On October 28th, 2016, over six hundreds of inspiring and inspired people gathered at the British High Commissioner’s Residence for the TEDxAccraWomen2016 “It’s About Time” The event which was sponsored by the Internet Solutions Ghana, Joy99.7 FM, Brussels Airlines, Infinix Ghana, Twelve Spring Investment Group, Old Mutual Ghana and Jumia Group was opened with a spectacular performance from Sherrifa Gunu and followed it with welcome message from H.E Jon Benjamin and Dzifa Abla Gomashie, The Deputy Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts.

TEDxAccra has its roots in TED, a non-profit that organizes global conferences featuring ‘Ideas worth Spreading.’ TEDx events, which are independently organized, riff of the core principles of TED, but design the TED experience at the regional level. From authors to performers to scientists, ideas are welcomed by an engaged and eager-to-network audience.

I’ve had the pleasure of attending the past four TEDx events in Accra, where I had the chance to not only connect with like-minded others, but experience the world of ideas as I never had before. It’s a rare weekday that one gets to listen to the Ghanaian investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas and immediately after, listen to Kwaku Sintim-Misa aka “KSM” Ghanaian actor, director, satirist, talk show host, and author, talk about how education kills creativity.

I caught up last week with Emmanuel Leslie Addae, the founder and curator of TEDxAccra. Launched in March 2014, and one of the biggest TEDx events in Africa it’s been going strong ever since. With a star group of volunteer event producers, talent coaches and marketing gurus, Leslie has not only kicked off a much-craved event in Accra — he and his team are now taking it to the next level, creating new forums that stretch beyond the one day of compelling speakers. As we talked, it was clear to me that the expanded future for TEDxAccra is a brilliant one.

Victor Brachie: I’m intrigued by the theme of the past TEDxAccraWomen — “It’s About Time.” How did it come to be?

Emmanuel Leslie Addae: This particular inspiration came from TEDWomen. We had our event the same day as TEDWomen2016 in San Francisco.  This helped us to telecast live right here in Accra, Ghana.

And as you know Time is personal. We all have the same amount of time -24hours a day and yet most of us feel we never have enough. On the day, we had speakers telling us how they have spent their time.

VB: You and the team had a strong line-up of speakers for the event. How did you decide on these particular speakers during the curation process?

ELA: Curating the event takes a lot of research and curiosity. We are supposed to get the right number of speakers and right speakers for the theme as well.  We spent time with each of the speakers during the curation process to understand their talk and see how relevant it will be to our audience. I can personally say that, we first of all identify the kind of audience we want to have for the event before selecting the speakers to better suit the event.

VB: One thing I loved during TEDxAccraWomen was the technology you introduced at the event, where every attendee receives a text message to activate before entering. Can you talk a bit about this technology?

ELA: Our first event was March 2014 and since then we’ve grown tremendously. One thing we want to start doing is introducing new technology at our events starting from TEDxAccraWomen. As you aware, the venue is a security zone and we needed to know and be sure of every attendee entering the residence. This was the most concern of the Ambassador and his team. Upon several consultation we came out with IVET which allows every attendee to activate their telephone number before entering. This helps us to know the exact person entering the residence and in case of any incidence, we can be sure that you were there and you had your phone with you. This attendee management system helps us verify all attendees which was a plus to us.

Next year, we are sure of introducing to this technology a new technology which our attendees with fall in love with. We will offer all attendees a platform to connect and chat among themselves. Since the ‘T’ in TED means Technology we are set to introduce new technology at our events. Ultimately, we are all about being inclusive and we’re open to trying out new ways to make our events stands out.

VB: Before we end this interview, for those new to TEDxAccra, how can they get involved?

ELA: We always invite new members to join our events and community. All parts of TEDxAccra are run by volunteers. Right now, we’re looking for an experienced event producer for our next run. There are always roles, so I encourage people to reach out to me if they’re interested.

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Credit:  Emmanuel Leslie Addae (@leslieman1 on Twitter)

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