Join us on our faith journey as we follow Jesus to Ghana, West Africa!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December 2011 Newsletter Released

Mary Kay writes:

After several late nights at the computer, our next newsletter is finished and will be going out via e-mail, or you can read it at the last link.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

GE, meet Ashesi. Ashesi, meet GE.

Charlie writes:

On Tuesday, December 13, Ashesi celebrated a new partnership. The General Electric company, a world-wide conglomerate with 300,000 employees, arrived with three managers and three recent Ashesi alumni who have worked at the company for less than two years, to kick-off the relationship (there are only 24 GE employees in Ghana).

Mr. Abu Sulemana is GE's new Africa CIO. Abu, a tall, poised, and handsome gentleman, was raised in Ghana, educated at KNUST (first class in Civil Engineering), later earning an MBA in the UK. Moving to the US, he worked with Amersham Health, which was acquired by GE in 2004. Mr Sulemana had just moved from Princeton, New Jersey the night before, planning to live and work out of Accra. He offered to teach on project management at Ashesi, claiming he had some wonderful stories about IT projects around the world he had managed.

Mr Patrick Awuah, founder and president of Ashesi University College had spoken at a GE training event near Washington, DC, triggering Mr. Sulemana's interest in the college. Some visits later, GE's HR organization determined that Ashesi met the criteria for becoming an "Executive School," a list that includes over 45 US colleges the likes of Boston College, Boston University, Bucknell University, Clarkson University, Clemson University, University of Connecticut, Cornell University, University of Dayton, University of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Michigan, Northeastern University, University of Puerto Rico, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Syracuse University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Case Western Reserve University, University of Cincinnati, University of Illinois, Indiana University, University of Miami, University of Notre Dame, Pennsylvania State, Purdue University, University of Wisconsin, Stanford University, University of California-Berkeley, Duke University, University of Florida, Georgia Tech, University of Maryland, Michigan State, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Prairie View A&M University, Texas A&M, University of Texas, Tuskegee University and Virginia Tech. According to the University of Dayton, nearly 70% of GE interns and college hires come from this small list of schools.

Mr Kunle Olaifa, GE Africa's HR executive, defined the goals of the designation as a strategic university partner. Ashesi becomes the second such college on the continent, along with Strathmore College in Kenya. These schools are willing to work with GE and will see GE investing corporate & business resources to proactively build a sustainable employment brand, recruit & measure results. We were pleased to hear the comment that Ashesi hires had some of the "best ROI" of their African recruiting campaign to date.

One of the reasons Ashesi came to GE's attention was its focus on ethical leadership. Key qualifications included academic excellence & GE cultural fit, and the gender balance at Ashesi. GE also applauded Ashesi's goal of drawing students from a broader geographic area, an initiative supported by the Master Card Foundation.

What was most encouraging to me was the realization by GE that finding bright people in Africa is not particularly hard, but that GE's "DNA" of integrity is trickier. One of the alumni hires admitted that her experience at Ashesi exposed her to a community that expected ethical behavior, making it easier for her to "fit in" at GE. All in all, it made for a very encouraging morning.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Thanksgiving - Considering Africa's "Middle Class"

Charlie writes:

This had to be the strangest Thanksgiving for me in many years. Both Mary Kay and I worked, since it is not a Ghanaian holiday. Ken and Mary Kay joined friends at the home of other friends for a turkey dinner (including the requisite dressing and sauerkraut). By the time I arrived after the daily bumpy ride down off the mountain at 7:15pm, the only food left was pizza (well, I did get some pumpkin pie and dressing, too).

Lest I throw myself a pity party, Lloyd Amoah, one of my co-workers at Ashesi, sent along a link to the following report by the African Development Bank. The report, while many months old, shocked me with the idea that "middle class" for Africa includes those who make more than USD 2 per day, and making over USD 10 per day puts you in the "upper class." When I consider that I spend more than the lower amount on lunch each day, it puts my complaints in perspective!

Yet, the claim by AfDB is that incomes rising into that range have a large number of positive impacts on governance and lifestyle. People with something to lose tend to me more concerned about the government protecting them from abuse or theft. They also begin to save, and consider investing in their children's education. Birth rates go down. Health improves. And Africa has been moving in that direction.

There is still far to go. Last week, Lloyd also forwarded the text of an address that Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, the entering CEO of the Ghana Chamber of Telecoms made at their recent inaugural meeting. As he fussed Telecoms is no Tobacco Industry before the National Communications Authority, which had just fined all the mobile operators big bucks for "poor service quality," he stuck a nerve for all of us up at Ashesi. He commented:

Chairman, there are external factors peculiar to our third world environment, and over which mobile operators have little or no control, but which impact the quality of service; factors that you will not find in the First World.


Power outages and diesel thefts also prevent base stations from functioning without undue interruption. It’s extremely unlikely that you’ll run into a man on the M1 in the UK or along the autobahn near Berlin trying to peddle diesel by the gallon to passing motorists.

This lack of infrastructure and the costs to private operations for services that are taken for granted in the US have concentrated our minds out in Berekuso. At the recent "Town Hall Meeting," Patrick expressed his frustration at the huge expenses that Ashesi is now incurring because of roads, electricity, and water. Most of the staff refuse to drive to the campus for fear of ruining their vehicles, and the entire campus has been afflicted with over-voltage and blackout-induced failures, including the destruction of the pump that provides us with drinking water from our private borehole. This last week, the University elected to run the Administration block off diesel backup after measuring voltages from 100 to 400 volts on a nominally 220 volt system. And he announced that the school has had to pay 4500 GHS (about USD 3000) to have water trucked up the hill for sanitation over a two week period. This is a huge burden when you are trying to run a "first world" operation in a "third world" context. And to juxtapose these charges with the idea that a "middle income" begins at $2/day, which would represent working "four years" to pay for two our last two week's worth of water...

I'm just pleased to be working with folks that are trying to do their best in this environment.

But even more so, that God sent his Son to be born in barn and laid in a feeding trough!

Have a Merry Christmas

Philippians 2:5-11 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.