13 Jul 2018

'Galamsey' Queen Secured Permit With Fake Husband

Aisha Huang, the galamsey queen from China who was arrested by the GIS
An officer of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) has told an Accra High Court that En Huang, the Chinese lady standing trial over alleged illegal mining (galamsey) in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region, used non-existing details of her alleged Ghanaian husband to secure resident and wok permits in the country.

Deputy Superintendent of Immigration (DSI), Divine Ahumah Occansey, who appeared before the court yesterday as a prosecution witness, told the court that the suspect used the details of one Anthony Fabian, whom she claimed to be her Ghanaian husband, to get both a dependent and indefinite permit.

He told the court that the indefinite permit which was granted the Chinese woman, popularly known as Aisha, on April 24, 2015, meant that she could enter Ghana without a visa as well as employ and be employed without a Ghanaian resident or work permit.

DSI Occansey, who is the 5th prosecution witness in the trial, led in his evidence-in-chief by Mercy Arthur, a chief state attorney, told the court he was assigned by his head of department to ascertain the passport of Aisha after she had been arrested.

He told the court that a careful examination of Aisha’s passport revealed that she first arrived in Ghana on May 25, 2010, with a B2 Visa which was conditioned for 30 days at the point of entry at the Kotoka International Airport.

He stated that B2 Visas are given to “people who intend to visit relatives, friends and for medical purposes”.

Dependent/Definite Permit

DSI Occansey told the court that when he studied the passport, he found that Aisha was granted a dependent permit by the GIS on a Ghanaian spouse named Anthony Fabian for one year.

“She continued renewing the resident permit which was issued to her (I think) in November 2010. On April 28, 2015, she was granted an indefinite permit all in the name of an alleged husband, Anthony Fabian, with conditions attached that she is to enter the country without a visa. She could be self-employed or employ without work and resident permit”, the witness told the court.

He stated that based on her employment status, a statement from GIS enforcement unit in Kumasi shows that she owned a supermarket called ‘Golden Asia Supermarket’.

‘Fake’ Passport

DSI Occansey further told the court that following her arrest, the GIS retrieved all her personal records with GIS to go through all the applications that were used to support both the dependent and indefinite permits.

He said GIS wrote to all relevant institutions to authenticate the passport but all the results returned to them were negative.

“There was Ghanaian passport in the name of Anthony Fabian. The Service then wrote to the Birth and Death Registry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs passport division to furnish the service if Anthony Fabian has a manual or biometric birth certificate and that of a Ghanaian passport. The reply from both institutions indicated that there were no pieces of information on the said Anthony Fabian”, DSI Occansey told the court.

He stated that Aisha had told the GIS that she met the said Anthony Fabian and married him in China in 2007, and he currently lives in New York in the United States of America.

“Based on this information, the Service checked through the Personal Identification Secure Certified Evaluation System which provides all information on any traveler with a biodata page passport on who enters or lives the country.

“All information on Anthony Fabian proved futile in our system. All the entry points in Ghana were contacted with the passport biodata page of Anthony Fabian which contains the name, date of birth, passport number, date of issue and expiry date. No positive record was given to the Service that the said Anthony Fabian had traveled in or out of the country”, DSI Occansey told the court.

He stated that he personally invited Aisha to give the Service information on the said Anthony Fabian since she relied on him to secure both the dependent and indefinite permits. He said the suspect gave them a telephone number which they called several times but there was no response.

“The last question we asked the first accused person (Aisha) was: when was the last time her husband, Anthony Fabian, visited Ghana? She declined to speak and said the matter was in court”, he added.

Mining License

DSI Occansey also told the court that when it turned out that Aisha was renting excavators for mining services for a company called Egyiri Mining Company, the GIS wrote to the Minerals Commission to confirm whether she had been licensed to operate or support mining services.

The reply from the Minerals Commission states that no mining license has been granted to the aforementioned company.

The court presided over by Justice Ekow Baiden adjourned the matter to today for the defense to cross-examine the witness.

12 Jul 2018

GRIDCO Debt Hits GH¢900 Million

Image result for gridco ghana
Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo)
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo), Johnathan Amoako-Baah, says some companies owe GRIDCo over GH¢900 million.

According to him, the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) is the foremost debtor of GRIDCo.

He said the huge debt could collapse the company if the situation does not improve.

Mr. Amoako-Baah said although various strategies had been evolved to clear the debt, the power distribution company has not been forthcoming with the payment of its debts.

He, however, ruled out cutting power to ECG.

“We have threatened some of the companies that owe us and written letters to them that we are going to disconnect them and they have started paying. ECG is the major problem and debtor, and ECG is government so we cannot disconnect it, but what we’ve adopted is that every week we send people to ECG to remind them. At least once a week I call the Managing Director to pay us.”

He said GRIDCo failed to pay suppliers, vendors and compensations, among others, as a result of the huge debts.

Touching on the reduction in electricity tariffs by the government, he said the company was losing about GH¢280 million annually due to the move which is negatively affecting the operations of GRIDCo.

According to him, the Public Utilities and Regulation Company (PURC) should have increased transmission service charge before reducing the electricity tariff.

He called on PURC to return GRIDCo to parity in order to make the power transmission company efficient in its operations.

“The tariff that was cut is about 17 percent of what we used to receive, and for us, we are losing GH¢280 million in annual revenues. We need money to pay compensations, which is a major expenditure in our operations, we need money for our operation and maintenance. We need to pay loans that we have contracted from external development partners,” he stated.

GRIDCo was established in accordance with the Energy Commission Law (Act 541, 1997) and incorporated on December 15, 2006, as a private limited company.

It transmits electricity from power generation companies to bulk customers such as ECG, Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEBCo) and the mines.

GRIDCo started operations on August 1, 2008, following the transfer of assets of Volta River Authority (VRA) to it.

