Without exaggerating, I can say every week, someone asks for my opinion on the best mobile data network. These people usually want to get data plans for their tablets or smartphones. It’s not an easy A or B answer. I have tried every mobile data networks in Ghana and usually I narrow my recommendations to two networks.
Last month, I traveled to three major cities for an exciting robotics competition for high school students and live-tweeting that and my time in those cities, as usual, was on top of my must-do list. It wasn’t easy. It just wasn’t. It was a struggle staying connected in all three cities. The cities were the bicycle city of Tamale, the colonial capital Cape Coast and the (former) garden city of Kumasi. They are major cities with a lot of businesses and a high population density and one wouldn’t expect connecting to be such a struggle. In Tamale, I constantly had to switch between two networks. It was the same in Kumasi and Cape Coast. All through my time in those cities, I kept asking; how does one stay connected?
Just as almost everyone I know keeps a second phone, so should you keep a second or backup mobile data sim card. I have one network for my iPhone data another SIM card as backup. Recently, a friend was in Ghana from Japan for a week and I gave him a USB modem for his stay here. His first question was “Will it work everywhere?” I smiled. Later that evening he called me from Okponglo, East Legon, Accra to say the connection was very spotty. That is why I keep a second mobile data sim card. I can understand when I travel Ghana and I have to switch networks but it’s difficult for me to do that in Accra.
So this is how I stay connected; at home, I stay connected with a fixed broadband service. At GH¢180/month with a 500GB cap, it burns my pocket but it works great for me; on my iPhone, I subscribe to 10GB 90-day plan at GH¢80. It sounds like way too much data but it comes in handy when you have to tether; and I keep an unlocked Huawei modem with three other sim cards. You never know when you will need them.
It’s really a hustle staying connected. It’s a hustle when I have to switch between sim-cards in the middle of live-tweeting an event and an even bigger hustle when I have to pay my fixed broadband bill or subscribe to a mobile data bundle. I have been seeing a lot of talk about 4G in Ghana soon and I can’t wait to see how all that will change my staying connected habits.
Let me share some tips which might help you find the best mobile data network for you;
1. If you are a heavy user and can magically find the cash every month, I recommend you get a fixed broadband service at home. All the services I know of have their challenges but it’s better than not being connected.
2. Check the data coverage in your neighbourhood, workplace or wherever you are most likely to use the service most. Don’t trust the data maps they put out on their websites. Ask friends or better still, ask your followers on Twitter. Plot your own map.
…and with those tips, that is how I stay connected. Tell me how do you stay connected.
This post is part of Blu’s LiveBlu Forum, a social commentary on work-life balance in Ghana. Join the discussion at: http://blughana.wordpress.com/#LiveBlu #BeLieveUme or sign up here to try turbo-charged internet powered by Blu.
Yesterday at the last monthly Blogging Ghana meeting, the question was asked; what would you say are the two topical issues of the year. We all agreed corruption is one and an interesting discussion ensued. How do we address corruption? Today is International Anti-Corruption Day and although we have been talking about corruption all year, I haven’t written about it. I tweet about it every seeing the level and perception of corruption now.
We see corruption everywhere in our daily lives. An acquaintance got busted for not renewing his license. He paid a bribe and was let off. Some years ago, a friend wrote the drivers test twice and (was) failed. Apparently, he was being failed because he hadn’t paid a bribe. In the end, he paid and got his license. My brother applied for a passport which was suppose to take a month. After two months of waiting, the officer asked him to pay a bribe to get it done. An acquaintance needed a loan. Guess what? He had to pay a bribe to get a loan which he will repay.
The question remains how do we address corruption in Ghana? Could it be that we have been fighting it the wrong way? I have some ideas after listening to people in government and civil society. They are not new ideas. Let’s call this a reminder.
Taking a stand against corruption will probably be the most difficult thing for most of us to do but it’s the first and perhaps most important thing to do. Just like standing up against a bully in school, you and I need to say no, we won’t pay or take bribes, that we won’t look away for the wrong thing to be done, that we will report corruption at all levels. Like I said, this is the most difficult to do. It will take a lot of will to get there but surely, we can do that.
