Monday, March 6, 2017

#Ghana60YearsOn: #MightyAfrican stories, thoughts and hopes

We called it the GhanaThink Foundation because we thought (and would continue to think) about Ghana. It's been more than 12 years since GhanaThink was born. It's also been a while since I did a blog post, or even wrote a piece for this #mightyafrican blog. Today is a great day to break that duck. Ghana is 60 years old! We are celebrating, marking, reminiscing, criticizing, strategizing, thinking and doing. 

To be frank, I am not as excited about Ghana, mostly because of our growth pace, development we can fell in around us and in our pockets and the politics and antics I've seen that are hurting Ghana and don't seem to be abating. However, I have always been excited about Ghana. More than 10 years ago, I decided to stop bothering and focusing on the negatives, and championing, celebrating and cultivating the positives. It's what drives me as we work on the +GhanaThink Foundation and its programs like +Barcamp Ghana +Junior Camp Ghana +Ghana Volunteer Program, etc. Read more via Barcamp Ghana | Junior Camp Ghana | Ghana Volunteer Program (GVP).

I contributed to a Ghana @ 60 book that is culled by +Gamel Sankarl, an author amongst his many occupations. He once mentored at +Barcamp Kumasi as well. I would share a link to buy, download or get the book in soft and hard copies later, when I have it :-) For now, I want to share some of what I published in the book. Enjoy the read and leave some comments or get in touch with through social media and social communication. 

Ever since I left high school, I have been very passionate about meeting people, making friends and networking. When I was in university in the US, I used to travel far and wide to connect with like-minded people, especially those of the same cultural neighbourhood as me. I would attend several African themed events in the US (especially involving African students). To this day, networking is a joy and something I cherish. I have also seen its benefits first hand and over time, so I am more motivated to do more of the same.

One of the best things about Ghana’s current state is the closeness we enjoy. Thanks to our high school system and family (cultural) traditions, Ghanaians have close ties amongst each other. Today, our youth are extremely connected. There are small degrees of separation between various Ghanaians. For young entrepreneurs today, the network amongst us is really strong, where it’s easy to get connected to each other. We have a state of a big family, which is accessible, increasingly responsible, albeit a bit entitled. We have available natural resources that we are not turning into value. We have a lot of available human resources that need to become more valuable human capital and competent.

I want to see a Ghana that is clean, driven by consensus and has developed communities and ecosystem able to support its constituents. This is the Ghanaian dream I envision. I want to see a Ghana where Ghanaians feel they don’t need to travel elsewhere to achieve their biggest dreams. I want to see a Ghana that is unique in its culture, marrying timeless tradition and terrific technology. We must remain uniquely Ghanaian, with our positive cultural and communal traits. We must give way to best practices that ensure equity in wealth, resources and opportunities.

Technology is the biggest change in these last 60 Ghanaian years. Though we could have embraced tech more, especially in implementation, it has reinforced our connections. It has become a leveller, allowing people to shine. We are in the fourth industrial revolution that puts so much power in our hands and capabilities. Technology is a great way to level the playing field for everyone. We must embrace the tools, training and technology available to us now and build some to meet our needs and chart the future.

60 years on, Ghana is well into its life. A couple of generations in, we must repeat best practices and repeal bad habits. We must build a Ghana we can be proud of living in, now. More vim to Ghana’s youth as we take on more responsibility professionally, socially and traditionally. We must become changemakers, doers and entrepreneurs. We must lead today!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

A hilarious political play in Ghana? #ICantThinkFar

My friend and Presec yearmate +Latif Abubakar has become one of the best playwrights in Ghana. We didn't have to do #DivorceOrSuicide after seeing #WhatCanComeCanCome so we went ahead to #ThankGodForIdiots anyway. And then we eventually had to go see #MallamsAndPastors because in this Ghana, its the thing to do.

If you didn't realise, these hashtags are all plays that Latif has directed and his Globe Productions has produced. There's also Gallery of Comedies. But you've deciphered this by now, Latif stages really hilarious plays - comedies. He's back with another play - #ICantThinkFar. If you said "#ICantThinkMadness" after you're in tune with the times and trends in Ghana. So surely, you can imagine that this new I Can't Think Far play would be timely, trendy, terrific, teary-eyed-funny and tantatlizing.

