Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Do Middle Class Ghanaians Care About Mining?

Few Ghanaians either care or make the effort to care about the issue of mining, and this is not because they are as naturally apathetic to causes as I sometimes make out in this blog. I suspect it also has a lot to do with insufficient information about developments in the country.

For example, there has been a lot of noise this week and last about the reading of the 2010 budget. As ever, it has been turned into an NDC-NPP affair of polar opposites where the opposition NPP see it fit to condemn and condemn some more some of the aspects of the budget not necessarily because it lacks coherence, but simply because it is coming from the incumbent government. The NDC are also wont to react rather than offer substantive comments that would facilitate bipartisan discussion. Still, this is what we have become used to in Ghana.

So much so that when the government announced that mining royalties would be raised to around 6% in lieu of the paltry amount thbe last government accepted to give back to the country, few media houses touched on it, preferring to gloss over some of the more substantive proposals.

The meeting that I was in for three days last week discussed the issue of mining, but in a more holistic way. Organised by TWN-Africa, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, ECOWAS, and the AU, the meeting sought to take inputs from--what the international community like to call --"relevant stakeholders" (i.e. civil society, policy officials, ECOWAS, AU, UNECA officials) to revise the work of the so-called International Studies Group(established since 2007) who have gone very far in creating a framework on the mining regime not just for West Africa but for ALL Africans.

One can imagine that I would have been in my element being surrounded by the kind of people, which policies I like to write about often. But I was also seriously outraged.

The guy in this picture is Ayoub Ziad of the African Union Commission. The guy is a director in one of the AU units responsible for the drafting and reviewing of an industrial policy for the AU countries, yet the guy had to have his laptop in front of him before he could speak! A good, old director! I do not doubt that apart from his cigarettes, he knows his stuff, but his ineloquent style defied belief.

The Libyan AU Official rarely spoke--except at the end of the meeting when they were doing closing statements, and I could not for the life of me understand how we get officials like this at the African Union!

Some of us are burning out, burning out, feeling the need to make substantive contributions to our sub-region and our continent, and our being stymied and frustrated because of the kind of leaders we continue to have in areas where some of us could play serious roles.

If that is not sufficient to get one outraged, I do not know what is!

More seriously, though, mining might not mean to the average middle class Ghanaian blogger, but I do hope that this post provides some insight into how far the debate and discourse has gone on a framework for ALL African countries to not have their minerals totally expropriated by rapacious mining regimes.

More information can be found on the website of Third World Network-Africa:, and the African Union website as well...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Enter Left for Ghana in ECOWAS, as Ghana Plays Host to a Regional Electricity Agency

Two important developments within the past two days have reminded me that Ghana might not be playing a low-key role in international diplomacy, albeit African geo-politics.

Now that one of my long-time blogger-followers since 2005--Daniel Hoffman-Gill--has migrated from my other blog to this one, I think it behooves me to be as clear as possible about where I am going with this post, as even in Ghana, few care about what ECOWAS means.

The Economic Community Of West African States is a regional organisation--just as the EU is of 27 countries--that has been in existence since 1975. It successfully, albeit controversially, resolved the crisis in Liberia, primarily by expanding its mandate from an economic imperative to a peace and security one as well.

In 2007, it changed its structure to an EU one, whereby there are now ECOWAS Commissioners for trade, human security, etc. The Secretariat in that year also became a Commission, rather than a Secretariat, with greater powers to facilitate a more people-centred organisation that would be meaningful for West Africans.

Now the boss, since 2001, has been a Ghanaian by the name of Dr.Ibn Chambas. Yesterday, I learnt from reports online that he has just landed a top-job in the Brussels-based African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP Group).

In the same vein, I found out today that the promise that Ghana would play host to one of the ECOWAS agencies--in this case the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERERA) has been honoured, and it is in a very visible place on the famed-Spintex Road!

This evidently means nothing about Ghana in ECOWAS foreign policy, but the developments within the past two days is certainly nothing to be sneezed at.

For the record, I do hope that as the EU meet today to decide who becomes the President of the newly-empowered EU Council(thanks to the Lisbon Treaty) Tony Blair will miss it by inches--not because he is not competent, but because I don't think someone who never accepted that he botched the justification for the invasion of Iraq will be accountable to EU citizens!

Friday, November 13, 2009

A 37-yr-old Father's Strange Vodafone Ghana Tale

In 2019, when the-then 47-yr-old (former) carpenter looks back at when he won the grand prize of 1million dollars from Vodafone Ghana as part of its promotion, what will he say to his two children?

Will he still be in his Trassaco Valley house, or would he have left the place for fear of more snubs from the rather-rich entourage? Would his money be well-invested in stocks, and a part put aside for his kids, or would it have been finished?

It is certainly none of my business, but in a society in which a 37yr old carpenter can win a cool 1 million dollars, without recourse to how he will manage that money or the home that clearly is "inconsistent" with his profession, is a society I have serious issue with.

