Who Belongs to The Toll Booth?

Toll+booth

Oh Ghana, how many times must I write of thee?
Apparently, not enough.

59 years free but the seeds planted by our good Dr. Kwame Nkrumah have long died in the soil.
This is no legacy worthy of our great but (very) dead visionary leader.

Outsiders marvel at how “kept together” Ghana is…but the entire picture is lost on them when they are standing on the outside looking in.

Sigh! It’s that time again; when people go crazy, create weird slogans, promise chickens and give us nothing but false hope of a better life.
You guessed right: it’s an Election Year.
Yay Us!

The four-year curse is back again…and it is biting so strong this year.

SIDE NOTE: The weird thing is, I am actually more interested to see if Americans will let Trump rule them as president.

Elections in Ghana have always leaned more toward “personal and group self-interests” than the collective progression of the country.
Companies and individuals who know this, hitch their rides to a prospective party’s wagon…hoping to secure a sizable piece of the pie when the country has been ‘won’. It is a very risky gamble…a gamble some pay dearly for, especially when they go all in and wind up with the losing hand.

Companies fall…enterprises crumble…lives are ruined…but yet, some profit from all of this.

Gosh I hate Politics.

People thrive on politics; they eat, live, breathe and bleed politics, and it is these individuals who will do anything to serve us up so they can enjoy the pickings of a good political position.
Ghana, for a very long time now, has not belonged to its citizens but to these political nutjobs.

It’s not known how they are sharing Ghana but I know one thing every government wants to exploit; Vehicular Tolls (aka the Toll booths).

I have no ill-thoughts towards the collection of tolls in the country. It is actually a necessity…especially when we think about how much it helps the country’s infrastructure.

Under a normal and functioning government, the toll or fee, which is a form of tax, helps recoup some of the cost of road construction and maintenance.

It is a great resource and immeasurable in its potential.
So, what is happening with Ghana’s toll money?

As always, I have a couple of theories but before we dig into that, let’s do some boring (and probably wrong) arithmetic:
With these non-scientific calculations, we aim to find out the average yearly revenue from the toll booths in Accra. For this test, we will only focus on the Tema and Kasoa toll booths. (I’m a hermit, remember?)

Ok, for the sake of keeping things fairly simple we shall assume that on a daily average, a total of 55,000 cars go through the Tema and Kasoa toll booths (combined).
In keeping with simple, let us also assume every car pays Ghc 1 as toll.

Thus, let the rudimentary calculations begin;
Daily Toll                              –                            Ghc 55,000
Weekly Toll                         –                             Ghc 385,000 (Ghc 55,000 x 7 days)
Monthly Toll                       –                             Ghc 1,540,000 (Ghc 385,000 x 4 weeks)
Yearly Toll                           –                             Ghc 18,480,000 (Ghc 1,540,000 x 12 months)

I’ll let that sink in.

-_-        -_-

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                                    -_-        -_-

                                                      -_-        -_-

So, across only Tema and Kasoa toll booths, Accra churns out a respectable Ghc 18,480,000 ($4,643,000).
No matter how you slice it, that is a lot of money…from only two toll booths.

Online resources for public information in Ghana are sorely lacking…because no one cares to put public information online.
What you do find, if you find anything at all, is severely outdated information;
If Ghana had a little over 10 toll booths in 2010, then I guess we can safely assume our not-so-scientific figure above will shoot up dramatically when we calculate the revenue from all toll booths currently in operation.

SIDE NOTE: If anyone knows the exact number of toll booths in Ghana, please let me know. Not that it’s going to make much of a difference…but #TheMoreYouKnow.

So, Ghc 18,480,000! Let’s work with that piece of unproven information, shall we?

Now, the question plaguing a lot of minds is: What is the government doing with all that money?

Well they are not desilting the gutters, preventing floods or restructuring DVLA if you were wondering.

My Hypothesis:
The government sits on all that money for a while…lets it accumulate and when the time is right, they burst open the piggybank and use all that money for election campaigns.

