>Kwame Nkrumah: The City of Tema (Part 1)

> Over this week, we have a Kwame Nkrumah theme at Ghanablogging.

I thought I’d write about an important aspect of Nkrumah’s legacy. The industrial harbor town of Tema. My new hometown. (I know its beside the point, but also there is almost nothing about Tema, GH, online!)

Let’s start my exposé on Tema with Nkrumah’s own words. We go back to February 10th, 1962 and the Official Opening of the Tema Harbor. Kwame Nkrumah walks up to a podium and gives his speech.

“By taking advantage of the river systems of West Africa, it should be possible – again, by concerted action – to connect the hinterland, far outside the boarders of Ghana, with this great port of Tema. Thus, in this harbour of Tema, we see a unifying force and an essential requirement in the progress towards African Unity”

Hence, Tema was just one part of the grandiose plan of Africa rising. Tema should be a harbor not just for Ghana, but for Africa. Still today, Burkina Faso, Mali and other landlocked countries are highly dependent on the Tema harbor. What whould they be today without this sea port?

Nkrumah continued his speech with comparing the existing Takoradi harbor “designed by the colonialists to facilitate the exportation of the wealth of the country” to this new sea port. He said:

“Tema is the sign post of the future. It represents the purposeful beginning of the industrialisation of Ghana. It is the signal for industrial expansion, a challenge to our industry and intelligence and a hope for the future.”

Tema and its connection to a bright Pan-African future will be my starting point for future deliberations on Tema.

Pic: My first view of the Tema harbor, Xmas 2004.

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>More Broadband in Ghana

>Chinese company Huawei are to ensure broadband infrastructure in all of our green country within two years. The initiative falls under the government’s ICT Backbone Development Programme. Bloggers, lets keep an eye on this!

I read it here.

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>Ghanablogging Grande! Report from August Meet-Up

> Yesterday, at out monthly meet-up we had visitors from Maker Faire Africa, Maneno and some probloggers like WhiteAfrican. All in all about 20 people joined in at Smoothies in Osu.

We learned about Maker Faire Africa which is an initiative to boost African inventions, upscale them or just spread their usability from country to country. They have set up camp at the Kofi Annan IT Center in Accra for the weekend and I’ll be heading over there in a bit.

Also Miquel from the African-inspired blogging platform Maneno (meaning ”words” in Kiswahili) told us about how he came up with the idea after visiting the Kongo where internet is slow and expensive. Maneno is tailored for the subsaharan conditions and seek to invite more Africans to become bloggers. He posed some interesting questions to us.

Internet is quite reliable and not too expensive in Ghana. So would SMS posting be interesting here?

Discussion followed where most ghanablogging members seemed to think mobile solutions could catch on in Ghana. Also Internet – even if available – is largely restricted to the elite in Accra.

Miquel also asked:

What do bloggers in Ghana write about?

We had difficulties summarizing the rich and varied blogosphere in Ghana, but compared to the very different Nigerian blogosphere where blogs serve a more political purpose. IN Ghana we mentioned blogs about lifestyle, current affairs and poetry, but there are many other subjects. Coming up soon on ghanablogging.com will be listing blogs in “categories”, maybe that will help?

Finally, problogger Eric/WhiteAfrican/Afri Gadget talked about blogging as a job. Eric grew up in Kenya and Sudan and studied in the US. He told us how blogging started as a hobby, just like for most of us, and grew, grew and grew. He stressed producing your own content rather than just writing about others work or reposting it. A blog with new content, could be the only place to go for certain type of information! He writes about technology in Africa and when starting the AfriGadget site recently it quickly surpassed his popular personal blog, WhiteAfrican.

Not anybody can be a blogger, he said. You have to be consistent. After 6 months you have to keep posting, your readers will expect it.

Present were Ghanablogging members David Ajao, Samson Ojo, Toke Olagbaju, Nana Kofi Acquah, Nana Yaw Asiedu, Cornelis Rouloph Otoo, Edward Amartey Tagoe , Gameli Adzaho and Emmanuel K. Bensah jr.

and not yet members, but hopefully soon, Nii Ayertey Aryeh and Lora Akati.

Some of the interesting guests were Miquel Hudin of Maneno, Erik Hersman (WhiteAfrican and AfriGadget), Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, William Kamkwamba (lead name at MFA), ‘Tosh’ Hamilton Juma, Nigerian entertainment blogger Chika Okafor and Brian Shih.

And me.

It was the biggest number of bloggers so far convened in Ghana! Thanks to everybody for coming and maybe we should try to invite guests a bit more often?

In the pic: David Ajao, Eric Hersman and Klaas Kuitenbrouwer being nerdy.

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>Tropical Contemporary Architecture: How to build a house in Ghana

> What is more urban than buildings?

Let me start the born-again blog with posting something on Ghanaian architecture or more precisely things to think about when building your house in the tropics.

