Ghana Cedi - GHS
Visitors to Ghana today will use their currency, known as the cedi. This is a decimal currency and it is split into 100 pesewas. You may also see sika denominations but you shouldn’t accept these or try to use them as they are more like medals or coins to keep rather than to use.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
Of the six coins available to use in Ghana, five are in the pesewa denomination. These are worth 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 pesewas. There is also the one cedi coin.
You can also use their banknotes, which are available in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cedis.
From past to present – the history of the cedi
The cedi has been used in Ghana since 1965, although the version in use at present is the third one to be in circulation. The original cedi only lasted a couple of years between 1965 and 1967. Before this Ghana used its own version of the pound. The country ditched this cedi in favour of the second cedi in 1967 and this continued until 2007.
At this point inflation did away with the second cedi and it was replaced by the third version of the currency. To give you an idea of how bad inflation was at the time, just one of the current cedi units was worth an incredible 10,000 of the second one! Compare this to the 1:1.2 conversion rate between the first and the second versions of the currency and you can see how bad inflation was. The third version is still in use today.
How to get hold of the Ghanaian cedi
The cedi is not as easy to get hold of as currencies are in some other countries. For example there are cash machines in the country but they are not as prevalent as they are elsewhere. You will find them – you just might not find it as easy as spotting one on every corner. Furthermore not all foreign cards are accepted at these cash machines so it is worth taking more than one with you to maximise the chances of getting some cash when you need it. Check in advance if you can so you know what to take and what to leave at home.
You can take your own currency into Ghana and exchange it into the local currency at various bureaux de change or even in the bigger hotels. Traveller’s cheques are also widely accepted. Never be tempted to exchange your own cash for cedis on the street as it is very likely to be fake money and you will be cheated out of your cash. Even if the money is real the exchange rate will be dire!
One thing you should be aware of is the danger of using credit cards in Ghana. Stick to debit cards if you possibly can. Many fraudulent transactions take place in the country and if you use your credit card you may well find it is charged to the max without you even knowing. Of course your card may be stopped by your card issuer the moment you try to use it in Ghana to begin with, but it is probably best to leave it safely locked up at home to start with.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Ghanaian cedi
If you want to know how far your own currency will go when converting it into the Ghanaian cedi you will need a currency converter. It should be included on most converters although you may have to search a bit. The best converters contain more than 100 world currencies and this should be included as one of them. Just find your own currency as the one to start with and then find the cedi to transfer it into. You can pick any number you like to convert but it might be useful to start by converting one unit so you know how far that will go.
Since Ghana may be a country you are not that familiar with, it might be a good idea to visit the website of the Ghana High Commission in the UK. This can be found at https://www.ghanahighcommissionuk.com/. It has more information about Ghana and about visa requirements in order to get into the country.
Travelling safely with the Ghanaian cedi
It is good news to know that of all the thousands of people from Britain who decide to go to Ghana each year, most of them don’t experience any problems at all. However it is wise to check the most recent travel advice issued by your country prior to travel. You never know when things could change. This doesn’t have to be related to terrorism or violence either. A recent report on Ghana by the UK Foreign Office gave advice on an outbreak of Ebola disease in the region that Ghana is in. This shows how important it is to assess any potential risks before you go.
As is the case in many parts of the world, there are outbreaks of petty crime and pickpocketing in Ghana that have targeted tourists. More violent crimes can occur too, which is why it is best not to be on your own at any point. You should also make sure your valuables are safely tucked away and not on show. In fact the less you can have on you the better. If you have access to a safe in your hotel, make sure you use it and don’t be tempted to carry more cash than you have to. When you do carry cash or cards, split them into more than one pocket. A money belt is best for cards.
Where to spend your cedi in Ghana – and what to spend them on
Ghana can be found in West Africa. It shares a western border with Cote d’Ivoire, a northern border (plus the top part of the western border) with Burkina Faso, and the eastern border with Togo. Its entire southern border is a coastline on the Gulf of Guinea.
The capital of Ghana is Accra and you’ll find it on the southern coastline of the country. The city is split into neighbourhoods, simply named Central, East, West and North. While some areas are more modern than others, there have been spurts of building that remain unfinished due to expanding too fast. There are also more rundown areas that are lived in by those who are on smaller incomes.
Of course, there are fine hotels here too, built to support the tourist industry. You can go to Jamestown in the city to see Osu Castle among other sights. It dates back to the 1600s but it has changed somewhat since then. You can enjoy seeing the gardens around the complex as well as seeing more of the castle itself.
Elsewhere in Ghana you can visit Kakum National Park. This is a tropical rainforest area that is not actually too far from the capital near the south coast. If you are willing and you have a head for heights you can try the famous canopy walkway, which stretches across the trees for more than 1100 feet. It’s quite an experience if your legs don’t start to wobble and you don’t look down!
Another notable national park in the country is Mole National Park. You can see many amazing species of animals here. They include elephants, buffalo, monkeys and lions. You can even stay in the accommodation on site if you want to explore nature and see the animals up close.
We’ve covered one castle already but Osu Castle is not the only one to be found in Ghana. Elsewhere you can find Elmina Castle. It dates back to the 1400s and it does show its age in places. However you can see holding cells and the defences that would have seen off any approaches from the sea.
One thing you will notice if you travel around Ghana is that when it comes to the various regions in the country, they all have their own distinct character. As such it can be an experience simply to travel around, providing you stay safe and take care when moving from place to place of course. If you do want to see more of Ghana do your research before planning a more extensive multi-site trip.
Ghana has a lot to offer to the tourist eager to see a different part of the world. It may not have the diversity of attractions many other countries are able to offer, but its mix of national parks, coastline and destinations makes it worth considering. There are a number of beaches along its southern edge too, so if you want a nice beach-based holiday instead of an exploration of the country, Ghana can offer you exactly what you need. Make sure you take a closer look at Ghana as a potential destination – it could be a refreshing change for your next holiday.