Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, currency, language, health, local time, business hours and holidays, acceptable business etiquette, dress, business cards, gifts, temporary entry of materials and personal belongings, etc.
Last Published: 12/3/2018

Business Customs

Ghanaians tend to be somewhat traditional in both personal and business life. Exchange of greetings and pleasantries along with handshakes are obligatory aspects of business dealings in Ghana. An important convention to remember when visiting Ghana is the ‘right to left’ handshake tradition: if several people are present (regardless of their job title or age) be sure to shake hands with the person on your right first, working from your right to left until all have been greeted.

Face to face contact is the preferred method of transacting business in Ghana. While Ghanaians are accustomed to dealing over email, telephone or fax – face to face contact is the most effective way of building long term business relationships. While personal visits to potential business partners may seem an inefficient way of doing business, over the long term such courtesies can yield rewards in the form of loyal business contacts.

If visiting Ghana for the first time, be prepared for a different cultural understanding of time. Meetings often start late and last for a longer time than a similar meeting in the United States. For this reason, flexibility should be built into meeting schedules in advance. Ghanaians find it polite to spend at least the first few minutes of the meeting in exchanging pleasantries – it can be off-putting to many Ghanaians to plunge straight into a business conversation without some social pleasantries first.

Business dress in Ghana is fairly formal. Most Ghanaian business people wear business suits/dresses during working hours. Traditional Ghanaian attire is often worn after work for social functions and some Ghanaian business people wear traditional clothing during the business day – particularly on Fridays. Lightweight clothing (whether business or leisure) is appropriate year-round in Ghana due to the very warm climate and high humidity.

Business cards are widely used in Ghana, so be sure to have an adequate supply for your visit. It is common practice to give a business card to almost everyone you meet in a business setting.

Some U.S. businesses have reported being asked for ‘gifts’ or favors’ from contacts in Ghana, in return for facilitating business transactions. U.S. business people should make it clear to any person requesting such a ‘gift’ or ‘favor’ that as U.S. businesses/citizens they can be subject to prosecution under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for acquiescing to such a request.


Travel Advisory

A valid U.S. passport, visa for entry to Ghana and international health certificate showing a current yellow fever immunization is required for entry into Ghana. For other travel information, please visit http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1124.html.

 Visa Requirements

Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of Ghana, 3512 International Drive NW, Washington, DC  20008; telephone (202) 686-4520. Consular services are also available at the Ghana Permanent Mission to the UN at 19 East 47th Street, New York, NY  10017, telephone (212) 832-1300, and the Honorary Consulate of Ghana, 3434 Locke Lane, Houston, TX, telephone (713) 960-8806. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Ghanaian embassy or consulate. Visit the Embassy of Ghana web site  for the most current visa information.

U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States should be advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following links.
State Department Visa Website
U.S. Embassy Ghana – Visa Section


Currency

Ghana’s currency is the Cedi, the symbol: ‘₵’ is used or, alternatively, GH₵ or GHS. The Bank of Ghana issues coins in 1 pesewa (cent), 5, 10, 20, and 50 pesewas as well as 1 cedi versions. Paper currency is issued in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cedi denominations. Ghana’s cedi was revalued in 2007 by ‘cutting’ four zeros from the currency. There remains some limited confusion about this policy; prices are occasionally quoted in millions of cedis when the actual cost is in the hundreds.
As of July, 2018 the exchange rate has fluctuated between of US$1 = GH₵4.4087 (March 25) and
US$1 = GH₵4.8175 (July 6). The average exchange rate US$1 = GH₵4.5444  


Telecommunications/Electric

Fixed-line telecommunications services are provided by Vodafone through a joint venture with Ghana Telecom; there are currently five mobile operators providing voice and data services. Several data transfer companies have established networks and are serving banks and other institutions. Privately owned communication centers that provide pay phone services can be found in major cities. Prepaid calling cards for both local and international calls can be purchased from travel agents, post offices and gas stations.