Road Money” becomes “Election Money”.

I believe it has now become an unwritten law amongst ruling parties.
If not, how can we make Ghc 18,480,000 a year and not see great improvements on our roads?

“But hey! The government is currently constructing interchanges and expanding on roads…so maybe that’s where the money ends up.”

Wrong! Ghana almost never funds these projects herself. It’s always an outside force pulling the strings.
Thus, all that money is at the mercy of the government and since they never really give us specifics on money usage/spoilage, it’s basically a guessing game…and I have guessed mine.

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But for all intents and purposes, this post isn’t about where the Ghc 18,480,000 ends up but the people who collect the money; the toll collectors.

During my normal commute to work, which sends me through the Kasoa toll booth, I have realized that some of the toll collectors are either not happy with working conditions or they just hate being there.

That is a normal occurrence in the realm of working…especially when the individual has monotonous work. It affects a lot of people.

Yeah even pornstars. Shocking right??

…but I have a question; who best fits the role as a toll collector?
One would assume it is a job for anybody…but far from it.

If, in some cases, the nature of a job determines the prospective worker, then is it not safe to say that a disabled person is the perfect fit as a toll collector?

But that isn’t so.

Think about it;
we are quick to assume disabled people are not smart enough or not well educated…but the truth is, a lot of them are all those things we think them not. We tend to overlook them and hastily think them “alms receivers”.
Handicapped people, particularly those who can use both hands, are more than able to replace able-bodied people at toll booths…as the use of their hands is the most important job requirement.

We scream “equal opportunity for all” only to realize we live in a very broken system.
For so long we have treated the homeless and the disabled like infected limbs that need amputation…but they are people too. They need to be heard and understood but most importantly, they need job opportunities they qualify for.

Let us give them that…and a “purpose” in this country.

At least I will smile wider knowing they helped the government save Ghc 18,480,000…and some coins.

GOD BLESS!

Review: Ebo Whyte’s “One Million Pounds”.

Pounds shterling

Not a lot of people like stage plays and that’s not surprising. In this world where so many of us have been desensitized by movies and TV shows, a stage play is one of the last true forms of pure expressionism…but almost forgotten.

Theatre might be fading away but until then, it has and will always captivate audiences with thrilling stories and deep real-time characterizations; something the other dramatic art forms can’t replicate or deliver.

The venerable Uncle Ebo Whyte is hailed in Ghana (and abroad) as the singular and greatest playwright this generation has seen. With all the plays and accolades to show, Uncle Ebo Whyte is a powerhouse indeed…but prior to my viewing of his latest play, One Million Pounds, I had not seen any of his previous plays.
My colleagues consider that unforgivable.
So guess what I did when I got a free ticket?
Yup! I got my butt off my office chair and into a comfy seat in National Theatre.

I’ve heard nothing but great things about Uncle Ebo Whyte’s plays…especially from my “workplays” and since I was new to the world of Uncle Ebo Whyte, I went in there expecting a lot but open enough as not to be too critical.
It was my first time after all and with no actual frame of reference, aside the emphatic praise from my colleagues, I indeed had to keep a very open mind.

I think I’ve nailed the intro, so let’s get to it:
Pièce de résistance.

 

The Review –

“One Million Pounds is an inspiring stage-play that tells a story of what happened when four talented Ghanaians embark on a journey of a lifetime to partake in the maiden edition of a contest that may be the key to their success.”
It is a story of determination, sticking it to the “man” who wants to put you down and never giving up…even in the face of severe adversities.

This story, whiles simple, highlights a lot of issues plaguing the African society.
I won’t spoil much in the way of the story but what I will say is, it blends a lot of themes and issues that have unfortunately become the best descriptors for Africa; Bribery, Corruption and Sabotage.

Money has led many astray and it always has a way of crippling the hearts of the most well-intentioned individuals. Businesses fall and relationships die…and in One Million Pounds, the four talented Ghanaians (Jama) experience firsthand what money can do to a man when their manager sells them out.

