Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Snapshot of an "E-Media--Delivery & Gathering of Information with ICT" at West Africa's Landmark ICT Centre

Yes. I do believe that if you're a regular visitor, you have already seen this picture, or something like it here. Trumpets blow, pls. It's the so-called "Ghana-India Kofi Annan ICT Centre of Excellence". A cumbersome title indeed, and a cumbersome URL, to boot!: Truth be told, however, it is the sub-region of West Africa's quintessential ICT Centre, with state-of-the-art computers, and a place, where there is regular ICT hub-bub-ing, of sorts;-)

Here is the entrance into the building. You first have to go through a narrow gate (I guess to register your presence, 'cos when you don't, a man hisses at you (classic call to strangers in Ghana) motioning you to pass through). I took this picture yesterday as I made the intrepid step to attend the open "seminar" on "e-media". On the panel were reputed journalists from Ghana's local scene (you can check out the names here) in radio, newspaper editting, including the Africa correspondent for the BBC Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, and former editor of Ghana's premier Saturday paper Daily Mirror...who is also my former boss at work!;-)

Here's a snapshot of the audience who appeared to be listening intently to ideas on whether the new tools for the media (mini-disc; Cool-Edit software; video camera with laser backup discs(!); etc) will as much as hinder us as they will help journalists improve news-writing...and the journalist!! (given how blogging is threatening to take over the qualified jorunalists)

To the right is Dorothy Gordon, DIrector-General of the ICT Centre, and to the left is Kwaku Sakyi-Addo. His brief profile is enviable: Kwaku Sakyi-Addo is a freelance journalist working part-time for BBC World service as a television correspondent. An experienced journalist and television presenter in Ghana, Sakyi-Addo has conducted many roundtables for the media in his country. Sakyi-Addo is interested in using journalism as a means for improving the lives of persons involved in the urban agriculture food production chain. from:

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

RE: On US Rappers (Jay-Z), Sweat Shops, & Water Privatisation!!

With the hype of Jay-Z coming to Ghana in October, worth reminding you of his connection to sweatshops, which he appears clueless over.

Can I get an "encore", pls?;-)

From: E.K.Bensah II (TWN-Africa) []
Sent: mercredi 16 ao�t 2006 11:36
To: Subject: On US rappers, and water privatisation!!

UNITED NATIONS, August 9 -- Kofi Annan and two UN agencies appeared Wednesday with rapper Jay-Z to talk about access to water. The news, such as it was, is that water is good. Inner City Press asked Shawn Jay-Z Carter two questions, about water privatization and about the Associated Press charges, unrebutted in the public record, that his clothing line Rocawear used sweatshop Southwest Textiles S.A. in Cholula, Honduras. Video here, at Minute 20:30 through 23:19.

On the water privatization question, Jay-Z said, "that's just bureaucracy, I don't have any expertise in that," adding that he's about raising awareness. Later he praised Coca-Cola for giving money for play pumps; Coke is under fire for overuse of water in India as well as in Colombia.

Privatization? Never heard of it.

On the request that he address Rocawear's reported use of sweatshops, and whether the company still uses Southwest Textiles, S.A., Jay-Z said, "Still? That means that they were."


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Friday, September 22, 2006

Ghana's Protocol Car Arrives at World Bank Office in Accra...

This would hardly be news had it not been for the fact that this ostensibly-odd-registered number plate (by Ghanaian number plate standards, where there are TWO letters indicating the region (AS/GR/GT/GE/BA, etc...), followed by four digits, and a single letter) is the number plate--so I am told--that the security services and protocol use [SPD=Security? Protocol Department?] to dispatch high officials and pleni-potentiaries. That's ambassadors and international civil servants to you and me;-) The "GV" at the end of the plate is a give-away. In Ghana, any car whose registration number begins with "GV" is short for "Government Vehicle".

The serious-looking man is a protocol officer, holding the hand of a visibly-aged former Interim President of Liberia Her Excellency Ruth Sando-Perry who was in Accra for Africa's first-ever [three-day] "International Media Summit", which saw former CNN anchor Tumi Makagbo in Accra facilitating a session, as well as obtaining many photo-ops(see picture to the left).

I managed, with my discerning camera technique[;-)], to capture her on Tuesday evening as she walked away from a photo-op. For some reason, Ghanaians are not that enamored about a former CNN anchor being in town...

The outside of the World Bank office in Accra, in a rather plush compound, replete with the characteristic Ghanaian greenery of palm trees, coconut trees, et al.

Finally, just to prove I was at the summit, here's a picture of yours truly...doing something;-)Stretching a cheesy grin, I do believe;-))

In sum, a series of pictures to apologise, of sorts, and explain the absence the past few days...

