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Seth Dei, the Ghanaian investor behind fruit exporter Blue Skies – FT



Hidden behind high walls and the dusty, traffic-laden chaos of modern-day Accra, Seth Dei sits in pensive calm in his office. A cup of late afternoon coffee and three mini chocolate-chip cookies lie untouched in front of him as he studies his next move in a protracted chess endgame with his computer. “I’m winning, but I’m not sure how to finish,” he sighs.

On the walls are a few pieces from the extensive Ghanaian art collection he has built up over more than three decades. Outside, a neatly trimmed garden with a verdant lawn and brightly coloured tropical plants offset the white walls and clean lines of his modernist house.

The building in which he is sitting was built in 1957 for an English businessman. Dei found it too big when he bought it, and turned it into the now mothballed and sparsely furnished Dei Centre for the Study of Contemporary African Art, complete with a small library, and corridors and staircases lined with some of the 500 paintings he has acquired.

He hauls himself to his feet, and gestures to a picture opposite his desk of a market scene by Adiama that is part-painting, part-fabric collage. “He was part of the old school of artists in Ghana, who were timid about selling their works and not business-like,” he says. “They didn’t put much value on art.”

Dei’s home in Accra © Jordi Perdigó

Dei, 72, is a posterboy for business in Ghana. He helped create Blue Skies, a fresh fruit-packaging factory, which has become a frequent attraction on tours by dignitaries seeking symbols of the country’s economic success. He is now scaling back his involvement in a business with £90m in annual sales, supplying supermarkets in a dozen countries (including Waitrose in the UK) from its original factory in Accra, as well as others opened since in South Africa, Egypt, Senegal and Brazil.

His latter-day activities belie much of his working career and longstanding passion for supporting local artists. That is evident in the residential quarters next door, where he lives with his second wife. “Everything is made locally,” he says.

Born to cocoa-farming parents in the then Gold Coast and witness to independence from Britain during his schooldays in 1957, his focus was long on the US. He won a scholarship to Buxton, a boarding prep school in New England, and moved there aged 16.

Sitting room of Dei’s home in Accra, Ghana © Jordi Perdigó

He recalls his thrill at seeing the red autumn colours in his first September. In winter, “everything was white with snow, which I had never seen”.

With Ghanaian government funding, Dei studied at Columbia and Cornell in New York, before working in the life insurance sector. “I dealt with CEOs and CFOs. I observed the habits of American chief executives: they knew their businesses, kept fit, worked hard, had admirable self-confidence. You learnt from them,” he says.

He married an American and spent much of his career in the US, but never forgot his roots. “I had always intended to come back to Ghana, or at least to Africa,” he says. “I realised it was difficult to be poor here: there are so many opportunities. You only have to drop a seed and in two weeks you have a plant. Depending on your ambition you can become a millionaire.”

When he returned at the start of the 1990s, his first ventures drew on his US financial expertise. “There was a gold boom and a lot of mining companies, and I figured they needed equipment and leasing services. But that required central bank supervision, and the rules were terrible. I could see it would not grow, so I sold the business.”

Garden room © Jordi Perdigó

Then in 1997, he was introduced to Anthony Pile, a Briton who wanted to open a fresh fruit-packaging plant. “He was keen to find a local partner. Somebody told him to talk to me. We started chatting and he had convinced me within three minutes. It’s been a very good investment,” Dei says.

Asked to list the difficulties of operating, he quotes transport — perishable fruit must be shipped by plane — as well as the erratic local electricity supply, something which, in the humid dusk, also presents a challenge for the preservation of his artworks.

And corruption? “We have not come up against it, and we would not participate,” he says. “We are doing a lot for the economy.” Blue Skies employs 4,000 local staff, pays substantially above the minimum wage, offers free cooked meals, medical help, maternity and paternity leave, and social responsibility programmes in local communities.

‘Jazz Play’ (1997) by Glen Turner © Jordi Perdigó

With Ghana just celebrating 60 years of independence, he reflects: “I feel we should have done better. We had many more assets than Malaysia or South Korea, with a lot more natural resources. But I see a slow realisation from the president down that we should have done better. Coups d’état were getting us nowhere. Democratic practice has introduced competition to government.”

He says he never had any interest in politics. “I cannot say something is blue when it is in fact red.” Instead, during his spare time, he threw himself into art collecting. He befriended many of the country’s artists, buying their work and sometimes being offered it. He points to a long canvas by Larry Otoo of a brass band in a remote village. “He came to me and asked if I wanted him to paint me something. This is it.”

