Monday, January 31, 2011

Barcamp Ghana 2010 rounded up the year #bcghana

Truthfully, Barcamp Ghana 2010 had some experimentation. Firstly, it was organized on a Saturday around Christmas time in Ghana - December 18, 2010. If you've been in Ghana then, you know what that means, it's wedding/engagement/saturday programmes season. It was organized on a Saturday - unlike 2008 and 2009, where the Barcamps were on Mondays - to attract the working professionals who could only participate fully on weekends. Also, Barcamp Ghana 2010 featured no panels or speakers. It was going to be about the attendees and them setting the agenda for the most part. Patrick Awuah, the Founder and President of Ashesi University, welcomed attendees to Barcamp Ghana and Ashesi University, the venue for the event. The event itself was organized by the awesome Barcamp Ghana folks including Edward Tagoe, Donald Diaba, George Abban, Kweku Anane-Appiah, Mac-Jordan Degadjor, Gameli Adzaho, Florence Toffa, amongst others. Here is the event recap.

After the successes of Barcamp Kumasi, Barcamp Accra and Barcamp Takoradi, the national event Barcamp Ghana 2010 was held on the 18th of December, 2010 at the Ashesi University campus.. Barcamp Ghana was under the theme ‘’Create dreams, work smart and shape the future” and it attracted a lot of entrepreneurs, businessmen, students, amongst others. The event was supported by Ashesi University, the World Bank, Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), Mobile Web Ghana, Google Ghana, Vodafone Ghana, GhanaThink Foundation, NandiMobile, Busy Internet, Fienipa, TAGH Media, iROKKO Concepts, Imagineers, MyfashionAfrica, etc. The media partners were Citi 97.3 FM, Radio Universe, ModernGhana, GhanaBlogging and Skyy Digital.

Over 150 participants gathered at the Ashesi University premises to exchange ideas and learn from each other. The event unofficially started at 9:00am with the Start-up Bazaar and registration of participants running concurrently. Start-up Bazaar was premiered at Barcamp Accra held at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) campus and was popular with attendees there. This was a platform for start-ups to exhibit their products/service to the participants as well as network with other participating start-ups. The start-ups that took part in this session were TAGH Media, etc. There were also stands for Mozilla Firefox and Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST). Breakfast, provided by Imagineers Limited, was served.

At 10:00am, Barcamp Ghana officially commenced with opening remarks given by the Barcamp Ghana organizing team. The emcee was Kweku Anane-Appiah, a team member. Ato Ulzen-Appiah then spoke about the origins of Barcamp and the a brief history, mission and vision for Barcamp Ghana. For Barcamp Ghana 2010, there were no keynote speakers or panels and only breakout sessions. Patrick Awuah, the founder and president of Ashesi University, then gave a welcome address. Some of his soundbites included “There should come a time that citizens in Africa will not desire to migrate to Europe or the USA”. An agenda building session to map out the breakout sessions for the day followed.

The first set of breakout sessions were organized for 90 minutes from 11am. Citizen journalism versus Traditional Journalism was led by Bernard Avle - award-winning host of the CITI FM Breakfast show, Mac-Jordan Degadjor and Oluniyi David Ajao - popular bloggers based in Ghana. Issues discussed included Citizen journalism in its purest form is blogging, community radio as citizen journalism, regulation of blogging, 75% of Ghanaians having radios versus reading the newspapers and being online, local content and bloggers building their credibility, etc. Sherrie Thompson of Solutions Africa and Golda Addo of Energy Solutions Ghana led a session on green power and alternative energy. Biodiesel and biodigestion facilities were discussed as well as various forms of alternative energy.

Farida Bedwei of G-Life Financial Services, Afua Ankomah of Esoko and Daisy Amma Baffoe of MEST led the Women in ICT breakout session. Challenges with getting Ghanaian women to build applications and be in ICT were discussed. Attendees in the session decided to create a a “Women In ICT” Facebook page to take advantage of the many Ghanaian women on Facebook. Patrick Awuah, one of the most respected leaders in Ghana, also organized an impromptu session on leadership. Lunch followed, the food was provided by Imagineers Limited, which also provides food at Ashesi University’s Building 1. During lunch, Nana Manu of Vodafone Ghana gave a speech on e-commerce and building an accepted payment system for Ghana. He also talked about http://theideascout.com/.

The second set of panel sessions started after lunch. Leila Djansi, director of award-winning movies I Sing Of A Well and Sinking Sands, Deborah Ahenkorah of Golden Baobab, and Obed Sarpong of the Writers Project of Ghana led a session called ‘Telling African Stories’ on movies and writing in Ghana. Nana Awere Damoah, writer of Excursions in My Mind, also came by the session. Among issues discussed were defining the African story, animating Ananse stories, amongst others. It was decided upon to start a blog where African stories would be told.

There was a World Bank sponsored session about the Apps For Development Challenge. Richard Murby who is part of the organizers, did a Skype video conference with Barcamp Ghana attendees from Washington, DC. He did a presentation on the competition and attendees asked him questions. DK Osseo-Asare of AnamCity spoke about the Anam New City sustainable building/development project in Nigeria. Anam City is a new model for sustainable development in Africa. Kweku Anane-Appiah led a breakout session on fashion and wear in Africa. Ronke Ampiah and Farida Alabo of Smiles for Christmas led a session on volunteerism. Attendees decided to start a website for finding volunteer opportunities in Ghana.

The third set of breakout sessions rounded out the day at Barcamp Ghana 2010. Oluniyi David Ajao led a breakout session on blogging. Challenges facing bloggers like poor internet connectivity, creativity (presentation) and work schedule were discussed. Charles Odonkor, a medical student at Yale University, organized a breakout session on brain power called “Declaring the decade of the brain”. Farida Bedwei who has cerebral palsy but is a renowned software programmer in Ghana shared her story with participants in this session. Florence Toffa of Mobile Web Ghana and Kwamena Appiah-Kubi of Mozilla Firefox led a session on Mobile Web applications.

The event run smoothly and the attendees relished the Barcamp experience. They praised the good turn out, brainstorming involved and relevance of information shared. It was important for the discussions to be documented. A list of relevant tweets from the Barcamp will be online soon. Various action items and plans were discussed at the Barcamp and as they are implemented, will be publicized. More info from and about Barcamp Ghana 2010 will be available on the Barcamp Ghana website http://barcampghana.org.

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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