Change of Blog: Emeritusky.wordpress Moved To KofiYeboah.com

Emeritusky.wordpress.com has been dormant with regards to posting of blogposts, this is because, I have been working a new blog with my skilled and competent designer Osar. The old blog has currently been moved to a new account with the address kofiyeboah.com.

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Interface of kofiyeboah.com

The blog has a more nice theme, well categorised into various pages such as Home, About Me, Blog, Events, Podcast, Press Mentions, Contacts and Job Announcements. There is a also a sidebar which provides live Twitter feed from my account. The wordpress – kofiyeboah.com account has a very beautiful royal slider which shows upcoming events and published blogposts.

Emeritusky.wordpress will no longer be active even though it will have the old content available to readers. Let’s experience something new and amazing!

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Attend a Free Networking Forum in Accra

 BarCamp Accra 2014 is a free networking forum where participants learn, share and network. This 42nd Barcamp in Ghana takes place on December 20, 2014 at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology in East Legon, Accra. The theme is ‘Expanding Excellent Entreprises’. This is part of the Barcamp Ghana program run by the GhanaThink Foundation (now 10 years old), building a network of change makers, doers and Banner for event pageentrepreneurs.

Over the last 6 years since Barcamps in Ghana started, we’ve championed businesses ‘starting up’. We now have many young Ghanaian businesses. Now, we need to see these grow. We’ll be discussing great Ghanaian entreprise examples. Come learn from, share and network with various young professionals and students. Some of our confirmed resource personnel include Bridget Otoo (TV3), Nana Yaw Asiedu (Oxford & Beaumont), Rosy Fynn (Surfline), Anima Misa (Sapphire), Alex Bram (SMS GH), Christabel Dadzie (Optimal Solutions), Selorm Branttie (mPedigree), Anita Erskine (Viasat1), etc

Register at Barcamp Accra Eventbrite site.   You can also register by sending “Barcamp Accra Your Name Your Email Address” to 1945 on all mobile networks.(example – Barcamp Accra Esi Eshun esi@eshun.co) .  Contact us via barcamp at www.ghanathink.org for sponsorship or partnership opportunities. Our hashtag is #bcaccra.

Barcamp Accra 2014 is supported by Making All Voices Count, Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology,mPedigree GoldKeys, Saazaa Shoes, Nandimobile. Our media partners areSpy Ghana, YFM, XFM and Citi FM.

December 5th Pitch Competition For Female Entrepreneurs in Ghana!

Next Wave Africa

Next Wave Africa

The Next Wave is a movement to support female entrepreneurs in emerging markets. Our goal is to strengthen female entrepreneurs by providing opportunities and resources specific to women who seek to pursue high growth entrepreneurship.

The group meets monthly and offers activities and events that are focused on developing entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial skills, and angel investment. These monthly activities include networking sessions, mentor mingles, pitch practice and development, and business pitch competitions. The goal of Next Wave is to form a network of innovation hubs and co-working spaces that will provide a structure to help increase the number of high growth women entrepreneurs and strengthen female-led businesses in emerging markets.

The Next Wave Africa pilot is taking place in Accra, Ghana. See our events page for our first pitch competition!! Our goals over the next six months are to successfully pilot in Ghana and begin building the infrastructure to scale our model to at least five other emerging markets.  Our priority areas are Africa, Latin America, and India.

We are currently building partnerships that will help us promote high growth women’s entrepreneurship in emerging markets.  The Next Wave is seeking:

Mentors, Workshop Leaders, Donors, and Investors.

Women and men who are willing to offer their time, skills, and/or     funding to help build female high growth entrepreneurship in   Africa and beyond.

  • Partners to help provide opportunity for local entrepreneurs in the community.  Potential partners include co-working spaces, accelerators, incubators, foundations, governments, and other organizations and individuals interested in building and strengthening entrepreneurial ecosystems in emerging markets, especially those that encourage the participation of women.

 

Join us! www.nextwaveafrica.com * info@nextwaveafrica.com

10 UNDER 35 CHANGEMAKERS IN KENYA YOU NEED TO KNOW.

Kenya has got a lot of young change makers who are hardly seen in the national media . During my two months visit to the beautiful city of Nairobi, Kenya I happen to meet some of these young people and I was amazed to hear their stories and the impact they are making in Kenya. Most of them run their own non-profit organisations that focus on gender equity, philanthropy, human right activism, child right protection, entrepreneurship etc. This blogpost is to share what they do and the impact they are making through their various organisations. Enjoy the read!

