Updated: Nov 27, 2020
Emmanuel Agbeko Gamor is a digital professional, journalist and management consultant. He was born in Ghana, raised in the US and worked for a time in Mauritius. He now lives and works in South Africa and has a podcast show that explores technology, arts and culture, and Africa’s inclusion in contributing to the 4th Industrial Revolution. He tells us more.
What got you to move from Ghana to South Africa?
What are you doing there?
In 2018, I was keen to learn about economic growth powered by Africa’s innovation systems and entrepreneurship. I am in the research phase of my programme looking at the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and opportunities for scaling local inventions and equitable digital transformation. I am also a faculty member with the University of Stellenbosch Business School - Executive Education on Digital Reputation Management. I have also started a podcast on Unpacking Africa to help bridge the gap between academic conversations and industry.
Is your move linked to Unpacking Africa 4.0 and why is this platform so important to driving discussion on the future of the continent?
Actually, no Unpacking Africa 4.0 was established while in Davos, Switzerland in 2019. The aim is to engage with multi-stakeholder communities and making a case for Africa’s inclusion in contributing to the 4th Industrial Revolution. Besides consulting and engagement, I started a blog on www.4irAfrica.co and then the podcast during the lockdown thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
Did you have any preconceived ideas about South Africa before you got there – what were they?
My aunt came to Cape Town for her honeymoon when I was much younger and came back with Ladysmith Black Mambazo music and Sarafina! the movie. I have always thought of South Africa as a tourist destination; until I came for a conference in Johannesburg in 2015. Then I realised the economic and social structural similarities with being a black ex-pat in the diaspora.
We are looking to collaborate with South Africa on arts and cultural projects with our Beyond the Return campaign
How has living there endorsed or refuted these views?
I have learned a lot about South Africa’s industry and management. I have engaged with entrepreneurs at Wits University's Tshimologong Precinct outside of my time on campus and at The Pig (graduate hangout on campus). South Africa is a beautiful country. I have visited Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth and need to give myself the opportunity to travel widely.
I love the music, the arts, and culture in spaces such as Maboneng in Johannesburg but in 2019, I was anxious about xenophobic attacks nationwide and was happy to return to campus when things calmed down.
What do you like about South Africa or specifically Johannesburg that differs from your own?
Sandton is an impressive shopping district and for a management professional Johannesburg has local and international business and banks represented for my professional development. I love Ghana, I love Accra and the sounds and beats. But I am growing to appreciate South Africa for its diversity - albeit as it creates a rainbow nation post-apartheid.
What can Ghana learn from South Africa or vice versa about best practice models that enhance the business/knowledge-sharing environment?
Ghana has strong bilateral trade agreements with South Africa and MTN, which is a South African telecoms company, has a strong presence in Ghana. I have also joined the Ghana-South Africa Chamber of Commerce. Ghana is also one of a handful of countries where citizens can secure a visa on arrival in South Africa.
On learnings, South Africa is expanding our railway system and we are looking to collaborate on arts and cultural projects with our Beyond the Return campaign (initiative to encourage the African diaspora to relocate, do business and/or visit Ghana).
Are you learning any of the South African languages and how is that going?
Gratefully English is one of South Africa’s official 11 languages. A few isiZulu and Xhosa friends are encouraging me to pick up their languages. I’m still at beginner level on them.
Tell us about an aspect of South African culture that has excited you – ie the food, the cultures, the landscape etc.
I have been on a city tour in Johannesburg and also in Cape Town where the historical, political and cultural contexts are interwoven into the tourist sites. You get to learn about the Anglo-Boer War (aka Second Boer War), and mining booms in various landmark places, as well as the many luminaries that have and continue to visit South Africa.
Could you see yourself staying there long-term?
Yes, I received my exceptional-skills visa for the next five years so I get to work here for the next half-decade. Beyond that however, we shall have to wait and see.
How was being lockdown far away from home like for you?
Lockdown has been difficult for us internationals. It is a bit more tasking because you are acutely aware when there is increased security presence and are acutely aware that your support system, in case of any emergencies, is also a country away. I have used the opportunity to connect globally with friends, family, and colleagues via Zoom, Meet and Teams.
What do you do in your spare time?
In my spare time in Johannesburg, I joined the Rotary Club to engage and volunteer on community projects. I’m a rotarian in Ghana with the Rotary Club at Accra Ring-Road Central.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Johannesburg is a city that can be flashy, can be artsy but also intimidating. To folks who are visiting or even thinking of moving here, find your tribe, read about the city’s rich history, have an open mind and keep your wits about you so you are not where you are not supposed to be at all times.
If you would like to learn more about Emmanuel and his work, follow him at:
edu Kanea @edukanea on social media www.edukanea.com
And check him out at Wits Tshimologong Precinct where he and his partner run edu Kanea here.