Saturday, January 10, 2009

What I Learned at BarCampGhana '08

Honestly speaking, I have never attended a BarCamp before but when I got the invitation for last years BarCampGhana, I started reading about exactly what a BarCamp was and what actually goes on there. I started going from search engine to search engine, just trying to get more information before the program.

My searches were very helpful and I also started spreading the word about it and soon, most of my friends wanted to know more and I had to direct them to the homepage of

My expectations for BarCampGhana was actually what I thought it was going to be but after everything, all went well. The program started quite late, at around 0920GMT instead of the proposed 0900GMT. Well, I remembered, we are in Ghana so therefore, the Ghana Man Time thing still works.

The feeling of meeting all the people who registered for the camp was very high. at the entrance of the venue,
AITI, , there was a desk with the organizing folks around, helping with the name tags and also displaying the T'shirts.

Actually, the t'shirt wasn't part of the initial plans but later, I guess Ato thought it wise to get a memorable paraphernalia for the campers so, he got some t'shirts printed for the camp. It looked real good, I wish I had enough to get one but I couldn't because I didn't carry enough on that day in question.

Before the start of the 'unconference', there was a blue bucket filled with fruit drinks in packs and bottled water, very chilled though. I just had to make justice to one because I missed breakfast before coming. While things were been sorted with the gadgets, more networking, more conversation and more everything was also going on. Finally, all was good and we had to start. I didn't like the sitting arrangement as it looked as if, we came for some political lecture of a sort but I ignored that thought and freed my mind for everything that was supposed to happen that day.

Introductions were made and after which, some campers we called to share their thoughts on some basic issues. I like the way, Esi Cleland acted herself throughout the session. She was easy going, nice, open-minded and a real social animal. One thing she did that really struck me was, before she started talking, she had her cm-cards which she shared to everyone in the hall. Behind the com-card is a blog she's started and would like us to frequent it. Her blog can be located @
Esi's Blog

The first keynote was delivered by Herman Chinery-Hesse, CEO of Soft Tribe Ghana Limited. He's the man, BBC describes as the "Bill Gates" of Ghana. He made some nice points and also took the opportunity to sell to us, his latest economic venture. Another note was delivered by a professor from the University of Ghana who's currently doing a research work at a fishing village somewhere in the Central Region.

He described the situation of the fisher folks as pathetic because, they don't have any means of knowing about the tides for each day but they are able to go out to sea and make good harvest at the end of the day. He suggested, if there could be a way, where tide readings from the Ghana Port and Harbor Authority is sent to these people, it could alleviate a problem of tides changes. He was deploying us in the ICT world to develop a solution for the problem at hand.

During the sessions, I had the chance to hear one Ato Bernasko who's with the Readers' Digest sharing his rich experience as an ICT auditor for his company. He talked about how his company did outsourcing and what measures they put in place and all. I learned a lot from him in the sense that, he took charge of the session. He also shared his travel experience amongst other things with us. As a matter of fact, we need open-minded people like him at the next BarCamp in Ghana.

The last keynote was delivered by
Estelle Akofio-Sowah, CEO of Busy Internet in Ghana. She talked about how she's been able to manage an ICT firm without any serious background in the field.

The only criticism I have of this event was that it should have been longer. Actually, I needed another day. Let say, a two-day BarCamp first time in Ghana. The media was not involved which makes awareness slow. There were so many people I did not get a chance to meet especially, Gideon Chonia from University of Zurich. There were so many people I met that I did not get to talk to long enough. There were so many conversations that I wanted to carry on longer but time was not and never on my side. I wanted to just soak in the knowledge and passion of the people around me.

I am thinking,it should be a Barcamp at the regional capitals of Ghana. Kudos to the organizers, now let work on BarCamp T'di, Kumasi, Ho, Tamale, Sunyani and the rest to be a reality.

Can’t wait for the next episode.

1 comment:

Gameli said...

Nice post. I keep telling folks barcampGhana was a bomb. I reckon as you rightly said we need to extend this good initiative t the wider society. Keep up the good work!