The Junction Mall in Nungua, Ghana

We have heard about the “mallification” of Ghana! Now the turn to get a big shopping center or a mall has come to the seashore community of Nungua, in between Accra and Tema. In Theory, the Junction Mall looks like this….but what did it look like yesterday? And how was traffic? The food? The service? Here is my review!

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Design from builders RMB.

The space
The space is big 11 500 m2, beautiful, lots of parking and I was happy to see trees planted. The mall is a U shape with double rows of shops and the “middle” only covered with roof. It was nice in the evening, maybe hot daytime? There was also a nice playground for kids.

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The shops
I saw the usual shops we are now used to Mr Price clothing, Shoprite ( food/department store), Telefonica, Nallem clothing, Bata shoes. New additions were South African low cost chain JET, a Techno phones, Lego ( Danish toy for kids), some other clothing shops. Really, only about half the shops have yet opened.

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The traffic
When a mall is named “The Junction Mall”, one has to be worried about traffic! Why is it even allowed to build a mall in a junction. On a Tuesday evening around 6 pm it was fine, however, but there is just one entry/exit point so I worry…

The food court
Not everything is opened yet, but there is a cosy Barcelos (see photo below) and a Chicken inn/Pizza Inn/Icecream Inn. I also saw an Italian pizza place that looked promising! but no stylish restaurant or bar? No cafe? I must say I was a bit disappointed by the eating options!

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The service
It is difficult to know what are permanent issues and what are just we-are-so-new-and-stressed issues, but parking guards made an initial weak (immovable?) impression, and in none of the shops any shop attendant spoke to me. However, at the food court, staff was alert! But then the women’s bathroom had no water nor could I lock the booth…

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To conclude, it is a promising space, much will be determined by who comes to open shop there. The design seems to be climate appropriate and the detail of living trees I know I will appreciate when they will shade my car as I shop!

Read also my review of Marina Mall.

Effects of Ebola in West Africa and Ghana

Living in West Africa, one cannot help but think about the effects of ebola on our part of the world. Clearly the effects on Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea which have been directly affected are enormous, but Ghana and other West African countries have been affected – economically – as well. 

This article put forward by the Nordic Africa institute focus on the effects for Liberia. They say:

“The economies of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have already been hit hard by Ebola. A major question is whether the negative effects will be temporary or more persistent, according to Eriksson Skoog. The World Bank has lowered its economic growth forecast for Liberia this year, from 5.9 percent to 2.5 percent as a result of Ebola. The budget deficit is expected to grow from 7.1 percent to 11.8 percent of GDP. The economic impact could become much worse if Ebola is not quickly tamed.

The World Bank distinguishes between two types of economic effects from Ebola. On the one hand, there are the direct and indirect costs for healthcare and production loss. On the other hand, there are the behavioral effects due to fear of contagion. People avoid crowds, workplaces shut down and travel and trade are disrupted. The effects caused by aversion behavior are by far the greatest. Hence it is important to address fear as quickly as possible in order to mitigate aversion behavior and normalize business activity.

The article also discusses problems with aid, for instance donations of rice disrupts the local rice market.

The American CBS Economics of Ebola article was also an interesting read. It says:

“Looking good today does not make people feel confident that they will be sitting pretty in two weeks,” said Stephen Morrison, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and director of its Global Health Policy Center, in an interview. But “While they are vulnerable … [Ghana and Ivory Coast] have the basics of a functional public health system, which was absent in these other countries. That doesn’t mean that they couldn’t be overrun with an influx of cases.”

Ghana, a country of more than 25 million, shares a border with Ivory Coast. It is also where the U.N. has decided to base its mission to respond to the Ebola epidemic. Washington has provided $1.7 million to the Ghanaian government for Ebola preparedness and response planning. Officials in Ghana, who have made gains in poverty reduction in recent years, have lamented that fears about Ebola have hurt their country’s tourism industry. Fear of the disease is something that economists will continue to monitor.”