Source: Daily Guide

Court Grants Injunction Against GFA Officials; Official Liquidator Named

Madam Gloria Akuffo, Ghana's Attorney General and Justice Minister
An Accra High Court has granted an injunction against officials of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), thereby paving the way for the Registrar General to be appointed the official liquidator of the local football governing body.

The Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo, went to court with a firm plan to liquidate the GFA because, according to her, the Association in its current state is not fit for the purpose for which it was established.


The plan to liquidate the GFA was contained in a petition filed by the Attorney-General, acting on behalf of the government, last month at the High Court for the dissolution of the GFA.

Deputy Attorney-General, Godfred Dame, told Joy News’ Joseph Ackah-Blay after the ruling on Thursday, that the government is at this point awaiting the conclusion of police investigations to take criminal action against some officials of the GFA.

The Registrar General, Mrs. Jemima Oware, is to take custody of GFA assets to prevent officials of the football governing body from dissipating it,” Joseph reports from the court.

“The court presided over by Justice Samuel Asiedu has also placed an injunction on all officials of the football governing body from holding themselves as such,” Joseph recounts.

Joseph Ackah-Blay in Court

Lawyers for the GFA, led by Thaddeus Sory, opposed the application.


Lawyer Thaddeus Sory
Mr. Sory told the court no member of the Association had been found guilty by any court of competent jurisdiction for committing a crime.

Rawlings, Otchere-Darko Laud Ibrahim Mahama On African Industrialist Award

Ibrahim Mahama with former president Rawlings
Former President Jerry John Rawlings and New Patriotic Party (NPP) big shot, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, have joined hundreds to congratulate Ibrahim Mahama on winning the African Industrialist award.

Former President Rawlings wrote on his Twitter handle: “My warm congratulations go to Ibrahim Mahama on his recognition by the AAA as African Industrialist of the Year. This is a reward for your hard work, Ibrahim. Best wishes to you.”


Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, who is also a confidante of the President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo also a tweeted on Tuesday, “Ghanaian entrepreneurs whose efforts are acknowledged internationally must be doing something right.”

The awards event, which took place in the House of Commons in London on Thursday and hosted by Rt. Diane Abbott, Shadow Home Secretary, celebrated Mr. Ibrahim, a Ghanaian businessman and Industrialist, and brother to former President John Mahama, for his hard work and outstanding entrepreneurship achievements in Africa.

Dangote Reveals He Needs A Wife

Aliko Dangote has revealed that at 61, he is not getting any younger, and he is willing to take on a new wife.

Speaking with David Piling in a Financial Times interview, Lunch with FT, the multi-billionaire, who is Africa’s richest man, revealed a soft side of himself and talked tall about his ambitions to buy Arsenal Football club after successfully leading Nigeria’s oil refining revolution.

DANGOTE REALLY NEEDS A NEW WIFE

Dangote revealed that his schedule is inhibiting romance. The founder of Dangote Group, who is twice divorced and has three grown-up daughters, told FT that he is on the lookout for a new bride.

He, however, adds a caveat: “I’m not getting younger. Sixty years is no joke. But it doesn’t make sense to go out and get somebody if you don’t have the time. Right now, things are really, really very busy, because we have the refinery, we have the petrochemicals, we have the fertilizer, we have the gas pipeline.”

But he agrees that he needs to “calm down a bit”.

FASTS AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK

Who will believe that the man who has one of the biggest food chains in the country, actually fasts at least once a week? Dangote told Pilling that he tries to fast at least once a week, adding that “it helps to clean your system”.

TAKES MORE THAN 100 CALLS A DAY

As expected, Dangote has a very busy schedule, but who would have guessed that he may also be one of Africa’s busiest, taking over 100 calls per day.

Speaking of his relationship with Tony Blair, former British prime minister, Dangote says Blair only makes three calls per day. But he has to battle with scores, and tonnes of emails.

About his emails, he says: “you try to be polite and reply but they come back to you with a longer email, not minding that here is a very, very busy person”.

“Look Aliko, the world is not going to fall apart if you don’t answer your phone,” Dangote says of his golden advise from Blair.
Aliko Dangote with Bill Gates

NIGERIA TO BE THE LARGEST EXPORTER OF PETROLEUM PRODUCT

The serial-entrepreneur says once his $12 billion refinery is done, Nigeria will for the first time in her history, become Africa’s biggest exporter of petroleum products.

“When we finish this project, for the first time in history Nigeria will be the largest exporter of petroleum products in Africa,” he said.

NIGERIA IS TOUGH; ONLY THE TOUGHEST SURVIVE

The man with the most amount of the money in Nigeria — officially — says only toughest of the tough survive in Africa’s largest economy.

Dangote says with his new refinery, he is out to make new enemies, stating that “you can’t just come and remove food from their table and think they’re just going to watch you doing it”.

“They will try all sorts of tricks. This is a very, very tough society. Only the toughest of the tough survive here”.

NIGERIA NEEDS DRACONIAN POLICY TO STOP MILK IMPORTATION

The Kano-born billionaire is not happy with Nigeria’s inability to produce what she eats, locally, and wants some hard policies to stop the importation of some products.

“What Nigeria needs is to produce locally what we can produce locally. Nigeria still imports vegetable oil, which makes no sense. Nigeria still imports 4.9m tonnes of wheat, which does not make sense,” the $14-billion-man said.

“Nigeria still imports 97 or 98 percent of the milk that we consume. The government needs to bring out a draconian policy to stop people importing milk, just like they did with cement.”

STILL OUT TO BUY ARSENAL

Dangote is not a man known to give up on his dreams, and his dreams about Arsenal Football Club will not be different, he reveals.

“I love Arsenal and I will definitely go for it,” he told FT, adding that the club should be worth about $2bn.