This all feels like something you might have read in the newspapers, and that is so because, it is commonplace in Ghana and Africa. So when one goes to watch something with such a troubling but true theme, one would expect to come away from the play with a renewed sense of patriotism and ‘un-corruptness’.
Nope! I got none of that.
It did nothing to engender me to do something about it and I left the same way I came; apathetic.

On the other hand, there were a lot of encouraging statements from the casts, but at this point it is something viewers have come to expect…so there are no real surprises there.

“Don’t give up on your dreams…and such.” – Normal Stuff.

The story is by no mean an intelligent one but I’ve got to cut Uncle Ebo Whyte some slack since he aims to write plays the general public can easily relate to.
No need to write an intellectual story that might fly over the heads of audiences.
That’s not to say Ghanaians are dumb but that’s the picture local movies and TV shows paint all the time;
All fluff and no substance.

There’s the straight-shooting hero, his love interest, the unreliable friend, the obnoxious villain and the issues that will miraculously get resolved in the end. Watching this play elicits a strong sense of Déjà vu; typical plot points and typical conflicts.

“This is where it gets ugly!”

The simplicity inherent in the story carries through to every part of the play.
If one is hailed as the best playwright this side of the continent and with competition virtually nonexistent, then it’s no surprise for such an individual to rest on his laurels and get complacent.

There’s nothing breathtaking about the play, and after watching it, the only thing that hurriedly comes to mind was the very obnoxious “Cliff” (or the person playing that character).
Cliff, an eccentric Caucasian Brit, shrieked through his lines…barely making anything he said understandable.
It was utterly unintelligible and grating to the ear and apparently, audiences didn’t like it either.
So it makes me wonder if the actors rehearse with microphones or not…because if they do, they should have heard  his banshee-like screeches but if they realized and still went ahead with his deafening squeals, then it is safe to say they wanted us deaf.

The play left little to the imagination and it was delivered bare-boned with nothing mind-stimulating about it.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let the brain-hamsters rest a while because there’s no need for them here.
Those looking for something a little more on the clever-side should lower their expectations.

The story, although nice, offered nothing new to the primary issues it tackles. This isn’t a masterfully crafted tale but a story I believe will be a weak entry from Uncle Ebo Whyte.
Some scenes were too drawn out…and I ended up playing with my phone (doing nothing) far often than I liked.

The venerable Uncle Ebo Whyte looking very dapper.

The venerable Uncle Ebo Whyte looking very dapper.

I did love the acting though.
As far as acting, theatre is the way to go…and the cast in One Million Pounds did a stellar job…save for Cliff (or the guy playing the character). It did get hammy in some scenes but that is something that can be overlooked bearing in mind these are actors and actresses new to the Roverman roster.
It is always refreshing to see such talent in Ghana…considering the terrible actors we have on the big screen.

It was the singing that partially marred the otherwise perfect acting experience for me. Some were OK but others were abysmal…especially when trying to hit the higher notes.
The voices strained a lot and I cringed about as often…and sometimes I couldn’t hear what was being sung.

During the singing sessions, lyrics to the songs would be projected on the walls for the audience.
It is a novel idea that should have fixed the issue of not hearing what was being sung…but even that had some inconsistencies.
During the musical numbers, either the projected lyrics will trail behind the singer or run ahead like Oscar Pistorius escaping from prison…forcing me to think this is something Roverman hasn’t quite mastered. But after seven years of being in business (theatre), some mistakes are just awful to behold…even if they don’t ruin the experience for some.

Uncle Ebo Whyte has “perfected” his craft and to say he is just a great writer would be a great disservice to him but sometimes throwing nice words around to flatter comes at a cost of pure honesty…so I will suck it up and put it out there.
The humor in One Million Pounds is the kind I’ve come to expect; safe jokes.
“Nothing naughty here.”
Safe jokes, according to my definition, are the kind that appeal to the masses.
Jokes everyone will laugh to…and the bad thing about safe jokes is, they are rarely clever.
You don’t have to think hard (or at all) to get it…and that is the kind prominently featured in the play.
Not once did an esoteric joke ‘break out”.

