Welcome to Ghana
Prestige issue 289, Feb. 2018
Tourism by Michel Kaikati
Let’s head to Accra, the capital of Ghana, which we reach in 7 hours flight from Beirut. «Welcome to Accra!» will tell you the friendly hostess on arrival at Kotoka airport. We are really in a friendly country. Accra is the most populous city in Ghana with 2,850,000 inhabitants. It is the political, administrative and financial center of the country. In 1877, Accra replaced Cape Coast as the capital of the British colony of Gold Coast and remained the capital when Ghana’s independence was proclaimed on March 6, 1957.
Let’s get to know the city
- Central Accra is the heart of the city where many Ghanaians go for their business or shopping, especially at the Makola Kantamanto market.
- Adabraka is a former residential neighborhood dominated since the 1990s by the Trust Tower.
- In front of the Kotoka International Airport site, Airport Residential is one of the city’s most upscale neighborhoods, home to numerous offices and international organizations.
- Cantonments is a very wooded district that hosts many embassies including the imposing US embassy.
- In Christianborg, where Osu Castle is located, formerly headquarters of the government which now became a museum, the expatriate community enjoys the many shops and restaurants running along Oxford Street.
The city of Accra is characterized by low vertical concentration, due to the space available for construction. The center of the city contains many buildings from the colonial era. Manufacturing activity has mainly developed in the Adabraka district, where industrial activities include agribusiness, wood industries and the textile and clothing industry.
Accra touristic town
The city offers international standard accommodation in major hotels. It is known to be one of the largest cities in West Africa. The Independence Square, dominated by a huge arc under which sparkles a flame magnifying the liberation of Africa, is perfect to start the tour of the city. We will visit, on the seaside in front of the Supreme Court, the Memorial of Kwame Nkrumah, this great Ghanaian statesman who marked the history of his country. Some beaches developed in the areas of Labadi are the joy of tourists while restaurants in these areas offer varied cuisines suitable for all tastes.
The Cultural life
Accra is home to the most prestigious cultural institutions in the country: the National Museum, the Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Library. There is also the National Theater and the Accra Center for National Culture. The foreign cultural presence is represented by the British Council, the Alliance Française d’Accra and the Goethe Institute. Also in Accra are the country’s most important media offices and offices: The Daily Graphic and The Ghanaian Time newspapers, as well as the offices of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation.
Accra the city of universities
The University of Ghana is based in Legon on the outskirts of Accra, as is the prestigious Ashimota School, founded in 1924 in the northern suburbs of Accra.
A large Lebanese community
The Lebanese actively contribute to Ghana’s industrial and commercial development as they do in other West African countries with strong Lebanese communities. In fact, for more than a century, thousands of Lebanese have settled in West African countries, mainly in Nigeria, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal. Having to go to Beirut occasionally, the Lebanese had to transit through Europe: London, Paris or Amsterdam, and to take after very long hours of waiting, sometimes up to 24 or 48 hours a correspondence to Beirut,which led Air Lebanon to open direct lines between these countries and Lebanon in 1955, without change of plane, with its first line on Accra, in 1956 on Lagos and Abidjan, and in 1960 on Dakar.
First line on Accra
The author of this article, who then was Chef Promotions Sales of Air Lebanon, was seconded in the region for 5 months, from February to June 1955 to work on site at the launch of this new line. Which meant that it was necessary to go by borrowing for small interplanetary flights the small 6-seat Dove aircraft from WAAC (West African Airways Corporation) to meet the Lebanese of Kano and Lagos in Nigeria and Accra and Kumasi in Ghana, to optimize Sales and Reservations.
Inauguration of the direct flight
Between Beirut and Accra
It was on April 5, 1955, almost 63 years ago, that the Beirut-Accra line was inaugurated with stops in Khartoum, Fort Lamy today N’Djamena, Kano and Cotonou. It was operated in Douglas DC4, including two devices, registered ODACA and ODACI, equipped with 72 seats in single fare class. The first weekly flights left Accra with a filling rate of 70% in the season going in the direction of Lebanon from April to July. Lebanon’s return season was from September to December. The regularity of these operations led to the emergence of subsidiary traffic guaranteeing the profitability of these operations from the first year:
- Trips of school children in Lebanon joining their parents for holidays, in summer, off-peak period. See the vintage photo taken in the summer of 1955 that illustrates this article.
- The birth of a commercial freight and cargo fruit from Lebanon (Lebanese apples and pears exported from Beirut) and exotic fruits exported from Accra.
From 1957, the DC4 were replaced by Douglas DC6 until 1963, when it was merged with Middle East Airlines.
The modernization over the years of the unified company MEA – Air Lebanon put into service on the Accra line from 1963 to the present day Comet 4C, VC10, Boeing 707 and currently Airbus A330.
Current service of the Beirut-Accra line
Airbus A330 aircraft operate twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays from Beirut and departing from Accra in direct flight WITHOUT STOPPING in 7 hours of flight, arranged in a mixed version: 200 seats in eco class and 44 seats in business class.
Ghana remains, for both business and leisure travelers, a destination synonymous with a haven of peace and welcome. It’s cheerfulness on every street corner. In addition to an international standard of accommodation, the majority of residential and office buildings, as well as government buildings, benefit from modern, air-conditioned installations that comply with international standards. Hospitality is also at the rendez-vous: police officers and immigration officers are friendly and helpful. Do not miss, during your stay, to do honor to the local gastronomy and to appreciate the variety of the kitchens proposed in the many restaurants of the city, you will fall for sure in love with Accra!