About Host Nation
HISTORY OF GHANA: Ancient Ghana (4th – 13th Century): The Republic of Ghana is named after the ancient Ghana Empire of West Africa. The actual name of the Empire was Wagadugu. Ghana was the title of the Kings who ruled the kingdom. It was ruled by several Kings and Queens and around 1240 AD, it became part of another great African Empire, the Mali Empire. Mali Empire reached its peak of success under Emperor Mansa Musa around 1307. Both these Kingdoms were also connected to the greater African Classical civilization of Nubia and Kemet (Ancient Egypt – Land of the Blacks), from which various African confederations had earlier dispersed, following Roman invasion.
Geographically, the Ancient Ghana is 500 miles north of the modern Ghana, and occupied the area between Rivers Senegal and Niger. Present day Ghanaians share common ancestral links with the Ancient Ghana. This can be traced down to the Mande and Voltaic people of Northern Ghana-Mamprussi, Dagomba and the Gonja and the Akans to this great Empire. The evidence lies in names shared by the Akans of present Ghana and Mandikas of Senegal/Gambia who have strong links with the Empire and significantly nominal cultural traits.
Ghana, formerly called the Gold Coast, became independent from British colonial rule on March 6, 1957. It was the first black African colony to achieve independence. The period between the 15th and 19th centuries witnessed a power struggle for the country amongst European nations for fortunes in gold and ivory, following the advent of the Portuguese who discovered gold in 1471 and built Elmina castle in 1482. The other Europeans were the Dutch, Swedes, Danes, Prussians and the British. The battle for control and supremacy over the land culminated in the building of many forts and castles, which were used not only as trading posts but also as dungeons for the infamous slave trade. It is significant to note that out of the about 43 forts and castles in West Africa, 33 are in Ghana alone. Out of these about 25 are in good condition, including Elmina and Cape Coast castles and Fort St. Jago, all three of which are recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Monuments. (Cape Coast and Elmina are about a 3-hour drive from Accra.)
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Ghana Cedi (GH¢) (Cedi pronounced See Dee). Current rates vary. The current forex bureau rate for the US Dollar is about GH¢1.5 to US$1.00. Foreign currency can be exchanged at any foreign exchange bureau. Banks are open weekdays from 8.30 am. – 3.00 p.m. It is possible to access funds, though with a limit, through their and other ATMs. Credits cards are not widely used in Ghana, although they are of use in Accra. Most hotels prefer cash payments. Most of the Conferences hotels accept credit cards payments, though with a surcharge. All the other accommodation units only take cash payments.
Plan on bringing much of your budget in the form of travellers’ cheques and cash, particularly if you plan to spend time outside the capital city, Accra. Note, though, that the exchange rate for travellers’ cheques is lower. Also, the farther away you move from Accra, the harder it may be to change travellers’ cheques.
YOU WILL ALSO BE ABLE TO ACCESS /WITHDRAW CASH FROM MOST OF THE ATM IN ACCRA, IF YOU HAVE VISA ACCOUNTS. PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL BANK FOR AFFILIATE BANKS IN GHANA WHERE YOU CAN WITHDRAW CASH FROM COUNTER AND ATMS.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS: Five reliable telecommunications networks are available in Ghana (two fixed and four mobile). Ghana country code is +233. Local SIM cards are very reasonable – sometimes, as low as USD 1 – and you may want get one for your cell phone when you arrive. Most hotels have wireless Internet connectivity. The other accommodation units do not have wireless Internet connectivity.
SAFETY: Ghanaians pride themselves on being some of the friendliest people in the world, and the level of crime against visitors/tourists is remarkably low. However, like any other country or metropolitan city, normal precautions are still advisable.
ELECTRICITY: Electricity is 220V AC at 50 cycles. Stabilizers are required for sensitive devices, and adapters are required for appliances using 110V.
LANGUAGE: English is the official language the principal languages and ethnic groups include the Akan (Twi and Fante-speaking), Ga, Hausa and Ewe. Also pidgin English ‘broken English’ is very popular and common.
RELIGION: The population of Ghana comprises Christian’s faith, African Faith (Traditional Religions) and Muslims faith. While Christianity is the dominant religion (68.8%), Islam (15.9%) and African Faith (8.5%) are also well represented. A significant proportion (6.1%) has no religious affiliation. The Constitution guarantees complete freedom of religion in Ghana.
