Social Media and Business in Ghana

Some of our Ashesi students are doing a project for which they asked me of my opinions on Social Media (SM) and business in Ghana. I thought my answers might be of interest to others as well, so here they are!

1.      In your opinion, how have social media affected businesses in Ghana?

At this point, not so much. Some have SM helplines (like Vodafone), but others like ECG are not on SM. When you leave a gap, fake accounts are rife.

2.      Do businesses use of social media to market their products in Ghana?

Some do,  a recent campaign by Nescafe was very popular. Many businesses however lose out as they do not know their target groups are online!
My guess is that only 5% of Ghana companies are on social media. My student Anna Amegatcher last year did a thesis to investigate media companies’ use of SM that showed that even media companies underutilise SM.

3.      What are the factors that regulate businesses usage of social media in Ghana?

High cost of access to Internet, frequent power cuts, know-how in social media, lack of benchmarking internationally …and maybe also sense of adventure?

4.      In your opinion, is there a need for improvement on the current usage of social media in Ghana?

Well, I think Internet costs need to come down and powers supply me constant, then I think it will happen by itself.

5.      Apart from advertisements, in what other ways do businesses use social media in Ghana?

Ads are not a good way of using SM, the point is it is a two-way communication, a conversation (not a megaphone or billboard). Successful campaigns ask the target group to post photos using a specific hashtag, organise competitions, ask questions, invite ideas for new designs  etc.

6.  Are there disadvantages of using social media for businesses? If yes, which are these disadvantages?

If you SM managers mess up, your company looks bad. For instance Vodafone answered me publicly on Twitter in a very rude way, that was not good for the Vodafone brand.

7.       Which social media platform, if any has been credited with greatest promotion of businesses in Ghana?

I think FB and What’s App have both been important. Businesses that want to look good should be on Twitter and Google+ as well.
8.  What is the relation between the cost of internet in the past and the present?
It isn’t! Prices have increased over the last years, maybe the only country in the world where technology advances do not lead to lower costs!

9.  In your own opinion, what is the future of social media and it’s relation to businesses I Ghana?

It will for sure grow. This is the future. I see all companies joining FB and Google+ and Twitter. Maybe Instagram (growing fast in Ghana) and YouTube as well. Many more will do customer service online and hire SM managers, likely who will report to executives in the company as SM is an important window to customers.

Do you agree with me or are there other things to be said about social media and business in Ghana?

Kajsa in Horisont Magasin

Some weeks ago, I was interviewed for the Swedish magazine Horisont (=horizon in English) about my life in Ghana. They focussed on Ghanaian politics and my personal adjustment to a new country – mixed with full spread photos. Now “my” issue is out!

Here is a sneak peak.

 

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The feeling of seeing one’s own words as captured by a journalist in print is hard to describe. My father sometimes talks about how our time is one of celebrity or wanting to be famous. I guess something like this then is a jackpot. On the other hand, it becomes very clear – when on this side of the magazine – that even those interviewed over colorful spreads of glossy paper are mere mortals.

Want to read the whole article?

If in Sweden, here is a list of places that sell the magazine. You can also order Horisont.

Nigeria’s Non-Violent Protest Movements Deserve More Attention!

An article I have written about political movements in Ghana’s neighboring country of Nigeria was recently published on the CIHA blog( Critical Investigations in Humanitarianisms in Africa).

I wrote:

“In a country where citizens are on their own for organizing almost every aspect of life, be it electricity, health, schooling or security – all this in stark contrast to the affluence the oil industry brings to a select few – there is much to protest about. In Africa’s most populous nation and, since recently, biggest economy, there is diversity in protests as well. While extremist Boko Haram is receiving increased attention in the media worldwide for its horrid and violent actions, nonviolent movements Change Movement Nigeria and Enough is Enough Nigeria work mostly under the international news radar”.

Read the whole article here: Nigeria’s Non-Violent Protest Movements Gathering Momentum.

My Blogger of the Week “Twitterview” Hosted by BloggingGhana

I have collated all Q&A’s in a blogpost here inspired by the first BloggingGhana Blogger of the Week, Mighty African.

The Twitter interview or “twitterview” took about 1 hour and a half and it was a lot of fun. Again, I am introduced to a new and interactive way of using the Internet that just blows your mind away – there can be meaningful discussion with people you have never met in real life.

Ok, so here you go, courtesy of Google Docs.

