Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ghana's Chernobyl Timebomb ... or is it Ghana's own "Fukushima Daiichi"?

It’s been a helluva quarter, these past 3 months.

I have a lot of updates (as usual), and no clear point at which to begin (as usual), since for me and my renergy experiences, every experience sort of magically tends to run into the next, so that they are all melded together in this surreal way.

Let me start with the bullet points so even if I totter off the path, we have some modicum of order, eh?
·         April 2011: retrospective assessment of first briquette-training by Energy Solutions Foundation (my Renewable Energy & Sustainable Development NGO) … for better 2nd round of trainings and modifications to upcoming briquette-makers.

Had a lot of email and phone discussions with Danny Quaynor (the NGO’s partner in appropriate technology) concerning our next few projects over the next 18 months, before we had one good Sunday working meeting to put down plans, structures, and timetable.

To come : (1) Semi-commercial production of ready-to-use briquettes of a wide range of choices (palmnut, palm-kernel, cow dung, dawadawa, shea-butter, sawdust, etc) for all households just as one would purchase charcoal and just begin using it. We will call it Green Gold Briquettes (ah, sentimental!)

(2) More production and commercial production, distribution and marketing of briquette-making equipments of all sizes and capacities for what will be a briquette-making industry in Ghana … instead of charcoal-production communities and firewood-stocking merchants in the country.

(3) Waste Oils and Vegetable Oils for use on a small scale in motors, engines, and motorized gadgets in place of fossil fuels. The target is waste vegetable oils for use as fuel (like diesel) in generators, processing machines, engines, motor-bikes, cars, etc.

(4) Appropriate, affordable (less than $500) biogas structures and facilities for the low to middle-class Ghanaians who often most lack access to energy, fuel, and power or have very little of their total needs in these met.

To achieve over the next 18 months. Want to steal some ideas from here and run with it? PLEASE DO IT! Feel absolutely free to!
These are ideas we need in the country, and I don’t care who does it or who gets the credit.

In fact, if you want the  blueprints of it, call or email me!
 Make me believe you will really do it for the BENEFIT OF THE SUFFERING PEOPLE of THIS COUNTRY, I shall hand them all over to you with glee.

Yes, I will still keep working on them too … it is never enough, and there can never be too many propagators. We need renewable energy alternatives like “pure water” sells in this country. Everywhere, Cheap, and Never Lacking!!

·         May 2011: Call to collaborate with a Ghanaian FashionHouse called MAKSI ( to increase awareness on need for clean environment and sustainable ways of living. Secondary objective to donate 10% of proceeds made from eco-focused fashion line to ESF’s “Tuori Biogas Facility” Fundraiser (see here for more about this).

Also asked by Creative Storm, Ghana (hint: Dr. Kwesi Owusu) to lead them to our Aburi workshop for coverage of our West African customized briquette-maker and other initiatives for a documentary they were doing for the EFFA (Environmental Film Festival of Accra 2011 June 2011).
Hopefully, we can make a hope-laden and impact-full documentary out of that session one of these days, when I can add the cost of that to my budget (don’t you just which you could do everything in the world by yourself sometimes? J )

In collaboration with MAKSI fashionhouse, was on The One Show with PY Addo and Jocelyn Dumas, in an interview to highlight the eco-fashion campaign and ESF’s role in it. Was able to talk about the briquette-making training session in the Upper West, and other challenges facing the NGO as well as memorable experiences and personal impressions of the larger situation in the country.
Jocelyn Dumas for MAKSI eco-fashion.
Ama Abebrese for MAKSI eco-fashion. Way nicer pics, but I chose bcus you actually see the dumptruck in the background!

My first intern (I so often shy away from interns and volunteers, but I finally made bold to try it out) for the NGO arrived, and got pulled right into the middle of the heat. Miss Akua Akyaa Nkrumah also writes on her blog whenever she has the chance and peace of mind. Internship, as at now (August 2011) is ended, but went very phenomenally. Now to get her to write me that internship report!

·         June 2011: The EFFA (by Creative Storm) begins in the second week of the month.  Akua and I attend one of the forums and the week after, was asked to be part of a panel (still within EFFA celebrations) addressing the issue of waste and plastic waste (disposal, management, culture surrounding, solutions) in Ghana and beyond.

Shared the panel with MAKSI FashionHouse (Nana Darkoah Sekyiamah), Trashy Bags (Stuart Gold), and we were moderated by the astute and creative Dr. Kwesi Owusu (of Creative Storm and EFFA) himself. This last forum went extremely well.

A five minute insert of our Aburi documentary was included in a 12-minute documentary made by Creative Storm for the Film Marathon aspect of the EFFA, and we felt somewhat encouraged by all events and activities that month.

·         July 2011: intern and I hit Cape 3 Points, Takoradi, Cape Coast, Tarkwa on research and fact-finding ecological and environment-focused learning trips. See here for an album of pictures taken on most of these trips.

