Monday, August 24, 2015

Watch Tigo's #Shelter4Education on TV & YouTube

Tigo's Shelter for Education initiative seeks to improve on infrastructure for basic education in rural Ghana. As part of this project, 6 Ghanaian communities have been beneficiaries of fully furnished six unit classroom blocks with Headmaster’s office and Teacher’s Common room. The pupils each received two school uniforms, exercise books and Tigo branded souvenirs as well. The project has also been documented as a television series. Shot as video documentaries, they are currently showing in Ghana They are also on YouTube. You can learn more about the #Shelter4Education initiative in this other blog post.


The television series airs every Sunday on TV3 at 4pm, and at 6:30pm on both Metro TV & ETV. A repeat shows on UTV at 7pm. Viasat1 shows Tigo Shelter For Education every Saturday and Sunday at 2pm. You have only two weekends to catch this so make it a point to watch the show this coming weekend.

The St Joseph School in Obuasi, Ashanti Region was renovated. You can watch a short clip about this renovation here 



The Obeng Yaw School in Adeiso in the Eastern Region was built anew. A big launch was done to unveil this too. You can watch a clip about this on YouTube as well. 


The Tupaa Basic School in Ga South in Accra was also a beneficiary. A new 6-unit classroom block was built, alongside other great facilities for the school. Relive the process here. 



Yesterday, after returning to Accra after a great +Barcamp Takoradi weekend, I was able to catch the Shelter For Education television series on Metro TV. This was the Dimaabi, MA school, Norther Region story. I love how the process was chronicled. We saw some of the construction nitty-gritties, views from the headmaster of the school and some teachers as well. Tigo employees in the Northern region chimed in with their thoughts and +Gifty Bingley also shared Tigo's hopes for the project. I love how the video captured the completion of the construction and subsequent unveiling. The best part are the real stories and feeback from the beneficiaries - the pupils, their parents and the community. 

You can catch the last two episodes on TV. These will be for the African Fit School, Banda Ahenkro, BA region where a new school was built and the Hianwoanwu African Fit school, Ejura, Ashanti Region, a renovated school. 

Kudos and Morevim to Tigo on this project. Looking to seeing great stories of impact in the lives of pupils and students as we improve education nationwide in Ghana. Also, make sure you are following +Tigo Ghana on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/tigogh), Twitter (https://twitter.com/TigoGhana), Instagram (https://instagram.com/tigoghana/) and Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/user/TigoGhana). 

Tigo builds #Shelter4Education for 6 Ghanaian communities


A lot has been said about the quality of education in Ghana, especially in public schools. It's very important to create a nice environment for learning as bad conditions greatly affect the performance of students. "Schools under trees" is a popular topic when public school education is discussed in Ghana. These points lend more credence to the importance of Tigo's Shelter for Education initiative in Ghana which seeks to improve on infrastructure for basic education in rural Ghana.

Tigo is the reigning Ghana Telecom Awards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Company of the Year. This is quite a big deal, given the constant competition amongst telecommunication companies in Ghana. Tigo launched its new CSR programme, Shelter 4 Education recently. Tigo has put up 6 six unit classroom blocks with Headmaster’s office, Staff common room and a KVIP for some selected schools in makeshift structures or in need of renovation across the country.

The initiative was launched recently while doubling as the handing over of the project. The entire
communities of Obeng Yaw and Adeiso in the Eastern region went into a fanfare when Tigo unveiled a fully furnished six unit classroom block with Headmaster’s office and Teacher’s Common room. This replaced their makeshift structure which dates back to the 1960s and had seen little renovation over the decades. The company also provided all the teachers with fully connected mobile phones whilst the pupils each received two school uniforms, exercise books and Tigo branded souvenirs. The students of these schools also received sandals, and other learning materials. Footwear is one major need for many pupils in Ghana too.