I sat through the entire play without laughing.
Not even a little.

That’s not to say the jokes are bad. No…people laughed their heads off and I even smiled occasionally but I found nothing remotely clever about the jokes.

Uncle Ebo Whyte, I’m not saying you have to litter your plays with esoteric jokes…but do throw one in there once in a while, so the people who appreciate such jokes would know you are thinking about them too.
I know I would.

On the topic of humor, not all the jokes were funny though, and I particularly found one joke to be in very poor taste…especially coming from Uncle Ebo Whyte.
The character Cliff wears a shoulder-level wig and is quite eccentric…as previously stated.
In one scene he makes a risqué statement to a female cast member and as expected, she gets riled up and slaps the fool…but something happens; his nose falls off.

Obviously, Uncle Ebo Whyte is taking jabs at the late Michael Jackson, who was alleged to have had a fake nose. It was in bad taste…and as such, few people laughed (although I believe they didn’t get the joke.)

Trending issues in the country are also touched on in the play. Like the president’s new name and Obinim’s animal transformations…but even though it was fun to hear these things in the play, once again, they were not used as cleverly as one would expect.
The inclusion of these jokes felt forced…and added only to make the play seem current and ‘hip’.

roverman-logo

 

In Conclusion

Creativity can get stifled sometimes when you either keep doing the same thing or get stuck in a rut…or expecting a breakthrough when there’s nothing actively pushing that next level of creativity.
Uncle Ebo Whyte may not be hogtied to either one but if this is what I’m to expect from all plays written and executed by him, then I have to further reduce my expectations if I am to truly enjoy his work.

In the end, “One Million Pounds” is just another play easily forgotten not for lack of great actors and actresses…but because it tells an unremarkable story.
The acting was topnotch, the musical numbers hit or miss and the moral values uninspiring.

Diehard fans will appreciate it no matter what…but for new recruits like myself, One Million Pounds isn’t worth the price of admission.
★★☆☆☆ (2/5)

AIRTEL, WHY DO YOU HATE ME?

I don’t go looking for trouble…unless it comes begging, and neither do I sit still when it speeds at me.

Airtel probably didn’t get the memo, so they decided to play with my “Cellular Life” from the 5th of February to the 12th of February 2016.
Maybe they use a different calendar from the rest of us so their 1st April started on 5th February…but even so, April Fool’s day is at most a day’s long activity.
So Airtel, why did you play with me for a week?

What am I talking about?
Airtel “Temporarily Suspended” my phone number for one week…and their reason;
“We don’t know!”
It was bad enough my line was blocked but why do you not know what caused it?
…and why did it take 6 days to fix?
Well, it isn’t totally fixed…because even though I can now make and receive calls, I can’t send sms or receive them.
It is never that easy when it comes to resolving problems in Ghana.

Three times the people at Airtel told me the problem had been fixed but it wasn’t.
At one point, I could only receive calls but could do nothing from my side.
Well, if I’m to look at it that way then I guess it was a victory on their part…cos now I can make calls.
I guess they figured I don’t need sms.
A bloke with a smartphone don’t need no archaic method of communication.

 

ONE WEEK WAHALA (wahala = pandemonium)

Two days in, I realized I had to get a new sim. That was to be expected, but the calls I missed pissed me off to no end. Aside the normal and business calls I have come to expect, there were other more important calls I just had to receive.
I placed an item on sale on Tonaton and I needed it gone that weekend (5th – 7th).

I was so flustered with my Airtel wahala, I forgot to replace the “dead” number with the new one I purchased…and it wasn’t until Monday, the 8th February, the thought occurred to me.
My buyer probably called but as I’ve established, there was no way I could have received it…and I can’t find out who called during my exile.

I am tempted to sue…but they will just throw around a lot of disclaimers we the end-users have never seen before. Also, I don’t know any lawyers nor do I have the money to hire one.

