Wednesday, July 23, 2014

First Pan-African Women in Tech Meetup on August 2nd

Ever since we started organizing our +Barcamp Ghana events, I've wanted the numbers of women attending these events to increase. We started with a huge tech focus, the theme for the first event was "The Business and Tech Renaissance". We had only 2 female resource personnel - +Estelle Akofio-Sowah who was with Busy Internet at the time and +Esi Cleland-Yankson of Afrochic. I believe tech and forward-thinking events held with a focus on women are really important in increasing the network and net work of both interlocking communities. Enter the First Pan-African Women in Tech Meetup

It's happening on Wednesday August 2. Some of my friends are involved as organizers or speakers - all awesome young women - +Ethel Cofie +Enyo Kumahor +Ella Ethel Mbewe +Chisenga Muyoya and +Barbara Birungi who I am still yet to meet. Check out this VimTechList post on #VimTechList: 11 young female African technology leaders to know about. Read the Press release below and participate. 

Working in technology can, at times, be an isolating experience for women, especially in Africa. The impact of this can limit women’s professional growth in the sector. Women need mentors, role-models and a network to share their experiences, challenges and skills.
Some Women in Technology clubs exist already, but to date, no-one has attempted to build a pan-African network, allowing us to compare our challenges, learn from other countries and connect across borders to expand our influence.
Therefore, we are pleased to announce the first ever pan-African Women in Tech meet up. This will take the form of a virtual event, supported by simultaneous live viewing events in selected cities: [Kampla and Ghana ]

We’d like to invite you to join us for a day of learning, food and fun!
When: 2 August 2014, Time :12pm GMT:2pm CAT :3pm EAT - [1 hour]
Register for live stream event or viewing parties at

  Wabei Walusiku - Accenture (Zambia)
  Victoria Mbabazi (Uganda)
  Enyonam Kumahor CEO - Thoughtworks Africa ( Ghana)
Please join us, whether youre already working in technology or aspire to. Men are welcome if they bring at least one woman with them.

The first Pan-African Women in Tech meet up has been organised by Women in Tech Ghana, Women in Tech Zambia, Women in Tech Uganda, and Girls in ICT Rwanda.

Planning team:
Ethel Cofie (Ghana)  A tech entrepreneur who is the founder of women in tech Ghana , She runs an IT consultancy and is working on launching accelerator program for tech startups. []
Ethel (Ella) Mbewe ( Zambia): She is the  Co-founder of AsikanaNetwork,. A motivated, accomplished and versatile IT technician know for Android mobile development, web design.
Akaliza Keza Gara(Rwanda) : She is the founder of Yambi Animation Studios and a member of Girls In ICT Rwanda. She loves open source software, animated films and chocolate milkshakes!. She is also the Advisory Council Member for Microsoft 4Afrika
Barbara Birungi ( Uganda) : Social Entrepreneur, ICT4D activist, Zero technological gender balance focused, woman activist mother, consultant .Founder of women in tech Uganda ,Director of hivecolab and board chair of Afrilabs
Chisenga Muyoya (Zambia): She is an ambitious and highly motivated young woman with experience in the IT industry. Eager to learn and work with emerging technologies and runs women in tech Zambia.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

The #AskAto story - in conjunction with Vodafone Ghana

My friend +Ivy Enyo Nam had approached me about being featured in a series that Vodafone Ghana was going to undertake. The working title was #PowerfulPeople. This is the message I received from them - Based your influence within the Ghanaian community on Twitter. We will like to officially invite you to interact with the Vodafone Ghana social media platforms (especially twitter) under the topic “Using Social Media for Good”.

This happened on Tuesday 15th July, 2014. It was to be between 12pm-1pm,  a Q&A session on Twitter with hashtag #AskAto. It was hoped that I would answer all questions directed at teaching Vodafone's followers, amongst others how to use social media more effectively.

Well, 1 hour turned out into much more. I had so many questions to answer, well, some of them not social media related. In fact, I answered questions till it was 2:33pm. If I have to tell you why 2:33pm then you are a learner. Go ask Olamide. "Are you a learner?"