The best part for me about the play is that there is a tour and it would be showing in Accra, Kumasi, Tamale, Takoradi and Ho. Wanna get free tickets? You might want to pay attention to +Barcamp Accra +Barcamp Kumasi +Barcamp Tamale +Barcamp Takoradi and +Barcamp Ho on Twitter and Facebook.

Here are the details for #ICantThinkFar for you to see this play. 

The play features Ekow Smith-Asante, Bright Kekeli, Adjetey Anang. 
Accra | November 5 | Accra International Conference Centre |₵60 | 4 & 8pm shows. 
Kumasi | November 12 | Golden Tulip Hotel | ₵50 | 5 & 8pm shows.
Tamale | November 20 | Radach Hotel | ₵50 | 5 & 8pm shows.
Takoradi | November 26 | AkromaPlaza | ₵50 | 5 & 8pm shows.
Ho | December 2 |Ho Technical Univeristy (HoPoly) auditorium | ₵50 | 5 & 8pm shows.

You can read the press release about the play so you get the synopsis, or better still, the jist.

LatifAbubakar is at it again with a hilarious political play dubbed I Can’t Think Far. It is his 1Oth play and his dedicated it to the promotion of nonviolence in our society. An agenda one cannot over emphasize during this political season, hence the writing and producing of a play with a theme on Anger Management.

The objective is to help curb violence by equipping people with the skills needed to control their anger and that of others. This play will be staged in at least five cities (Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi, Tamale, Ho) across the country. Also election reporters and people within the election hot spot communities as identify by the police will be given opportunity to benefit from this innovative skills training. 

I Can’t Think Far tells the story of a politician who is blind to the consequences of his bad temper. A few days to the long awaited nationwide presidential debate, he realizes how things are getting out of hand. He successfully seeks help from Reverend; an anger therapist. How far can they go?

Watch Adjetey Annan and Ecow Smith-Asante live in all the regions named above starting from the 6th of November in Accra at the AICC, 12th , 20th, 26th, and 2nd in Kumasi, Tamale, Takoradi and Ho respectively . Further details of the play can be found on Facebook page “Latif Abubakar”.

I Can’t Think Far” is brought to you by Globe Productions in partnership with Graphic Showbiz. Sponsored by Star Ghana, Carnival Strawberry, Yomi Yoghurt and Unibank
Media partner 3FM, Citi FM Online, TV3, GH One and Graphic Communication Group. For ticket delivery call 0275027000. Globe Production: Experience the best!

It's #WuzuTime! The Uncompromising Passion book launch is here!

I've blogged about my longtime Eyram Akofa Tawia several times. You can read some of the blogs here. Living An African Success Story. Leti Games - building computer games in Africa. Leti Games named amongst Ghana's Innovation Heroes. Leti Games unveils iWarrior (iPhone App) & Kijiji (J2Me). I helped inspire +Eyram Tawia to write a book! Yes, a whole book! It has been published and it is being launched on Friday. Yes, this Friday. One of these blog posts is in the book. So you have to get the book :-)

You'd hear Eyram and the +Mighty African himself on the +Citi97.3FM Business Edition with +Benkoku Avle tomorrow on the Citi Breakfast Show. You can't miss the book launch at +Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology on Friday @ 6pm. Eyram has touched many people, at +Barcamp Ghana like Barcamp Ho and +Junior Camp Ghana events like Junior Camp Ketasco!

You can order the book via this link on Amazon. I wrote this press release to announce the book launch, etc. It's like another blog post :-)

Uncompromising Passion - The Humble Beginnings of An African Video Game Industry is a book that tells the story of a young man who chose to pursue his dreams with unwavering focus. This young man is Eyram Akofa Tawia, the CEO of Leti Arts and one of the most accomplished, celebrated young entrepreneurs in Africa. This book tracks Eyram's journey from Buroburo Road on the KNUST Campus to the present day, putting Ghana on the world map of video game development through the amazing creative work being churned out at his company, Leti Arts. The book will be launched on November 4, 2016 at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology. It will bring together important players in the Ghanaian startup ecosystem, distinguished guests and important role models and supporters of Eyram’s entrepreneurial journey.

