Friday, December 03, 2010

Abi You Wan Sell? Google Trader Launches in Ghana

Yesterday, something quite spectacular happened at Makola market in Accra. And the taxi rank at Circle. And Oxford Street in Osu, and Akuafo Hall  in Legon, and Accra Mall. If you weren't there to see it for yourself, then listen up. I'm going to tell you all about what it was like at Makola.
The time was just a little past 8 am. Ghanaians were milling about as usual. Every third person was carrying something on their heads. Something like boxes, and basins. Empty basins. Full basins. Flat basins. Deep, and deeply scarred basins. Between the line of GTP stores which sit across from Rawlings park  and adjacent shops selling everything from imported suitcases to umbrellas, a coconut seller was preparing a coconut for a waiting buyer.

Music started blaring. It was Wanlov the Kuborlor's "Come home plus me".  We were all enjoying it small small, when the music changed. And with it came men and women from all corners dressed in Google t-shirts. Some wore red, others wore yellow. yet others wore green and even blue.  I even spotted someone I knew. Akwele from Ashale-Botwe, now all grown up and dressed in her green google tee and matching green head-band tieing her afro, white shorts, some sneakers. Hoop earrings, tiny bead bracelets and anklets. Nice.
Photo credit: Rodney Quarcoo Visuals
It's called a flash mob. It was moment there was just Makola as usual. The next moment, all these brightly colored people were pouring out of its corners. Then they started dancing. A fully choreographed deal o.  I'd never seen anything quite like it. It was disruptive. Entertaining. And cooooool! The makola traders must have thought so too, because in less than a minute, hundreds had gathered in a file along the street to watch. Some even run towards the action, forgetting for a few minutes the business of the day. 

Photo credit: Rodney Quarcoo Visuals

Abi you wan buy
Abi you wan sell
Google Trader something something something.

That was the song. A special song composed for the launch  by Horsley Samuel Horsfall. Nigerian dude o. Who ever heard of a Nigerian guy with a Fanti sounding name like that. Samuel Horse-what? Ya. Time to google him. But Gosh...we know Nigerian music is hot in Gh. but why couldn't google get some Ghanaian musician Sarkodie or Wanlov or M.anifest to make a song? I'm not feeling that.

Photo credit: Rodney Quarcoo Visuals
Anyway, so as this spectacular dance died down, one kayayo seller asked me what was going on. How does one explain google trader in simple terms? 

My attempt sounded like this...

Google foɔ enya new product bi. Sɛ wo pɛ sɛ wo tɔn biribi tese wo mpaboa a, wo betumi a text number bi, na w'akyerɛ bebia wo wɔ, ne shoe korɔ a woreton. Na google foɔ no de bɛto ɔmo website no so. Nti obi nso hwehwɛ shoe a, na wafrɛ wo.

Google now has a new product. If you want to sell anything, you can text a short code and indicate what kind of shoe, where you are, price and if someone's looking for a shoe, they'll call you.
She nodded vigorously.

Hey, I'd tried.  Maybe I should also have told her she could buy as well. But hopefully she would learn that on radio, or some other means. So I gave the kayayo woman the crude explanation but  exactly is google trader? Well, it's a product, with free classifieds listings similar to Craigslist and Gumtree that Google launched yesterday in Ghana. As at the launch, it already had 8 thousand listings.

You can search the listings online or on your phone.
Here's what you do if you want to sell something.
First, you have to register. You can do that online or on your phone. If you're using your phone, you  text "register" to 6007.
Next, you text "sell" to the same number, followed by a description of your item
e.g. Pen, Accra, 10 cedis.

If you're accessing trader online, then it's also possible to search categories like jobs, clothes, etc.Will Google Trader work for Ghana? Well, that remains to be seen. For now, it looks promising.  As an entrepreneur, the main takeaway from try. Try a lot of things. I mean even Google never knows which of its products is going to hit in which market so they try lots of things, and of course if you try enough times, eventually something will work out, and work out big. 

Whether trader will be that hit for Google in Ghana remains to be seen. I know I'm going to be registering soon. If  I ever try selling some AfroChic on trader, I'll give you an update on how it went. But you need not wait for my account. You can check out  Google Trader for yourself.


  1. is this different from classifieds sites being offered by, and
    Much ado about nothing..really?

  2. Hmm..anonymous. I think the difference is that of focus. Google trader is a platform exclusively for trading. When people go to google trader, it will be because they have something to buy or sell. And so it promises to be a bigger classifieds than what myjoyonline, ghanaweb or gkrom offers. On the other hand, most people go to myjoyonline and ghanaweb first to read news. And then, maybe to check the classifieds.Google trader already has 8000 listings which is more than myjoyonline,ghanaweb, and gkrom combined. no? So to answer your question, the concept is not novel, even in Ghana but Google Trader's focus (and efforts /money spent on recruiting buyers and sellers) means it will likely attract more traders and therefore be a better option to use than say the classifieds on