It was a nice feature by Vodafone which I appreciated a lot. In the buildup to the event, it was great to see the support from various GhanaThink members, promoting the discussion on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.  One of our +GhanaThink Foundation . members, +Christian Junior Worgbah  also created a cool graphic for the event as well. 

I'd be doing a series of blog posts touching on some of the questions proper. You can catch up on most of the questions and answers via this storify that +Ali Bukari-Maiga created. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Now here are the reasons why the Black Stars haven't come yet and are still in Brazil

From a very reliable source, I hear the Black Stars haven't left Brazil yet. They are back to their base in Maceió in the north east of Brazil where they are based. However, I have some sound advice for each of our Black Stars as well as Kwasi Appiah.

Since we're not a serious people & we like joking, I am joining just for today. Hashtag is #BlackStarsReasonsForStayingInBrazil. If you have more, join in the fun.

If any of you has better information or better reasons, please share :-) Especially you +GFA TV (Official Channel Of The Black Stars) 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Charting new grounds with a Junior Camp at Armed Forces Senior High School

I've never heard of Armed Forces Senior High School (SHS) in Kumasi until +Christian Junior Worgbah announced that they had accepted to host a +Junior Camp Ghana event. It's not the school we expected to debut +GhanaThink Foundation's career guidance series for senior high schools at. But that's just how the cookie crumbles sometimes. As I blogged earlier, June is Junior Camp Ghana month. Armesco, as the school, is affectionately called, hosted the first Junior Camp event at an SHS in Ghana this year. Dumasua JHS had the first #jcghana event this year, albeit at a junior high school, following on from what happened at +Barcamp Sunyani last year. Junior Camp Armesco happened last Saturday, June 7.

The first Junior Camp was held on January 30, 2013 at +Keta Senior High Technical School with the support of the +Barcamp Ho team. The second happened on July 13, 2013 at Kalpohin Senior High School with the involvement of the +Barcamp Tamale team. St. Augustine's College which hosts its second #JCAugusco edition this Saturday, hosted the third Junior Camp on July 27, 2013 with the participation of the +Barcamp Cape Coast team. +Ahaspora Ghana's interest in giving back to society resulted in a career mentoring event in partnership with the Junior Camp Ghana team. The December 30, 2013 event saw the attendance of students from multiple senior high school students.

While looking up Armed Forces Senior High School, I realised there was a school with the same name in Accra, and more popular too. I run into Nathaniel Padi, a young programmer who was previously featured in various blogs and spoke at TEDxLabone this year while with his namesake +Nathaniel Alpha, the Junior Camp Ghana lead. Turns out Nathaniel attends Armed Forces Senior High School in Accra. We expect to have a Junior Camp there soon as well.

Nathaniel's teammate +Kofi Kafui Kornu was at Armesco on Thursday to give a prep talk before the D-day. He joined 10 other mentors at Junior Camp Armesco. His teammate, +Eunice Mintah Young, who'd traveled from Takoradi, led a session on marketing and PR. +Prince Boadu mentored on Business and entrepreneurship and taught the students how to set S.M.A.R.T goals - specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely goals. +nana A-D focused on engineering in his session, challenging the students to be the best they can be. Kwaku Adu Acheampong focused on journalism, blogging and social media marketing in his session.

Daniel Ampofo, an entrepreneur, discussed the students' passions and how they could work on it in school.
Gideon Amankwa, a university student, advised the SHS students on networking and the role of friends in their education. +George Arthur-Sarpong engaged the students in identifying the power of technology tools and using a lean methodology to creating products. +Kwabena agyare yeboah focused on careers in the literary space, sharing his own stories. +NANA AMMA GYEDUWAH INCOOM, a graduate MBA student shared and learnt something new from this experience like she's done in the past.