The Head of Corporate Communications and Social Responsibility for Tigo, Gifty Bingley, revealed Shelter for Education is a multi-million dollar project which will transform education in the selected communities. “Education has over the years been a priority for us, our ‘Change Leader programme’ for instance supports various young entrepreneurs to improve teaching and learning among in deprived communities. “One of our goals for this project is to see Ghana advance on the Millennium Development Goals now the Sustainability Goals in particular Goal two on Achieving Universal Primary Education, she said.” I met +Gifty Bingley for the first time when she mentored at +Barcamp Accra. As evidenced by her responses while I interviewed her at +Barcamp Tema, she's extremely passionate about children's education in Ghana.

The CEO for TigoRoshi Motman, underscored the importance of education in improving living standards and reducing poverty. “Education is key in building a nation and for Tigo as a caring brand, we want to contribute in shaping the lives of these children – helping them to build their dreams right from the basic level. Our hope is that by providing them with a conducive environment, they can concentrate on their studies and have a brighter future,” she said. I met Roshi earlier this year in her office, and I must say it's one of the coolest CEO offices in Ghana. Roshi is a Swedish native and was recently named second amongst 75 outstanding women from Sweden. She's passionate about digital lifestyle which is evident in Tigo's business right now, but she's a very concerned citizen. She's equally passionate about Ghana's development, as evidenced in her crowning as queenmother in the Tafo Akyem area and has the stool name, Obaapayin Nana Yaa Adusei. Roshi is also a fun lady. She was having a jolly good time at Tigo Ghana Meets Naija and she took a selfie with me. That made me very happy :-)

I am also very happy that the #Shelter4Education initiative touched multiple regions around Ghana. The beneficiaries include

  • Ejura Sekyere-Dumase MA School in the Ashanti region 
  • Tupaa Basic School in GA South of the Greater region
  • Obeng Yaw Basic School in Adeiso of the Eastern region
  • St Joseph Primary School in Obuasi in the Ashanti region
  • Dimabi Nursery and Primary School in Tolon Kumbumgu of the Northern region
  • Banda Ahenkro MA School in Banda Ahenkro of the Brong Ahafo region

The project has also been documented as a television series. Video documentaries showcasing the story behind the construction of these schools around the country have been captured and are showing on local television. They are also on YouTube, You can learn more about that in this other blog post. Kudos and Morevim to Tigo on this project. Looking to seeing great stories of impact in the lives of pupils and students as we improve education nationwide in Ghana.

Also, make sure you are following Tigo Ghana on Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/tigogh ), Twitter (https://twitter.com/TigoGhana), Instagram (https://instagram.com/tigoghana/) and Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/user/TigoGhana). 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Can entertainment drive major development for #Takoradi (& #Sekondi)? Barcamp Takoradi 2015 discusses

Last year after Barcamp Takoradi 2014, some of the participants went out partying. We ended up at a new joint called Tilly's where we had a jolly good time. One thing that caught our attention was the number of young people there who were very likely in their early twenties who had no idea there was a Barcamp in town that weekend. We had struggled to get a good number of people to Takoradi Poly that day with the many of the attendees being T-Poly students and some other young people based outside the Twin Cities of Takoradi and Sekondi. We realised that entertainment was something that brought Takoradi and Sekondi together. The social and entertainment spots are areas where many youth congregate. It also is home to many top artistes like Paapa Yankson, Gyedu Blay Ambulley and the Fanti Rap Van Damme, +pappy Kojo. so for this year's Barcamp Takoradi, the theme centers on Development through Entertainment and Entrepreneurship. Exciting, innit?

This Barcamp is coming together through the major efforts of the coordinator +herbert acheampong who does an awesome job. His drive is relentless. He is supported by +araba assafuaba yelbert +Marian Clara Adeaba +Jesse Asiedu-Akrofi +Ahmad Nasir Agyekum +james quaicoenile amongst others. The +Barcamp Ghana team is providing support as usual led by +kofi yeboah +Rachel Hormeku and +Leonard Hagan. I'll be there with the +GhanaThink Foundation head of Online +Seyram Freddy Ahiabor and the main co-founder of Barcamp Takoradi+Mac-Jordan Degadjor. We've seen how youth in Takoradi and Sekondi flock to entertainment events. Can the entertainment industry with some entreprising efforts drive development for the Twin-cities the way Oil and the Ports industries are doing? Read the press release below to learn more about the event.

