Over 300 people interested in Ghana congregated on December 21st at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) premises to exchange ideas and learn from each other. BarCamp Ghana 09 was themed "Leadership for our times - cultivating change makers" and the event was centered around youth creating and making change and setting up themselves to lead, be innovate and entrepreneurial now. The event run from 9am past 7pm and was free for all attendees. Breakfast, lunch, and drinks were all provided at no cost to attendees. A BarCamp Ghana 09 Tshirt made to show appreciation to our sponsors and provide a long-lasting souvenir from the event was sold to attendees at 5 Ghana Cedis. Sponsors included the GhanaThink Fountdation, the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), Google Ghana, Web4Africa, Ushahidi, Ashesi University, Fienipa, and Studio 8. CITI 97.3 FM and SKYY TV Digital were the media partners.
BarCamp Ghana 09 was the second edition after the successful organization of BarCamp Ghana 08 held at the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Center of Excellence for ICT on December 22nd, 2008. BarCamp Diaspora, a similar event for Ghanaians in the US, occurred on July 25th, 2009 at the Johns Hopkins University –SAIS in Washington, DC. This year’s BarCamp Ghana was focused on youth, entrepreneurship and leadership. A BarCamp is an ad-hoc gathering where attendees meet for discussions, demos and networking. It is popularly called an ‘unconference’, where every attendee is both a speaker and a participant. The content is provided by all attendees based on their interests, unified under the theme.
The event got underway at 9:30 am with opening remarks from a couple of BarCamp Ghana 09 organizers. A little history lesson about BarCamps was given as well as the story and goals of BarCamp Ghana. The keynote speech was delivered by Patrick Awuah, the founder and president of Ashesi University. Patrick spoke about cases where he was entrusted in a leadership position and how he is trying to educate ethical, innovative and socially responsible leaders through Ashesi University.
After registration and breakfast, the ‘unconference’ got underway. The first panel of the day was a roundtable discussion on leadership moderated by Dr. Sodzi Tettey. The panelists were Patrick Awuah, Estelle Sowah of Google Ghana, George Minta-Jacobs of EMPRETEC, and Anna Bannerman-Richter of the Longevity Project. They talked about youth volunteerism in Ghana, empowering young people to make differences in the communities, the importance of taking action, the exciting opportunities available, and the challenges the youth faced in being enterprising or innovative.
The next item on the program was the agenda building session where attendees interested in organizing breakout sessions announced their topics of interest. Lunch followed this session and was provided by the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) kitchen. During lunch, the organizers prepared the breakout sessions schedule by location and time. In all, BarCamp Ghana 09 had 19 sessions over 3 different time slots. Each session was an hour long. Some of the sessions included The Facts and Secrets about Entrepreneurship, Leadership, African language technology tools, Philantropy, Clothing Africa, Starting companies, Technology in Education, Hardware and Software solutions for rural Ghana, Conflict and Dispute management, SAP software, Green and Alternative Energy, amongst others. There were also 4 sessions organized by Google employees about Google Apps, Google Maps, Google tools for websites, etc. The breakout sessions were successful, engaging and educational. A full list of the sessions will be published on the BarCamp Ghana 09 website.
The second panel was about what tangible things the youth of Ghana was doing now to create change and lead now. This panel was moderated by Esi Cleland and the panelists were Araba Amuasi, Sammy Laryea, Sophia Kokor and a representative of the Leaders for Tomorrow Foundation. They discussed the challenges of youth leadership, and those that the youth face in trying to make a difference in their communities.
In the spirit of inspiring the BarCamp Ghana 09 attendees to take action on the ideas that had been shared and the topics that had been discussed, a presentation about an NGO that was formed out of the recent BarCamp Diaspora rounded up the BarCamp. REACH-Ghana is a healthcare-focused NGO formed out of a healthcare breakout session at BarCamp Diaspora. They talked about their history, goals, mission, projects and called for membership and volunteers.
Notes from BarCamp Ghana 2009 will be published on the website and a white paper will be prepared to detail the ideas and information coming out of the BarCamp. The organizers hope to see attendees partner to work on various projects and business as well as start new businesses, and organizations. There will be future BarCamps in various places in Ghana to send the conversations nationwide and continue to bring the idea of congregating, sharing, learning and acting to Ghanaians everywhere.
For more information, go to www.barcampghana.org