Thinking my old sim had been decommissioned for good, I called a lot of my friends and business folks informing them I had acquired a new mobile number…only to call them back with my old line that it was a false alarm.

If this is how Airtel repays loyal customers, then I’m going back to Kasapa…wait…ummm…Expresso…wait wait…Sudatel…wait…screw this. Bottom line is, I’m leaving you.
I know it’s Valentine’s Day but I’m certain you’ll get over me.

In the end, did Airtel single me out? I don’t know…but the fact is, Airtel services have been dreadful for a very long time now, so I know for certain I am not the only one facing this problem…nor am I the only one with an axe to grind.

NB: Airtel stole GHC1 of my credit on my “dead” sim.
I don’t even want to get into that…they’ll just say it was a service charge.

PS: And GLO, go back to where you came from. No one wants you here, can’t you tell?
You are like a venereal disease; No one wants you…but you just won’t go away!

Dumsor: A Chinese legacy

I have many tales to tell but boy have I got a roaring good yarn.
This looks to be the biggest conspiracy in the country since Anas busted the judges.

It’s already been established that the Ghanaian government always looks out for number one but recent discoveries have thoroughly enlightened me:
Ghana is indeed looking out for number one but they invited China to the party.

Please don’t get confused. This is indeed a post about the “almost-over” power crisis but trust me, this is so much better than what you’ve read thus far.

This Dumsor catastrophe has ruined more businesses than…well…anything.
If it were a person, it would be dead, resurrected and killed again (repeat indefinitely) until every angry person in Ghana gets a piece of the action.
Babies excluded…cos, no one wants a murderous baby!

The truth behind this Dumsor wahala is actually far worse than originally reported…so prepare yourself for it.

The endless promises (go here or here) were all cover-ups to the true reason behind the protracted power outages in the country.
Simply put: Ghana is in league with China…and they are both profiting from our power issues.

Ignorance is Bliss” they always say but Ghana doesn’t need this bliss.
Why? Well because, the power outages could have been completely resolved two years ago.

Don’t be surprised for I shall soon enlighten you.

The terrible news is, there’s actually no Dumsor.
No electricity problems…and contrary to the lies being spread about, Ghana has both the resources and the infrastructure to provide enough electricity to feed itself plus two more countries.

So then, the question must be asked;
Why this Dumsor and why is the government lying to us (Ghanaians)?

The answer is remarkably simple, yet weighty in its implications:
It is because of China.

Let me explain:
China is such a great and industrious (influential) country, and every other country wants to be at least associated with them…by any means necessary.
From military assistance to manufacturing warehouses, china has something for EVERYBODY.

Therefore, when a country that powerful makes a seemingly simple request, any country in question will do whatever it takes to stay on good terms with the great China.

So what does that have to do with Ghana and the Dumsor crisis?
Everything.
You see, Ghana was in a bit of a pickle back then (…and it still is):
It needed a lot of help from our Asian Giant but alas, it had absolutely nothing to reciprocate with. Absolutely nothing.
Well, not until China finally came forward with their demand(s): a dumping site (more on that later).

The thing is, China is a manufacturing powerhouse and they have goods in EVERY part of the globe.

I bet Eskimos use made-in-China igloos.

They make great (…and not-so-great) products and sell them all over, but recent trends show that people, especially westerners, aren’t clamoring for their products as much as they used to…basically because they want well-known brands that won’t break up upon first contact.
It’s that simple.

So what does China do with its never-ending supply of cheap (and inferior) products?
OH! They daintily waltz over to an aid-desperate country, promise to offer ‘em aid and then, “BOOM!!”, dump all their “unwanted” products in that country.
It’s not as if they have unused warehouses in China…so don’t blame them for taking initiative.
The goods have to end up somewhere and truth be told, Africa is the preferred dumpsite.

Honestly, the relationship between Ghana, China and Dumsor is quite interesting:
Ghana needs foreign aid to properly function;
China can give said aid but desperately need a place to dump its less-than-stellar products;
And Dumsor? Well Duh! Because Ghanaians love it.

