Accra: Where Innovation and Tradition Meet

I am thoroughly enjoying my first few weeks here in Accra, Ghana! Besides everything being coated in a thin layer of red- orange dust, the first thing that I noticed about Accra was the smell. The smoke from cooking fires, burning insecticide, and exhaust is striking- not at all unpleasant, but unlike anywhere I have ever been. I’m greeted by this new smell every morning as I walk across the campus at the University of Ghana, Legon. Women sing as they slice fresh watermelon, pineapple, and mango at the market stands that litter campus, taxi’s honk politely to make their presence known, and in the distance you can hear the sound of the main highway that will take you into the center of the city of Accra. I take the dusty orange paths past tall palm trees that tower over the white-washed buildings with terra-cotta roofs.

Overall, the juxtaposition of rich history and culture and rapid development and innovation is strikingly apparent. Accra is the central hub of business, trade, politics, and development of Ghana, and being able to work here in the midst of that is exciting. This culture of growth and innovation is especially apparent in my work here at the Center for Remote Sensing and Geospatial Analysis (CERSGIS), at the University of Ghana. CERSGIS serves as a resource for government agencies to use GIS in any way that may support their needs. For example, I am currently working on preparing the settlement datasets from the Ghana Statistical Service in order to create comprehensive maps to be used during the next census, in 2020.

CERSGIS itself gracefully bridges the gap between technological innovation and working in a way that is inclusive and cognizant of the many different ways of living in Ghana, ranging from the bustling technological hub that is accra to the more remote, agricultural areas. The staff here balances a job description comprised of fieldwork in these remote areas to ensure that they are reaping the benefits of geospatial technology, while also contributing to the vast realm of research and policy that occurs within government agencies. This, to me, really embodies my perception of Ghana thus far: a place that strives for growth and development without compromising the rich culture and traditions that make it so unique and such an amazing place to live and visit. I can’t wait to share more about where this experience leads me!


  1. ocwhite96 says:

    What a beautifully written post! Thank you so much for giving me a glimpse into the city you’re working in, being back in the familiar swelter of Williamsburg myself. I’ve been to the islands of the UK before, and seen how stimulating and diverse outdoor markets can be — talk about nostalgic!! I really look forward to hearing more about your travels, along with the progress of your research itself. Best of luck!!