Accra, Ghana

A hub for manufacturing, financial services and transportation, Accra is the capital and commercial heart of one of West Africa's largest economies.

Accra is the capital and most populous city in Ghana. It has nearly 2.3 million inhabitants and its greater metropolitan area is home to more than four million people.

Accra is Ghana’s centre for manufacturing, financial services, transportation and the country’s stock exchange.

Following years of military rule, Ghana returned to a democratic system in 1992 after parliamentary elections took place. Today, the country is home to one of West Africa’s largest economies, thanks to its bounty of oil and gas and other natural resources. Agriculture accounts for 20% of GDP and employs nearly half the workforce. Services — including consulting — account for half of GDP.

Ghana’s GDP grew by 4.9% in the first quarter of 2016, up from 4.1% in the same quarter the previous year. Estimates for 2016 overall may be lower than 2015’s 3.9% growth because of production difficulties in the oil sector. The World Bank projects GDP growth of 7.5% by 2018 if the country’s fiscal consolidation remains on track.

BUSINESS ETIQUETTE

1. Exchange a gift. Gift-giving is common in Accra business meetings. Take a small token, such as a flag or a bottle of maple syrup. Avoid alcohol, as there’s a chance your recipient may be Muslim and would not drink. If, however, you’re visiting a traditional leader, take gin. Half will be consumed and the other half will be used to pacify the gods.

2. Hierarchy matters. If a junior person is assigned to a negotiation with you, it might be a sign that your business isn’t important. Sometimes junior people are involved at the beginning of negotiations, but at the time of deal-making, participation of a higher-up is essential.

3. Shake with the right. The left hand is often considered unclean, as it was traditionally used for bathroom visits. While this is no longer the case, the aversion persists.

4. Networking norms. Don’t be surprised to be invited to the home of your Accra host or even to a family wedding. Residents of Accra treasure getting to know each other before getting down to serious business.

5. Dress for the weather. Traditional suits are worn by both genders in the financial services sector. Government officials wear lighter suits and sometimes shirts with ties, or tailored clothing for women. When it’s hot, no one will expect a three-piece suit.

6. Be clear. Make sure your expectations of the timing of negotiations are clearly stated and put in writing. Ghanaians will also expect you to negotiate as part of regular business dealings. If you’re impatient, you may end up paying more or getting less.

FACTS FOR INVESTORS

1. On the African Green City Index, Accra placed “above average” on energy and CO2 emissions reduction and “well above average” for environmental governance, according to research by The Economist Intelligence Unit.

2. On global database Numbeo’s cost of living index (midyear, 2016), Accra ranked 182nd out of 372 cities surveyed.

TRAVEL TIPS

1. Dress light. Accra is humid and temperatures average between 32 C and 35 C.

2. Mother tongue. English is universal; even those who haven’t been to school can speak some English.

3. Tips on tipping. Tipping is welcomed, but not expected. Rounding up to the next dollar is acceptable, as are larger tips if the service was superior.

About the Author

Jennifer Campbell


Jennifer Campbell is a freelance writer based in Ottawa.

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