Getting around Ghana is quite an adventure for new arrivals. The public transport infrastructure in Ghana is relatively underdeveloped but ongoing work is gradually improving and expanding the country’s railway network.
Driving in Ghana can be just as challenging. The quality of the road network is not on par with the standards that those from Europe or North America would be accustomed to, so expats that do choose to drive in Ghana should do so with caution.
Public transport in Ghana
Public transport in Ghana isn't very well developed and most people in Ghana opt to travel by bus rather than train. Although buses are more comfortable, both modes of transport can be unreliable and delays are common. Patience and a sense of humour are essential when travelling around Ghana.
Trains in Ghana are operated by the Ghana Railway Corporation and link Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi, as well as some smaller towns and villages. Trains in Ghana are slow. Travelling by trains in Ghana is not particularly comfortable and they are not the most reliable form of transport as they can be subject to severe delays.
There are several bus companies in Ghana but the most comprehensive bus services are provided by Intercity STC, which has standard and luxury buses that operate over long distances. Other major bus companies include VIP and Metro Mass.
Expats should opt to travel on express or air-conditioned buses as these are faster and a lot more comfortable than ordinary services. It is best to purchase tickets in advance as seats on the more popular routes fill up quickly. Passengers are charged extra for large items of luggage. The fares for bus travel in Ghana are reasonable but vary depending on the route and the bus operator.
Tro-tros in Ghana
Tro-tro is the name given to a shared taxi in Ghana. These minibuses run along fixed routes and charge a flat fare for any stop on a given route. Travelling by tro-tro in Ghana is the cheapest mode of transport. Despite the cost benefits, tro-tros have a questionable safety record and frequently break down. Tro-tro drivers often work long hours and this can result in risky driving behaviour.
Travelling by tro-tro is certainly an experience. Passengers are squashed into the vehicle along with large pieces of luggage and even items of livestock. Tro-tros do not run on any fixed schedule.
While travelling by tro-tro in Ghana is an excellent cultural experience and a great way to interact with the locals, they aren’t recommended for long journeys.
Taxis in Ghana
Taxis in Ghana are readily available in all cities. There are different types of taxis and new arrivals in the country will benefit from familiarising themselves with what is available. There are metered taxis charge according to distance travelled as well as private taxis where passengers can negotiate a price with the driver. If using any form of private taxi in Ghana, be sure to settle on a price before embarking on the journey.
Some rideshare and taxi apps have begun operating in major urban centres such as Accra. Local apps include Yango and Dropyn, while international apps such as Uber and Bolt can also be used in Ghana. Many people prefer using these apps as it gives them more control over routes and service prices.
Driving in Ghana
New arrivals to Ghana should obtain an International Driving Permit. These are usually valid for one year.
For those who plan on being in Ghana for over a year, the process of obtaining a Ghanaian driving licence is fairly straightforward and simply requires presenting a valid international driving licence along with passport photos. Driving licences or international driving permits must always be carried when driving.
The standard of roads in Ghana is variable. The quality of roads on the major routes between big cities such as Accra, Kumasi and Sekondi are fairly good. However, away from the urban centres, the roads become dirt tracks and driving conditions can be dangerous. Those driving at night need to be extra cautious because of poor visibility due to lack of adequate street lighting and badly potholed roads.
New arrivals in Ghana should always drive defensively, especially on highways. Be vigilant when driving close to tro-tros as they have a habit of driving erratically with little regard for other road users.
Due to unfamiliar roads and traffic culture in Ghana, many new arrivals prefer to rent a car with a driver. This may be organised by the company the expat works for, but they can privately organise car rental too.
Cycling in Ghana
Cycling is a common means of travel in Ghana among the general population, especially in the north of the country. Car travel has created much pollution, is expensive and congestion makes it time consuming and frustrating. These are some of the reasons why cycling is preferable. However, expats in the south, especially in Accra, may find cycling dangerous provided chaotic traffic, no bicycle paths and poorly maintained roads in some areas.
Riding a bike may not be a preferred choice of transport for a daily commute, although it is perfectly feasible for exercise, leisure, a personal hobby, or travelling and experiencing Ghana from a different perspective.
Walking in Ghana
Many people walk in Ghana, although, for expats in large cities, this may be more out of leisure and to get a feel of the environment. When walking, there are several things that new arrivals should be aware of. Not only do some areas not have well-maintained pavements but also traffic can be unruly and so it's advised to walk facing oncoming traffic. Another factor to consider is the heat – walkers may get fatigued or sunburnt easily and so should always have a bottle of water handy.
Air travel in Ghana
Flying is the fastest way to travel between the major cities in Ghana. Domestic airlines include Africa World Airlines, Passion Air and Gianair. The two major airports are Kotoka International Airport and Kumasi International Airport.