Currently, there is a building boom in Ghana and virtually every other person seems to be building a house. Cement prices just hit the roof (see this article) and this coming weekend Ghana’s first ever (?) home improvement fair is taking place. Also,this is a topic that just recently has started to interest me, I guess with the opportunity of one day building my own house in Ghana drawing nearer…

First of all, lets think about the property/land you need to acquire. Fortunately, the blog Makola Law has done a checklist on what to think about here.

Second, there are ways to build a house that is environmentally friendly, cost effective and automatically cool. Forget expensive and unhealthy ACs! Check out the inspiring and sometimes surprisingly simple tips for tropical design at Aedhotep Developments. Just to give you an example of something easy to do:

Plant tall trees on the east and west sides of the house to shade walls

Other options include using a new technique to build, such as the one provided by ItalConstruct in Ghana which uses polystyrene sheets and iron mesh to create a house that imitates a cooling box! See a video on the technique here.

Third, when you have a plot and a sustainable structure…what makes a house Ghanaian? Is it Kente style design of the exterior that I wrote on here? Or adinkra symbols like a friend has incorporated in his home exterior? Is it a compound style design like the traditional Ghanaian houses? It is using Ghanaian materials like bamboo and clay bricks? Using African architects? Or is just any house in Ghana a Ghanaian house?

Picture of a, in my view lovely, Ghanaian contemporary designed house courtesy of Aedhotep Developments.

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>Maker Faire Africa in Accra 14-16 Aug

> Maker Faire Africa (MFA) “a celebration of African ingenuity, innovation and invention” according to their website. It is hosted by AfriGadget and will take place August 14-16 at the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT in Ghana’s capital, Accra.

On their blog, they urge the visitors to Maker Faire Africa to register by sending a text message with their name or email address to:
+233261685159

After you register, you will receive an SMS response containing a 8 digit hexadecimal confirmation number. When you show up at the event and give that number to us, you will be entered into a drawing where you have a chance to win a prize.

Still there’s no program for the event, so I don’t really know if it’ll be like a software development workshop, a conference, a fair, a market filled with African gadgets or a mix of all of the above (or something yet again different).

But maybe it is worth the chance/risk – this event is free to the general public!

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>Are You a Ghanaian Blogger?

> Then tomorrow, you can join us for this month’s ghanablogging meet-up.

We are now about 30+ bloggers and about 8 or so usually show up for the monthly meetings to discuss blogging technology, writing tips, great posts and how to inspire more Ghanaians to blog. Last time we did our meeting on skype as an experiment! Read some highlights on ghanablogging here. It’s an informal and fun gathering through which I have made many friends.

So if you want to attend, just write me an email and I’ll send over the details! kajsahallberg a t gmail.com

Pic: dont hide behind an avocado plant – come out and play!

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>On Ghanaian Internet Cafés

>As I returned home from dinner out (my favorite Indian!) I passed by this Internet café in Tema’s Community 8.

It is nothing special, probably actually a typical Ghanaian one. After paying 1 GHC (75 cents) for two or three hours you sit on uncomfortable chairs in front of old, thick, unportable screens displaying the internet slowly, slowly with frequent freeze-situations. And power-cuts.

Still people are determined to learn about ICT, the Internet and what is out there.

What we go through just to enter the beautiful world online.



Pics taken minutes ago in my hometown.

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>Africa Report x 2

> Today, I came across two interesting Africa Reports that I wante to share with you.

AR#1. The African Commission’s Final Report.

The African Commission , set up by the Danish government last year, is a high level group wanting to bring light to Africa’s opportunities and add new strategies to the development cooperation. I wonder if Dembisa Moyo that I wrote about last week thinks they succeeded.

Anyways, the group of really distinguished Africans and others includes Nigerias former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who I wrote about here and the Commission presents its recipy for development as follows: (this is the quick version, the 90-page report can be downloaded in pdf here).

1. The creation of an African Guarantee Fund in partnership with the African Development Bank aimed mobilizing loans for three billion USD and reducing the cost of access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises, SME’s. Africa’s SME’s provide 80 percent of output and jobs in Africa;

2. Ensuring access to energy at the local level by launching a new initiative in partnership with the EU and the African Development Bank. More than three-quarters of Africans lack access to electricity – a major constraint to economic development, doing business and standards of living;

3. Improving the business climate and Africa’s competitive edge by making sure that the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report covers all African countries. More than that, the Commission will work with a range of Africa-based entities to ensure that the findings of this benchmarking process is followed-up by the development of detailed policy responses and concrete reforms;

4. Unleashing the power of African entrepreneurship, both in start-up and existing enterprises, by providing advisory services and access to finance in order to allow young people to translate their good ideas into practical plans. The initiative will be implemented in partnership with the ILO and Youth Employment Network (a partnership between the UN, ILO and World Bank). It is expected that this initiative alone will create 40,000 new jobs and 20,000 new businesses;

5. Supporting higher education and research. Specifically, the initiative will increase the quantity and quality of artisans through apprenticeships, especially in the rural areas. Also, it will link tertiary research and business practices especially to expanding agricultural output.