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Naomi N. Mwaura, a gender activist is the  founder of FloNe Initiative, an organization that promotes social reforms in Africa in order to increase self –reliance and informed choices among African men and women because of the value and potential the organisation sees in our continent. Within this component, the focus will be on three thematic areas: gender equality, education, and sexual and reproductive health. Their vision is to achieve a sustainable improved quality of life for people in Africa. The organisation carries out it’s vision through: Community participation, school participation, gender equity  and sustainability. Naomi was nominated as the “Opportunity Desk-Young Person of the Month (November, 2013). Read her feature article on: Tiny Frame with Giant Marks (Insert below link}  I met Naomi in Nairobi during my educational visit to Kenya and had an opportunity to talk with her about her work and the impact it is making in Kenya. She was introduced to me by Kwabena Mavin Daniels.

 

 

 

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Wiclif Otieno is the founder and CEO of Kito International, a non-profit social enterprise with a simple philosophy: give street youth an economic opportunity, and they will WORK their way off the streets and out of poverty. Kito was started by Wiclif (a former street boy) and focuses on youth between the ages of 15 and 24 by creating sustainable entrepreneurship and employment opportunities for street youth. Kito International hopes to assure that rehabilitated street youth can achieve success. Kito’s goal is to help street youth become productive and contributing world citizens. Kito helps street youth to find employment and attain self-sufficiency by strengthening youth capacity and employability as well as developing entrepreneurial and employment opportunities. The training provided to youth includes life skills training, enterprise skills training, computer skills training and leadership seminars and workshops.  Wiclif was a tedx speaker at TEDxSanJoaquin. I met Wiclif at the iHub in Nairobi during One Acre fund Social Entrepreneurship happy hour where he shared the work he is doing. He was introduced to me by Spencer Ton

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Evans Muriu is the founder and CEO of Kuna Vijana, a non profit making organization that seeks to earn Kenyan youth a name and a reputation by fully tapping, utilizing and exposing talent. A youth initiative with a difference that seeks to change the image the society has towards the youth. It intends to make youth of Kenya a resourceful people in the society and to be able to positively use their interpersonal skills, knowledge and talents to improve the society. The members of Kuna Vijana will be exposed to a variety of opportunities in learning, life skills development, volunteer-ship in order to acquire work experience, leadership qualities development, counseling and support through connections with mentors. Kuna Vijana aspires to be the Kenya’s most comprehensive and successful youth organization by ensuring the youth overcome significant barriers to success which they are facing in the society today and which curtail them in realizing their full potential. Evans Muriu is an Entrepreneur, Business Consultant, Analyst, operations manager for Africa Gathering, Kenya and a philanthropist. Evans was recommended to me by Marieme Jamme.

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David Kimani, founder of Dagoretti Youth Development Group, this is a focused youth group which is up to changing the community. The vision is to  create a world where youth realize their full potential through talents and also the use of drama to create awareness in Dagoretti community, Nairobi Kenya and beyond through partnerships with organization of similar objectives, the main agenda is to nurture the vulnerable youth in schools and out of school and encourage them to take their talents seriously. David was recently featured on Safari Africa TV debut programme dubbed “Youth Outlook” in Nairobi, Kenya. I was privileged to interview David and visit his organisation in Kenya and see what they do in the community.

 

 

1004456_10151461514277271_1214790958_nRaphael is the convener/founder of The Youth Congress, a vibrant youth led initiative in Kenya that provide mostly young men and women in the urban slums and other informal settlements with a platform to enhance youth leadership and meaningful participation in socio-economic and political processes for improvement of their livelihoods and that of their community members at large. He is also the founder of  Miss Koch Initiative, Koch FM Community radioNacka-Nairobi and K-Youth Media.  Raphael is a strategic advisor and a member of key youth organizations and organizations working on youth related issues at the local, national and International fora. Noteworthy, he was instrumental in the process that resulted to amongst others the national Youth Policy and the National Youth Council Act in Kenya. He has been involved at different levels with youth initiatives in Africa, Europe, Asia, North and South America. I was privileged to have a day out with Raphael as he spoke to me about his work and the assistance he is offering the Kenyan youth. He was introduced to me by Chris Ammon.  SOURCE: http://www.unhabitat.org

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Peggy Mativo is the founder of PACE (Promoting Access to Community Education) and the PanAfrican Scholars Program, both which engage passionate youthful volunteers in expanding educational access to African students. PACE is inspired by the vision that one day all Kenyan children will have access to quality education. To tackle the biting teacher shortage in the country, PACE applies a unique strategy where they recruit Kenya’s most promising high school graduates and engage them in all endeavors. After selecting the graduates, they train them as teaching assistants then deploy and support them through the entire period, they work in under-resourced schools. She is a 3rd year student at Harvard University majoring in Chemistry and East Asian Studies. She worked as a Mentor and tutor in the Harvard-Alston Educational Portal, a Campus Ambassador with Teach for China. Peggy recently won the Clinton Global Initiative University Commitment of the Year Award and is an affiliate of the Harambe Entrepreneurial Alliance. I met her through social media and read about the work she is doing.

