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Ghana moves to end dreams of ‘Western Togoland’4 minutes read

We are in a democratic state, and you don’t just arrest people because you think they have an intention to demonstrate

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With his white hair and walking stick, Charles Kormi Kudzordzi does not look like the leader of a revolutionary separatist movement seeking to forge a new West African nation.

Even his supporters call the frail 85-year old “Papavi”, or grandfather.

But Ghana’s security forces are not taking any chances.

A joint police and military operation cracked down this month on a group that said it was preparing to declare its own nation in the eastern Volta region bordering Togo.

Soldiers blocked roads and stormed houses, arresting 89 people across the region, most of them around the town of Ho, 150 kilometres (93 miles) northeast of Ghana’s capital Accra.

The separatists, members of the innocuous-sounding “Homeland Study Group Foundation”, or HSGF, call their dream country “Western Togoland”.

“We are not leaving anything to chance,” said Prince Dogbatse, Volta region police spokesman. “We’re on high alert… to protect the territorial boundaries of Ghana.”

Police say the group not only has an anthem, constitution and flag, but is also training a militia force.

The Volta region is also a stronghold of Ghana’s main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

‘Storm in a tea cup’

A video taken by a local journalist of the arrests shows Kudzordzi leaning heavily on a carved wooden stick, flanked by men in combat helmets and automatic rifles leading him towards a military helicopter.

The retired teacher pauses, as if out of breath, before getting in.

Kudzordzi was flown to the confines of the high-security walls of Ghana’s Bureau of National Investigations in Accra, accused, with seven other men, of being the group’s leaders, and charged with treason.

They risk the death penalty if found guilty.

Kudzordzi – who was granted bail but could not meet the conditions – will next appear in court on May 22 with his co-accused.

A further 81 supporters have been released on bail on illegal gathering charges.

Separatists say the Volta area has a unique history and culture and warrants being its own country, but reject accusations of planning violence to achieve their goal.

“Our activities have always been in the open,” the fugitive secretary of HSGF, George Nyakpo, told AFP.

Local lawmaker Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor accused police of heavy-handedness.

“We are in a democratic state, and you don’t just arrest people because you think they have an intention to demonstrate,” said Dafeamekpor.

“It’s a storm in a tea cup.”

‘Sovereignty lost to rigging’

The region’s problems are deeply rooted in divisions created by its colonial past.

During the so-called “Scramble for Africa”, Britain seized much of what is today Ghana, while Germany grabbed areas to the east, then Togoland.

After Germany’s defeat in World War One, Togoland was split west-east between Britain and France.

When Britain abandoned its empire in 1956, Ghana was among the first African colonies to gain freedom. The people of British Togoland were given a choice between Ghana and Togo, and Britain said nearly two-thirds opted to incorporate their area into Ghana.

Separatists say that vote was rigged.

“It was the craftiness of Britain… that deprived us of our self-rule and sovereignty,” the HSGF said in a statement last year.

Bigger than Lesotho

If Western Togoland were a country, it would be home to millions of people and possibly rich in oil and gold reserves.

Multiple ethnic groups live in the area; Christians, Muslims, and followers of voodoo.

Separatists say the territory is a strip 550 kilometres (340 miles) long and 60 kilometres wide — stretching from the border with Burkina Faso in the north to the Gulf of Guinea, sandwiched between Ghana and Togo.

UN documents from 1955 estimate then-British Togoland at 33,776 square kilometres (13,041 square miles) – slightly bigger than Lesotho.

But while the colonial-era area was landlocked, separatists today claim access to the sea.

Historians reject a claim by separatists that in 1956 the people of Togoland were promised another referendum after 50 years.

“It is not true,” said Professor Wilson Yayoh, from Ghana’s University of Cape Coast.

Long history of Togoland

Backers of Western Togoland claim widespread support, but many in Volta seem suspicious.

“Their mission is impossible,” said trader Doris Mawusi. “Ghana is our homeland and we are here to stay.”

“We don’t trust these HSGF people,” said Joseph Doe, a 57-year-old fisherman. “They are pursuing their parochial interests. What track record do they have to rule over us?”

The separatists began campaigning in 1972 as the “National Liberation Movement of Togoland”, dominated by the Ewe tribal group.

Their calls to renegotiate borders sparked tensions between Ghana and Togo, and in 1976, Accra banned the group.

Back then, US diplomatic cables said the government was “unusually sensitive to Ewe separatist challenges, which may be real or imaginary”.

Today, the issue seems to cause no less twitchiness in the Ghanaian capital.

