This year the Tech in Ghana event has moved its London-based event to coincide with London Tech Week, allowing the 55,000 attendees to get a taste of the Ghanaian tech ecosystem first hand. Those new to Ghana may not appreciate the speed of change in the country nor the degree to which tech-focused services are fuelling growth. There’s significant room for expansion in the economy – a young population that ‘skipped’ a tech generation straight to smartphones. The use of mobile money and e-commerce is normal for these consumers and not a ‘thing for tomorrow’. Below GSMA Intelligence lead Kenechi Okeleke talks about some of the reasons why Ghana is on the cusp of a step change in tech:

 

 

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GSMA / HOOTSUITE

With the Ghanaian economy posting some of the fastest growth in the world over the last 2 years, the government are keen to attract and diversify inward investment into the economy.

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“We’re looking to make Ghana the best place to do business – technology is critical to our economy and we need to focus on it even more going forwards.”

Yofi Grant , CEO Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC)

THREE REASONS WHY GHANA IS WINNING IN TECH

1. GHANA IS SEEING ITS ‘WEAKNESSES’ AS A TECH OPPORTUNITY

It may look small on the map but try getting across the country and you’ll see that for many rural inhabitants, accessing services is no easy matter. This geographical isolation leads to poverty and low growth. Agriculture employs over 40% of the population, but represents only 18% of GDP in

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2017 (down 14% points since 2009). Farming is riven by low productivity, and high costs of non-farming related expenditure. Weather patterns, yield optimisation and market prices are all ‘luxury’ items beyond the reach of many. Most of these smallholder farmers live and work in remote rural communities that have poor internet connectivity, poor road networks and low levels of education.

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Step forward Farmerline which combines digital technology with 200+ field agents who deliver information and resources to smallholder farmers. They aim to help farmers increase productivity and yield, generate more profit and build sustainable businesses. They do this by offering inputs such as

location-specific weather forecasts, market prices and good agricultural practices suited for the specific crops they grow; all made available through mobile voice messages in the farmer’s preferred local language. All this information is managed and shared from their bespoke Mergdata platform. The platform creates digital profiles for farmers which allows them to receive value-added services such as receiving inputs and advice on credit. This gives farmers immediate access to farming inputs which they can pay for at a later date.

Mergdata offers decentralized traceability, certification audit, farm mapping, farmer education, and analytics solutions to help organisations that work with farmers achieve their sustainability and food security goals efficiently. We’ve collected insights from 200,000+ farmers in 13 countries, and mapped over 1m acres of farmland. Over the next three years, Farmerline plans to leverage technology to 

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connect over 126,000 farmers in Ghana to extension services. We also have an ambitious goal of reaching and transforming the lives and work of 1.3 million farmers directly and through partnerships by 2023.

Amos Olerty Wussah, Senior Consultant at Farmerline

By increasing farmers’ access to resources and increasing other players’ access to farmers, Farmerline aims to increase the quantity and quality of the global food supply.

2. GHANA IS A LEADING TECH NATION NOT JUST A DEVELOPING ONE

Those that have not been to Ghana might not realise how easy it is to get by without touching physical cash – mobile money can suffice in everything from taxi’s to school fees. Beyond the mass consumer tech jump is also a movement to modernise how SME’s operate. Once such example is Jetstream, a cloud-based web platform which consolidates international freight shipments and cross-border shipping.

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African SME’s pay the highest rates globally to import and export cargo in shipping containers. Often, they have no visibility into basic things like transit times, landed costs, and the physical whereabouts of their shipments. What they cannot see, they cannot control. When it comes to the unglamorous work of moving physical goods from A to B across borders, there is a fundamental lack of coordination between the thousands of customs agents, shipping lines, freight forwarders, and truckers who comprise cross-border supply chains in Africa.

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Jetstream’s tech platform, combined with real-world coordination with third-party logistics providers in Africa (customs agents, shipping lines etc.) is designed to solve the SME’s entire logistics problem; being only point of contact that they need when they trade across borders.

