Barcamp-Kumasi 2011 On April 16, 2011.


Bar-Camp Kumasi 2011

BarCamp Kumasi 2011 is a networking event to bring people together for a day of discussion, demos and dialogue about Kumasi, Ghana and beyond. It will consist of user-generated sessions and discussions. BarCamp Kumasi 2011 will take place on April 16, 2011 at Royal Lamerta Hotel in Kumasi, Ghana.

 

Under the theme: Developing a hub for regional integration.

BarCamp Kumasi ’11 is a FREE event for anyone who is interested in using their skills, talent and resources to benefit Ghana and Africa as a whole.

The BarCamp Ghana team has successfully organized six BarCamps in Ghana. Barcamp Ghana is a project being run by the GhanaThink Foundation, an NGO based both in Ghana and the USA. A BarCamp is a user-generated conference (or unconference). Barcamp Kumasi 2010 was organized at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology on September 18, 2010 with the theme – “Collaboration: The key for opportunity and development“.

Register/RSVP today at the BarCamp Kumasi eventbrite website. You may also contact the BarCamp Kumasi team through this website for sponsorship opportunities. If you are interested in organizing a breakout session, let us know, especially if you have special needs. To follow the discussions online via Twitter; use the hash-tag: #BCKsi or #BarcampKumasi.

BarCamp Kumasi 2011 is sponsored by Royal Lamerta Hotel, National Service Personnel, National Society of Black Engineers (KNUST chapter)GhanaThink FoundationFienipa Group, etc. Our media partners are Kapital 97.1 FMFocus 94.3 FM and ModernGhana.com.

Register at http://barcampkumasi11.eventbrite.com/

See you there!

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EduNet Africa Conference 2011 – Lagos, Nigeria


From June 07 – 08, 2011; a group of young, enthusiastic  and tech-savvy Nigerians are putting together a technology-focused event dubbed: EduNet Africa 2011 aimed at –

“Exploring the Opportunities of a Connected Tertiary Institution to Pioneer Digital Revolution in Africa.”

About EduNet Africa:

EduNet Africa conference is the leading internationally recognized conference for Higher Education community in Africa. It is being hosted annually in different tertiary institutions across the continent. This event is meant to create an environment to learn, network with stakeholders in the ICT industry,  share ideas that will enhance the effective use of the internet facilities and the new technologies in the Universities and Institutions of higher learning in Africa.

One of the unique features of EduNet Africa Conference is the opportunity it offers African Start-ups to showcase their product and services through the African Startups Showcase (ASS) at the event. African Startups will have opportunities and exposure to venture capitalists, partnership, loans, grants, scholarship etc. at the conference. They will be given opportunities to be part of International events like the World Summit Youth Awards organized by the United Nations.

 

EduNet Africa Conference 2011

Objectives

-To explore the opportunities and possibilities the internet, mobile and new technologies provide within the academics in the areas of e-learning, business, communication and social changes (ICT4D).

-To educate and empower our teaching, learning and Training community with Internet education that will improve the quality of teaching, learning, e-collaboration, research and development in Africa.

-To spark up “net-preneurship” and digital revolution in Africa by creating opportunities for our institutions to develop applications that will compete favorably globally. It is an event that encourages African Startups through the African Startup Exhibitions.

This would  serve as the largest gathering of leading IT Professional in Africa who have interest in the educational sector, Internet based professionals, Service providers, Web strategists, Equipment manufacturers, University dons, students; this offers the best opportunity to network.

Speakers:

Speakers include; Professor Charles Uwadia – University of Lagos; Ms. Dorothy K. GordonKofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT, Ghana; Guy Berger – Rhodes University, South Africa; Sarah Chiumbu – Wits University;  South Africa; Professor Raymond Akwule -Digital Bridge Institute, Nigeria; Engr Titi Omo-Ettu -ATCON, Nigeria; Chris Uwaje – ISPON, Nigeria and a host of others.

 

Who Should Attend this Event?

-Senior and young academics and researchers from universities and Higher Education Communities.

-ICT coordinators and Managers. Media, PR and Brand experts, Digital Marketers

-Education administrators, Consultants and training practitioners

-Corporate training and Development Executives, company representatives

-Technology and Service Providers, Content providers, Web Masters, Publishers

-Web and Mobile application developers

-Entrepreneurs, Startups & anyone interested in leveraging the opportunity the internet providers.