BarCamp Takoradi 2015 is a FREE networking forum to bring people together for a day of discussion, demos and dialogue about Takoradi, Ghana and beyond. The Theme for this year is "Developing through Entertainment and Entrepreneurship". BarCamp Takoradi 2015 will take place on 22nd August 2015 at the SSNIT Hall in Takoradi. It hopes to assemble Western Regional stakeholders to network, build a supportive entreprising community and partnership.
The 4th +Barcamp Takoradi is as part of the Barcamp Ghana program run by the GhanaThink Foundation, an NGO based both in Ghana and the USA. The +GhanaThink Foundation has organized 47 BarCamps in Ghana in building a network of changemakers, doers and entrepreneurs. This Barcamp will connect and strengthen a community of motivated and aspirational people in the Twin-cities, ultimately benefiting the Western region and Ghana. Participants will learn from, share and network with each other.
The Twin Cities - Sekondi & Takoradi have given birth to a lot of talented entertainers. The best, they say, comes from the West. A lot of Takoradi youth are interested in and flock to entertainment. Ar Barcamp Takoradi, we'll be focusing on how to leverage entertainment and being entreprising in and around it for the development of the twin-cities and beyond. Herbert Akyeampong, the lead coordinator said, “We chose the theme because Takoradi is an entertainment city and it’s time the youth especially realise the prospects of entertainment with adequate guidance from experienced people”.



Thought and business leaders in the region will share insight and inspiration. As usual, we will have multiple user-generated breakout sessions about topics relevant to the Western Region and beyond. Our speed mentoring session will help participants gain insights and answers to questions. Confirmed speed mentors include Ernest Odame (Nestle), Asare Debrah (SG Ghana), Tilly Mintah (Tilly’s), Kofi Larbi Boakye (Coconut Oil), +Mac-Jordan Degadjor (Blogger), +nana ama barnes (Diabetes Youth Care), Joseph Afful (SG Ghana), +George Britton Gh (Media Journalist), Nana Kwasi (Insurance), Asabea Agbenu (Consultant), @richard addisonRichard Addison (Agriculture), Abeku Larbi-Boakye (Mantrac), Hypolite Damba & Samuel Akwesi Peterson (Takoradi Fashion Weekend), etc
Register/RSVP today at the BarCamp Takoradi eventbrite website (barcamptakoradi15.eventbrite.com). You can also register by sending “Barcamp Takoradi, Your Name, Your Email Address” to 1945 on all mobile networks (example - Barcamp Takoradi Esi Eshun esi@eshun.co) . Contact us via barcamp at ghanathink dot org for sponsorship or partnership opportunities. Barcamp Takoradi is supported by Tigo Ghana, Making All Voices Count, YFM 97.9, Paragon 99.9 FM, Guinness, etc.

Stay tuned via the #bctdi hashtag. Stay tuned via our social media. Twitter | Facebook| Google+


Getting used to fast, convenient payments online, again

Living in the USA for 10 years, I became quite used to paying for many goods and services online. I’ve been living in Ghana for 4 years now and I’ve become used to not doing so. Spending cash has become part and parcel of my lifestyle that I’ve become numb to the conveniences of online transactions, in Ghana. I’ve not had as many opportunities to transact online, fair enough. I’m not as worried about online payment security because I believe I can spot an insecure transaction if I saw one. Many others can’t and trust in online payments bedevils the e-commerce industry here. It will take time, but Canaan couldn’t reach here faster.

There’ve been many local innovations around the online transaction problem but I’ve found most of them too cumbersome. At Rancard, I worked on our payment gateway- PayApp, and one of our biggest features was to ensure quick steps to completing payment. In this current environment, many people forget passwords so giving them a familiar way to log in is key. The mobile phone is king as it continues to outnumber people in Ghana so mobile authenticated payments are extremely important. This same development is what makes mobile money extremely popular in Ghana, even if it’s not quite reached the ubiquity and complex use cases we see in East Africa.


