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Ghana’s People to Watch

Posted on Monday, 1 February 2010 15:53

André Ayew, Footballer

by Kwabena Mensah

As Ghana’s football team prepared for its opening Africa Cup of Nations (ACN) game in Cabinda on January 15, one player carried a large burden of expectation. André Ayew, midfielder for French side Arles-Avignon and aged just 20, is growing up fast – along with his wealth. The oldest of three footballing sons of Abedi ‘Pele’, who led Ghana to three of her four previous ACN victories, Ayew led the Black Satellites under-20 squad to a dramatic victory at the World Youth Championship in Egypt last year. The young Satellites were showered with praise – and gifts – including fully-insured cars and about $140,000.

Hannah Tetteh, Trade and industry minister

by Patrick Smith

One of the first appointments of John Atta Mills’s government, Hannah Tetteh has taken on the trade and industry portfolio with enthusiasm. A social science graduate from the University of Ghana at Legon and scion of a prominent political family, Tetteh balances trade and business expertise with well-tuned political instinct. As a council member of the Ghana Association of Industries, Tetteh has promised new laws to raise production standards and protect consumers.

She has already accompanied President Mills on official visits to Britain, meeting Whitehall officials and key foreign investors. She also represented Ghana at a Commonwealth business conference in London and led a delegation to the World Trade Organisation negotiations in Geneva.

Annoyed by jibes from former President Jerry Rawlings that the current crop of ministers was Ghana’s ‘B’ team, Tetteh retorted that many of the ministers had worked in senior positions under Rawlings. Confronting an ex-president and the founder of one’s party takes political courage and has earned Tetteh new admirers.

Alhassan Andani ?Managing director of Stanbic, Ghana

by Kwabena Mensah

Alhassan Andani is one of the shrewdest operators on Ghana’s financial scene, combining professional acumen with political savvy.?As managing director of Stanbic Ghana, Andani has sharply raised the bank’s profile.

In November, Andani raised the bank’s share capital to 60m cedis ($42m) to meet regulatory requirements introduced by former Bank of Ghana governor Paul Acquah to cushion the banks against the global economic crisis. Andani was a frontrunner to succeed Acquah but lost out to Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur. His supporters say he did not get the job because he did not lobby for it.

A northerner from a family seen as supporting the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), Andani has surfed skilfully between regimes over the last three decades. He championed the previous NDC government’s policy on lending to smallholders in northern Ghana when bankers were reluctant to extend credit in the 1990s.?

Stanbic is launching a $25m credit scheme for Ghana’s small farmers as part of a wider green revolution plan in the country.

Samia Nkrumah?, Convention People’s Party MP for Jomoro

by Zagba Oyortey

Bursting onto the political scene in mid-2008, Samia Nkrumah declared her intention of making Ghana her home and helping to shape its future. The daughter of founding President Kwame Nkrumah and his Egyptian wife, Fathia, Samia spent most of her life abroad. Few could have foreseen that Samia would win the Jomoro constituency, where her father was born, to become the only MP for the Nkrumahist Convention People’s Party. Samia combines her role as MP with that of community activist, participating in parliamentary debates in Accra and raising funds for scholarships and work programmes in Jomoro.

Her plans for the future? “Working with my constituency to create a sustainable African community.” Watching Samia in action, some think she has a national political career ahead of her.

Alban Bagbin, Majority leader ?in parliament

by Kwabena Mensah

Combative and plain-speaking, ?Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin has used his leadership of the National Democratic Congress’s (NDC) Black Satellites to demonstrate independence from the presidency and to score points against all parties, including his own. Yet, the 52-year-old, who is in his third parliamentary term, remains one of the country’s most popular politicians.

NDC MP for Nadowli North, Bagbin spoke out in November against the inner circle around President John Atta Mills, calling them “sycophants, bootlickers and fairweather friends”. His words echoed earlier criticisms of the President’s team by NDC founder and former head of state Jerry Rawlings, making it difficult for Mills to sack him.

NDC activists and MPs also resent the return to government of party functionaries who played little part in the hard-fought election campaign in 2008.

Bagbin describes them as “old friends who were timidly hiding somewhere then suddenly felt the appetite for political office”. Some, he regretted, would even be happy to polish the president’s shoes.

Ruth Akyeampong, ?CEO, Sunripe Food

by Kwabena Mensah

In November last year, Sunripe Food Processing began trial production at a factory in Hebron. It was a four-year struggle to raise finance and to provide the collateral and matching equity.

“We realised that local farmers – especially small-scale farmers – were losing almost half of their pineapple production because no one was buying it. Meanwhile, Ghana was importing $10m of fruit every year,” says ?Akyeampong. “But by the end of this year, we hope to capture about 30% of the local market, especially schools, hospitals and ?hotels, selling 100% pure fruit juices as well as bottled mineral water.”

Victor ?Butler, ?Artist

by Nana Yaa Mensah

An engineer who changes career to become an artist is a rarity. Yet Victor Butler, a self-taught painter, has become something of a local hero in ?Accra. With his gallery in downtown Osu, Butler has built a striking space for his work, which holds a mirror up to contemporary Ghana.

His images depict scenes from everyday life in strong, modernist lines using earthy colours. There are hints of mystery or ambiguity about his subjects: a face with sharp cheekbones and just one eye; a young man consumed with laughter or perhaps grief; a conversation between three women – are they gossiping or plotting?