I am just leaving Accra, Ghana to head back New York City. We just opened a new building next to the NYU in Accra campus. The building will be used as the Ghana office of our NYU Center for Technology and Economic Development (CTED). We are hoping that our research will actually improve the lives of poor people. We do not only want to talk about it, but to actually get something done!
The research center is across the road from the NYU in Accra student academic Center, where undergraduate students enroll in a semester abroad, taking a full range of courses. Our research in Ghana is funded primarily from external grants, and we will be getting the NYU undergraduates involved in some of our research. We also have Ghanaian scholars in residence involved in our activities.
I also spent several days in the Kumawu Afram plains, where we are doing our research on small holder farming, with some of our Ph.D. students and Center staff. A separate group is working on research in the Volta region of Ghana. There are the usual poor country problems we face doing research outside of Accra – lack of water and electricity being the principal ones. My team and I however were all enjoyed the beauty and the calmness of the place – the heat was a bother to some, but a something I loved.
Back in Accra, we held a seminar at Esoko, a great African technology firm which works with smallholder farmers sending price, weather and agricultural advice to farmers on their mobile phones. We will be writing more about Esoko in the coming weeks. Our CTED occasional paper should be starting soon, and the Esoko piece should be one of the early ones.
All in all, a wonderful stay in Ghana, with lots of research done and a good time had by everyone in our team.