Ethical Higher Education: The Ashesi University Case

My article from last year on how we educate leaders with a focus on ethics was in the news again this week, this time in English!

I wrote:

“Africa is still the continent with the lowest level of university enrolment, at about 6% of the population compared to a 26% world average, according to UNESCO. What this means is that extremely few Africans ever get a chance to go to university. And those who do are destined to become leaders in society.

With this analysis, Ashesi University College has aimed to bring scholarships to deserving students, quality education to those who can afford, and making sure the future leaders of the continent are both ethical and entrepreneurial.”

But educating ethical leaders in a corrupt environment marred with inequality is a challenge.”

I also mention my taxing commute, here is one small section of it as recently shared with Facebook Live.

Read the whole article over at University World News.

Enjoy!

The Story of Eden Tree – A Household Brand in Ghana

It is Saturday 27 May 2017,  and the new Eden Tree production facility at Lashibi outside of Accra, Ghana is going to be inaugurated. I am there to learn about the company and its production, and leave with much more! In particular, feeling inspired and uplifted by women entrepreneurs in our harsh business climate. See my live Tweets below!

This is how we usually come across EdenTree products, in Ghanaian supermarkets in safe and healthy packaging.
And this is the new production facility that cleans and packages the vegetables, herbs and fruits.
Today, I'm at the new #EdenTreeGh? processing plant opening in Comm 18, Tema, Ghana. #HealthierPeopleBetterNation https://t.co/P7kLm8UmQi

Today, I’m at the new #EdenTreeGh? processing plant opening in Comm 18, Tema, Ghana. #HealthierPeopleBetterNation pic.twitter.com/P7kLm8UmQi
Did you know #EdenTreeGh? is the leading producer and distributor of high-end fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs in Ghana? https://t.co/25CJKevS5R

Did you know #EdenTreeGh? is the leading producer and distributor of high-end fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs in Ghana? pic.twitter.com/25CJKevS5R
Did you know #EdenTreeGh? has been in existence since 1997 and this year celebrates 20 years? https://t.co/cJ66JIvItq

Did you know #EdenTreeGh? has been in existence since 1997 and this year celebrates 20 years? pic.twitter.com/cJ66JIvItq
The biggest surprise of the day was what a superstar the CEO of EdenTree is! I can’t believe Caroline Krobo Edusei Benson is not also a household name!
Did you know #EdenTreeGh? is founded & run by Catherine Krobo Edusei Benson, former banker, agribusiness champion, here standing next to me? https://t.co/HdVO8sPKoX

Did you know #EdenTreeGh? is founded & run by Catherine Krobo Edusei Benson, former banker, agribusiness champion, here standing next to me? pic.twitter.com/HdVO8sPKoX
For those of you getting a kick out of ?powerful women's bios, see pic for #EdenTreeGh? CEO Catherine Krobo Edusei Benson's! #afrifem #blogh https://t.co/IyDdWZCAN8

For those of you getting a kick out of ?powerful women’s bios, see pic for #EdenTreeGh? CEO Catherine Krobo Edusei Benson’s! #afrifem #bloghpic.twitter.com/IyDdWZCAN8
The official launch is about to start at #EdenTreeGh? and I was given a delicious watermelon juice in the hot afternoon sun. You see? ?? https://t.co/pOZyotSflh

The official launch is about to start at #EdenTreeGh? and I was given a delicious watermelon juice in the hot afternoon sun. You see? ?? pic.twitter.com/pOZyotSflh
The Chairperson of EdenTree is also a woman, again a star, accomplished professional, advisor, mother of five, with the name of Mandy Hayford!
"Behind every strong woman there is a tribe of supportive women...", Doreen Andoh introduces #EdenTreeGh? Chairperson Mandy Hayford. https://t.co/3il4wpMToZ

“Behind every strong woman there is a tribe of supportive women…”, Doreen Andoh introduces #EdenTreeGh? Chairperson Mandy Hayford. pic.twitter.com/3il4wpMToZ
“How and what we eat is directly related to our health!” – Mandy Hayford, Chairperson #EdenTreeGh#HealthierPeopleBetterNation
Thanks for the translation into French! You can follow @edentreeghon Twitter & Instagram and my tweets of course! #EdenTreeGh https://twitter.com/madameghana/status/868470779125608448 …
Mr. Vanhelden from The Netherlands Embassy shared very interesting info on a project called GhanaVeg to bring more vegetables to the Ghanaian market.
Rep @NLinGhana tells of his friendship with #EdenTreeGh?, but also shares the shocking fact that Ghana imports onions from The Netherlands?? https://t.co/XUh9r1OMf4

Rep @NLinGhana tells of his friendship with #EdenTreeGh?, but also shares the shocking fact that Ghana imports onions from The Netherlands?? pic.twitter.com/XUh9r1OMf4
Investor in #EdenTreeGh?Baafuor Otu-Boateng of Investisseurs & Partenaires shares @edentreegh‘s CEO goes to visit partner farms every week!
 