Uncompromising Passion  - The Humble Beginnings of An African Video Game Industry is a great example of documenting an African success story in a way that will educate, inspire and even entertain readers. Co-authored by Samson Ojo, it chronicles Eyram’s journey but also sheds a lot of light on the support (from friends, family, acquaintances) to grow a company and more. The book talks about the entrepreneur ecosystem and the education system engendering it, which will make great reading and provide great insight to interested parties.

In the book’s foreword, Ato Ulzen-Appiah, a longtime friend of Eyram, wrote: “Journeying through this book, aptly captured by Samson Ojo, is like experiencing a comic from Leti Arts .The book has the jovial DNA of Eyram, it can be likened to an entertaining and educative road trip from Accra to Ho and back”. Eyram talked about his inspiration and motivation in the book’s introduction, “I believe Africa needs to accept new directions to grow; and Gaming is one of the major directions we can take. I am inviting you to share in my journey so far. The highs and the lows, the laughter and the tears; the unfolding story”.

The book launch would be chaired by Mrs Jane Kwawu. Jane is an independent international consultant and a gender activist with a great reputation in the UN. As a relative of Eyram, she would shed light on the family support that shapes such an awesome success story. The event would be emceed by Winston Amoah of 3fm Sunrise.  In attendance would be a number of distinguished guests such as the Netherlands Ambassador H.E Mr. Ron Strikker, Bright Simons (mPedigree), executives from Telcos amongst others. Some important people who have been part of Eyram’s community growing up would be present, including Prof Kwesi Adarkwa, Dr Rudith King and Prof Mrs Victoria Dzogbefia.
The event on November 4, 2016 would be a celebration of African ingenuity and innovation. The dress code is appropriately African in addition to white. The event at MEST would start with arrivals at 6pm and it would run for 3 hours. Hors d'oeuvres will be provided. Eyram Akofa Tawia will present some excerpts from the book and lead a slide show presentation talking about the Leti Arts journey and the African Video Gaming industry. After a Q&A session, some invited speakers would give short speeches.

This  book launch is also a fundraising event. 1000 copies of the book would be distributed to educational institutions in Ghana for reading, motivation and inspiration. The book was also launched briefly at +Barcamp Ho 2016 on October 29 in Ho since the Volta region is dear to Eyram.  

For more information on the book launch, contact Abena Addai Boakye on 0245900458 or Bernard Kelvin Clive on 0244961121.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A trip around Ghana with Aero Shutter

I love traveling around Ghana. I think I have been to more places than the AeroShutter drones have been. Arguably. I think I might get a drone one of these days. The AeroShutter drone have been around paa!
See these lovely images they've captured.

