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Changing gears: Female truck drivers growing in Ghana4 minutes read

The transport sector is a big employer in Ghana but is dominated by men.

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Ghana female truck drivers
Abigail Asumadu-Amoah, one of Ladybird Logistics' 21 female employees, drives a tanker truck to the Ghanstock depot in Takoradi, western Ghana. (Photo by CRISTINA ALDEHUELA / AFP)

Rumbling along the rutted roads of Ghana at the wheel of her giant truck, Abigail Asumadu-Amoah turns heads but keeps her focus.

She is one of 21 drivers working for Ladybird Logistics, a company that claims to be “the first company globally to employ only female drivers.”

In a tough industry dominated by men, the women are changing attitudes.

“What men can do, women can also do,” said Asumadu-Amoah, who hopes other women will be inspired by their achievement. “It’s (a question of) determination.”

Ladybird’s all-women team drive 47,000-litre trucks, delivering fuel to Ghana’s gold mines.

But for Asumadu-Amoah, 44, the biggest challenges she faces are the state of the pot-holed roads in the West African country.

“Drive defensively and carefully,” Asumadu-Amoah said, of her approach to her work, as she waited for her tanker to fill with fuel from a depot in the coastal port of Takoradi, some 225 kilometres (140 miles) west of Ghana’s capital, Accra.

The transport sector is a big employer in Ghana but is dominated by men.

Nearly eight percent of men in Ghana work in the transport and storage sector, according to government figures, compared to only 0.3 percent of women.

But there was a problem, said William Tewiah, managing director of Ghana’s Zen Petroleum, a major fuel transport company delivering supplies to industry across the region.

Drivers would fill up their tankers with fuel in Takoradi before driving to mining sites across Ghana.

On the way however, they would syphon off supplies for themselves on a grand scale.

Some months, the company could lose as much as 50,000 dollars (44,000 euros) in stolen fuel, Tewiah said.

Looking for a solution, he said he realised that something new was needed and that hiring women could be the answer.

Since women would be coming in fresh to the industry, they would have a “completely different mind-set”, he added.

In late 2017, Tewiah approached independent management consultant Payin Marfo to turn his dream of having an all-female truck driving company into a reality, making her Ladybird’s managing director.

In October the following year, Ladybird began delivering fuel on behalf of Zen Petroleum to supply one of the gold mines.

Based in Takoradi, Ladybird, which is owned by a group of shareholders, covers three routes currently, the longest of which takes about seven hours.

“I sleep a lot better at night not having nightmares about fuel disappearing,” Tewiah said.

The drivers, aged between 28 and 45, were all experienced and licensed to drive heavy goods vehicles, many as bus drivers.

Ladybird gave them extra training, including with support from the Swedish truck manufacturers Scania, and Ghana’s army transport corps.

The military trucker training included physical drills with the army instructors, defensive driving lessons, as well as tips on handling the fuel trucks.

So far, Ladybird Logistics’ only customer is Zen but with time, it hopes to expand.

Marfo said that the company planned to more than double the number of drivers by hiring 24 more and increase the size of the fleet.

“A lot more ladies are showing interest,” she said, adding that every week a woman contacted her asking for a job. 

“For me, that is the first goal already achieved.” 

“Globally, women consider trucking as a profession, but in Ghana, we didn’t. Now I can see females are considering trucking as a profession.”

The company also has a female mechanic on hand, 28-year-old Beatrice Frimpong.

As well as providing her with a job, Frimpong hopes it can encourage other women.

“It will empower someone to do something extraordinary,” Frimpong said.

Men have sometimes told her that she was too small or weak for the work and that she should stick to smaller vehicles, she said. 

So moving to repair lorries -like the tanker trucks she works with today — was an act of defiance.

“I wanted to prove to them I can do it,” Frimpong said. “It doesn’t matter whether I am big or small, I can do it.”

The team has won supporters among male colleagues.

Justice Zoiku, a truck driver filling his tanker in the same fuel depot, said that he was always happy to see the Ladybird drivers on the roads.

“They have patience and take their time to do everything,” Zoiku said. “They are doing well.”

Zoiku, a proud father, also said that he would be happy if his daughter decided to follow in his footsteps and drive a tanker.

“If she wants to drive, I will support her,” Zoiku said. “What men can do, women can do it better.”

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Entertainment

2Baba releases new album “Warriors”

The album is a key offering in the celebration of 2Baba’s 20 Years A King project.