We shouldn’t stop talking about corruption and demanding transparency and accountability. I have heard a lot of people say all the talk is not going to do anything. I see it as a starting point for any other action. In Ghana today, social media has become a really important tool and believe it or not, the government and the international community is listening to the voices of Ghanaians. With social media, we can share and expose the causes and effects of corruption we encounter. By talking about it, we should question when people in our communities live lavishly.
Corruption is cultural was an issue raised at the #BloGh meetup. I strongly disagree. It’s not cultural and exists in every society but has it gained acceptability in our society? “Give him something small, facilitation fee, nsuo sika are all phrases associated with corruption and almost everybody understands it. A contributor at the US Embassy Ghana’s Anti-Corruption discussion pointed out, there’s a TV ad where a child asks her big sister for a bribe (milk) to keep her mouth shut. I don’t know how widely corruption is discussed at the basic education level but we need to have the discussion and reorient children not to accept corruption and point it out when their parents err. How guilty will you feel when your 5 year old says that GH¢1 you gave the police office is a bribe and is wrong?
We need to stiffer punishments for corruption. I have never understood why someone who steals a goat can get 10 years in jail and a corrupt official gets 5 or less or is not prosecuted at all. if people feel they can get away with corruption, they will engage in it. At the end of the day, it might be worth it to steal ¢50 million cedis and spend 5 years in jail.
I know this discussion will continue all through the new year and at Barcamp Accra 2013. I am certain that one day, we will be able to deal with corruption and make it unattractive for anyone to engage in. God bless our homeland, Ghana!
I remember the day Mandela was released from jail. I was a little boy growing up in Sunyani and I couldn’t understand what the big fuss was all about. I don’t remember if anyone tried to explain to me but for the longest time I couldn’t understand. Perhaps it was my bias towards Kwame Nkrumah. For years, I felt the two men were in competition for hearts and the greatest African ever lived. Not anymore.
Shamefully, I haven’t read Nelson Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk To Freedom even though I have had it in iBooks for a long time but I have seen a lot of movies about Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid struggle.
As I tweeted last night upon hearing of the passing of Nelson Mandela, I hope I live to be as selfless as Nelson Mandela. His selflessness is worth emulating. He lived his life well and we can all look to a life well lived and emulating at least one of his virtues.
Rest in Peace, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela!
A few weeks ago, I found myself asking ‘what is the Ghanaian dream?’ and I have made it a subject of my conversations with friends to get an idea of what they think. In a lot of these conversations, we laugh and talk about how every Ghanaian wanted to seek greener pastures abroad and how that is changing. We also laugh about go to school up to the university, graduate and get a job or have your dad or auntie ‘fix’ you somewhere. My conclusion therefore is there is no Ghanaian Dream. What do Ghanaians aspire to be? Do we all aspire to own an SUV or an effective transport system? Do we believe we can work hard and be rewarded or we have to to be corrupt to have the basic necessities?
Perhaps, we are all conversant with the American Dream. We have probably heard it from a returnee, in a movie, a song or in a speech. Who hasn’t heard Martin Luther King Jr’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech where he said his dream in engrained in the American Dream?
The Chinese Dream is the new buzz. Ever since Xi Jinping’s speech, a lot people in and out of China have been trying to dissect what the Chinese Dream really is. Checking from Weibo, there are songs and essay competition in China. Perhaps, there is no Chinese Dream and it being defined now.
Yesterday, at a screening of The March to mark 50 years since Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have A Dream Speech”, someone asked me what my dream is. My dream is for Ghana to be a great nation, where people have access to the basic necessities they need to further their dreams, a country where cocoa farmers don’t slave for us. I dream of a Ghana where there will be an effective transport system, where people will believe in there power to make changes in their societies, a Ghana where the people will be self determined and not accept mediocrity. That is my dream.
I don’t know what the Ghanaian Dream should be but it should one we all agree on and are willing to work on achieving. It should be on the lips of every Ghanaian and everybody living in Ghana. It should be thought in schools and discussed at market square. Most importantly, it should make our nation great and strong.
What is your Ghanaian Dream?
A few minutes ago, I deliver a letter to John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana about my some frustration. I share the letter here so you can read my concerns and perhaps it will motivate you to write to the president too.