I like how the Commission acknowledges the lack of electricity and how that is a basic problem in Africa (see what I wrote on it here). Also education is key, of course for development and currently the future for the African academy looks rather bleak. Just as in the north, links with research and businesses need to be improved. So, far I agree.

However, I am more sceptical towards yet another fund, the African Guarantee fund – I think many times it is information and reporting that is scarce – not a complete lack of money. And then sometimes I think the people in those high level meetings overstate the influence of their instruments. I mean, can the “World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report” really improve the business climate in Africa?

What do you think?

AR#2 Magazine The Africa Report.

I picked up a copy of this mag I haven’t seen before. I am a huge fan of news magazines like Focus on Africa and The Economist and today I found one that can compete.

In this mag, I liked the topics and the rich ways of describing current issues in Africa. I have studied it now for about 45 minutes, but is nowhere near done. I like that type of publication density.

The current issue of The Africa Report gave a very illuminating report of Mills’ first 100 days in power and came with an interesting economic report-booklet of Cote D’Ivoire.

I guess that makes it three Africa reports today…

In the top pic Africa’s future on the beach in Kromantse, Central Region, Ghana.

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>Ghana Map Online

>

The disappointment of Google Maps (top pic) and others to cover the Afrian continent has been unaddressed for some time, but now there is Africa on Map (second pic). I have played around with it and it seems to have mapped Accra quite well, there is the possibility of getting (not fully accurate) directions and opportunity to list real estate.

Interesting indeed. Since information, about basically everything is scarce here, I belive good online maps could be of good use. Currently, directions are given in the style of “adjacent to…” or “opposite of…” using land marks rather than road names which makes the threshold of understanding directions quite high. For starters being able to easily print/email maps of locations would make it much, much easier to drive around town and find clubs, stores and friends’ houses!


In the maps above I have asked for Kotoka Airport in Accra.

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>Fetish Priest Online

>
I met someone the other day who said that it seemed Ghanaians don’t really use the Internet. Of course a lot of people don’t have access to the net, but at the same time a surprisingly large body of people regularly frequent Internet cafes, was my feeling. However, I think I have found the perfect example of that Internet IS being used by Ghanaians. So proudly presenting a very exciting and well made website for the Fetish Priest Kwaku Bonsam.

The site has pictures, contact information and writings about Kwaku himself. In the long list of services Kwaku offers you can find treatment against proverty, barrenness and to obtain Visas to go abroad (!).

In an interview for a newspaper he was asked how he received his powers. Kwaku tells the story of how he helps a sick man he found lying on the street to the hospital. As a thank you the man gave Kwaku his address and asked him to come visit.

I followed the address and it took me to the North, way after Navrongo.

I finally got to him at a village and after a brief stay, he gave me something and said what he was giving me would send my name very far and no one can bring me to shame in my entire lifetime and that my children would inherit the blessings of what he was giving me.

At that time I did not know what it was and I was a little disappointed because I thought he was going to give me some money for the help I gave him; rather he gave me a deity.

The next day I threw it away but it came back to me and that made me a little scared. I then threw it in a manhole but the manhole exploded and it came back to me again.

Then there was this time I went to witness a fetish dance and I got possessed and started to perform wonders for the first time.

Every week here in Ghana, I hear references to this spiritual world with its spiritual solutions to real problems. I find it really interesting that this traditional world has here taken the leap into the World Wide Web.

Some might say it is just business as usual, a healer who “perform wonders” for money, just with a new type of marketing. Yeah, maybe. Still, I couldn’t resist the temptation of signing up for the traditional fetish mailing list. Can you?

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>Frustrations

>Everyday life in Ghana can be mindnumbingly (is that a word?) frustrating at times. Like today when I realize that after twenty phone calls (!) I still have three (!!!) problems with Ghana Telecom.

My Internet has been down for two weeks, since yesterday there is also no tone when I lift the reciever and finally the keys for 1, 8 and 9 are not functioning on my handset. The people I talk to say they will call me back (which they don’t), that they will send someone (but noone ever shows up), that I should “relax” (no comment) or that it is not their job to solve Internet issues/handset problems/dead lines (also they don’t know who is responsible).

I want to scream, shout and cancel all my business with aforementioned company!

But then, like the sun after a heavy rain, within minutes a van pulls up to fix my line, I can call customer service and they reboot my Internet and, well the handset still cant be used to dial 1, 8 or 9, but I feel fine. And as I go to the market area to pick up a parcel (thanks mom!) I buy two ripe mangoes, two huge avocados and a pineapple for no money and with my heavy load I get the widest smile from a trotro driver.

-Let me help you!

he says in the local language.

And finally I get it.

In the pic: The Community 1 market in Tema.

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