Except for the Business&Financial Times story linked to above, I haven’t read too much about the effects on tourism in the region (this article suggests however the sector in Ghana is “collapsing” and the B&FT lamenting story ironically reports a World Tourism Organisation (WTO) conference, “Branding for Africa and Africa’s Image”, which had been scheduled to be come off in Accra from September 9-11, was postponed), but know from my interaction with Swedes that the trip I took home is not on anybody’s wish list – although Ghana has not even been affected by Ebola! That “aversion behaviour” is likely killing many livelihoods in all West African countries. 

 

 

YesiYesi, Falling Cedi and Laughter: Ghanaians and their Political Humor

Screenshot 2014-02-18 10.29.06Probably I should not put this in a blogpost, but rather write an abstract together for an academic paper with my inspiring colleague who writes about Ghanaian politics in just this way.

Anyways, I am thrilled that YesiYesi now provides almost daily, online satire with “the onion”-like twists of Ghanaian daily news. It is the first time someone (who?) has put together online versions of the very typical Ghanaian, political humour online in such a consistent manner. In a blog! (Please join BloggingGhana!) In the last few days we have read about …Justin Bieber moving to Ghana, Ghanaian women refusing Valentine’s gifts if the Cedi can stabilise, Ghanaians soon being able to go to UK without a Visa, and my favorite, KNUST charging  toll for walking on the pavement, the rate based on your foot wear…chale wote was cheapest…haha, I have to laugh just by thinking about it!

Finally, Ghana has its own news satire, and, YesiYesi, it is on point!

 

Shirley Temple: Actress and Ambassador in Ghana

Shirley Temple Black Americans have for long understood the potential of a face known from film. Not just President Ronald Regan or Governor Arnold Schwartsenegger  made the transition from white screen to colorful politics, actress Shirley Temple did too.

In 1974 she landed in Ghana as the American ambassador. The country was 18 years out of colonialism, but head-deep into dependency, especially due to the American oil crisis at the time. Temple stayed in Ghana for two years.

When I first heard about this interesting career change and Temple’s time in Ghana, I marveled. I became almost obsessed with finding photos of Temple in Ghana and my eyes widened as I saw her coiffed hair bobbing around in the Ghanaian sun surrounded by traditional leaders and welcoming parades.

 It would be interesting to know more about what her everyday life in Ghana was like, maybe now that she is gone, some writings might appear? Some interviews will be done? but never the less, her life reminds us that no matter where you start in life, you might end up in Ghana, smiling in the sun.

Photo borrowed from The Guardian from a worthwhile biography.

Ghana’s President in Sweden, Sweden’s Minister of Trade in Ghana

Right now, Ghana’s president John Dramani Mahama is in Sthockholm cohosting the GAVI alliance meeting for immunization and next week the Swedish Minister for Trade, Annie Lööf, will be coming to Ghana.

John Dramani Mahama

In the photo, minister Lööf and president Mahama. Photo borrowed from the Swedish government website/ Martina Huber.

The president is in Stockholm to campaign for vaccines for all children. Ghana is an “Immunization Champion” and have a strong track-record on immunizations. From the website of GAVI:

“As an innovative global health partner, GAVI is committed to promoting the health of children through immunisation and this must be commended”, President Mahama stated in a meeting with Ms. Evans.

He further observed that, “GAVI deserves the support of all leaders desirous of building healthier communities. I pledge my unflinching support as an Immunisation Champion to enable GAVI achieve its noble objectives.”

The Swedish minister comes to Ghana with a trade delegation including Ericsson, ABB, Atlas Copco, Sandvik och Eltel, continuing on the visit three years ago with the then Minister of Trade Ewa Bjorling. The minister is also following up on her favorite issues: innovation and womens’ leadership. She will visit a local innovation hub, Meltwater, and talk to Ghana’s minister of foreign affairs, Hanna Tetteh about women in politics, according to her schedule (only in Swedish).

Granted, these two news items are suitable for a Swedish/Ghanaian blog. But this time, there are more connections! Last week, I saw Mahama at the ICAS13 conference , my daughter got immunized and next week I have been invited to meet with Annie Lööf ! Report to follow.

My 10 Favorite Ghanaian Brands (Part 1/2)

In no particular order  here is  the first part of my list of 10 favorite Ghanaian brands in 2013!

1. Blue Skies

Ghana’s best juice in my opinion.

Favorite product: Pineapple and Ginger, but their blog talks about MOB which sounds fab!

