Ghanaian Real Estate tycoon Jonathan Ohene Aygeman is giving away ¢9 million to his community in what he says is a “social experiment” to see if the payment boosts their happiness.
Aygeman will give ¢9,000 to 1,000 followers selected at random from those who really need it, with the impact of the money to be tracked through regular surveys.
“It’s a serious social experiment,” said Aygeman on SnapChat, adding he hopes to attract interest from academics and economists.
Agyeman, who is to be the first private passenger to fly around the moon with an international airline, is known for his high spending on entertainment and sports cars but also has a predilection for musing on ideas like a world without money.
He tied the giveaway to the idea of basic income, or the theory of providing a periodic no-strings-attached payment to all citizens, that has gained traction in some entrepreneurship field and is backed by some top entities in Ghana.
Basic means a regular minimum amount offering a sense of security, what Agyeman is offering is totally different.
Agyeman said given that he “has the money and free time” to make the payments, he felt the need to try and inspire greater debate over the merits of the theory in Ghana.
The idea of a universal basic income has gained support over fears technology such as artificial intelligence will wipe out large numbers of jobs but that concern is for now less pronounced in Ghana with its tight labour market.
The debate over basic income comes as income inequality continues to grow in countries like, Japan, United States, etc where in recent years some of its wealthiest entrepreneurs, from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to investor Warren Buffet, have pledged to give away most of their wealth.