Dear President Mahama,
I would like to share a picture of Moses Imoro, a farmer who appears in the documentary “An African Election” with you. I believe you have seen it a couple of times. You should view it if you haven’t. Every politician should. My star in the documentary is not John Mills, Nana Addo, John Rawlings or the priest. My star is Moses Imoro. In the documentary, he’s asked why he didn’t attend a political rally & what he expects from politicians.. He answered ”if they’ll stop telling lies.”
Moses Imoro | An African Election
I am writing this letter as a Ghanaian who believes in Ghana and believes Ghana is not where it ought to be. The Ghana Dr. Nkrumah and the founding fathers is so far away from the Ghana today and whilst some Ghanaians remain optimistic, the future is bleak for many. I know as president, you are probably not told the truth most of the time because people lack the courage to. At the end of the day, this is my Ghana and I die with it.
Every time a new president is elected, a country is filled with so much hope and optimism; that it is a new beginning and things can only get better. I have felt that optimism thrice and I have been disappointed on all three occasions.
Mr. President, I have been disappointed by how slowly you have composed your administration. I think before everyone becomes president, they should have an idea of who will be the best fit in various positions. Like many Ghanaians, I expected you to hit the ground not told the ground running and it need not to be so. Sadly, you haven’t done that and that is not what Ghanaians expect from you or any president of the land. We need leaders who believe in Ghana, take crucial decisions, fight off cronies and work for the people.
Your Independence Day speech was brilliant. It is probably the best I have heard in my lifetime but are you walking the talk? In your first tv interview (with KSM on TGIF), when you became vice president in 2009, you mentioned a new licensing system for government vehicles to curb personal use, you also mentioned government, MDAs will be directed to purchase Ghanaian rice and Made-in-Ghana products. I remember it all like yesterday but what strikes me is all this hasn’t been done. If you see the gift hampers going out of the MDAs every Christmas and you will be amazed. I wonder what you have to say to that. And this runs rampant through government. Enough is enough!
When you assumed office upon the death of President Mills, you outlined policy directions for Ghana. Again you gave a similar speech when you moved to the Flagstaff House. One thing which struck me was government was going to come up with a social media plan & policy for government. Two months down the line, I ask where is all that. I am afraid Mr. President, you will have to walk the talk. If you belong to the new Ghana like you say, you will do things differently. You can’t be one different Candidate Mahama when you want to win an election and a different President Mahama when you’re elected. Things like credibility and integrity matter to Ghana far beyond your own personal character.
Mr. President, every president who from Day 1 says he’s going for all two terms can never be a good leader in my books. Focus on the 4 year mandate Ghanaians gave you and deliver and let the people decide if they want to keep you for another 4 years. Pardon my language but that talk of second term makes me sick. You campaigned for 4 years and Ghana decided exclusively on those 4 years.
Until Q4 2012, I worked in the Public Service and I also volunteered with a group of young Ghanaians to run an election project. I traveled the country and I was disappointed and heartbroken with the stories, scenes and some of the people I met. Everywhere we went, people just wanted to see government working. Ghanaians are tired of the corruption and cronyism. We used the road to your hometown Bole in August to go interact with people on the elections. We didn’t have an four wheel drive and it was just a taxi driver who agreed to get us there for ¢200. It wasn’t a smooth journey. We fell into a ditch at one point. Luckily, no one was injured. We could have died on that road but who cares? This year, Mahamudu Bawumia had an accident on some weeks ago on the same road and the noise wouldn’t stop. I kept thinking about the many Ghanaians who ply the road daily, the kids who run away upon seeing our taxi stop, the poor taxi driver who broke his axle getting and the villages along the road without lights. Do we care about them?
Have you observed the towns without lights when you travel at night? Sometimes, I wonder if they don’t vote or pay any taxes at all. What about the pregnant woman who has to travel on a bike to get medical attention? What about the worker who slaves for Ghana and has to feed his family with ¢300 monthly?
I could go on and on. What I am saying is simple;
Walk the talk, Mr. President – you can’t say one thing and do the other
Put an end to cronyism and government working for only people in government – we elect leaders to serve not to enrich themselves and seek their interest first.