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Business News

Power of partnerships: harnessing the strengths of other businesses to grow

Partnerships deepen ties between businesses and foster collaborations and longevity

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Power of Partnerships: Harnessing the Strength of Other Businesses to grow
Power of Partnerships: Harnessing the Strength of Other Businesses to grow. Photo source: Shutterstock

No business knows it all, just as one tree doesn’t make a forest, so it is important for businesses to come together in partnership so they can both gain. It is the most strategic way for businesses to scale their innovation and solve complex challenges. Collaborations and strategic partnerships – the keyword being strategic – are fundamental to improving business outcomes. 

Partnerships are beneficial to every business. The management team and employees will benefit from partnerships because they have the opportunity to broaden market share, relevance and increase visibility. Customers are not left out as they benefit from the strengths and offerings that the formation of partnerships produce. Employees equally get a chance to enhance their skills and have access to more developmental opportunities by being exposed to new perspectives. 

Why establish business partnerships?

Partnerships deepen ties between businesses and foster collaborations and longevity. In all, partnerships are key to improving service to customers by merging talent, expertise, technology and purpose.

Partnerships deepen ties and help businesses improve service offerings
Partnerships deepen ties and help businesses improve service offerings. Photo credit: Shutterstock

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How do you know when to form partnerships and how to create valuable partnerships? You need to identify the specific challenge that needs to be fixed. Businesses need to know what their customers want and then identify who to form an alliance with in order to provide an enhanced service.

How to establish partnerships

However, you need to be certain that your company is strong enough to form partnerships. One of the key ways of harnessing the strengths of other businesses is to lay out what each is bringing to the table and what each business is lacking either operational or otherwise and look for ways to collaborate on their individual strengths in order to grow.

Businesses looking to form partnerships must agree to work together towards a common goal. Establishing a clear goal of what the partnership aims to accomplish is key to the success of the partnership and the growth of the individual businesses involved. A good example is a partnership between Piggyvest and Landwey to facilitate ease of accessibility to land ownership for middle and low-income earners.

Meetings are important when deciding to foster a partnership
Meetings are important when deciding to foster a partnership with another organisation. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Another good example is Prospa’s partnership with Workstation. The workstation has a digital member network of distinctive people and companies to which they send helpful information – newsletters, events and press releases. Prospa has partnered with them on a few events and workshops to leverage their network of entrepreneurs in order to establish its digital banking accounts for businesses. 

Pay Attention: The modern-day handyman: how to package your business

Recently, Flutterwave partnered with Worldpay; the collaboration between the two companies will allow Worldpay merchants in Europe and the United States to accept any African payment. These are examples of strategic partnership where each of the company leveraged on the strength and market share of the other to grow. 

Effective communication is another way to build a concrete partnership. Clear communication between partners must be established. Having a series of meetings to elaborate on partnership collaboration is key so as to understand the needs of both parties and what they hope to accomplish. Open and effective channels of communication will go a long way in establishing a successful partnership and subsequent business growth.

Partnerships are also a  way for businesses to gain access to untapped market segments and resources as well as create supply chain resilience. Strategic partnerships with reputable brands can put businesses in target communities where they were struggling to enter before.

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Business News

The modern-day handyman: how to package your business

Artisans have been trivialised to the point where it is rare for a plumber or mechanic to operate in a formal and extremely professional setting.

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packaging & branding ideas for Artisans and Handymen
Packaging & branding ideas for Artisans and Handymen. Photo credit: Shutterstock.

What do you think of when you hear the term handyman? If you are thinking of carpenters, plumbers and mechanics, you are definitely right. Here in Nigeria, handymen tend to do a good job on their brand identity and so despite the fact that their services are used often, they are paid next to nothing for their work. Many consider the jobs of handymen and artisans to be informal. Artisans have been trivialised to the point where it is rare for a plumber or mechanic to operate in a formal and extremely professional setting. 

But it is not impossible. As a matter of fact, rebranding your handyman business is the perfect way to boost and create a more exciting appearance to customers, attract new clients and increase profits. So how do you repackage a handyman business? Here are five steps to consider:

Get a logo and a brand identity 

Let’s simplify this process. Start by picking out a colour you like, something vibrant and attractive. Then go-ahead to create a logo and a business card. Nothing too fancy or over the top, just enough to give your business an image that clients will never forget. Thanks to Canva, the whole process of making a logo and a business card can be done in all of twenty minutes. You just have to print out your cards and that’s it. 

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If it’s a little too difficult to piece out the logo and brand identity elements yourself, then reach out to an affordable design agency. The agency you select must demonstrate how they will create attractive brand identity elements and must show you a portfolio to confirm their track record. Replace your old work clothes with a customized overall that represents your brand. Your clients will love it and the best of all, they won’t forget it.

Build a cool Website

I know. You aren’t exactly a tech guru and that’s the reason you’re a handyman, not a software developer. I get it, but all businesses are online these days. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, it goes a long way if clients can find you on the Internet. It creates a whole new level of trust in the relationship.

