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Wellington Baiden – 6/30/00 Meeting at ghanaclassified offices. Wellington and his wife (CeCe) arrived at 5:30 on an invitation from AO. Wellington is in the tertiary sector, export of finished wood products. He exports finished wood products, as opposed to logs, he plants trees and involved milling, processing and managed forests. Previously, the govt extracted a levy on cutting and did the replanting of tree, which ddidn’t work out. “Our generation is trying to do things differently”. “But there is no funding for medium or long term investment”. WE are also trying to market new species, ie, secondary species instead of (1st?) that need more work to turn them into finished products. 70% of the sawmills are owned by expatriates, he claimed, therefore there is little incentive to develop value added products. WB is also involved in national policy [ find out how he is involved in national policy]. He markets in Ghna and some to Gam. And Benin. “that’s why I joined WAEN to find like minded people and networks, to get in touch with country markets and find out about products.” WAEN uses the intranet both loc ally and sub regionally, [find out more about its inception and use] WB spent 14 years in the UK (he studied law) and has been in Ghana for 10 years. “We (WAEN members?) have a different approach because of exposure to outside”. Ghana is not a good economic picture because of high interest rates, he said. Products change hands 4 to 5 times because of middlemen jacking up products without changing their characters. “We go direct since we can’t rely on the banking system to do the necessary training or tooling.” WB said that a lot of activities are based on self financing and that the internet is used to get a good price. He mentioned that the internet is a resource and that Africans should use them to get a since of world prices. WB said that there are 400k Africans connected to the net, 6k in Ghana shared among three ISPs, Network Computer Systems (60%) Africaonline Ghana (30%) and other (10%). He also mentioned that there were 200 sawmills in Ghana and that timber is 3rd or 4th largest industry. However, 70% of the sawmills in Ghana are expatriate-owned, so there is not a lot of incentive for them to develop value-added products. Wb complained that Ghana was missing opportunities for income maximization. He used as an example that mahogany sold for 300-480 dollars /cubic meter in Ghana but that that same product sells for 3000 dollars/cubic meter in the US without further processing. He commented that Ghanians were not getting the full value of the products they sold. WB has recently been on a trip sponsored by the Center for Development of Industry (Brussels) and USAID through AMEX for a trade conference to open Am. Markets. They visited large importers and saw how firms added value to wood products and managed waste [is this use of by-products or minimizing waste in processing?]. WB said that the stock market wanted to partnership with e-trade companies but could not currently secure transactions. Returnees that still have investments in the US want to maintain their investments. WB mentioned that the 15-17 companies on the stock exchange are big companies without a lot to lose, mostly multinational oil or auto companies. Two Ghanian companies, mechanical Lloyd and Camelot (continuous paper) are also on the stock exchange. Most Ghanian companies want to keep their business interests private and “within the family/to themselves.” WB’s wife, SeSe Gadzekpo was also present in the interview. SG is the owner of Paradigm business development. SG was asked about her business. She mentioned the type of internet availability and cost. She mentioned that the service in not relaiblee because of the inability to dial in. She said that the average cost of internet service is $40 per month. She said that this was double the salary of the average receptioonsit. For this and other reasons people are not comfortable using the internet. She said that she was using computers 20 years ago at her uncles pushing. She went to computer training school NCS. SG works from home and noted that this is still not really accepted in Ghana. She said that business people are not comfortable sending faxes and prefer face to face contract. They want you to go into their office personally and sit in front of them. “It’s a challenge to get people to use technology to get people to make things easier” such as e-mail faxes etc. Her typical clients are small to medium businesses. She trains clients to do business plans and use other skills, such as Africaonline and business writing. She has provided consulting services for Emprotect. She is currently involved in training WAEN members on the Intranet established by the organization. One of her goals is to convince people of the value of company and personal webpages and to develop webpages for all WAEn members.
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