Wednesday, October 26, 2011

You Wouldn't Think the Day Has Claimed...5 Lives because of Torrential Rain!

I woke up this morning around 5.30am to the news on one of Ghana's leading private, English radio stations -- CITI 97.3 fm -- that people coming from Central region into the capital Accra were stuck because water from a bridge around the area had caused significant damage, and made roads impassable. Then came more news that people were "missing". When I heard no less than the managing-director of CITI-fm Mr.Samuel Attah-Mensa giving updates, replacing the usual religious slot at that time, I knew this must be a serious matter. I want to first begin by saying "kudos" to CITI-fm's Richard Sky (apparently up at 1am monitoring the impacts of the rains), Bernard Avle, and the MD, and the collective effort for informing us on the rains so early.

Without a doubt, other radio stations have been doing a yeoman's job of reporting the floods.

I want to use today's entry to pay tribute to all those working hard, including Ghana's National Disaster Management Organisation, to ensure that lives are saved and a sense of normality is reached for citizens of Accra. In the meantime, let me leave you with pictures I culled from news websites in Ghana. I was unable to capture my own pictures as I am blessed to live, and have woken up in an area where the water drainage is considerably better-structured.

Ghana is no stranger to torrential rain, but one of this magnitude in October is odd. On my accradailyphoto blog, you can view other posts dealing with impacts of rain. Check the link out here:

If you're in Ghana, and need help from National A Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), kindly call these numbers:  
0302.772926, 0302.780541, 0202.019090, 0289.554160, 0299.350030

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A (Female) Co-Blogger was Physically-Assaulted this Morning...please Help!

A good friend and blogger Golda Addo was (unnecessarily) assaulted in traffic this morning. I am copying and pasting this in her own words. Please see below. Spread the word on this. Thanks!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: golda addo <gnaaddo AT>
Date: 2011/10/20
Subject: [GhanaBlogging] Assault this morning
To: Ghana Blogging <ghanablogging AT>

This morning, at about 7.38 am, I was physically assaulted in my car, on the Mallam-Weija Highway by a man of about mid-thirties, about 5'11 tall, toughly built ... dressed in balck office shirt and tucked into black denim trousers, black belt, black office shoes, holding a black briefcase. I did not see his face very well though. It all happened in under 1 minute.
I was sending my son to school, and you all might know that there is major construction going on in that part of town (the highway).
Traffic was moving in short, fast spurts and normally, traffic wardens stop the vehicles to permit masses of people to cross at points in time.
This man was standing WITH  a large mass of people all in SAME spot, and we were moving at about 30kmp/h, when just about 10 metres before I got to him, he dashed across my car. Nobody else made any move to cross.
Needless to say, I had to stop abruptly. He had looked at me before dashing across, and had expected me to have screeched to a halt, so took his time. By the time he realised that 10 metres was too short for this to be a safe calculation, he was left with no choice, but to hop and leap .... into the middle of the road, where the cars to my left were also passing by without stopping.
He was trapped in the middle, I has made a sharp brake, the car behind me was blowing his horn like crazy, and next thing I knew, this man swings in my direction and flies his hand in through my half-open window and strikes my face with what seemed like all his might! His parting words were "You fool!"
I was instantly down, my head was on the steering wheel, my son burst into tears in the back seat, and my face hurt like crazy. I could not see anything and there was blood in my mouth. The man was nowhere to be found, and cars just kept passing me by, especially the ones behind me who saw it all. Several passersby chased after the man though, and tried to catch him, but he was already over the other 4 lanes of the highway and in the tro-tro huddle.
I had to move off the road and park, but for 5 minutes I was unable to do this because my right eye was fairly swollen, and both eyes were tearing up. My mouth was like "tsofi" and bleeding. Cars honking like mad behind me, and my son wailing .... the passersby talkgin me through it all.
I decided to leave it be, and drive on slowly .... I did have to get my son to school on time after all.
The police team (of 4) standing about 20 metres fro the scene did not notice any of these in all the 5 minutes it happened, nor the traffic jam it caused.
I feel so safe in this country. This is not my first time of facing abuse and harrasmment as a woman, a woman who drives, and a woman who is perceived as successful and independent in this country ... from men. But this is my first physical abuse.
If anyone can spread this message, I will appreciate it. If you know of any friend, co-worker, acquaintance who fits this bill for today, was in the Mallam area this morning, seems a bit out of sorts this morning, etc ... find out  for me. If you can, pass this on. If you know anyone on the social platforms .... do share to them. I'd like to meet this man and ask him why he did this, and if it felt good ... striking a woman in the face, and leaving her and her son in tears.
Thannk you all. My number is 0244 82 83 22

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Accra, Dakar, Bamako – or Steps to Make Travelling in ECOWAS Less Stressful

Real life regularly happens to us, taking us from our beloved blogging. Since my last entry, a LOT of real life has happened. The following is an article that's to appear in the Wednesday 19 October 2011's edition of Business and Financial Times newspaper under my column "Accidental Ecowas and AU citizen".