Registration for the event is online via www.edunetafrica.com

 

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Google Launches New African Tech Incubator – Umbono


 

Cross-linked at Future Challenges Organization‘s blog

With the current state of innovation spreading across the African continent; what we need exactly as social entrepreneurs and change-makers is the space to network, share ideas and work on projects that become businesses and profit-making ventures. I’m very happy to say, this space is here for the African Tech Community as at today.

Google has chosen South Africa’s Cape Town as a pilot township for its new technology incubator called Umbono which aims to bring together seed capital, Google mentorship, angel investors, local tech stars, social entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Africa's Newest Incubator - Umbono

According to Google:

the incubator is in keeping with its ongoing commitment to foster innovation in Africa and it will help selected startup teams transform their ideas into companies.

The Umbono program lasts for 6 months—enough time for your team to get your idea formally off the ground or to prepare your existing business for its next round of funding. The Umbono program will help transform your vision into a business. Your idea – probably web or mobile deployed – is exciting on many levels: for your future users, potential investors, and for the people on your team building it.

Teams should expect to receive a minimum of $25,000 and a maximum of $50,000. Capital from Angel investors will be exchanged for equity (10%) and will be governed by standard terms of investment (the same terms for each team).

Teams will also have regular access to our extensive network of business and technology experts, many of whom are Googlers. All team members should be able to legally reside and work in South Africa in order to apply to the program (regardless of their citizenship).

Google is also collaborating with the Silicon Cape Initiative and the Bandwidth Barn, to ensure that Umbono’s teams are well positioned to succeed.

Applications are available on the Umbono website from March 18, open to all South African residents. The deadline for first round applicants is April 15, 2011, but the website will continue to host applications for all interested candidates. To learn more and apply, go to www.google.co.za/umbono.

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Database of Social Conflicts in Africa Launched.


ongoing conflicts would map

Image via Wikipedia

Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of North Texas. and also an affiliate of the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at UT Austin; Idean Salehyan announced the launch of the Social Conflict in Africa Database (SCAD)

The database is a resource for conducting research and analysis on various forms of social and political unrest in Africa. It includes over 6,300 social conflict events across Africa (including North Africa) from 1990 to 2009, including riots, strikes, protests, coups, and communal violence. By tracking forms of conflict not covered in traditional datasets on civil and interstate war, SCAD gives policymakers and researchers new tools to analyze conflict patterns.

The Social Conflict in Africa Database (SCAD) will provide information on over 6,300 social conflict events across Africa, including strikes, riots, protests, coups and communal violence dating from 1990 to 2009.

For more information; access the database here also the press release can be here too…

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Ghana’s Influential Women Celebrated on Int’l Women’s Day


The 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day was celebrated all over the world on March 8th, with lists of top women featuring powerful women, celebrities and other well known personalities.

Hundreds of events occurred not just on that day but throughout March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Ghanaian women were not left out of this important day.

Series of events took place which lead to bloggers and civil society organizations in Ghana expressing their opinions/comments on their various platforms.

In Ghana, the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs mandated that the Day should be commemorated with the Ghana Women of Excellence Awards Scheme which saw the First Lady; Her Excellency Ernestina Naadu Mills been the Guest of Honour.

The Awards Scheme was on the theme “Empowering the Ghanaian Woman for National Development” which in essence was to motivate Ghanaian women to strive for excellence in their various walks of life …and to take their rightful places in the national development process.

The scheme formed part of the celebration of International Women’s Day and the 1st Awards ceremony which was held at the Accra International Conference Centre yesterday, 8th March 2011.

Ghanaian Blogger & Bar-Camp Activist; Ato-Ulzen Appiah; author of “The Vim Views & Versions – Blogs of a MIghTy African” blog did an interesting and a well detailed post (with winners/awardees) on the ceremony which saw Dorothy Gordon; Director of Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT been honored for her role in ICT in Ghana.

 

Dorothy K. Gordon - DG AITI-KACE been awarded

Also, in an interview blog-post by co-founder of Nandi Mobile: Edward Amartey-Tagoe interviewed Farida Bedwei; the author of “Definition of a Miracle” as his International Women’s Day contribution article.

