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Monday, August 01, 2005

One Year On

caption reads "men at work, slow down". Taken at airport residential area. Road from where car is coming leads directly into my Mum's uncle's residence where I was staying last year 31 July, 2004 Posted by Picasa

I arrived back in Ghana to this excellent job a year ago last Saturday.

I cannot believe that I've been working for a year.



At Monday, August 01, 2005 8:51:00 pm , Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I'd like to come to Ghana. Is it lovely?

At Tuesday, August 02, 2005 10:28:00 am , Blogger Emmanuel.K.Bensah II said...

Where do I start?:-) {

“Ghana may not have West Africa's most dramatic scenery nor the region's best collection of wild animals. But the country once known as the Gold Coast has other assets that are as good as gold: lovely beaches, lively nightlife, good roads, a variety of landscapes and some of the friendliest people on the continent. In short, Ghana is a safe, beguiling introduction to West Africa.

While much of the continent seems to be falling apart, Ghana has managed not merely to retain a strong sense of national identity, but actually to boost its economy and infrastructure. Once a center of the slave trade, Ghana was also the first modern African country to win its independence - giving it a headstart in nation-building. The people of Ghana are well educated and proud of their country - it has good schools, a thriving press and one of the highest economic growth rates on the continent.

The land is diverse. The coast has palm-lined beaches amid many natural harbors. There are thick forests (and gold reserves) in the center of the country. Lake Volta, surrounded by lush hills and waterfalls, dominates the eastern part of the country. In the north, dry grasslands and rolling hills make up the landscape. Ghana is bordered by Cote d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east and the Gulf of Guinea to the south.”


If an award were given for the country with the friendliest people in West Africa, Ghana would be a strong contender. Spend a few hours in the breezy capital at Accra, and you'll swear the wind and waves off the Gulf of Guinea have infused the land and people alike with equatorial warmth.
Even Ghanaians might admit that Accra's not the most beautiful place, but it's theirs. For a country that's borne the brutality of colonisation - from the stripping of its mineral wealth to the enslaving of its people - Ghana retains a remarkable sense of self.





3. a reasonably fair assessment (,
Ghana Sets An Example

Teetering on the verge of success, but with failure always threatening to knock at the door, Ghana has lately taken up the mantle of what passes for a success story in Africa. It is the new darling in the halls where donors like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the United States and Britain talk about making sure foreign aid does not end up in the hands of corrupt regimes.
What they have in mind are people like Kofi Asare, who labors mightily on his modest farm high in the hills near his village SamSam, carrying his ripe yellow pineapples on his head to get them from the fields to his truck. Dripping with sweat, Asare, 28, is the very picture of Africa’s getting its act together. Last year, he made $10,000, enough to make the transition from mud hut to cement house. This year, with an eye warily on the future, he has planted 2,500 of a new “low acid“ pineapple pioneered by the Del Monte Foods Co. that threatens to smoke the Ghana “smooth cayenne“ variety out of Europe’s supermarkets.
But Ghana is a good kid in a really bad neighborhood. Its West African neighbors, from Liberia to Sierra Leone to Ivory Coast, have bred so much fighting in the last 10 years that they make Ghana seem like Iowa. Ghana does not have insurgents running around its hinterlands dressed in wedding gowns and wigs (like Liberia and Sierra Leone) or 8-year-old rebel soldiers toting machine guns (Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast).
It has had four successful elections since 1993, and has actually experienced a peaceful transfer of power between democratically elected governments, another rarity in the neighborhood. Indeed, it is becoming a haven for refugees who come not only from Ghana’s unruly neighbors to the west, but also from other conflict zones in Africa.
Ghanaians like to brag that they have passed the point of no return in making their humid patch of West Africa a functioning democracy with all the perks that brings: a free and vibrant press, steady though slow economic growth, tourism. There is even a shopping mall with a multiplex cinema going up in Accra. With such obvious payoffs for adopting good governance, many Ghanaians say it is inconceivable that the country will turn back to the failed-state practices that have taken so many other African countries down the drain.
But for all the talk of what a model African country Ghana is, it is still, literally, dirt poor, which demonstrates just how removed Africa is from the proverbial rising tide of the global economy that is supposed to be lifting all boats. Ghana has a per capita income of $421 a year; most people survive here on $300 to $400. Ten-year-old girls still run barefoot up to stopped cars in the sweltering midday heat trying to sell anything they think will bring in money--from oranges to cell phone batteries to toilet paper. Street children still sleep on the median separating highway lanes.
While the Ghanaian government appears to have a clear idea of exactly what steps it must take to try to alleviate the huge divide between Accra’s growing middle class and the country’s rural poor, some goals are already slipping. Child mortality rates, already high, increased in 2004; nobody seems to know why. A huge gender gap remains in primary-school education: Far more boys make it to school than girls.
Almost half of Ghana’s national budget comes from foreign aid; Britain is its largest single-country donor. But the size of the country’s budget, a scant $3 billion, supporting 20 million people, is testament to just how far Ghana still has to go, and just how much more it still needs to climb out of poverty.


