Friday, April 27, 2007

Turning Thirty(30), When Ghana is Fifty(50)

I swear. It must have been a conspiracy for my parents to have given birth to me when Ghana was celebrating its twentieth anniversary. It was only eleven years after Dr.Kwame Nkrumah, of blessed memory, was deposed.

Life must have been hard.

My parents probably never figured that whilst they were looking after my elder brother, Samuel D Bensah--also of sweet and blessed memory--when he was just four years old, they'd be giving birth to a naughty, naughty young man who would shake the world in more ways than they could imagine;-)

I am rarely whimsical on this side of the blog, but, hell, it's a day after my thirtieth, please give it to me, won't you?

I have an interesting reply to the previous entry about my dislike about the South African attitude to West Africans, which needs some serious cogitation. I am flirting with the idea of it being an open letter, for the issue Charles Ndoro raises in there are worth of public comment.

I, for one, am glad the issue of Stanbic Bank, ECOBANK, Ghana's Agricultural Development Bank, and the sale thereof are coming out in the open.

All that aside. It's interesting to be thirty at a time when Ghana is fifty. It merits serious consideration on where I'm going; where I've come from and to whom I must account.

As regards blogging, I started in 2005, and foresee a long time in blogging. My regional integration interest will not depart me any time soon.

The desire to write a novel is still deeply ingrained, and I want to work at it. I'm having challenges with writing the novel, or typing it, as sometimes, access to a computer is not all that reliable.

But I'll get there.

They say at thirty, you leave the silliness of the twenties and become "mature".

Who says?!

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What Stanbic's Bid for Ghana's Only Agricultural Development Bank Says about South Africa's View of West Africans

Last week, Metro TV, in its Newsnight programme, reported --much to my chagrin--that the government had offloaded (finally) its shares in ADB in preparation for the takeover by the South African bank Standard Bank.

I've been seeing Standard Bank's ads in magazines like Business In Africa, Africa Today, and been forced to accept that it, too, like ECOBANK, wnts to be a Pan-African bank.

Predictably, I'm being biased towards Ecobank being a veritable regional bank--precissely for its history of ECOWAS' stake, and its reach in almost ECOWAS countries, including CEMAC countries. Honestly, Stanbic, a Pan-African bank? I don't think so! Where's the SADC support to underscore this? Where is the SADC region's understanding of the rest of Africa?

In my view, I see an interesting trend here--one of Stanbic, like South African big capital, choosing to lord it over Africa, and feeling, why not, West Africa's a good place. Once we get Ghana, we've got a springboard for the rest of West Africa.

Not so fast, Stanbic!

The South Africans appear not to understand not just West Africa, but its market. One thing that goes to compound this perception is an article in Friday's edition of the private Ghanaian paper The Observer, with the headline:

Stanbic Offers $80m for ADB

The sub-heading speaks volumes: Workers Charge and Say "Kai!" ADB's Western Union
Inflows for 2006 Alone Was $400m

This, in fact, was reduced from $120m.

The cheek of Stanbic! To think it could buy Ghana's only agricultural development bank for $80m, when Western Union's for ADB alone was clocking a good five times aaht amount speaks more about the South African chutzpah, or hubris, of feeling it can lord it over West Africa in general, and Ghana in particular.

Back to the news report from Metro news, I noticed that the following ight, the station reported that the government insists it had not sold its shares in ADB, and was actually looking at an unsolicited proposal from Stanbic made last year.

It was confirmed in the state-owned Daily Graphic on Thursday, as the picture above illustrates.

I certainly hope that Bank of Ghana, and Ghanaians open their eyes to the looming threat of big capital--be it outside Africa, or on the continent itself, represented by a wolf in sheep's clothing--South Africa, always ready to please the West and its elite, yet less amenable to the interests of Black Africa.

Does NEPAD ring a bell, anyone?

Friday, April 13, 2007

As the Week Draws to a Close in Accra: Bank of Ghana Gets Proactive on Re-denomination; Why ONETOUCH Still Rules

Last week Friday, Ghanaians woke up to the news that the Bank of Ghana had launched a new website on the re-denomination of the currency, scheduled for July 2007.

Getting to work, I checked Joy FM's website on the article, a story culled from the Ghana News Agency about the initiative. It was great to see the Bank of Ghana, in a manner reminiscent of the flyer it sent out in January with copies of the Daily Graphic.

By clicking, you are exposed to a fresh, rather hip webpage that is replete with funky graphics and bold colours that are pleasing to the eye. There is a download page, where you can download videos of the now-very-popular jingles all over radio and tv. The refrain is no longer recondite:

"There is no change in value, the value is the same"

The video can be downloaded on the page listed above, along with a few other less popular jingles.


You may or may not re-call that I have blogged about Onetouch and areeba quite a few times. The Last time I blogged, it was about the war between the two operators.

Even though South African giant MTN has almost bought AREEBA, I would like to state explicitly here that though I also possess an areeba number, I am passionately a ONETOUCH promoter and supporter. Here's why:

1. Onetouch is 70% Ghanaian
2. It has FREE directory assistance (you can find out any number in the country for free!)
3. flat rate of GHC1,450, or almost $0.16/minute to ANY network, with GHC900 to landline and onetouch users during off-peak hours
4. GPRS is VERY user-friendly, enabling users to browse mobile web, with as little as GHC2000, whereas AREEBA demands you have GHC50,000 before you can browse
5. you can call a Ghana Telecom helpline for FREE, which you cannot do on any other network

Onetouch musn't get complacent, and with people like me around, I will ensure it doesn't;-) SUffice-to-say, so far, I'm very happy with them!

Good weekend!


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