Settling into an armchair in the entrance hall, Dei pauses before answering the question of why he loves art. “First and foremost, I look on it as history: what’s happened, what’s happening,” he says. “The artist is able to freeze-frame and look carefully at things you don’t normally pay attention to when you are walking around. You never noticed something, and, seeing the picture, you realise it’s beautiful. It makes you pay more attention.”

Paintings by E Owusu Dartey and Adoley Nmai among others © Jordi Perdigó

He gets to his feet, and walks across a courtyard, into the street and next door, where at the end of a small garden decorated by large stone sculptures, he had an Italian architect friend modify the former maid’s quarters into his living accommodation. Settling down in the study, among piles of CDs and videos, Dei says he still receives weekly management reports from Blue Skies, and is excited about new projects including a planned range of dairy-free ice creams in chocolate, mango, coconut and lime.

On the lounge table, flanked by sofas, are a series of antique wooden-carved slingshots from Ghana, Ivory Coast and Cameroon, which have been converted into ornaments. A full-length window opens on to a tiny, tranquil courtyard. Yet Dei craves still more space and light, and is completing work on a new home in the hills with a view over Accra. “I want more calm, where the air is cool.”

Baule sculpture from the Ivory Coast © Jordi Perdigó

He is also winding down his art collection, expressing frustration that American academic partners did not provide any funding. He closed the centre to the public three years ago. “I got tired and I’m taking a pause,” he says. “If I kept doing this, I’d be broke.”

He says all options remain open, and recently discussed the sale of works in a meeting with Sotheby’s. His dream is to donate his collection to a new state museum of modern art, but for now, he questions the competence of government officials to take charge.

Sculpture by Saka Acquaye © Jordi Perdigó

“We need a new museum of modern art. I think we can use the diaspora to build a nice little museum,” he says. He would like someone to approach the architect David Adjaye to prepare a preparatory sketch for a new venue, “to embarrass big institutions into contributing and building it”. Even if he is frustrated with the slow progress, Dei has not lost his enthusiasm for art. He has just bought two pictures in a new high-end gallery nearby, itself a sign of changing attitudes. “It has opened the eyes of Ghanaians and encouraged younger artists to up their game. There is a buzz about art in Ghana now. I’m very happy.”


Favourite thing

Dei picks out a 2006 painting of a saxophonist by Ghanaian artist Hacajaka. “When I look at this picture, it brings back lots of memories,” he says. “I listen a lot to jazz. It reminds me of when I graduated from college. When I was studying in the US, I heard some of the best jazz musicians: John Coltrane, Miles Davis.

“Miles Davis is my favourite. I heard him in Boston once and asked for his autograph, though he pretty much told me to get lost. There was a lot of experimentation with music . . . It puts me in a good mood. I’ll put this in my office in my new house.”

Credit: Fancial Times
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Events & Places

WATCH LIVE: Ghana Music Awards Nominees JAM



Ongoing. Cape Coast. The concert features top local acts.

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Events & Places

Ten qualify for TV Africa Bumper to Bumper talent show



After days of tight game and show, 10 dance talents have qualified for the TV Africa’s first-ever dance competition show which is about to storm the Ghanaian television airwaves.

The 10 participants who were picked from the audition stage to join the maiden edition of “Bumper To Bumper” will be visited in their various neighbourhoods to find out their preparedness towards the commencement of the competition.

Each contestant will be representing themselves as well as their community for the enviable cash prize and the bragging right.

“Bumper To Bumper” is a talent hunt TV show, targeted at the youth and lovers of dance in general. The dance reality show is set to air somewhere in May 2018.

The show has been certified as part of TV Africa’s flagship programs and reviews from participants and followers points in the same direction.

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This year’s Ghana UK Based Achievement (GUBA) Awards is slated for Saturday 14th July 2018, at InterContinental Hotel in London. Ahead of the highly sought-after event, nominations have been open across 11 categories.

Inaugurated in Porchester Hall in October 2010,  the scheme, which has seen such prestigious persons as actor Idris Elba, Fuse ODG, veteran boxer Azumah Nelson, as well as EIB boss Bola Ray all awarded for their contribution across various spectrums.