Thus, this was the deal:
China stepped forward and offered Ghana all the aid it wanted and in return, Ghana would prolong the Dumsor and afford China the opportunity to use Ghana as an open warehouse.

Why make such a deal with Ghana?
Because they discovered a distinct correlation between Dumsor and the buying behavior of the average Ghanaian;
throughout the previous Dumsor saga, research discovered that Ghanaians bought more gadgets to tide them over as they endured the blackouts…and those gadgets were decidedly more inferior Chinese gadgets than anything else.
So putting two and one together, the Chinese were like,
“OK, you know what? You want aid and we want a place to unload our electronic goods (*wink*).
We have a proposition for you;
prolong your Dumsor, receive our gadgets…and then get all the ‘aids’ you want.”

Who is Ghana to say “NO”?
It was a no-brainer really.

If you think about it now, I am pretty sure you have at least noticed the abnormally high rate at which Chinese gadgets have invaded Ghana since this season of Dumsor premiered.
From powerbank phones (X-TIGI anyone?) to the weird USB-Radio-Bluetooth-MemoryCard Reader-Speaker anomalies.

I tell you this, in the past two years alone, more Chinese gadgets/devices have been sold that far exceed the Ghana population.

At least we can enjoy steady power for a while…till the elections are over.
Just don’t throw away your gadgets just yet.
Pfft!! Who am I kidding? …they won’t last that long to begin with. Just start saving up.

So, there you have it!
The shocking story of the century…but please take it easy on Ghana OK?
She might be 58 years old but she’s still taking huge baby steps.

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is entirely fictitious, therefore any and all resemblance to a person or place is PURELY AND UTTERLY coincidental.

 

PS: If this fantastical post truly happened, what would your reaction be?
Sound off in the comments.

How the National Service Scheme is Failing GHANA!

ghana_national_service_scheme_gnssThere won’t be any fancy intro…no word-plays or puns. I’ll jump straight to the point;
The National Service Scheme is a big mess and a major failure to Ghana.

It baffles me how little Ghanaians in power care about Ghana. They spew such hypocritical nonsense about how they are trying their best to make situations better but we know they are just yanking our chains. From Ministers to Presidents, no one truly cares about Ghana anymore.

We are down, they keep kicking us but we are just too numb to even care.

Give greedy people power they’ve always wanted for eons and what you get is the Ghanaian Government (Past and Present). We get heavier in the mud whiles they get richer and fatter in their penthouse suites.

There’s mismanagement (ECG, Doctors and Cedi) in every facet of the Ghanaian Government but my area of concern for this post is the mismanagement of the National Service Scheme.

“How is the National Service Scheme mismanaged?” you say!
The recent scandals speak volumes. Go here, here and here.

The potential of the National Service Scheme is particularly outstanding, but the people at the top only want more money and further gain perfection in the art of Nepotism.

Each year the Ghanaian Government has over 70000 able-bodied people at its disposal through the National Service Scheme. These people have atop their generic skillset, specialized skills they’ll “use” later on in life. So, why is this goldmine of resources wasted every single year by the government.

Instead of a more targeted approach at posting National Service personnel, the Government covers both eyes and let the stones fall where they may (albeit with some exceptions).
Students with nepotistical family members in the Government rest easy because, they know “fate” is on their side. The unfortunate ones on the other hand invariably get the short end of the stick.

That is basically the story of the NSS;
the “connected” get great placements whiles the linear…well…they get the hard life in villages that have virtually no cellphone reception.

That’s hardly fair!

The men and women who run government organizations do so as they see fit because they feel no real obligation or accountability to us Ghanaians. Well, truth be told, we don’t really expect much from them either…and thus, they don’t care to work more efficiently.

The Pressure no dey!

We’ve been fed up to the back teeth for so long we just don’t give a hoot no more.

It’s been said and it’s been proven that Ghanaian Government workers are lazy and show an extreme lack of initiative, and when they do, it is to fatten up their coffers.

