Residents of Accra are in a good position to view the total eclipse of the sun which will be visible in some parts of Africa on 29 March. First contact will begin at just after 08.00 GMT and end two and a half hours later, at around 10.30; the phase of totality, during which the sun is completely obscured by the moon, will begin at around 9.10 and last just under three minutes.

Ghana is expecting an influx of tourists for the occasion. The private sector in particular is busy preparing for the event, with special eclipse tours and other promotional events aimed at bringing in precious hard currency.

Meanwhile, the ministry of tourism is planning a public education campaign to stress the importance of using proper observing methods during the partial phases of the eclipse, when the sun can still cause permanent eye damage or blindness. Such methods include watching the eclipse indirectly by projecting an image of the sun onto a screen or observing it directly using a solar filter. Ordinary sunglasses and smoked glass do not provide adequate protection from harmful rays.

The authorities may find that mother nature lends a helping hand; the eclipse coincides with the start of the rainy season in Ghana and it could well be that it is obscured by heavy cloud.

After Ghana, the eclipse will be visible in Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Libya and Egypt. The most recent total solar eclipse occurred on 11 August 1999 and was visible in parts of Europe and the Middle East.