Farida got diagnosed with cerebral palsy and in a community where people suffering from this disease are routinely misunderstood and viewed as incapable of contributing meaningfully to the society; Edward decided to feature her by way of seeking answers to some questions from her.

The CS Monitor of which I occasionally contribute to; also had a self-explanatory article by Ariel Zirulnick which touched on, “What International Women’s Day was all about!

A list of 50 Inspirational African Feminists (pdf) from Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah of African Women Development Fund saw a couple of Ghanaian & other African women doing great things, have achieved success in their own ways and are impacting the lives of many others in their communities and beyond.

Below; I highlight on some of the Ghanaian Women who made it on this list:

  • Professor Abena P.A. Busia : Rutgers University – Uniquely blending feminist activism with creativity and academia
  • Professor Ama Ata Aidoo : Author/Mbaasem (Women’s Words) Production of outstanding African feminist literature
  • Angela Dwamena-Aboagye : Ark Foundation – Operating the only shelter for survivors of Domestic Violence in Ghana
  • Boakyewaa Glover : Writer/Blogger –  Contribution to a renaissance of African women’s writing
  • Dr Rose Mensah Kutin :  Abantu for Development – Demonstrating stalwart leadership on women’s issues
  • Lucy Mensah : Women United Against Aids in Ghana (WUAAG) – Establishing the first HIV& AIDS women only support group
  • Professor Takyiwaah Manuh : Institute of African Studies (University of Ghana) – Dynamic social activism and contributions to academia especially around women’s rights
  • Yaba Badoe : Film Maker/Writer – Directing and producing ‘The Witches of Gambaga’ Documentary, a powerful visual account of the abuse, and exploitation of women accused of witchcraft

Even though, the original list doesn’t include Estelle Akofio-Sowah; I believe she deserves a spot and a mention when Influential Women in Ghana mentioned.

  • Estelle Akofio-Sowah: Team Lead – Google Ghana: Leading a team of Technologists from Google Africa to shape the future of ICT, Internet Policy Fomulation and Mobile internet in Ghana and Africa as a whole.
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Ghana’s Vice Pres. John Dramani Mahama :: Wired For Freedom In Africa


His Excellency; John Dramani Mahama. Vice Pres. of Ghana

Ghana’s Vice President; John Dramani Mahama wrote a brilliant article which touches on many issues including democracy, IT proliferation, and the forward match to freedom in Africa. It also delves a little bit into the continent’s past to shed light on the present and to make a case for the future.

I fully endorse the content of the article as representing the aspirations of the African people at this point in history.

Below is the full text. Enjoy & share your comments/opinions.

************

As Egypt undergoes a change in power, Ghana’s Vice President; John Mahama explains how digital technology has energized the quest for change across Africa.

Watching the Egyptian crowds as they listened to a speech by their now former President, Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak, who had been in power since the assassination of Anwar El Sadat in 1981, only confirmed what is becoming more and more obvious: that for Africa there is no going back to the way things were; the only way we can move is forward.

But Egypt is only the latest evidence of this trend. Any astute observer is aware that the desire for democracy is spreading through the African world like a contagion.

In 2010 there were at least a dozen presidential democratic elections in African nations, places like Guinea that hadn’t had an election since 1958. In 2011 there are scheduled to be nearly two dozen presidential elections in various nations — including Egypt, which is currently in the midst of what could most certainly be called a people’s revolution.

Though the methods being employed by protesters can be alarming at times in their ferocity, the demand for freedom itself is not altogether surprising. Just as there were signs, over a half century ago, foreshadowing the collapse of colonialism on the continent, there have been signs recently pointing toward the end of an era of dictatorship. What is, however, most fascinating about this inevitable death is the pivotal as well as provocative role that digital technology is playing to bring it about.

For the most part in recent times, we Africans have taken our requests for democracy to the polls, not the streets. Unfortunately, in some nations, that has not resulted in any real change. And ultimately, that is what sparks all revolutions: the urgent, non-negotiable need for sustainable change.

