7th December 2015

 The Mayor of London’s crime prevention unit has launched an anti-gang pilot scheme and it’s being tried out in Lambeth, Westminster and Haringey until January 2016. All gang members can be punished, even if they weren’t involved in the crime. Campaigners have criticised the scheme, but is this the best way to crack down on gangs in London? Arnelle Paterson reports

16th March 2014

Selling to the Brazilian market speakers is a massive, growing and lucrative global ecommerce market.

There are over 240m Portuguese speakers  around the world including 201m in Brazil, 2.25m in Mozambique , 18m in Angola and 10m in Portugal.

It is clear that the Portuguese language is not isolated to Portugal which only accounts for 41% of the Portuguese speaking population worldwide. Localising to Portuguese is an excellent path to driving global ecommerce: Portuguese is an official language in 11 countries and spoken on 4 continents7 and ranks at number 6 on the list of the world’s ten most spoken languages.

Projections estimate the Portuguese speaking population has the most potential growth as an international language in southern Africa and South America. According to UNESCO, the population will increase to 335 million people with more than 10% of these speakers being from Africa.

Brazil’s ecommerce market place is expected to be the 4th largest e-commerce market by 201610 and accounts for more than 50% of the ecommerce sales in Latin America.

Brazil’s internet penetration equates to 107.7 million users which represents more than 50% of the population. More importantly, for ecommerce, there are currently 40 million buyers online13 and will increase to 18.0 million in 2018.

Key Trends

Key trends in penetrating Brazil include:

Brazilians prefer finding products and brands online – 80% of Brazilians surveyed by Ipsos use the internet to look for new brands and products.

Upcoming events will upgrade Brazil’s transportation infrastructure – The 2014 World Cup alongside the 2016 Olympics will mean that Brazil needs an aviation and ground transportation expansion because of tourists. This is likely to affect Brazil’s ecommerce due to the simplification of shipping goods and infrastructure upgrades.

The younger generation make up the majority of consumers with the average age of population being 30 in Brazil.Demographics show that 79% of young people with high income living in large cities buy online.

Fashion and accessory shopping online is big in Brazil – The fashion and accessory industry in Brazil is growing, and equates for over 12% of online retail sales. Additionally, this industry attracts first time buyers due to lower prices online.

Smartphone users doubled from 9% in 2011 to 18% in 2012 and the country is the number one app developer in Latin America thanks to the nationwide entrepreneurship boom.

Shift in customer care happening in Brazil –While telephone customer care still remains the most popular type of customer care in Brazil, customer care via e-mail, on-site (such as live chat), and social networks continues to rise – especially with consumers under the age of forty.

Opportunities and Challenges

Domain name. The .br country-code top-level domain name (ccTLD) is an extension that represents Brazil. This is a good investment for those who want to reach the growing number of internet users.

In Brazil, given the regional recognition and web presence, you will need a local contact for registration and this will need to be renewed yearly.

Web Design – Brazilian shoppers care about product quality, customer service, ease and security and this should be emphasised. Brazilian women controlled 66% of Brazilian family consumption in 2010, so it’s ideal to target a female audience. When optimising your site, localise links and content to Brazilian Portuguese.

Marketing Digital adverts are also a good idea, according to eMarketer digital ad spending in Brazil will surpass $4 billion by 201612 and 47% say that online ads are very influential in their purchase decisions.

Payment Types – Brazil has a fragmented payment culture with only a small penetration of credit and debit cards. Brazil ranked as one of the countries reporting the highest percentage of consumers experiencing card fraud as of Q3 2012, according to ACI Worldwide. Instalment payments are very common in Brazil which allows consumers to purchase even simple household products online and pay for them over time. For those who don’t have credit cards or bank accounts, Boleto Bancáriois is the leading payment method. It is a small slip that customers can print out and pay at a bank.

Mobiles

Brazil’s has a high mobile phone penetration. Mobile devices are the second most used way in Brazil to go online, and 79% of consumers in Brazil use their mobile phones in at least part of the purchasing process.

Mobile payments represent a significant opportunity in Brazil, as mobile phone penetration is much higher than credit card use.

