Showing posts with label Kofi Kornu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kofi Kornu. Show all posts

Friday, January 2, 2015

Do we need to recycle polythene bags, or find an alternative?

Enactus CUCG's paper bags
The '80s and '90s in Ghana saw a country that dealt with sanitation consciousness in an almost 'effective' way.
Not recycling though. The practice of going green (mostly recycling) is one that is still alien to most Ghanaians.
Food sellers used natural materials: waakye was served in leaves, hausa koko was served in bowls/cups. Heck, Ghanaians went about buying food with their own containers (bowls, cups). 
The narrative is different now. Plastic and polythene everywhere. We are invariably generating filth in the name of packaging -- and branding.
It's as if we've developed an unspoken slogan, "If it's not in plastic/polythene, it's not edible".
But that should change -- and indeed it will change. A number of individuals are doing their bit to help grow a green economy. These include The Green Ghanaian (@AkyaaN), Golda Addo, The Wheel Story House .
A couple of initiatives I'd wish to share with you are from two student organisations at the Catholic University College of Ghana.
Enactus CUCG has embarked on a project of dealing with plastic bags being used as grocery bags, and packaging for fast food and other products. They are designing paper bags. These are biodegradable, above all other considerable reasons. I read of a young man in Kenya who's also began an enterprise, making such paper bags.
Aiesec CUCG also had an intern last semester who collected used water sachets, and designed dust bins from them. These he donated to some primary schools in some deprived communities.
I'm yet to learn this skill, and produce some free dust bins too. ;-) 
I know of a number of initiatives coming out this year. Do watch the Green Ghanaian space for updates.
We should harness the power of the sun.
We should get some energy from our shit.
We should sort out our rubbish, so recycling is easier.
We should ... we should ... we should stop complaining and start from somewhere.
Brainstorm. Collaborate. Just. Do. It.

Dust bins made from used water sachets

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Listen

When I ask you to listen to me, and you start giving me advice,
you have not done what I have asked.
When I ask you to listen to me, and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.
When I ask you to listen to me, and you feel you have to do something to solve my problems,
you have failed me, strange as that may seem.
So please, just listen and hear me.
And if you want to talk, wait a few minutes for your turn and I promise I’ll listen to you.
~ANONYMOUS

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Why artisans fail to flourish in Ghana?

A study space I long for. Source: not known
In the middle of August 2014, I moved into a new apartment. I decided to engage the services of a carpenter who would make new furniture for me.
I was fortunate to 'accidentally' meet one at my house. He had come to deliver a set of beautifully crafted furniture to my neighbour.
We got talking -- an negotiating.
He was to make a couple of trap doors, and a study table with chairs.
Delivery was to be expected in a month.
This transaction took place in the second week of September.
On the 20th September, I paid 50% of the TOTAL amount.
I got my trap doors in the second week of October, but the table has STILL not been delivered.
Truth is, he has not even started it!
I wonder how our 'local' artisans are going to expand their businesses, when their work ethics is this bad. I've been in touch with this carpenter from the word go, but have only been getting flimsy excuses.
I just realised he'd actually taken a number of jobs and is finding it difficult meeting deadlines.
Greed.
I feel bad for him though because other neighbours of mine would want him to make stuff for them, but they have second thoughts.
Why can't we just take things as they come? Taking them one day at a time?
Hmm.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Why did I play in the kitchen?

Ingredients for a simple stew
Today, I decided to play in kitchen and see if I've still got the culinary skills Mamavi taught me, and which Afua rekindled. It's been a looong while since I 'played' in the Kitchen; I plan on making this hobby a lifestyle.

Who doesn't like meat?
The cabbage stew simmers gently

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Choosing referees, and supervisors


Making a choice of who to contact to act a referee and give you a recommendation (for a job, or to further one's education), can be a headache sometimes.
I've had this problem before, and currently see a number of my friends and students going through the same dilemma.
Who qualifies as referee/reference? A person who can be asked for information about another person's character, abilities, et cetera. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
I've learnt that, it is not as clear-cut a choice, as it seems to be.
Here are some tips:

  • Consider the job, or course you intend to read. This makes it easier to choose a referee who has considerable experience in that particular industry (i.e. for the job application), or field of study (i.e. for the intended course of study).
  • For job applications, an former boss is ideal, as they can really give the needed information on a your abilities and attitude.
    If it's for an entry position, and you do not have any work experience, relations and acquaintances can make the recommendation.
    If the requirement for such an entry position is a university degree, then the you would have to fall on former lecturers to recommend you. This can be a lecturer who taught you a relevant course, the intended course of study or job expects you to have knowledge of. It can also be your final year project supervisor, or a supervisor for any project you undertook as a student.

This brings me to the issue of 'choosing' a supervisor.
Most institutions in Ghana, choose supervisors for students. Sometimes students (i.e. Postgrads) get to choose their supervisors.
I've had a number of encounters with students who had wished to have a particular individual as their supervisor, and as such were disappointed with the choice their institutions had made for them.
As a student, choose a supervisor who has a keen interest in your research/ project. This can be a published researcher/expert in your research domain. The advantage is that they can guide you to make the best out of your research, by making worthwhile contributions.
Choosing someone you are 'comfortable' with does not always help you as a researcher, or with your finished project. There have been instances where projects are assigned to supervisors who are not interested in them and so just 'manage' their given roles till the end of the project. Others also do not have a clue what the research/project is all about, and the student is left to fend for himself/herself, like a lost sheep with no shepherd.
Other times, the case is reverse, where you have a student choose a project or research area they are not interested in, and expect their supervisor to do all the work.
That. Won't. Happen.
For now, these come to mind. If you have any other comments, please don't hesitate to share them via the comment section. Thanks.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mobile, Trust and Privacy

Photo Credit: McKinsey Global Institute

The proliferation of mobile phones in Africa is pretty overwhelming. Almost (used advisedly) everyone owns one. Ghana has a 100% mobile penetration; 53/100 people have Internet-capable phones[1]. This has made it a tool for development in terms of commerce, governance, learning.
A nagging challenge however, has to do with the security of mobile phones, and the protection of the data, and privacy of users of mobile technologies/telephony. This has made telcos, and companies that use mobile technologies to deliver services, to be on their toes, as they ensure the protection of their users’ privacy and data.
Countries are also looking at data protection vis-a-vis national security, especially after the Snowden revelations. They therefore have data protection laws that govern how the protection and use of their citizens’ data by telcos, and companies are done. Ghana has a Data Protection Act that is 2 years old. However, I do not think ALL African countries have the same laws. This can be difficult if an organisation is operating in different countries. A question therefore is how feasible it is for countries to come out with consistent laws to safeguard the privacy of users’ data[2].
Also, though measures are being put in place by service providers and organisation with regard to privacy and data protection, the Terms and Conditions are really long and confusing to the end user. There’s therefore the need for such organisations to make these terms understandable, and concise. Further education has to be given to customers to really understand how important it is to protect their privacy, and not just depend on telcos and companies to do it for them.
Mobile commerce (m-commerce) has taken off in Africa with the speed of light. It is a phenomenon that has really improved businesses across the continent; connecting urban areas to the country sides. A couple of security questions come to mind:

  • How secured are mobile communication channels?
  • What are some limitations of mobile phones that make them susceptible to infiltrations?

References:

[1] Lions go digital: The Internet’s transformative potential in Africa. Full Report from McKinsey Global Institute Analysis. Accessed 21st September, 2014.
[2] Transcript: IGF2014 Session on Mobile, Trust and Privacy

NOTE: The above post is a copy of my mid-course assignment for the Internet Governance class I am currently taking.

Friday, August 1, 2014

God's Supermodels

As Christians, we need to remember that God's perfect love is not only for our benefit.
A model wears clothing to attract attention to the designer's creativity. The model displays the designer's work, but the designer's reputation, not the model's, is on the line.
In the same way, as Christians, we model God's love, whether or not we realise it. People watch us, and what they see affects God's reputation for loving His creation. If we claim to follow Christ then wear the world's twisted style of love, we drag the name and character of our Lord in the dirt.
For this reason, we must ask ourselves, "Am I modeling the love of Christ? Do my motivations and actions in this relationship reflect the perfect love God has shown me?"
How would you answer those questions right now?

Excerpt from Joshua Harris' book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Preliminary study: Social Commerce growth in Ghana

Photo: Social Media Today
The growth of social media in Ghana has grown in the last couple of years. However, it is not clear how the phenomenon has influenced buying and selling online. What online vendors use their social media accounts for is not clear. The features required of an e-commerce website that would attract and retain the Ghanaian online shopper are also not well documented.
I therefore conducted an empirical study to investigate the influence of social media on the growth of e-commerce in Ghana. 

Some questions I considered were:
  1. To what extent are online shoppers aware of e-commerce vendors in Ghana?
  2. What features of an e-commerce website attract and retain an online shopper?
  3. How long have Ghanaians been shopping online?
  4. How long have Ghanaian e-commerce vendors been selling online?
  5. What types of e-payment solution s are being used by vendors in Ghana?
  6. What e-payment challenges are faced by both vendors and shoppers?
  7. Has social media had an impact on the sales revenue of online vendors?
Deductions from the results show that a great number of Ghanaians are active on social networks, with accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, YouTube, Vine, just to name a few. Most of the respondents accessed their social network accounts via their computers. However, a growing number of them are doing so via their mobile phones (and hand held devices like tablets/phablets), which supports the assertion that mobile phone revolutions are on the increase in Africa (Jidenma, 2014) – and that Africa is a mobile only continent (Shapshak, 2012). This also indicates a great potential for the growth of mobile commerce (m-commerce).

Most online vendors use their social network accounts for advertisement (sales promotion). This supports the assertion that online advertisements would overtake traditional print media such as catalogues and magazines (Takahashi, 2011).  They also use it for raffles and competitions, where customers are rewarded for their loyalty. It was also observed from the study that little (or no) trend analysis is being done by online vendors. This doesn’t really look good as it would be difficult for such vendors to understand their customers and thus satisfy their needs fully. A small percentage (50%) of vendors also use their social media outlets for lead generation (i.e. mostly start-ups).

The study also found that electronic payments are a challenge to both Ghanaian shoppers and vendors online. The blacklisting of the country by PayPal is a worry, as there is no ‘formalised’ platform electronic payments can be made on. Newer platform such as mPowerPayments, Everzero, Ozinbo Pay, are yet to get the needed patronage. As late adopters in the online payments market, Ghanaians have their reservations, and would rather employ tried and tested platforms like PayPal. Security is a great concern and a challenge for online shoppers. Such shoppers are worried of the standards being followed by Ghanaian vendors in ensuring secured transactions.

Other challenges being faced in the e-commerce market space in Ghana include vendors’ wish for a solution that would make it less expensive to ship outside Ghana. As shoppers, the slowness of the internet is a major challenge being faced. Also as most of the identified vendors are located in the capital, Accra, delivery and pickup is another challenge faced by online shoppers.
On the issue of whether social media has influenced the growth of e-commerce in Ghana, both online shoppers and vendors are equally found on both sides of the continuum. This means a lot more work needs to be done, by vendors mostly, in leveraging social media to market their products and services. Also such networks should extend their e-commerce capabilities to African countries, to enable their users enjoy such benefits. This would go a long way in increasing the revenue of online vendors.

The study has shown (however premature it may seem) that social media indeed has influenced the growth of electronic commerce in Ghana. Though it is in its infancy, e-commerce has a bright future with the alternative of using mobile money as a means of electronic payments. The trend of Ghanaians having mobile phones and using them for online activities sets the tone for mobile commerce implementation in the country. Further research should be done in finding a solution to leveraging mobile money on the internet such that online shoppers can pay for products and services via their smart/feature phones.

NB: I had a handful of respondents for this study, especially vendors.
If you are a vendor, please take this survey.
If you buy online, please take this survey.
Thanks.

Do not forget to add your thoughts on this phenomenon via the comments section.


REFERENCES
Jidenma, N. How Africa’s mobile revolution is disrupting the continent. http://edition.cnn.com/2014/01/24/business/davos-africa-mobile-explosion/ Retrieved on 12th April, 2014.
Shapshak, T. Africa not just a mobile-first continent – it’s mobile only. http://edition.cnn.com/2012/10/04/tech/mobile/africa-mobile-opinion/ Retrieved on 30th April, 2014.
Takahashi, D. Internet Ads Finally Surpass Newspapers. VentureBeat, April 14, 2011.


Whatsapp group: A User's take

Screen, when I re-installed the app in Feb 2014
When Whatsapp came onto the tech scene, a lot of folks were glad they could 'swerve' SMS costs with respect to sending multiple messages to their contacts.
Believe it or not, a number of users (still) do not know that Whatsapp uses the Internet.
They've not 'swerved' costs after all. Hehe
Sending of information, however, has not been this convenient, prompt; effective -- and in real time.

The whatsapp group feature
This is the latest craze in Whatsapp usage, with users forming groups (of up to 50 members -- updated to 256 members since 4th Feb, 2016) based on common interests and relations.
In as much as this feature makes the sharing of info among peers fast and efficient, it can be annoying sometimes (or almost always) when some regulations are not laid down.
One very effective use of the Whatsapp group feature is the one, Ashesi University lecturer, Kobby Graham had with his class. A very good use case.
Yes, we are entitled to freedom of speech and expression, but some people go way overboard with the sharing of 'irrelevant' content.
Some of tips for effectively being part of a Whatsapp group:

  1. Do share messages that are relevant to the group's objectives. If the group is just for friends having fun, well, then I guess your chargers should always be close by.
  2. Reading long messages on Whatsapp can be daunting. Do limit your messages to a maximum of ten (10) lines.
  3. As a group, decide on times to share information. This can be productive. Random postings can be distracting and annoying. Again if it is a group of friends, and you want to avoid distractions, mute your Whatsapp notifications.
  4. If it is a group where discussions on social, political, religious, or any other kind of issues are held, do MAKE sure to confirm your facts before sharing. 
  5. Do be sensitive to the feelings of others when sharing information that can be emotionally destructive. An example is the current pictures, audios, and videos on Whatsapp about the Castro incident. Just unfortunate!
  6. Do not indulge in a conversation with a group member, on the group's page. Kindly chat privately with the person, and stop disturbing other group members with your convo.
I had a chat with a very good friend of mine, Rafe. We discussed our experiences with tech gadgets and apps. It's our mini techRepublic we've been having since 2005.
An idea that he came up with is a feature in Whatsapp to allow users choose which contact they would love to get a message from. Cool, huh?

I will like to.hear your experiences with Whatsapp groups and what you think can be done to enhance the user experience.
Let me have them via the comment section. Thanks.