When Tunisian authorities in the city of Sidi Bouzid seized Mohamed Bouazizi’s unlicensed produce cart and the unemployed computer-science graduate set himself aflame, it took no time at all for that act of protest to turn into a trending topic. After Bouazizi’s self-immolation, the youth in Sidi Bouzid took to the streets. Because of the broadcasts of a single satellite channel, the world watched as those young men displayed their rage and frustration — and a hashtag (#Sidibouzid) was created.

The final condition to create this perfect storm was, of course, the WikiLeaks release of classified U.S. State Department communications, revealing that even the ambassador of one of the nation’s strongest allies shared the beliefs of most Tunisians about their leader, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali: out of touch, surrounded by corruption, determined to stay in power.

It’s no wonder that when protests began in Egypt, one of the first measures authorities took to quell the burgeoning insurrection was cutting off all access to the Internet.

No Facebook; No Google; No YouTube; No Twitter; No WikiLeaks. Also cut off were SMS and BlackBerry Messenger services. And satellite television as well — no Al-Jazeera.

In December, I made my first official visit to Egypt as Vice President of Ghana. I met with the Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafik, and toured the Smart Villages High-Tech Park in Cairo, where more than a hundred technological companies like Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard are housed. I was impressed with how fully Egypt had embraced IT and thought that they might even serve as a model for other African countries. In many ways I was right to assume that; of course I had no idea that the example they would set with technology would be the attainment of social justice.

Repressive regimes thrive on ignorance — the ignorance of their people, and the ignorance of the outside world. For too long, the image of Africa has festered under the haze of the Western world’s ignorance and its resulting apathy. A relevant example of this is the unofficial annexation of Tunisia, Algeria and the continent’s other northern nations, for reasons of race alone, to the Middle East. (Though the majority of Egypt’s land mass is in Africa, a portion of that nation, the Sinai Peninsula, is in the Middle East, making it transcontinental.)

Africa is, and has been for the past several centuries, a continent of artificial boundaries and of divisions constructed along the lines of race, class, tribal and ethnic grouping — divisions cleverly constructed for the purposes of conquering. It is an infrastructure that, by design, lends itself to dictatorship, to the powerlessness of the masses.

It wasn’t so long ago that if you wanted to post a letter from Ghana, a former British colony, to any of the countries that border us – Côte d’Ivoire, Togo or Burkina Faso, all former French colonies — it would be routed through Europe first before finally arriving at its destination. The same was true of telephone calls, and it was virtually impossible to travel by air from one African country directly to another. Now all you need to be connected via computer or mobile phone to anyone anywhere in the world is a signal.

A little over a decade ago, as Minister of Communications, I was privileged to be part of the process of deregulating and liberalizing the previous monolithic state-owned telesector in Ghana. Initially, people did not understand the new technology and were hesitant to embrace the monumental changes that seemed to be required. Mobile telephony as a communication tool was, for all intents and purposes, in its infancy, and only a privileged few had access. Looking back now, I can feel only a sense of satisfaction in seeing how telecoms and ICT have exploded not only in Ghana but across the continent.

Every year since 2000; the Internet population in most African countries has doubled. Over the past decade, the spread of telecommunications and ICT in Africa went from below an average of 3 percent teledensity to a whopping almost 50 percent.

“Knowledge is power, and information is liberation,” Kofi Annan, former United Nations secretary-general, has been quoted as saying.

Mobile phones and the Internet are liberating Africa in a way that even independence from colonialism could not. Digital technology is redefining our political landscape and will continue to do so in ways that we have yet to even imagine.

What makes digital technology such an ideal tool for social and political empowerment in the formation of new democracies is the fact that it is ever changing; new media and applications are constantly being produced to meet the shifting needs of users. When President Mubarak shut down the Internet in Egypt, Google and Twitter joined forces to create “Speak to Tweet” to help people circumvent the block and post their tweets.

History has shown that when it comes to the fight for freedom in Africa, as one nation goes, so goes the entire continent. I am hopeful that now democracy will ultimately prevail in Egypt. The people of Africa deserve to live with dignity and in peace, to have their voices heard, to be free.

Perhaps then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama said it best when, in his presidential-campaign speeches, he noted:

“Nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change” especially when they are armed with the unifying force of digital technology.