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2. Kiki Clothing

My favorite dress-maker.

Favorite product: The Kimono Dress

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3. Trashy Bags

Ghana’s most innovative business idea to add value to trash!

Favorite product: Toiletry bags (called cosmetic bags in the web shop)  from sachet water bags.

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4. Global Mamas

Feel good fair trade shopping for gifts for everybody (including myself).

Favorite product: The Eli Dress (wearing one just now)

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5. All Pure Nature

Lifting up the amazing products that are Ghanaian traditional skin care.

Favorite product: Women’s Gold Shea Oil (!)

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Watch this space for the next five Ghanaian brands I adore!

 

 

Impact of the Internet in Ghana: Dalberg Report

Hurray! Yesterday, the Dalberg report (click here for PDF) was released to describe the impact of the Internet in some African countries, including Ghana. This is the type of report that a blogger needs when asked “…but really, can the Internet have an impact in Ghana?”

The report openly target policy makers in Ghana ( Kenya, Senegal and Nigeria) and focuses on “potential” and findings such as “more than 80% of SME owners expect that the Internet will help them grow their business, and 70% of those expect to hire new employees as a result.”(p.7) It also comprehensively compares the countries with a model that takes into consideration “core” (from infrastructure to business environment and school enrolment rates) and “conditions for usage” (from percentage of households with electricity to mobile and broadband subscriptions to  uploads of video!). Here we can see that over the past six years, Ghana significantly improved the “core”, but not the “conditions for usage”. They recommend government to play a role.

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My understanding of this, but detailed data could tell if I am right, is that although we have the core or the basics in place, for some reason the conditions for usage and hence reach does not follow. It is still expensive to access Internet in Ghana and despite competition bordering on overcrowding, data is not becoming cheaper.

Here are 5 other findings from the report I thought were interesting and my corresponding comments:

1. Ghana Rocks Social Media

“[Ghana] shows comparatively high engagement in social media, content generation on Wikipedia and video sharing. These build atop its leading position in mobile broadband penetration on the continent, relieving barriers to higher bandwidth interaction. Despite this strong performance, our analysis suggests that Ghana now needs to focus its attention on improving the level of attractiveness of Internet services” (p.11)

We often complain about access, but comparatively (with other African developing countries), we are doing fine. Also, I am happy to read that content creation, as recently discussed at BlogCamp13 is relatively good. Although mobile broadband is fine, it is still expensive especially for data intensive operations such as uploading video.

2. The promise of social media for government and citizens

“Social media and social networking is proving to be a catalyst in driving Internet access and impact….Social networks can create stronger links between government, educators, service providers, businesses and citizens. Users are already engaging on topics including music, dating and sport, but these networks are also quickly expanding to include education, health information and governance, and will undoubtedly influence how users engage in more sophisticated Internet
use over time.” (p.3)

This point cannot be overstated and it is A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY for Ghana and other countries in Africa with traditionally not very cosy relations between citizen and state.

3. Wider Access Completely Changes the Game

“Internet penetration also opens up entirely new business models for both companies with technical expertise as well as entrepreneurs. In Nigeria, for example, it has created opportunities for software designers developing gaming applications and mobile traffic applications, such as Maliyo Games, Gidi Traffic and Road Peer. It has also created opportunities for traditional and new media companies via advertising revenues, bringing in over 5M Naira a month for bloggers such as BellaNaija and Linda Ikeja, discussion forums like Nairaland, and newspapers such as Vanguard. Vanguard’s print business was unprofitable on its own, but its online portal ranks as the twelfth most popular site in Nigeria, and generates enough advertising revenue to make the entire operation viable.” (p. 17)

In Nigeria, bloggers make a living on what they do. So far in Ghana, there are just a handful bloggers who can , Ameyaw Debrah is the one that springs to mind, and maybe a few others who consult alongside their websites. Still, there seems to be no profitable way of advertising online in Ghana (although I believe a MEST start-up Adsbrook is working on it) . Is it a volume issue? What if Internet reached not only the population it reaches today (18% or 4,1%), but twice as many households?