Speaking as the owner of the club, Dangote said he would involve himself in rebuilding the team — “chipping in my own advice”.

“When I buy it, I have to bring it up to the expectations of our supporters,” he said, stating that his refinery is a priority now. “Once I have finished with that headache, I will take on football,” he concludes.

Source: Graphiconline

Christiane Amanpour Divorces Husband Of 20 Years

Christiane Amanpour and husband Jamie Rubin
CNN host Christiane Amanpour and husband Jamie Rubin are divorcing after 20 years of marriage, according to a friend.

The couple, who are both journalists, fell in love over 'late night margaritas' while working in war-torn Sarajevo.

They tied the knot in a swanky wedding ceremony in 1998, in Italy, attended by John F. Kennedy Jr. and wife Carolyn, diplomat Richard Holbrooke, Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal and former Deputy National Security Adviser James Steinberg.

Despite the plans to divorce, as first reported by the Washington Post, the couple appeared together last weekend at their only child Darius' graduation from the 500-year-old English boarding school for boys, Tonbridge School in Kent.

Christiane Amanpour, 60, the host of CNN's global affairs show 'Amanpour,' recently took over Charlie Rose's prime-time PBS slot after he was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women.

Jamie, 58, a former diplomat, journalist and Bill Clinton-era assistant secretary of state for public affairs, is writing and consulting for lobbying firm Ballard Partners.

The couple have just one child together, Darius, (pictured with them in 2008) who has just graduated from high school

Christiane Amanpour, who was born to an Iranian father and a British mother in London and raised in Tehran, is a highly accomplished journalist who has won countless awards, including Emmys and Peabodys, as well as numerous honorary doctorates and degrees for her work.

Amanpour moved to the US to study journalism at the University of Rhode Island, which she graduated summa cum laude, before being hired by CNN on the foreign desk in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1983.

Okomfo Kwadee Abandoned At Rehabilitation Center

Okomfo Kwadee, a Ghanaian musician
Ghanaian rapper Jerry Anaba popularly known as Okomfo Kwadee has been neglected by his family at a rehabilitation center for four (4) years according to Lydia Abena Manu, leader and founder of Willing Ways foundation.

According to a report by Taabea TV, the founder said Okomfo Kwadee was brought to the rehabilitation center on July 22, 2013, by his mother and ever since nobody has been there to visit him or to even make a donation to him.

“I provide him with shelter, food and many other things he needs but his family members, his fellow musicians, the Ghana Music Right Organization (GHAMRO) and the Musicians Union Of Ghana association (MUSIGA) have abandoned him… they’ve not paid him a visit.” The reporter said on ebase.

He is known for his storytelling style of rendition and unique lyrics.

Okomfo Kwadee went off the scene for a couple of years due to alleged mental ailment but bounced back in 2012 with an album titled Menie.

Source: Ghanaweb

6 Jul 2018

Ghana Eliminates Trachoma, Freeing Millions From Suffering And Blindness

Image result for trachoma ghan
Ghana has eliminated Trachoma
The World Health Organization (WHO) today congratulated Ghana for having eliminated trachoma as a public health problem, two decades after the World Health Assembly resolved to tackle the leading infectious cause of blindness. The announcement comes the day after a commitment from Pfizer, the manufacturer of Zithromax (azithromycin) to extend their donation programme for the antibiotic until 2025, if required, to finish the task of global trachoma elimination.

“It’s been 20 years since the global health community committed to eliminating trachoma worldwide,” said WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Although there’s more work to do elsewhere, the validation of elimination in Ghana allows another previously heavily-endemic country to celebrate significant success.”

Ghana is the first country in WHO’s African Region to achieve this milestone.

“This success is a result of a tremendous amount of hard work by thousands of health, education and development workers to improve the lives of individuals with trachoma and their families”, said Mr. Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, Ghana’s Minister of Health. “The Government of Ghana is enormously grateful to its staff and to the many partners1 that have joined forces with us to eliminate trachoma and the cycle of poverty it triggers.”

The global trachoma community learned a lot from Ghana’s experience. Innovations pioneered there include the use of height-based dosing for azithromycin; systematic active case-searches for trichiasis involving door-to-door, community-by-community fieldwork; and, intensive counseling of patients found to have trichiasis with an offer of immediate surgery, which produced considerable improvement in surgical uptake.

“Success in Ghana is a result of the strong leadership at all levels, implementation of the full SAFE strategy right from the outset, strong collaboration between Ghana Health Service and its many partners, and integration at lower levels of programme delivery, including community ownership,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Hearty congratulations are deserved for this achievement.”

13 Jun 2018

Ghana's Unlikely Marriage Of Mining And Malaria Control Draws Envious Glances

Related image
AngloGold Ashanti has taken up malaria control as
part of its corporate social responsibility
Nestled in the Ashanti region of southern Ghana, the small town of Obuasi is encircled by hills, largely forested but bearing scars from open-cast and illegal mining. Eighty kilometers south of the country’s second city, Kumasi, it is a community of subsistence farmers and miners.

One of the world’s largest gold mines, it has been quarried since the 1890s. But right now the underground drills are silent and a quieter operation is underway, digging out one of the world’s smallest but most deadly predators: the malaria mosquito.

Ghana has one the world’s fifth worst malaria burden. It is the number one reason outpatients go to a hospital. But from 2004, this rural community began a turnaround that others now want to emulate. Key to the change was a partnership between a mining company, the local community and the government that led to a 75% drop in malaria cases in the Obuasi mine area in just eight years.

Such was the impact that the programme has been extended to the north of the country, where malaria is most problematic.