His Excellency; John Dramani Mahama, the Vice President of Ghana, is on Facebook. Visit his page here:Facebook page.

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Watching the Egyptian crowds as they listened to a speech by their now former president, Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak, who had been in power since the assassination of Anwar El Sadat in 1981, only confirmed what is becoming more and more obvious: that for Africa there is no going back to the way things were; the only way we can move is forward. But Egypt is only the latest evidence of this trend. Any astute observer is aware that the desire for democracy is spreading through the African world like a contagion.

 

In 2010 there were at least a dozen presidential democratic elections in African nations, places like Guinea that hadn’t had an election since 1958. In 2011 there are scheduled to be nearly two dozen presidential elections in various nations — including Egypt, which is currently in the midst of what could most certainly be called a people’s revolution.

 

Though the methods being employed by protesters can be alarming at times in their ferocity, the demand for freedom itself is not altogether surprising. Just as there were signs, over a half century ago, foreshadowing the collapse of colonialism on the continent, there have been signs recently pointing toward the end of an era of dictatorship. What is, however, most fascinating about this inevitable death is the pivotal as well as provocative role that digital technology is playing to bring it about.

 

For the most part in recent times, we Africans have taken our requests for democracy to the polls, not the streets. Unfortunately, in some nations, that has not resulted in any real change. And ultimately, that is what sparks all revolutions: the urgent, non-negotiable need for sustainable change.

 

When Tunisian authorities in the city of Sidi Bouzid seized Mohamed Bouazizi’s unlicensed produce cart and the unemployed computer-science graduate set himself aflame, it took no time at all for that act of protest to turn into a trending topic. After Bouazizi’s self-immolation, the youth in Sidi Bouzid took to the streets. Because of the broadcasts of a single satellite channel, the world watched as those young men displayed their rage and frustration — and a hashtag was created.

 

The final condition to create this perfect storm was, of course, the WikiLeaks release of classified U.S. State Department communications, revealing that even the ambassador of one of the nation’s strongest allies shared the beliefs of most Tunisians about their leader, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali: out of touch, surrounded by corruption, determined to stay in power.

 

It’s no wonder that when protests began in Egypt, one of the first measures authorities took to quell the burgeoning insurrection was cutting off all access to the Internet. No Facebook; no Google; no YouTube; no Twitter; no WikiLeaks. Also cut off were SMS and BlackBerry Messenger services. And satellite television as well — no Al-Jazeera.

 

In December, I made my first official visit to Egypt as Vice President of Ghana. I met with the Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafik, and toured the Smart Villages high-tech park in Cairo, where more than a hundred technological companies like Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard are housed. I was impressed with how fully Egypt had embraced IT and thought that they might even serve as a model for other African countries. In many ways I was right to assume that; of course I had no idea that the example they would set with technology would be the attainment of social justice.

 

Repressive regimes thrive on ignorance — the ignorance of their people, and the ignorance of the outside world. For too long, the image of Africa has festered under the haze of the Western world’s ignorance and its resulting apathy. A relevant example of this is the unofficial annexation of Tunisia, Algeria and the continent’s other northern nations, for reasons of race alone, to the Middle East. (Though the majority of Egypt’s land mass is in Africa, a portion of that nation, the Sinai Peninsula, is in the Middle East, making it transcontinental.)

 

Africa is, and has been for the past several centuries, a continent of artificial boundaries and of divisions constructed along the lines of race, class, tribal and ethnic grouping — divisions cleverly constructed for the purposes of conquering. It is an infrastructure that, by design, lends itself to dictatorship, to the powerlessness of the masses.

 

It wasn’t so long ago that if you wanted to post a letter from Ghana, a former British colony, to any of the countries that border us – Côte d’Ivoire, Togo or Burkina Faso, all former French colonies — it would be routed through Europe first before finally arriving at its destination. The same was true of telephone calls, and it was virtually impossible to travel by air from one African country directly to another. Now all you need to be connected via computer or mobile phone to anyone anywhere in the world is a signal.

