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Opinions of Monday, 3 August 2015

Columnist: Asare-Donkoh, Frankie

Asaawa: 'My vision for Graphic'

The name Kwame Boasiako Omane-Antwi sounds very familiar to some academics, some accountants and lately to some government officials, especially those whose duties include overseeing the media industry particularly the state-owned media, but not to many journalists.

To accountants, Omane-Antwi does not need any introduction as he has been an active member, one time vice president and currently the president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ghana.

Since 1979, he has been a university teacher. From 1991/92 academic year, then Dr Omane-Antwi joined the University of Cape Coast and through hard work rose through the ranks to become a full professor in no time. Since then he has had a successful career in academia as a full Professor of Accounting and Taxation.

He holds a PhD in Accounting, a professional doctorate in Taxation, MA in Accounting Education, and MBA in Information Technology, all from top international universities including Oxford and Harvard.

He is currently the Vice Rector of Pentecost University College (PUC) and Dean of the PUC Graduate School, which he was very instrumental in founding it.

In August 1976, at the age of 24, Kwame left the shores of Ghana for the United Kingdom for the pursuit of academic and professional qualifications. He enrolled at the then Polytechnic of Central London for the professional examinations of the Institute of Credit Management, and the UK Finance Houses Association Diploma.

Outstanding achievement

Difficult as it was, Kwame studied for the examinations of the two programmes alongside the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) UK professional examinations. In 1978, the 26-year-old Omane-Antwi sat for the worldwide professional final examinations of the Institute of Credit Management and excelled as the best candidate worldwide, winning the Queen’s Award in Credit Management.

Before he left for his post-graduate studies, Kwame worked at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, as acting Finance Officer, and also lectured at the Department of Planning. He was also a part-time lecturer at the Kumasi Polytechnic, teaching Financial Accounting and Auditing.

In 1981/82 when many Ghanaian lecturers and teachers had left for Nigeria, the young lecturer was faced with teaching trained teachers some of whom could be his father at the Advanced Technical Teachers’ Institute (ATTI), Kumasi (now University of Education Winneba, Kumasi Campus) where he taught Costing.

At one lecture on Cost Volume Profit (CVP) Analysis, a study of how cost and profit vary with changes in volume, he realised that the topic had been previously taught by his predecessor. But it was apparent the last teacher’s lesson had not gone down well with many of the students in terms of explanation and assimilation of the principles inherent in CVP.

“As I tried to expound on the topic by expanding the simple equation: Profit=Revenue–Costs, and went on further to derive equations leading to the explanation of ‘contribution margin’, ‘breakeven unit sales’, ‘target profit’, ‘fixed costs’, ‘variable costs’, etc.; to illustrate CVP analysis, a popular student made a deafening remarks”, recounts Prof Omane-Antwi.

That student was 57 years and was understandably considered the ‘father’ of the class. Apparently, he had seen Kwame’s Queen’s Award picture in the Credit Management Journal somewhere, and was wondering whether he was the same person. “As the lecture went on, he suddenly got up and exclaimed loudly – ASAAWA! and I unconsciously responded Asaawa with the whole class bursting out with a thunderous applause followed by laughter”, says Prof Omane-Antwi.

Fascinating delivery

According to the professor, the ‘father’ of the class further explained that for almost one month, the students had struggled to understand the CVP topic as taught by the previous lecturer and so he became astonished when he (student) saw the ease, speed, clarity and in-depth manner with which he was handling the topic. The student found the style and delivery fascinating and realized Kwame was the same Ghanaian whose picture he had seen in the Credit Management Journal.

For that student, Asaawa! means eko yie paa! literally meaning ‘it is going down very well’. He explained further that traditionally, the old folks in Ashanti villages would make such exclamations when they were happy and proud of a wise saying from another person. The traditional response to the exclamation Asaawa! is Odondo! portraying the natural link that a thread (asaawa) has with the spool (odondo). This expression also connotes brilliance and outstanding display of knowledge, strength and wisdom.

Asaawa suddenly became Omane-Antwi’s nickname circulating among, not only his own students in KNUST, Kumasi Polytechnic, and ATTI in the early 1980s, but other students in the institutions.

After leaving the country for a number of years to the United Kingdom and the Unites States for his postgraduate courses, Kwame returned to Ghana and began lecturing at UCC in 1991. Unfortunately for him, a student he lectured at ATTI who was studying for his Bachelor of Commence at the Department of Business Studies spotted him during an Auditing lecture and in the mood of excitement, yelled Asaawa! and the student body spontaneously also exclaimed Asaawa.

Unconsciously, Kwame also answered him in the same vein. Since then Prof. Kwame Boasiako Omane-Antwi had to respond to Asaawa because the name had come to stay in UCC.

Interestingly, little did he realise that his ‘new name’ was not limited to ATTI and UCC. When he arrived at PUC and met his former students Rev. Samuel Obuobi, Mr Abassah Konadu, and others who were lecturers there, Asaawa, which he thought was left behind at UCC, resurfaced in crescendo, Asaawa!, Asaawa!, Asaawa!

Nobody associated Asaawa with the media until May 2013 when the National Media Commission appointed him chairman of the New Times Corporation (NTC) board of directors. His tenure ended in May this year.

On June 23, this year, Prof Omane-Antwi who had been appointed a few days earlier was inaugurated as the chairman of the board of directors of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL).

Achievement at New Times

His two years at NTC saw a facelift of the corporation. The board quickly realised the need for modern printing machines for the corporation and procured a computer-to-plate (CTP) machine with the requisite software for the pre-press section. This has enabled NTC to produce more quality papers.

Another significant achievement under his leadership was the initiation and adoption of a five-year strategic plan (2015-2019) for the development of the corporation; and a process to convert the corporation into a limited liability company to improve its adaptability and competitiveness.

The strategic plan would lead to the redesign of the layouts and mastheads of NTCs publications and also introduce new publications including a monthly business journal, e-newspaper, and mobile applications for the current and future publications.

From the corporation’s audited accounts, figures show that whereas loses were made in 2012, the losses were paid off and profits were made in 2013 and 2014 due to the co-operation of the management and board in implementing effective policies.

Another significant achievement of the NTC board under Prof Omane-Antwi was the initiation of a process to assess the feasibility of developing part of the vast head office property (including land) for income diversification.

At the new GCGL board’s inauguration, Prof Omane-Antwi said he was bringing to GCGL a six-goal vision namely, audience focused; high quality work; innovation/creative thinking; value-based education; responsible work ethics; and the 4Es – efficiency, effectiveness, economy, and equity.

Traditionally we say, never argue with the person who has previously eaten a crab when they say they can eat a calabash. With that in view, there is no doubt that with the support of all board members, management and staff these targets and the vision of Asaawa for Graphic can be achieved to move GCGL to another level.

As an elder of the Church of Pentecost, Prof Omane-Antwi said in his remarks that the GCGL was destined to be crown jewels in the media industry in Ghana forever, adding that “this is a prophecy and I call it done in Jesus name”. I am tempted to say Amen, but I won’t be surprised that when this is repeated at a workers’ durbar a thunderous asaawa would be the response from the workers.

Posted By Frankly Speaking to Frankly Speaking by frankie asare-donkoh on 8/01/2015 10:22:00 a.m.