On Twitter, people were getting involved…where is this EdenTree place located?
Cambodia Estates – From Coca-Cola Roundabout take a left at the Ecobank. #EdenTreeGh? signs from the T-junction. Produce in Gh supermarkets!  https://twitter.com/anivick101/status/868488671183458304 …
Another favorite time of the day was hearing from the vegetable producers.
A farmer working with #EdenTreeGh? shares how he first met “Madame Tree”. #HealthierPeopleBetterNation pic.twitter.com/93CQaXEqFV
 
I’m guessing there are several, but other problems create this situation. #EdenTreeGh https://twitter.com/agorkoli_/status/868481867250532352 …
"In Ghana, we don't respect farmers. Without farmers, what will you eat?" - Farmer Alhaji Suleiman asks a poignant question #EdenTreeGh? https://t.co/99fLUXkdWU

“In Ghana, we don’t respect farmers. Without farmers, what will you eat?” – Farmer Alhaji Suleiman asks a poignant question #EdenTreeGhpic.twitter.com/99fLUXkdWU
The Ghanaian government was represented at the launch.
Gov rep Mr Baeka, Ministry of Trade & Industry was one of the first people to arrive #EdenTreeGh? today. His speech covered new policies…
…like the One District, One Industry policy, Creation of Industrial parks in all 10 regions…#EdenTreeGh?
Kickstarting automobile & iron ore industries, Support SMEs… If 1/2 of what he presented happens within the next 4 years! ?? #EdenTreeGh?
Finally, the son of the founder and CEO spoke.
“It’s easy to highlight successes, the years of hardwork when no one is looking is the part we need to encourage!” – Mr Longdon #EdenTreeGh?
The launch ended on a very friendly and festive note with EdenTree’s founder and CEO thanking long-time employees.
"I want to talk about relationships", Catherine Krobo Edusei Benson #EdenTreeGh? only addresses us at the end, then to thank her employees!? https://t.co/qfRQYksrsj

“I want to talk about relationships”, Catherine Krobo Edusei Benson #EdenTreeGh? only addresses us at the end, then to thank her employees!? pic.twitter.com/qfRQYksrsj
Touching to see Krobo Edusei Benson's "biggest support", former nanny of her children, employee of 19yrs get a special mention. #EdenTreeGh? https://t.co/BaseBhAI3P

Touching to see Krobo Edusei Benson’s “biggest support”, former nanny of her children, employee of 19yrs get a special mention. #EdenTreeGhpic.twitter.com/BaseBhAI3P
What is your relationship to EdenTree? Did you know of its founder before reading this blog post? Have you tried their products? Which one is your favorite?

Salad with my Favorite Vinaigrette

This post is a collaboration with Eden Tree.

***

I love a good salad, especially on a hot day at home, and feel a vinaigrette takes it to the next level. My Favorite Vinaigrette is more like a life hack than a recipe (no measurements, just guidelines!) that I hope will bring you joy! I make my vinaigrette in big batches and keep in a bottle in the fridge.

 

Favorite Vinaigrette
  • A generous splash of a good vinegar ( I like Apple Cider Vinegar right now, but anything goes)
  • Two generous splashes of oil, preferably Extra Virgin olive oil
  • Something sweet (Just a little Ghanaian honey is fab)
  • One or two cloves of garlic
  • A dollop of French mustard
  • Dried herbs like Thyme, Oregano, Tarragon, or a mix like Herbes the Provence
  • Black Pepper and Salt to taste

Combine all the wet ingredients in a bottle with a reliable cap. I like to put the cloves in the bottle whole, but for them to release their garlicky taste better, you can bruise, break, or if in a hurry to gobble up the vinaigrette, press them. Add the dry spices and the mustard and shake. In my experience, it runs out before it goes bad (but can probably sit safely for a few weeks in the fridge).

 

Salad
  • A bag of Eden Tree Lettuce
  • Half a bag of Eden Tree Basil
  • Half a bag of Eden Tree Parsley
  • Diced Eden Tree Tomatoes
  • Slanted Eden Tree Cucumber or unripe pawpaw
  • Possibly: Smoked fish, olives, lightly boiled green beans, boiled eggs, a good bread etc.

Separate and rinse lettuce leaves and the herbs. It is not strictly needed as Eden Tree vegetables are ready to eat off the shelf, but I always wash veg for freshness. Cut the dried leaves (wet leaves repel vinaigrette, dry leaves soak them up!) and combine with the other cut ingredients. With green beans, eggs, and smoked fish it turns into a Salad Nicoise, with olives and feta cheese it is a Greek Salad, with a bread and some olives it is a good lunch!

Drizzle the Favorite Vinaigratte over your delicious and healthy salad at the table. Soak up any remains with a good bread!