 

Frontline on Swedish Radio

In connection with the first broadcast of my program, Frontline 2012, the Swedish national radio called for an interview. When they first called on the day of my TV debut, I had no time to spare, so decided to talk to the reporter from the hair salon chair where I was getting ready for my big night.

Although I was stressed and had to switch ears several times to not interfere with my hair cut, the program Verkligheten i P3 went live on Tuesday and came out really nice in my own humble opinion.

Apparently the program was running a series on “unknown celebrities” and they thought I was a perfect fit as someone interviewing presidential candidates in a country far away!

If you know Swedish or believe you are a language genius, you can listen to the program here.

My Experience of 9/11 2001 in the US (and a Book)

Book cover for "Life After Sept 11th, 10 stories from New York" by Marianne Lentz

Some time ago, my Rotary Scholarship mate from my year in the US, got in touch. We met in 2001 at Reinhardt College in Georgia, US. She is now a journalist and was doing research for a book about the aftermath of September 11th 2001. She wanted me to tell her what I remembered from that day. This is the text I sent her:

“I woke up in my dorm room in the morning of 9/11. It was an ordinary day and after taking a shower I reviewed my Spanish homework. As I was sitting on my bed doing that, I suddenly hear my roommate Michele screaming and run over to her. She has the TV on and screams as she points to the set. As we are watching we see the smoke coming out from the first of the two World Trade Center towers and a distraught speaker voice talks about a second plane and we watch in amazement as that plane hits the second tower.

She has already her phone in hand and calls her mother in Uruguay and hostfamily – the hostfather works in the WTC…I run back into my room as I hear my phone ring, its my hostdad. I dont remember if he is trying to calm me or himself down, but  he is letting me know he believes “it is Bin Laden who is behind all this”. It is the first time I hear the name.

Before I am off to class, the news reaches us that also Pentagon in Washington DC has been hit. As I have a friend living in DC, I want to hear she’s alright. I phone her, but cannot get through. A few moments later the news presenters on TV urges the public to stop calling friends and relatives to allow for the phone lines to be used by emergency workers. I feel pretty stupid.

In Spanish class, we talk about what happened and in a later class we stand in a circle holding hands in silence. I channel my confusion and sadness over the events by walking around campus taking pictures of the nature. (I can look for the pics if you think they would be interesting for you, but I dont think thery were very special) During the day, we realize that also Atlanta, a mere 45 minutes away, and its headquarters for CNN and Center of Disease Control are possible targets. The threat creeps closer.

Already the same afternoon, American flags are hanging out from many windows. Over the next weeks, we will fear that our drinking water has been poisoned, that antrax can be sent to our mailboxes and that the terror can strike at any time again. At this time, I had spent only one month in the US, but could still clearly feel that this day had changed everything.”

Today Marianne Lentz’s book is out. It ended up being an interview book with 10 New Yorkers, their memories of that dreadful day and how it impacted on their lives. It’s currently only available in her native Danish, but hopefully soon in English too. I’m proud of you, Marianne!

Study in Uppsala: Views from a Ghanaian

My friend Michael Boampong who I wrote about here and who blogs here, this year went to my Alma Mater, Uppsala University to do his masters in  Development Studies.

The university newspaper, Ergo, had a chat with him (in Swedish) (but see the Google Translate page in pretty decent English) and he had some interesting insights.

On comparing education between Ghana and Sweden:

– If you compare Ghana and Uppsala, you should think outside the box here, while in Ghana is more about memorizing things. I’m very happy with my studies now, but did not think I had enough knowledge about the political background to be able to take me to the teaching of beginning. I would have liked to have had an introductory course in political background before the first course started.

On Uppsala:

– Uppsala was my first choice, I had it recommended by a friend from Ghana who reads this.  It is a well-known university abroad. I think it’s very good to invite prominent speakers from outside and that you have access to literature and new publications.

On the much debated issue of fees for foreign students (yes, higher education has until now been FREE OF CHARGE), from next semester a reality:

– I come from a developing country and had been poorly paid when I worked in Ghana, simply put not the life-situation that is required.  But I must say that my experience from Ghana enriches discussions on the course – this can be missed when introducing tuition fees and not having an extensive system of grants for students from developing countries.

Read the article in full here.

Sexual Harassment Policy – Can It Stop Sexual Assaults at Uni of Ghana?

Last week, the end of the week news focused on an event that occurred on the University of Ghana Campus. An alleged female thief was captured, undressed and sexually molested by students who also filmed the process. Fellow bloggers such as  Trotro Drama, Daixy, and CriticalPoint were leading the debate on blogs and on Twitter.

