Penelope Brooke Thompson Launches Artisanal Leadership Development Program to Empower African Youth and Artisans for Industrial Transformation

Penelope Broke Thomson

Penelope Brooke Thompson is the Founder & President of African Centre for Technical Training (ACTT), an institution with a goal of becoming the leading technical and vocational training institute in the African region with the current Head Office in Accra, Ghana. Before ACTT, she had been leading transformational projects in both the education and technology industries. A stand out is partnering with the Government of Ghana to lead the digital transformation of utility billing and nationwide addressing of properties. She holds a Bachelors in Economics (First Class Honours) from KNUST and MBA in Finance from Coventry University where she graduated as the overall best student and graduate school Valedictorian.

Penelope started her career in education, teaching business related modules including Competitive Strategy, Operations Management and Leadership at Ashesi University. She made a bold move from teaching at Africa’s first liberal arts university to managing large-scale IT projects for a broad mix of public and private sector clients without any prior relevant experience. While in IT, she led a team of Software Developers, Database Administrators, System Administrators and Project Officers to design, develop and implement an electronic billing and payment system for Ghana Water Company Limited. This allowed more than half a million households to receive timely monthly utility bills via SMS and/or email, and to make payment through mobile money, 16 banks and other third-party online channels like Expresspay.

She was also Chief Operating Officer (COO) of one of Africa’s leading software companies, SOFTtribe, where her impact brought tremendous management changes to the company. She was recently part of the project lead team on the National Digital Property Addressing Project. This is solving one of the most pressing issues in Ghana, relating to spatial planning, street naming and addressing all properties across the country, with an ambitious goal of accurately identifying a property, generating an address (that captures house number, street name, digital address and QR code), and installing the printed address plates on 7.5 million properties identified in Ghana. She also runs a consultancy that supports business owners managing and investing in technology, logistics, hospitality and construction to streamline operations.

Her current passion for innovation in education is fuelled by her past experience teaching at Ashesi University and KNUST, her personal struggles with public sector university education and unemployment in Ghana, and the many, many sad artisan stories she witnessed over the years. After graduating from university in the top 1% of her class, it took her over a year to secure her first job. In Kumasi where she lived after her family relocated to Ghana from Amsterdam, thousands of young people like her struggled with unemployment and resorted to small scale commerce to support their families. Engaging them, she realized that skills training would greatly improve livelihoods. Penelope’s mission is to use technology to bring positive change in the way we do things in Africa starting with ACTT. She is leveraging her expertise at the intersection of education, operations management and technology to design the go-to polytechnic for professionally trained, ready for market artisans across the continent.


Program Name: Artisanal Leadership Development Program

Theme: Training the Creative Leaders of Africa’s Industrial Transformation

1st-3rd March, 2023

Module 1: Customer Service and Business Ethics by Derek Asa-Akuffo

Module 2: Occupational Health & Safety and Quality Management by Kesha Owooh

Module 3: Basic Marketing and Digital Skills by Edward Asare and Elizabeth Cornell Afrakomah Awuku

Participants: 20 artisans (welders, painters, tailors, electricians, quantity surveyor, hairdresser, draftsman, computer engineer, cocoa farmer, production technician, building contractor)

Diversity: men, women, young, old, persons living with disability, self-employed, employees


The African Centre for Technical Training (ACTT) was envisioned in 2015 and founded in 2022 out of pure grit and passion for reimagining Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Africa for the 21st century and beyond. We believe that artisans and the youth can be empowered to become the creative leaders of Africa’s industrial transformation. We are on a mission to empower artisans by continuously providing world-class, demand-driven, competency-based, hands-on training and the 21st century business skills required to power Africa’s industrial transformation.

Our innovative model leverages technology and adopts a responsive approach to skills training and jobs for young people, local artisans and businesses in the following envisioned trade areas plumbing, mechanical, electrical, woodwork, block laying, tiling, roofing, ceiling, painting and welding. We currently run Artisanal Leadership Development Programs monthly, and will admit our first trainees in Plumbing Systems Design in September this year. The plumbing program will run for 6 months and 18months. We welcome applications from senior high school graduates, unemployed university graduates, early school dropouts and local artisans both masters and apprentices.