The categories include Made in Ghana Award, Efie Ne Fie Award, Innovation & Technology Award, Leisure & Tourism Award, Sustainable Agriculture Award, Humanitarian Award, Ghanaian Association of the Year Award, Charity of the Year Award, Rising Star Award, Professional of the Year Award, and Student Achiever of the Year Award.

CEO of GUBA Enterprise Mrs Dentaa Amoateng MBE, submitted the following regarding the importance of the nomination process:

“The call for nominations is a crucial part of the GUBA Awards. The process allows for the public to have their say and bring forth a wide array of talented and deserving individuals. I urge everyone to participate in this process, to bring to light the talents that go unrecognised.”

This year, nominations can be filed via between March 20 to April 10, 2018.


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Events & Places

Mayorkun, KiDi, Keche, others show class at MEGA Legon Hall Concert (+IMAGES)



As the University of Ghana’s Legon Hall came to a standstill, it was obvious history was being written as WatsUp TV, leading pan-African entertainment TV Show, hosted a concert to climax the 66th Hall Week Celebration of the Legon Hall in Accra.
The mega concert which took place at the University of Ghana campus saw headline act, Davido’s record label mate and Afrobeat Artiste Mayorkun flying from Nigeria to deliver a sterling performance to the awe of his fans in Legon.
KiDi, an alumnus of the Legon Hall also made an appearance to surprise fans as he joined Mayorkun to perform their hit collaboration Odo Remix for the first ever time.
Artists who also performed include: Daddy Opanka, Keche, Gemini, Epixode, Obibini, Dope Nation, Feli Nuna, Article wan, Dee Money, Ephraim, Black AvenueMusic, Danny Beatz and many more
DJ’s & Emcees who also came to support include: Jason El-A, DKB, Dj Xpliph, Merqury Quaye, Mr shark, Bra Qweku, DJ Toyor, DJ Sly, Berima Seanbills, El baby etc
The concert which took place on 17th March 2018 has also been rated by fans as one of the best hall weeks for 2018 so far.
other artists who performed include: Ohemaa Dadao, Kenzy, Dzidu, Longation, Kaytee, Kofi Mole, Berimah Boateng, Dope LRB etc
The event which was hosted by WatsUp TV was supported by Rush Energy Drink, Indomie, SHOB Group, Davido Music Worldwide, Jack Daniels, GhOne TV, TV7, 369 Live, 3fm among others.
See images:
S TV3 and
See Photos:
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Events & Places

Stephanie Benson, Kobla Jnr, OTHERS for YFM’s BLC event March 30



Come Friday, March 30, YFM, Ghana’s number one urban radio station will offer Ghanaian Boss Ladies the opportunity to party the night away in a grand style.

The much anticipated event which will take place at Badu Lounge inside Labone is free for ladies.

According to Eddy Blay, Programs Manager for YFM, the BLC event will also have all the Boss Ladies of YFM present to chill with other fans as well.

BLC will attract a tall list of some top notch musicians in Ghanaian including Stephanie Benson and Kobla Jnr among others. The event will be hosted by YFM’s Akosua Hanson with DJ Kess on deck.

“YFM is noted for organizing ground breaking events and BLC is part of it. BLC is going to be a night of unlimited music, fun activities and more. The event which is absolutely free for ladies, will attract ladies from the corporate world among others,” he stated.