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Tracey kadada is involved in community work and is the founder of a community based organisation called Entertaining Angels Together. It started as a sport team called the Kenya Redsox Baseball team, it was meant to bring the youths and teenagers to have a relationship with Jesus Christ which has been successful in bringing 200 youths to Christ and teenagers,the organisation has been able to provide feeding programs for the street boys and girls and we have successfully sheltered 20 street kids ,who also play baseball, they have won twice in the provincial zone, they go to school and are doing exploits. They also make beads for a living and they are also great artists. I met her during my educational trip in Kenya.
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Nivi Mukherjee is the co-founder and CEO of eLimu. As a social entrepreneur, technophile and community volunteer, she is passionate about empowering youth and engaging in community initiatives that foster development and fun. She was the Education Quality Assurance Manager at the Institute of Software Technologies, an IT training company based in Nairobi. She also runs Maisha ni Matamu, a “funucational” social project that aims to bring a day full of joy every month to children who are underprivileged and/or orphaned. In her spare time, Nivi organizes cultural festivals, bakes, knits, runs half marathons, folds origami and plays Fußball. As a child, her favourite toy was the Speak & Spell. She was recommended by Ato Ulzen Appiah. SOURCE: http://e-limu.org

5. Simpisium of the HPI-Resarch-School,

Shikoh Gitau is the First African to receive a Google Award, a computer scientist with a heart, and over 8 years experience in ICT4D. Shikoh is the project founder of Ummeli is a mobile jobs and community portal hosted by Vodafone Live and accessible through Young Africa Live. The emphasis is on a community where young Africans can support each other in the development of their careers, share ideas, act as connectors or even just be a sounding board when things seem hopeless. She is a firm believer in human potential and loves looking at how technology can be an enabler to the development of marginalized, and often dismissed members of our society. She was recommended by Ato Ulzen Appiah.

 

 

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Evans Wadongo, he grew up in Kenya, he strained to read by the dim light of a kerosene lantern. Now he’s making solar-charged lanterns and using them to spur economic development.  His use of kerosene lamps during evening study eventually inspired him to create MwangaBora(Swahili for Good Light) in 2004. Through his organization, Sustainable Development For All (SDFA), Evans has distributed thousands of solar lamps to villages across Kenya and other African countries, and helped hundreds of women groups set up projects using money they would otherwise have spent on kerosene. I have not personally interacted with  Evans, but his recent inclusion in the list of “35 under 35 innovators in the world” inspired me to add to this post.

There are many other youth who running amazing projects in Kenya and so proud of them as well. I will be coming up with “10 under 35 Changemakers in Ghana You Need To Know” 

NB: Send me your comments or suggestions to this post through my email: emeritus2011@gmail.com

IQ4News Expands to Nigeria and South Africa

IQ4News

IQ4News, Africa’s innovative online journalism organisation, has expanded its news and analysis offerings to Nigeria and South Africa.
“For the past year or so we have focused primarily on the East African market, especially Kenya,” said Dr Yemisi Akinbobola, founder and editor-in-chief of IQ4News. “We recognise the pivotal role that Nigeria and South Africa play on the African continent, and we have responded to this by recruiting exceptionally talented online journalists in both countries”. Covering news from Nigeria, Iliya Kure is a seasoned radio journalist with experience with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), as well as freelance work with the Voice of America (VOA). He has also previously worked with the Nigerian Television Authority(NTA), and is a mass communication graduate of the University of Maiduguri. Kure was a 2009 Ford Foundation/Devcomms Fellow, and was the recipient of the 2008 Health Performance Award for a series of reports on polio and other health reports. “I am delighted to join the growing team at IQ4News,” said Kure. “I believe the company has the potential to initiate much needed innovation in the news media industry in Nigeria and across the continent”. Media consultant and TV producer, Dan Akinlolu, will be leading IQ4NewsTV content from South Africa. Dan’s productions have enjoyed national and international broadcast, and alongside his film making achievements, he is also an award-winning creative writer. “I am very excited about the video projects we have at IQ4News,” said Dan. “IQ4News is a growing organisation and I believe that gives it room to try out new and innovative formats for the web”. Africa has seen a rise in the emergence of online news organisations in the past decade, and this has facilitated greater access to news, not just in relation to the medium through which news is consumed, but also in terms of the kind of news that is made available to the public. “This is an exciting period for journalism in Africa,” said Joab Apollo, IQ4News journalist, Kenya. “IQ4News has a big role to play in ensuring that the momentum is not lost”. Recognising the important role that social media and user participation plays in the industry, social media and contributor management manager, Kofi Yeboah, will be advancing IQ4News’ presence on social networking sites, as well as managing how IQ4News interacts with its contributors. “User generated content was part of the original business model for IQ4News, and we do not want to lose sight of our interaction with our users and contributors,” said Kofi, who is also a final year student at Cape Coast University, Ghana.

Visit IQ4News at www.iq4news.com.

NOTES

IQ4News is an online journalism organisation that produces news and analysis on Africa with a team of reporters and contributors, IQ4News provides key insights of news from across the continent. IQ4News is the first African news website to use a hyper-local delivery mechanism to organise a large information portal. IQ4News combines a wide range of media types which include articles, videos, audio, photojournalism and editorial cartoons.

Company History

IQ4News is a website that was established as a media blog in 2007, and later re-branded as an info-columnist blog of Africa in 2008. It was registered as a company in 2010, and subsequent launched its new website in January 2011 with a tagline of “Ubuntu through New Media”. Our business philosophy, “Ubuntu through New Media”, refers to the creative combination of ‘Ubuntu’ – the African philosophy promoting community – with the new information age, to create a collaborative platform. The vision for IQ4News is to deliver investigative and incisive analysis on current affairs in Africa; exploring the ‘why’ and ‘how’, NOT the ‘what’ and ‘when’. IQ4News wants to make a lasting difference to online journalism in Africa. We cherish our role in the society as journalists and are committed to strict ethical guidelines needed to better inform our audience.

Contact us for more information:
General: info@iq4news.com
Editor: editor@iq4news.com
Contributors: contributors@iq4news.com
Advertising: advertise@iq4news.com
Charity of the Month: cotm@iq4news.com

GHANA: RESTRUCTURING THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM CAMPAIGN (THE GRADE “A” DISEASE)

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Has the education system failed our students and the nation at large? The answer is yes, perhaps it is how our education system is structured that needs to be questioned. Students especially those in the  tertiary get disappointed when they graduate with all the best grades they have when they do not get all the glorious life and happiness education promised them. Other students in the so called developed countries do enjoy that promise because of the different educational structure they have. Parents pay huge sums of money and still get no reward for doing that, they have to even continue to feed their child until he/she finds a job to do.  The number of graduates that complete the university increase every year, but unemployment rate is rising and never declining.

In the year 2011, the rate of jobless graduates hit 44.8%. 44.8 percent of graduates from the universities, polytechnics and other tertiary institutions are said to be jobless, a data has revealed. These graduates are believed to be in the age bracket of 22 and 25, a study conducted by Dr. William Baah-Boateng, a labour economist and senior lecturer at the Department of Economics, the University of Ghana has disclosed. The study was based on 2006 findings, but the number of jobless graduates is said to have gone up following the implementation of the fiscal stabilization programme, spanning 2008 to 2012. However, most of the jobs created during the period are vulnerable with limited or no social protection, the study indicated. Vulnerable employment has declined but still remains high. Yearly, several graduates from the country’s tertiary institutions estimated to be in the region of 50,000 come out of school searching for jobs. This excludes those from the senior high school and the junior high schools, who number over 300,000……….. He was optimistic that these graduates will find jobs after four years, noting some of these graduates do not even know where to go and find jobs. In 2006, about 2.6 million Ghanaians were not working or jobless with some deciding not to work. Nana Owusu Afari, President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), who also made a presentation, noted that industries do not need second and third degrees, urging young graduates to acquire skills and experience before doing so. He urged government to support the training of graduates, adding that industry can only offer short courses and not the entire training programmes.  (GhanatoGhana.com)

I believe education is supposed to bring change and make students creative. Why do majority of Ghanaian graduates look for jobs after they complete school? Could this be one of the reasons for the rising unemployed graduates? Did formal education teach us to be dependent on the government for jobs?

People enter the tertiary institutions and become less creative; their ingenuity gets shuttered for life. It is as if the formal education covers the eyes of our imagination with an unseen blanket. Students do not even think beyond the walls of the tertiary environment, their minds tend to be closed from the outside world. They do not even know the trending opportunities that easily put money into ones pocket. All they think of is how they are going to pass their quizzes, how to get past questions and get an “A” in every course. “Getting an “A” in the formal education does not make you an A student in life”. Students in the tertiary do not even bother to know what is happening outside them (current affairs). Business students study about marketing, but will never sell anything on campus, they are good sales people with respect to grades, but not in the real life. Selling is even seen as a job for illiterates. Every graduate wants to work at a place where his study of interest is. We are limited in life due to the courses we read, we read nothing else in school apart from the books and notes given us. We are being prepared to take the seat as future leaders, but we all know that our colleagues who schooled in the foreign countries will take these seats first and leave the unimportant ones to us because they have a better education than we do. For example in some countries like Singapore which has per capita GDP higher than USA, Japan and other so called developed countries, changed their educational system from the traditional way of learning to innovative, less classroom and more creativity.

Getting excellent grades does not equate to getting higher income in life, if it was so teachers would have been the richest people in the world. In Ghana, about 90% of teachers are poor, why! Why do we keep on deceiving our generation that this kind of formal education is the key to our progress?  All a child knows in Ghana is to go to school, get a job, marry, go on retirement and spend your pension salary and wait to die. Let us wake up from our sleep, nobody will come and change what we need to change for us. The current educational system is not helping and is the cause of our consistent poverty as a nation. Students are so concerned about their grades that even if they do not get good grades they assume that they have failed in life. They equate higher grades to higher income and it’s not true. Ask yourself why Ghanaians start business and they fail, but a foreigner comes to start the same business and they succeed and they will intend employ us. Many graduates are employed in businesses that they barely apply what they learnt in school. We come out of school and we don’t even know how to do common power point presentation, we do not even find time to assess ourselves to see how well we are ready for the market, instead we are busy thinking of how we can excel in out quizzes and exams. One thing graduates forget is that there is a vast difference between schooling and education, the former is a want and the latter is a necessity. Ninety percent of education is learnt in the real life and not in the classroom that is why some graduates get surprised when they come out of school and they do not get jobs to do. Universities award best business student and these students have not even come out with any business idea or have not been running any practical business while on campus, no award is given to the best entrepreneurial student. We praise students who excel in grades and condemn those who excel in real life. If we really want our students to be at par globally, then we need to change our method of teaching from kindergarten to tertiary.

Computer science students do coding on papers, study programmes that are outmoded and does not meet the current standards. We have students who are reading courses that are literally irrelevant to their programme and one sad thing is that they are sacked from the institution if they fail that course. For example, a student reading Biological Science will be given an African Studies course which is supposed to help the student have a fair knowledge about Africa, but if he should fail that course and he even get A’s in all his main courses, he will be sacked, how? Student are seen as intelligent based on their ability to solve past questions so if a student is not fortunate to get these past questions then he is not a brilliant student. Anybody, who is very good at memorizing without being a student, can get A’s in most of the courses in our tertiary institutions.

 

 

MENTAL SLAVERY

My greatest concern has been for those who write exams and fail especially entry exams to tertiary institutions. Those who fail assume they are failures in life and that they will not amount to anything in society and they begin to act as such. We have made them to believe that their contribution outside the classroom is worthless. Their self- esteem is killed and they assume they are incompetent, some struggle writing the particular subject they failed numerous times with the hope that they will pass one day. Mentally, they cannot think beyond passing their exams. I believe that it is not everybody that will be okay with the classroom style, instead there should be another alternative. Imagine someone who read Visual Arts in the High School and did extremely well in his electives and had to stay in the house for close to four years because he failed Mathematics. There should be a different grading system for every programme in the SHS. We are wasting human resources if we allow all these brilliant people to stay in the house for these number of years.  Young people with creative ideas are in the house re-writing courses they failed in SHS of which they will not be using in the real world and teachers and society make them  believe that they are not intelligent. In the university we read courses which have nothing in relation to our main programme of study and a student who fails will be sacked and labeled a failure in life. This mental harm will make the person not function to his maximum because he has also come to the realization that he is a failure. The fact that a student failed to remember the solution to a past question does not make him a failure. If you are first or second class student in academics it should reflect in the real world as well.

 

ALTERNATIVE METHOD

Technology (Bill Gates’ view): This is a conversation that Jeffrey R. Young had with Bill Gates about the Future of Higher Education, which was originally published by The Chronicle of Higher Education, USA. He shared a very effective method of learning and teaching with technology. You can get the full conversation on www.thegatesnotes.com

It is not every student who is comfortable with the classroom or lecture room setting and so this online education should be encouraged to reduce the number of youth who are in the house doing nothing.

I will share a few strategies that can help our educational system to be better:

  • There should be less focus on grading or passing of “paper exams” and refocus on passing practical service. Students should be made to take field work relating to their study and much of the grading should be based on this. This will minimize cheating in exams and quizzes as students will know that their grading is not based on the written exams.
  • We should bring experts in the working field to come and lecture students about the changes in the market, to help student adapt to current trends.
  • Universities should allow companies and organisations to mount courses and bring their own people to teach them.
  • Students should be taught to create their own businesses than to wait on government to be employed. Entrepreneurship should be practically taught. Business students should set up businesses on campus and run it for profit. This is should be part of their grading system.
  • Students should be given exams questions (some programmes) before they sit for the exams, this will make them become expects in that area.
  • We should do away with traditional structure and replaced it with a more flexible approach that encourages creativity and problem solving, individualized learning, and a wider range of academic and vocational options. This is one of the decisions Finland made and today, its students rank among the top on global assessments of student learning, http://www.oecd.org/pisa/.
  • There should be an assessment system or team to consistently check the progress of the education system and effect changes where necessary.

These are my own views on Ghana’s educational system, there might be mistakes to the approaches i suggested above, please do well to comment or share your views.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH BRIGHT SIMONS.

Bright B. Simons is the Director of Development Research at IMANI, and the Coordinator of the mPedigree Network. He performs a range of  functions for IMANI related to social marketing, research and coordinating alliances. These duties have involved speaking engagements around the world and led to numerous quotations in the international press, ranging from opinions in the Asian Times to appearances on the BBC.  In 2009, he joined the World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneer Community at Davos. Bright, a TED and Ashoka Fellow, is a member of the Evian Group, and an active member of other development-focused societies in Africa and elsewhere, including the Global Agenda Council on the Future of Mobile Communications of the World Economic Forum. He is a recipient of numerous awards, ranging from Marie Curie and Commonwealth Vision Grants to a PPARC Scholarship in Gamma Ray Astronomy.

@Kofiemeritus: What really sparked the idea behind MPedigree project?

@BBSimons: Between 2004 and 2005, I was committed to returning to Ghana after a number of years in Europe, where I was involved in social activism. Having previously been a student activist, I was somewhat frustrated by the results the activist community was getting in connection with a number of critical social issues. I wanted to do something that was likely to have more measurable and transformative impact. Something which could paint a clear “before and after” picture for a particular social issue of high significance. I was convinced that social entrepreneurship was the right path to follow and I had already begun reaching out to organisations like Ashoka. Seeing however that I was committed to solving a high-impact problem and yet had very little resources, I saw mobile phone technology as the best ally in addressing the goals I had in mind. The infrastructure was already widespread and entrenched; all I had to do was negotiate access. Convincing major organisations to come on board was a challenge that appealed to my activist mindset. Because I also maintained connections to the policy community, partly because I was then an adjunct fellow at IMANI, I had access to some persuasive voices. I teamed up with some doctoral students after I came up with the first concept – using mobile technology to enhance agricultural supply chains. That project however required more resources than we originally anticipated. But the experience was priceless. Before I finally relocated to Ghana, I came face to face with the problem of counterfeit medicines while exploring the original supply chain issue. I knew immediately that this was the supply chain issue that most fitted the concept I had developed and mPedigree was born.

 

@Kofiemeritus: Tell me briefly about the mPedigree project and the social problem it solves.

@BBSimons: mPedigree enables manufacturers and marketers of medicines to uniquely track each pack of medicine through a labeling technique known as ‘serialisation’. When consumers buy a pack of medicine that has been serialized, they are able to send a unique serial ID on the pack to a secure hotline for an instant response whether the pharmaceutical is of sound quality or not. The service is completely free of charge to the consumer/patient. The goal of the service is to protect consumers and patients from the super harmful effects of counterfeit medicines which are estimated to kill more than 2,000 people daily. mPedigree works with several telecom companies and global technology companies like Hewlett Packard to provide the service.

@Kofiemeritus: How easy was it to come up with the name of the company & product?

@BBSimons: I always believed the success of the project will hinge on how holistic it was. Since we were committed to gradually deepening the service to cover the entire supply chain, we were very attracted to the word ‘pedigree’ which connotes full assurance about the origin of a species. The ‘m’ stands for ‘mobile’ or for some people ‘master’, ‘modular’ or ‘monitor’.

@Kofiemeritus: What should Africans and the world expect in the next five or ten years from the mPedigree project. (What other new things will you be adding to the existing one)

@BBSimons: The original goal was massive: to create a system to completely illuminate the supply chain of medicines across Africa and South Asia. We have never wavered. We have never deviated. So far we have only achieved bits and pieces of it in about half a dozen countries in Africa. Our passion is fuelled by the urgency to see that original mission to its conclusion, bringing on board as many partners as possible, and inspiring as sustainable a whole new movement.

@Kofiemeritus: What has been the greatest hurdle to have overcome in the course of implementing the mPedigree project?

@BBSimons: There has been several. For a start, we started with very little resources and still run on a super-lean budget. You learn to do only the things that matter most, and to focus on core values when there isn’t a sea of resources to splash around. But it can also mean that things take longer. As an African organization, our influence with global organisations has been predictably limited. Given the global character and scale of the problem we definitely need more influence to make more progress. We have also not been very impressed by the orientation of several of the governments in Africa to this problem. Sometimes, regulation has tended to get in the way rather than smooth things along.

@Kofiemeritus: How does your work with IMANI Ghana shape the future of Ghana and Technology?

@BBSimons: I strongly believe that social and technology innovators in Africa ignore policy and politics at their peril. The challenges of the continent are such that innovators require a strong exposure to both in order to advance the new models that are required to scale fresh solutions in Africa. I believe working with IMANI has broadened my understanding of critical social and political issues and given my work a more sophisticated edge. As you probably know, IMANI has been very active in pushing policies that advance telecom development in Ghana.

@Kofiemeritus: Have you passed up any opportunity which you now regret? Are you happy with your current career and job?

@BBSimons: Well I could have charted an academic path and perhaps made some original contributions at the cutting edge of scientific scholarship. God knows more African voices are needed in global academia. But I believe becoming an entrepreneur while maintaining strong links to the policy and research communities should ultimately make my contributions to knowledge even sharper and original.

@Kofiemeritus: You have met a lot of great people, How was meeting former President Clinton and President George Bush like? Any memories to share?

@BBSimons: I am always touched by the complexity of these encounters. I was surprised to learn that President Bush was quite intimately familiar with Ghana. He rattled off several facts and names that left me truly astounded. President Clinton, while not referring to Ghana specifically, came across as very policy-conscious in how he views Africa. He is a fan of the mobile technology revolution going on here but he appeared concerned about the pace of policy innovation to go alongside it.

@Kofiemeritus: What is your greatest dream for Ghana?

@BBSimons: A new EGYPT and ABYSSINIA rolled into one. A modern African country that does not rely solely on past glories, but strives to make original contributions to knowledge, innovation and intellectual excellence in world civilization.

@Kofiemeritus: What are some of the books you read that you will encourage young ones to read and what is your favourite quote in life?

@BBSimons: I am fond of books that address the foundational and fundamental essence of social and political organization, especially in the context of Africa. Generally, anything by Steve Biko, Hayek, Achebe, Freire and the early Diop.

@Kofiemeritus: What practical advice will you have young Ghanaians with dreams of starting their own business; courses to take in schools, groups/associations to join, mentors, etc.

@BBSimons: The greatest skill in my view is to use failure, rejection and disappointment as motivational forces to achieve more. Be angry, not depressed. Embrace anger, not self-pity. If someone won’t play fair or right by you, it’s their loss not yours. Don’t waste your time fighting irrationality – the social system is dysfunctional, so it can by definition not be rational. It is to be uprooted not reasoned with. Fight, rage, start something else. Never let rejection take you down. Learn from your mistakes. Be furious about injustice. Be committed to seeing the dignity in all fellow human beings realized. Find trustworthy friends, and stick to them with the fierce loyalty of a warrior to her companion in battle. If you think solely of your success, it will be hard to rebounce after each failure. Go to bed believing that your success will bring meaning to a million lives. That is the only way to effectively harness anger without being self-destructive in a world where everything is much harder than one could ever have anticipated at the start.

FETU AFAHYE IN HONOUR OF THE LATE PRESIDENT EVANS ATTA MILLS.

“Fetu Afahye” is a cultural festival that is celebrated by the Fanti tribe of the people of Cape Coast, Ghana. The actual meaning of “Fetu Afahye” is “Cleaning Festival”, it is celebrated in order to help clean the environment of Cape Coast, the capital of the central region. It is a week long celebration and it begins on a Monday  and ends on Sunday. This year’s celebration was a different one all together because it was celebrated in honour of the late President His Excellency John Evans Atta Mills. He is a native of the town.

This year’s theme for celebration is “Asafo companies ; the past, present and the future”. The main event which is done on the Saturday brings together people from across the globe where chiefs are carried in the palanquins and they dance and demonstrate authority. The whole town was coloured in red to signify that an important son has died, it was a form respect that was been shown to the dead. Chiefs were not carried in their usual beautiful palanquins, but they walked through the principal streets of Cape Coast to show respect for the late President. The paramount chief of the town did not take part of the walk as he sat at his traditional house and received greetings from visitors and the chiefs. The grand durbar brought many crowd, both foreigners and locals. The current President of Ghana took part in the celebration. I asked a lot old folks if this year’s celebration has been quite different from the previous years and they said yes it was due to the death of the industrious son of the town. He included that the celebration has been dull this year.

A group of young people also shared the event on Twitter using the hashtag #OguaaAfahye – @awittor, @kobebigs other social media groups include- @capecoastguide,@barcampghana and @bccapecoast.

Check out some pictures from the event.

“Five Reasons Why Teenage Pregnant Girls Should Get a Second Chance in Life”

Google images.

Opportunity, they say, comes but once. People believe that there are few chances and that any of them which come your way, you have to grab them fast before they pass away. In our sub- Saharan Africa, many young girls engage in illicit sexual activities resulting in high rate of teenage pregnancy. Most of these victims do not achieve their purpose in life due to the misfortune (teenage pregnancy), and only 1% are able overcome this trauma in order to achieve their goals in life.

Many of these young mothers accept the fact that their prospects for greater opportunities have been shut down. They need to admit that the mistake has already been committed and that there is another chance for them to do something new with their lives. Another chance has been opened for them because of that misfortune. There is always another chance, but not everyone recognizes that chance. During an attachment (internship) I had with one of the biggest telecommunications in Ghana, I had the opportunity to travel to a town in the central region known as Elmina- a fishing area; I went there to market and sell their products. One of the saddest moments I encountered in that area is the story am about to share. As I was roaming the area to find customers, I came across three beautiful young ladies with age ranging from 16-18 years, and there was a baby too. I went to convince them to buy my products, but unfortunately for me none bought some.

I then asked them if they were in school. The first girl said she attends school, the second girl said she is not in school due to financial difficulty, and last girl then told me that she is not in school because she has a baby. I then asked the third girl if she would still like to go to school, she said yes when the baby crawls.

As we were talking and sharing ideas as to how to get to back to school, another girl joined us. I asked her if she is in school. She said no because she hates being in school- that was a lie. The first girl then nudged her to tell the truth. She then told me that she is not in school because she is pregnant (a girl of about 16 years). I think she was about three or four months pregnant. She is the sister to the young girl with the baby, so out of four girls I talked to, two were pre-mature mothers.

I asked them about their future job prospects. One said she wants to be a caterer with her own restaurant. The other three girls said they love to be nurses. From their speech I realized they have no plans to achieve their goals. I then shared a story of a senior lecturer in my university who was also a victim of their situation, but was able to achieve her dreams. They were encouraged and made a promise to me that they will do their best to overcome their limitation. These victims need to be encouraged and motivated to use their experience as a lesson to guard their path to success. Life is full of opportunities and until you realize it, you will never know.

  • The fact that they have failed morally does not mean they are failures. “Failure gives you the opportunity to start over more intelligently”.  When this kind of knowledge is imparted into their minds and into their hearts, young mothers will not live in abject poverty.
  • This kind of knowledge will put them back on track and help them fulfill their purpose in life. If these teenagers were taught well, encouraged and not insulted, then the government wouldn’t have to spend millions of dollars to curb this kind of situation.
  • Many potential leaders, doctors, bankers, footballers and corporate lawyers who are victims of teenage pregnancy are out there not knowing what to do with their lives. They do not even know the next step to take; since they are helpless, they try to do petty jobs like selling sachet water and other stuffs to keep them going. Due to the insufficient income derived from this petty job, they return to their former state of life in order to get more income to feed themselves and their families.
  • These young girls need a little nurturing to make it in life. I believe that there is another chance created as a result of every mistake committed.
  • Due to the early experience of hardship in life, they are more likely to succeed and strive to excel in their work.

Thanks to my coach Dr. Robert Osburn, Lecturer, University of Minnesota