Sunday, April 17, 2011

Re; Why Getting Ghana Wrong IS a Problem

Apparently my post about the youth of Ghana has received some replies which I deem respectful to address. Kobby wrote a nice post as a response  and raised some interesting points.

First of all Kobby, when I say 8 out of 10, you are right it's not based on any formal survey. I did not take pen and paper to go round to count the number of people to arrive at the figure. Neither did I state categorically that that is a fact that cannot be contested. I made that statement based on my observations of the boys who patronize internet cafe services in places like Dome, Taifa and Nima. 

You also went on to state how my view of journalism is flawed. Of course I am no journo as you know. And like Graham- your namesake Kobby- said, I have a very simplistic view of things. I was expecting to see that you'd touch on my very last paragraph, which would have explained to you why I personally did not take offense at the CNN article. Here's the quote

In as much as I'd like to see Africa portrayed in a positive light in the global media, I still have not seen any sustained and sensible effort in addressing the very issues that we so much would like the western media to not even touch on! Is that hypocrisy? Stupidity? Or irony? Your guess is as good as mine!

There is no doubt that the world is hyperconnected. And one bad thing that is written has some ominous way of affecting another person somewhere.  I have been asking some questions of my friends, on social media and my family for sometime and no one seems to have an answer for me. So perhaps you two Grahams (haha, coincidence?) might help me answer them.

1. A company like MTN Ghana, relies on the Electricity company of Ghana for its survival. Why does MTN Ghana make oodles of profits while the ECG keeps struggling year after year and always passes on its losses to you and I?

2. The revenue management aspect of Ghana Water Company is handled by another company. Why?

3. When I was growing up, I used to see this ad on TV about Ghana Airways, Your Star in the Sky. That company never had peace until its untimely death, to be replaced by Ghana International Airlines, which has also almost met a similar fate. Why?

4. A few years back we were promised a revamping of the educational sector. The result? Renaming Junior Secondary School to Junior High School and Senior Secondary School to Senior High School. Making the latter a four year cycle. My question here is what preparation was put in place to switch from three years to four years? Children had to go and make do in tents in school because we changed the years to four before thinking of how to put up structures to accommodate the extra students. Why?

Graham and Graham, you still might not be getting me so lemme elucidate my points now. Before we take on the western media on their negative reportage of this wonderful continent that has meals like Kenkey on it, let's ask ourselves what we're NOT doing to attract such negative reportage. In the four questions above, one theme keeps running- common sense.

Are we as a nation of 25+ million people saying we don't have competent people to be able to run those state institutions? Where do all the University of Ghana Business School graduates go? What are all the business graduates our universities churn out each year doing? Do we lack the brains so much that we always have to find ourselves making a laughing stock of us? If it is those university products that keep messing up, then there is something wrong with our higher educational institutions. Agree?

Now if CNN had come to report on the students who had to make do with tents in school, would we have any right to chastise CNN for reporting negatively about us? We all know the survival of every economy is based on power, how is ours like? Graham and Graham, I am not a fan of CNN or any western media for that matter. In fact, if both of you follow me on Twitter, you'll understand my aversion to those western media that are nothing but thinly veiled extensions of their governments.

Then again Graham and Graham, I Luqman Saeed, don't just see myself as a Ghanaian youth competing against my compatriots. NO! I see myself as a global citizen who is in competition with my contemporaries from across the world. And so I would not expect my American contemporary to be able to dazzle me in anyway whatsoever because I already am in competition with him and always try to be at par in terms of knowledge, use of technology and all that. IMHO, that is how we can get to market Africa to the world.

The youth of this continent should not see themselves as isolated. No. The world is now a hyper-connected village. The onus of marketing yourself and your part of the world lies with you. And no where in the history of mankind has the playing field be almost as leveled as it is now. How many of Ghana's youth blog regularly? How many of Ghana's youth tweet (sensible stuff) regularly? How many of Ghana's youth can market Ghana online? When I talk of youth, I mean those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to read, write and boot a computer.

I don't know if you get the import of my argument, but here it is in simple words: yes the CNN article contained some misrepresentations of Ghana. But do those misrepresentations warrant the disproportionate flogging the article has received? What I am saying is rather than waste time on that article, let us counter it with more matured and intelligent marketing of ourselves and our nation to the wider world. Let's use the resources available to us to tell the world that look, yes there are some of us who are engaged in fraud. Yes we have bad roads, yes we have a myriad of problems. But look at the high level of intellectual discussions we are bringing to bear in our bid to find solutions to those problems.