Be a new Ghana leader and make those painful decisions you politicians are always afraid of making – posterity will judge you.
We need a National Development Plan now! – That’s the only way we will know as a people where we are heading and how we can get there. (S)he who fails to plan plans to fail.
We the people demand strong and determined leadership.
God Bless Our Homeland Ghana!
I just arrived in Lagos with Kwabena O. Boateng for Social Media Week Lagos. Before I continue, I would advise everyone to take a road trip from Accra to Lagos before 2015. I have a feeling you won’t have the same experience in 2015 so just do it now.
Traveling by bus from Accra through Togo and Benin, it’s been one hell of a journey. Ghana and Togo were pretty cool and easy to cross. I saw the famous Aflao Border Gate from our primary school textbooks. It looks really old, dirty and needs rehabilitation. I also saw someone pay a bribe to a Togolese Customs official. With the way he had packed his stuff, he just had to pay. It would have been so much trouble unloading the carefully packed textiles. I must add I like Togo. It seems too laid back but I’m sure when I return later in the year, I will get a real feel of the country and the people.
Benin was okay. I actually liked the feel of the country till I realised there was refuse all over. It is something that can’t miss a visitor’s eyes and I was quite shocked there were “petit” refuse dumps all over. I am probably exaggerating but it looked like everyone owns a dump… but still, I like the feel of Benin; from Ouidah to Cotonou, I found the architecture pretty interesting and a country which is developing.
Entering Nigeria was all I have heard over the past years. The famous Seme Border had its usual craze and it didn’t even stop till about four hours after entering Nigeria. From one checkpoint to another, you could tell from my face, I had regretted not flying to Lagos. I even lost count of the number of stops; Customs, Immigration, Police, NDLEA. Thank God the Anti-Bomb Squad didn’t come search the bus. That would have been 1 hour wasted.
Thank God for Habeebat. She has taken care of us. She had our hotel booked and got us from the bus terminal. Is that Nigerian hospitality? That’s awesome hospitality.
We begin our SMW participation in the morning. I am looking forward to meeting awesome people attending and connecting with some colleagues later in the week. if you are reading and attending SMW, let’s connect and share experiences & ideas.
From Las Gidi through Cotonou & Lomé with love,
The answer is quite simple. I have been around. 2012 was a pretty busy year.
Last year, I had the opportunity of working on the Ghana Decides project. It was an awesome experience and the memories of the project will be with me forever. I will blame Ghana Decides for me not blogging much last year. It was really time consuming and it was also important not to write blog posts which might suggest I am aligned to a political party. It’s sad but that where Ghana is and I hope we can move away from that; that people can express their views on issues without being tagged NDC or NPP.
I also picked up a new job as a Social Media Assets Manager. It sounds pretty cool, right? But don’t think it means I get to sit on facebook or twitter all day and update my status. It’s really half of the job but it’s really exciting and I look forward to work everyday.
I hope to be blogging more this year. I have started procrastinating already. I should have had three post up by now but there’s very little time for me to do all that.
It’s safe to say I am back though. Rediscovering my self, the desire to see Ghana where it ought to be, a transition and a new administration, social media and technology gives me a lot to write about.
I will need a pinch if I am not writing though. Life gets busy.
Ghana Decides launched a campaign yesterday, 27 November 2012, to get the Ghanaian electorate to turn up massively at the polls to vote on 7 December.
The purpose of the campaign is to promote communal voting. Campaign Coordinators, Kwabena Akuamoah-Boateng and Nehemiah Attigah, said “we believe peer-to-peer influence is still high and people could call up friends to vote or post updates to say #iVoted which may encourage others to vote.”
According to the Coordinators, “From our experience during the #iRegistered campaign, enthusiasm usually dies down after the first week or so. That is why the campaign is deliberately launched this close to the election.”
Project Lead of Ghana Decides, Ms. Kinna Likimani said “The Our Vote Our Voice campaign intends to use pledge cards to get people offline to pledge to vote. Much of our work has been focused on Ghanaians with limited or no access to internet, computers or smartphone devices, so this latest campaign is no different. We do not want to leave anything to chance come 7 December.” According to Ms. Likimani “Ghanaians must know that they have to vote because it is the in the interest of their children, their sisters and all of us. If you refuse to vote, it is like saying you don’t care about the people you love.”