“Malaria used to be a very serious situation in this community,” says Nana Ewaitemaa Adam II, community leader – or “queen mother” – of the settlement of Adansi-Odumase. “Children were dying. Adults were dying. But now they come to spray and the incidence has gone down. I don’t remember the last time I had malaria.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly half the world’s population is at risk of malaria. About 90% of cases – and deaths – occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

In the past 10 years, Ghana has made progress. Deaths have gone down from 2,200 in 2014 to 599 last year. Yet malaria remains the leading cause of illness and death in children under five. In 2015, about 38% of outpatient visits, 27.3 % of admissions in health facilities, and 48.5 % of under-five deaths were due to malaria.

Despite these advances, countries like Ghana are being challenged by increased resistance to pesticides and drugs, as well as funding pressures.

Approximately $2.7bn (£2.03bn) was spent on malaria control and elimination efforts globally in 2016, significantly less than the $6.5bn annual investment required for the WHO’s global malaria strategy.

Countries that have eliminated malaria in recent years have tended to be subtropical or islands, like Sri Lanka.

Ghana To Buy Contracts To Protect Consumers From High Oil Prices

Ghana will buy contracts to protect it from higher oil-product prices in the third quarter as the West African nation seeks to curb volatility in what consumers pay at the pump amid rising costs of the fuel in international markets.

The government is putting together a risk-management program to go to the market “in a month or two” for options on crude, with the strike price yet to be determined, Deputy Finance Minister Charles Adu Boahen said by phone on Friday. It plans to buy crude at lower prices and then sell it when they rise, using the balance to subsidize imports of refined fuel, he said.

Ghana became an oil producer in 2010 when Tullow Plc started the Jubilee field, but it still needs to import refined products. While higher prices will bolster the nation’s revenue, they stand to distort macroeconomic targets such as inflation, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said in February. Crude exceeded $70 a barrel at the start of last month for the first time since November 2014.

The inflation rate dropped to 9.6 percent in April, entering the central bank’s target band for the first time since 2013. Ghana is limiting spending through a bailout plan agreed with the International Monetary Fund in April 2015 to help to achieve inflation targets.

“Any time crude oil prices rise, the impact is felt six times more on the importation side than on the exportation side,” Boahen said. “After we hedge if crude prices go past the strike price you wouldn’t feel the effect at the pumps because it would have been capped.”

Bulk oil-distribution companies that import finished products and sell to oil-marketing companies supply most of Ghana’s fuel needs. The nation consumed 3.5 million metric tons of petroleum products in 2017, according to data from the National Petroleum Authority.

The country will use money form the Ghana Stabilisation Fund to finance the hedge while gains from the hedge will also filter back to it, Boahen said.

10 Jun 2018

Anas' Full Petition To FIFA Against Nyantakyi

Kwesi Nyantakyi, former GFA boss
Ace investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas last week reported the alleged misconduct of Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi, to the world football governing body, FIFA [Federation Internationale de Football Association].

Following that, Mr. Nyantakyi who was a FIFA Council Member and has just resigned his position as President of the Ghana Football Association was banned for 90 days.

Anas in a sting operation captured Mr. Nyantakyi on video entering into sponsorship deals with some investors who ended up being undercover agents for Anas.

Anas in his petition to FIFA dated June 4, 2018, argued that Mr. Nyantakyi’s conduct contravened FIFA’s ethics and therefore asked that he should be banned for life from all football-related activities.

Below is the full petition:

A Complaint against Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi
Request for the Institution of Investigations in respect of Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi

1.0 Complaint/Request

1.1 This complaint and/or request for the institution of investigations is brought in respect of the conduct of Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi, a Ghanaian who holds the following positions in football:
Member of the FIFA Council
Member of the FIFA Associations Committee
First Vice President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF)
President of the West African Football Union (WAFU) Zone B
President of the Ghana Football Association
1.2 Upon the grounds set out below and the attached documentary and audio/visual evidence, we deem Mr. Nyantakyi’s conduct to be highly unethical and damaging to the integrity and reputation of football and that of FIFA as proscribed by article 1 of the FIFA Code of Ethics.
1.3 We submit, by virtue of article 5 of the FIFA Code of Ethics that Mr. Nyantakyi’s conduct constitutes acts of commission done deliberately as an active participant in a scheme in breach or violation of articles 13, 15, 19, 20, 21, and 22 of the FIFA Code of Ethics, and articles 61 and 62 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.
1.4 We submit that Mr. Nyantakyi should, as a consequence, be banned for life from taking part in any football related activity in pursuance of article 6.h of the FIFA Code of Ethics.
2.0 Bases of Complaint/Request
2.1 I am an investigative journalist of Ghanaian nationality. For a period of three (3) months in 2017, I (together with my associates operating under the corporate name of Tiger Eye P.I.) conducted an undercover investigative journalism work into perceived corruption of Mr. Nyantakyi.
The investigation sought to ascertain whether there was any basis for the perception, especially after the much-publicized money claims fiasco that characterized Ghana’s participation in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
2.2 We have found Mr. Nyantakyi abusing his office, breaching his fiduciary duties, engaging in acts of egregious conflict of interest, demanding and receiving gifts and other benefits, and engaging in bribery and corruption. These were uncovered by way of hard facts, captured on audio/visual recording, electronic mail correspondence, and a memorandum of understanding drafted by Mr. Nyantakyi in his handwriting, and subsequently type-printed and signed by him.
2.3 My outfit presented itself to Mr. Nyantakyi as a company incorporated in Qatar named Medgulf Company Limited, led by its Chairman, a supposed Qatari royal named H.H. Sheikh Hammad Al Thani – as interested in sponsoring the Ghana Premier League and other football products and general construction contracts in Ghana. We arranged a meeting with Mr. Nyantakyi through the Northern Region Chairman of the Ghana Football Association, Mr. Abdulai Alhassan.
2.4 Our meeting with Mr. Nyantakyi, which was secretly audio-visually recorded, came off on 7 October 2017 in at Jood Palace Hotel in Dubai. It was attended by Mr. Nyantakyi, Mr. Abdulai Alhassan, my outfit comprising of a person supposedly being H.H. Sheikh Hammad Al Thani, his supposed secretary, Dr. Marzuq A. Albadawir, and other staff of the supposed Sheikh, including two other persons, supposedly the brokers of the meeting.

