Kojo Frans Jubilee House, 1975-1980
Year Group: 1980
Kojo Leads a new Revolution
...takes on a new role as CEO and President of a new
Kojo (Joe) Frans is as of 1 January 2008, Chief
Executive Officer and President of Next
Generation Broadcasting (NGB), the newly created Swedish media and
communications group. He is also an alternate Member of Parliament for the City
of Stockholm, having been elected to the Swedish parliament in 2002 as the first
African man to be elected to the Swedish Parliament. He served on the European
Affairs advisory Committee and the Justice Affairs Committee. He tabled the
bill on a new policy on Africa, which is currently under parliamentary scrutiny.
He is the Vice Chair of the United Nations Working Group of Independent Experts
on People of African Descent. He is the chairperson of the Award winning Rinkeby
Community Center in Stockholm. He is married to Jeanette Kilinda Frans,
who hails from the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC.)
They have a daughter, Josephine Conduah, and two other foster children,
Lamine and Abie with Gambian roots.
Kojo Frans has taken on the mantle of CEO and President of NGB Africa to be
part of a revolution, he says, “It’s a revolution that is going to transform the
way we communicate, but we will also pursue opportunities in small scale energy
generation and distribution as well as in water and sanitation and I will also
continue with some activities in the area of governance and help build
institutions that will strengthen democracy”
Next Generation Broadcasting is a Swedish constellation that has been
involved with both the Swedish and Finnish Digital Terrestrial Television policy
draft and implementation strategies, including consulting services within fixed
and mobile digital Radio/TV aggregation and distribution.
The company is majority owned by the sixth state pension fund of the state of
Sweden and specializes in corporate financing, revaluation, underwriting and
Pre-financing of freed spectrum space. The company was created to capitalize on
the fact that TV broadcasts are currently being converted globally from analogue
This is driven by the increase in transmission capacity and the reduction in
transmission costs as a result of this change. Up to 2015 analogue terrestrial
television will be replaced gradually by digital terrestrial television in the
whole of Europe and in USA. Almost all countries in the world have committed to
digitalization by 2015 and the International Telecommunication Union will not be
supporting analogue production from 2015. Sweden successfully completed its
switchover in 2007 from analogue to digital. It is clear that
digitalization creates a number of new trends including: Many new channels and a
more fragmented audience, the internationalization of the industry and an
increase of the total pay-TV market.
There are also many other advantages that come with digitalization, for
example, the opportunity to create new dedicated channels like the Learning
Channel and the promotion of local TV content production. The challenge now
will be to bring this revolution in communication to Africa, this is the
challenge that Next Generation Broadcasting will help meet in Africa. At the
steering wheel of this revolution is an old boy of Adisadel College.
Frans attended Adisadel College from 1975-1980. He was in Jubilee House and
founded the VOA Fun Club during his stay on the hill with the help of
Senior Suma Kupa Jehu Appiah and Senior Armstrong. He was active in
extra-curricula activities and took part in debates and student affairs. Before
Adisadel College, he spent two memorable years at the Kumasi Methodist Primary
school and stayed with his grandmother who was at the time matron of the Kwame
Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi. He sold jam tarts every
morning before school and delivered bread and cake to the various halls on the
University campus after school. During those days in Kumasi, he acquired
negotiating skills from his grandma’s bakery business. His cousin Allswell
Kojo Awotwi (Hamlyn House, 1980) stayed in that house in Ayija as well. Joe
listened to the BBC World Service those days and learnt a lot from that.
Joe was born in Takoradi on 9 September 1963 and moved with his parents to
Cape Coast at the tender age of 1 year. At five years old, he was sent to stay
with Rev. Charles Awortwi-Pratt of the Methodist Church of Cape Coast. “I
learned to read by reading the Bible,” he recalls, “I remember reading almost
every morning before walking the two kilometers from Topp-yard to Mensah Sarbah
Experimental Primary School in Cape Coast where I had my early education”.