Skintight video

Mole National Park

Sofo line Interchange

Zaina Lodge bird's eye view

New government hospital video

New Protea Hotel in Takoradi

Chalewote2015 in Jamestown


2015 Tidal Rave

DC 10

Rattray Park in Kumasi

Night in Kumasi






Kwame Nkrumah Circle to Interchange


Stone Lodge

Adomi Bridge

Tema Harbour

Takoradi Market Circle



Monday, September 19, 2016

Let's #volunteeringh for National Volunteer Day - #NVDay16

3 years ago, the +GhanaThink Foundation started the National Volunteer Day! It's still going strong. It has spread all across the country and spurred a spirit of volunteerism in Ghana. The impact is enormous and continues to grow with volunteer activities all year round. Read the press release below prepared by +Ghana Volunteer Program lead +Ela Asare. Kudos to her and her team of +Enock Seth Nyamador +Adelina Martey +Felix Nartey +William Osilaja Boampong and +Gerald Sowah for organizing this.
The Ghana Volunteer Program (GVP) is a program being run by the GhanaThink Foundation, an NGO based both in Ghana and the USA. National Volunteer Day, which falls around the 21st of September each year, is our major activity. It was instituted as part of GVP in 2013. This year, National Volunteer Day activities can be organized on 17th, 18th, 21st, 24th & 25th September 2016 as well as other nearby dates. The initiative aims to get as many people as possible in Ghana to volunteer their time or do community service during the Founder’s Day Holiday weekend. While volunteerism is not very popular and part of our society’s fabric, many individuals and organisations volunteer occasionally. National Volunteer Day (NVDay) is to increase these numbers and unify efforts in volunteerism in Ghana. We are encouraging more people to do community service within Ghana. That’s the same spirit our founding fathers engendered within our citizenry.
In 2013, we coordinated over 34 activities in 11 towns in Ghana around 7 regions around September 21. In 2014, we coordinated over 80 activities in 9 regions in Ghana around September 21. In 2015 - around September 19-21, we coordinated over 90 activities in all 10 regions in Ghana around September 21. Over a 1000 volunteers participated across the country. We look forward to more participants for National Volunteer Day in 2016.

Ato Ulzen-Appiah, the director of the GhanaThink Foundation stated: “Volunteering is a great way to show leadership in our communities and for our nation. I hope to see many first time volunteers for this see National Volunteer Day. After NVDay, we can individually say I Made Ghana Better Today! ”. By having volunteer or community service activities, we would be championing the ideals of our founding fathers and joining a national effort to work for Ghana. Volunteering demonstrates initiative and hard work, two ideals that many organisations look for while hiring. We believe that by participating in NVDay, participants would be building their CVs and professional capabilities.
We expect several individuals and organisations to hold different activities throughout the country. Activities ranged from skills training programs, clean up exercises, tutoring in a particular course, reading clinics for kids, blood donation drives, creating playing grounds for kids in the government schools to painting schools and faded zebra crossings. More than 300 people volunteered and their work benefitted thousands of people. The impact on the volunteers and beneficiaries was massive and was captured on social media via the #NVDay15 hashtag.

Eleanor Asare, the lead coordinator for the Ghana Volunteer Program said “NVDay has not only come to stay, but it is also here to cause a positive change in our attitudes towards volunteerism and to serve as a development tool.” Make it a point to be a part of NVDay16 this year by organising and registering your event on our website. The registration of your activity will allow us to support you with more volunteers and some publicity. At the website, you can also join volunteer activities that are being planned by others. We look forward to hearing about the incredible things you will be doing on NVDay16. Stay updated with what’s happening with the #NVDay16 hashtag and on social media Twitter, Facebook and Google+ . You can also support the organization of National Volunteer Day activities by donating through Volunteerism, the heart of community development. Watch our promo video

Monday, July 25, 2016

Internet Of Things (IoT) use in Ghana

In the recent beautiful Ghana Weekly Tech Roundup sent recently by +Claude Ayitey, he added that the WAZIUP Internet of Things Project Launches In Accra+iSpace Foundation is part of a number of organizations working on this cool WAZIUP "Internet of Things (IoT)" project, centered around agriculture. He also added that Vodafone M2M Is Now Vodafone Internet of Things, but you know of that because I blogged about that already. So I started wondering, how are Ghanaian organizations using IoT? Yes, we are. #Morevim to us!

Photo by Kwamena Bolton
I've known about Herman Chinery-Hesse, the Bill Gates of Africa, for a long time. I love how he and his team at SoftTribe, arguably the largest software development company in Ghana, focuses on developing tropically tolerant solutions for this environment. Kwamena Bolton, the technical director of SoftTribe said that they have over the last few years been focusing some research and development on UAV / Drone technology. Kwamena said: "We are developing both fixed wing and multi-rotor aircraft for different applications. Our fixed wing models will have long range capabilities of between 100-200km, with flight times of 2-3 hours and can be programmed to fly and land autonomously anywhere within that range". Imagine the possibilities for a moment. He continued, "The aircraft can be used for multiple purposes, whether it be carrying a payload to a destination or performing long range surveillance missions.  For example, marine patrol, border patrol, illegal forestry and mining surveillance over inaccessible areas, oil and gas pipeline inspection, electricity line inspection, etc". You should watch some videos of these possibilities via Kwamena's Instagram.