Forget the fact that Vodafone is so filthy-rich to have given a 4x4 vehicle PLUS an almost $400,000 home AND a $1m cash-prize to one person, and let us think about the upturned values that we are presented with.

Large amounts of money have a way of influencing us for better or for worse, and for many people it is for worse. Couple that with the artificial class that Vodafone has created, and you are left with an explosive set of circumstances that needs the wisdom of Solomon to manage.

Good luck to him and his family. I do hope he maximises the opportunity to obtain all the wisdom possible for him to lead a very fulfilling life!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Where did Ghana's 80's Go, or Reminisces of a No-Style Rookie High on Neneh Cherry!

Friday 6 November will go down in the annals of my personal history as a day of profoundly serious reminiscing.

I blame the BBC Worldservice for its daily reminders of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which ghanablogger Nana Abena has done well today to be one of the first bloggers to blog about this important and significant event.

It had to be purely serendipitous that I check out Nenneh Cherry's hit song of that year; in fact, I only found out a few days ago that it was indeed 1989 that the song became so popular. Whether it was my sub-conscious working over-time is moot. In November 1989, when the wall came down, I was only almost a year into writing a personal journal.

Twenty years later, I still write a journal of daily and weekly accounts and do not quite get how I am still chronicling my life! But I digress!

When "Buffalo Stance" came out, I re-call Samuel--my older late brother-- and I dancing to the song like the two goons in the background of the video. I know it was so cool then to do so.

The eighties was also the time of "cool"--funny dances a la Afro-American; usage of slang like "fresh", "cool", "wicked", etc--mostly to impress and let your friends know you were with it.

Upon reflection, I can say this song was one of many that possibly epitomized coolness. A quick look at the lyrics just brings it all home:

* no style rookie
* don't u mess with me
* who's looking good in every way?
* money-man
* bomb the bass

In all this, I could not help but wonder how Ghanaians were celebrating 1989 when I was busy giggling and jumping foolishly up and down with my brother (who was the quintessential cool guy, when I remained the classic dork) like I was in an American 'hood with homies on a chill-pill.

If you can feel me, drop me a comment to this no-style rookie, but just don't mess with me!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Vodafone Ghana's Got What's Coming

Some of us hate to say "we told you so", but some of us really did carry on till the cows came home on how bad and inimical for Ghana the Vodafone deal last August was. Here is what I wrote for

The specialists can bandy around figures that point to gross inefficiency in GT till the cows come home, but they can never escape what the legendary Mark Twain wrote--to wit: “there are lies, damn lies and statistics.” Even if we were to accept the plausible argument that GT is mismanaged and in dire need of capital injection, we cannot take away from the fact that despite this “mismanagement”, GT was able to roll out DIALup4u, despite the fact that many foreign cards were on the market that enabled internet access with no less than a GT landline base. On top of that, GT rolled out an aggressive campaign around 2005/2006 of BROADBAND4U (est.2004), which is now reportedly available in all the regions of the country.

I am not quite sure how dedicated a Vodafone Ghana will be to ensuring that the remotest parts of the country will have broadband internet access. As a state-owned company, it will always be in its interest to ensure deep penetration of its products in the country--and the bottom line is not always what counts. Contrast that with any strategic investor that comes into the country: unless the government monitors, there will be scant attention paid to the provision of rural telephony.

I cannot get over the fact that no less than the UK's Serious Fraud Office is considering querying Vodafone Ghana over what it calls financial irregularities. I cannot help but wonder what would have happened had this current administration not assumed power.

I do not believe for a second that they have a spotless record, but the retention of Ghana's fibre optic as a strategic national asset is nothing to be sneezed at. I do hope Ghanaians will strip away the polarization and politicization and remember that a fibre optic that is retained by Ghana is a deal that benefits Ghanaians--just the way our policy-makers should be looking at every aspect of policy.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Calling all Young Ghanaians Below 35years!

I have not yet had the priviledge of meeting up with Dr.Sammy Laryea, but I like what I know. He recently obtained his Ph.D and he is an ardent believer in Ghana. And he is young. He sent me a message on FACEBOOK over the weekend, asking I distribute this to as many of my networks as possible.

Go ahead and maximise its usage through networks you might know!

I think most of the Ghanablogging community already qualify.

Are you writing your bios already?;-)


Profiles of Ghanaian Successes: 200 Rising Ghanaian Stars

Call for Entries

People, we are seeking to publish a book containing profiles (brief success stories) of 200 rising Ghanaians stars under age thirty-five (35). The title of the book would be “Profiles of Ghanaian success: 200 rising Ghanaian stars” and would be published in January 2010.