 

Introducing Vickie Remoe and The Official Vickie Remoe Blog

Since many years, I am a fan of Vickie Remoe. How can one not love her spider-in-the-web business smarts, her flamboyant, sensual, and life-affirming style, and her constant reinventing of herself from journalist, to TV-show host, to magazine mogul, to returnee role model, to sexy mama, to marketing expert and the list goes on. Remoe is that person who always writes good content on social media and possibly who’s postings I comment on most, so believe that I  s-h-r-i-e-k-e-d  with joy when I saw she had started her own, self-hosted, personal blog!

I just had to ask Vickie Remoe some questions and share her with you!

 

1. Who are you and what do you do?
 
I’m a storyteller. Even when I’m working with clients and handling their marketing campaigns or drafting their marketing plans, what I feel I’m doing is telling a story. I run a small international marketing firm here in Accra, called Vickie Remoe and Company. We work for clients across the West African sub-region and amongst many other marketing services we help SMEs with the marketing plans they need to increase their sales leads and strategies for growth.

 

2. Why do you do what you do?

 

The sum total of my skills and experience these past 10 years have given me what I believe are insights or intelligence into selling and marketing in West Africa. So it is only natural to package all that and unload it for the benefit of paying clients.

 

3. What is The Official Vickie Remoe Blog and what is a GoWoman?

 

The Official Vickie Remoe Blog is a personal diary. It’s an outlet for me to use my writing not just to teach others but most importantly to tell my story as a means of finding clarity and peace.

 

GoWoman is from GoWoman Magazine, a magazine that I publish for and about what I call the 21st Century African Woman. A GoWoman is a woman who finds or makes a way where there isn’t one.

 

4. Why did you start blogging now?

 

I’ve been blogging for over a decade first on SwitSalone, then on GoWoman, but this is a personal self-centering undertaking. I started to blog because I need a place to connect my thoughts and talk about my own truth and lived experience. I’m not sure there is anyone else out there with my perspective, way of life, living as I am.

 

So I’m telling my story first and foremost for myself but also because I do have a following of young women who I feel need the content I put out, covering the things that would otherwise not be discussed in public. If I am honest and open about my life and my challenges and what I go through it might help them to also live their full lives.

 

5. How do you see Ghana today and where do you see Ghana in 5 years?

 

 

I’ve been here for almost 5 years and quite frankly I believe in Ghana. I have faith in Ghanaians that come what may
they’re going to stay invested and make sure Ghana is and becomes what they want it to be. This is a true democracy, not perfect, but true. In 5 years I think we’ll have more of the same; individual Ghanaians developing innovative solutions to everyday problems. I love Ghana and I hope to contribute to its development in my own way. This is home for better and for worse so we have to build it, all of us citizens and residents.

 

6. What is your best advice to someone who wants to create change?

 

You want to create change? Take small steps and actions. Don’t try to fix the macro problem, focus on what’s near, what’s close, and what you can start today.

 

7. What do you want to promote?

 

I follow a lot of women on social media. Women who exhibit their own light and are doing big and small wondrous things. They inspire me to keep doing me. To me, that’s what I get the most from social media, stories, and inspiration from others that set my soul on fire and give me strength. Some of them I don’t know at all.

 

Locally, I’m inspired by women in business who could be doing anything else but choose to follow their passions in seemingly unconventional fields. My local heroines are Yvette over at Cafe Kwae, Maggie over at Niobe Spa, Maabena  at Fitvolution and of course everyone’s favorite blogger and writer Jemila from Circumspecte. Those are taking the path less chosen, creating footprints for others who may not otherwise know how to get there.

 

Thank you for sharing, Vickie! I especially liked how you promoted other women “creating footprints for others” (sounds just like someone I know!) and your positive imagining of Ghana in the future. I wish Vickie all the best with her personal and very readable blog The Official Vickie Remoe Blog – two recent posts I read on dating married men and miscarriage – and suggest you follow her on FB and Instagram.

Guest Post: Being a foreigner in a country that we want to call home

After my blog post on my 10 years in Ghana last week, I received numerous comments, ideas for celebrations (leaning towards a night at TeaBaa with friends) as well as congratulatory messages. Over the weekend, I also received a very special email as a response to my blog post from someone who understands my position extremely well, someone who is living a life with one foot in Canada and one in Ghana. I really enjoyed Rod McLaren‘s email and therefore asked him if I could share it with my readers on the blog. Luckily he said yes, here is his email.

___________________________________________________________

 

Good morning, Kajsa,

You just observed your ten year anniversary in Ghana – congratulations. You are one of those special individuals who have the perseverance and positive outlook on life that is required for the long haul. Good on you!

Several of your observations resonated with me and prompted me to write to you today. You and I have met only briefly, but I have followed your Facebook posts. I feel like we are connected because of the common experience of being a foreigner in a country that we want to call home.