26 May 2018

West Africa Leaks: Investigating Missing Tax Money


Image - West Africa corruption

The international journalists' network ICIJ has evaluated secret documents and has come to the conclusion that West African countries lose millions in unpaid taxes because the money is diverted elsewhere.

"West Africa Leaks" is the result of months of investigation by 14 journalists from the region. Together with colleagues from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), they scoured documents which have already provided evidence for scandals such as the Paradise Papers. Influential politicians, private individuals, and companies are believed to have done business in Africa and then taken their money abroad. As a result, at least 13 West African countries have lost millions of dollars in unpaid taxes.

The slaughterhouse that never was

One example is Niger. One of the poorest countries in the world, its economy relies largely on livestock. In April 2009, work began in the capital Niamey on what was expected to become West Africa's largest slaughterhouse. According to the plans, 40,000 tons of meat would be produced by the slaughterhouse every year. Nine years later, however, the would-be slaughterhouse is a sad sight.

Moussa Aksar, editor-in-chief of the newspaper L'Evenement, has been to see the site. "This is a huge excavation, overgrown with shrubs," he told DW. "Snakes have settled here, but not a single building has been built."

Back in 2009, the government earmarked 16 billion CFA francs for the project. Part of the money was transferred to an Australian company based in the British Virgin Islands. Months later, Niger was in a state of crisis following controversial elections. In 2010, a military coup took place, followed by a one-year transitional phase which resulted in current president Mahamadou Issoufou coming to power. Aksar says it was during this transition period that the rest of the money disappeared. Where to, exactly, is not clear. By this stage, the building had stopped. If the project had gone ahead, the profit for cattle breeders would have amounted to almost 30 billion CFA francs annually, according to then-prime minister Seyni Oumarou.

Corruption in paradise: Seychelles is well-known as a tax haven for international companies

Conflicting interests

For their research, the West African journalists benefitted from the international cooperation. If suspects were not willing to talk to local media, a call from the US sometimes helped. "I think that's a very powerful strategy for journalists to increase pressure and demands for accountability on people who are perhaps not traditionally used to that," Will Fitzgibbon, the ICIJ coordinator of West Africa Leaks, told DW.

The investigation produced a list of prominent names, according to the ICIJ. For example, Hamadoun Toure, a candidate in Mali's upcoming presidential election in July and a former United Nations official. He is believed to own an offshore company based in Seychelles. Noel Akossi Bendjo, the district mayor of Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast, is mentioned as the owner of a company in the Bahamas.

Malian presidential candidate, Hamadoun Toure, has been implicated in the journalists' findings

Although there is often no documentary proof that the companies were involved in illegal activities, the investigative journalists believe that these businesses are in conflict with the public functions of those named. Bendjos's company, for example, was founded in 1997, according to Ivorian journalist Anderson Diebri. "In the same year, Bendjo became the director of the Ivorian refining company SIR," he told DW. Although Bendjio is now threatening to file a lawsuit as a result of the findings, Diebri doesn't appear too concerned. "We have the evidence," he says. "We will wait for the lawsuit, then the judiciary will decide."

Liberian pharmacist Clavenda Bright Parker, a childhood friend of Liberia's former president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, is also believed to own a company based in Seychelles. She claims not to know anything about it. The significance of the case is also based on the various functions of Bright Parker.

"I think what is of crucial public importance is getting some answers as to why a prominent person with very little known experience in the mining industry was a shareholder and director of a company in a tax haven in Seychelles at the same time, and that we have now learned that she was helping a mining company negotiate with senior ministers in Liberia for what could have been quite a lucrative mining license," Fitzgibbon said.

"There just aren't too many reasons why someone would need to be associated with a Seychelles company when they're a businesswoman in Liberia," he added.

A childhood friend of Liberia's former president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is said to have owned a company based in Seychelles.

Poor countries under pressure

West African governments play an ambivalent role in these investigations, the ICIJ says. Senegal may have missed out on up to $9 million (€7 million) in tax revenues from Canadian construction giant SNC-Lavalin. The company says its activities are "tax efficient within the framework of the law." In fact, some years ago, Senegal signed a treaty with Mauritius which allowed international companies to conduct their operations in Senegal via Mauritius — they were, therefore, able to legally avoid paying taxes.

This was during the rule of former president Abdoulaye Wade. The government of current president Macky Sall has said it regrets the contract. Nevertheless, Senegal has not yet dissolved it. This is also linked to international power structures, according to Fitzgibbon. "The offshore system in many ways preys on and takes advantage of weaker nations. If you're a wealthy country, if you're a tax haven, and if you are a multi-billion dollar company, it's a lot easier to take advantage of the international system and the offshore system." This puts poor countries under tremendous pressure. In order to break the cycle, big companies would need to reconsider the ways they do business, he says, including where they work within a legal framework.

Source: DW.com

17 May 2018

Government Will Embrace Technology To Fight Corruption - Bawumia

Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice President of Ghana
Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, has observed that one of the greatest enemies of corruption is technology and said the government would embrace opportunities in the technological arena to improve the payment system and enhance the delivery of public services.

He said with the advancement of the Internet and mobile payments solutions, it would aid in tracking and collecting payments due to the government, which would make it more difficult for people to steal money from the public purse.