Submission deadline for entries: 31 November 2009
Book to be published in January 2010
Criteria for inclusion: Must be Ghanaian below 35years

We are hoping that the book would become a wealthy source of knowledge and inspiration for the younger generation in Ghana and elsewhere in Africa. The age limit of 35 also means that we are interested in learning from (and about) Ghanaians who have serious potential to be in the next generation of business, political, entrepreneurial and industrial leaders in Ghana, Africa, and beyond. Each profile entry should be brief (1000 words max). The entry should summarize the person's background, family, education, occupation, profession, best books, membership of major groups and societies, best movies, best quotations, favourite leaders, top five secrets or habits of their success, personal achievements and accomplishments, best moments of their lives, worst moment of their lives, highest aspiration in life, top five ideas for developing Ghana, advice for young people who want to become successful, etc. It would be truly excellent to learn and benefit from the life experiences and success stories of the 200 rising Ghanaian stars who would be profiled.

The accomplishments of some people are clear to many of us; such people would simply be invited to share an entry on how they have managed to become successful so that we can learn from their stories. The profiles of 200 young and successful Ghanaians would be truly interesting and inspirational. Bringing together the stories of these rising Ghanaian stars can inspire them to even greater heights. I am looking forward to reading about the lives of all these brilliant people and learning from the secrets of their success. I hope all of you would help us to produce this book in January 2010. Please feel free to bring to our notice any rising Ghanaians stars that you think should be profiled in the book and we would be happy to contact them. Alternatively, you can simply forward this Call for Entries to them.

Several people might love to have their profiles published. However, it is not possible to publish a profile of every Ghanaian under 35. Only the profiles of people whose life stories and accomplishments can truly inspire the younger generation in Ghana would be published. If you feel sure that your life story is compelling and can inspire young people in Ghana, please feel free to drop an entry about yourself into SALARYEA AT YAHOO.COM. We would assess it using our guidelines. Profiles will only be published based on merit to ensure integrity of the process. In order to be able to publish the book in January 2010, the deadline for submitting entries is 31 November 2009. We look forward to receiving your entries.

Best wishes

Sammy Laryea

Dr Samuel Laryea
Editor: Profiles of Ghanaian successes: 200 Rising Ghanaian Stars
Email: salaryea AT

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ghanaian Conversations--Only in Ghana!

MAN goes to shop, carrying basket. Points accusing finger to his car, while walking with a woman , who looks like his contemporary. He asks, almost shouting:

Have you closed the car window? my phones are both there...

As I walk from the shop, I see the woman, in the car, with her chin in her palm. She visibly looks despondent.

Is this a glimpse of how some Ghanaian women are living their married life?


COLLEAGUE IN OFFICE SPEAKING OVER PHONE: Are you almost in the area? Where are you?


COLLEAGUE: So, you are in traffic? Whereabouts? Teshie?


COLLEAGUE: What time do you think you might be here?


COLLEAGUE: You want me to tell you what time you should be there as you are just leaving the house?!!


What can I say? Only in Ghana??

Monday, October 19, 2009

I am Back and Proud! Well done Black Satellites for beating BRAZIL in FIFA u20 World Cup!

I am not really back as I never went away--just undercover. I do not like unannounced hiatus from blogging, but this time, it was necessary. Suffice-to-say, I am back--and proud!

I am glad Ghanaians are cottoning on to the fact that the loss of the Brazilians in the u-20 FIFA world Cup is also a lot to do with the Nkrumahist black man being capable of managing his own affairs! We did not win with a foreign coach--it was a Ghanaian.

The Black Stars must needs wake up!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

"Afrigator" Responds to My Post on Its Ranking

Following my piece questioning afrigator, Stii has taken the trouble to respond. I post his reply for your general consumption. Enjoy!

Hi Emmanuel,

Sorry for only responding now! This slipped through the cracks! :( Yes, we're on Twitter. Even better would be adding our individual accounts:


Okay, now, I'm not sure if you've read this indepth explanation about how the ranking works. Maybe it is too technical? Anyway, have a read and tell me.

As I said, it changes frequently when the ranking scripts run. It resets every Sunday night so there may very well be big variations early in the week. That is quite normal.

As far as determining what blogs are Ghanaian, we leave that to the users. When a blogger submits his blog, he selects the country. Maybe we're not 100% clear on what determines what a blog's country classification is and that may well cause confusion. We find that more often than not, you'll find two kinds of bloggers.

1. Bloggers that resides in that said country. The blog itself might not be about the country, but the blogger should be!

2. Expats that blog about the country. This normally means that the blog qualifies on the basis that the blog is about the said country.

If you find that there is blogs that does not qualify, feel free to let us know! We'll definitely look into it. You can mail us at support[at]

Another issue is that we did have a problem recently with our ranking algorithm. This has been resolved. See:


I have to say, this is not the first time the issue of blogs that hadn't been updated in a while came up. I'll definitely look into this issue as it certainly is very, very valid. In fact, I'll look into this today still!

Guys, we're open for suggestions. We'll have a good and hard look at some of your suggestions mentioned here.

Keep well,


Friday, October 02, 2009

Chronicles of a Ghanaian Commuter: In Praise of Walking

Many people believe that middle-class types like those who blog about and in Ghana are all car-drivers. It's like if you can string a couple of sentences together that sound cogent, then you must be so well-educated that your disposable income is bursting at the seams. Syllogically, you must be a driver.