That IMHO is better than the time we are spending to chastise CNN, something that will have little to no impact on their editorial policies. Graham and Graham, I'm done. Thanks for your time taken to engage a rebel mouth like me. Very much appreciated. Cheers.


Re; Why Getting Ghana Wrong IS a Problem

Apparently my post about the youth of Ghana has received some replies which I deem respectful to address. Kobby wrote a nice post as a response  and raised some interesting points.

First of all Kobby, when I say 8 out of 10, you are right it's not based on any formal survey. I did not take pen and paper to go round to count the number of people to arrive at the figure. Neither did I state categorically that that is a fact that cannot be contested. I made that statement based on my observations of the boys who patronize internet cafe services in places like Dome, Taifa and Nima. 

You also went on to state how my view of journalism is flawed. Of course I am no journo as you know. And like Graham- your namesake Kobby- said, I have a very simplistic view of things. I was expecting to see that you'd touch on my very last paragraph, which would have explained to you why I personally did not take offense at the CNN article. Here's the quote

In as much as I'd like to see Africa portrayed in a positive light in the global media, I still have not seen any sustained and sensible effort in addressing the very issues that we so much would like the western media to not even touch on! Is that hypocrisy? Stupidity? Or irony? Your guess is as good as mine!

There is no doubt that the world is hyperconnected. And one bad thing that is written has some ominous way of affecting another person somewhere.  I have been asking some questions of my friends, on social media and my family for sometime and no one seems to have an answer for me. So perhaps you two Grahams (haha, coincidence?) might help me answer them.

1. A company like MTN Ghana, relies on the Electricity company of Ghana for its survival. Why does MTN Ghana make oodles of profits while the ECG keeps struggling year after year and always passes on its losses to you and I?

2. The revenue management aspect of Ghana Water Company is handled by another company. Why?

3. When I was growing up, I used to see this ad on TV about Ghana Airways, Your Star in the Sky. That company never had peace until its untimely death, to be replaced by Ghana International Airlines, which has also almost met a similar fate. Why?

4. A few years back we were promised a revamping of the educational sector. The result? Renaming Junior Secondary School to Junior High School and Senior Secondary School to Senior High School. Making the latter a four year cycle. My question here is what preparation was put in place to switch from three years to four years? Children had to go and make do in tents in school because we changed the years to four before thinking of how to put up structures to accommodate the extra students. Why?

Graham and Graham, you still might not be getting me so lemme elucidate my points now. Before we take on the western media on their negative reportage of this wonderful continent that has meals like Kenkey on it, let's ask ourselves what we're NOT doing to attract such negative reportage. In the four questions above, one theme keeps running- common sense.

Are we as a nation of 25+ million people saying we don't have competent people to be able to run those state institutions? Where do all the University of Ghana Business School graduates go? What are all the business graduates our universities churn out each year doing? Do we lack the brains so much that we always have to find ourselves making a laughing stock of us? If it is those university products that keep messing up, then there is something wrong with our higher educational institutions. Agree?

Now if CNN had come to report on the students who had to make do with tents in school, would we have any right to chastise CNN for reporting negatively about us? We all know the survival of every economy is based on power, how is ours like? Graham and Graham, I am not a fan of CNN or any western media for that matter. In fact, if both of you follow me on Twitter, you'll understand my aversion to those western media that are nothing but thinly veiled extensions of their governments.

Then again Graham and Graham, I Luqman Saeed, don't just see myself as a Ghanaian youth competing against my compatriots. NO! I see myself as a global citizen who is in competition with my contemporaries from across the world. And so I would not expect my American contemporary to be able to dazzle me in anyway whatsoever because I already am in competition with him and always try to be at par in terms of knowledge, use of technology and all that. IMHO, that is how we can get to market Africa to the world.

The youth of this continent should not see themselves as isolated. No. The world is now a hyper-connected village. The onus of marketing yourself and your part of the world lies with you. And no where in the history of mankind has the playing field be almost as leveled as it is now. How many of Ghana's youth blog regularly? How many of Ghana's youth tweet (sensible stuff) regularly? How many of Ghana's youth can market Ghana online? When I talk of youth, I mean those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to read, write and boot a computer.