You can see some more photos from the event on the Junior Camp Ghana Facebook page. There were a number of tweets posted via the #JCArmesco hashtag as well. Looking to more students becoming skills-oriented and focusing on skills to sustain careers. Kudos to the team of Nathaniel, Christian, Kofi, Eunice, +Pedel Oppong and Esinam Yevu for another event with a helping hand from +Thelma Boamah. The +Barcamp Kumasi also supported. 

There are many customers in Kumasi's culture

There were some submissions from that +Barcamp Kumasi breakout session on September 28, 2013 that lend itself to a culture conversation. Kumasi, as many will tell you, is the cultural capital of Ghana. Before you come argue tribes with me, Twi is the most widely spoken language in Ghana. Go to a place in Ghana which has a non-Akan tribe settled there and the residents are more likely to speak Twi than English. But back to the cultural conversation as I got side tracked for a minute. I'd recount some of the submissions from that #bcksi (Barcamp Kumasi) session in this blog post.

One participant, +Kwabena agyare yeboah suggested we create a Wordpress website on Akan mythology. This is important in documenting the history of Kumasi. Kumasi may be losing its 'Garden city' moniker but its spirit and culture remains authentic. It's the cultural capital of Ghana. As it develops, this authenticity must be maintained to give Kumasi an edge and keep it in the spotlight. We learnt about Accratupia - (I forget the correct name) - a project presenting futuristic images of what areas in Accra could look like. KNUST has a department of planning, it must get to work. Working with KMA would very welcome.

One popular word for people who are from Kumasi in Ghana is Siano. When I first went to Presec, that's a name I was called by. Is it the short form of 'Kwasia no'? Felt like it. That means the stupid person. It was a derogatory term. From the #bcksi session, many said that Sianos are perceived in a backward way. Ignorant Ghanaians who can't speak English. That's why some English words take on meanings of their own in Kumasi - shared by +Life in Kumasi. The story goes that 'Kumasi people' in Legon ate at Bush Canteen. The next question at every +Barcamp Ghana session is - "What are we doing about it?" We should empower ourselves so we don't get offended if people call us Sianos.

Is that why Kumasianos don't patronize shows and concerts? That might have been the story a while ago but not today. Kumasi residents throng Uncle Ebo White's plays just like those in Accra do. My buddy Isaac who works for a Kumasi based financial company goes to almost every one of them. Movie premieres continue to be successful and Ghanaian musicians are selling out shows in Oseikrom as well. Kumawood isn't lending itself to the movie going experience but while some may see a problem, others will see an opportunity. You can see many people gathering around television sets to watch the latest movies starring Liwin. Entrepreneurs have to adapt, be smart, find the customer and moetize. Invalidate the assumptions, persevere after experiments yield expected results or pivot around the clear opportunity. Yeap, learnt a lot from +Lean Accra, Lean Kumasi is also coming :-)
If +Barcamp Ghana didn't come to Kumasi, what would be organizing us? We discussed the issue of many +Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology students not being from Kumasi. I've always been concerned at how Tech is dominated by people not from Accra and how most activity in Kumasi is driven by Tech students. We talked about having a platform, forum or meeting space which would connect people who can do and those who want to have things done. This platform is coming soon, +Barcamp Kumasi will share deets on it real soon.
We need to enhance the current lifestyle in Kumasi, +kojo akoto boateng said. Many revellers go out to Bantama High street and sitting at spots is extremely popular in Oseikrom. We know Kumasi folks also love omotuo and fufu. We can leverage the current culture and what is popular in Kumasi and created enhanced services and businesses. As we give ourselves excuses of why things won't work, culture shouldn't be one. We might see our traditions as backward, but the palace is the most democratic place. Kumasi as it is can serve a lot of people's aspirations and dreams. Leadership is the basic problem. Hence, we must do. We must lead. 

Mall in Kumasi? Let's get more in #Kumasi

I was looking through some papers hiding in different places in my house the other day and came across one with some scribbles I could clearly remember. It was from September 28, 2013 at a +Barcamp Kumasi breakout session on ... yeah, you guessed it, Kumasi. Today, I saw a news story announcing that the Asantehene (15 years on the throne and going strong) had cut the sod for work to commence on West Africa's biggest mall, to be built in Kumasi. We've heard this before. But we hope this one will come through. I'd recount some of the submissions from that #bcksi (Barcamp Kumasi) session in this blog post.

