I came across an article titled “Africa is doing just fine, thank you”. It listed all the innovations happening across Africa, after reading it, I thought about Ghana when I arrived in 2007 to the last time I was there earlier this year. My thoughts, we do have a lot of roses amongst all the thorns. Off of the top of my head, I can name quite a few:
Places to Hang Out
When I arrived in 2007 and even prior to that when I used to go over for vacations, the only place to really hang out were Osu and its infamous Oxford Street, Cantonments, Airport Residential Area had a few hidden gems and then around the beachfront. If you were lived where I lived, it was quite a hassle getting into town due to traffic so I ended up only going out at night or having to strategically plan my day so that I wouldn’t get caught up in a traffic jam. Today we have around 7 shopping malls in and around Accra and 2 in Kumasi where you can just go and sit, grab a juice or a coffee (or something stronger if you prefer) and there are an abundance of restaurants, bars and clubs popping up on all sides of the city so you don’t have to sit in traffic for hours on end just to go “chill”.
I remember signing up for it in 2008 and not really thinking anything of it, today it is one of the biggest innovation in Africa to date. Mobile Money is a way of making money transactions through your phone using only your sim (yes that’s right folks, no app involved). It is an e-wallet which is used to store money and can be used for the payment of goods and service as well as the transfer of funds to friends and family. It is simple to use and is popular with just about anyone so even your Grandma in the remote part of a village can use it. I believe this initiative started with MTN but now all the service providers have jumped on board.
Kotoka International Airport
I can almost forgive the last government for the years of “dumsor” with this one. On 27th December 2018 I touched down in Accra and for a second I thought I was back at Heathrow. No more waiting around on the plane while they bring over the steps to disembark from the plane. No more waft of hot air as you finally leave the plane and sweat dripping down you by the time you get to customs as you are crammed into a bus from the plane to the terminal. I don’t even remember being in the queue at customs that long (although that might have been the effects of the brandy I drank on the plane). What I do remember though is that the airport is first class and rivals any International Airport in the West.
Google has built an AI lab in Accra, Uber has firmly established itself in Accra with similar platforms breaking into the market. The tech industry is accelerating in Ghana and while I am not an expert in this area all I can say is watch this space.
Roads and Infrustructure
Ok, we are still battling the potholes however every time I go to Ghana I see improvements. New roads being built and old roads being improved, where as previously potholes were merely patched up I can see proper long term solutions for the state of the roads. The road from Adjinganor to school junction used to be a nightmare. What was a 5 minute journey felt like a lifetime as you had to dodge all the potholes where the rain had washed away the little 2 by 4 patch work that had covered the roads. On my last visit they are constructing the road and I actually see people working on the road (not sure if they have finished yet, heard it has been completed). Additionally as you drive through Accra there is some magnificent buildings, probably not on the scale of New York but can definitely rival or in some cases beat the architecture in London.
Is the economic climate in Ghana still an issue, I would be lying if I said with all these new innovations and initiatives that are coming in, people are now suddenly on par with the west, however it is far from the shithole county it has been described.
What I will say is that, isn’t it about time we started seeing our country in it’s glory. Unfortunately, in the media and even when we talk about Ghana we focus on the corrupt politicians going cap in hand to the IMF for a bail-out (only to “chop” all the money within the party). We see the poverty, we see the religious leaders praying on the weak and the vulnerable and we see the huge disparity between the haves and the have nots.
It’s about time we look at what we are doing right and find a solution for everyone to gain a piece of the pie without having to kill our brother to get it.