Mobile money discussion at Barcamp Kasoa 2015. #bckasoa
Mobile money’s most popular use cases are in buying mobile airtime and sending and receiving money. They can be used to pay for services and bills but the actual use pales in comparison to the publicity and marketing it gets. I’ve seen cases where mobile money is an option for an online payment, but the process is normally manual, and not as seamless. There’s also the small issue of getting money into the mobile money account. Small but big enough to greatly affect the number of mobile money subscribers who use (or have used) mobile money for payment, including for the popular cases aforementioned.

Ghana’s banked population is very minimal, as estimates put this under 5 million in a population that’s past 25 million. MTN Mobile Money subscribers equal the banked population. Ghana’s unbanked population is at 60%. There are a lot of underbanked people in Ghana, who have bank accounts but no access to other financial solutions. It’s a bankable market. But because it is small, there are few banking innovations in place in Ghana to fully serve our needs.Given my experiences, I want to use my bank card in many instances, especially online transactions.
I yearn for fast, convenient payments and have finally found it in Ghana. After using expressPay for the first time, I marveled at the simplicity of the service. Paying is simple. With only a few taps on my phone, I select my VISA card (which is tokenized for security) and I am done paying. Best of all, the service is delivered in real time. Curtis Vanderpuije, CEO at expressPay, states that the most important driving feature for expressPay is that it works. It simply does the job elegantly and efficiently.
There are hardly many avenues, trusted that is which also have volumes using these services, to buy and pay online. I used expressPay to pay for my Vodafone Broadband earlier, and I was still amazed by how fast my internet started working. No need to go to the Vodafone cafe, stand in line, pay for my bill, call home to check if the WiFi is working so that if it isn't, address Vodafone there and then. Another bonus was that I learnt I had GHC2 advance on my account. So I could actually pay GHC2 less on my payment.
Recently, my mother came to visit me at home. She run out of airtime in the middle of a call. I logged on to the expressPay Android app on my Samsung A3 phone and bought her credit. In under a minute, she had airtime to continue making calls. “Wow”, she said. No need to look for the small boy to go buy credit. After that experience, she yearns for it all the time. She barely texts and is a number of tutorials away from using a smart phone though, so I have been doing it for now. It’s the same way my buddy in Mountain View, California buys airtime and pays bills for his mother in Pantang, Accra.

More wow moments can demystify online payments for many people in Ghana and build trust in online transactions. Wherever we keep our money, in our bank accounts or mobile money wallets, it should be as easy to get money as it is getting money in. This can be done in the comfort of our phones, the most popular device in Ghana. expressPay is a solid option for fast, convenient payments for purchases we do all the time. I’m getting used to making payments online, again.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

5th Barcamp Tamale centers on the role of education in youth empowerment

The very first time I visited Tamale was when we had the first +Barcamp Tamale in 2011. We drove in a convoy of 2 cars, it was such a great journey. I went with my brother +Kofi Ulzen-Appiah+Mac-Jordan Degadjor+Jojoo Imbeah+Ali Bukari Maiga+Carl Nutsugah+Allswell Abbey and +Fiifi Baidoo. The then version of +Google Developer Groups in Tamale was instrumental in organizing the event. Awesome people like +Ken Kubuga +Stephen Agbenyo and co were involved. This Saturday, the 5th Barcamp Tamale happens. Over the years, I've seen the tech and entrepreneurial community in Tamale grow and various people within it take on bigger responsibilities and projects and thrive. And this community is so networked and supportive of each other. Our +GhanaThink Foundation impact in Tamale has been great. I'm proud of what we've done.

I will not be at Barcamp Tamale 2015 as I have to attend to some family engagements. But the Tamale team is so awesome and resourceful, to not miss my presence. And they will be aided by the able bodied +kofi yeboah and +Leonard Hagan of the +Barcamp Ghana team as well as +Seyram Freddy Ahiabor+Mohammed Muntasir Nashiru, the coordinator, alongside +Peter Awin +maccarthy lomotey +Yakubu H.Yakubu +Kwaching Jessica +Jaynie Micado +Mohammed Jaward with the support of +Enoch Robot Boy Appiah Junior are a terrific team. I expect some of our +GhanaThink Foundation members who are part of the +Barcamp Sunyani +Barcamp Bolga and +Barcamp Wa teams to also attend. I'll be following the Barcamp via the #bctamale hashtag as it happens at the Tamale Sports Stadium. Read the press release below