When I moved to Ghana in 2001, I had already logged the equivalent of close to three years in the country if one took into account the two years that I taught in Half Assini 1971-73 plus the many visits over the ensuing 28 years, visits that were always a month or longer each time. In 2001, I was quite convinced that I would remain in Ghana until the end of my life, and that my ashes would become part of the red laterite soil of West Africa. Well, I didn’t quite make it. After 10 years, for reasons that have only in part to do with Ghana, I returned to Canada.

Rod McLaren with his son Akwasi.

Ghana can be very frustrating at times. I am not referring to the day-to-day life, which I thoroughly enjoyed or the “real” people (i.e. not bureaucrats), especially those in the villages, who for the most part live with enthusiasm and energy and joy. However, it can be tiring to be called obruni after a while, and especially so when that comes from someone behind a desk at Ghana Immigration Service who knows and has seen less of the country than I have and who was not even born when I learned to chop fufu. My biggest Ghanaian disappointment was not being granted citizenship, even though I applied as soon as I qualified, and followed up on the application repeatedly.

It is now six years since I returned to Canada. My return has been challenging in two ways. I have had to learn to adapt, and in some ways, this has been more difficult than the adaptations that the move to Ghana required. In the first place, Canada is not the same country that I left, due to the restructuring that had taken place at the hands of an extreme right wing government. It is not a kind country anymore – the focus is more on resource extraction regardless of the cost to citizens, Indigenous rights, and the environment.The restructuring continues under a different political party that puts on a pretty face but is still directed by the same neoliberal ideology as its predecessor.

There is another, more personal challenge, one that you mentioned in your post. Even though I am back in the country of my birth, I feel as though I am an outsider who sees Canada and the world through the eyes of my experience in Africa. It is not easy at times to find people who share a common point of view.

In spite of that, I am happy with my life. I am blessed to be living with a very generous woman. I have been able to pursue activities that are my passion. My health continues to be very good. My children and grandchildren are well. My past has blessed me with wonderful memories. Life is good.

And so I will close with my wishes for another ten wonderful years for you and your family. Carry on blogging.

Best wishes,

Rod McLaren

KajsaHA.com is Best Expat Blog in Ghana (and my problems with being called “expat”)

iCompareFX.com Expat Blog Awards 2017

I was informed, my blog has received the honor of  “The Best Expat Blog in Ghana 2017”. However, I have a very dual feeling about this – am I even an expat?

First of all, the awards are produced by a company which do comparisons of online money transfer sites. They, of course, run this blog competition to gain exposure in social media to make more money.

However that is not really my main issue with this award, my main problem is the word “expat”, short for “Ex-patriate”, which seems to suggest a patriate or a patriot who has been taken out (ex- in Latin) from his or her habitat or country. Is that really my situation? Am I after 10 years in Ghana not more like a newish, slightly odd, Ghanaian? Even more important, an article by Mawuna Remarque Koutonin that went around on social media a few years back convincingly argued there is a racial aspect to the term – a white foreigner is “an expat” and a non-white is “an immigrant”. The author concludes that the only thing to do to change this is to call white foreigners in Africa “immigrants” too. Although I have called myself an expat before, for instance in this 2008 blog post, this debate really enlightened me.

I completely agree with the analysis on the oft racially biased use of “expat”. Hence, I do not feel comfortable to be identified as an expat – if anything, I am an immigrant!

The description of my (immigrant) blog reads:

Kajsa Hallberg Adu owns and operates the blog, Kajsa HA. Born and raised in Sweden, her international life began when she volunteered at the World Expo 2000 in Germany. She went to the U.S. to study, before returning to Sweden for her Bachelor’s in Political Science. During the course of her Master’s degree, she interned in Paris. She moved to Ghana in 2007. Her blog essentially delves into lifestyle, politics, and social media. However, she shares her musings about other aspects as well.

However, I did enjoy the complete list of  winning blogs, importantly not all written by white foreigners, and might very well start reading some blogs from Argentina, Botswana, and Egypt by some fellow immigrants to widen my horizons and I hope you do too.

The world is after all made better by immigrants – the jury is still out on expats!

 

 

Celebrating 10 Years of Living in Ghana

This week, I have a major life anniversary: 10 years of living in Ghana! On April 17th, 2007, I stepped on the Kotoka tarmac in Accra with two big suitcases, and was hit by a hot wind of promise. 

And Chale, Ghana has delivered…

(Our wedding slideshow has more than 21 000 views!)

But despite worldly successes, the transition from a cold, Scandinavian country to a hot Tropical one has not always been easy. In my home of 10 years, I continue to be an outsider who hear “Welcome!” every single week. While I smile and say “Thank you!”, it hurts to know I can never fully be accepted here. I often say “I am a 7-8-9, now, 10-year-old in this context…” and I like that image as it often accurately reflects how much – or how little –  I understand of my surroundings. Many things (traditions, greetings, events, ideas, relationships, ends of relationships) here still surprise me, actually surprise me more than during the early days in Ghana.

