On this week’s Digital Nomads, we’re experimenting with a different format, with two subjects instead of one. If you missed Nathan’s experience with QR codes in China, catch up here.
Today, Zee, a Ghanaian and Bayo, a Nigeria, share their tech experiences.
Bayo is a Nigerian who has lived and worked in Nigeria for the last ten years. Early in 2020, he moved to Ghana where he now works. It is also the first time he is traveling because of a work opportunity.
Zee was born in Ghana,studied for a law degree in the United Kingdom but she’s back home and is now studying for a professional course in law.
Bayo and Zee are similar in a few ways. Their countries are neighbors, they are both lawyers and newbie travellers. At present, Bayo is working remotely in Ghana while Zee is learning remotely in Ghana as well because of a lockdown.
The lockdown in the Greater Accra and Ashanti region is why Zee is studying from home today. There might be a restriction on movement but like schools in Nigeria are showing us, learning never stops.
In 2019, she visited Lagos, Nigeria for the first time. She’s used to Ghana’s airports and says they’re efficient.
It explains her surprise when she arrived in Lagos and found that the airport was hot. It was one of those days when the air conditioning wasn’t working.
“The airport didn’t look nice. There were so many people in there, and the ACs weren’t working” she tells me.
“I had to lift my luggage onto the scale and manually push it off to the other side. The officials were not helpful at al.l”
Bayo, a Nigerian who lived in Nigeria all his life until he moved to Ghana for work early in 2020 doesn’t think much of the Lagos airport either.
He shares his experience of leaving Nigeria with me. “Muritala Mohammed Airport was a mess; everyone begged for money and the whole place was overcrowded.”
His arrival in Ghana was a pleasant experience with no incident.
“Kotoka airport on the other hand was a different experience. Everything was organized, the staff were firm but courteous and it was very easy finding my way.”
As a traveler in a new city, one of your first tasks is buying a SIM card and letting everyone that matters know that you have arrived safely.
But as we now know, the data a country collects for SIM registration can show how it handles data and data privacy.
Bayo says he bought a Vodafone SIM card but has no idea why he chose Vodafone over other providers.
“I was asked for my International passport and I gave them my ECOWAS travel certificate which they grudgingly accepted. They requested no further information besides my name and the basics.”
How much does data cost in Ghana? It’s time for our $5 data test.
According to Bayo: “Data is very expensive here. While $5 should get me about 7gb or more on my MTN Nigeria line, that amount gets me around 500mb to 2gb data in Ghana. I found out Data was costing me a whole lot of money until I installed broadband internet at home.”
But Zee disagrees, and says that, off the top of her head, on MTN, $5 gives you 4GB of data. So it’s time for a fact check.
So we did a quick check and found that what $5 actually gets is 2.7GB of data.
Data isn’t the only thing that’s more expensive in Ghana, Zee says that on the whole, she found Lagos to be more affordable.
She also found that in Nigeria, one has to carry cash always.
“It’s different in Ghana, big shops will have POS terminals but they also accept MoMo. Most small shops accept Momo as well–everybody accepts Momo”
Momo refers to MTN’s Mobile Money service but other Telco providers offer mobile money services as well.
“Every network has their own cash system except Globacom. Vodafone has Vodafone Cash and AirtelTigo has AirtelTigo cash”
While mobile money has not yet caught on on a big scale in Nigeria, Zee says it is possible to go around for a year without cash in Ghana. Cab drivers accept mobile money payments.
Bayo tells me most people move around town with taxis and buses. He hasn’t seen a lot of motorcycles.
Zee offers a more interesting breakdown. “Uber has more drivers in Accra but Bolt reigns in Kumasi.”
Apart from Uber and Bolt there are other ride-hailing services like Yango and Dropn.
But ride-hailing is a peculiar business that requires balancing demand for rides with a supply of drivers.
“Like sometimes on Yango the closest car will be like 10-15mins away, but with Uber, it’s like 1-3 minutes away.”
But right now, there’s not a lot of movement with schools, officers and churches in Ghana closed.
While Zee is studying at home, work has gone on undisturbed for Bayo, as he now works from home.
He says that the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak has been good.
“Everyone works from home now because of the lockdown declared by the government. For me, nothing has changed at all.”
“The government’s response to Coronavirus here has been okay.
But what I find surprising is how disciplined the people themselves are.Since the Coronavirus outbreak, many people have taken it upon themselves to take extra precautions without necessarily waiting for the government.“
At the end of our conversation, Bayo and Zee, who are both lawyers have almost similar tech experiences in Nigeria and Ghana.
Zee rates Nigeria and Ghana a 6 in terms of her tech experiences, mostly because many of her experiences in both countries were similar.
For Bayo, Nigeria gets a 4 while Ghana gets a 6. Ghana gets a higher rating because of their airport.