bctamale15.jpg
Barcamp Tamale 2015 is a free networking forum bringing people together for a day of learning, sharing, networking and dialogue on Tamale, Ghana and beyond. It will take place on August 15, 2015 at the  Tamale Sports Stadium. The theme for this year is “Youth Empowerment; the Role of Education”. About the theme, the lead coordinator for Barcamp Tamale, Nashiru Muntasir, said “This year’s theme seeks to inspire the participants by giving youth the right direction to leverage upon their potential”.
The GhanaThink Foundation has successfully organized 46 Barcamps in Ghana as part of its Barcamp Ghana program since 2008. BarCamp Tamale 2015 will be a showcase of leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators in the Northern region. Discussions will center on empowering the youth for better development across all sectors. It will be an event for many people who live and are interested in Tamale to learn, share and network. Ato Ulzen-Appiah, the director of GhanaThink Foundation, said “So many young people here have been empowered through Barcamp Tamale, and this is the 5th edition. We’re excited about its continued impact”.


The Barcamp will feature multiple user-generated breakout sessions about business, social entrepreneurship, technology and development, alongside topics relevant to the Northern Region and beyond. There will be a speed mentoring session where mentors will give insights and answers to questions from attendees. Confirmed resource personnel include Karim Karaga (Dizembella), +Boniface Atosona (Ag. Director, ICT UDS), +CHARLES AYENDAGO (Olive School of Journalism), +Janet Sinayor (Associate Advisor, Northern Rural Growth Program), Julien Saaka (Banker/Finance), +william b nsiah-asare (Filla Consult), Cassy Narhwayo (Hotelier), +Shani Mahama (Driinic), etc


Register/RSVP at the BarCamp Tamale eventbrite website (barcamptamale15.eventbrite.com) or text "Barcamp Tamale [name] [email address] to 1945 through any mobile network. Contact the team at barcamp at ghanathink.org about any partnership opportunities or enquiries. Barcamp Tamale 2015 is supported by Tigo Ghana, Hopin Academy and Making All Voices Count (MAVC). Our media partner is Justice FM in Tamale. Join us to move the Northern Region and Ghana forward.
Stay tuned via our social media. Twitter | Facebook | Google+

Monday, August 10, 2015

Giving vim to National Science & Maths Quiz participants

Earlier this year, I was invited to speak at the National Science and Maths quiz competition. This year, as part of the contests, Primetime, which organizes the National Science and Mathz quiz on TV, introduced a section where various people speak before the contests to motivate the Ghanaian senior high schools students as well as others present. +Bubune Adih who was part of the victorious Mfantsipim squad of 1999, spoke. +Nana Awere Damoah also spoke. The quizmistress +Elsie Effah Kaufmann, who is a lecturer of the University of Ghana Legon, also took out some time to speak about her experiences. I was the last person in the series of speakers, speaking just before the semi-finals happened on July 2, 2015. Interestingly, Presec, my alma mater, competed in the first semi-final. I was there at the R.S. Amegashie auditorium to watch Presec compete. Unfortunately, we lost to Adisadel that day, who in turn lost out on the trophy to Prempeh College. Still 5 time champions! :-) Either way, here are a few tweets capturing my speech.


+francis kumadoh was behind the scenes tweeting up the sessions with the +Junior Camp Ghana account. :-) Really proud of the work +Nathaniel Alpha +Eunice Mintah Young +Kofi Kafui Kornu +Priscilla Esinam Yevu +Pedel Oppong and co have done.

Was great to speak at the #NSMQ. Through our Junior Camp Ghana program, we were to provide a mentor or speaker. In the interest of time and set-up. I represented. Was honored to do so. Many thanks to Kofi Yankey for inviting us. Looking forward to a Junior Camp Ghana- Primetime partnership for the next year's NSMQ.

