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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

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!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid