Posts Tagged ‘ghana ’

Africa: The Best Guess

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Sometimes a thesis comes along that’s so incisive, it upends the orthodoxy. Morten Jerven’s proposition is capable of that. His book, Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled By African Development Statistics and What To Do About It, presents an eye-opening case for changing how Africa’s economies are measured and understood.

Measuring the economy’s performance, particularly gross domestic product (GDP), is critical to African governments and the donors that provide them with financial aid. Jerven shows that econometric models used to inform critical decisions about African countries are based on irreconcilably faulty data.


Ghana’s Unremarkable Transfer of Power

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Smooth and swift 

President John Atta Mills of Ghana, 68, died unexpectedly of throat cancer yesterday in the capital, Accra. His vice president, John Dramani Mahama, 53, was sworn in as his successor within hours of the president’s dying.

What’s remarkable about these events is Ghana’s unremarkable transfer of power. The country has become a paragon of good governance in a region where democratic institutions are in short supply. There’s no telling what might have transpired had an event like this occurred elsewhere in West Africa or in Ghana only twenty years ago.


Dispatch from West Africa

Thursday, April 1st, 2010


Downtown Cape Coast, Ghana

Pulsating business scene

I spent the last couple weeks on assignment in Accra, Ghana. On this trip, I’ve seen more growth than any time since my company started working there in ’07. This is a period of unprecedented business activity and promising new projects within and beyond the mobile sector.  Meanwhile, new competitors from around the world are streaming in. This corner of Africa’s business scene is pulsating.

Astute businesses here are taking steps to preserve their client base and deepen relationships with their customers. We’re privileged to work with a new generation of African business leaders with the courage and determination to transform their offerings to meet the needs of an emerging class of consumers.


Celebrating Our African Adventure

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009


Ex Africa semper aliquid novi — Out of Africa always something new. ~Pliny the Elder

This week marks my company’s 3rd anniversary of working in Africa within our emerging markets service practice. Helping companies in the region to understand and serve the needs of their customers has been enriching on a personal level.  I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the growth of the sub-Sahara’s nascent service industry and I marvel at its favorable impact on a growing number of people in the region.

The ascendant mobile industry illustrates the point.  On a continent where few people have landlines due to the high cost of installing cabling, cell phones are bridging the communications gap. In many sub-Saharan markets, like Ghana where we work, mobile growth rates have been approaching 50% annually. While less than 20% have mobile phones now, hundreds of millions of Africans are expected to get handsets in the next few years. Keep in mind that this is a continent of almost a billion people. That’s a lot of potential new subscribers.


Ghana in the “R=G World”

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

Having just returned from Ghana, I was keenly interested Roger Cohen’s NYT piece today. He says,

In my lifetime, conditions have grown immeasurably better, freer and more prosperous for a majority of humanity, yet hand-wringing about the miserable remains the reflex mode for most coverage of planet earth.

Nowhere more so than in Africa, from which I’d just returned when the e-mail landed. During a short stay in Ghana, which will hold free elections in December, Vodafone had bought a majority stake in Ghana Telecom for $900 million (entering a fiercely competitive mobile-phone market) and I’d heard much about 6 percent annual growth, spreading broadband and new high-end cacao ventures.

Accra, the capital, is buzzing. Russian hedge funds are investing. New construction abounds. Technology enables people in the capital to text money transfers via mobile phone to poor relatives in the bush.

I think most of Cohen’s points are well taken. He doesn’t mention the discovery of oil off Ghana’s coast and the country’s fiber projects or the investments being made by multinationals in the country’s business infrastructure.  The business climate in the region is improving, albeit in successive approximations.  The country’s services sector — chiefly teleco and financial services — are contributing to Ghana’s high annual growth rate.  Inflation is a growing concern, but so far it’s been manageable.  The process leading up to this December’s election should be interesting.  So far so good.

It’s also true that Africa’s success stories aren’t newsworthy to many news consumers.  We mostly hear about war, corruption, disease and rampant poverty.  On this point, I recommend Charlayne Hunter Gault’s New News Out of Africa: Uncovering Africa’s Renaissance,” — it’s  chiefly about South Africa, but pertinent to the problem of media coverage across the continent.

If Ghana’s political environment remains stable and forward-looking, the country will be in a position to contribute even more of its stalwart intellectual capital to a “globalized” resource (R=G) community in the coming years.  So, even if the global media is fixated on the region’s challenges, the numbers will support a different story.  So look for Ghana and other gazelle nations of the sub-Sahara to lead the way.

Ghana – Open for business

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

During a trip to Accra, Ghana last week to work with a Ghanaian alliance partner, I was struck by the positive attitude of the people. I’d been told that Ghanaians are generally warm and welcoming, but nothing prepared me for the esprit de corps and resourcefulness of the people whom I encountered. In fact, I’m betting that Ghana’s robust human resources will enable the country of 22 million to become a regional or maybe even a global hub in the Information Age.

A confluence of forces may be working in the country’s favor. The vitality of its government institutions, its deep appreciation of civil liberties, and its fiercely independent media have all made Ghana a beacon of stability in contrast to many of its neighbors. In addition, legions of tech-savvy Ghanaians, many educated abroad, are accelerating the country’s technology boom. These factors, coupled with the nation’s intense entrepreneurial drive, are helping Ghana build its service sector from the ground up.

As an English-speaking country, Ghana is poised to deliver a range of BPO services to other Anglophone nations in the West African sub-region and beyond. This particularly applies to its oil-rich neighbor, Nigeria with a population exceeding 140 million, the largest country in Africa. While Nigeria has made great strides in reforming its institutions recently, the country has long battled institutional corruption. Nigeria’s growing financial services sector is already looking to Ghana as a safe harbor for delivering its customer-facing and back-office services. And its telecom sector is the world’s fastest growing after that of China.

There’s been a lot of buzz about partnering with African companies lately, starting with the World Economic Forum in Davos (“Promise of Africa”), followed by this year’s TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference held in Monterey, California, last March. TED featured a particularly inspiring talk about doing business in Africa by Ngozi Okojo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, who served briefly as Foreign Affairs Minister – the first woman to hold either post. She warns business people and investors not to miss the Africa boat. Africa, she tells us, is open for business.

Okojo-Iweala later wrapped up a special 4-day session held in Aruysha, Tanzania, last June, called Africa – the Next Chapter, by discussing the flow of private investment in Africa. She pointed out that emerging confidence in Africa is creating exciting opportunities for collaborating with smart African entrepreneurs. The take away is that this is only the beginning.  One thing for sure — it’s energizing doing business in Ghana.