Tuesday, August 7, 2007

the cheetah generation

a colleague sent me a link to an instructive and in(cite|sight)ful talk by Prof G Ayittey that touches on the ineffective leadership of the past by a tyrannic elite (Hippo), and a new breed of African (Cheetah), who are more prepared than ever to, pro actively, take responsibility for what their destinies are, and to "instigate change" one 'village' at a time

this is must see 'tv' if you have 18 minutes to spare

meanwhile, if you are reading this, you probably also want to take a look at Google's Believe Begin Become initiative, to promote entrepreneurial qualities among local people to setup and invest in Business activities within the African sub region

As I have always maintained, the evolving landscape of technology and communications capabilities in our small space, as well as a continued lifting of the people through more access to information, generally, will continue to push Ayittey's Hippos to more transparent (and readily accountable) policies and programs, while educing more productivity from the, hitherto, vastly untapped quality human resource we possess

the winds of change, they are a-blowing ;)



Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala's TED talk, sets the record straight on what the Africa of today is; a region where there is the will to fight; a will to reform and a realization that no one will do it but ourselves. It also touches on liberalization, and on a market that is readily consuming technology; that only a few 'smart' companies are paying attention to. How to 'help' Africa? engage with us. Instructive, insightful and on-topic.

1. TED Talks - Prof Ayittey: Cheetahs vs. Hippos for Africa's future
2. Believe Begin Become
3. TED Talks - How to help Africa? Do business there

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

payment systems

On the Ghana ICT blog, we will look at how emerging technology, and the platforms and services they enable affect our country, Ghana, herself and emerging economy. In this first post, I want to bring up the issue of identity and payment systems, which I am beginning to see a lot more in the news.

The Bank of Ghana has selected Net1 U.E.P.S. Technologies Incorporated, SmartSwitch Nigeria's parent company, for the supply, development and implementation of that country's new national switch and smart card payment system.

In picking Net1, the apex bank's vision is to provide the Ghanaian financial services industry access to a state of the art technological platform that will allow for the sharing of all existing payment instruments and introduce a smart card system designed to deliver affordable financial services to Ghanaians

source: allAfrica.com

Earlier in the month, ECOBANK introduced an unsecured credit card product into the Ghanaian market.

Known as the ECOBANK Visa Gold Credit Card, it is basically an unsecured credit card that provides a line of credit without having to put any money upfront to secure the debt, unlike the secured credit card.

source: myjoyonline.com

In the past, what had prevented products like this from getting onto the market, I believe, had to do with (and still not addressed, pun unintended) the lack of a proper addressing and identification system in the country?

Does the introduction of these products/services into the market mean these companies have found some way of building a seemingly "leaky abstraction" on top of what is currently in place, and found it to be able to cater for ways of tracking down people who borrow and refuse to pay? I find that quite interesting, because it opens up the opportunity to build applications that required that these same addressing/identity issues be solved first; it is certainly non-trivial, and the 'problem', I think, still exists... still, this will be interesting

Meanwhile, the Credit Reporting Act, 2007 (Act 729) was passed in April this year.

This Credit Reporting Act is designed to promote the orderly development of a credit reporting system for Ghana and to promote public trust in credit bureau operations. Specifically, the Act provides for the licensing of private credit bureaus (and gives the Bank of Ghana the authority to set up a public credit bureau), regulates the activities of credit bureaus, establishes guiding principles for the conduct of the credit reporting system, and provides for credit data submission, data management and protection, and dissemination. It seeks to strike a balance between the rights of borrowers on the one hand, and the need to share credit information effectively, on the other.

source: Bank of Ghana

As the theme goes, sound laws, technology, and effective policies will spur the introduction of much needed services in our growing economy. The winds, they certainly are a-blowing :)