Development Floods the Country, but Some Developments Are Puzzling

Ghana is wildly diverse. It’s evident in the land, in the people, in the customs, in the food, and in the weather. And you know there are two sides to every story when the urban populations scream because the power has gone off while many rural centres are still waiting for power supply lines to link to their villages. And, although the economy was hit hard this year, Ghana still falls into the class of middle-income countries.

The past few weeks illustrate just how diverse Ghana is and the wide spread of issues concerning the country at the moment.

Apparently, Mauritian investors are looking to create an ICT hub in Tema. The initial investment looks something like $260 million (USD) to develop a mini Silicon Valley. Okay, their efforts don’t seem anything like the world’s startup hub; but the plan is to draw business to the area. That would include large players like Samsung and several smaller companies dedicated to (or revolving around) ICT growth. In principle, this should create 5000 local jobs, in an industry where the youth have an edge.

But, let’s face it; ICT depends on electricity. Perhaps it doesn’t need to be continual (though that would be nice). Maybe it just needs some regularity.

It could just be that investment is so useful to continued development that the Ghana Nuclear Regulatory Bill has already passed (we’re just waiting for the president to sign it into action). Part of this bill establishes a couple of Russian-designed power plants in Ghana. Now, these won’t be up tomorrow, but nuclear is one way to ensure there is a steady stream of energy hitting the new ICT hub – and all the homes that have been begging for electricity.

Funnily enough, innovation doesn’t require power. Indeed, some of the best ideas develop in the face of Dumsor (or a complete lack of power). Forbes recently covered an incredible invention rolled out in the poorer northern region of Ghana. The Talking Book offers information to (predominantly) women regarding crops, health care, and significant news. Rather than relying on scheduled radio broadcasts or cellphone data, Talking books enables crucial information on demand.

All of these sound like a development that Ghana needs.

And then there are a few developments that the country just doesn’t want to know about.

Take, for example, the call in Nigeria to take back control of their airspace from Ghana. Not only is this confusing since Ghana doesn’t have any control over Nigerian airspace; it sounds threatening. Statements from Nigeria say that Togo and Benin are moving to take back control from Ghana (the GCAA does actually regulate their airspace), though there seems to be no reports to that effect from either country. At best, this is confusing. We don’t want to think about the worst case.

And then there is the radio release of President Mahama claiming that “power has become expensive”. It’s almost jaw-dropping to hear him say it. Of course, it is expensive. If it were cheap, then we wouldn’t be in darkness. This is one development that’s clearly not new.

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