However, the Coordinators admit the offline activity would be volunteer intensive, especially on targeted voters outside of Accra and are calling on Ghanaians to volunteers. Additionally, Mr. Attigah said “online pledge forms will be made live so that people can pledge to vote on December 7. We’ll need you to pledge and got others to pledge too.”
The campaign will distribute Our Vote Our Voice branded t-shirts on Friday, 30 November, to all volunteers and participants in the campaign to whip up interest and excitement.
As part of efforts targeting Ghana’s growing tech-savvy community, voice notes and text messages have been designed and are ready for forwarding to users of Whatsapp & BBM. Currently, Ghanaians on Whatsapp and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are already using the logo as their profile pictures.
“We’ll be tweeting with the hashtag #LetsVote to encourage people to go vote and #GoVote on Election Day as well as #iVoted to share pictures after voting. The #GhanaDecides hashtag must trend on election day” says Mr. Akuamoah-Boateng
It’s a sad day in Ghana. We still haven’t recovered from yesterday’s shocking new of the demise of the President. I haven’t and I decided to stay home today and mourn the President.
Last night, I was out with the Ghana Decides Team trying to gather people’s reactions to the President’s death. It was encouraging seeing Nigerians opting to say a few words about President Mills. Throughout the interactions, people kept stressing how they were in deep sorrow upon hearing of his demise. Almost everyone, I spoke to alluded that indeed, the President would be remember as a religious, calm, gentle, hardworking, peace-loving and jovial man. I was particularly moved by the interview with Florence [link to interview soon]. She spoke with so much passion, I was almost moved into tear.
I remember in 2008, the discussions that ensued with my friends after the Electoral Commissioner, Kwadwo Afari Gyan had announced that Candidate John Atta Mills was in the lead with Tain to go. One friend remarked that the youth of Ghana should learn from the perseverance of Candidate Mills; haven lost two elections, he hadn’t given up like most of us would have. President Mills fought on to become the Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces and President of the Republic of Ghana.
President John Mills was a fighter! Although he hasn’t been well, he fought it and continued working to make Ghana a better country.
And once again, I congratulate the Government and People of Ghana for passing yet another test of our democracy. In sorrow & grief, we have remained strong and steadfast as one nation.
God bless our homeland Ghana!!!
I noticed something last week on my way to Tamale with Blogging Ghana’s Ghana Decides’ Team that the official twitter account for the Presidency (@presidencyghana) had changed its username to @JohnAttaMills.
Now, this is something one might consider petty or overlook but not if you have been paying attention to social media (trends) in Ghana and the roundup to the December general elections. There are some questions we need to ask here.
Is The Presidency/John Atta Mills finally taken social media seriously and gotten a pro to manage the president’s social media? If so, it could be good news. At least an acknowledgement of how social media can make a difference in governance and elections. I would like the candidates to seriously use social media as we move toward the elections. For some Ghanaians, that is how we can be reach.
Now, does anyone see abuse of incumbency here? The Twitter account @presidencyghana was and is still listed on the Presidency’s website as the Presidency’s account. Many people followed the account because its username said Presidency, not John Atta Mills. I am guessing whoever is running the account is one government payroll. Can someone on a government payroll be running the president’s private account? This could be bad precedent.
The facebook page (http://fb.me/PresidencyGhana), which is linked to the account hasn’t toned down on it sycophantic captions; a big minus for them. Anyway, I will continue to look for answers and follow the account and that of the other politicians to see how they do this year.
God bless our homeland Ghana!
This week, I had the opportunity of meeting Chrissy Fassen from the Rock the Vote! For me, this is the highlight of my trip to the USA; meeting someone who has been involved in a campaign to get people registered and get them to vote; something we are trying to replicate in Ghana with Ghana Decides. We recently run a campaign called #iRegistered to get people to voluntarily go register and share their experiences. That went pretty well and we are going to run another towards December to get people to go out and vote.