I got news for you: not all "middle-class" bloggers drive; some of us still commute-either because we cannot afford it, or because we chose to!

If you can get past the exclamation mark, you can, I suspect, also accept that one of the wonderful things about being a Ghanaian commuter is the freedom that comes with it.

For example, as I stepped out of the office for lunch this afternoon, I was able to hiss at a taxi that stopped and brought me here to A&C shopping Mall in East Legon. Had I been driving, I would have gone through the whole thing about getting into the car, mirrors, reversing, looking at petrol gauge and all that;-)

Yesterday, as I walked to my office--some twenty-five minutes away--from A&C, I walked with my tongue firmly in cheek: many taxi-drivers were hooting like crazy, expecting that I would concede defeat and hitch a ride. I waved my hand in a manner that indicated I didn't want a ride, and they firmly moved on.

Once I got back to the office, I thought, "yeah, this is good!" Forget that I got exercise and all that--and just think of the fresh air I got from it.

My humble suggestion is to one of these days, park your car, and walk. I know when I get kids, I'll be driving them around more than I expected, so now is my time to enjoy the walks!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mid-Week Madness: Blogging Paradox ; Afrigator Re-Dux and Guinea on My Mind

Few people know that I have another blog, entitled "Reflecting the Eccentric World of E.K.Bensah II"--save Ghanablogging colleague Kobby Graham who has listed it in his aggregator. That's the space where I blog about relationships, life and other esoteric stuff, which I feel I cannot shed light on on the ghana blog.

Whilst you're reading, let me give you a small quote from a post I wrote in June 2007 about reconciling real life with blogging--what I call the blogging paradox:

In so many ways, blogging has transformed us into both contradictory and paradoxical people. Contradictory because some of us chose to blog about heretofore private issues under both the ambit of free speech, as well as something to blog about, when that very same issue, we probably wouldn’t discuss with someone face-to-face...

When you read this blog, you do it and make judgments—or not—on the entries I write. At the time you read my entry, your attention is drawn only to the post, but not to my whole personality. In that respect, even if you consistently visit the blog and have a fair idea of who I am, by way of my blog entries, it’s difficult to be certain whether it’s all an act.

We have contemporaneously become paradoxical because the self-reflection of our private lives that we are so keen to refrain from divulging fully is refracted through our blogging, such that we blog about our personal lives, but only in a way that doesn’t reveal too much of what we intimately think and feel...

I believe with that quote I was trying to experience a catharsis that only writing can bring. This post, for example, was going to be about "what to do when you cannot blog", but when I started writing, I remembered there were other issues I needed to pick up, such as the dreaded afrigator.

The genesis of this post started with the fact that I was going to write about Ghanaian banks; however it was scuppered by my boss challenging me to do an analysis of the Guinea/Niger crisis refracted through the role of ECOWAS in Guinea.

This has meant that I have had to naturally suspend my blog entry to do some serious research before doing a good piece on the Guinea crisis. I've done a write-up for the blog; all that remains for me to do is to transfer it into blogging stuff.
In between that, other private matters have crept up--including where on Earth Ato Kwamena Dadzie is on the afrigator blog list? Somehow, there seems to be a bit more sanity. I wouldn't know if it had anything to do with the post I wrote last two weeks. All I can tell for now is that the cutting-and-pasting blogs have been relegated down there somewhere in the 80s. I am still a bit concerned that some non-Ghanaian-content blogs, such as Nubian Cheetah, who blogs more about Africa than Ghana is in the top 5.

I am sincerely happy to see that David Ajao's blog is in the top 5; he's a veteran and deserves the spot. The delectable Esi Cleland and Abena of Procrastinator Fame; including yours truly are in the top 10. What is Koranteng's Toli still doing in the top 5?!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Nkrumah Inspires a Future Worth Living and Dying For!

When little E.K.Bensah III and Samantha/Sammy are born, there is a story that must needs be told.

It's a story about how their father--then 32 years young--imbued by the pride of being an Nkrumahist wept on the morning of Monday 21st September 2009 as then-President Professor John Evans Attah-Mills delivered a dawn broadcast to honour the great Osagyefo Dr.Kwame Nkrumah--academic; theologian; pioneering Pan-African; and Founder of Ghana.

In a style akin to the announcement of Obama as 43rd President of the USA in November 2008, Samantha's father wept to the news like a lost child.

Within minutes, he was up. He dusted himself off, and proceeded to steal the thunder of the African Union (who should have had a presence on Facebook) by using the inspiration of Nkrumah to whip up support for a people-centred African Union government that we so need!

In his hand was a copy of the now-defunct "Evening News" of January 1964, which their father found online, recounting how their great grandfather Hon E.K.Bensah, Minister of Works and Communications, had laid a wreath on the grave of a security officer killed by the bomb attempt on the life of the Osagyefo.

Long live Nkrumah! Long live Ghana.