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Award-winning Afropop icon 2Baba has released his new album titled “Warriors” earlier today, February 28. This album is released as part of his 20 Years a King (#20YearAKing) celebration, commemorating the two decades he has spent in the Nigerian music industry.

This new album contains just 13 tracks including previously released singles like ‘Important’, ‘Oyi’ and the Peruzzi-assisted smash hit, ‘Amaka’. The LP also boasts big-name collaborations like Burna Boy, Wizkid, Olamide, Tiwa Savage and Peruzzi. It also features appearances from AJ Natives, Symeca and his daughter HI Idibia.

The production of the album is handled by a galaxy of PBanks, Spelz, Blaq Jeerzy, Bolji Beatz, Speroach Beatz, Richie, Ploops and his longtime collaborator, Jay Sleek.

Interestingly, this is the first 2Baba album that comes with a title track, which also serves as the opener of the full-length project.

On Tuesday, February 25, the celebrated singer held a well-attended listening party for the album at the Artisan Lounge bar, Lagos.

His seventh studio album, “Warriors” is the long-overdue follow up to “The Ascension” which was met with mixed reviews upon its release in 2014.

Formerly known as 2face Idibia, 2baba is one Africa’s most successful artists, winning local, continental and international awards like BET and MTV Europe Music Awards.

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Exporting African sounds into Italy

Nigerian migrants are introducing Afrobeat to one of Italy’s most popular cities

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Nigerians are slowly stamping their authority in Italy's music space. Photo credit: Quartz Africa

Migrating from Africa to Europe is a particularly tricky business. It is usually very difficult to obtain visas, and consequently, many people opt for the long, tortuous route that runs through the Sahara Desert and extends into the Mediterranean Sea. It is a risky journey in many ways, as desperate migrants get robbed, swindled, enslaved or worse still, meet their end in the hot sands and high seas.

There is also the small matter of reputation when it comes to successful migrants. There are those who believe that men and women who manage to avoid death or slavery, and ultimately cross the borders into Italy and Spain, are either involved in drug peddling, prostitution or unsavoury menial jobs like washing up corpses.

There is a small group of people, however, who are slowly changing the narrative. These ones are not only showing that there is more that African migrants can do in Europe, but they are also exporting Nigerian music in all its exotic nature and rich flavour into one of Italy’s major cities.

Palermo, the capital city of the Sicilian province, is slowly becoming the Southern European capital for the world-conquering Afrobeats scene. Social media has given a platform to musicians who can reach a wide audience without institutional support. There are more than a few cities in Italy that are not exactly kind to migrants, but Palermo has gradually become a haven for a number of young Nigerian musicians to hone their craft and attempt to carve a niche for themselves on European shores.

The influx of these musicians has had a significant effect on the city, too. For instance, Ballaro, a small neighbourhood in Palermo, was once known as one of the most dangerous places in Italy, no thanks to the activities of the Mafia. But with the arrival of African and Asian immigrants, the neighbourhood is now revitalised and less prone to crime.

Artists like RayJeezy, Brenex Baba and Thug Money make a living from performing at night clubs across the city. They hope that their hustle ultimately pays off and that they gain worldwide recognition, but for now, they are contributing to the transformation of a city’s music and culture. Things are looking up for the African migrant population in Palermo, and it’s not hard to tell that there will be more where the music came from.

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Entertainment

Netflix Announces First Original Nigerian Series

This comes just after the U.S-based streaming giant launched Netflix Naija.

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Popular media-services provider Netflix has announced the production of its first original African series to be headlined by Nollywood director, Akin Omotoso.

This would be a six-part series that features an all-star Nollywood cast of Kate Henshaw, Ade Laoye, Richard Mofe Damijo, Joke Silva, Fabian Adeoye Lojede, Kehinde Bankole and many others. 

Directed by a team of Akin Omotosho, Daniel Oriahi and CJ Obasi, the series tells the story of a reincarnated goddess who seeks to avenge her sister’s death.

This announcement comes just after the U.S-based streaming platform unveiled Netflix Naija on Tuesday, February 25, 2020.

In a statement with Premium Times, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos revealed that “movies like King of Boys, Merry Men and The Bling Lagosians have shown how much our members love Nigerian movies. 

“So, we’re incredibly excited to be investing in Made in Nigeria stories – bringing them to audiences all around the world.”

Over the past year, Netflix has featured a number of Nollywood movies on its streaming platform. Among such movies include the culturally and commercially successful King of Boys, October 1, The Figurine, Mokalik, and Merry Men. 

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