4. Access is key

What is this report about? I think this word count exercise will tell you in a blink! The word “access” was used 234 times, “mobile” 134 times, “growth” 112 times, “broadband” 42 times, “open data” 24 times, “blog” just 7 times, “political” only 3.

5.  What about Political Impact?

Following the exercise above…If to look broadly at “impact” there were some important political initiatives such as Enough is Enough Nigeria and GhanaDecides that were not mentioned. I suspect that is because these were not initiatives that made economic impact (not directly at least), but rather focused on governance. But as we all know, they are interlinked! A chapter on political impacts of Internet (and political potential) including transparency, accountability and governance would have added that which, according to the Dalberg report:

“available studies typically lack detailed analyses of the social and political value of the Internet, especially across Sub-Saharan Africa.”

That is, if you want to call a report “impacts of the Internet”, include all major impacts. Else, “economic impacts” might be a better title.

All in all, this is an amazing report that I will be referring to for a long time. I only wish details of the computation leading up to the table posted above would be shared, maybe on the companion website for the reportThanks to Google Africa for sponsoring (commisioning?) this useful report. 

Other places for Internet information concerning Ghana are: Afrinnovator’s Ghana Page, History of Internet in Ghana from GhanaWeb (not well written, but an interesting reminder) and another historic reminder from Colunmbia University (from 2005?) Internet World Stats (last figures from 2009), Internet Governance Forum Ghana and Research ICT Africa.

 

Ghana’s Happiness Culture

Ghanaians are often described as a “happy people” and just the other day in a group of Ghanaian young adults I was thinking to myself, somewhat grumpily: “what on earth are they laughing about?”

So it is roaring with laughter that I read my GhanaBlogging colleague  Graham‘s grumpy, but on-point, observation about the “enforced happiness” (Graham’s words) or “happiness culture” (mine) of Ghana. He takes us through everyday life cheer, party fun, church enjoyment and with an eye for detail he notes that Ghana’s most popular radio stations are called Happy FM and Joy FM! Graham continues his rant:

Even the music coming from the radio is happy! Hip-Life, High-Life, Happy, Happy, Happy. The music’s light and fluffy drum beats and the synthesised sounds have far too much sugar in them – give me vinegar any day!

Almost in a reply, Anti-Rhythm argues that the play in learning was taken away by the colonial influences on Ghanaian education.

In these our lands, many years ago, we used to learn by playing. Through song and dance and theatrics, we learnt what was relevant for our circumstances then.
When the colonialists came to inflict their cut of formal education on Africa, we left the fun behind.

Does that mean that Ghanaians were even more happy in ancient times?

After World Cup What Is There for Ghana?

I got this very poignant comment on my last post from fellow blogger AntiRhythm:

And that, Kajsa, is all there really is about it. The only prize in participation is not to win. When the best in the world turned up, Africa was there. And for a long time, we competed well. We were in the final 8. We were 1 kick from the final 4. Being number 1 in the football world would have had only limited (emotional) benefits. Now, let us compete favourably with the rest of the world in:

Ending poverty;
Growing our economies;
Deepening democratic values;
Restructuring education to ensure real social development;
Fighting health scourges, especially Malaria, HIV/AIDS and TB;
Eradicating neo-geopolitics (ethnocentricism)
Harnessing the powers Information Technology to accelerate development, etc.

I could not have said it better myself. All in all, there is a lot to do also after the World Cup in South Africa is over.

End of Week Fun incl. Ghanablogging Meet-Up

This is my plan for the end of the week. Will I see you there?

Wednesday, Circus at Alliance Francaise, 8pm. 5GHC?

Thursday, Ghanablogging April Meet-Up. Theme: “How can my blog get more noticed?”at Smoothies in Osu. 6.30-8.30pm. FREE

Friday, Ghana Goes 2010, football themed poetry, songs and fashion at the African Regent, Tetteh Quarshie Interchange, 8-10 pm. FREE

Saturday, Ghana Planetarium, Close to Police Headquarters, Accra. Theme: Saturn, 5 pm – 7 pm. 5GHC.

Sunday, Chill at home. All day. FREE

After a few days with my blog down, I can now post again, but still not upload pics 🙁 Working on it. Thanks for your patience!

UPDATE: And here is the pic from the Ghana Planetarium Flickr album.