Africa Must--CAN--Unite!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Trouble With!

For the cognescenti of, my title might be a non-starter. I know for a fact that fellow bloggers like David Ajao have waxed lyrical about afrigator's peeps (akin to twitter) for example. One thing that must be said about David Ajao, also, i sthat consistently for the past couple of months, he has been ranked number one on afrigator rankings -- at least as far as blogs in Ghana is concerned. Off-late, he moved to number one, but has been up-staged by Joy Fm journalist Ato Kwamena Dadzie, who joined afrogator only last week.

My biggest beef, though, is with some of the entries in the top 20.

Simply click on the images to get a bigger picture. When you do, you will get a better sense of what I'm about to write.

Let's start with Koranteng's Toli, which was last updated in March 2009. How on earth can it still be ranked number 6?

Secondly, EVABZ -- at number 7 -- had NO posts about Ghana! The last eight posts were on random issues--not on anything to do with Ghana. How on earth was it able to rank so high?

Third, seems to be written by a sexy, smart young woman who writes occasionally about Africa. Nothing specific about Ghana. How does her blog manage to rank #9 on afrigator blogs in Ghana? Unclear whether she's even Ghanaian.

Fourth, GHANAPUNDIT is a blog doing the easy cut-and-paste job on a very regular basis. To constitute good blogging, frankly, is a fallacy. Any amateur can do cut-and-paste every day. Where's the analysis of the posts you put up. The regularity clearly means that it's higher on the rankings--and as it's blogging about Ghana, well, you can do your maths about how it managed to get to #11. Though I am happy to see it has fallen a great deal from last week when it was ranked #2/3 for a couple of days!

Fifth, NDC Corruption is eponymous in the sense that the name speaks for itself: it's all about posts touching on alledged corruption by the NDC from both private and public Ghanaian press. It's also mostly a cut-and-paste job. To be ranked #19 is perhaps a vindication of my anger, considering how last two weeks, it was hovering around 2 and 3 for a few days!

I don't know what monitoring and evaluating afrigator is doing about blogs under countries, but it strikes me that it might need to do some significant revision of what "constitutes" Ghanaian blogs. Is it merely a cut-and-paste job from papers about Ghana, or entries about Ghana or on Ghanaian life?

Ghana is talking. Is afrigator listening?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah on a United States of Africa / Discovering E.K.Bensah Senior

So you can check out this video, which was sent round by a friend on Facebook. I want to believe that it is not just because we are less than a week away from celebrating a holiday of 21st September in honour of the great visionary and leader of Ghana Dr.Kwame Nkrumah, but also because the Osagyefo deserves it truly.

As the Ghanablogging community begins a week of writing about Nkrumah, I want to also believe that the research that will go into it in writing the entries will be transformative.

Dr.Nkrumah was more than an ordinary man; there are some of of us who want to believe that he came to save Africa (and by extension Ghana) from perpetual slavery. We can bang drums and make bombastic claims about the white man till the cows come home, but truth is it is we Ghanaians that overthrew this great man. The white man could have come up with his ruses and caprices and we could have pretended to accept and turned on them -- as we did so many times in history. Yet the (alledged) CIA money was too exciting a prospect to anticipate such an idea.

I have written about Nkrumah before, and over the next couple of posts, I shall be referring to them.

I make no secret about my views about Nkrumah on this blog--and I would understand if observers might feel it is because of my paternal grandfather who was a Minister and MP in his regime.

I've only today found out that grandad "O'Pop" was once Minister of Works/Construction and Communications! You can read his history here:

For me, a journey through Nkrumah's life is equally a discovery about the politician my grandfather was in Nkrumah's regime and an exploration into the legacy of Nkrumah even for my Dad's own generation.

It appears my children might not have a choice of where their politics will be!:-)

Friday, September 11, 2009

This Week in Frontpages--"Daily Graphic" versus "Daily Guide"

As the week winds down to a close, we can only feel that the week has just flown by with tremendous celerity. Some of us might have been too busy buried in work; others might have just managed to catch bits of news here and there.

In order to respond to those who might have missed the frontpages (cocaine / paedophilia) that competed with the average crime thriller, I'm posting the frontpages of the two widely-read papers in the system--Daily Guide and Daily Graphic.

This post is also appearing on my new blog Ghana Media Watch Unlimited, which you can access here:

Click on the image to view the images of the papers.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Day Ghanaian Customer Service Died...& Other Mindless Madness

Few issues make me viscerally turn my head out of disbelief than outright greed. So when I heard that the EXOPA CEO had been caught with cocaine, I couldn't quite make it out. Yeah, so we all love money, but most of us also bear in mind also that the love of if is the root of all evil. Frankly, I feel like history's repeating itself here. This is what I wrote in July 2007:

The week opened with drugs on my mind: a popular musician, Daassebre, who had been caught with two kilograms of cocaine in the UK. It prompted a radio discussion on Tuesday as to why so many Ghanaians want to defy the risk of carrying narcotics into European soil. I called in and made a contribution, which I can summarise thus:

There are two levels we have to be looking at this. There is, first, the local level.