Crystal ball

The proliferation of internet users and need to spend means that the Brazilian market will continue to grow, and this will be aided by the fact that mobile payments are expected to become another factor in the continued growth of E-Commerce in Brazil.

Businesses in Brazil are combining different methods of purchasing to employ tactics like click-and-collect to make it easier for the consumer to get what they want.

Portuguese remains a globally powerful language which will drive ecommerce and allow retailers to tap into locations of great opportunity, one being those locations being the African continent.

25th October 2013

The school run, waking up late, University or the “I’ll eat later” excuse are not justifiable reasons to skip one of the most important meals of the day. During one’s dormant state, the body has been deprived of food for a number of hours. It is significantly important that you fuel your body in order to function efficiently throughout the day. Additionally, the likelihood of binging on sugar ridden snacks as a supplement for skipping breakfast decreases greatly. Our bodies crave sugar because of glucose which is needed during the chemical process of respiration in which energy is released from food. Low blood sugar levels cause irritability and fatigue – both of which we could all do without, especially on a Monday morning. Consume something light enough for the early morning but heavy enough to keep you satisfied until lunchtime. Breakfast kicks starts your day and improves general mental performance.

Opulent oats

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/galant/3294687099

What’s better than the confines of an insulated duvet on an unforgiving winter morning? An ample portion of oats ‘with a multitude of benefits. It has been proven to lower cholesterol by 20% if eaten every day. Its high fibre content keeps you feeling full for longer (which helps to sustain weight) at a stable blood sugar level, this means no sky scraping sugar highs and steep crashes to the depths of despair, furthermore, a breakfast with high sugar and fat content is laced with problems; you’ll be starving quicker than you can say sayonara. The soluble fibre within oat grains reduces hypertension while keeping bowel movements regular. Consuming oats is perfect if you’re looking to lead a healthier lifestyle as oats have the optimum balance of protein and essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and beta glucan which has healing properties. As an antioxidant, it contains selenium which works with Vitamin E throughout the body to aid in the reduction of asthmatic symptoms and heart disease as well as the prevention of colon cancer.

What I particularly enjoy about oats is its neutral taste which makes combinations endless, whether its fruits or honey (responsibly of course). If you’re strapped for time, try an oats smoothie. Blend together bananas and strawberries with milk, honey and cinnamon (great for influenza and brain function). The natural sugars from the bananas and strawberries will be sure to appease your sweet tooth, a healthier substitute for processed sugars that won’t cause a blood sugar spike. What’s even better about oats is that its hypoallergenic properties means its great for sensitive skin and can be used as a facial exfoliant or bath bomb!

Obliging Omelette with radiant toasted rye bread

An omelette complete with onions, tomatoes and sliced sausage with a carbohydrate addition – MmMmMm! Eggs are a rich source of Vitamin B choline which helps the body to produce new cell membranes whilst reducing chronic inflammation, a consequence of the body’s natural healing process becoming harmful which can lead to heart disease and diabetes. The protein in eggs aids in muscle building boosts the immune system, repairs tissue and gives you healthy skin and nails. Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that wards off prostate, breast and stomach cancer as well as age-related macular degeneration (the decay of the back of the eye) and fighting physical signs of ageing (wrinkles). Cooked tomatoes contain more lycopene, because of its fat solubility, I recommend frying omelettes in coconut oil. Although I detest onions with a passion, the phytochemicals within my most loathed vegetable improves the manner in which Vitamin C works within your body for increased immunity and reducing the risk of gastric ulcer development.

As a carnivorous villain, for me, an omelette isn’t complete without something I can really sink my canines into – sliced sausage. Not only is it an added boost of protein, they provide energy and help with the maintenance of muscle mass. Pork sausage has been categorised as unhealthy because of its high sodium content, so you may want to substitute this with turkey sausage, turkey contains amino acid tryptophan that helps with sleep and curbing hunger while chicken sausage doesn’t contain as much fat as pork sausage.

Rye bread is low on the glycaemic index which prevents gall stones and is packed with nutrients such as iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, vitamin E and B.