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Events & Places

AirtelTigo, GHL Bank Ltd others honored at the CCIFG Gala Night



The Chamber of Commerce and Industry France Ghana (CCIFG) in partnership with the Labadi Beach
Hotel held the CCIFG Gala Night at the Labadi Beach Hotel on Thursday 15th March 2018. Attended
by about 350 guests comprised of high profile corporate moguls, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the
Republic of Ghana Honourable Samuel Abu Jinapor as well as the Ambassador of France to Ghana
H.E. Francois Pujolas, the event was also the grand occasion to host the maiden edition of the CCIFG
2017 was a year to reposition the Chamber as well as its business activities to better suit its network
as well as promote the Ghanaian economy. The second edition of the CCIFG Gala Night held, created
a platform for businesses executives to thus grow their network and have direct access to
opportunities among a diverse group of co-professionals.
Speaking to guests in his welcome address, the President of the CCIFG Mr Patrick Prado was elated
to share objectives achieved during the course of 2017 which revolved around strategically
repositioning the Chamber as a promoter of the Ghanaian and French markets as well as upgrading business support to companies was successfully achieved. To this end, about 40 French companies
and other businesses benefited from the chamber’s support to enable them better understand and
penetrate the local market. Elaborating further on the successes of the French Chamber which have
grown to 120 members from 54 members in 2016, CCI France Ghana organised a total of 17
events. The participants to the Gala were also enlightened on the CCIFG’s direction for 2018 which is
already well underway. Business support in 2018 beginning with 3 successful trade missions to Ghana
coupled with the visit of the CAP Afrique delegation of African counsellors for French SME’s, who
had a first-hand experience an overview of the business opportunities available to enable them
to give a better representation of Ghana to foreign businesses. Mr Prado also highlighted the impact of
the Ghana Days Tour which was launched in 2017. The tour saw the Managing Director of the French
Chamber visiting various regions in France and Lebanon to speak more on the Ghanaian market. As
such, 7 collective trade missions have already been scheduled in addition to a discovery trade
mission to France.
The presence of the Government representatives from Ghana and equally from France also gives an
optimistic indication of a growth in the bilateral relationship between the Republic of Ghana and the
The Republic of France. Hon Samuel Abu Jinapor addressing guests gave a focus on the collaboration of
both Republics and the importance of advancing on the bilateral relationship to the President of the
The Republic of Ghana. With Ghana surrounded by Francophone countries Togo, Cote d’Ivoire and
Burkina Faso, there is a need for the promotion of the French language, an initiative which is equally
being pushed by the President of Ghana. To this effect, the government is promoting bilingual
education and testing it with 5 schools in the country. H.E. Francois Pujolas in his speech to
participants was elated to share on his delight on the growth of the bilateral relationship between
France and Ghana and its positive direction. The realisation of increasing activities between France
and Ghana as well as France’s commitment to not only sustain this relationship but also support the
growing activities between France and Ghana which was reinforced by the visit of the President of
France, H.E. Emmanuel Macron to Ghana. The visit is a step towards the modernisation of France's
relations with Ghana by emphasising business links, education and sport.
The maiden edition of the CCI France Ghana Awards was also held at the Gala Night. Six companies
were awarded in 6 different categories for excelling among criteria outlined in each category. The
categories and winners are:
● Digital Innovation Award: won by Jade E. Services Ltd for their e-commerce and diverse
online marketplaces grouped under Jumia, Jumia Travel, Jumia Food, Jumia House and Jumia
● Best CSR and Sustainability Company of the Year: won by Total Petroleum Ghana Ltd for
the various CSR activities to contribute to livelihood which includes year-long activity to
show support for World Malaria Day, road safety education for over 8000 dead children in
the various part of the north as well rehabilitation and construction of classroom blocks and
other facilities in schools in the North
● Emerging Company of the Year: awarded to GHL Bank Ltd for the successful transition from
a mortgage finance institution with a licensed bank to meet the needs Ghanaians and
● Transformational Project Award: won by Meridian Port Services for the ongoing execution
of the $1.5 billion Port of Tema Expansion Project which will significantly boost economic
growth and create around 450,000 indirect jobs

● Judges Choice Award: awarded to Decathlon Ghana for the impact of the Decathlon
Foundation on the community following less than a year of establishing a subsidiary in
● CCIFG Associate Award: awarded to AirtelTigo for the merger making it the second largest
Mobile Network Operator in Ghana with a combined customer base of approximately 10
million and 25% market share.
The CCIFG Gala Night is organised as an annual event to showcase an optimistic indication of the
growth and prosperity of the bilateral relationship between the Republic of Ghana and the Republic
of France as well as the role of the Chamber to promote business activity through high-level
networking. Sponsors to the second edition of the Gala and maiden CCIFG Awards were Allianz,
CFAO, Logiplus, Orsam, Pernod Ricard, Societe Generale Ghana and Total Petroleum Ghana Ltd.
CCI France Ghana

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry France Ghana is an association of companies and
professionals belonging to different sectors which aim at supporting, fostering and enhancing
bilateral trade and investment relations between French and Ghanaian companies. With over 20
business sectors represented, the CCIFG acts as a business support system to its members by
providing information through market studies, product-market testing, prospective missions and
trade shows.

To contribute to business growth for members, CCIFG continues to organise informative events to
share practical information and create a platform to establish new business partnerships. With 400
guests participating, the event showcases the diversity of the Chamber’s activities as well as its
effort to create a functioning platform for companies engaged at the event. The CCIFG Awards
organises sheds light on the impact of companies within the Chamber’s network which contributes
to the Ghanaian economy and community.



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