At the local level, we should have a billboard at Kotoka International Airport (KIA) that states explicitly that Ghana is a no-drugs country. That always helps, plus the one thrown in for good measure that Ghana is a strong partner in the fight against drug-trafficking. We should also be building the capacity of officials at GCAA (Ghana Civil Aviation Authority) to be able to have a good idea (discerning eye) for those who might want to take drugs out of the country, or bring it in. If this means going on courses overseas, then fine!

At the sub-regional level, I maintain that there should be an ECOWAS Convention on Combatting Drugs in the same manner there is one on small arms to the degree that the Kimberely Process on Blood Diamonds has eventuated from it. I also think that one should go back to the discussions back in 2002 when ECOWAS Police Leaders met (, and this was discussed[...]


My solution remains pretty much the same two years later: we do need both a local and sub-regional approach to tackle the drug question.

On another front, I want to quickly broach the issue of my Mid-Week Madness, which I have focussed on customer service--or the lack thereof--in Ghana.

I need to doff my hat off to Ghana Hall of Shame whom I think is doing a great job by trying to become the quintessential nemesis of all that is wrong about Ghanaian retail--and corporate--attitude to customers. I entreat you to visit the site and submit your stories.

Getting back to my complaints, let's start with my entry that featured on my accradailyphoto blog in September.

I don't know about you, but I think Corporate Ghana's got a lot of work to do to tidy up itself. Kids are being used in MTN ads and a worker at GAME (Accra Mall)recently told me when I queried two prices for one product that:

"ah, that's GAME for you!"

For me, that was the day customer service at GAME died.

You do your formulations and calculations on the kind of thoughts that went on in my mind when this customer told me this, but it must needs be said that GAME should revise the way it treats its customers. I believe Ghana Hall of Shame will gladly pick it up for us, but even before they do, those of you who patronize GAME might think about watching the price tags more carefully now.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

MINO on my Mind: From Facebook with Love

This was how I started the morning:

humbled that Ghana's Joy 99.7FM supremos would seek my opinion abt Ghana's ministry of information (MINO [sounds like an Ancient Greek name...] ) using Facebook as outreach. Will be recording as podcast. Starts @ 12.00pm GMT

Fellow blogger, Kobby G, of Wherever I Lay My Hat fame called me to ask whether Joy FM could interview my humble self. Ofcourse I said yes!;-) (even if I was unsure exactly why there wasn't a better person to interview). Kobby told me that he and Ato KD, whom I have never met immediately thought of me. I wonder why: I'm a bit of a loud-mouth, and surely there are more serious "technologists" out there. Still, I was raring to go.

So, I was interviewed for the midday news, and only an excerpt of my interview was used. Let me try, though, to get the essence of what I wrote elsewhere (precisely on Emmanuel.K.Dogbevi of fame's profile--for which a media practitioner castigated me for calling the MInistry of Information's desire to engage the FACEBOOK constituency a "knee-jerk" reaction:

Emmanuel, nice piece.

I was interviewed, albeit briefly, on Joy FM's midday news. A media practitioner who is also a Facebook user castigated me for claiming it was a "knee-jerk reaction." While we did speak and I understand where he is coming from (as it suggests that MINO might have been criticised for NOT using facebook), I still believe that if Facebook is going to COMPLEMENT government policy, certainly it should not take the plunge so deep like this?

First of all, we have our government portals that have not been sufficiently exploited for the benefit of our citizens. For example, could be made more mobile-friendly, to include txt msg alerts and whatnot.

Facebook is not just for the young--it is now an all-encompassing medium that cuts across ages and walks of life. For it to be effective in a country where more than half of BECE students have failed their exams and where greater attention to literacy is needed strikes me as counter to meaningful development.

Just because Facebook is buzzing every nano-second does not mean that you have to have a "LIVE CHAT" every week. What is the objective of that live chat? To canvass opinions of the youth, or the rest of the population? How many even middle class use FACEBOOK? At the times (3pm) that they should be working, would you want them to seek permission from their bosses to come talk to the MINO officials--or would they do it on the sly?

In short, it has implications--on productivity at work (time of day (3pm) is not conducive to productivity, perhaps lunch time? weekends?); on skills (how much of the population is adept at using the 'Net -- let alone Facebook?); on meaningful communication (does MINO have the capacity to monitor the chats from bad/foul language/repetitive questions & comments, etc); on inclusiveness (what portion of the population are even online most of the time to make contributions?

If they said they were reaching out to the Diasporan community and the youth ALONE, then I would understand, but I sincerely believe that Facebook should not be used at the expense of existing working systems like govt portals which the jury might even be out on as to how effective it remains for the general public.


The debate is surely to continue--and I shall definitely be in the thick of things--monitoring!

