Ghana is known as one of the safest countries to travel in the African continent, and it is easy (and cheap!) to explore areas of the country. Interns at many organizations are encouraged to travel to understand the country and what makes it the way it is. Spending longer than two months in the country helps you understand the people, the culture and you learn how to integrate yourself into it. The coastal areas are unique, the Volta region is lush and the Northern Region filled with small villages and an appreciation for life itself. The country overflows with new opportunities and lots of opportunities that make being an intern in Ghana one of the most beneficial experiences ever.
Read about some popular internships in Ghana; there are always more popping up due to the vast majority of Non-Governmental Organizations.
- International Development: For any person interested in working in the field of international development, Ghana has extensive networks of NGO's that are always looking for interns.
- Healthcare: Many health organizations send people looking for medical experience or with medical experience to Ghana to work in hospitals, and with government health agencies.
- Engineering: As Ghana is starting to grow in the industrial world, there is a large call for people looking for internships with an engineering background to work in many different areas.
- Law/Women's Rights: A developing country such as Ghana allows for many interns to experience working with human rights commissions, women’s advocacy groups, and many more organizations that also give a unique understanding of politics in developing countries!
- Agriculture: Whether it be farming, nutrition centers, or creating opportunities for communities to profit from what is found around them, agriculture is deeply rooted in the Ghanaian lifestyle. Finding an internship in the agriculture field is a bit more difficult than some of the others, but they are out there!
- Business: The Ghanaian business entity is booming, and many NGO's focus on the business side of their organizations. Whether it be social media, technology, administration, marketing, there are many spots available for interns.
- Media: Many of the radio stations and television stations around Ghana love receiving interns from around the world who have experience in radio, television and both print and digital media. As an intern in this area you get access to many events that give you distinctive outlooks on the country that you are living in.
Planning Your Trip
When and Where to Look for an Internship:
It would not be recommended to look for an internship on your own in Ghana. Logistics are complicated, and in order to gain a visa to enter the country, you generally need to be sponsored by two members of the country. It is best to secure your internship in Ghana through a placement company which will arrange the visa documentation, airport pick up, accommodation and place you within an internship that meets both your and the organizations’ needs. While Ghana is one of the most Westernized and modern of the African countries, it is still much different than what you will be used to, and having someone you can turn to for support in country is integral. While the fees and internship times for placement organizations can vary, living expenses are much less than many other European or North American countries.
Internships in Ghana are generally available year-round. Most placement companies offer them throughout the year, but the majority of interns in Ghana arrive during June, July and August from North America (the break from school) and during August, September and October from European countries. At other times during the year, there will be less of a foreign presence, but the internships are available. Every internship placement program is different, but as a general rule you should try to apply at least two to three months in advance to increase your chances of being placed in your opportune program. It is also rare to find internships that last less than 5 weeks (unless specially arranged) as it generally takes two weeks to adjust to the country.
The majority of Ghanaian internships are found along the coast of the country, especially in the cities of Accra, Cape Coast and Takoradi, with some starting to appear in the Volta Region. However, there are internships available in Kumasi (in the middle of the country) and some beginning to appear in the Northern Rural Regions as well.
Visas for Interning in Ghana:
Unless you are from a country that is a member of ECOWAS, you must have a visa to enter Ghana. They are available through the Ghanaian Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence. Multiple entry visas may be given to those who have spent time in Africa before, but for those who have never spent time on the continent only a single-entry visa will be given. All visas must be renewed every 60 days in country.
Cost of Living in Ghana:
While many of the internships take place along the coast, the cost of living does not change much between the cities and the country. What does change dramatically is the cost of a “drop” taxi, in which case you pay to get taken directly to where you want to go, as opposed to a “shared” taxi which travels from station to station for a set fare and you get on or off the route as you please. How much you spend will depend on how Western you want your lifestyle to be. Foods that are purchased in restaurants instead of from street vendors are generally more expensive, and Western-style foods will cost more than Ghanaian foods.
Work Culture in Ghana:
- Etiquette: Politeness is one of the most important things in Ghanaian culture. Even when walking by people on the street it is imperative you say Good Morning (from midnight to noon), Good Afternoon (from noon to 4pm) or Good Evening (from 4pm to midnight). In the workplace, your age is a factor in the wisdom you have, but many organizations that accept foreign interns are very accepting of what interns come to the country with. Cell phones are also very prominent in Ghanaian culture, but texting is considered rude, while calling people is polite.
- Language: While English is required to be spoken in schools, and is the official language of Ghana, most Ghanaians speak one of three tribal languages on the side. Depending on where you are in the country, people will be very willing to help you learn the language. Ghanaians call white foreigners obruni, and no matter where you are in the country you will be called obruni by everyone. It will not, however, impact your ability to communicate during your internship.
- Gender: The divide between women and men is prominent in Ghana. While women are having more of an impact in the business area, there are still less women around in the evenings and in major work settings. As a female in Ghana, you will notice the faint difference between men and women but these differences are becoming less and less noticeable.
Work and Labor Laws in Ghana:
All foreign nationals must carry their yellow fever immunization (a photocopy will do) and a copy of their passport and entrance visas. If traveling late at night, you may be stopped by the police and have to provide identification. Use a photocopy to ensure that you do not lose your original.