part two

Back in Accra after a week’s break to get over the malaria (again), and finally ready to get back on the job. Auntie was happy to see me – Hannah had been away too, researching in the Volta region, and the house had been too empty.

I am now able to walk around, which is nice after two months of just wanting to go back to bed every day. I can also more or less think – which may not be a good thing.  I started looking at my data from the North this week, and did some elementary analysis, cross-referencing the various factors I’d been looking at to see what determined whether someone would have a successful business or not. It turns out that the factors that decide whether you will be successful at running an internet cafe in Northern Ghana are:

wait for it…


Absolutely nothing, as it turns out. There is no factor that clearly divides successful from unsuccessful (unprofitable) cafes. This was a significant hiccup. For a while I wandered around the house, made a cup of tea, thought about getting some cheese for dinner, considered banging my head against the wall. Then I went back and looked at my notes again, and had an inkling of what might be going on. There is something there, but it’s complicated.

Luckily I had written a note to myself some weeks ago, in a momentary burst of clarity, about what I should look for when I had all the data together. So I re-crunched the data using that idea, and found something. What it was is classified – trust me, if it turns out to be usable you will hear about it ad nauseam, and will remember fondly these days of not knowing.

In other news, Obama is coming to town, and Accra is excited. In fact, everyone is excited, but only people in Accra have any risk of actually seeing him. There are billboards from companies welcoming him, he’s on the news, everyone is hoping he will stop by. We discussed with Auntie tempting him over with home fries and mystery stew, but thought it might disrupt his schedule. We’d hate to be responsible for him missing some official event.

In the meantime, my penguin and travelling companion, Niccolo, is getting excited too. He has had his image turned into the classic Obama poster as a small tribute:



He hopes Obama will appreciate the thought. Fish are important. Teach a man  to fish, etc…

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