I don't know if you get the import of my argument, but here it is in simple words: yes the CNN article contained some misrepresentations of Ghana. But do those misrepresentations warrant the disproportionate flogging the article has received? What I am saying is rather than waste time on that article, let us counter it with more matured and intelligent marketing of ourselves and our nation to the wider world. Let's use the resources available to us to tell the world that look, yes there are some of us who are engaged in fraud. Yes we have bad roads, yes we have a myriad of problems. But look at the high level of intellectual discussions we are bringing to bear in our bid to find solutions to those problems.

That IMHO is better than the time we are spending to chastise CNN, something that will have little to no impact on their editorial policies. Graham and Graham, I'm done. Thanks for your time taken to engage a rebel mouth like mine. Very much appreciated. Cheers.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Youth of Ghana- Living in Self Denial and Oblivion

Nothing hurts more than seeing some of the most educated youth of this country living in so much denial and oblivion of almost everything happening here. I've become somewhat of a pariah on Twitter. Why? Because I cannot stand mediocrity, stupidity and incompetence, even for a fraction of a microsecond.

This reaction by some of my compatriots to this story on CNN reveals the level of denial the youth- those who have the platform and can drive the conversation to address issues- are living in. The theme of the CNN article IS NOT wrong. I personally see hordes of young boys, some as young as 12, waiting at internet cafes deep into the night to "transact business" with their partners.

The scourge of internet fraud IS happening, at an alarming rate among the youth of this country. 8 out of every 10 people sitting in cafes are likely engaging in 419 scams, locally named Sakawa. Anybody who has lived in a place like Taifa in Accra knows what I am talking about. What those authors in that post were doing was actually shooting the messenger. Of course it'd naive to think the western media will write anything positive about Africa. But the point I am driving home is this; why focus on what you think is wrong with the message instead of the facts of it.

The fact is that the youth of Ghana are increasingly getting themselves into internet fraud activities. Denying that fact is nonsense. Rather than rant about how CNN does not paint Africa in a good light, let's discuss WHY the youth are engaging in it, what pushes them, how is this going to affect the economy of Ghana in coming years. It's these kind of intellectual discussions I'd expect to see from a group of highly educated  people, not the triviality of how CNN or the western media exaggerate the negatives of Africa.

Virtually all the responses to the CNN article were very unfortunate to say the least. Everything in that CNN article has been taken literally. When the article claims the majority of Ghanaians sell sachet water, my understanding is that the majority of Ghanaians are engaged in very low income producing activities that ends them in the poverty trap. As to why people would translate that literally as meaning every Ghanaian sells sachet water beats me!

Now I saw people writing about how they bought their cars with their own monies, and how there are 5 star hotels and that many Ghanaians buy their cars with their incomes and not loans and loads of other myopic "facts", it's just saddening. I wonder if the guy who wrote that has worked in a financial institution before to see the number of people who take bank loans to buy cars. If he has worked in a firm that gives concessionary loans to staff to buy cars. In any case, the fact that some people buy cars with their own incomes does not in any way translate into anything other than that.

The fact remains that the vast majority of Ghanaians to date, cannot make ends meet. I come from Northern Ghana and anytime I go there, my heart grieves so much. Perhaps those who supposedly responded to that CNN article should pay a visit to the North. Don't sit in Accra and measure the wealth of the nation by what you see around you. The broader country is still wallowing in abject, knee grinding poverty. Denying that fact won't make it go away.

The CNN article was not a holy writ, it nonetheless painted a picture of a scourge that is engulfing this nation. Do not just write about your displeasure with the article. We all know CNN won't write good stuff about us. Let's use that piece as a springboard to rather start meaningful, intellectual discussions into the myriad of problems facing this country; electricity, water, shelter, transportation, security etc. 


In as much as I'd like to see Africa portrayed in a positive light in the global media, I still have not seen any sustained and sensible effort in addressing the very issues that we so much would like the western media to not even touch on! Is that hypocrisy? Stupidity? Or irony? Your guess is as good as mine!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dear Africa, Please Look Beyond Stupid Political Manifestos

Africa! What does that name evoke? War? Savagery? Barbarism? Backwardness? Well I can forgive you if you said yes to any of the above. For an average of 50 years, we've just been wallowing in a state of drunken stupor, believing it shall be well...someday!

Personally, I pin our massive dev problems on one thing- a lack of strategic vision on the part of individual countries that make up this continent. As a model for my arrgument, let me use Ghana as a microcosm of the continent.

