Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Drinkers with a Running Problem: the Hash or Government

The last few weeks have been themed by work, trying to get cool, playing random sports and of course some dancing. I learned to play squash, was initiated into a local sect of a global running/drinking club called the Hash (slogan 'drinkers with running problem,'  joined an actual running club, found a clean stretch of urban beach, and am headed to the US Embassy to play beach volleyball tomorrow. After surviving attack of the parasite, fever and series of stomach issues late last week, Saturday night regained strength enough to hit a few local dance clubs featuring Nigerian music with two guys I met from church - we jammed until late, grabbed some street food and took a rickety '80's toyota cabbie home. 

Despite the list above, I have worked 6 days a week as much as my latent internet connection, directionally challenged personal driver and the rolling blackouts of electricity will allow. I have met with government ministers, deans, venture capitalists and computer programmers across Ghana. I am living an education course on the Ghanaian intellectuals, techies, entrepreneurs, mobile operators while surviving the lectures of the government. 

Often ministers and government employees require you to pay them money, called sitting fees, to attend meetings and request consulting fees for their formal advice or permission (we do not pay :).  You frequently have to bribe the press to attend and write about events.  But possibly the worst of example is the World Bank and such NGOs, who provides loans with exact provisions of where the money is spent, which is typically back in their pockets and then require repayment with hight interest with money that only glanced their economy. I was aware of this WB policy but spent my afternoon with very honest well educated government official who relayed the spiraling effect of the policy in practice - short sighted minister offered millions indentures the country. Interestingly enough, the World Bank has competition here with Chinese banks making a carbon copy sales pitch but with more cash. 

On a lighter note, it is a holiday weekend (not sure what holiday yet :) so I will be headed with friends to a family mansion on the southeast coast to enjoy the Gulf of Guinea. Ghanians are awesome hosts and take care of their Obruni. 


  1. Yep, that is the WB in Ghana, Nicaragua, Guatemala and everywhere... and I could tell you a bit about the EU also!

  2. I just arrived in Accra, and am trying to find a running club (not the hash... ). Could you help me out?