We discussed the Kumasi Children's Park. Lady Julia, Asantehene's queen, had tried to revive it. She's rather forward-thinking, she partnered with a Google led initiative to work on an IT academy. Kumasi needs playground for its children. Those greens have to be maintained. Interestingly, +Kuukuwa Manful, fresh from leading a group of people to build an eco-friendly playground in Accra was in this breakout session. Kuukuwa is a +Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Architecture graduate too. Efua Apprey was really interested and planned to see the Parks & Gardens folks in Kumasi about the issue. I can see an idea for National Volunteer Day in Kumasi. +Ghana Volunteer Program should take note.

Kumasi has everything a great city needs. In fact, like Kuukuwa pointed out in the +Barcamp Kumasi session, Kumasi has always been a city, unlike Accra which was created as one. Accra has developed a lot because it is the capital and its development is also driven by foreign forces. Kumasi is now home to more than 2 million people. Traffic is rearing its head though the cost of living hasn't caught up to the heights of Accra's. It's beginning to retain human resources as well. There are some tech startups that are setting up around Tech as well, counting the likes of +Farmerline+mNotify, Votomobile and Hapaweb.

It's important to have more Ababio Express stores opening in Kumasi. I visited their store in Asokwa once and was impressed. I invited one of their managers, +Paapa Adjabeng to Barcamp Kumasi but he couldn't make it. I understand they'd have a store in the now opening KNUST 'Commercial Area' plaza. Ababio Express can morph into a Shoprite type store that can anchor a mall or big plaza in the future. It could even sell more made-in-Ghana goods patronized heavily locally unlike +Shoprite. A-Life started out and couldn't survive. Poku Transport is still relevant and could do with some proper competition.

The proposed mall is a good idea. I believe that Kumasi's population can support one to thrive. But it must be localized. At least to get it to pick up. Throw an Abusua restaurant type in there. It will do well better than a Chopstix. It's allowed. It won't matter if Mr. Biggs is aloud either. Show new Kumawood movies on big screens and drive advertising or product sales via the attention grabbed. Let the Oseikrom gangareas do their thing. They have a steady stream of customers. Take a ride into Adum and count the number of small stores. There is a lot of selling. There is a lot of room for buying.

There's a lot happening in Kumasi on a daily basis. It's hard to keep track of it all but I hope you can get a fair share of that via the Kumasi Daily shared by Barcamp Kumasi on Twitter. We started the My Kumasi Facebook & Twitter accounts after Barcamp Kumasi. Also, stay tuned to this awesome +Life in Kumasi blog that was also born at this +Barcamp Ghana event. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Irregular day and regular say

Today wasn't a regular Monday. I was extra pumped as the work week started. Maybe it was because the +Junior Camp Ghana team had just another event and though I wasn't present, it was successful. I was telling a few respected and famous people in Ghana, how proud I was of the team that executed Junior Camp Armesco.

After my conversation with these respected persons at the +Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel Accra, I waited around the hotel to charge my phone. I thought about a number of things, some of which I tell people a lot. There, I reflected on the conversation we'd had and I took to Twitter to post

These are things I say regularly. But today was a bit of an irregular day, that's why I posted these tweets. There's not much more to say after these tweets. The first tweet? We shall call them the 6 P's people. These are the people I hope the +Barcamp Ghana program contributes to building a critical mass of. I've answered the question in the second tweet many times because people are always asking. The third tweet is about vim. But I've blogged this and that song already. The fourth tweet is the main idea driving +GhanaThink Foundation's Junior Camp events. The subject of the fifth tweet, while borrowed from SHAPE Africa 2013, was discussed at length at +Barcamp Cape Coast 2013. The sixth tweet? The National Volunteer Day initiative is from a place which sought to get people to make Ghana better any day. The +Ghana Volunteer Program's work should make people say "I Made Ghana Better Today" many days. 

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