Last Updated: Friday, 11 March, 2005, 18:05 GMT

Ghana: Former 'beacon of hope' makes strides

Ahead of the Commission for Africa's report on stimulating development, the BBC's Mike Wooldridge went to see how Ghana, the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence, is faring.
In a room above an internet centre in Accra, a radio presenter is holding the ring between his two studio guests as they argue over issues of aid and trade and over the progress of Ghana's development.

Ghana: Seen as having potential to leave cycle of underachievement
Every minute or two, a phone caller chips into the debate. This is Vibe FM and its morning phone-in.
The discussion becomes steadily more passionate as the two-hour programme passes. The rich nations are castigated for the way they deal with Africa, as are Africans who share in exploitation.
But there is criticism of Ghana's own government too, over the state of the roads and erratic electricity and water supplies. Criticism or praise, the presenter challenges it all robustly.
Vigorous democracy
A few hours later I meet Ghana's President, John Kufuor, for an interview in his office in a building overlooking the sea known as The Castle. Slave trading was once conducted from this building.
A short distance away is an imposing monument commemorating Ghana becoming the first of the colonial territories in sub-Saharan Africa to gain its independence - the "winds of change" swept through here in 1957.


1957: Gained independence from Britain
1966: President Kwame Nkrumah deposed
1981: Flt-Lt Jerry Rawlings seizes power
1992: Rawlings voted president in multi-party poll
2000: Kufuor elected president

Profile of Ghana
Ghana Timeline

Ghana was not to remain a beacon of hope and potential prosperity for long.
Military rule and several economic difficulties saw to that.
But now Ghana has had four consecutive multi-party elections and the kind of debate over the airwaves I had witnessed at Vibe FM - and taking place elsewhere in the media - seems to be a symbol of the country's vigorous democracy today.
Mr Kufuor presents it that way. He says he recognises that democracy itself can be vulnerable if a government does not improve living conditions for its most vulnerable citizens, or if any section of society is left feeling excluded.
Though levels of income remain low for many today and unemployment is a serious issue, Ghana is widely seen as a country with the potential to break out of the cycle of underachievement that afflicts much of sub-Saharan Africa.
Successes and failures
Just under an hour's drive out of Accra on the road to Kumasi is the Blue Skies fruit company, set up to package fresh fruit and send it to supermarkets in Britain and elsewhere in Europe.

Entrepreneurs want a level playing field
The site was bush seven years ago. Now, the company provides work for more than 800 people, calculates that it injects some $100,000 (£60,000) a week into the economy of the local area and is responsible for 30% of Ghana's pineapple exports.
For the employees, there is no clocking on, everyone uses first names and 60% of the management are women.
The lowest pay is more than a teacher's - which doubtless also says something about teachers' wages.
But Blue Skies is operating in a specialist field and has had outside investment. I visited companies that are struggling to make their way in rather different business environments.
One is a hatchery that was doing good business supplying chicks to local farmers - that is until trade liberalisation saw imported frozen chickens come into Ghana from western Europe and elsewhere at prices below those the farmers can compete with.

Local firms face tough competition
Empty shelves in the hatchery tell the story. A quarter of a million newly-hatched chicks have been destroyed in the past three months because they could not be sold. Workers have been laid off.
Ernest Bidiako started out trading on the streets. Now his company, Ernest Chemists, has a modern factory producing generic drugs at prices Ghanaians might be able to afford.
It has a range of 150 products and the ambition to export to other African countries and break into the European and American markets as well. But it is up against strong competition from countries like India, and operating at well below its potential capacity at present.
Acid test
Ghana's entrepreneurs are not so much against trade liberalisation as asking for a "level playing field".
Their president says it is demeaning for Africa to have to beg for aid and he wants to see trade and manufacturing industries driving Ghana's economy forward.
In Ghana, as in many other African countries, a test of the proposals from Tony Blair's Commission for Africa will be whether they help to create a new relationship between the poorest continent and the rest of the world.


That's a bit of a fair cop, gov, but y'know, you shouldn't have started me on this quest:-)

Ghana has a long way to go, but most important thing, for now, is that our currency, the cedi, has stabilised at 9000 cedis to the dollar for almost six years now, PLUS, inflation has fallen slightly to 15.3%, despite fuel prices increase.

Poverty, especially in the rural areas, needs considerable attention.

All that being said, if you're looking for a great time to hang out (weather in August-September is characteristically VERY cool--around 18-25 degrees), then you cannot go wrong in the capital, Accra.

Thanks for your interest!


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