Someone close to me always uses this term to describe Ghana, "the closest country to the heart of the earth" She describes her country this way because it is the closest country to intersection of the Greenwich Meridian and the Equator.
Leaving the nationalistic sentiments aside, the facts all show that Ghana is not only one of the world's fastest growing economies, it is one of the very best in Africa.
Ghana's growth rate has been spectacular. Ghana's economy has grown from 7% in 2010 to 13% in 2011. The country is stable politically and probably has the best Internet and power infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa. You can compare more statistics between Ghana and others in Africa here
All of the above points to one thing, it is a great place to start a business and an even better place in Africa for startups to thrive. In spite of the glaring facts stated above, it still surprises me that after Sarah Lacy featured me in her TechCrunch article last year:
I still keep getting asked the question why Ghana instead of Nigeria? The decision to have a startup based in Ghana instead of Nigeria to me is quite obvious.
Startups are like babies and they need a nurturing environment to survive and move to the next stage. Nigeria and most other African countries do not have the right environment to make this happen easily.
It is very easy to blame 419 and other cosmetic factors... especially as was alluded to in another recent post by Sarah Lacy on Jason Njoku the founder of Iroko a Nigerian Internet Startup.
In the post she (Sarah Lacy) mentioned that he (Jason) could “do what many Nigerian entrepreneurs do, and hide his digital location, saying he was headquartered in Ghana”...but didn't.
That statement made my jaw drop in astonishment as it shows that there is not yet proper understanding of the importance of Ghana to the African Startup Ecosystem.
Saying that "Hiding digital location" is the main reason why African Internet entrepreneurs specifically Nigerian move to Ghana is not actually providing accurate reasons why Nigerian entrepreneurs move to another country just 45 minutes away.
Ghana has the same IP issues as Nigeria and is also frequently blacklisted because there are fraudsters there as well. The real reasons why African internet entrepreneurs move to Ghana is because it is cheaper and simpler to do serious business there period.
For example, we pay $120 monthly for 20Mb Bandwidth in Ghana while in Nigeria for lower bandwidth a similar startup funded from South Africa pays $4500 for 8Mb. That startup also has to build a huge mast that cost them another $6,000 to get line of sight to their ISP.
There is constant power in Ghana while the same startup in Nigeria has to buy their own power generator and fuel which is now very expensive and led to riots earlier this year because of subsidies that were removed.
When you innovate and create new markets, nobody wants to know how you overcame your constraints, they only see results.
I never even knew all of these issues Jason was having with Youtube etc until you mentioned it. Moving to Ghana is our own way of overcoming those constraints as the market is really Africa and not just Nigeria. I keep saying it proudly that Africa has provided me more opportunities than any single country and that is why I see myself first as an African before I belong to any country Nigeria or Ghana.
For us we have realized that the advantages we have discovered in Ghana can be used to the benefit of more than a few entrepreneurs and that is why we decided to start our own 100% African Startup Accelerator – Afrinnova (www.afrinnova.com) in Accra. We will be using Ghana’s central location and favorable conditions to act as a hub for the entire continent.
Afrinnova will be helping African startups with innovative ideas to develop Africa. Those ideas also have to be scalable beyond one country. For now we are starting with startups focused on payments and transactions systems and the goal is to provide depth to the ecosystem, which will subsequently act as a catalyst for other startups.
Even Jason’s company will not grow in Africa without payments even if the infrastructure problems are solved. We have built up an impressive portfolio of startups and mentors from all over Africa.
Our invitation to Sarah Lacy is still open to actually visit Ghana.