 

A little over a decade ago, as minister of communications, I was privileged to be part of the process of deregulating and liberalizing the previous monolithic state-owned telesector in Ghana. Initially, people did not understand the new technology and were hesitant to embrace the monumental changes that seemed to be required. Mobile telephony as a communication tool was, for all intents and purposes, in its infancy, and only a privileged few had access. Looking back now, I can feel only a sense of satisfaction in seeing how telecoms and ICT have exploded not only in Ghana but across the continent.

 

Every year since 2000 the Internet population in most African countries has doubled. Over the past decade, the spread of telecommunications and ICT in Africa went from below an average of 3 percent teledensity to a whopping almost 50 percent.

 

“Knowledge is power, and information is liberation,” Kofi Annan, former United Nations secretary-general, has been quoted as saying. Mobile phones and the Internet are liberating Africa in a way that even independence from colonialism could not. Digital technology is redefining our political landscape and will continue to do so in ways that we have yet to even imagine.

 

What makes digital technology such an ideal tool for social and political empowerment in the formation of new democracies is the fact that it is ever changing; new media and applications are constantly being produced to meet the shifting needs of users. When President Mubarak shut down the Internet in Egypt,

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Article: The Changing Pattern of Migration in West Africa


[Cross-linked from Future Challenges Organization Article: The Changing Pattern of Migration in West Africa]

When the word Migration (Human Migration) is mentioned in some parts of West African settlements; there’s mixed reaction where people turn to jubilate while others cry in sorrow. Some families in West Africa have seen and tasted the positive side of it meanwhile, others haven’t.

Migration in Africa is dynamic and extremely complex. (Hope you do agree with me on this.) This is always reflected in the feminization of migration, transformation of labor flows into commercial migration and brain drain from the region. Completing this picture are trafficking in human beings, the changing map of refugee flows, and the increasing role of regional economic organizations in fostering free flows of labor. What follows is an overview of some of the most important trends.

Photo of West African Women

It is very difficult, almost impossible or even blasphemous to predict the future with absolute certainty. This is especially true with modern

society where change is a daily occurrence. In the context of West Africa’s future, however, there seems to be an exception to this rule. This is because the patterns are so regular that many West Africans are sure beyond doubt that there will be hunger tomorrow. This hunger is only a step away from chaos. And chaos is a regular pattern in West Africa.

The traditional pattern of migration within and from Africa — male-dominated, long-term, and long-distance — is increasingly becoming feminized. Anecdotal evidence reveals a striking increase in migration by women, who had traditionally remained at home while men moved around in search of paid work. A significant share of these women is made up of migrants who move independently to fulfill their own economic needs; they are not simply joining a husband or other family members.

According to Political Activist & Kenyan Environmentalist: Wangari Maathai;

Women are responsible for their children; they cannot sit back, waste time and see them starve. African women in general need to know that it’s OK for them to be the way they are – to see the way they are as strength, and to be liberated from fear and from silence.

The increase in independent female migration is not confined by national borders: professional women from Nigeria and Ghana now engage in international migration, often leaving their spouses at home to care for the children. Female nurses and doctors have been recruited from Nigeria to work in Saudi Arabia, while their counterparts in Ghana are taking advantage of the better pay packages in the UK and United States to accumulate enough savings to survive harsh economic conditions at home.

The relatively new phenomenon of female migration constitutes an important change in gender roles for Africa, creating new challenges for public policy. For instance, before the outbreak of civil war, an ongoing economic crisis in Cote d’Ivoire did not prevent female migration from Burkina Faso.

This was possible because women gradually clustered in the informal commercial sector, which is less affected by economic crises than the wage sector, where most male migrants work. This emergence of migrant females as breadwinners puts pressure on traditional gender roles within the African family.

With the recent civil unrest in the Middle-East and North Africa (MENA); some African women who traveled to seek greener pastures will be caught in these disturbances. What’s the future like for the uneducated African woman who sees migration as the best tool for curbing poverty in her family? Are there any organizations ready to help, empower and support these women?

Photo Credit: Scrapetv.com

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Why Isn’t Ghana’s Telecommunication Industry Getting The Needed Attention Despite Oil/Gas Find?


In the excitement about Ghana’s Oil find; one sector which is seeing impressive expansion and “big money” deals is not getting as much attention as it should from Investors and commentators alike. I get regular emails from people enquiring about opportunities in the Oil & Gas sector in Ghana,whilst the Energy sector becomes saturated with foreign companies, ample opportunities exists in the Telecoms & ICT sector for both local and International firms.

