Working with people from Ghana

Written by Maame Pokuaah November 2013. Posted in Int. Skills, Working with people

Working with people from Ghana

Ghana is located in West Africa.Also known as the “Island of Peace” and “the land of Gold”, Ghana in 1957 became the first country of Sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence from the British Empire. With Togo to the east, Ivory Coast to the west, Burkina Faso to the North, and the Gulf of Guinea to the South, Ghana covers an area of 238,500 square kilometers. The official language is English, but many people speak Akan or one of eight other languages spoken in the country. Ghana is one of the leading exporters of cocoa and about 40 percent of the employees work in agriculture.

When working with people from Ghana there are a few facts about their business culture which are good to know.  The first is that building personal relationship is very important in order to build a network of contacts. Ghanaians don’t tend to share information that easy, so networking is the best way. In Ghana it is more “Who you know, not what you know”, despite the fact that Ghanaians are well spoken, well mannered, and warm people to do business with.

In addition, Ghana has a tropical weather climate so Ghanaians seem to be more relaxed than people in most Western countries and tend to have a more relaxed attitude towards time management. When making an appointment with Ghanaians you should know that the meeting will not start on time, as there will be a 30 – 45 minute delay. Therefore, you should always keep in mind “Ghana time” or “African Punctuality”.  It is considered normal if the Ghanaians come in late, but it is seen as impolite if their foreign business partners arrive late for a meeting.

When communicating with Ghanaians it is considered very disrespectful if you do not greet the elders whenever you arrive and whenever you leave.  The closer you get with your business partner, the better you can communicate.  When you are close with you business partner you will be invited for a lot of things apart from business (diners, parties, etc.). It is important to know that Ghanaians tend to be indirect and it is not easy for them to say “No”; their “No” often has a different meaning, like “maybe”.

When going to a business meeting, it is important to wear formal business clothes. Women are expected to wear matching trousers or skirts above their knees, a coat, and closed-toe shoes. Men are expected to wear a suit or a shirt with long trousers and a tie. For both men and women it is not polite to wear shorts or miniskirts and wearing bright colors should be avoided as well.

When going to meetings keep it in mind that you will not start discussing business straight away. Instead, you will start with small talk to get to know each other first. After the meeting there will be some small talk as well and it is seen as impolite to leave without the small talk.