The idea of visiting or travelling across West African countries can be exciting, but there are certain boxes you should tick to ensure the best experience. The African continent has always been on the top of the list of tourist destinations, but many visitors often come unprepared – and sadly so.
On many occasions, tourists are left disappointed as a result of their bad experiences in Africa – which is often due to poor planning. But, to be candid, travelling to Africa can be as challenging as it can be exciting. More often than not, your level of preparation determines your experience.
In this article, we have highlighted the top five priorities to consider before visiting or travelling to West Africa. So let’s check them out together!
1. Change Your Currency Before Travelling
Despite the ECOWAS treaty, member states still adopt individual currencies. All African countries use different currencies, so if you plan on visiting a country, change your money to the local currency before you get into the country.
For instance, you should change your currency to Naira or carry a Naira ATM card before going into Nigeria, or Cedi before stepping foot in Ghana. Unlike in Europe, America, and Asia, currency conversion in West Africa is an informal industry controlled by Bureau de Change peddlers – the majority of whom you do not want to fall victim to.
2. Get a Yellow Fever Card
Many tourists – including those who live within the West African region- believe that the ECOWAS treaty on regional integration and visa restrictions means people can move freely without documentation.
Well, this is not the case. Apart from checking your international passports and Identity Cards, the military personnel on the numerous checkpoints request for your Yellow Fever Card. Travelling without a Yellow Fever card across West Africa can be frustrating.
In most cases, tourists pay as much as 100 USD for an ‘emergency’ card, which is often issued without administering the Yellow Fever vaccine.
3. Apply for an International Drivers License
If you plan on driving in West Africa during your visit or going on a road trip, then you should do yourself a huge favour by getting an international drivers license.
The good news about this is that the ECOWAS treaty that binds all West African states provides the option of obtaining a drivers license that is acceptable across the 15 ECOWAS member states.
For example, an international drivers license for Ghana can be used in Nigeria, Togo, Benin Republic, and so on, without any issues from road safety and security officials.
4. Be Cautious of the Time Difference
West African countries are close to each other – with a majority of them only having a foot boundary, but do not be deceived. The time zones are different.
So, if you plan on visiting different countries within the region, make sure to do your time calculations properly, so you do not miss important appointments or flights.
Although the countries in the region are an hour apart in time zone, you do not want to know the damage being an hour late can cause.
5. Be Prepared – You Will Be Offline
According to official statistics, there were over 185 million unique mobile phone users in West Africa as of 2018. As of today, the number has drastically increased in geometric progression.
Despite this rapid increase, many parts of West Africa still do not have an internet connection – or have unstable reception. So, this is one thing you need to be prepared for.
Also, there are numerous internet service providers in the region, so be sure to ask questions before opting for a network SIM card.
Travelling – whether for business or tourism, can be fun. But to have the best experiences and be on the safer side, it is advisable to prepare yourself. So, carry out adequate research and arm yourself with as much information as you can possibly assimilate – take notes if you should.
Make your next trip a fun-filled one; prepare yourself adequately!