Mighty Millet porridge

Source: http://www.tessadomesticdiva.com/2011/05/millet-porridge.html

The cereal plant millet has been crowned as one of the World’s healthiest foods because of its infastructure of important nutrients such as manganese (essential for healthy bones) phosphorus (aids in the development of teeth and assists in kidney processes) and magnesium (keeps blood pressure normal and the heart healthy) Millet porridge is a worldwide favourite. It’s a popular breakfast in the African countries of Ghana and Ethiopia, an ingredient used in roti in India and cooked with rice and beans in the Caribbean. A serving of 174 grams includes over 80 nutrients and significantly lowers the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, moreover, it helps develop and repair body tissue, prevents gall stones, breast cancer and heart failure. It’s a God send for postmenopausal women with high cholesterol or other cardiovascular diseases. Before cooking, rinse millet thoroughly with water to get rid of debris. Add water and leave to boil, cover and let it simmer for at least 25 minutes. For a nuttier alternative, roast millet grains before boiling.

Originally published on MACs Magazine’s website – 17th September 2013

SEE MY GHANA VLOGS PART 1 & 2 

PART 1

PART 2

When President John Atta Mills pumped the first gush of oil on 15th December 2010, Ghana was propelled into the public eye like never before. The nation has since been working on the development of the oil business in a profitable manner in order to create a sustainable economic growth, thus benefiting the West African country and its inhabitants. 22 million barrels of oil and 21 cargoes have been exported since the oil was discovered. By the end of 2012, Ghana’s economy had grown by 13.5% making it one of the fastest growing economies worldwide. Inevitably, this has attracted businessmen and job seekers from around the globe including the Middle East and China which has added to the cultural diversity of Ghana. I hadn’t visited since I was 14 years old and was excited about visiting the Motherland as a young woman, eager to explore, experience Ghana’s developments and learn more about Ghana’s rich culture and untarnished beauty.

After a 6hours & 40minutes flight due to turbulence, I was relieved to touch down in Kotoka International Airport, Accra. Met by a gush of humidity as I carefully stepped down the stairs with my hand luggage in tow, I truly felt at home. Due to the humidity of Ghana, I advise that you bring a change of clothing to combat the sudden change in weather altitude. I had to wait an obscene amount of time for my luggage to arrive before being driven to a lovely three bedroom house in Sakumono where I stayed with relatives. I had the luxury of an en suite, 24 hour air conditioning and three maids, in the words of Kimora Lee Simmons – ‘Fabulousity’ at its finest.

Climate can reach highs of 31-37°c which is primarily dependent on the region. The Greater Accra region (the capital city where I’m from) is cooler while temperatures rise as you travel up north to the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regions. The hottest regions in Ghana are the Upper Regions (Tamale and Bolgatanga) where pedestrians often cycle because of the extreme levels of heat. Luckily, my trip was during Ghana’s rainy season meaning temperatures only reached 29°c. This definitely made the trip more enjoyable – sweating profusely and dehydration is awful when photographed. If you’re adventurous and wish to experience the full extent of Ghana’s heat, travel between early December and March. Harmattan is a dry, dusty wind that blows across Ghana from the Sahara desert between late December and January, sometimes early February, resulting in decreased humidity and dimmer sunlight. Sometimes, a thick dust can be seen, similar to a foggy morning in London. The further you travel up north, the more intense it is. This is superb for wildlife viewing as the animals congregate at available water holes during this dry season. Make sure to keep hydrated and moisturised as well as carrying a nasal decongestant.

As simplistic as this may sound, I adored the drive whilst travelling from home to my desired destination. Conveniently, street sellers provide sachets of water (for approximately 30p), plantain chips, soft drinks and miscellaneous items from mugs to maps. It was gratifying to take in the sights of Ghana with its various billboards while relaxing to the sweet sounds of Afrobeats and Highlife.

