What is your Wi-Fi password, many guests ask upon entering the guesthouse I run. I still find that surprising. It is very difficult to debunk stereotypes like all Africans live in huts, but at the same time, people expect wifi and internet in Ghana at all times.
In this blog post I would like to tell you how I communicated with the people at home 20 years ago and the huge development there has been in the field of telecommunications in Ghana. I also inform you about what the title promises; What about Wi-Fi and internet in Ghana. Click here if you want to read the practical part right away! Finally, I’ll tell you about the current challenges with the internet when traveling through Ghana.
Will you follow me back to 2001?
Internet in 2001 was a bit different in the Netherlands than it is now;), remember the dial-up sound and the fact that you could first make coffee before you were online?
As mentioned before, in 2001 I was in Ghana for the first time to do volunteer work and I had to make an effort before I could communicate with the people back home. There were no phones in Banko and certainly no computers. The nearest town had a public telephone where you could use a telephone card to make a call, but it was always broken.
So almost every Thursday I traveled to the capital of Ashanti, Kumasi. The travel was the same as now. A shared taxi to Effiduase and then a tro tro to Kumasi. Only in those days there were only a few shared taxis available and when they were all in Effiduase and not filling up with passengers, then by 11 o’clock I might have to decide not to go to Kumasi after all….
Want to read more about public transportation in Ghana? Then click here!
Once in Kumasi, at least 2 hours later, I walked to the post office where there were at least 50 public telephones to call my mother. Also, I could then post the numerous letters I had written during the week.
After the call I usually went somewhere to eat some western food and to the Shell station which was heaven on earth. They sold some western products; Pringles and chocolate!
And then I went to an internet cafe so I could check my mail, write mails and when I was lucky someone was on MSN;).
When I first came back to Ghana on vacation in 2003, Banko had a real communications center. Which amounted to 2 turn key telephones on a desk. You could call and be called. When you received a call, someone from the communication center came to pick you up at home. The internet in Ghana was also better organized by then. There was an internet cafe in Effiduase.
What about the Internet in Ghana in current times?
Ghana has made huge strides in terms of telecommunications. Land lines never came on a large scale, but cell phones and smartphones are widespread. There is an extensive 4G network. You can buy a local SIM card. This SIM card you can top up and then you can buy an internet bundle from your credit. There are several providers and unfortunately they do not have the same coverage throughout the country. For example, when you visit me at Moon & Star guesthouse it is convenient to have a MTN SIM card.
Is there any WI-FI in Ghana?
There are hotels and co-working spaces with WiFi, but certainly not throughout Ghana. I hear complaints about the speed of the WiFi networks more often than not, and sometimes the WiFi is free, but the prices for an overnight stay are relatively high.
What I think is smarter to do is purchase a local SIM card and use Data bundles to access the internet. The costs for Data bundles are quite low. Especially when you buy a larger bundle. And when you travel with several people you can use the bundle together via a hotspot.
Registration of SIM cards with a Ghana card
I said it at the beginning, there are some issues with purchasing a Ghanaian SIM card at the moment. There is a massive registration campaign going on. Every SIM has to be registered with a Ghana card or a Non-Citizen card. As a traveler, of course, you don’t have one. Previously, you could register a local SIM card at the airport with your passport. Unfortunately, this is no longer possible at the airport, but it is possible at the larger offices in the cities. SIM cards registered with a passport are temporarily valid.
Is the network fast enough to work online?
This does depend a bit on where you are, but generally speaking it is. I have Wi-Fi these days, which is pretty fast. But even on my data bundle from MTN, I can work online just fine, watch Netflix and listen to Spotify.
Before you travel to Ghana you probably have countless questions about all kinds of things, such as what to bring, how does the transportation work, what kind of food is there, about the visa and so on. Of course you can read all my blogs, Google or ask questions in Facebook groups. But you know what you can also do?
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