OTHER USEFUL LINKS
Information on Government – www.ghana.gov.gh
Information on investment – www.gipc.org.gh
News information – www.ghanaweb.com, www.myjoyonline.com
Tourism information – www.touringghana.com
Information on Culture – www.ghanaculture.gov.gh
PEOPLE: Ghana is a peaceful and peace-loving country. All visitors are received warmly and sincerely no matter their race, religion, nationality or sex. Ghanaians are often referred to as ‘Africa’s Friendliest People’. This is because they are fun-loving and cheerful people, who are proud of their country, its languages, traditions and standing and are keen that the visitor should understand and appreciate what the country has to offer. It is a free and independent society where much emphasis is placed on courtesy and politeness. A handshake is the key to everything. The people will often receive you with a popular welcome greeting, Akwaaba! Welcome!
GEOGRAPHY: Ghana is located on the southern coast of West Africa. Its capital is Accra and it lies on the Greenwich Meridian. It is bordered to the east by Togo; to the west by Cote d‘Ivoire, to the north by Burkina Faso, and to the south by the Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean). It has a total landmass of 238,537 sq km. It is made up of 10 administrative regions each comprising districts which form the basic unit of administration and planning.
A VISITOR COMING TO GHANA CAN USE THE FOLLOWING MAJOR ENTRY POINTS.
AIR: The Kotoka International Airport is the principal air entry point to Ghana.
SEA: Ghana boasts of two major ports, the Tema Port in the Greater Accra Region, some nine (9) kilometres south of the capital city, Accra, and the Takoradi Port located in the Western Region of the country.
REGIONS AND CAPITALS
Greater Accra – Accra
Ashanti – Kumasi
Brong Ahafo – Sunyani
Western – Sekondi/Takoradi
Central – Cape Coast
Eastern – Koforidua
Volta – Ho
Northern – Tamale
Upper West – Wa
Upper East – Bolgatanga
CLIMATE: Ghana’s low latitude and proximity to the equator give it a typically tropical climate. Temperatures approach or exceed 30 degrees (80 Fahrenheit) most days of the year, with virtually no seasonal variation. The month of August is classified as the “coldest” month – 22-27˚C. Accra tends to receive less rain than other areas.
LOCATION: Ghana is located on the West Coast of Africa, about 750 km north of the equator on the Gulf of Guinea, between the latitudes of 4°-11°5′ north. The capital, Accra, is on the Greenwich Meridian (zero line of longitude). The country has a total land area of 238,533 sq. km and is bounded on the north by Burkina Faso, on the west by Côte d’Ivoire, on the east by Togo and on the south by the Gulf of Guinea. The land area stretches for 672km north-south and 536km east west.
LAND: The coastal area of Ghana consists of plains and numerous lagoons near the estuaries of rivers. The land is relatively flat and the altitude is generally below 500m, with more than half of the country below 200m. The Volta River basin dominates the country’s river system and includes the 400km Lake Volta (the largest artificial lake in the world), formed behind the Akosombo Hydro-Electric Dam. In the north, the predominant vegetation is savannah and shrub, while the south has an extensive rain forest.
CLIMATE: Ghana has a tropical climate, characterised most of the year by moderate temperatures generally 21-32°C (70-90°F), constant breeze and sunshine. There are two rainy seasons, from March to July and from September to October, separated by a short cool dry season in August and a relatively long dry season in the south from mid-October to March. Annual rainfall in the south averages 2,030 mm but varies greatly throughout the country, with the heaviest rainfall in the western region and the lowest in the north.
POPULATION: The population of Ghana is projected to be 20m (Source: Ghana Statistical Service.). The country, with ten regions, has on average a population density of about 78.9 persons per square kilometre, with an annual growth rate of 2.6 per cent. Most of the population is concentrated in the southern part of the country, with the highest densities occurring in urban areas and cocoa-producing areas.
POLITICAL HISTORY: Gold Coast & European Arrival: Before March 1957 Ghana was called the Gold Coast. The Portuguese arrived in Edina [Elmina] in 1482 and built a castle in Elmina, their aim was to trade in gold and ivory. The Portuguese found so much gold they called it Coast de la mina – the mining coast. The English colonisers later adopted the Gold Coast. In 1481 King John II of Portugal sent Diego d’Azambuja to build this castle. From this time on the African Holocaust [Slave trade] truly begun in earnest by the Europeans, the Arabs and their African conspirators.