I visited Aburi’s botanical garden and the journey was almost as enjoyable as the garden itself. Temperatures are milder in the highlands, the cooling mist went hand in hand with the calm aura exuberated by the beautiful garden. Unfortunately, with the vast majority of tourist attractions, foreigners have to pay an increased fee of between 5 to 10 cedis, being an incredibly inquisitive individual, I questioned why, but this fell on deaf ears. As I am of predominantly Ghanaian descent, I was able to enter at a discounted price. The beauty of nature has always fascinated me and I was taken aback by the beauty of this garden. For a very small fee, you are provided with a tour guide who explains the importance of each plant and tree, from intoxicating sea grapes to trees decades old and trees planted by politicians and significant individuals in African and English history. Whilst in Aburi, I made a trip to the arts and crafts shops for some authentic, handcrafted Ghanaian art. I was truly spoilt for choice with crafted jewellery boxes, beads, necklaces, wall art and quite interestingly, erotic sculptures. Ghanaian natives have a sixth sense for spotting a foreigner and knew straight away that I wasn’t a resident of Ghana. You will soon become familiar with terms “obroni” and “brofo nyo” derived from Twi and Ga dialects referring to a Caucasian person, quite evidently I am not fully Caucasian so this both perplexing and slightly amusing. I found the fact I was the constant spectacular of attention reasonably unnerving. Without being biased, Ghanaians are very friendly and welcoming nonetheless.

With regards to historical attractions, Ghana is remarkably saturated. I had the pleasure of visiting the first president Kwame Nkrumah’s Museum and Memorial Park. Much like Aburi, its picturesque setting was miles away from the hustle and bustle of the streets of Accra. The perfectly pebbled pathway alongside the waterfall and African art statutes encapsulated how far Ghana has developed whilst maintaining its cultural roots. Take your time to view Kwame Nkrumah’s gargantuan statute in which he is stood with his hand pointing forward, reminiscent of his forward thinking ways that Ghanaians appreciate abundantly ‘til this day. In a tomb-like structure lays the remains of the late lecturer and his Egyptian wife Fathia Nkrumah. The biographical display of his life with images and the clothes he wore when he was appointed President were emotive and something I will remember for the rest of my life. It is definitely worth visiting. The National Museum is within walking distance and within an hour (with the help of my lovely tour guide Richard from Koforidua) I had a thorough understanding of the entire history of Ghana, from the various tribes and their traditions, changing currency, differing symbols and the slave trade. I also learnt about snippets of history from Zambia and Nigeria as well as other African countries. I was honoured to have been within millimetres of the chair that President Kwame Nkrumah sat on when he gained presidency. Decades later, I was able to touch a pinnacle moment in Ghana’s history.

Richard insisted that I visit Elmina Castle to see where thousands of slaves were kept before being sent away to foreign lands through a secret passage known as the “door of no return.” After a 2 hour journey from Accra, I entered the monumental castle. Words cannot begin to describe the amount of sorrow and suffering imbued within this stature of history. The tour guide explained the inhumane treatments of slaves, especially females who were treated as sexual objects and sent away to give birth. Poignantly, their mixed race children were trained to become slave masters like their fathers. The scent within the castle is so distinctive it has no comparison, but it is a scent I will never forget.

If you truly love the sights of nature, you will absolutely adore Klo Yo mountain. The Yilo Krobo settlers lived at the top of the mountain before forceful ejection, in remembrance, a pilgrimage (known as Kloyosikplemi festival) is undertaken yearly for the Yilo Krobo (where my mummy is from!) people to remember their ancestral home, at 2000ft, it is remarkable, what is even most astonishing are the houses built upon the mountain.

The Akosombo Dam on the Volta River is only a 30 minute drive from the Eastern Region of Somanya and the Klo Yo mountain and this is where Ghana, Benin and Togo’s electricity is generated. At an impressive 2,170 feet and 374 ft deep, this makes it the world’s largest manmade lake. Standing at such a great height is beyond breathtaking.

