Accra Mall Impressions

Let’s face it, for most people in Europe and the US, when you hear the word “mall” being mentioned for an African city, you think, “Huh, that can’t mean ‘shopping mall’ can it?” Yes, it can as I saw very much firsthand in Accra, Ghana.
The mall opened up last year and apparently since then, it’s been doing fantastic but it’s really surreal after a day walking through the old markets in the center. Here you are, sitting in the food court, munching some fast food thing and you’d swear you were in Southern California. It really is just like any mall you’d find in the US. It’s packed with teenagers and pretty much everyone else on the weekends because it is the place to get seen. I’m not sure how much they buy outside of ice cream by the kilos, but the crowd is there.
The good part of it is that it’s a mall just like anywhere else in the world, except that it was built by African investors (so I’m told) and it has African department stores in it. That’s the good part. The bad part is that just like any mall in the US, it’s quite far out of the city center, around 10km or so. It’s actually even beyond the airport, which like most airports was initially built a decent way from the center. So yes, it is hurting the center as far as commerce goes. It’s only been a year that this has been happening, so I guess it will be hard to tell how things are going, but with a lot of the center commerce coming from tourists in the center (who are drying up due to the world crisis), I’m sure things will be felt a good deal more with 7% of Ghana’s GDP coming from tourism income (again, so I’m told.)
The other bad side is that it makes traffic out there hell and it’s not cheap to get to. Taxi drivers (who are the devil) happily quote about $7 USD to any white tourist if they can get away with it. Have a local haggle the price and you might get down to $5. This is a lot in Accra. Hell, that would even be decent cab fare in San Francisco. You can shave off a bit by goin’ tro-tro, but still, it ain’t cheap given the general cost of things here.
I don’t live in Accra, so it’s not my call as to whether this is a good or a bad thing. At this point, it just is and it should be proof to most people in the US or Europe that when you can get past your preconceptions, Africa is doing mighty fine.
Accra Mall Impressions

2 Replies to “Accra Mall Impressions”

  1. The products and their prices should be displayed on your website. This would make your site more interesting.

  2. that is so true. with the traffic, men something ought to be done about it, lest, the purpose of the interchange has been defiled….
    The right thing in the wrong place indeed.,,..

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