Get a cool Handyman website
Get a cool Handyman website

Besides, it’s not that hard to build a Website. You can use DIY software like Wix, Disha.ng or WordPress.org. All you need to put on your Website is a list of your services, at least one compelling reason why potential customers should choose or hire you (i.e. list your training, credentials, skills, professionalism, etc.), your contact information and professional pictures detailing your past work.

Register for a digital business account

For this step, Prospa is the answer. Prospa is a business tool designed to make managing your finances, customers and employees much easier. You can create a business account in less than five minutes. With Prospa, you can easily manage your money, send out invoices to customers and auto-split your funds into sub-accounts for marketing, taxes and more. Isn’t that great? A business account is like icing on a cake, it makes ads more sauce to your packaging.

Read Also: Video gaming to boost job creation and software development in Benin

Hire an apprentice

Engage an Apprentice to help and shadow you
Engage an Apprentice to help and shadow you

Are you getting a lot of calls from clients? You might want to consider hiring an apprentice to shadow you while you get work done. As time goes by, you could outsource some work to your qualified apprentice so you don’t have to do it all by yourself. You can start by taking a student under your wing and teaching them all about the business. Don’t forget to communicate the importance of maintaining the brand’s identity to them.

Charge appropriately

The last thing you want is getting underpaid for all your hard work or overcharging a client because that would speak to your credibility. So how do you charge your customers fairly without tearing a hole in your own pocket? 

Consider the following factors: Time – how long is the job going to take, are you going to have to travel a long distance, think about that. Skill and preparation – does this job require a high level of skill, how about how long it would take for you to prepare to get the job done? Expenses – calculate how much you would be spending in order to do a perfect job. With all these, you can determine how much you want to charge clients. You could charge them based on the time you’d spend on the job or a flat rate depending on the type of service but be sure to do the math so you are not getting underpaid.

To conclude, ensure to keep it professional. Send invoices to your clients by mail, maintain a neat and tidy appearance, try as much as possible to widen your skillset. It doesn’t hurt to learn new things, this can open you up to more client’s. Always do a good job, this way clients could spread the good word about your business. And finally, don’t fail to do a little promotion for your business, let people know you exist.

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Entertainment

Flytime Music Festival started off with a Bang

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LAGOS—Pepsi Rhythm Unplugged took over Lagos’s Eko Convention Centre on December 20, for a night of world-class performances, luxurious raging, and a charged carnival atmosphere.

The legacy concert of renowned promoters Flytime Promotions, which takes place annually in Nigeria drew thousands of attendees and featured sets from many luminaries of African and world music, including Burna Boy, Olamide, Mayorkun, Zlatan Ibile, Patoranking, Teni Makanaki, breakout Jamaican singer Koffee, and veteran American Hip-hop legend, Ma$e among others. In addition to its sold-out crowd and stacked artist lineup, the concert is also marking its 15th anniversary with a pioneering 5-day music festival.

“Pepsi Rhythm unplugged has come in leaps and bounds, setting the pace of concerts in Nigeria, and inspiring a generation of talents to come forward with their best work,” says Cecil Hammond, the CEO of Flytime Promotions. “This year, we’re offering a decade-defining week, with specially curated concerts to define the holiday season.”

Hosted by Bovi, the night launched with a charged set from DJ Obi, before openers Jeff Akoh, Tolani and B-Red carried it forward. Fireboy DML would raise the crowd, right in time for a retro-fusion performance from DJ Cuppy, complete with dancers and miming.

20-year-old breakout Jamaican singer Koffee delivered a thrilling performance, running through her hit records, before ending with an emotional vote of thanks. Teni threw in her comic bent, and DJ Neptune charted the creative history of Nigerian music, soundtracking each era with hits and dancing from an electrifying group led by Kaffy.

Dressed like royalty in flowing Agbada, veteran rapper Ma$e took everyone back a few decades, to a time when he ruled Hip-hop. Backed by nostalgia, he ran through his vast catalogue of hits. Patoranking, Zlatan and Mayorkun played high-energy sets, before Burna Boy rounded off the show with a powerful performance.

Pepsi Rhythm Unplugged is a toast to 15 years of remarkable growth and exceptional concerts by Flytime. It is the first of a

The festival organizers will host legendary R’n’B trio, BoyzIIMen on Day 2, 21st December 2019. Day 3 will welcome the hottest girl of the summer, Megan Thee Stallion to new Flytime franchise—the Alternative Concert—on 22nd December. Flytime Music Festival has also announced the Everything Savage concert, headlined by Tiwa Savage on the 23rd of December. The festival will close on Christmas Day with a headliner concert by Burna Boy!

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