During my time in Accra, I decided to purchase a few things at Mokola Market – think Oxford Street meets Camden market intensified by the 5pm rush, then multiply that by 10. You will never experience anything quite like it. The incredibly busy market makes walking in a straight line near enough impossible but it is so worth it. From quality Ankara cloth to Ghanaian spices and fresh meat, everything is at your disposal. Practise your haggling skills with sellers and be wary, they will increase prices because you’re foreign – learn the basics of a Ghanaian dialect or make sure you’re with someone who knows one of the many languages. For a calmer, more tranquil shopping experience, visit Accra Mall, Ghana’s equivalent to Westfield. My favourite shop has to be Shop Rite in which I bought my daily fix of Lucozade and freshly baked biscuits- instant sweet tooth and carb addiction satisfaction.

 

I first fell in love with Labadi Beach at the tender age of six while horse riding (yes horse riding) and running towards the waves as they kissed the shore. My love continued to grow in 2009 as my taste buds were tantalised by the freshly fried yam with shitto and fresh salad. It is true that as you age, you become less adventurous as I refused to go on a horse ride, but instead observed the waves while enjoying Alvaro – a tantalising malt based drink which I guarantee will appease your taste buds. If you’re a fan of charcoal grilled meat, you will love the choice of kebabs at Labadi Beach and throughout Ghana. The popular beach is laced with bars and really comes to life at night with entertainment into the early hours of the morning – don’t forget to pack your mosquito repellent!

You may want to visit alternative beaches such as Prampram, Bojo, Kokrobite and Busua. Prampram is superb for shell collectors but its steepness makes it harder to walk in. Remember to stick to flip flops on the beach and bring a bottle of water with you to wash the sand off your feet before getting back into the vehicle. Sand is ridiculously irritating to remove successfully.

Ghana’s many regions equates to a vast selection of food – omo tuo, kenkey, waakye, fufu, plantain, kontomere stew as well as deserts and pastries such as my all time favourite, togbei (bofrot). Growing up with my mother’s cooking, I have been exposed to the quintessential of Ghanaian food -but this comes with disastrous consequences. Apart from meals prepared by my relatives, I didn’t enjoy the majority of the dishes from the many restaurants that I visited which lacked the flavour or spice I was used to. Additionally, the preparation time was ludicrously long which is very bothersome to a hungry stomach . However, I have to compliment the freshly fried, almost oil free chips, a stark contrast to the number of fast food joints in England. For great chicken, visit Afrikkos or KFC. I have never been a KFC fan but I thoroughly enjoyed the KFC in Osu, Accra. I am convinced that this is because the chicken is free from hormonal injections – you can literally taste the goodness. Do not let me sway you from trying out the local cuisine – you cannot go to Ghana and not sample the local cuisine! Ghanaian food is divine and well prepared because of its fresh ingredients, I was lucky enough to sample tilapia from the Tema harbour which was positively divine. The best thing about Ghanaian food is the freshness of it – completely free from preservatives. Note that Hausas make the best waakye, the waakye I ate in Abelemkpe was an ample portion of real flavour and spice. If you do miss continental cuisine, visit Osu which is considered the Oxford Street of Ghana (there’s even an Oxford Street in Osu!) there is not only KFC, but Papaye (a chicken and chips shop), Chinese restaurants, pizza, Indian takeaways as well as my favourite ice cream place in the entire world – Arlecchino’s. The prices start at approximately £5 but it is worth it, I recommend the cookies and cream with pistachio nut combination. They also offer donuts, milkshake, cakes and waffles on the menu. My hips are widening just thinking about it. Starbites in East Legon is another option with reasonable pricing; I highly recommend the chicken stir fry.

I couldn’t visit Ghana without experiencing its night life. Dressed in crop top, a form fitting midi skirt and killer wedges, I prepared myself for a night on the town. If you’re into the latest pop music and want to converse with other tourists, Firefly and Duplex are the places to be. Approaching Movenpick’s sleek tower building, I didn’t expect to see a very small number of people. I had seen Shaka Zulu a number of times whilst commuting around Accra and loved the Ghanaian statues and glamorous aesthetic. I was not disappointed. With R’n’B, Hip Hop and Afrobeats on rotation, I was able to unleash my inner dancing queen (with a cocktail in hand of course).

