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Opinions of Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Columnist: Chieff Moomen

Time to call Kantanka to order!


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Yes I believe we must all support Made-in-Ghana to propel our economic growth. Yes I very much understand that our environment can often stifle innovation. Yes I know in Africa we love to decry how the “black man loves to pull down his fellow black man.”

But I stopped taking Kristo Asafo and his ‘inventions’ seriously long ago. Once upon a time I used to sit glued to the television watching his annual technology exhibitions with awe. My adolescent mind was fascinated by the ‘amazing’ things he paraded to the world.

These days I am just simply frustrated and irritated at his work and the share wastefulness of the potential. It seems he tries to outdo himself every year as his creations get more and more bizarre. He makes everything: cars, aeroplanes, helicopters, robots, household appliances, weapons etc..

Now tell me, what exactly is the point? How many of those ‘inventions’ has he actually perfected, patented and mass produced to the benefit of society? Maybe that is not his focus. Maybe he just wants to show us that we Africans are also capable of doing fantastic technological things. But at this stage in our development, with the world light years ahead of us, we know we are capable! We should be aiming for results!

Imagine this: 30 years ago Kantanka had made a small affordable radio set and flooded it into the market. Every town and village you would find a Kantanka radio set. Imagine how that would, overtime, have helped to build a trusted Kantaka brand among consumers which the company could leverage to introduce other products into the market. Imagine how the company itself would have grown in production experience as well as research and development. Read about the Sonys and Samsungs of this world and see how they all started.

Another scenario: Imagine 10 years ago Kantaka had started making those tricycles (Mahama camboo/Aboboya/ Piragia) which have become the major means of transportation in many regions of the country. Imagine such Kantaka vehicles in every town and village being of immediate relevance to the masses. Imagine how, overtime, Kantaka would have been building a trusted vehicle brand it could leverage on to introduce other models into the market. Read about the Toyotas, Hyundais and Tatas of this world to see how they all standard.

However.

Year after year we all gather in a great jamboree at the Annual Kantanka Technology Exhibition to witness the latest monstrosity. We hail and celebrate him as the Star of Africa as he sits majestically on his throne. Government officials, chiefs, diplomats, the media, his church and others will come and marvel at what is on display and sing his praises. And then. Nothing. We come back again the next year to experience the same showmanship.

We are afraid to tell Kristo Asafo the truth. We are afraid of being accused of not supporting our own. And so we have watched him continue to amuse himself each year in the name of technological inventions. We have failed to hold him to better and higher standards. We have failed to challenge him to do better. And so he sits comfortably on his throne, caught up in his own world with no reality check. And he is gradually not being taken seriously anymore. Many people are now viewing his work through the lens of entertainment.

I may not have achieved much in life. I may not be fit to wipe the shoes the venerable apostle wears. So who am I to dare criticize this great Star of Africa? But I do so simply because I care about the man and his work. I am pained by the wasted potential I see. Obviously, he has the drive and resources to do something. I only wish he had actually done SOMETHING ( so far as his ‘inventions’ are concerned).

And so my little foolish unsolicited advice: Dear Kristo Asafo, enough of the absurdities! You have proven to us that you can do things. Time to stop PROVING and start IMPROVING. Discontinue all your projects and focus on one or two or three. Make a small radio. Make a tricycle. Choose one of your simple agricultural machines. Focus on them and make them better. Push them into the market. Let ordinary people start experiencing your products. Forget government. Do your thing! And see how your company would grow and improve over the next decade.

Remember all great technologies and innovations have caught on because they have been meaningful and useful to the masses.

I am impatient for you to succeed sir.

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