So, you want to live in Africa? Or an extended visit? Cool. Hopefully the following few tips might make your experience easier and a little more fun.
Africa is amazing. The people, the history, the culture, the religions, just everything about it can easily get one hooked. BUT, one wrong move and your experience turns bad and you can't get out of there soon enough.
A common sense rule that can be applied anywhere, is be very careful with whom you put your trust in.
Next, get to the embassy as soon as possible and check in with them, register where you will be and dates you plan to be at certain areas.
Africa in general, is known for its corruption and the trickle down effect can carry to the vendors. If you don't have a plan or strategy, once you get off the plane you are at the mercy of anyone and everyone. Any foreigner is seen as a walking bank willing to hand over their money just because someone will ask. Prices will be double, maybe triple (especially from taxi drivers) so make sure you negotiate everything. Depending on your level of courage, check into a cheap hotel and hit the streets. If not so courageous, check into an expensive hotel who will then offer you an expensive service to help you get about. But since you are brave enough, you are heading out solo. Just walk, anywhere and any direction. Keep track of landmarks, GPS from your phone, draw a map, just about anything that woks for you so you don't get lost. I tend to start out walking a straight line for as far as I can, walking back and past my hotel until I almost get tired, turn around and head back to the hotel.
Along the way, you will meet beggars and brokers. Don't worry, they will find you. Help the beggars if you like, chat with the brokers. They will always ask you for tea or cigarette money so prepare yourself with some loose change. Never go anywhere with them though or even take them to dinner (some will ask). It is almost always a setup and better safe than sorry. Stand on the sidewalk and talk. Ask for cheap housing, accommodations, buses to other parts of the country you are going to or just about anything you are looking for. Remember, negotiate a lower price. I like to take their name and number, give them a few bucks for their time and trouble and start walking again. After a few minutes, another broker will approach and I do the same thing. This way I can now compare. If you see a large discrepancy in the pricing, you know which one to take. If you are walking and no one approaches you, just ask the next person you see to point you to a taxi stand or bus stop. The brokers will find you! They will help you to find lodging cheap or a house to rent. Remember, always negotiate. Their fees are paid by you and the landlord anywhere from 10% to a month for commission.
When you are out buying food, kind of listen to see what people are paying. Most vendors will have a sign, 4 onions for x amount. I find the food cheap (and tasty) and usually don't bother to try to negotiate. I also try to change vendors every day BUT keep to the ones in the area. Africa tends to have the same types of shops (auto parts, cell phones, vegetable stands) in the same area. So if I go to buy veggies at one place, chances are good there are four or five other veggie vendors close by. If they see you coming daily and buying from different vendors, they will try to get you to always come to them so you might end up better quality and/or quantity.
Don't walk around late at night most anywhere. That's an assault just waiting to happen. Just a common sense thing but many people think they will be ok. But they aren't.
Some things work differently. An eyebrow raise or a hmph means yes, wave goodbye means come here and be careful crossing the street in a left lane driving country. Habit says look left look right look left. Pedestrians do not have the right away and taxi drivers and motorcycle drivers don't care enough to slow down, so heads up.
The last little tip, learn some basic words. Thank you, hello, numbers, and foreigner (mzungu for East Africa, ferenge for Ethiopia for example). Most people know basic English so talk slow and simple and usually communication isn't a problem. Always smile and nod a greeting if someone calls. Usually it is a broker.
As I said, Africa is amazing! It can be fun or it can be brutal. Common sense is the key. Use your head, keep your cool and who knows, you might not want to leave.