BarCamp Ghana 2009 Live Report

BarCamp Ghana 2009 took off to a great start here at MEST in Accra with Patrick Awuah delivering the keynote address. He cited examples from his experience at Microsoft and his current experience with Ashesi University, to drive home the importance of key values like honesty, integrity, trust etc.

The theme of this year’s event is Leadership for our times – cultivating change makers and the first panel discussion revolved around that theme. So far, the event focuses less on technology compared to last year’s. According to data from, 243 people registered to attend.

A cross-section of the audience at BarCamp Ghana 2009
A cross-section of the audience at BarCamp Ghana 2009

Dr Sodzi Tetteh is moderating a live panel discussion on Leadership, drawing lessons out of stories and experience from the panelists. The panelists are Patrick Awuah of Ashesi University, Estelle Sowah of Google Ghana, Anna Banneman of Richter and George Minta of Empretec.

Patrick is highlighting some poor business practises in Ghana that slow business processes down.

What have the panelists done for young people?

Anna says she is inspired and driven by young people and her project relies entirely on young people. Richter’s volunteer-base is made-up entirely of young people.

Patrick said Ashesi is empowering young people to go out there and make a difference: to have a can-do attitude, to have a set of skills they can apply in a wide variety of areas, and the most important quality they need is to be trusted. These open the door to financing, to getting customers, and to hiring the right team for the company.

Estelle said Google is still fairly new in Ghana and the exciting opportunities would be opened-up come 2010. She emphasized the importance of time and how quickly it moves. In her words, the reality is, life is so short. “It nots how long that really matters but how well you lived.” She encouraged young people to be active and interactive in all spheres of life.

George highlights the importance of action as compared to just preparing proposals & blue prints without following it up with action. His mission is to get the youth to act for themselves because the government cannot hire every youth. The youth need to see opportunities and seize them. Quoting Jesse Jackson, he emphasized: “Don’t negotiate your dreams”.

Question time

A member of the audience asked Patrick: How did you come by integrity?
In his answer, Patrick cited an example of take-home exams by his then-roommate in an American college. A teacher had given his students exam questions for them to answer from home and he Patrick was touched. He also cited an example of Portland (a city in the USA) where residents could pay for train tickets and then board, without checks from officials. In essence, passengers bought tickets “on their honour”. In his words: “the long-time benefit of doing the right thing far exceed the short-time cost”.

A member of the audience asked: How has your time outside Ghana helped you and do you think it is necessary for the time of leadership you are advocating?

Patrick: the more exposed you are, the better. Look beyond the accent and see what’s on the inside of those people. He cited an example of DataBank (a financial institution in Ghana) where is founders who are returnees had to work hard to get to where it is. He also cited an example of Jeff ( founder) who started from very humble beginnings with a very basic office. In summary, it is important to study why people are successful, and look beyond their accent.

End of 1st Panel discussion.

14:04 Break-out sessions are now in progress. I am attending the Google Apps break-out session. A staff from Google UK is leading the session, with the mission to help the audience on maximizing the use of Google tools.

I just got disqualified after I got a Google question correctly. The question was “What was Google’s revenue for 2008?” I quickly peeped the answer from Wikipedia but was disqualified. I however got the second question right which was “What Google service can be used to generate traffic?” Answer: Google Adwords.

Google session @ BarCamp Ghana 2009
Google session @ BarCamp Ghana 2009

Building a case for Google Apps, he stated: Messaging and communication is key to any business. Companies spend millions of dollars to build a great communications infrastructure that can power internal and external communications. Running email systems in-house can be a big difficult task. Google wants businesses to leave their email applications to them, while the business owners can focus on their core competences. He listed all the technical reasons why Google products might be a better option for business owners and added that Google Apps are free-of-charge for educational institutions that can prove their accreditation.

Google Session @ Barcamp Ghana 2009
Google Session @ Barcamp Ghana 2009

In summary, business owners can reduce cost, reduce complexity, benefit from Google’s scale, reliability and innovation. Google Apps are available at

In an answer to a question about expensive bandwidth, Estelle (Google Ghana, country manager) hinted that Google would host a local cache server for Ghana at AITI-KACE in Accra come 2010, to speed-up Google content delivery in Ghana.

I had to set-up and a separate blog post to cover the GhanaBlogging session. See Full GhanaBlogging Break-out session.

I later attended another break-out session about entrepreneurship in Ghana, where experienced entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs shared ideas and asked questions.

The issues discussed revolved around business registration; registration with other relevant government agencies like VAT, IRS; keeping records; filing tax returns; bribery; government bureaucracy relative to businesses and related issues. It was a fruitful and very interactive session.

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Oluniyi D. Ajao
Oluniyi D. Ajao is an Internet Entrepreneur and Tech Enthusiast based in South Africa. Follow him on twitter @niyyie for more tech updates.


  1. Today, my argument is we need to create more webcontent that is relevant for Ghana and our region, before we even discuss leadership and such. I think this post can serve as an example of such content. And a very quick example 🙂

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