Ghana ICT & Telecoms Summit

 

Ghana’s telecoms sector has enjoyed a financial boost in the last couple of years, deals across both fixed and mobile platforms have brought some of the biggest operators in the world to the West African state.

The controversial sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone for a reported $900 million dollars and MTN’s sale of 51% of its tower assets to American Towers for over $400 million are some of the well known deals that have been reported. However; there is a lot more happening on the ground with the government recently granting two Wimax licenses to operators in the country with a further three up for grabs.

The government has confirmed that Glo Telecom will be the sixth and last company to be granted a mobile license to operate in the country, with Glo expected to launch in the first quarter of 2011 some analysts are concerned the number of mobile operators in the country. MTN retains the largest market share of about 51.5% according to figures from the NCA.

A sure sign of maturity in the telecoms sector is the rush to outsource tower management and ownership to third parties as a means of diversifying revenue as focusing on core activities.It all kicked off in January 2010 when Millicom Ghana (Tigo Ghana) agreed to sell 750 base towers to Helios Towers Africa (HTG), the deal was the first major sales/leaseback to be completed by major African telecoms operator and an independent tower company on the continent.

The George Soros backed Helios Towers already has a well established operation in Nigeria and is looking to move further into the Ghanaian market. Vodafone Ghana also signed a ten year deal with Eaton Towers to takeover the operations and co-location management of its existing tower infrastructure. The deal is reported to be worth $45 million to Eaton Towers,who’s directors are ex-Vodafone employees. MTN rounded off the deals for 2010 with their joint venture with American Towers raising $428million for the Mobile operator, Airtel is also actively looking for a deal to introduce its Tower business for which it is well known in India to the African market, and Ghana looks to be the first country that might benefit from Airtel’s experience in tower management.

The National Communications Authority which regulates the telecoms sector has recently called for applications for licenses to build infrastructure, mostly communication towers. One would expect the existing tower companies in addition to Airtel to be granted licenses for further expansion. The tower business model is prevalent in India where the large population means mobile companies have to invest massively in tower infrastructure, but even the operators are still a bit hesitant about giving away full control of their towers compared to the US, where majority of towers are managed by third parties with American Towers and Crown Towers being the biggest players in the sector,

In order to prevent chaotic building of towers all over the country and to placate the citizenry who are nervous about the radiation effects of these towers, only licensed companies will be allowed to build and operate new towers, the hope is that the mobile networks will buy space from the newly licensed operators rather than build their own towers. Companies will have to pay an initial $25,000 fee in order to apply for the license and a final fee of $200,000 if their application is successfull.

The next battle for mobile operators in Ghana will be to discover other means of improving their revenues, no one knows this better than Airtel, whos’ African operations are not making any money as yet. Airtel is actively looking to expand its role in the Tower business and expects to be given a license in Ghana to build several more towers which it hopes to lease out to other operators.

Whilst the opportunities to make money in the mobile sector in Ghana remain buoyant, the network operators are increasingly looking at other sources of revenue as they’re forced to cut call prices in order to stay competitive.

It is against this background that Mobile World Magazine is organising the:

Ghana ICT &Telecom Summit. Dates: April 29 -30; 2011 in Accra, Ghana.”

It will be the first gathering where both operators and regulators will join officials from the Ministry of Communications to plot the future of the telecoms industry in Ghana.

Issues such as Mobile Number Portability, International Gateway taxes and improving rural connectivity will all be discussed at the summit. The role of infrastructure companies in the development of Ghana’s telecoms sector will be one of the key issues to be discussed by the delegates. The summit which is being chaired by Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah the outgoing chairman of the C.T.O and former Minister of Communications for Ghana will also explore growth strategies for the ICT market in Ghana and what role investors can play in driving this growth.

This has been a great year for the telecoms sector in Africa and Ghana especially, 2011 will be the year Investors look to recoup their investments. Mobile Applications, Mobile broadband and continued expansion in telecoms Infrastructure will be some the areas to watch over the next 12 months.

