News / Africa

    American-Style Mall Westernizes Ghana Shoppers

    Masia Haliki, 23, left and Vida Sunkari, 26, right, at the food court of the Accra Mall, July 5, 2012. (Laura Burke/VOA)
    Masia Haliki, 23, left and Vida Sunkari, 26, right, at the food court of the Accra Mall, July 5, 2012. (Laura Burke/VOA)
    ACCRA – Ghana has the fastest-growing economy in Africa and with that boom has come Westernization. The country's first American-style shopping mall in the capital, Accra is drawing big Sunday crowds and changing the way Ghanaians spend their free time.

    The scene could be from a shopping mall anywhere in the U.S. or Europe: Boys in skinny jeans and girls wearing hot pink lipstick eat pizza at the food court inside the mall. Little kids scamper on a blue blow-up moonwalk close-by. But we’re in Accra,  where the first and only mall was built in 2007. Since then, it has become the epicentre of a new, more Western Accra.

    The shopping mall represents a modern, indoor version of the traditional marketplace. It features a large parking area for a suburban clientele. Like many malls, the Accra mall has a cinema complex, a food court, a children’s play area, and several banks among corridors of clothing and gift shops. It also has a grocery store.

    In the food court,  student Vida Sunkari,  26, wears big silver dangly earrings and her stylish black t-shirt hangs over one shoulder. Her parents are farmers who grow maize and groundnuts in a dusty remote corner of the country called Wa. Vida says she doesn’t want to be a farmer like her parents. She is going to school so she can get a job in the city.

    “I’m doing a secretarial course so maybe I can get employed in a company anywhere,” she explains.

    Vida Sunkari is part of a generation of Ghanaians with meager means who long to make it into the country’s fast-growing middle and upper classes.

    In 2011, the World Bank said Ghana’s economy grew at 14.4 percent - driven by new oil production and the construction sector.
     
    According to a 2011 report from the African Development Bank, while not everyone has benefitted, the number of middle class Africans has tripled over the last 30 years to 313 million people, or more than 34 percent of the continent’s population. Affluence has brought about the growth of suburbs, gated communities and a demand for consumer goods.

    The concept of the shopping mall originated in the United States, and the first suburban shopping centers, as we know them today,  were built in the 1950s. But the mall concept has since spread around the world, with the largest ones located in China and Southeast Asia.
     
    In Accra, manager Amo-Mensah, says this mall was modeled after those in the U.S. and Europe.

    “And because of Accra mall the Ghanaian retail industry has been exposed to a mall concept," explains Amo-Mensah. "Other developers are trying to come up with malls or replicas of malls because they know what malls can do, and they are learning a lot from Accra mall. Very soon, within a year or two you will see a few other malls springing up, not just in Accra but in other regional capitals as well because they’ve come to appreciate what a mall can do for Ghanaians.”

    He says there are four other malls being developed in Ghana now, and that the mall is replacing the beach as a place for Ghanaians to spend time on weekends.

    Asante-Appaih, the owner of the most lucrative business at the mall - a pharmacy and dental clinic - agrees, adding that families come out to the mall in droves on Sundays after church.

    "It’s become a good pastime for Ghanaians after church on Sunday. Our best trading day in the mall is Sunday and that is when families can come because people, the middle class work so hard,"  Asante-Appaih says. "So you can see them and their kids just walking in the corridors and having a good time just like all the other families in Europe or in America."

    He says the mall also helps project an image of Ghana as a place to do business.
     
    “And the thing is when people come to Ghana looking for business and somebody
    tells you, meet me in the mall and let’s have coffee and you sit there and you see
    what is going on in the mall, it tells you that whatever you want to do here will be successful,” Asante-Appaih says.

    Soon, Accra will be a place where upper class people from other countries in the region come to shop, rather than going to Britain or South Africa, the successful store owner says.

    You May Like

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: David Nweze from: Port Harcourt, Nigeria
    July 13, 2012 1:11 PM
    This is the South African invasion of the shopping business in Africa. They have established big malls in the likeness of Marina Mall - Abu Dhabi, Target - USA etc in many cities in Nigeria, now Ghana is their next destination. So far as they do not drive the many small provision stores that provide subsistence means of livelihood to many so be it. After all the likes of Kingsway and Leventis stores left when the conditions degenerated.

    by: Kwei Quartey from: USA
    July 12, 2012 11:36 PM
    I found it flabbergasting how packed the ShopRite (a Ralphs or Vons Supermarket type store) in the Accra mall can get with shoppers. I wouldn't consider the prices affordable by Ghanaian standards. In fact, there were some items I did not buy because I thought they were too much on my American budget!

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.