Monday, August 31, 2009

"Why is Africa Poor?" Re-Dux

My twitter comments last Monday went thus:

wondering what to say to BBC Mark Doyle when BBC's Over To You team call re:my complaint about Doyle's prog title "Why is Africa Poor?"

Shortly after, BBC did indeed call me. I talked. This is what I put in the status:
Emmanuel K Bensah Jr

Emmanuel K Bensah Jr
Just finished speaking to BBC Mark Doyle, and Rajun of BBC's "Over to You" programme. Mark Doyle sounds like a nice guy. Story behind the title dates back to no less than a Ghanaian friend of his who posed that title a while back when ...Doyle was in Ghana, as they travelled to Cape Coast from Accra! What I said was all over the place, but next Saturday's BBC "Over to You" will summarize it;-)Read More

August 24 at 2:27pm · · .

Now, here's the link to the post of the episode Sunday night:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

CSI Tamale, or how Ghana Police "won't get fooled again..."

Mighty African threw me an open challenge yesterday regarding the post about "CSI Tamale". It's great to read that the University of Development Studies is the first tertiary institution to come out with a programme like this in the country.

The specific challenge was to try and write a thriller--all tongue-in-cheek of course--but I couldn't help but wonder of the possibilities that would flow from this development at UDS. If it had been another country, they might have decided to "follow" the students to see how they reconcile the fiction that is the fantastic CSI trilogy with the reality of down-and-dirty work of using science to combat crime.

On a funny note, I even thought of who might play Horatio Caine character, and just what music would be played each time he put on those crooked sunglasses he likes to carry.

Any takers? (please, no Van Vickers' or Jackie Appiahs!)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Six Degrees of Separation: From Baako to Bensah

I have never met Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading GuideKweku Baako and don't think I might ever, especially now that he has seemingly abandoned his mother party the Convention People's Party. But there is an uncanny link between him and I: his father Kofi Baako was one-time Minister of Information in Nkrumah's government; my paternal grandfather E.K.Bensah was MP for Agona Swedru. I was surfing, as you do, when I came across an excerpt from a book in which my grandfather and Kweku Baako's father ostensibly freed some putative political prisoners.

Sometimes, am not quite sure what to do with a legacy like that. Politics is the last thing I want to do, but every couple of months, I gain greater insight into the period before the infamous CIA-sponsored coup, which took Nkrumah out of power and wonder about Ghana if Nkrumah had not been so violently cut off in his prime...

Just in Case You Missed the Comments on CHRAJ's Anna Bossman...

Last week's post about the Ghanaian media, and Anna Bossman elicited zero comments on my blog, but plenty on Facebook! Food for thought...

Updated on Thursday · ·
Francis Doku
Francis Doku
Good for you
August 20 at 12:30pm · Delete
Emmanuel K Bensah Jr
Emmanuel K Bensah Jr
the new blog has already been set up. The content is en route--so-to-speak:
August 20 at 1:14pm · Delete
Ato Ulzen-Appiah
Ato Ulzen-Appiah
She's on Facebook? how cool. another blog, Emmanuel, wonte gyae koraa! Bravo.
August 20 at 7:01pm · Delete
Francis Doku
Francis Doku
how many blogs do you have?
August 20 at 7:02pm · Delete
Anna Bossman
Anna Bossman
Thank you Emmanuel
August 20 at 9:42pm · Delete
Emmanuel K Bensah Jr
Emmanuel K Bensah Jr
Ms.Bossman, it was a great pleasure! Looks like some people are unaware how Facebook-friendly you are;-) @Francis: blogs I have? That's a tough one. Let's just say I regularly maintain six of them. Right now, I have been very regular on four. @Ato: I am begging for a translation, please; I only understood "koraa":-) Cheers!
Fri at 9:50am · Delete
Ato Ulzen-Appiah
Ato Ulzen-Appiah
hehe, wonte gyae means you don't understand stop. basically you keep on going, nothing stops you :-)
Fri at 9:53am · Delete
Oluniyi David Ajao
Oluniyi David Ajao
Hmn. The media landscape is a bit too mediocre. Indeed, Joy FM (and its sister stations) and Citi FM stand out among the legions of wanna-bes. If only many journalists were not so deeply entrenched in partisan politics.