The NCA is also expected to confirm the five companies granted Wimax licenses to operate in Ghana. With the NCA (Regulator) now run by a former Investment banker it is hoped that relationships between operators and the regulator will improve and issues such as the International Gateway Tax, Sim Registration and Number Portability will be resolved amicably.

Post By: Tony Burkson

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Ghana’s Population Reaches 24mil But; Cedi Keeps Depreciation. WHY?


Ghana: Population Density, 2000

Image by SEDACMaps via Flickr

Ghana’s first post-independence population census was in 1960 and counted about 6.7 million inhabitants. By 1970 the national census registered 8.5 million people, about a 27 percent increase, while the most recent official census in 1984 recorded a figure of 12.3 million.

The nation’s population was estimated to have increased to about 15 million in 1990 and to an estimated 17.2 million in mid-1994. With an annual growth rate of 2.2 percent for the period between 1965 and 1980, a 3.4 percent growth rate for 1981 through 1989, and a 1992 growth rate of 3.2 percent, the country’s population was projected to surpass 20 million by the year 2000 and 35 million by 2025.

According to the Ghana Statistical Service, the provisional results of the 2010 population and housing census indicate that Ghana has a growth rate of 28 percent. There has been a steady increase in the population of about 2-3% per year since 1990.

Ghana’s population is currently at 24,223,431million according to Dr. Grace Bediako (Government Statistician) who announced provisional results of the 2010 census a couple of weeks ago.

During this same period; reports indicates that, the Ghanaian cedi have depreciated against major foreign currencies especially the US Dollar on the international market.  As at today; you’ll need Ghc1.00 52pesewas to be able to get USD1.00.

Various reasons are been given for the sudden depreciation that saw the currency reach record lows in January 2011. These include a high demand for US dollars for importation of clothing, cars and foodstuff linked to an unexpected higher import spending over the Christmas period according to Food Security Ghana

In addition some analysts claim that offshore investors are selling government bonds, recouping Cedis and converting them into dollars – thus putting pressure on the cedi, which was stable within the 1.42 – 1.44 band for most of 2010.

Renaissance Capital, as reported by Bloomberg (interactive chart), also announced that Ghana’s inflation rate will rise this year on higher food and fuel costs, while economic growth will probably miss the government’s forecast of 12.3 percent.

The big question on Ghanaians’ minds is what government will do to ensure that consumers are not put under more pressure in 2011 given all the looming and actual negative factors that indicate the opposite.

Also, are we attributing this phenomenon in the financial trend to the symptom of the Dutch Disease which usually plagues new entrants in the league of oil producing countries?

 

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Call For Applications: DABRA 2011


The 2011 DIAGEO Africa Business Reporting Awards (DABRA) which was launched last week in Nairobi, Kenya is currently accepting entries into the various categories. The 2010 awards attracted 750 entries that were narrowed down to the finalists.

Invitations are welcome from all African countries. Entries must reach the secretariat by 21 March 2011. The Awards ceremony will be held in Central London on June 30, 2011. Remember there are no participation fees.

About DABRA:

The DABRA recognize journalists and editors who provide high quality coverage of the business environment in Africa. Since the Awards’ inception in 2004, Africa is a different place and is home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies. Against this backdrop, the Awards continue to seek out, recognize and reward excellence in business journalism.

The Awards recognize the fact that more and better business journalism plays an important role in Africa’s investment flows. We believe that better and more accurate reporting generates more business interest on the continent.

General Guidelines:

To qualify for the Diageo Africa Business Reporting Awards 2011 all submissions must have been published or broadcast in the period 18 April 2010 – 20 March 2011. Submissions in all media are welcome, including blogs, podcasts, online content, print, radio and TV entries. Entries must reach the secretariat by 21 March 2011.

The various Award Categories are:

1. Best ICT feature

2. Best Finance feature

3. Best Infrastructure feature

4. Best Agribusiness / Environment feature

5. Best Tourism feature

6. Best use of New Media in a story

7. Best Business News story

8. Best Business Feature story

9. Best Newcomer

10. Media of the Year; and

11. Journalist of the Year.

For more information, please visit www.diageoafricabusinessreportingawards.com. Apply via the Online Application Form here: DABRA 2011 Awards. For Francophone Journalists & Reporters; please Click here to download entry guidelines in French

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