If you don’t know about Rock the Vote, they have been around as long as the 4th Republic has been. It’s in its 21st year and they run campaigns targeted at people between 18 and 29. It is the largest single non-political voter registrant in the USA, engaging people and giving them the information they need to register.
I first heard about Rock the Vote around the time P. Diddy put out that Vote or Die song and since we started the Ghana Decides project, I have been looking at their Website and social media for inspiration. Usually when I talk to people especially those who have lived or visited or know about USA politics about Ghana Decides, they always say ‘Are you trying to do something similar to Rock the Vote or Vote or Die?’. My answer: similar cause; different sides of the world.
Apart from increasing youth participation in the electoral process in Ghana, we (Ghana Decides) also try to reach socially excluded groups; women, prisoners and the physically challenged. It is not only about getting them to register but also getting them on social media; giving them a voice.
Chrissy shared some interesting strategies with us and a lot of these will come handy when we start our campaign to get people to vote. Some of the take-aways will be getting people to sign pledge cards and doing follow ups on election eve and election day. I am pretty excited to see how that will go. Rock the Vote is also huge on social media and on whether social media would be crucial as it was in 2008, Chrissy said ‘social media can outweigh every dollar spent’ and ‘it would be even more…. especially considering how Facebook and Twitter has evolved over the last 4 years.’
Have you ever heard of the President’s Forum for Young African Leaders? In August 2010, President Obama convened a three-day conference with more than 100 young leaders from a cross section of African life to examine how they see Africa’s future over the next half century, and to help craft innovative solutions to regional challenges. This programme has continued since the meeting in 2010 and has produced some alumni like Fred Swaniker and Shamima Muslim.
Secretary Clinton Addressing #YAL
On June 13, 2012, 60 Young African Leaders (including Dorinda and Tonyi from Ghana) from over 40 African Countries convened in Washington DC for a 3-week tour. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in addressing the Innovation Summit and Mentoring Partnership with Young African Leaders from Africa said with Africa’s population under 25 years forming 60% of the entire population, it could be daunting statistic or a cause for celebration. Daunting if they have no access to education, healthcare, voices are not heard and respected, etc. It could be a cause of celebration when young people can have their voices heard, help chart a new beginning, etc.
Secretary Clinton in her remarks said, having benefited from African migrants, America’s interest in Africa is a genuine one. Citing the example of the midwife who assisted her doctor when she had her daughter and has recently returned home to Ghana, Secretary Clinton said the USA wants to see a lot more Africans stay or return to the continent for Africa to benefit from them.
Initiatives like this are good for the continent and its youth. I posted on Instagram & Twitter this morning the lovely logo of the Young African Leaders and someone asked “What’s the deal with the star?”.
Young African Leaders logo
I bet he didn’t know or expected it to be an initiative from African within Africa but does it really matter? We live in a global world. As Barack Obama said during his visit to Ghana and Hillary Clinton reiterated yesterday, Africa is not a world apart but it is a fundamental part of our interconnected world. We keep talking about youth empowerment since we believe the youth of our countries hold the key to our development.
The two Ghanaian Youth Leaders this year; Dorinda and Tonyi are doing really cool things. Dorinda has established an NGO, Dream Environment in Kumasi with a team of young scrap and second-hand car dealers to help protect the environment. Tonyi, who was Mensah Sarbah JCR President 2006/2007 has established a shoe factory in Kumasi. I believe there are hundreds of many more young people doing wonderful things in Ghana. It’s important programmes like this bring them to the fore and give them a boost.
Last year this time, I was in Beijing to learn about China’s economic policies, which have lifted 100 million people out of poverty within the shortest time. This year, I write this blog post from Washington DC, where I am here with a group of Journalists from 20+ countries on the “Youth in Politics” reporting tour.
I am representing Blogging Ghana’s Ghana Decides’ project, which you may have read about or seen around. The project seeks to leverage the use of social media for Ghana’s 2012 elections. It has been great so far and looking at the schedule for the tour, there are a lot of ideas I am looking to pick up.
Already, we have a vibrant Facebook group and we are sharing ideas and todos already. I will tweet and blog as much as I can for the next 10 days. You can follow the tour on twitter and Instagram with the hashtags #YouthInPolitics