Incidentally, Topp yard, the house in which he was brought up is the very place
Adisadel College started once upon a time as a grammar school. Joe’s great grand
uncle is Maxwell Awortwi of Awortwi baby’s fame. The roots of the
Methodist Church in Cape Coast can be found in the history of his family, and so
it is no wonder that he acknowledges the impact of the Christian values in his
“The Bible has always been a part of everyday life for me. When I was little
we didn’t read fairy tales in the evening before going to bed, we read the
“I find counsel and strength in the Bible. When it feels like it’s difficult
or impossible to cope with a situation, I think of events in the Bible which
give me strength, hope and confidence.”
After Adisadel College, he went on an AFS Exchange program to Sweden and
stayed in Karlstad. During his time as a student in Sweden, Joe continued
to read the Bible regularly, and still does. At home, he has a special computer
program which recites Bible verses.
Becoming an Activist...
went on to study communication and sociology at the University of Gothenburg.
The journey to the Swedish Parliament started during his student days when he
became actively engaged in the anti-racist movement and especially in the Anti
“My political activity started during the mid-Eighties in the fight against
racism, which I saw growing at that time,” he says. For several years he was one
of the leaders of the anti-racist movement called SOS Racism and Stop Racism.
In the Bible God says to humankind, “Love your neighbour as yourself”
(Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:39), words which have become important to him.
“Taken as a whole, the Bible, and maybe especially the New Testament, is
extremely powerful. It activates me to work actively against racism — among
other things,” he says.
After Gothenburg, Joe landed a job with the legendary Swedish TV and
advertising producer Gunnar Hedin. He managed the program “Sweden Today”,
a current affairs program that was aired in the infancy of cable TV across the
United States and Europe. He also started a media consultancy and later produced
“Sweden Now”. He is not only a social entrepreneur, he is also a business
entrepreneur. He has been on the board of the Swedish federation of ethnic
entrepreneurs since its inception some ten years ago. The organization has
helped over 2000 businesses to start up and evolve. The King of Sweden has
established an annual award in the name of this endeavor.
Becoming a Politician...
years in the media and communications business were very educative. Mr Hedin was
my mentor and boss, friend and teacher, one thing I learnt from him is
perseverance and also the power of networking”. In the early nineties, Kojo
Frans was asked by the then Minister of public administration to help manage a
communications project for the Council of Europe. It was the All Equal-All
Different campaign. After that, he joined the team of the then mayor of
Stockholm as a political adviser and was eventually asked to run the press and
communications strategy and the election campaign of the first female mayor of
the city of Stockholm. It was during this time that his bid for the Swedish
parliament came about. He campaigned heavily on issues of Social justice and
education. Clearly education is defining character of his agenda. He has served
until now on the board of the University of Stockholm. Currently, he serves on
the National Police Board of Sweden and is the Chairperson of the African
Affairs Committee of the Social Democratic Party of Sweden.
Aside of politics, he is also President of Forum Syd,
an umbrella of over 200 Swedish civil society organizations working for social
justice and development. Forum Syd is a funding organization and has offices in
Laos, Nicaragua, Serbia, Zambia and Tanzania. Having served as the Vice Chair of
the Swedish State Museums of World Cultures, his dream is to establish center
for contemporary African Arts and Culture in Stockholm. “It is a dream that I
hope to achieve before I am fifty,” he says and adds, in two years, Adisadel
will turn 100, “let’s all contribute to make it a success – Aluta Continua!”
Kojo Frans with Goran Persson, former Prime Minister of
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Jubilee House, 1980
Kojo with the director of the Swedish Royal Mynt Musuem
Delivery a speech at the United Nations (UN) -
Presenting the 'Martin Luther King Award' to
Swedish singer Michael Wiehe
Kojo Frans has actively been engaged with the peace
process in Liberia, here with the chair of Liberian Peace and Reconciliation
Commission Cllr. Jerome Verdier