In 1598 the Dutch joined them, and built forts at Komenda and Kormantsil. In 1637 they captured the castle from the Portuguese and that of Axim in 1642 (Fort St Anthony). Other European traders joined in by the mid 18th century. These were the English, Danes and Swedes. Forts built by the Dutch, British and the Dane merchants dotted the coastline. By the latter part of 19th century the Dutch and the British were the only traders left. And when the Dutch withdrew in 1874, Britain made the Gold Coast a crown colony. 1901 made the Ashanti and the North a protectorate.
POLITICAL MOVEMENTS AND NATIONALISM IN GHANA (1945 – 1957): Notable earlier nationalist and scholars included the philosopher and scholar Dr Aggrey, George Ferguson, John Mensah Sarbah and Nana Ghartey IV of Winneba. However, political movements towards political freedom intensified soon after WWII. The War Veterans had become radical and had formed alliance with politicians. Some external forces also contributed to this feeling. The Great Marcus Garvey and Du Bois had raised strong Pan-African conscience. The defeat of the Italian at the battle of Adowa also contributed to strong Pan-African views. In 1945 a conference was held in Manchester to activate Pan African ideas. Osagefo Dr. Nkrumah of Ghana, Azikwe of Nigeria and Wallace Johnson of Sierra Leone attended this. In then Gold Coast Sir Alan Burns, the British imposed Governor drew up the 1946 Gold Coast constitution and a new legislative council that was made of the Governor as the President, 6 government officials, 6 nominated members and 18 elected members. The executive council was only in advisory capacity, and the governor did not have to take notice. These forces made Dr J.B. Danquah to form the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) in 1947. Nkrumah then studying abroad was invited to be the General-Secretary to this party. Other officers were George Grant (Paa Grant), Akuffo Addo, William Ofori Atta, Obetsebi Lamptey, Ako Agyei, and J. Tsiboe. Their aim was Independence for Ghana. They rejected the Burns constitution and the road to Ghana’s independence took a new turn, Osagefo Dr. Nkrumah eventfully led Ghana to independence on 6 March 1957.
PARLIAMENT HISTORY OF THE PARLIAMENT OF GHANA: Ghana achieved Independence on 6th March, 1957. The political struggles that preceded this historic event date back over a hundred years. The early period of nationalist struggle for political independence created political awareness and desire to assert the right of self-determination both for the individual and the State. As far back as 1850, Ghana, then The Gold Coast, was given its own Legislative Council to advise the colonial Governor in enacting legislation mainly in the form of Ordinances “for the peace, order and good government of the subject.” The Legislative Council was purely advisory as the Governor exercised all legislative and executive powers. In 1916 the Legislative Council was reconstituted to include nine nominated officials, six of whom were Africans, as opposed to eleven officials and the Governor. The first Legislative Council elections ever to be held took place in 1925 under the Guggisberg Constitution. Under this arrangement the Governor still retained complete control of legislation. Under the 1946 Bums Constitution which replaced the Guggisberg Constitution, the representatives of the people formed the majority in the Legislative Council. The Governor ceased to be ex-officio President of the Legislative Council and an unofficial Member was appointed President. This system continued until 1951 when the Legislature elected its first Speaker under the 1950 Constitution. In 1951 the first large-scale elections to the Legislative Assembly took place when 75 Members were elected. There were three nominated ex-official Members and six special Members representing commercial and mining interests. The 1954 transitional Constitution provided for an Assembly of a Speaker and 104 Members elected on party lines on the basis of universal adult suffrage. In 1957, when Ghana achieved full political Independence the constitution was fashioned after the Westminster model. In June, 1960, ten women were elected by the National Assembly to fill specially created seats. This was done to expose women to parliamentary life. This system of election was not intended to be permanent. The Act made no provision for filling a vacancy caused by death, resignation or expulsion of a woman Member.
On 1st July, 1960 Ghana became a sovereign unitary Republic. In February, 1964 Ghana adopted a one-party system of Government. The First National Assembly of the Republic was , dissolved in 1965 and a general election in which all the 198 Members, all of them Members of the national party, the convention People’s Party (C.P.P.) were elected unopposed.The 1964 Constitutional Amendments among other things increased the powers and prerogatives of the President. In February, 1966 the First Republican Government was overthrown by a military coup which installed a military government that remained in power up to September, 1969, when, on its own volition, it handed over power to another constitutionally elected government, and thereby restored parliamentary rule once again. After only 22 months in office the second parliamentary democracy also succumbed to another military rule between January 1972 and October 1979, when under much political pressure, that military government was compelled to usher in the Third Republican parliamentary system. In December 1981 parliamentary democracy was once more thrown into cold storage as a result of yet another military coup. However, the country returned to constitutional rule again on 7th January, 1993.