Just as these bloggers, the most publicized views of this event – online, on radio, TV and in print media were that this was unacceptable and maybe a sign of a malicious culture of sexualized violence and mob justice.

However, as clearly as this molestation was a grave criminal offense and should be handled by the police, nowhere I heard any reference to the newly instated Sexual Harassment policy on campus which is supposed to regulate and prohibit the “smaller” instances of uninvited sexual advances. Today, University World News runs a feature article I wrote on the UG sexual harassment policy, if you are interested to know more about this  progressive piece regulation. Also see the excerpt below. Clearly, it needs to be publicized more!

“It will take hard work to implement the policy,” she (prof. Tsikata, head of CEGENSA, the body that developed the policy) said. “It will take time to institute confidence in the process, faith in the system. There is a reluctance to come forward, rather than a problem of frivolous cases”.

In the policy document, sexual harassment is defined as “unwelcomed sexual advances, or unwelcome requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct or behaviour of a sexual nature”.

Illustrations of this definition can be persistent propositions for dates, sexual jokes, passing on pornographic material, comments about someone’s body etc. The policy is applicable to all members of the university community.

Read the whole article here. Find the policy in full on University of Ghana’s website here (not available yet). UPDATE: Pdf download of the policy.

The implementation of this policy means that many things (mainly) women in Ghana see as “daily hurdles” can now be reported, at least if they happen on the University of Ghana campus. In my opinion, it is a start on a very long and winding road.

What do you think?

Arise: Africa’s Change Makers – A Fab List

I must say I dig magazine Arise’s list of changemakers in Ghana. It is refreshingly young (“sub-35”) and I have heard all the names before, albeit not gathered like this.

On the list you find  musician Wanlov the Kubolor, techie inventor Bright Simmons, journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas and my good friend  feminist activist Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah.

Read the details here.

I believe are many more changemakers in this category, who would you like to add?

Dust Magazine Does it Again!

Contributors page including Kajsa HA

A new issue of the Dust Magazine is out! (you might remember I hailed the Dust Magazine last time it came out) And this time, yours truly is a contributor!

Other GhanaBlogging

A blog post of mine on page nine in DUST magazine

members contributing to this issue are Esi Cleland/What your momma never told you about business, Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah /Adventures from the bedrooms of African women and of course Kobby Graham is the editor of Dust Magazine.

The issue also has a beautiful cover photo of Ghanaian musician Ebo Taylor by Tobias Freytag/FAD and several amazing photo collages by facebook celeb Adisa Abeba (a Tema resident like myself!) – all in all, both pictures and texts well worth your time.

Of course, this time around I am slightly biased…

Global Voices Interview with Kajsa HA

Today, I am interviewed by Linda Annan, editor of American-Ghanaian Obaasema Magazine in the international online blogging/citizen media community Global Voices.

Global Voices is an amazing site that pulls together stories from blogs all over the world, with a focus on the areas we do not hear from every day. The community is largely volunteer-driven and is co-founded by celebrity blogger “My Heart’s in Accra”/Ethan Zuckerman.

Here is an excerpt from my interview:

How and why did you get into blogging? And why Ghanablogging?

In 2006 I was living in Paris and started blogging to keep in  touch with family and friends and write about my impressions of my new life. At the time, some Swedish friends had blogs at home. I have always loved to write and thought it was a brilliant forum, but couldn’t really find my own tone or topic. However, when I knew I was going to move to Paris, I found myself reading blogs, not books, about Parisian life. I think that spurred the decision to start blogging myself.

In Paris, I was invited to a blog meet-up, hosted by blogger Petite Anglais (who later got a book deal out of her blog). It was great to meet with other bloggers and it turned out two of them worked within the same big organization as me at the time!

So in 2007, when I moved to Ghana I continued blogging and was always on the lookout for Ghanaian blogs. When I had found enough of them, I organized the first meet-up with a friend. It was in July 2008, and eight bloggers came. We decided on the name GhanaBlogging as we wanted the action in the name. We are all doers.

What are you referring to when you say you love the shift from online presence to real life meetings?

When people think of blogging, they think about a lonely person in front of a computer, when in reality it really is a network! Blogging comes with belonging somewhere, blogging is an activity that has strengthened my relationship to Ghana. So yes, my blog is online, but many real life meetings have come out of it!

Read the full Global Voices interview here.