In addition, 10 years away has made me start to feel like a stranger in Sweden. Swedish politics, fashion, topics for discussion throw me off, makes me raise my eyebrows. While I can walk the streets in Sweden totally blending in…ok, maybe not when I sport my colourful wax print in the sea of black, gray, and beige…but, at least, without hearing anyone welcoming me, I increasingly feel like a stranger who look around with a surprised face. I am reminded of what a family friend who grew up somewhere else said about living a life abroad: “soon, you don’t belong anywhere”.

Missing being close to my Swedish family is unfortunately a feeling that grows with time.

I am not saying the above because I want to complain, no! Life in Ghana for 10 years has undoubtedly been good to me,  or else I would not have stayed. My dreams have come true! But life in Ghana is not just good, rather it is continuously the adventure of my life.

I am still thinking of how to mark this milestone, if you have ideas, write a comment below. Thanks!

 

 

Ghana, Rape Culture, and Sexual Consent: From Otiko Djaba to #LetsTalkConsent and #HowShortWasYourSkirt

Two weeks ago, many Ghanaians were in shock after hearing the reported statement from the Minister of Gender, Children, and Social Protection at a senior high school she visited. This text is only partly about what the Minister said, and mainly about the useful conversation that ensued about who bears the responsibility for rape and how talking about sex and consent can be transformative.

 

The Speech

In her speech, Honourable Minister Otiko Djaba advised the high school girls in front of her, she said:

“If you wear a short dress, it’s fashionable but, know that it can attract somebody who would want to rape or defile you. You must be responsible for the choices you make”

In an excellent historical contextualization of the statement (and the ministry in the limelight) by Prof Akosua Adomako Ampofo, the professor suggested:

“The problem that everyone who has criticized her remarks refers to, is the link she made between short dresses and rape. There are many reasons not to wear a very short dress—so as not to draw unwanted attention to oneself, to dress to suit the occasion, to provide a professional appearance, to not expose one’s underwear if you want to climb a bus or cross your legs—but risking rape is not one of them and the connection is tenuous at best and dangerous at worst since it makes the victims responsible.”

Blogger Nnyamewaa fumed:

“Often victims are subjected to awful queries like “what were you doing in his room” and “what were you wearing,” suggesting that they’re somehow to blame for the actions of the rapist. Minister, your comment did exactly what rapists want, ignore their actions and place the burden of preventing rape on women. It serves no one than just perpetuates the rape culture, allowing rapists to get away with their crimes.”

That is, connecting appearance and rape is shifting blame from a perpetrator to a victim. How is that OK?

 

The Rapes

We see reports of rape and “defilement” (rape of child) often in the news. Brutal gang rapes and people in power such as police, teachers, and guardians attacking rather than helping. This recent article about how many families cannot afford to report a rape I think summarize the way many Ghanaians see the issue (settlement fees of GHS 500 or $125 are apparently common).

 

The Reaction

Ghana has been all but quiet on the issue in the last couple of weeks. First, there was a Twitter conversation #letstalkconsent, I believe coming out of journalist and public speaker Nana Akosua Hanson‘s event series on sex and consent. Online the #letstalkconsent hashtag trended and hundreds of Ghanaians discussed the issue. See a summary of the conversation on Storify.

The whole #letstalkconsent conversation reminded me quite a lot of the Swedish conversation on sexual consent from 2010 that was called #prataomdet  (“let’s talk about it”) happening in the aftermath of the very public Julian Assange rape case. The beauty of that conversation was to talk about the gray areas of sex – the times when sex goes from being exciting to scary and that we all have the right to say STOP.

In addition, Podcast Unfiltered hosted by journalist Nana Ama Agyemang Asante has covered the issue from many angles: in an episode on rape with Efua Prah, gender expert and my colleague at Ashesi University, in an episode on casual sex and consent with Eyram Seshie and Jessica Boifio.

Podcast The Other Room hosted by Cel, Kess, Aj and Vee also discussed this issue from the angle of safe spaces (Ep. 06). The name of the podcast, of course, is an ironic take on Nigerian President Buhari’s idea on where his wife belongs.

Last week, journalist and lecturer Esther Armah organized a forum for media people that sought to discuss how issues of rape and consent are covered in the news media (the conversation also came to be about the role of blogs, in a way I have never heard blogs be discussed in Ghana before, is this a sign of that blogs are finally seen as a force to reckon with in Ghana? Perhaps this is another post!) The #Reimagine2017 event covered both ethical aspects of journalism and public rape cases and media’s role in covering them.

At Ashesi University where I teach, the Vagina Monologues were staged. Guided by Faculty Intern and director Caira Lee, students also wrote their own texts about sexual transgressions and shared them with the audience. From the article on the Ashesi website:

“Restaging the Monologues within our context was important because it helps spread awareness about sexuality,” said Lilian Awuor ’18. “It creates a platform for young women to share their struggles, thoughts and feelings on how it is like being a young woman in Africa today.”