Some top National Science and Maths Quiz (Ghana) contestants

A friend +Nathan Kwadade shared an article about the Top 15 National Science and Maths Quiz contestants with me earlier after this year's National Science and Maths Quiz (NSMQ) had ended. I posted it on Facebook and it generated a whole lot of chatter. Many people posted comments talking about other favorite contestants. Some came to share their credentials too. The comments on this Facebook post
actually drove me to write this blog post. Because you can find this blog post better than my Facebook post when you google the info you are looking for. There. You're welcome :-)

Hisham Idris started us off with "Where is Bubune Adih of Mfsantsipim? He's arguably the most prominent contestant the show has seen." It's hard to argue with him. +Bubune Adih actually participated in the NSMQ this year, not as a contestant, but as a speaker. He also donated GHC2000 to the best contestant for this year. Not doing badly at all :-) Bubune was part of the victorious 1998 squad with Mfantsipim. Benjilo Benbela said: Incomplete list without Bubune, Reza Abdullah. Reza was a member of the victorious Presec squad of 2003.

My buddy Emmanuel Seyram Duku chimed in for his sister: Major Laurinda Adusu-donkor was also a contestant in the very first Math and Science Quiz..1993...Represented St Roses.She is currently a Senior Officer in the Ghana Army and is currently in Lebanon serving God and Country. Major papapaa! She posted later on my Facebook saying that her colleagues were Baaba Biden and Eunice Owusu Ansah. colleagues 
colleagues. St. Roses was beaten by Achimota which had Dr Philip Nyinaku of 37 military hospital
Laurinda is now an army officer and a biomedical scientist at the 37 military hospital.  E
Emmanuel came in to share that Dr Yaw Adu Boakye is now a Consultant at that Dept of Medicine, KATH.

One Edward Boakye Danquah chanced upon my post and gave us many names to discuss. My best 15 contestants so far since National Science and Maths Quiz started in the year 94 are Jonny Sobotie Prempeh college 1994,Osei Agyemang Junior also of Prempeh College 1994,Yaw Adu Boakye Prempeh College 1996,Kofi Oteng Boateng also of Prempeh College 1996,Joseph Amamoo of Opoku Ware School 1997,Kwadwo Nkansah Osei Agyeman also of Opoku Ware School 1997,Kwadwo Asare Oduro of Achimota School 1998,Bubuney Addy of Mfanstipim School g 1999,Raymond Avornyo of St Peters School 2000,Paul Azunre of Opoku Ware School 2002,Reza Abdullai and Michael Gbikpi Bennisan of Presec 2003,Timothy kutin of Presec Legon 2006,Vincent Michael Ampadu of Opoku Ware School 2002 and Solomon Nii Kotey aka Nii Kem Cue Irepjesus of St Peter's 2005 and all those listed here are passed winners of this competition.  Now, there's a historian for you!

Nana Akua A. Ankomah-Asare also arrived and mentioned Denyo Hosi (Aburi Girls' 93) and Philip Osafo-Kwafo (Achimota '93), who were taken out by Johnny Sobotie's team in the Champion of Champions) were awesome too. Philip ended up going to MIT, some years before I got there in 2002. I remember Kwadwo Asare Oduro who was part of the victorious Achimota squad in 1998 and who further went on to Harvard. There's also +Paa Kwesi Imbeah who competed for Presec in 1998 alongside Desmond Yeboah. I also remember Abbey Tei who led Presec to win in 1995. One of the more recent contestants was +Lucio Dery who shined for St. Francis Xavier SHS and is now at Stanford. Raymond Avornyo, who competed for St. Peters.

To recap from the article Kwadade shared, the very first name is a popular one. +Ayorkor Korsah competed for Wesley Girls in 1995, the year in which Presec won for the first time. My buddy Edem Dzakpasu who was also at my JSS (KNUST JSS) competed for Presec in 1996. There's also Vincent Kwame Ampadu and +Paul Azunre of the victorious OWASS squad of 2002. +Timothy Kotin and Daniel Yeboah-Kordieh were part of winning teams for Presec in 2006 and 2008 respectively.

Are there some great NSMQ contestants we've missed? Share their names, schools and what they do now in the comments with us. Let's celebrate these people. Let's also contribute these to social media via the #NSMQGhana hashtag. Check out National Science & Maths Quiz on Facebook.

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