He said the country was gradually putting the requisite technological infrastructure to ensure efficient public services and fight corruption, noting that, Ghana’s mobile money interoperability (MMI) was unique on the African continent because a client could transfer and pull money across networks and also transfer money from one’s mobile money account to bank account and vice versa seamlessly.

He said since payment services were pivotal in day-to-day operations of a modern economy, any innovations that facilitate exchange and payment activities could make huge contributions to the overall performance of the economy by creating jobs and adding value to the nation’s outputs.

He said from last year, government had been pursuing aggressive financial inclusion and formalisation of the Ghanaian economy through digitisation programmes such as the paperless ports system, plans to roll out the national identification system this month, issuance of smart drivers’ licences, electronic certification of businesses and digital property addressing system, which would advance its developmental agenda.

Vice President Bawumia made the observations at the launch of the PaySwitch Company Limited, in Accra on Wednesday.

He explained that efficient payment system was the heartbeat of every economy; therefore, financial innovative technologies were making it possible to provide efficient, secured, low-cost and convenient financial services to a large segment of the population who were financially excluded.

These innovations, he said, were securing means of transactions and boosting the confidence in the payment system.

The PaySwitch is a wholly-Ghanaian owned payment processing company that provides switching and enables banks, savings and loans companies, and telecommunication firms to issue debit and pre-paid cards.

The Company is the only Ghanaian firm certified to do third-party processing for Visa and MasterCard cards in Ghana.

Vice President Bawumia acknowledged the contribution of Information and Telecommunication firms for their efforts in finding technological solutions to everyday life and improving the standard of living of the populace.

He said in the era of rapid technological advancement, it would be disastrous for the nation to resign itself to the outmoded method of running the economy since the payment system was the lifeblood of any economy and critical towards the efficient running of the economy.

He, therefore, lauded the Bank of Ghana for pioneering various reforms in the financial sector, including the interbank payment systems, E-switch, the GH Link, the Instant Pay and the recent launch of the mobile money interoperability system geared towards making financial inclusion effective and sustainable.

He said in many emerging economies around the world, technological innovations were increasing in the reach and depth of financial inclusion and Ghana could not afford to be left behind.

According to him, the country’s MMI system was more advanced than what was pertaining in other African countries like Tanzania and Kenya.

Reacting to the cost of the MMI system, Dr. Bawumia said initially, three bidders applied to provide that service with one firm quoting GH¢14 million, the second quoted five million, while the third firm mentioned GH¢4.6 billion.

He expressed surprise that the bidder with the highest quotation won the bid, and noted that, the government upon assumption of office reviewed the bids and managed to build the MMI system at 4.5 million dollars that saved the nation extra cost for the same scope of work.

Dr. Bawumia noted that, if the payment system is properly harnessed, it would transform the Ghanaian society towards a cash-lite economy and propel the economic growth of the nation.

He observed that considering the rapid technological advancement in the country’s financial sector, a time would come whereby the government would only accept electronic payments.

Mr. Nathan Annobi, the President in charge of Operation at the PaySwitch, in an interview with the GNA, said the Company offered services to financial institutions, insurance companies and retail outlets where people could make payments.

He said the firm’s operations had been integrated into all the four mobile money operators in the country to cause transactions across networks and offered comprehensive payment card products and solutions.

Source: GNA

Cash Payments To Cease As Gov't Encourages Electronic Transactions

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Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice President of Ghana
The Vice-President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, has said the government will soon stop accepting cash payments and instead encourage people to make electronic payments.

“Once the infrastructure has been put in place, the government has to take full advantage of it and be able to receive payments from all sources of services electronically,” he said.

The Vice-President was speaking at the launch of Ghana’s first and only private third-party processing electronic payment company, PaySwitch Company Limited, in Accra on Wednesday.

The launch was to officially introduce the company’s brand and services to financial, insurance and e-commerce companies.

Extolling the virtues of electronic payments, Dr. Bawumia said electronic payments and transactions would also allow the government and financial institutions to track and collect all payments of money, making it more difficult for “people to steal the money”.

“If we are able to integrate our electronic payment system, which will not be too long in coming once we are assured of the stability of the system, we can use technology as one of the biggest enemies of corruption,” he stated.

“A properly harnessed effort in this area has the capacity to transform society significantly towards the achievement of a cashless economy and the role of electronic payment is essential for propelling our economic fortunes,” he added.

Financial inclusion

Dr. Bawumia said a 2016 Bank of Ghana Report revealed that the use of physical cash as the medium of exchange was on a continuous decline due to the increase in the use of other sources of payment, including cards, mobile money and the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) Instant Pay.

“In fact, with the development that we are seeing in mobile money and electronic payment in Ghana and the infrastructure that has now been put in place, anybody with a mobile phone essentially has a bank account and can do mobile payment to a bank and pay taxes and import duties,” he said.

He gave an assurance that the government was determined to drive down the information technology highway, leveraging the opportunities it offered to improve the way Ghanaians worked in the offices and factories, lived their lives daily and taught their children to be citizens of the future.

The Vice-President said in many emerging economies, financial innovative technologies were making it possible to provide efficient, secure, low-cost and convenient services for a large segment of the population who were financially excluded.

Those innovations, he said, were securing the means of settling transactions and boosting confidence in the payment system.

“Since payment systems are at the heart of day-to-day operations of a modern economy, any innovation that facilitates the exchange and payment activities can only make an important contribution to the overall performance of the economy, creating jobs and adding value to the national output,” he said.

First in Africa

He indicated that since 2017, the government had embarked on an aggressive pursuit towards financial inclusion and formalization of the economy through digitization, such as the paperless ports, with a commitment to roll out the national identification system this month.

“We have started issuing smart drivers’ licenses, e-business registration and certification and a digital property address system and commencing the process to digitize all land records this year.

