Monday, January 31, 2011

Barcamp Takoradi 2010 made an impression #bctdi

I really wish to go to Takoradi soon to see how the place is changing with the oil find, etc. I have heard some things about the changes it is going through, and I'll blog about that later. But for now, I'll leave with the recap of the first ever Barcamp Takoradi. Spearheaded by the indefatigable Mac-Jordan Degadjor (follow him on Twitter @macjordan), we organized an event for Takoradi based folks to come discuss Takoradi issues and matters arising. Other team members were Esi Quayson, Kwamena Appiah-Kubi (@dotkwame), Teresa Lemaire (@reggesegge), with help from Jojoo Imbeah (@ijojoo) and Andrew Kafe. You can find pictures, and other info about barcamp takoradi at http://takoradi.barcampghana.org. Here is the recap of the event.

Recap of Barcamp Takoradi 2010

After the successes of Barcamp Kumasi and Barcamp Accra, Barcamp Takoradi came off at the Takoradi Technical Institute on the 27th of November, 2010. This was the first ever Barcamp in the Western Region of Ghana and it was themed “Leading & Entreprising in an Oil & Technology Fuelled Economy”. It attracted a lot of students, businessmen, entrepreneurs and others based in Takoradi and some others from Accra. BarCamp Takoradi 2010 was sponsored by the Takoradi Technical Institute (TTI), Google Ghana, GhanaThink Foundation, Fie.nipa, Worldwide Web Foundation, NandiMobile, AudioCraft and CTSL - Certified Technology Services Limited. Our media partners were Melody FM, ModernGhana, GhanaBlogging and Skyy Digital.

Over 80 participants gathered at the Takoradi Technical Institute (TTI) to share ideas, learn from each other and discuss opportunities in the Sekondi-Takoradi, especially with the potential growth of the area with the attendant commercial oil production in the Western Region. TTI offered to host the Barcamp for free and this major gesture by TTI allowed for Barcamp Takoradi to be free for all participants, which was a new phenomenon in Takoradi.

The event unofficially started at 9:00am with an introduction to Barcamps and the idea behind Barcamp Takoradi by Mac-Jordan D. Degadjor (Event Curator). A number of invited speakers gave a series of talks and speeches. Sally Deffor of the Coastal Resources Center spoke about the available funding for projects that develop local communities and develop the environment in and around Takoradi. She also mentioned a four-year development project supported by the USAID in Takoradi. It was agreed upon that it was time for Ghana to move above a trading economy to a technology driven one. John Lemaire, the CEO of AudioCraft, a local Takoradi company, spoke after Sally Deffor. He shared his experiences about starting his own business. He stressed the importance of saving, saying “Learn how to save, open a bank account and start building up some working capital”.

A third year student of the Takoradi Technical Institute asked, “What are plans for Technical students in TTI with regards to the Oil Find & Job Creation?” This was a good segue into the next speaker, Daniel Peprah. He works with Baker Hughes Ghana Limited and he answered questions on certifications for Oil jobs in Ghana. He enlightened the attendees on the oil industry in Ghana. He mentioned how Ghana has a lot of down-stream drilling happening already, with respect to all the petrol/gas stations in the country. The types of drilling happening in Ghana includes conventional, horizontal, upstream, downstream &directional drilling. He implored the attendees to refrain from thinking about working in an oil company, and instead tap into industry.

Donald Diaba, one of the main organizers of Barcamp Ghana events, took the stage next. He also sang the entrepreneurship chorus, stating “Don't call yourself an agent, call yourself a realtor and you will make money”. He talked about ideas and challenges in setting up a financial institution in Ghana. “Study the environment, know the people you are dealing with, you don’t always need the money to start out”. Mrs. Nora Imbeah commented “As youths we have all the potential available to us to succeed easily then the generation before us had.

Cecil Nutakor, CEO of Equinox Intercom Limited and the award winner of the Global Students Entrepreneur Awards 2010 in Ghana. He was more concerned about issues of climate change in Africa & Ghana especially. He encouraged the attendees to look into the future, and start thinking about climate change and renewable/alternative energy. He mentioned that thermal energy is expensive but could be the cheapest source of energy for Ghana. It was discussed that the youth should start looking at the problems in the society and start businesses to solve them. A member of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) Google Technology User Group (GTUG) asked “Why go job hunting when you can create one? Takoradi youths, create jobs”

Emmanuel Azasoo, the manager of the Takoradi Technical Institue Fabrication Lab (Fab Lab), welcomed attendees to TTI. He stated that TTI is the first in Africa and the sixth in the world to benefit from the Ultra Modern Digital Fabrication Laboratory, which has been supported by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Fab Lab is a free open learning center available to anyone willing to learn and make use of it.

The lunch break came next and that came with a lot of networking. After lunch, some general breakout sessions were held. A question was put to the attendees - “What would you with do with GHC1,000. Business ideas anyone?” One respondent mentioned “I will start a communications sales outlet so that as more people come in, they will buy my scratch cards and raise me some profit”. Another responded, “I will build a small fruit market so that I can raise a sale from the many foreigners who come to Takoradi and will definitely stick to their dessert-eating traditions”. A third speaker answered, “I will start work on market journals to publicise and inform residents here on the activities of all the oil companies so that nobody feels left out”. A fourth speaker drew laughter from the Barcampers when he said “I will travel to Nigeria; buy blank CDs and come and sell in Ghana”.

After the closing prayer, the Barcampers were ushered to the TTI Fab Lab where they checked out what they did there. They were pleasantly impressed with the work being done at the Fab Lab and many attendees called for similar fabrication labs to be built across the country. Attendees enjoyed the Barcamp experience, learnt a lot and were encouraging others to attend similar events in the future. Barcamp Takoradi featured a younger crowd than Barcamp Kumasi and Barcamp Accra, as it had a lot of TTI students who are in the secondary school level. They particularly benefited from the speeches and discussions and networking that happened at Barcamp Takoradi. More info from and about Barcamp Takoradi 2010 and future events will be available on the Barcamp Takoradi website http://takoradi.barcampghana.org.

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