by michael eli dokosi/www.blakkpepper.com/ghana
The concluding session of the Africa Luxury Dialogue has been executed at Kempinski Hotel’s Galleria in Ghana’s capital Accra.
Seasoned panelists with international luxury experience touched on various components of luxury and how luxury can be experienced in West African states including Ghana.
With luxurious vehicles such as Lamborghini, Ferrari, Bentley becoming a common sight on Accra’s roads, Roberta Annan of Roberta Annan Capital Partners who hosted one of the dialogues asked Asad Nazir, CEO of Silver Starr Auto Limited-dealers in Mercedes Benz if Ghanaians took luxury seriously?.
Mr. Nazir submitted having been in the auto business for 23 years, he’s seen the evolution in the taste of clients. He noted Mercedes being a global brand and a car of choice for successful executives has seen clients demanding specific services or add-ons either with the interior, engine, color or security features.
He urged people to be cautious when going in for Benz whose origin is unknown. According to Mr. Nazir, shipping vehicles to the country to supposedly cut cost is risky as the vehicle could be an accident car or even stolen.
On why Mercedes Benz ought to be purchased from the Silver Star Auto in Ghana, the CEO disclosed all “the cars for Ghana go through the German plant for re-tropicalization which factors in Ghana’s roads and weather.”
He added that while many reckon a Mercedes Benz is out of their reach, the Mercedes C-Class goes for the price of Honda or any other Japanese car.
Armand Faure, Remy Martin brand ambassador observed while Ghanaians still enjoy their local liquor like Alomo Bitters, there’s a big market for Remy Martin too noting that while folks in the past bought the beverage to show off to friends, patrons now seek knowledge on what process and ingredients are used for Remy Martin.
He also revealed that Ghanaian patrons are now seeking how best to pair the liquor showing a sophistication over time.
On collaborations of international brands with Africans ones given the abundance of creativity and potential, Manish Nambiah, the General Manager of Kempinski Hotel submitted there’s no reason why two thriving brands in Europe and African cannot collaborate.
He cited an example where restaurants in hotels are not operated by the hoteliers rather they allow for groups or partners with expertise in restaurant operation to run the restaurants in their facilities citing the case of a South African restaurant offering such service.
The panelists also touched on the need to bear in mind the heritage and culture of the African people which can be projected onto the international stage.
Tamara Jonah Goka, Lionheart Events Africa founder and Casa Trasacco’s Aldo Manfredo held the next dialogue where Goka enquired if an African in Ghana could experience luxury at the same level as one whose lived in Paris, Tokyo and London.
As one who’s widely traveled, Goka submitted she gets inspiration through the journeying process noting “experiencing luxury could be tasted even across Ghana’s border” when she makes a dash for Côte d’Ivoire.
Manfreda held that to have an ultimate luxury experience, one had to be “trained in it, study it to experience it.”
In a country where the average salary is poor, the panelists agreed there was a need for a legislation to create the right environment enabling people have the purchasing power to think about and desire luxury goods.
Viola Labi, General Manager Versace Collection and founder & CEO Woven Worldwide noted that luxury was not only about acquiring mansions and luxury cars but “getting an ultimate experience in getting to drink fresh coconut in Ada in Ghana’s eastern Greater Accra Region is also a luxurious experience.”
It was understood also that while a service might be open to the masses; those willing to pay more can get to also enjoy a more discreet service especially in the services industry.
In Ghana for instance while there are various Kente-the woven cloth around, the royal Kente goes for huge sums which puts it beyond the reach of many people.
Fred Mawuli Deegbe, a banker turn cobbler disclosed that he decided to make shoes when upon asking relatives and friends if a foreign shoe he had just purchased could be made in Ghana, their chorus of no-feedback fueled his desire to make Ghana produced footwear adding “if we don’t make shoes, when would we make aeroplanes.”
The Chief Caretaker of ‘Heel the World’ also acknowledged that Ghana’s luxury was in its infancy.
It also emerged that luxury needed to be defined as the sunny experiences tourists troop to Tuscany, Italy for could be experienced in Ghana.
Elizabeth Oputa, Ken Kweku Nimo, Wellington Baidoo, Judith Biel, Jewel Arthur and Muhammida El Muhajir wrapped up the session at the Wax Print organized event.