This week, activists and film-folk in Accra like AWDF‘s Jessica Horn, Maternal Health Channel’s Ivy Prosper and An African City‘s Maame Adjei and Nicole Amartefio together with LetsTalkConsent have started another campaign on the same topic: #HowShortWasYourSkirt. Short films that comment on the skirt length (are you listening Honourable Otiko Djaba?), on issues of intoxication, on what we should tell young people about rape.

There are likely many more initiatives out there that have skipped my end-of-semester-two-kids-at-home-busy radar, but these are events, programs, articles I have read, listened to or participated in and support fully.

 

What is Rape Culture? 

Rape culture or a culture that condones rape is built on a patriarchal societal structure. In such a structure, women are responsible if there is a sexual transgression, women have to limit their lives to be safe, women should be thinking about what they wear. Prof. Adomako-Ampofo again:

“…when we talk about so-called “women’s issues” such as violence against women, including rape, these are in fact “gendered” issues. In other words, if we take the case of rape, women are disproportionately the victims of rape and men are disproportionately the perpetrators. This is because rape is about exerting power and control, and men generally have more “power” in society than women do. Therefore, the ministry is expected to address the gendered nature of our societies when it addresses issues such as rape.”

This 2005 expert paper prepared by Elizabeth Ardayfio-Shandorf for the UN of over 3000 individuals in Ghana suggested:

“Female respondents were asked whether any man had forced sex on them. Likewise male respondents were asked whether they have forced and had sex with any woman (whether a wife or a girlfriend) against her wishes. Eight percent (8%) of the females said they have had that experience before and 5% of the men also said they had forced sex on their wives and girlfriends. According to the males, this happens when women/girls always request for money from them and deny them sex in return. It is also meant to settle a quarrel between them.[..]On the question of what action was taken after these acts, 59% said they never reported these actions to anybody.”

 

What can we do?

Many societies have a rape culture, Ghana from everything I have discussed above most definitely does, and to change it I believe we can and should:

  • discuss sex openly to make sure young people know as much as possible about sex
  • place sexual consent center stage, not what she wore, where they were, or what time it was
  • make rape a criminal rather than a civil offense so that charges cannot be dropped and threats to doing so will always be fruitless
  • educate ourselves about patriarchy, rape culture, and slut-shaming
  • get outraged and speak up to make a difference

When the Minister who is supposed to protect young women does the opposite, it is a time to throw your hands up in disbelief and shock, but it is also the time to roll up your sleeves and educate. In this post, I have sought to highlight some of the activists in Ghana leading the ensuing educative, enlightening conversations. Thank you for transforming the conversation. I applaud you.

 

 

Mobile Money and Payment Systems: Follow me to #EOBS2017

Mobile Money and Payment Systems: Follow me to EOBS2017

On 22 March 2017, the players in digital money in Ghana met and deliberated. Here is my report.

 

Only a third of Ghanaians have bank accounts and the trend is banks are closing branches and focusing on corporate banking. In 2009, however, mobile money was launched in Ghana and this system also reach the unbanked. In 6 months last year the total transactional value of digital transfers was GHS 30.6 billion.

What is the future of mobile money & digital payments in ??Ghana? I'm at #EOBS2017 to find out. https://t.co/g2rHlj11NQ https://t.co/ub4Drk19Sf

What is the future of mobile money & digital payments in ??Ghana? I’m at #EOBS2017 to find out.  http://www.ghanaeconomicoutlook.com/program/ pic.twitter.com/ub4Drk19Sf
The challenge to modernize the banking sector Ghana about 10 years ago, says Archie Hesse of GhIPSS. #EOBS2017 https://t.co/kAhKbmf7la

The challenge to modernize the banking sector Ghana about 10 years ago, says Archie Hesse of GhIPSS. #EOBS2017 pic.twitter.com/kAhKbmf7la
There are 2 major problems: 1. Majority of Ghanaians are unbanked, 2. Most of our transactions are carried out in cash – Hesse. #EOBS2017
Until GhIPSS created a check clearing system, transfers with check in Accra took 3 days, between Accra – other parts of Ghana 7! #EOBS2017
Hesse says Ghana is doing well. Gh-link has made it possible to draw money from any ATM, “Perhaps for a fee, but it is possible” #EOBS2017
“We are now moving to instant, instant, instant, instant.” – Hesse Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems Limited (GhIPSS) #EOBS2017
We were challenged by the VP to Full financial inclusion & enable transfer mobile wallet->eSwich->bank account. – Hesse. #EOBS2017

What Infrastructure is Needed for the Sector to Blossom?