Overall, my time in Ghana was one of deeper self-understanding in a refreshingly didactic form in which I was able to appreciate my heritage. Africa as a continent is repeatedly under the microscope merely for its poverty, what the media fails to do is hone in on its rich culture, quality food and beautiful scenery. Although Ghana has developed, I pray that it doesn’t lose the sheer simplicity of life that keeps tourists coming back for more. I urge you to experience the country formally known as the Gold Coast and fall in love with the country as much as I have.

TOP TIPS

  • As Ghana is a tropical country, it is essential that you visit your GP for the appropriate vaccinations
  • Ghanaians do not shy away, so be prepared to be approached!
  • Have a sufficient amount of money and an emergency stash, prices have soared since the last time I visited which has meant that consequently, the living standard is very high with no regards to the Ghanaian people.
  • Practise your haggling techniques, especially with taxi drivers, you might even want to commute on a tro tro, the equivalent of a bus in the UK
  • Do not buy any liquids that haven’t come in a sealed bottle or sachet to avoid consuming contaminated liquid
  • Be sure to purchase Imodium prior to your visit to soothe an upset stomach
  • If your trip to Ghana coincides with the JoyFM’s annual bridal fair at the Accra International Conference Centre, it is imperative that you visit. Cake samples, gorgeous wedding apparel and décor.. need I say more?
  • There is always an event going on in Ghana so keep your eyes peeled! I couldn’t attend a concert with the likes of Raquel, Sarkodie, Wizkid and Timaya due to other commitments
  • Tune into Ghana’s melodramatic television and radio shows – absolutely hilarious.
  • Make sure your bikini ready and ready to get those pins out by booking an appointment at MACs, waxing treatments start from just £10 while a deep cleansing facial will ensure that those troublesome breakouts don’t ruin your holiday snaps

 

7th April 2015

From its exterior, Mamounia Lounge Mayfair appears to be another sub-par shisha café, surrounded by a sea of hazy shisha smoke, clinking glasses and a legion of people outside. The elegant Arabian décor inside is a pleasant contradiction. As I was shown to my candlelit table, I took in a place resembling an upmarket nightclub. The waiter greeted me with a warm smile and made casual small talk before taking my order.

First up was the Caribbean breeze cocktail, a mixture of fresh pineapple, passion fruit and raspberries shaken with Appleton Extra, Flor De Cana and vanilla essence. The smell of alcohol was disastrously overwhelming, possibly because I’m normally teetotal. As I bravely took a sip, the sharp sting attacked my throat. My friend, a social drinker, also found the drink overpowering. The waiter was happy to provide us with a weaker version of Caribbean breeze, although the mixture of Flor De Cana and the squash-like fruit juices made this an unpleasant experience.

Our starter ‘Mamounia Arayes’, grilled pitta bread with halloumi cheese, fresh mint and dried chillies, arrived promptly. At first bite, my arteries screamed due to the unforgiving amount of salt and oil, it was a shame as I enjoyed the freshly made pitta as it momentarily masked the prospect of an impending heart attack. The waiting time between the starter and main course was at least forty minutes. However, it is understandable as adequate time is required for grilled meat to be thoroughly cooked, which I was more than thrilled with – I’m not an advocate of vampirism.

Finally, the mixed grill, including shish, chicken and lamb softie, arrived on what could only be described as a wooden slab. We decided to order a bowl of ‘Mamounia Special Rice’ too, brown rice fried with chermoula, garlic butter, peppers, pine, nuts and parsley. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by the blandness of the meats. As a predominantly Moroccan restaurant, my taste buds were eagerly expecting to be transported to an Arabian odyssey with tongue tingling, rich flavours, I could not finish the meal. The rice was light and flavoursome – the perfect accompaniment.

The highlight was dessert, three hearty scoops offerrero rocher, vanilla and chocolate ice cream served with the most divine wafer. The combination of flavours complimented each other effortlessly, while chocolate has a tendency to be incredibly rich because of its cocoa component, in both the ferrero rocher and chocolate ice creams, it was perfect.

Overall, Mamounia Lounge is pleasing to the eyes, but will leave your stomach unhappy and your bank account £73.00 poorer.

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