Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Gh Services Providers: ECG, GCB and the Telcos

ECG (Electricity Company of Ghana)

After 36 hours of no power, I had become reflective and philosophical. I came to the conclusion that ECG wasn't some false idol but a true god that controlled my life. I pleaded with them to forgive me for all the bad things I said about them, the insults and curses. I was truly remorseful. I just wanted them to have pity on me so I could charge my phone and laptop. I didn't want my stew in the fridge to go rancid. The ice in the fridge had thawed and now everything else was melting. But ECG didn't heed my prayer. It didn't matter that I had lots of credit on the prepaid meter. ECG punished me for a further 8 hours.

ECG is a drug dealer that gives us enough of their 'merchandise' to get us hooked and when we were addicted, they would take it away and only give it back after we were forced to pay an unreasonable price for less than average services.

Every year, tariffs go up with the promise of improved services. This has been going on long before I was born.

A friend in Nigeria sent me this picture from an old News Paper Clipping, same story in Ghana

GCB (Ghana Commercial Bank)

Ghana Commercial Bank, sigh...
What isn't wrong with Ghana Commercial Bank? Withdrawing money can be so demeaning it feels as if you are begging not withdrawing your own money. The problem is that GCB is the one bank you can find in every corner of Ghana. When I was doing my National Service in Ashanti Manpong it was the only Bank I could access.

I was recently at one GCB branch and the banking hall and a long winding queue. The air condition wasn't working and there were only 3 tellers at post even though there were about 7 cages. Suddenly one teller just shut her cage and refused to take customers. She didn't go anywhere, she just sat there like an Egyptian sphinx, her eyes glazed with her mind faraway. Some customers pleaded with her to help but she just sat there unresponsive, almost catatonic.

The other two who were working were so slow it was painful to watch. Even worse, the money counting machine kept jamming and they had to clear it and recount. One of them stopped using the machine and would lick her finger and slowly start counting the money herself. Sometimes, she would get confused and start all over again.

I remember when I was in the University (KNUST) it was common occurrence for students who used the ATM not to receive the cash but have their accounts debited. Sometimes the Machine would give less than the money requested but the receipt would show the full amount had been deducted.

GCB was the bank that allowed the lowest minimum balance and for some students, was the only bank back home so we endured these frustrations. Somewhere along the line, students changed the GCB motto from, “We Serve You Better” to “We Swerve You Better”.


It seems like all the telcos went to a meeting and unanimously decided to frustrate customers. Poor service coupled with infuriating spam SMS is enough to drive anyone crazy. It's amazing how these telcos can send you an SMS telling to send 123 to 456 to register for a raffle but can't send an SMS to inform users of a problem that is going to affect all users nation wide. They won't spend money improving services but will spend millions of cedis to bring some washed out American singer to come perform for 30 minutes. Everyday telcos are giving away cars and cash at one beauty pageant or the other. Their help lines, offer no help at all. The helpers only apologize and ask if you have restarted your phone. I do admit the ladies really have nice voices.

Recently Citi FM started a twitter hashtag #DearGhTelcos where users could vent some pent up anger and frustration. They also called the PR Managers of the various telcos to explain their poor service. The MTN PR Officer blamed China Phones and the Airtel PR Manager Donald Gwira said if users didn't like their services they could unsubscribe and move to another service providers


Monday, 13 January 2014

African Nations In High School ( #AfricanNationsInHighSchool )

On Sunday January 12, 2014, @SiyandaWrites on twitter started the #AfricanNationsInHighSchool which quickly caught on. Africans everywhere (including yours truly) joined in with some witty tweets. Here is a collection of some of them.