Next an interesting convo on what tech backbone is needed for development. Do we need 4G? Or do we leverage on current system? #EOBS2017
First reference of the day to Silicone Valley. Just before we heard there’s no network in Oboase to enable a mobile money merchant.#EOBS2017
Direct question to @KWAKU101 of Ghtelcoms: When can we have 2G everywhere in Ghana? #EOBS2017
I thought the same – maybe for some in the #EOBS2017 room 2G is the lower limit of their world? 🙂  https://twitter.com/retornam/status/844578314920456192 …
“We have 90% coverage, then there are areas which are low revenue generating. Networks are cooperating in those areas” – @KWAKU101#EOBS2017
Comment from the audience: for expanding the market for data products, access to fast Internet matters. #EOBS2017
Reminder from @saqibnaz that power is a major challenge for the tech sector. #EOBS2017
People watching at @Ghana_Business Economic Outlook & Business Strategy Conference 2017 #EOBS2017 pic.twitter.com/ZShE3IctG5

What’s next?

Merchant payments
Next wave of payment modernisation we think will be merchant payments, many-to-one, says Saqib Nazir @InterpayAfrica#EOBS2017
The opposite, nano-payments, allow day labourers and currently unbanked to access services such as insurance, paying daily. -Nazir #EOBS2017
Rural network expansion
There is Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communication working on rural network expansion. More info:  http://gifec.gov.gh #EOBS2017
Using mobile money agents for many more services
Account from Zimbabwe: Mobile money agents have trust in the community so can be used to educate consumers! #EOBS2017
Next is integrating mobile money (transfer between telcos& banks) and expanding access to banking. #EOBS2017 https://twitter.com/fkoku/status/844591032268455938 …
Comments from the floor on that much of Ghana is still unbanked. What can we do with local languages? Education on mobile money? #EOBS2017
Eli Hini of @MTNGhana Mobile Money says he is looking for content to provide to his customers. Cc @BloggingGhana #EOBS2017
Disruption!
Dr. Sharron McPherson, Centre for Disruptive Technologies, talks about how @Uber @mysocietyone @Airbnb disrupted their fields. #EOBS2017 https://t.co/t1Uu7zuoNu

Dr. Sharron McPherson, Centre for Disruptive Technologies, talks about how @Uber @mysocietyone @Airbnb disrupted their fields. #EOBS2017pic.twitter.com/t1Uu7zuoNu
We are talking not just of future of banking & payment systems, but how this will transform every sector in Ghana, says McPherson #EOBS2017
Fascinating payment innovation timeline. #EOBS2017 https://t.co/R8WMtFkITj

Fascinating payment innovation timeline. #EOBS2017pic.twitter.com/R8WMtFkITj

Mobile money is already changing lives – and businesses

My q: Two years ago, my niece became mobile money merchant. Today, she employs 3. Where will my niece be in 2, 5, 10 years? ??#EOBS2017
MMoney wil raise savings 4 investmnt jobs, growth, lower poverty~@MBawumia @TelecomsChamber @MTNGhana@VodafoneGhana @airtelghana #EOBS2017
I ended my reporting with an online survey – among those who answered less than 2/10 use mobile money or digital banking.
Thanks for reading my #EOBS2017 tweets. Now before you go: How did you pay for things today? ???
I also took a selfie with Kwaku Sakyi-Addo of the TelecomsChamber (former well-known journalist). But to see it you have to head over to Instagram, I’m @KajsaHA there too. Kwaku was also happy with the conference!

Introducing The Flint and its Initiator: Emmanuel Quartey

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email with a very long text about WhatsApp marketing in Accra. Sure, I am a social media fan, but marketing and WhatsApp are not exactly my areas of interest. Still, I read the entire article and said to myself, something like: “I need to know more about this high quality initiative taking social media so seriously in our local context”. So, I contacted the initiator and asked him a few questions. Here is my interview with Emmanuel.

1. Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Emmanuel Quartey, and up until very recently, I was the General Manager of the MEST Incubator (which funds and supports early stage tech startups) in Accra. I consider myself primarily a product designer, but to be honest, I find the “what do you do” question increasingly difficult to answer these days. For money, I’m currently doing product design and digital marketing consulting. Otherwise, I’m working on The Flint, and saying “Yes” to all sorts of inbound requests from founders and VCs to chat about some a broad range of topics. So in summary: I write, I design, I figure out how to get people excited about things on the internet, and I have conversations with interesting people who’re working on interesting things.

2. Why do you do what you do?

I do what I do:

  • Because I want to know how and why things are. I get a special bone-deep thrill from understanding how things work, especially human systems. When this happens, I want to tell everyone about what I learned.
  • Because I’m fascinated by the relationship between the words of ideas, and the world of made things. I’m driven by the desire to understand how it is that some ideas make the leap from a mind to “reality,” while others get smothered immediately.
  • Because I feel I’ve been incredibly lucky and privileged, and I feel an obligation to make the opportunities I’ve had available for as many people as possible.
  • Much of this is motivated by my mother, whose life has been defined by service to others.
  • I’ve been very motivated throughout my life by school – I’ve had incredible teachers and the attended institutions with very strong missions. Primary school was St. Paul Methodist in Tema, whose motto was “Knowledge is Power”, High school was SOS-Hermann Gmeiner International College, whose motto is “Knowledge in the Service of Africa”, College was Yale, whose motto, “Lux et Veritas” means “Light and Truth”…It sounds corny but that underlying message of learning and sharing knowledge means A LOT to me and drives a surprising amount of my thinking and actions.
  • Even more, I am motivated by fear and anger. Fear because there are these horrible forces out in the world and I worry that we’re not equipped to withstand them. Anger because we could be so much more. We could be SO much more.