“The Accidental Ecowas & AU Citizen”:

Accra, Dakar, Bamako – or Steps to Make Travelling in ECOWAS Less Stressful

By E.K.Bensah Jr

Last two weeks, I had the priviledge of going to the Senegalese capital of Dakar for a work-related conference, and I came back home  to Accra even more frustrated than ever as to why travelling throughout the sub-region should be as chaotic and frustrating as it is. 

As you may well know by now, the cornerstone of any serious sense of regional integration ought to be the power to freely move from one country to another. Given that ECOWAS has been around for more than three decades, one would have expected that there be a certain and acceptable level of standard at the airports. Sadly, as some of you may well know, there is not.

Where’s the wireless?
First, while there is wireless in Accra, I don’t believe there are so many hotspots at Kotoka International Airport the way there are at Senghor International Airport. As soon as one touches down in Dakar, if you have a smartphone, you are likely to see some five or six hotspots show up on your mobile phone. Bamako Senou had three, but none of them were accessible without a password, and when one enquired to obtain access, no-one seemed to know. If you are likely to be stuck at the airport for whatever inexplicable reason, at least, one needs a degree of sanity through access to the internet on one’s phone or laptop. Senou just did not seem to measure up.

Where’s the network?
While it was possible to use my MTN number to contact friends and family during a stopover at Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, same could not be said at Bamako or Dakar. This is simply because the French-backed ORANGE – instead of the South-African MTN – is widely used in most francophone West African countries. Forget AIRTEL. That network is not used in any of the aforementioned countries. TIGO and EXPRESSO, found in Ghana, are used in Dakar. I don’t know for EXPRESSO, but when I enquired about using my TIGO number in Dakar, I was told I had to deposit minimum of 150GHC as security before I am able to use the network in that country. When I asked one of the hotel workers, however, he said that in Dakar, you merely pay 2000CFA, or equivalent of 6GHC before being able to “roam” with your number!!

Where are the English magazines?
So we know how attached the French are to their language and the propagation of their literature, but this takes the biscuit. In Ghana, you will find both English and French magazines on sale; conversely in Dakar and Bamako, there were only francophone newspapers and magazine. Bamako had the exception of selling “Africa Report”, but both at Dakar airport and at a supermarket in Senegal’s capital city, one could not find a single English-speaking magazine. How is that supposed to engender regional cooperation and understanding among the francophone and Anglophone member states?

Where’s the West African carrier?
In the ECOWAS sub-region, there is regrettably no “Air ECOWAS”; instead, there is the Togo-based “ASKY”, managed by Ethiopian Airlines and which has backing from ECOBANK; ECOWAS; UEMOA; among many other stakeholders, lending itself the image of being ECOWAS’ “de facto” carrier. Never mind that the name is deceptive or the fact that the cost of air tickets at ASKY are high, it does not even yet cover all of West Africa! There is AIR SENEGAL and AIR MALI, but the conspicuous absence of Ghana Airways leaves a bitter taste in the Ghanaian mouth.

In the light of all these major complaints, here are some ways in which ECOWAS, as a sub-regional organisation, can deal with these challenges:

First, ECOWAS ought to establish a standard for its airports, which include hotspots, accessible wireless, and fully-working air-conditioners in all parts of an ECOWAS member state airport

Secondly, the Nigeria-based West African Telecommunications Regulatory Assembly, which is an association of telecommunications regulators in West Africa, ought to sign an Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) between itself and ECOWAS so that it can create a standardized telecom operator throughout the sub-region, so that the traveler does not waste resources on SIM Cards. While it is very encouraging to read that in 2010, WATRA  sought to lower call tariffs across West Africa and called for a common ICT operating platform in West Africa, much remains to be done with ECOWAS to ensure that travelling and calling in West Africa are as seamless as elsewhere in the West.

Finally, ECOWAS should join the Association of African Airlines(AFRAA) to ensure that the plan for joint fuel purchase is effectuated so that the cost of travelling in the sub-region is brought down considerably. These may be pie-in-the-sky ruminations, but in West Africa – as in the whole of Africa, hope springs eternal!

In 2009, in his capacity as a “Do More Talk Less Ambassador” of the 42nd Generation—an NGO that promotes and discusses Pan-Africanism--Emmanuel gave a series of lectures on the role of ECOWAS and the AU in facilitating a Pan-African identity. Emmanuel owns "Critiquing Regionalism" ( Established in 2004 as an initiative to respond to the dearth of knowledge on global regional integration initiatives worldwide, this non-profit blog features regional integration initiatives on MERCOSUR/EU/Africa/Asia and many others. You can reach him on / Mobile: 0268.687.653.


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