opinionBy Emmanuel J K Arthur
I never believed in entrepreneurship and its powerful transformation abilities until I became a close friend of Roland Agambire, the 38-year old Founder and Chairman of the AGAMS Group of Companies sometime in 2003.
The group is made up of seven integrated companies and Rlg Communications Limited is the flagship. I have come to believe what former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan said that entrepreneurs are the future of many economies, especially emerging, developing and the least developed ones.
It has been only a decade since Rlg came into existence but its social and economic impact on Ghana, West Africa and her people are evidently visible. The company first launched a revolution into ICT training in the country with emphasis on self-employment and economic viability.
The rlg Institute of Technology was to later assist the then National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) to implement the Youth-in-ICT Module under the programme.
A unique aspect of this Rlg-NYEP collaboration has been the presentation of set of toolkits to enable trainees set-up on their own upon completion of course. So, since 2006, more than 30,000 youth have remained in gainful employment offering economic bailout to their families and communities where they live and operate.
The success of Rlg Communications has also been largely led by its pioneering role in mobile phone, desktop and laptop assembling, becoming the first to do so in sub-Sahara Africa. Today, many village school pupils who dreamt of a laptop see it every day and use it for learning by the kind courtesy of both the Basic School Computerization Project and the Better Ghana Laptop Programme under which a total of 160,000 laptops have been supplied to basic, second cycle, teacher and nursing training institutions, vocational schools, polytechnics and universities. Indeed individuals and specialized institutions with agenda for research have also been given computers to aid their work. In the coming year, the focus shall be on the establishment of Computer Laboratories for schools. That is not all, the assembling of the laptops locally have made the cost of the product cheaper, thereby making it possible for everyone to acquire one.
Rlg has thus demystified the age-old myth about computers and laptops. In fact, they are no more luxuries but necessities of today's highly technologically challenging world.
Again, within the processing chain alone, Rlg Communications succeeded in giving employment to almost 10,000 youth who work in shifts at its assembly plant located at Osu in the capital, Accra.
This number is minus the almost 1,000 permanent staff engaged by Rlg at its locations across Ghana, Nigeria, the Gambia and China. I must also add quickly that it is from the base at Osu where both the laptops, phones and desktops are exported and sold in countries within the ECOWAS region.
The story has been told many times about the poor and humble background of the man most of his workers simply refer to as chairman. His peculiar economic circumstance has challenged him to do more for the poor and the marginalized and this explains when he says "I am happy whenever I am able to solve problems". And this has also been the principle driving his desire to give so much back to society through sponsorships and corporate social responsibilities. In the year 2012 alone, the company engaged itself in some monumental corporate gestures. In July 2012 when late President Mills died, Rlg supported the State Funeral and Burial with GHC 500,000, gesture which solicited a barrage of criticism.
For Rlg, it was purely an opportunity to ameliorate the harsh financial pain the very painful death of a country's leader was to exert on its people and coffers. We are tempted to believe that our generous support contributed towards, not only the befitting burial that occurred but the deepening of democracy through the peaceful power transfer after Prof. Mill's demise. Indeed Ghana won in the long run.
In that same year, Rlg renovated the Sports Hall of the Accra Sports Stadium at a cost of GHC 2,500 and this was at a time that same company had given GHC 500,000 to enable Ghana government host the ECOWAS Games, Ghana 2012. We also recall spending substantial amount towards the organization of the Grand Prix in 2011 and 2012 as well as many other support for education, employment generation, the arts and entertainment industry.
The year 2012 will forever remain annals of Rlg Communications for a number of reasons, the most prominent one being the fact that this is the year we won the most recognition, both home and abroad. In all, the company won 17 awards and recognitions in total and this was between the month of June and December alone. It is also prudent to add that these recognitions were in view of works and performance of the company in previous years and in the earlier periods of the year 2012.
In that year, the company's CEO, Roland Agambire was decorated with the highest honour in marketing in Ghana, the prestigious Chartered Institute of Marketing Ghana (CIMG) Marketing Man of the Year. One of his company's products, Rlg phones also emerged CIMG Product of the Year.