That brings us to AeroShutter! I started seeing their stuff on Twitter and when +Nana Fynn Class-Peters shared some media with the +GhanaThink Foundation crew. They've been taking really awesome pictures of places like Takoradi, Middle Class Housing in Accra, Zaina Lodge, Elmina (my hometown), Adomi Bridge, Stone Lodge, Our famous DC 10 Airplane, Rattray Park (Day) &(Night) in Kumasi, Sogakope, Nzulezu, Dumsor spotting in Accra, Tema Harbour, Ashesi, etc, with drones. I've seen these drones in action at various events too - it was used to shoot some of the famous SkinTight (#MusicWeDeyFeel) video too at Zaina Lodge! I also understand that even the TV stations (including one of my faves, TV3) are using drones.

The Kofi Annan Center of Excellence for ICT is one of the major proponents of the tech ecosystem in Ghana. With an eye on trends, their annual Innovation Week -iWeek (September 12-16) would focus on IoT. They'll have a number of organisations implementing IoT including drones. There was also the 2nd Technology Salon which focused on this topic - themed "How Can Drones Accelerate Ghana's Development?" Hosted at PenPlusBytes, this was attended by Kwamena Bolton and Kwamena Hazel as well. Here's a cool publication about Drones for Development inspired by the event. Watch this video from the event. 

Ecoband is an ISP I'm starting to like more and more. At Ecoband, they use ioT to monitor all electrical inputs from ECG, power banks and generators. They also use it to monitor temperature of all outdoor cabinets and motion detection for the enclosures. Claude also brought my attention to Trackhab. It is labeled as Ghana’s first indigenous Internet-of-Things company, and it provides asset tracking and monitoring devices which enable vehicle owners, and owners of other assets to have an overview of their asset’s location and condition at anytime. They have a wide-range of IoT devices too! TrackHab was incubated by SMSGH and it is doing some business with MTN. Everywhere you go things, I believe. Read more via Gharage.

Gharage, which I hope becomes Ghana's premier tech news site, reported that the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority hinted it would regulate drone use. #Somewaybi. But anyway, actually, as you can see, there is a lot brewing in the IoT space in Ghana. Stay tuned for more. :-)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Strengthening networks for an internet of things economy

Thanks to technology services, there is a lot of data about users and uses cases, which allow organizations to be smarter and technology to work even better. In addition to this value in data explosion, there is enormous growth in intelligent use of the data. Platforms must orchestrate the data in hand to deliver value. They have to help users shift out the requisite information out of the chaff they see. The attention span of users and subscribers for that matter is very minimal, and so they
need to be served with relevant information and data they need quickly and conveniently.

We celebrate our mobile phone penetration in Ghana (35 million subscriptions for a nation of 25 million people), We have multiple devices connecting us for communication, but there is a wide range of other connected devices. By 2025, there would be 9 billion connected devices. Ghanaians must be part and parcel of those numbers with a lot of IOT use.  There has been very small uptake with mobile application use in Ghana, due to lack of trust in technology, failed use cases and stories and access and affordability of internet data. IOT services need a smarter and tech loving population to thrive.

Vodafone's bespoke, innovative SIM and SIM chip solutions are designed to address IOT business models and service requirements. At the recent Vodafone Ghana IoT workshop, a representatative spoke about this. Vodafone already enables connections for millions of users and devices today in Ghana, its business solutions would add the ability to manage these connections as added value.
This single SIM can be used worldwide, amongst the countries that Vodafone operates in. Vodafone owns and operates networks in 26 countries and has partner networks in over 50 additional countries. It has more than 500 million connections (second globally behind China Mobile). For companies doing business in the West Africa sub-region, it's critical to be able to move data and communicate effectively across. This is also true for connecting devices and being able to seamlessly move information briskly and efficiently. 

— Vodafone Ghana (@VodafoneGhana) June 27, 2016
And a pretty bold statement at the end too right? As SIM cards become cheaper in many markets, they also need to be pre-provisioned and ready to use. Vodafone Ghana has addressed that. With their Machine to Machine solutions, business assets are connected to the internet. There are a whole wide range of uses cases for the Ghanaian market and beyond on the Vodafone website - aptly named Machine to Machine :-) Below is an intro video about Vodafone M2M.

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