We commenced working relationships, procured a lot of data, researched about particular situations in specific locations, and got more familiar with more places in our country. To come, Wa, Tuori, Yargpelle, Lawra, Cape Coast again, Benin Songhai Center, and Cape Verde.

Want me to come see something in your community or neighbourhood? Call me up or email me.
If I need to advocate for help and support, or get you in contact with experts and entities in the field, I will.

This month also saw a lot more people interacting with me about the work I do in this NGO; most of them acquaintances I don’t know so well but now do, friends who keep referring me to things and things to me, family members who encourage and support, and strangers who have been following everything since I started and I have no idea of!
Some call me now and then and mention meetings at BarCamps I have presented at, or conferences and forums I have spoken at, or sometimes just have had only my blogposts to read! Keep the encouragement coming! It really helps.

July ended with another BBC phone interview for one of Africa Have Your Say’s sessions, this one on power shortages/outages on the continent, with focus on Kenya’s new/recent power rationing announcements.
I was humbled to be called by BBC team to be the voice for renewable energy in the entire discussion, and was allowed to have the final word on the programme after all the excuses and annual explanations by the political leaders of the energy institutions. I felt like I needed much more time than that though! Where the boxing ring at?! Lemme at them!

Last year, was called by BBC on similar issues and the Energy Ministry of Ghana promised on the live set discussion to PASS THE RENEWABLE ENERGY BILL into law before the year ended, after I had posed a question to them. We still wait for that to happen. See: WTF has the Ministry of Energy Ghana, done for us so far? and The BBC debate & a promise by the Energy Minister of Ghana.

Finally, pressure has been put on me by a friend who is with me on a Ghanaian social network group to do something about the embarrassing elephant in our midst here in Ghana … the e-waste situation of Sodom and Gomorrah (S & G itself being a problem worth of its very own blogpost!).
Since 2008, it has garnered a lot of HIGHLY-CONCERNED and VERY DISTURBING articles, revelations, and campaigns about the high levels of toxins seeping into the ground, the water-tables, the air, the systems of the young men and the animals and cattle of the area.

Nothing impact-full has happened to cause a change in the situation. Instead, it gets worse.

I sometimes think every European and American journalist, journalist ‘freak’ (some of them write about it with glee), and journalist wannabe who wants to get some attention, or cut their teeth on the job in the fastest possible way comes to Ghana and takes pictures and videos, interviews of this situation, and goes back to make it their promotional or hey-look-at-me-I’m –a-genius ace-in-hand or trump card.

And year after year, they keep coming … to find the situation not even the same, but worse!

WTF Ghana.
WTF all these big electronic companies like Philips, Canon, Dell, Sony, and the bloody Japanese, Chinese, Korean ones.
WTF all phone companies, and WTF Environmental Protection Agency, Accra Metropolitan Assemby, and the Government of Ghana!
W …T …F!

I went to see Kojo Oppong Nkrumah last week, and I asked him for help brainstorming what to do about this situation. He has suggested a first joint step, and I hope he will honour it. What? He’s very busy? We all are, darling.

I will go to Otabil … his wonderful bastion of sense, discipline, and morality/religion ICGC, stands right next to the e-waste aisle of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Toxins and depraved lunatics, deformed babies and malfunctioning young men and women, anybody? (Please don’t scream Amen to that.)

Yes, the toxins from these electronic waste heaps lead to brain malfunctions, lead poisoning, nerve problems, sexual reproduction issues, cancer, and mutants like you see on X-men. Okay, maybe not the last, but you get the idea.

Then I’m going to hit up on Wanlov Kubolor, Mantse Aryeequaye, Kwesi Owusu, Bibie Brew, did I mention Otabil already, and all my radical brothers and sisters … and we’re gonna go see the President.
Because something’s gotta give.

P.S.: Have you donated to our fundraiser yet? See here. This is very close to my heart.
We also have a page on Facebook, where you can interact, get more real-time updates, and ask questions. Click here.


  1. Good piece,Golda.We all need to do more for our environment. And we also need to gather more critical mass. More grease to your elbow. Will surely link up sooner than later,sista! WTF ;-)) Aluta continua..................... Sowah

  2. Thank you Sowah! I am on fire to do all I can, but I realise the need to go about it properly and calmly even if in double-quick time. I hate starting something and not being able to make an impact or a full change where possible ... but as I ALWAYS SAY ... I cannot do this work alone. Help me somebahdyyyyyyy! :) WTF brother, hook up and lend a hand. Word.

  3. WoW, Golda this is not only as expected a master piece from the ultimate, this is a crusade to save the the Green continent. I don't know how we keep saying the last man will follow the last tree's extiction yet we fall trees whose ages, we may not have seen a quarter, only for what to eat today. I have monitored the crises in the horn of Africa and it boils down to deforestation as a result charcoal trade. If only the West will learn from the East, if only we will embrace greencoal, then we will avoid famine and sustain our development in a serene clean environment. Kudos!

  4. Thank you, Adokwei. I know how much help and support you've been to this campaign lately, and I love your "vim"!!
    Full speed ahead, pardner. :)