Have a good weekend!

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

7 Minutes Before the Start of Day Two of the first International Africa Media Summit

Conferences like these are rarely for the faint-hearted: there's a good dose of solid, interesting, and often-times voluminous documentation to take home; not to mention a phalanx of elegant and gorgeous hostesses who, regrettably, look like they are clones of each other, what with the beautifully permed hair and the identical dressing. Do they honestly have to have teh same hairstyle?. How will you be able to tell the difference when you want to ask one of them about the fluctuating air-conditioning in the room?;-)

In any event, the summit started off with countries on six/seven rountables, with I believe Joy FM/BBC's Kwaku Sakyi-Addo opening the summit, and asking random people seated in front of sheets of paper of an AU country to describe the country, off-the-cuff, which they saw on their desk.

People described Sudan; Botswana; Mali; to name but three, and all very good general descriptions. The uncanny thing about it all was that the descriptions were ALL positive.

Not bad for a conference that aims to dissect a "re-branding" of the continent.

Ofcourse, that suggests that it had already been branded!

Off to be part of Day Two...

(regrettably, former CNN anchor Tumi Makagbo failed to turn up for yesterday's afternoon session; neither did John Sarpong--CEO of Africast; nor Dr.Messan Mawugbe, CEO of Centre for Media ANalysis; nor Thorsten Stamer, Managing Director of Africa Media Warehouse, who actually was there in the morning. I saw him this morning, too.

WOnder why that session was cancelled without any explanation.

It's starting...

Friday, September 08, 2006

As the Week Draws to a Close in Accra:: Regulation? What Telephone Regulation?; CAN 2008 is Here...Almost; More Ghana Rain

The week opened with a lot of speculation on who would be the next coach of Ghana, after they survived an “ordeal” of a nine-man-committee. Would it be Claude Le Roy, former coach of DRC; Cecil Jones Attuquayefio, or the elusive Troussier? It turned out that Troussier would fail to turn up, citing family problems. This would be the second time he would do a non-show since 2004, prompting speculation by some sports journalists on CITI97.3FM, and elsewhere that he was probably expecting to be handed the job on a silver platter.

Yesterday, the speculation was rife almost everywhere that Le Roy would get the job. Regrettably Sir Cecil Jones was being tipped by some as the second-place man, which is both odd and not, considering he’s a Ghanaian national, but also remembering that after Doya’s “success” in taking the Ghana Black Stars to Germany for FIFA2006, maybe a foreign coach might just bode well for the team…and the country.

Rain, and More Rain
As I write this, I cannot help but hum to myself : rain, rain, go away, come again another day. But I would be wrong, ‘cos in this cause the rain is very much needed. The rain is of a cat-and-dogs variety, and there, regrettably, is no guarantee that it will be falling in the Volta River catchment area, and therefore into the Akosombo Dam!:-( Such is the nature of the country as regards rain. Just a small example to illustrate is that earlier this morning, as the rain started to pour, I called my Mum who is on the Spintex Road—some twenty minutes drive from here—only to find out that there was no rain in that area!

Ghana Prepares for CAN 2008—Officially
In any event, today is a bit of a special day, because today is the day that Ghana officially launches the mascot for Ghana CAN2008 [Ghana: CAN 2008 Global Launch to Be Aired Live Via Video Streaming]. Regrettably, there’s some serious bad communication somewhere as the website is in a very rudimentary form. Not a website worthy of notice:-(

I’m just listening to JoyFM—regrettably, CITI97.3FM has gone off air for a bit—and I am hearing that the schedule of the load-shedding might continue beyond the fifteen dayas—subject to approval from the Ministry of Energy. Yeah, the Minister of Energy is called Joseph Kofi Adda. Considering the haphazard way in which the national load-shedding was implemented, I would have personally advocated his resignation. I know for a fact that had it happened in the UK, for example, no one would have prompted any resignations in Parliament: it would have happened almost-automatically. Instead, he comes out to knock down the criticism of VALCO consuming most of Ghana’s energy, which you can read here.

Where was he to say “sorry” to Ghanaians for not having anticipated this crisis. Yes, it is a crisis! Howe can Ghanaians so docilely accept this type of behaviour from the government on a critical element of what drives the nation—energy?!

As regards resignations, I would say that, in fact, it is something the West does quite well. That said, if the furore over Blair resigning for Gordon Brown, British Chancellor of the Exchequer, is anything to go by, one might just have to swallow one’s words!