Same year 2012 was when Rlg Communications took another bold decision to make an entry into the Ghana Club 100, a grouping of the top performing 100 companies in Ghana. This was after we had committed ourselves to good corporate financial practices such as transparency, accountability and tax compliance issues. In the final analysis, Rlg was ranked 2nd in the club and its entry was adjudged the best that year by the Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC). The GIPC also honored RLG for being the Fastest Growing Company in Ghana as well as being the Leader in Ghana's ICT Sector.
Not long after, the one of the world's respected auditing and accounting firms, PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PWc) and the influential Business and Financial Times newspaper adjudged Roland Agambire the 2nd Most Respected Chief Executive in Ghana and Rlg as the 3rd Most Respected Company.
This did not come so much of a surprise because a month earlier, the South Africa based Africa Leadership Network (ALN) listed Rlg among the 12 Finalists in the prestigious Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship (AAE) after the profiling companies from more than 50 countries on the continent. Then in Nigerian in November 2012, Rlg Communications became one of the three Ghanaian companies to have made it to the finals of the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards (EOY), an annual event organized by another globally respected accounting and auditing firm, Ernst & Young West Africa.
Rlg crowned the year with a special honour from United Kingdom where company's CEO was among three Ghanaian business giants; renowned Investment Broker, Sam Ankrah and Business Mogul Sam Jonah at the Annual Ghana UK based Achievement (GUBA) Awards. Many other awards came our way.
I also need to mention that 2012 was the year Rlg sealed its historic partnership with the world's computer programme and software developer, Microsoft, a deal described as the "partnership of the future" by the world's most influential business magazine, Forbes. The deal allows Rlg computers and phones to run on windows systems especially the latest Windows 8.
The local and international recognitions we chalked in 2012 taught us only one thing; eyes are watching. Going into 2013, this will exert lots of influence on us to work harder, improve standards, ensure efficiency, satisfy the customers the more and most importantly touch base with the people. It is in this light that Roland Agambire has declared 2013 the Year of Action. Indeed, he anticipates improvement in both revenue and profits just as productivity and sacrifices on the part of his teaming, young, dedicated and hardworking staff both home and abroad.
In the coming year, one of the ambitious projects will be the implementation of policies to realize the 1million job creation pledge he made early 2012 during the launch of the 10th anniversary of Rlg Communications.
He had said his "soul will never rest" until that pledge has been redeemed; an ambitious, daring young man indeed. God be his helper. He has already set in motion a process to achieve that target of creating 1 million jobs for Ghanaians and Africans within the next five years. Work on an ultra modern multi-million dollar expanded ICT Assembly Plant will commence this year. Built on the Silicon Valley model, the facility will also serve as a continental wide hub for ICT incubation, assembling, fabrication and training, employing over 20,000 workers at a time.
In 2013, we hope to address all infrastructural bottlenecks hindering our growth. Apart from structures for office accommodation, the company has committed itself to an aggressive infrastructural growth intending to use it to promote growth. This will include residential accommodation for staff, data center, customer service center and many others. It is the intention of Roland Agambire that Rlg becomes an enviable place to work and the preferred one by many highly educated and results oriented professionals.
In terms of operation, the focus for 2012 will include ensuring successful phase one completion of the 50,000 Teachers ICT Training Project which began in December nationwide. We will also maintain momentum on the ongoing implementation of the Youth-In-ICT Module which we are implementing with Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA). Currently, a new set of 30,000 youth are undergoing training across the country.
In terms of social responsibility, a major expectation is that Rlg Foundation will commence its Water-for-Life project under which every constituency is to be provided with a borehole each for free. Discussions are far advanced with the leadership of parliament for the first phase of 30 boreholes to start in earnest. Overall, we hope to do more for the less privilege this year.
By all imaginations, 2012 was a good year and we can only pray that 2013 will also bring us fortunes, long life and many other happy returns. Indeed, we will continue to be guided by one of the ambitious targets of Chairman Roland that "freebies make people poorer and that is why I want to create opportunities for people out of whom the world's richest men will emerge".
Author is the Corporate Affairs Manager of Rlg Communications Ltd. email@example.com