With Jetstream, B2B cross-border trade from Africa is converging with eCommerce logistics.

Say you’re a farmer or factory owner in Africa. You shouldn’t have to become an expert in tariff rates and sailing schedules in order to move 5 tonnes of dried cassava from 

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Ghana to Malaysia, or to buy fertilizer from India, for example, and know the full cost beforehand.

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We create that level of convenience and transparency by putting the fragmented pieces of the supply chain together. You book a shipment on our online platform the same way you would book an airline ticket. You give us details about where your cargo is going, where it is from, and the info we need to clear it through customs. Jetstream then takes that online information and dispatches orders to our network of third party logistics providers — from customs agents to shipping lines — who physically execute the shipment. 

Miishe Addy Co-founder, CEO at Jetstream Africa

Based in Accra, Jetstream claim to have 2 million kilograms of cargo in their pipeline from their HQ in Ghana; with a view to expanding their physical footprint to Lagos and other African port cities by 2020.

3. DIGITISING TRADE MEANS MORE THAN OFFERING AID

Some were taken aback in 2017 when newly elected President Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo declared Ghana as ‘moving beyond aid’, but this mindset has placed Ghana on the side of reform and a growing belief in economic self-determination.

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The African continent when you look at its resources, should be giving monies to other places…We need to have a mindset that says we can do it…and once we have that mindset we’ll see there’s a liberating factor for ourselves.

President Nana Akufo-Addo

This sentiment is shared by many of the countries entrepreneurs, such as Founder and CEO Samuel Tettey Amanor who runs BlueSPACE Africa Technologies in Accra. Thanks to the recently signed AfCFTA trade treaty, the company will create a linkage with Banks/Insurance/and Trade partners to spur growth on the continent; increasing cross-border payments & FX businesses for companies in Ghana and across Africa.

How can it be that intra-African trade is only 12%, when intra-EU trade is at 68% for example? Those walls and restrictions are coming down and technology is driving that based on the landmark political decision to work together across the continent. With our 

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BlueSPACE (BlueTRADE Platform), we’re fully supporting the aim of increasing intra-African trade by as much as $35 billion per year by 2022 as stated in the last meeting BlueSPACE represented with IMF officials.

Samuel Tettey Amanor Founder & CEO BlueSPACE Africa Technologies

52 of 55 nations across Africa have now signed the treaty and this is allowing entrepreneurs to see their own region in a new light. At a company level, it addresses the challenge of a business operator exporting goods to an African counterpart with an average rate of protection of around 12.4% compared to 8.4% when exporting overseas.

Ghana still has a long walk ahead. Countries such as Malaysia and South Korea have all found the ‘middle income trap’ a challenge to navigate with mixed success. For it to thrive in the coming years, it will need sustained reforms, forward thinking institutions and a corruption free platform for inward investment. With a bullish young and educated population, a proven democracy and an ever-more-influential diaspora the ingredients are there for greater diversification of the economy.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT TECH IN GHANA AT LONDON TECH WEEK

Founder of Tech in Ghana, Akosua Annobil is keen to widen the interest in Ghana from the diaspora to the mainstream Tech scene – and London Tech Wekk offers that visibility.

What might surprise many observers is how international the Tech in Ghana event is. By holding this year’s event within London Tech Week, we’ve seized the opportunity to further internationalise and 

Akosua Annobil

widen participation. Whether you’re an American based Venture Capitalist or a European tech start up looking to expand, our event is a window to an economy that is booming, and sincerely pushing the tech agenda in both the public and private sectors. Ghana is a entry point to a continent that offers stability among a whole region of growth. It’s tech-based businesses that offer many of the solutions to unlocking those opportunities in the coming years, which is why this event is so important.

Akosua Annobil Founder, Tech in Ghana

The full line up of speakers at this years event in London is available here.

Tickets and more information here.

The event will be held on June 10th in central London as a part of London Tech Week.

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