The NSS under the “NSS Act” aims to compulsorily give students the opportunity to make/give meaningful contributions to the government, but at the end of their service, these students are left with an overwhelming sense of void since they give back nothing substantial to their country. All because of poor placements.

Goto the official NSS website and they throw such nice descriptions at you;
“…it has its origins in the desire and demands of Ghanaian Youth for early opportunities to participate in shaping the destiny of our country.”

Yet, year after year the impact of the NSS on the country is negligible at best.
If you take the time to research and examine the notable accomplishments of the vaunted National Service Scheme, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything actually noteworthy.

Talk indeed is cheap and in the end, these NSS personnel have been reduced to just sanitary workers (Go here and here).

With Great Power comes Little Responsibility (to Ghanaians).”

Dear Ghana Government, I don’t understand why my beloved, a petroleum engineer, should be posted to a rural area as a teacher, when her skill-set would be better utilized if she were posted to an industry where she can make actual contributions to the industry and the country as a whole.

If you do admit we are all made for different professions, why then do you tie our hands and push us into dark pits?

WHAT THEN ARE MY RECOMMENDATIONS?

Sorry, RECOMMENDATION; I will give only one area a more targeted approach in deploying personnel will see great results, and if the government likes the idea, they can think of many more…because in the end, they don’t pay me.

MY RECOMMENDATION:
Government can re-purpose old facilities and outfit them with hundreds/thousands of desktop computers.
Conversely, they can dip a hand into an unknown fund and put up such a structure.
We know they can.

The configuration will be nothing fancy; Pentium 4 processors, 1gb of RAM and 80gb HDD.
To reduce the load on these computers, only one suite of application will be installed on them: Microsoft Office.

At these facilities spread across major cities in Ghana, shortlisted people on the National Service Scheme will be given the seemingly simple task of typing out records kept by all relevant Government agencies.
Since the possibility of encountering confidential information is relatively high, anyone who is even remotely involved will be given Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s) to sign.
If severely confidential information must be typed out, it can be assigned to carefully selected and screened individuals.
That way, they can effectively muzzle any Anas Aremeyaw Anas wannabees in the facility.

At periodic intervals, the typed info (digital copy) will be collected by the relevant Government Agencies and then backed up online.

Even with the mind-boggling advancements in the technological sphere, it just beats my mind how Government agencies in Ghana still rely on “Pen&Paper”.
Mountains of handwritten records plague every part of Government.
How do they back up the information? Well, they don’t.
And when the fires come…and they always come, they lament on the wealth of information lost to the fires.

But why should that be?
As evidenced by the recent floods, it quite clear that Ghana does not plan for the worst-case-scenario.
We just go with the flow.

The sad part is, the big men all lay down plans that can actually work but when power corrupts them, everything is tossed into the bin until they need votes.

Ghana Government please save the trees…and at least pretend as though you give two hoots about the environment.
Also, you can use my simple but effective example as a template, then base future NSS postings on it, instead of your archaic system.

Cos, in the end, I believe this approach can give the NSS a fresh perspective on handling postings and a renewed interest from  those undertaking it or are yet to.

 

PS: I’d really like to believe the Government thought of something similar to what I am proposing but were just too lazy in its implementation.
(Pls don’t sue me!) 😀

HOW MOBILEMONEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN …and could be!

mobile_money_600_1

The competition between telecommunication has, for the most part, been very tight and that has invariably led to some outstanding services rendered to us (customers) by them.
Some services are invaluable to us customers and others are just useless, but it is through this corporate rivalry…this competition that has led to the birthing of the much vaunted MobileMoney.

MobileMoney is a cash management service available on the mobile phone or internet. It is mainly about facilitating money transfer for the Ghanaian market. The service can also be used for;
1. Reloading airtime units,
2. Payment of utility bills,
3. Payment of goods & services.

MobileMoney is provided in partnership with banks.
MobileMoney also operates through authorized Merchants (Agents) who facilitate the service on behalf of the partner banks.

