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The Secret to Getting What You Need in Ghana

Special “protocol” treatment has become a way of life for the privileged few. NANA-OPOKU (AFROSCOPE) ILLUSTRATION FOR FOREIGN POLICY JUNE 11, 2022, 6:00 AM  A friend recently told me a story about his attempt to get his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Accra, the capital of Ghana. When he arrived at the distribution center, he was instructed to join a line outside. An attendant gave each person a number to ensure there were enough doses for everyone. Then a familiar scene appeared: A trickle of cars was ushered into the compound, one by one. Soon afterward, the attendant informed my friend that the facility had run out of shots. In Ghana, the inside connection that likely allowed the people in the cars to skip the vaccine line is called protocol, or “proto” for short. Paradoxically, protocol often means expedited access that circumvents established procedure. People in Ghana do not follow protocol; they have it, through kinship or a social connection. One might use protocol to quickly access a public service, while applying for a

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