Good write-up Emmanuel. Keep up the good work.
Fri at 10:12am · Delete
Emmanuel K Bensah Jr
Emmanuel K Bensah Jr
@Ato: takes one to know one, I guess!;-) @David:thx for kind words. Keep the fire burning urself!
Fri at 12:19pm · Delete
Nana Awere Damoah
Nana Awere Damoah
@Emmanuel: I do have my own little testimony concerning Madam Bossman. I was preparing for the launch of my first book Excursions In My Mind last Dec (See fotos of book launch:, and was looking for someone to chair the function. A friend said he may be able to get Madam Bossman to ... Read Morechair, but I said, hey, pls I dont think she will have time to attend. so we find another person to chair. I find her on Facebook, humbly ask that I be her friend, which she consented to. I invite her on FB to attend the launching; she again accepted the invite, joining the events page on FB. D-Day, I am standing infront of the hall, I see a car arrive, a policeman opens the door and with my mouth aping the opened door of the car, I welcome Madam Bossman to my book launch! Biggest surprise of the day, which still thrills me when I think of it. So she is right, she sees no 'small fries'.
Fri at 9:57pm · Delete
Nana Awere Damoah
Nana Awere Damoah
On the other point u raised, I hold the view that we have vy little creative writing amongst our journalists. most of them are just conveyor belts. The minister said, the victim said, the President reported that...bla bla. I am in Nigeria presently and anytime I come here, reading their newspapers is a pleasure, though I think some tend to be ... Read Morevoluble, but there is indeed creativity, fluency and depth in what they write. And there are journalists who are into articles that go behind the scenes, analytical treatment of the headlines. We dont see that a lot in Ghana. And when we do see such attempts, the political innuendoes just cloud the intended messages. We have some work to do, and it shd start when the practitioners themselves acknowledge that they have a deficit that they need to clear to the point of excellence.
Fri at 10:08pm · Delete
Nana Awere Damoah
Nana Awere Damoah
Finally on Shamima, I was privileged to meet her in Nottingham when a reception was hosted for British council scholars in the Midlands, when I was a Chevening scholar then and I was impressed with her; her mettle shows in her work at Citi. Which brings to mind another fine journalist, Marie Acolatse, at Metro TV (I think her surname has changed ... Read Morenow, abi?), also a Chevening scholar. The Chevening thing is coincidental, but my main point is that for both ladies, advance training has had a part to play in their excellence. Komla is another example. Kwaku Baako impressed me always with how much he learns and improves each time I listen to him. There are countless examples of such who have done some more training just beyond GIJ. Our journalists need to realise that strand, their training shdnt end at GIJ. A knowledge of English and access to ink, paper, mic or camera shdnt be the only criteria for journalism. Continuous training and self-development shd be the key.
Fri at 10:15pm · Delete
Nana Awere Damoah
Nana Awere Damoah
Now, finally (hehe, u know when u are sitting under the voice of a boring and lengthly sermon/speech and the speaker says finally or in conclusion, pls dont take him at his word, lol), vy nice piece, I enjoyed reading it. Cheers and menti gyae!
Fri at 10:19pm · Delete
Ato Ulzen-Appiah
Ato Ulzen-Appiah
am i now Madam Bossman's biggest fan or what? :-)
Fri at 11:30pm · Delete
Julius Sowu
Julius Sowu
Am adding my voice to the praise of Ms Anna Bossman, for her work.

Nana more to the point there is no doubt on the creativity of our peoples, you just have to be at any bossing session to know we as a nation have a creativity in turn of phrase which is the envy of the world. Its the freedom of mind which seems to hold us back when applying this creativity, I have always put this down to our attitude to authority, for some reason when given authority/responsibility we tend to defer to our "boss" and as such do nothing for fear of doing the wrong thing.
Thus the average Journalist will not report as he sees it but how it will be perceived, and as in many cases this impacts his livelihood not surprising.
... Read More
This independence of mind is missing not just in Journalism, but in many spheres of our community.

I will end with the Ethos that saved my sanity as a young man "yes you can criticise/correct your elders, and still show respect, in fact it is your duty to do so"
Sat at 8:12am · Delete
Nana Awere Damoah
Nana Awere Damoah
@Julius: I agree with you. In his amazing book "Outliers", Malcolm Caldwell calls it 'mitigation speech', lack of assertiveness. I agree.
Sat at 8:15am · Delete
Julius Sowu
Julius Sowu
Not read Outliers but love the title and will look for it

Seeing as you raised Ms Bossman in your thread will give you a personal take on it, as we grew up there were certain oasis's in Accra where one could be a "free minded" individual and the Bossman household was one of these such places, in fact how they put up with our shenanigans at the ... Read Morefabled "box" I will put down to love.

Suffice to say everyone who passed through there turned out to be the most creative people I personally know,and can only put it down to the fact we could "find" ourselves in a society at the time which did not bode well for "free thinkers" and take this opportunity to thank the family for saving my sanity.
Sat at 8:35am · Delete
Emmanuel K Bensah Jr
Emmanuel K Bensah Jr
@Nana Awere: many thanks for ur kind comments. My God, this has got to be the longest comments I have had. I might have to drop in Ms.Bossman's name ini my posts regularly!:-) Nana, am with you on the Nigerian journalism. Though I have never been to Nigeria, our trusted friend, the 'Net, has given profound insight into our ECOWAS neighbours. @Ato: ... Read Morenot to be sycophantic or anything, but Ms.Bossman deserves more commendation than she usually gets. IMHO, her strength is all that you guys have said, PLUS the strength of her character--pity she's unable to use her French so much in Ghana:-( @Julius: if u haven't already connected with Ms.Bossman, she's reading this, and you might just do that! Thx for ALL ur insights!
5 minutes ago · Delete


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