MobileMoney comprises of individual (subscriber) and merchant wallets. Wallets (individual & merchant) are created after the registration process is completed on the phone with the selection of a four digit MobileMoney PIN (password).

The MobileMoney PIN is required to authorize all MobileMoney transactions. No single transaction can be completed without the MobileMoney PIN. Wallet transactions for MobileMoney are for the most part in Ghana Cedi (GH¢).

It is a simple-enough system that works remarkably well for those who need money urgently or just anyone…but with all its merits, MobileMoney is flawed in one major area: AVAILABILITY.

YES, people can sign up for MobileMoney and YES, people can head into Telecom branches to send or receive money, but the designated MobileMoney agents who are actually tasked with accepting and making MobileMoney payments are severely lacking.

Affiliated banks offer services that link an individual’s bank account to his/her MobileMoney account but if an individual does not fancy saving at the bank, he/she only has the agents to rely on: Agents who are few and far between.

The simple activity of putting money into a MobileMoney account, which should take at most 3 minutes, can last up to 15 minutes…especially when crowds are encountered.
That is, if the individual can find a MobileMoney agent in his/her vicinity to start with.

There should be another option and a simpler way of depositing money into an individual’s MobileMoney account.

Across all the major telecos one thing remains constant; recharge vouchers/credit vouchers.

What an individual pays for is exactly the amount reflected on the voucher…the amount the individual gets. Thus, an individual who pays GH¢10 for a credit voucher will receive GH¢10 credit on his/her phone once loaded.

These credit vouchers once used up are good for making calls, sharing to other users, bundling for data and sending text messages. That is about the only thing it can be used for.

Thus, I propose one more function for the credit vouchers:
Topping up an individual’s MobileMoney account.

Explained below are my recommendations:

  • Put in place a system that allows individuals the ability to deposit their credit vouchers into their MobileMoney accounts without visiting an agent or the main Telecom office.
  • Depositing the money can be done through:
    1. Sending the scratch code plus the MobileMoney password to a shortcode via SMS.
    2. An option in the SIM CARD menu on the phone that allows the individual to input the scratch code from the voucher and providing the password for depositing into the MobileMoney account.
    3. Similar to the more conventional method of loading credit on a scratch voucher, vouchers GHc5 and up will have a special shortcode printed to them. Individuals can then deposit money into their MobileMoney accounts by adding the shortcode to the scratch code in the dialpad and hitting the call button (e.g: *500*xxxxxxxxxxxxxx#).
    Following that, the individual would be asked to provide his/her password to authenticate the MobileMoney account being credited.
    NB: The third option will in fact, act similarly to the data bundling feature present on Airtel credit vouchers.
  • A subscription-based service will be put up, giving subscribers the ability to send actual credit (not bonus credit) into their MobileMoney account and the accounts of others.
    For this to work effectively, any and all transactions with this service will incur a higher charge compared to the user employing a MobileMoney agent for the transaction.
    This in effect will ensure that the MobileMoney agents are not cut out of the equation.
    NB: A mandatory minimum transfer cap must be put in place. Thus, users must have the minimum required amount in their credit account before they can make transactions.
    E.g: The minimum transfer cap is GHc10 (transfer charge not inclusive)

The telecom battlefield in Ghana is fierce and each one strives hard to bring to market true innovation; something incredibly nouveau and state-of-the-art.
With a constant need to always outdo the competition, I believe this idea will set the Telecom game on fire.

When implemented, it will prove indispensable to the entire MobileMoney population.
The end goal is to make MobileMoney easy-to-use, less hectic, efficient and especially convenient to every customer. No one should walk long distances or keep asking for directions to find the nearest MobileMoney agent.

 

PS: After spending months developing this very nice and alluring idea, I was informed it wouldn’t work…because, well, Telecommunications Companies lie about the actual value of credit vouchers. 

OOPS!!…I’ve said too much and i hear them coming for me.
Tell my fiancée I Love her. #Smub #Wink