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Examining high cost of living: Case study of Accra

Renowned for its rich culture, bustling markets and warm hospitality in the heart of Ghana lies Accra, the capital city. It is located on the southern coast along the Gulf of Guinea.


It is densely populated with over two million people according to statistics. Trading is the most common economic activity that you find. 

Agbogbloshie, Madina, Makola, Kantamanto and Kaneshie markets are some major markets noted for trading and all kinds of economic activities. I usually hear people utter these words almost every day ‘You cannot survive in Accra if you are not wealthy’, so I ponder on this; Why can one not live in Accra? 

However, behind the vibrant facade lies a pressing issue that many residents face: the high cost of living.


I decided to step into this city to find answers to my questions. Far away from the garden city of Kumasi, I arrived in Accra, precisely Kwame Nkrumah Circle, one of the busiest environments, which has a market and lorry stations where one can get a bus to every part of the country and even to neighbouring countries.

It was an awesome sight seeing the interchange and I couldn’t agree less with its nickname “Dubai”. 

I saw so many commercial vehicles, popularly referred to as “trotros”. Not forgetting saloon cars, different models.

Having in mind my final destination, Osu, a suburb in Accra, where I had arranged earlier with a friend to accommodate me for a while, I began asking my way around to where I could board a vehicle to the place. 


A porter who looked exhausted directed me to where I could get a trotro to my destination.

The discomfort began immediately I sat on a wretched seat by the window. I was quite nervous as a result of the rickety nature of the vehicle. This was the best example of “Don’t mind the body, mind the engine,” Perhaps, it was the engine that was functional but nothing else.

Getting around the city was a costly affair. Public transportation options are limited, and taxis or ride-hailing services often become the go-to choice. However, the price of fuel and maintenance can quickly add up, making transportation expenses a significant burden.

The difficulties continued when the conductor began to collect the fares, halfway through the trip. It was my turn and I gave him GH¢5, thinking it was even too much, only for him to ask for an extra GH¢ 2, totalling GH¢ 7.

To my dismay, after calculating the distance from Circle to Osu, I realised it was just 10 minutes on the journey, with all the traffic congestion, hence I was quite perplexed about the fare. Reminiscing on fares that are charged in my city, I can confidently say that Kumasi is the best concerning transportation fares.

I finally got to the reference suburb where my friend was residing. It had been a tough day, so I decided to take a nap and find food afterwards. My vicinity was a supposed estate so getting a food joint nearby was a difficult one. 

I walked miles before I chanced on a fast food. 

Back in my city, food is affordable and thought it was going to be the same in Accra but that was a deception. A plate of plain rice and stew cost GH¢ 50. I know the standard of living is always high in cities, but in this city, it was beyond the norm.

The rising prices of food and groceries were hard-hitting on residents. As Accra continues to urbanise, the demand for imported goods has increased, leading to inflated prices. 

Necessities such as rice, cooking oil and vegetables have become expensive for a significant portion of the population. How can one who earns less than GH¢ 50 Cedis daily afford a plate of rice?

Job hunting

I began job hunting after a fortnight. What well-paying job can I possibly get here when I didn’t further my education to a higher level? Hawking is what I ventured into. I would wake up at dawn so I could get to Circle Market on time to hustle. 

In three months, I had already saved some amount of money to rent a room. There is no fixed fee for rent in Ghana. Your location determines the amount to pay sometimes, but I am staggered at the price of a single room at Osu.


From the rising cost of necessities to skyrocketing rent prices, Accra’s residents are feeling the pinch. 

Housing, in particular, poses a substantial difficulty for many individuals and families. The demand for accommodation far outweighs the supply, leading to exorbitant rent prices that affect the budgets of many.


 A room going for GH¢400 monthly is shocking. What do I eat after paying rent with all my savings? Is this what happens in every city or it is just the capital city, Accra? This has left many citizens homeless. Some sleep on the streets, and interchanges, and others have no alternative but to sleep in kiosks.

The high cost of living in Accra has real-life consequences. It puts financial strain on individuals and families, leading to stress and a lower quality of life. Young professionals, in particular, find it challenging to establish themselves in the city due to the financial barriers they face.


Now I have answers to the several questions I have been asking myself. If living in Accra will leave me no penny to take care of myself and my family, then I cannot survive.

But despite these challenges, Accra is a city of resilience and resourcefulness. People come together as communities, sharing resources and finding innovative solutions to cope with the rising costs. 

From communal gardens to cooperative buying initiatives, we’re finding ways to stretch our budgets and support one another.

The government is also taking steps to address this issue. They’re working on initiatives to increase affordable housing options and improve public transportation infrastructure, aiming to ease the burden on the residents.


While the high cost of living in Accra is undoubtedly a notable challenge, it is important to remember that the city also offers opportunities and experiences that make it worth the struggle.
By fostering a sense of community, exploring cost-effective alternatives and advocating for change, individuals can navigate the financial hurdles and thrive in this vibrant city.

 The writer is a Journalism and Media Studies student, 

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