Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ghana 2015

Just like that it is 2015. I was in Ghana to see the end of the glorious year that was 2014 and the ushering in of 2015. I meant to blog earlier about my experiences since it had been two years since I had been to my beloved homeland.  However, I just could not blog. Anything I had to say would sound like a diatribe of what my ex-brother-in-law used to call "complaining music". Let us not even get started on the reliable internet connection issues I had. Also, I am still reeling from the shock at how much things had changed and often not in a good way. On the one hand, Ghana does the appearance of a vibrant, rich, capitalist country that is full of opportunities so well. At the same time, it is also doing an impersonation of a failed state recovering from a long civil war pretty accurately.

Here is my list of some of the goods and the bads.

The Goods:

1. The Police: They are young, sleek and visible. Over a two year period, our police force on the streets of Accra turned young, goodlooking, athletic and professional. Not only were they visible but seemed to have access to equally sleek looking vehicles. At first I thought this visible improvement was just by chance but apparently it is a new policy. Police are directing traffic, doing roundblocks at night and for the first time in my experience of Ghana, actually doing their jobs.

2. Road developments in Accra: Ignoring the abysmal mess that is Kwame Nkrumah circle, there are a number of impressive road developments. Suddenly, the Spintex Road bottle-neck has been eased. The parts of the Madina-Legon road that I saw were also looking good.

3. Malls, malls, malls: A number of new malls and shopping centres have opened since I've been away. There is the Marina Mall, Osu shoprite mall, Palace shopping centre, Nungua shoprite shopping centre....just to name a few. 

4. Complex housing complexes: Not sure this is a good but there are dozens of new housing complexes that are being completed. Sign of rapid development or perhaps indications of an economic powerhouse bubble?

Villagio at Airport Residential Area, Accra

The Bads:

1. The energy crisis: Probably the most frustrating aspect of my return was the energy situation. The lack of power in Ghana is at dire levels. We have had stringent loadshedding in the middle of the 00s but the present situation is like a cruel punishment the populace is being subjected to. The energy crisis just goes to show what happens when incompetence and mis-management go unchecked. The least said the better.

2. The water crisis: For the past 20 years, we have had a house in a neighborhood with constant, reliable water that was available daily. That has changed. It seems the way in which the Ghana Water Company optimized water supply to other areas was NOT to come up with ingenious ways of getting additional water supplies but by simply robbing Peter to pay Paul. So my neighborhood has suddenly turned into a dry area with an unknown water schedule. It does however seem to come on around 3am on inconsistent days.

3. Falling cedi and killer prices: Although I am away from Ghana now, I am still reeling from the effect of the falling cedi on prices across the board. Taxi rides that cost GHC 5.00 two years are now going for GHC 10 minimum. Someone has gone through all the restaurant menus at my favorite places and multiplied all prices by 2.5. To make things worse, salaries did not go up in the same way.

There are so many bads to list but really do not want to turn this into a huge bitter rant. In all, Ghana is still Ghana. The public's expectations of leaders are still low. Every public school building is still being used as a church venue. Kotoka International Airport's arrival terminal still has not changed (in my eyes) since 1985. There are still 100s of youth selling mobile phones without boxes at Circle. Some banks are still a hotbed of inefficiency and privileged people are still worshiped.  

In essence, home is still home. 

1 comment:

Fadahunsi Baez said...

You’re so cool! I don’t suppose I’ve read anything like this before. So nice to find somebody with original thoughts about Ghana. Really thank you for starting this up. This website is something that is needed on the web, someone with a little originality. Useful job of bringing something new to the internet!