Regulating the regulators
I think there is a popular phrase in Latin that runs qui custodis custodes, which I heard from an Inspector Morse series a few years ago in Brussels on Belgian Dutch television, when they were crazy about that fantastic and most-cerebral of British crime series. The phrase, in essence, means who guards the guardians?, and after the National Communications Authority declaring that it would slap a billion-dollar fine on the execrable performance of Areeba Ghana, we have heard nothing as of now. The last we heard anything was in mid-August. The article (linked above) maintains:

"Kasapa Telecom, operators of Kasapa, ranked as the best service provider while Millicom Ghana Limited, operators of tiGo, came second, with Ghana Telecom's Onetouch coming third and Scancom's Areeba came last."

And then, what about the PURC, which maintained that it would, according to the Chronicle newspaper"discontinue the quarterly adjustment of tariffs"?

My gut instinct tells me that should be the court of public opinion???

Have a good weekend!

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Blogging from Kalss Inn, East Legon: Random Thoughts on Ghana, Belgium, Development

Originally uploaded by ekbensah.
So there I was was, taking a walk from the office to the nearest newspaper stand to buy some local papers -- P& P (tabloid with useful lifestyle and relationship tips that comes out on Thursdays) et al, -- when it occurred to me that if one stepped away from one's car more often, one would probably be able to obtain a more discerning view of one's country.

As I walked, I thought about the necessity to challenge the complacency associated with moving back to one's home country in Africa after twenty years plus, and feeling that because one has access to many things, all is well.

So, I was a kid when my Dad started working in Brussels in 1980, but for sure, even my late brother, Samuel, who would have been 33 yesterday would have needed to make some serious adjustments upon arriving in the country that is his home of Ghana.

With me being 3.5 years younger, you can imagine how challenging it is for me, for example, to marry the quasi-virtuousness of Western life in Belgian suburbia with that of Ghanaian suburbia, where I am perceived more as a rich man than middle class--as I would have been in Belgium.

August saw me in my second year of living and working (and enjoying!) Accra, Ghana, but there are adjustments that need to be made to disturb any creeping complacency of life in Ghana being "good": a LOT of work needs to be done--either by way of advocacy and otherwise. That Ghana was able to say "no" to a Gay and Lesbian conference in Ghana to me speaks volumes of our visceral reluctance to adopt all that is Western. Democracy, ok, but homosexuality? In this deeply religious country? Even if the "religiousness" associated with the country is this side short of ersatz at times, or perhaps superficial, given the mushrooming of pastors left right and centre, it is clear that this latest development struck a serious chord with our moral fibre.

In any event, the walk got me thinking about some possibilities for moving forward:

1. a blog on
if so, what would be the "mandate" for it. What would it be about? A way of updating myself and readers on life in Belgium, followed by a comparison of life in Ghana? On paper, it doesn't sound bad, but when you are in a work environment and home that emphasizes the qualitative as opposed to the quantitative (I maintain three blogs regularly!!!), then you begin to have some second thoughts.

The danger with something like this would be that whilst comparing Belgium with Ghana, which is virtually impossible, you would end up castigating unwittingly the country you so love. I'm talking about my OWN country of Ghana;-) How far do I want to do that?

Criticising is fine, but how much would people be able to connect to the proposed blog?

Then again, since there is no serious site out there encouraging Belgium/Ghana relations, it would be blazing the trail of sorts...

definitely some food for thought, but right now, I gotta go buy my paper.

Here are some links for good measure: [just learnt that Kalss Inn is owned by a Caribbean man called Kallos, or so...interesting]

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

My Campaign for Google.Gh Begins Today, Whilst I'm Loving RSS...

Originally uploaded by ekbensah.
This afternoon, I visited the Google Foundation website, which you can access here to write this query:

I was tracking my organisation's website the other day, and came across, or a google based in Senegal.

I know for a fact that the average Ghanaian has at least ONE yahoo account. I am therefore wondering why GOOGLE has not considered setting up a Is it on the cards any time soon?


My curiousity got the better of me, and I decided to find out how to set up an RSS Feed. Here is my quick "how-to":

1. open an rss.xml page in notepad/wordpad (it will open automatyicaly, and ask you to create the name)--e.g. notepad rss.xml

2. go to this link:{how to create an RSS feed}

3. follow steps, creating your own RSS feed using directions

4. save in notepad

5. go to to validate your feed

6. if invalid feed, it will direct you. Make corrections accordingly

7. upload on your website

8. go to feed reader (installed on your computer) and add it there.[try downloading it from this site here:

9. PRESTO!!!

It's Really [that] Simple Syndication!;-)

tags:rss; google ghana; google senegal; google ghana campaign; setting up rss on a website; ghana; accra


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