the perfect place for a picnic or an informal social gathering of a small group.
Tucked away in Osu is this delight-some African restaurant, Buka, which serves a variety of fusion dishes from Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Nigeria and Senegal. Diners can relax on the outdoor terrace and watch their choice of meats and fish being grilled in the open-air, or shelter from the heat in the air-conditioned indoor restaurant whilst enjoying fresh coconut milk.
Buka is decorated in neutral colors, with furnishings made from woven bamboo, giving it a truly authentic feel. Try the fresh fish soup, jollof rice, grilled guinea fowl and fried plantain for a scrumptious feast to share between two or three people. If you are looking to have a taste of the best local food in Accra, then you should by all means visit the Buka restaurant.
Life in Accra
Accra is a very busy city heavily laden with traffic at some places such as the Spintex road, which is a long stretch of road from the Accra Mall to Sakumono that lies parallel to the Accra-Tema motorway. The Kwame Nkrumah Circle Interchange and some parts west of Mallam are hot spots for heavy traffic in Accra.
Picking a minibus popularly referred to as “trotro” is the cheapest and widely used means of transportation from one location to another. Other transport options include shared taxis or taking taxis which will take you directly to your destination (popularly referred to as “dropping”) with the latter being pricier. You will also find Uber almost everywhere in Accra, but the GPS and phone networks are not always reliable, so you may have to call your driver and give directions.
- Getting your clothes made
Almost everyone in Accra gets their clothes made. It means you can choose the style and the material, but you absolutely must ask for recommendations before choosing your tailor or seamstress. Males usually visit a tailor while the females visit a seamstress. However, there are instances where a tailor or seamstress can be very good at sewing clothes for both genders. Woodin and Akosombo Textiles Limited are two top brands in producing quality African fabrics for clothes.
- Osu Oxford Street
This is the most popular street in Ghana and it is believed to derive its name from the famous Oxford street in London, U.K, because of its busy nightlife. It boasts of tons of nice restaurants, shops and markets. It is home to all happenings and the ultimate place to chill on weekends or after a hard day’s work. All the major embassies are just a few minutes from the Osu Oxford Street. There are banks, hospitals and forex bureaus, all of high standards at your disposal on the Oxford street.
Accra is a wonderful place to live and work. Ghanaians are friendly people and the expat community is still quite small. It is difficult to feel lost or left out if your intention is to make new friends and get involved in the city. You will find it remarkable how quickly you will get into the swing of city life. Most places remember repeat customers, so you will always find a warm welcome.