Dr. Bawumia said together with the Bank of Ghana, the GhIPSS and the telecommunication companies, the government last week launched the mobile money interoperability system, an initiative geared towards making the process of financial inclusion more effective and sustainable.

“We are allowing interoperability among the mobile companies and regardless of the network one uses, one could send and receive money to and from any operator,” he said, describing the initiative as the standard mobile interoperability seen in Kenya and Tanzania.

He, however, said the government had gone one step ahead of what was being done in Kenya and Tanzania by bringing in the banks to work with the telcos to allow Ghanaians to send money from their mobile phones to their bank accounts, and vice versa.

Describing Ghana as the first in Africa to accomplish such interoperability, he said in the next couple of months, the government and stakeholders would make the e-zwich system a key part of the mobile payment interoperability to complete the entire process.

“We are the leading African country in the area of mobile payment interoperability, overtaking Kenya and Tanzania, and thankfully we did it within a budget of $4.5 million, instead of $4.6 billion,” he said.

Dr. Bawumia said while the government was working hard with stakeholders to formalize the economy and ensure financial inclusion, the biggest challenge facing the nation was how to ensure that the economy created a system that allowed for the integration of payment of resources.

“By this, I am referring to how to ensure that mobile money does not become a channel of transferring money by an isolated channel and how payment cards can transact across multiple channels, regardless of which bank issued it, and how to ensure that retail outlets do not discriminate which sources of payment they will accept at any particular time,” he explained.

Drawing Ghanaians out of poverty

He reiterated the fact that the government was keen on developing the financial sector to help draw more Ghanaians out of extreme poverty.

In line with that, he said, the abolition of the 17.5 percent tax on financial services last year was aimed at encouraging the development of financial transactions and e-payment since research had proved that countries with strong financial systems also experienced strong economic growth.

Dr. Bawumia, therefore, challenged all industry players to take advantage of the government’s programmes and policies aimed at boosting economic prosperity for businesses and individuals by collaborating to dominate the key sectors of the national economy.

‘Reinvent or risk being disrupted’

Delivering a statement at the event, the Governor of the BoG, Dr. Ernest Addison, said the central bank expected banks to reinvent themselves or risk being disrupted by non-bank players in the financial sector.

He said as efforts were being made to improve regulatory and supervisory roles and the needed financial architecture, all stakeholders in the system must intensify their efforts to innovate products and services to support the cash-less and financial inclusiveness agenda.

For his part, the Chief Executive of PaySwitch Company, Mr. Kojo Choi, expressed the commitment of the company to offer world-class fast electronic payment platforms for various banking and e-commerce institutions to carry out their e-payment transactions.

He stated that as a fully-owned Ghanaian business that needed to be supported, the company was also ready to promote e-payment, which is essential to propel the economic fortunes of the country.

Source: Peacefmonline

Veep Donates 66-Seater Bus To Mfantsipim School

Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice President of Ghana
Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia on Tuesday, presented a 66-seater bus to Mfantsipim School to facilitate movements of both students and staff for sporting and other extra-curricular activities.

The Central Regional Minister, Kwamena Duncan, who donated the bus on behalf of the Vice President said it was to redeem a pledge he made upon a request by the School’s authorities at its 141st Anniversary Speech and Prize Giving Day of the School.

He praised the School authorities for their long-term commitment and dedicated services towards maintaining the remarkable academic performance of the institution and expressed the hope that the bus would significantly ease its transportation challenges.

In addition, it would be difficult to achieve quality education, if teachers were neglected and thus it is necessary that everything should be done to ensure that teachers were adequately motivated.

Mr. Duncan pleaded with the school authority to ensure good maintenance culture of the bus to last.

As a former tutor of the school, Mr. Duncan identified myriad of infrastructural and logistical constraints as teething challenges militating smooth academic work and assured of Government's resolve to remedy the situation.

He appealed to corporate bodies, philanthropists and old students to continually assist in the logistical and infrastructural development of the school.

The Headmaster of the school, Manfred Barton-Odro, expressed appreciation to the Vice President for the kind gesture and said the vehicle would serve as s great purpose and described the donation as “timely” because the old school bus was obsolete and pledged to dutifully maintain it to serve its purpose.

Source: GNA

Anas' Number 12 Will Destroy Careers And Integrities - Baako

Abdul-Malik Kweku Baako, Editor-in-chief of New Crusading Guide
The Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper Kweku Baako has indicated that the careers and integrities of some people will be in tatters after Anas’ investigative piece titled Number 12 is screened.

Speaking on Metro TV, Mr. Baako said the new investigative piece is expected to expose corrupt practices in Ghana football.

Mr. Baako said that he felt very sorry for those implicated but could not but would not protect them.

He said, “It’s a disaster, sometimes we are all human beings with some weaknesses here and there and I feel sorry for some because some are friends. If I had my way, perhaps, I would say ‘leave this alone,’ but Anas is a different breed of animal, and I have never ever in my life attempted to influence him. He brings it, I look at it, we can defend it, I say: ‘Proceed’. So, there are people whose careers or integrities may, perhaps, be in tatters.”

Meanwhile, Kwame Sefa Kayi has hinted that the impending Anas expose will let Ghanaians acknowledge the good work Patrick Osei Agyemang (a.k.a Countryman Songo) has been doing over the years.

A teaser of the investigation by Tiger Eye PI released on Tuesday, May 15, sparked conversations about what is to be expected when Anas Aremeyaw Anas finally spills.

The documentary will be shown for the first time at the Accra International Conference Centre on 6 June 2018.

Source: Pulse.com.gh

16 May 2018

Karpowership Supports Tema Cleanup Exercise

Karpowership Clean-Up Exercise
Some members at the cleanup exercise
Karpowership Ghana Company Limited has embarked on a clean-up exercise with residents of the Tema New Town Community to keep the environment clean.