3. What is The Flint?

On a very practical level, The Flint is an online publication about technology in Africa, aimed primarily at non-technical African entrepreneurs who’re eager to leverage technology to achieve more. I meet so many people pursuing fascinating ideas, but they lack the exposure to simple tools and processes that’ll help with user acquisition, recruitment, etc etc. Technology can be a productivity-enhancing multiplier for literally everyone, but too much of the knowledge is trapped in highly technical writing aimed at tech startups.

More conceptually, The Flint is also a vehicle for me to explore ideas around digital media. I believe that in the future, literally, every company will be a digital media company. By which I mean that every company will be in the business of acquiring, translating, storing, and distributing information. Manufacturing? Files (information) of objects will be transmitted (distributed) to be printed (translated) on site. Housing? Airbnb owns no property and yet manages the flow of information to put millions of people into millions of homes. Sports? Sports teams are already experimenting with placing fitness trackers on athletes and repackaging those statistics into content that is consumed by sports fans.

I genuinely believe this is the direction we’re heading in, and I very much want to understand as much as possible about how digital media entities work. What better way to run one myself? It’s very much an exercise in working and learning in public – in addition to the interviews, I’ll be sharing updates on what I’m learning while building The Flint. I’ll learn a ton and hope people will be interested in learning along with me.

4. The name clearly is about sparks, what fire to do want to light?

Racial justice means a lot to me. I want us to wake up to the fact that we have the tools to become masters of our own destiny. It begins by changing our relationship to our work – whatever “work” means to you from a chore, to craft. We need to 1) become craftspeople and domain experts in everything we do, and 2) we need to TEACH EACH OTHER how to level up.

We need to learn how to do hard things.

5. How do you see Ghana today and where do you see Ghana in 5 years?

Oh, goodness! Ghana leaves me both incredibly excited and intensely frustrated. I think Ghana is genuinely something special on the continent. I think our tiny nation has often proven that we have a remarkable ability to lead the way for the entire continent, and I think we’re dimly aware of that fact.

I don’t know where we’ll be in 5 years.

I hope we’re at a place where we realize we, collectively, need to be so much more serious about so many more things.

6. What is your best advise to someone who wants to create change?

I’m hesitant about answering this question but:
Courage is contagious. If you see something that isn’t right, say something, or do something about it to the extent of your ability. Someone once said that courage isn’t the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. When you step up, you give other people permission to do same. They agree with you, but they were waiting for someone to say it first. “If not you, then who? If not now, then when?” – Hillel the Elder

Find your tribe. Chosen families are powerful. Find your people who resonate on the same frequency as you and let them nourish you. It’s important to note that your tribe might not be your biological family or members of your school or religion. You might have to go far afield, but find them.

There will never be a perfect time. Planning can quickly become procrastination. Do it, even a small version of it. Do it now. Throw the bottle into the sea. Your people will find you, no matter how faint your signal.

Do cool things. Tell people about it. Repeat. People will mimic you. That’s how change happens, I think.

7. What do you want to promote? (a book that changed your life, what someone who wants to write for The Flint needs to do, go to grad school, don’t go to grad school etc.)

I’m very eager for people to contribute their knowledge to The Flint! The Flint wants to become a community of makers and craftspeople creating and sharing knowledge with each other.

If you don’t have the time to write, don’t worry – reach out to me and if I think your story will be instructive for others, I’ll write it for you. The things that make a good story for The Flint:

  • It reveals new facts or data that people would be surprised to know
  • It teaches a process/framework that can help a group of Africans do more
  • It involves technology in some way (note: “tech” can be as simple as a telephone)
    People can pitch ideas at emmanuel@theflint.io

Thank you for sharing, Emmanuel! I especially liked how you linked change not just to start-ups and entrepreneurship, but to civic courage and speaking up.  I wish Emmanuel all the best with his fiery, new project and hope you also like The Flint!

Enter the Media Kit for Bloggers

So I have quietly been working on some interesting blog related projects, I will tell you more soon. I’ll start by outdooring my media kit.

I got the idea from Swedish blogs which often have them and when the Influencers of Sweden wrote about how to make your own, see for instance this post with three examples of media kits in English,  I came up with this doc that you can download from my Contact-page. See a first version below:

The idea is that potential collaborators and media people will be able to get a summary of what the blog is about and how influential it is (measured in followers, visits, etc).

Does my media kit summarise my blog? If you are a blogger, will you make one?