I was warned to jealously guard my one cedi notes and coins, but I did not realize how important this would be until I was trying to buy lunch the other day. I walked up and down the street, but no one could sell me fried cheese or avocados and give me change for my ten cedis. I was starved by the time I decided to go to the canteen and buy a full plate of jollof rice.
Although my problem with small change is likely exacerbated by the disparity in income between me and most of the people living in Tamale (I take 100 cedis (about $70) out of the ATM at a time, where many people may earn only a few cedis a day), I believe the lack of small change is a problem for everyone. Many things are sold for less than 1 cedi, yet 10 cedi notes are prolific and coins are rare. I have heard there are businesses that will trade you 9 one cedi notes for your 10 cedi note. This problem may also be related to the recent re-denomination of the cedi; several years ago they chopped four zeros off the currency; what sold for 10000 cedis is now 1 cedi.