I had a chance to sit down with the President of the PMI Ghana chapter – Dickinson Agyapong Bempa and discuss some of the unique challenges they face in Ghana. This video is his interview from Accra.
The PMI Ghana chapter was founded about 8 months ago by a core set of enthusiastic project management professionals. It is just the third PMI chapter in the whole of Africa. It has surpassed its goal of 100 members well before the end the first year – congratulations! I conducted a Project Manager’s Workshop in Accra, the capital of Ghana. Around twenty-seven participants attended this nine-hour workshop spread over two days.
This was an enthusiastic, hungry for knowledge and information seeking set of folks. Some were from the construction, architecture and civil engineering field, some from the government organizations like the education ministry and armed forces. Yet others were entrepreneurs, consultants and we had one student who had just completed her MBA with specialization in project management.
The participants engaged in animated conversations and debates throughout the workshop. The one that topped them all was the discussion around what a PMO should be measured on. There were heated arguments from a number of participants. This topic really hit close to home as some of them were grappling with this problem at their work places.
As a group we discussed some ideas on how to raise the awareness of project management as a discipline in Ghana and how we could use things like social media to our advantage. Many of the items we discussed were no different from the challenges faced by project managers in other parts of the world. What excited me were their enthusiasm, their drive and their optimism about their future. Many of them wanted to run their own businesses, some had even formed companies on the side. There are larger structural challenges in Africa, but these challenges don’t seem to dampen the enthusiasm of these folks.
On a personal note:
This was my first time in Africa and was surprised at how vibrant things seemed around Accra, the capital of Ghana. New cars, decent roads, clean and a bustling business district all made the city seem alive. I had the opportunity to visit a cocoa farm about 1.5 hrs from Accra. This was a wonderful experience, met a very happy farmer – Mark Ayivor. He grows cocoa, papaya, rubber, some corn, and plantains. Mark lives on his farm, no electricity in his house, though he has a BlackBerry. I forgot to ask him how he chargers it. I also tasted fresh cocoa – the flesh is sweet but the seed is bitter.
I absolutely must also mention Kodwo Odum, who was a participant in the Project Management workshop and who took me to see this cocoa farm. I had casually mentioned to him after the workshop that I would love to see a cocoa farm if he knew one that was close by. The next day Kodwo turned up at my hotel in his truck and drove me to his friend’s farm. I was so overwhelmed, that on a Saturday, Kodwo left his daughters & family and spend almost the entire day with me. Did I mention that it was his daughter’s birthday too? How can I thank him, he made my trip memorable? Such is the hospitality of the people of Ghana.
A receptionist at the hotel was studying computer networking and aspired to go to MIT. He said to me, “If you really believe you can do it, you can.” I wish him all the best.
At breakfast I met a municipal legislator from the Ashanti region where they have gold mines. He had come to the capital to seek better conditions for his people back in Ashanti. His question was “How can project management help my people.” I could not give him a satisfactory answer, but I have his email and I plan to respond to him soon.
I hope and trust this post gets you excited and if you ever get a chance to visit Accra, go for it.
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