Starting Over…

Hi! It is a new year again (for a full month now) and after a very unremarkable 2016 – if you don’t count the elections – I’m somewhat suspicious of this year. I had big plans I’d have loved to see grow in 2016 but my feet moved way too slow (ask Ransford).

Like all attempted failures in a person’s life, we have to at least accept a smidgen of that blame; we blame life (and others) too often.
I am guilty of treading along that particular path – avoiding the blame for my life choices and shirking the responsibilities that come along with it.

I cannot say I had an easy childhood…but it wasn’t hard either.
The honest truth? My temperament and outlook on life has pretty much bestowed upon me a laissez-faire approach to how I live life. I have gotten by quite fine but it is time I got more hands-on with my life and the decisions that happen therein.

Trust me, this year would like nothing more than to copy and paste the ole boring tripe of 2016, but I do believe we owe it to ourselves to walk down a different path.

reset

Winding the clock down to zero.

So then, what have I planned for myself this year? The sad reality is, my plans for this year mirrors that of the infamous 2016…but this time around I want more money and a greater life-purpose.

I can’t say I have it all figured out, but at least I know I can’t stay in this rut any longer.

Pray with me and let’s make a great big difference this year.

 

PS: Good News; This year won’t be as boring…only because I’m expecting an Xbox 360 to replace my non-existent love-life.
*sigh*…This is going to be good.

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!

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!

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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