Ghana’s electrical standard is 230 volts, 50 Hz. A three-pronged (grounded) British style plug is used almost exclusively


Transportation

Ghana has about 24,855 miles of public roads (a quarter of which are paved), one international airport in Accra and three other domestic airports. There are two main ports (Tema and Sekondi-Takoradi) and a triangular 592 mile rail system linking Kumasi, Takoradi and Accra-Tema. However, currently only the Kumasi-Accra line is operational.

International flights to/from Accra’s Kotoka International Airport (ACC) are currently offered by more than 17 international airlines. Delta Airlines provide non-stop flights to/from New York-JFK (JFK) four days per week. South African Airways provide non-stop flights to/from Washington-Dulles (IAD) also 4 day per week. Other airlines that currently fly into Accra include British Airways, KLM, Brussels Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, Alitalia, Lufthansa and Emirates. Flights within Ghana are available from Accra to Kumasi, Sunyani, Takoradi and Tamale through domestic airlines - Antrak Air, Starbow, and Africa World Airlines.

Despite the major expansion and improvement in the road network in Accra, traffic at peak hours is often congested. Some roads on the outskirts are relatively narrow and poorly maintained, with rather daunting open gutters. Driving after dark outside of Accra or other major cities is not recommended due to the lack of adequate street lighting, number of disabled vehicles blocking the roadside, presence of animals and pedestrians and the proportion of local drivers who do not habitually make use of their headlights.

Taxis are plentiful but many are in poor condition. Be sure to negotiate the fare before embarking. Both chauffer and self-driven rental cars are available. Uber launched their service in May, 2016 in the Greater Accra region only. Uber continues to build its network of drivers and cars, but the availability has had a difficult time keeping up with demand, and it rarely operates in the evening and night hours. The use of buses and ‘tro-tros’ is not recommended for business travelers due to problems with security, safety, convenience and reliability. 


Language

The official language of Ghana is English. Most business people are fluent in English.ocal languages include Asante (14.8 percent), Ewe (12.7 percent), Fante (9.9 percent), Boron/Brong (4.6 percent), Dagomba (4.3 percent), Dangme (4.3 percent) Dagarte/Dagaba (3.7 percent), Akyem (3.4 percent) Ga (3.4 percent) and Akuapem (2.9 percent).

Health

Malaria prophylaxis is very strongly recommended. For more information on health issues for travel to Ghana, visit: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinationGhana.aspx.

Local Time, Business Hours and Holidays

Ghana operates on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Note that the time difference between Ghana and the United States varies throughout the year as Ghana does not adjust for daylight savings time.
Business travelers should verify the dates of Ghanaian holidays prior to scheduling their trips. Business establishments are normally closed on Ghanaian holidays. The U.S. Embassy is closed on Ghanaian and U.S. holidays.
 
Ghanaian Holiday 2018
New Year’s DayJanuary 1
Independence DayMarch 6
Good FridayMarch 30
Easter MondayApril 02
May DayMay 1
African Union DayMay 25
Eid-ul-FitrJune 15
Republic DayJuly 1
Eid-ul-AdhaAugust 22
Founder’s DaySeptember 21
Farmer’s DayDecember 07
Christmas DayDecember 25
Boxing DayDecember 26
 

Temporary Entry of Materials or Personal Belongings

The personal baggage of a visitor is admitted free of duty. Duty is not charged on items for personal use, including clothing, household items and electrical goods – as well as instruments/tools for professional use. Unaccompanied bona fide personal and household effects sent in advance must be entered on a Passenger Unaccompanied Baggage Declaration form at the time of arrival.
Travel Related Web Resources

State Department Travel Information:
Embassy of Ghana
State Department Visa Website 
United States Visas.gov
U.S. Embassy Ghana – Visa Section
Center for Disease Control – Ghana Information


 

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



Ghana Trade Development and Promotion Business Travel and Etiquette