We've been practising what America has taught us to call multi-party democracy for close to two decades now, with two main political parties being the dominant forces. However, our plight as a nation has gone from bad to worst. Why? Because we've made the means an end in itself. Confused? Stick with me.

The order of the day is that political parties prepare some gibberish they call a manifesto, present it to the electorate and the one who manages to present the most unrealistic one wins. On the surface this seems natural. But the problem with this approach is that it's taken us no where.

Using this approach has resulted in pulling the country in opposite directions by the political parties. One party comes to power and promises to achieve what it's outlined in its manisfesto, when it gets voted out, the next party comes and will also like to work on its manisfesto. To hell with that of the predecessor party. What does this create? Retardation of development.

We don't need stupid political party crap called manisfestos. That takes power from us and puts it in their hands. What we need, is a grand strategic plan of where we'll want to see the country in say 50 or 100 years' time. The plan should encompass all spheres of the economy and country broken down into manageable time frames of say 4 years.

This way, any party that comes to office will not be judged on how much of their agenda they achieve, but by how much of the national strategic plan they've achieved in the given time frame. This will help steer the country in a unified direction irrespective of which political party is in power. Doing this, we can be rest assured that no matter which party is in power, the nation will be advancing with speed towards a better future for all.

As it stands now, we are trapped in a rut...and we keep digging every four years foolsihly hoping it shall be well. No it won't unless we avoid this game of political manifestos like a plague...my two cents :-).

Monday, February 14, 2011

Spending the day with a swollen eye

I woke up up this morning with a swollen eye, my right eye to be precise. I don't know what caused it, perhaps some insect bit me while I was giving my body its due. Maybe my doctor friends Alade and David can help me out.

Thanks to this extra patch of meat under my eye, I could not report to the office. Instead of going to the hospital, I was called to come to campus because we had a presentation on a Macro Economics assignment.

Today being the so called Valentine's day, I've not called or sent any sms to wish anyone happy v day. Yea I hardly flow with the crowd :-). Ok maybe I hardly have anybody that I'd want to share my day with ;-).

We're done with the presentation and I'm now struggling for transport back home...with my eye still swollen and painning me like hell...hope I get home before this pain aggravates.

In case you're wondering the point of this post, it's just to help me ease my pain knowing I've voiced it out to the world...:-). Do wish me well...and get me a chocolate...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Ghana- Of Fuel Prices and A Lay Man's Economics

Ghana, my country, is an interesting place to live. If you are a stranger, just turn on the radio in the morning and you will immediately realise one thing- an unhappy population and a really confused government. I don't know, perhaps it's only me that sees things differently, but our economists are really doing a disservice the populace.

A few years back, the previous government decided to end subsidies for fuel and pass the full cost to we the consumers. I have no problem with that. The foremost reason put forward for such a radical decision was the debt that was amassing at the state refinery. Sure that sounds reasonable right? No wrong. I do not agree that the state subsize fuel prices for people riding in their latest fuel guzzling cars. Far from that.

But I even dislike more, the nation passing on fuel prices to consumers without any measures in place to cushion the poor, being the majority of the populace. You know, I find it laughable when all these noise makers sit on radio and blurt out more nincompoopery in the name of "social commentating" or however they call it. Applying my high school economics knowledge to out current predicament tells me that for a government to pass on the full cost recovery of fuel to its populace, it must make sure it has reliable, highly efficient and affordable public transportation in place!

As to why none of the tin gods ruling us gets this I don't know. What I know is that if you have reliable public transportation run and subsidized by the government, those of us who do not have cars of our own are not left at the mercy of private transport operators who take every opportunity to exploit passengers. In doing so, the government indirectly subsidizes the fuel prices for the 'have-nots' and at the same time passing the rich who do not deserve any of that. 

It is atrocious to let me, a 'trotro' user pay the same fuel price with someone in the latest and most expensive Benz or BMW car. That is not inequality, that is a crime against humanity. I agree that the market forces of demand and supply be allowed to dictate fuel prices, but I do not agree that that should be the end of the case. Strong and adequate measures must be put in place to save poor people the harsh consequences of fuel price increments.

After 50 years of independent, is it really a crime to demand a reliable public transportation system from my country? Of course I've heard of that saying to the effect of not asking what my country can do for me, but does that include not asking for the basic necessities of life as well?

Sociable