The activity organized by the Local Assembly together with Karpowership was to create awareness on waste management and the importance of maintaining a clean environment.

The exercise began from the Naval Base through the ceremonial road to the Tema New Town main station and then to the Tema Manhean Community Health Centre.

Speaking during the exercise, Corporate Communications Specialist of Karpowership, Ms. Sandra Amarquaye said Karpowership was committed to promoting good environmental practices.

“This is not the first time we have embarked on a clean-up exercise with the Community. As has always been our tradition, Karpowership continues to support the communities in which it operates in. We are hopeful that this exercise becomes a daily routine to ensure a clean, safe and a healthy environment for us all,” she said.

The company expects the exercise will be sustained and urge the youth to continue in their effort towards ensuring optimum sanitation practices in the community.

The senior health doctor at the Manhean Community Health Centre, Ama Darko expressed gratitude to Karpowership for its continuous support to the community.

“We are really grateful for coming out in your numbers to support this exercise. Since you began operations, the community health center has benefitted from the social responsibility projects you undertake. We hope the relationship we have built together will linger on,” She said.

The Assemblyman of Sea Light Electoral area, Mr. Joseph Ofori, also said the activity was important as the rainy season was yet to begin.

“The rains will start setting in soon and there is a need to ensure a clean environment,” he said.

He expressed gratitude to Karpowership for its commitment to the advancement of the community.

As part of Karpowership’s corporate social responsibility projects, the company did not only supports the clean-up exercises, but also provided a modern ICT lab for the Manhean Anglican School, water tanks to the fishmongers and the community schools, and provided bursary to over 100 students in the Manhean community, amongst other social intervention projects.

Source: GNA

Kumawood Actress Arrested For Assaulting Gospel Musician

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Nayas

Nayas, the Kumawood actress at the center of an assault case involving Ernest Opoku at Adom FM‘s studios, was allegedly arrested by the District Command of the Nima Police in Accra on Tuesday.

She was reportedly charged with unlawful entry after going to the premises of Adom FM to attack the musician.

According to police sources, she was also granted bail on Tuesday.

However, the acting District Commander of the Nima Police didn’t respond to calls by NEWS-ONE to confirm the arrest.

Nayas, born Gladys Mensah Boaku, allegedly entered the studios of the station during a live worship programme with canes to attack the musician.

The actress, who had earlier taken to the media to narrate her sexual encounter with the gospel musician, is angry with Ernest Opoku for admitting in a previous interview of making a mistake by having an affair with her, which resulted in a pregnancy.

A video of the ‘nasty’ encounter has been in circulation since Monday on most online platforms.

In the video, several people were gathered at the forecourt of The Multimedia Group, owners of Adom FM, trying to calm down Nayas. She could be seen making wild gestures.

Efforts to speak with both Ernest Opoku and Nayas on Tuesday afternoon proved futile. Ernest’s contact wasn’t going through while Nayas didn’t also pick her calls.

A report by Myjoyonline indicated that Ernest Opoku and host of Adom FM’s Live Worship, Kwamena Idan, filed a formal complaint against Nayas at the Nima Police Station.

They filed the complaint on Monday, and the police have commenced investigations into the issue.

The actress was arrested on Tuesday. She is expected to report at the Nima Police Station today.

Meanwhile, Ernest Opoku has registered his displeasure with security personnel at The Multimedia Group.

Speaking with Andy Dosty on Hitz FM on Tuesday, the renowned gospel artiste revealed that he is disappointed in security officers for failing to provide security for him.

“I know what Multimedia has done for some gospel artists like myself so I don’t charge for any live worship event I attend at the reputable media firm but what happened to me yesterday was such disappointing and unpleasant,” he narrated.

“I was in the studio of Adom FM when the girl rushed in. I was even making a call and couldn’t see the lady walk in. I only realized she was present in the studio when she started lashing me severally but I didn’t retaliate. Multimedia was unable to protect me when the lady budged in the studio. If Nayas should have come with a gun or an acid, I would have been dead by now,” Ernest Opoku added.

He continued, “If Multimedia doesn’t take responsibility for this case I will be disappointed in them. Multimedia didn’t protect me… I give everything to God. Ghanaians should watch her pregnancy carefully since she said she is pregnant for three months. I won’t lay my hands on her but I leave everything to God.”

But Kwamena Idan said the actress had “lied” to the front desk executive that she was part of the backing vocalists for Ernest, hence she was allowed into the studios.

Source: Daily Guide

Soldiers Attack Police Officers In Tamale; Eight Injured

One of the injured police officers
Police officers within the Tamale metropolis in the Northern region have abandoned their posts following violent attacks on some police officers by some soldiers in the area.

The Police officers are demanding that their armory is opened so they can get access to guns and other weapons to face the armed soldiers.

The attack on the police officers occurred Wednesday after officials of the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the police service arrested a soldier who had brutally assaulted his wife.

In the process of arresting the soldier, his colleagues got wind of the situation and quickly went to his rescue. The soldier was freed by his colleagues in the process.

The angry soldiers then attacked the police officer and other officials who had gone to arrest the soldier.

The soldiers subsequently attacked any other police officer in the Tamale metropolis.

Starr News’ Northern regional correspondent, Eliasu Tanko reports that eight police officers have been injured following attacks by the soldiers.

The situation has forced all the police personnel in the region to withdraw from their posts until they are given weapons by their command to retaliate.

According to reports, over a hundred police officers within the Tamale metropolis have abandoned their duty posts for fear of being attacked by the armed soldiers.

Source: Starrfmonline

Education Is A Tool To End Poverty - Samira Bawumia

Mrs. Samira Bawumia, Second Lady of Ghana
Samira Bawumia has urged electorates to assess governments on their long-term decisions and not short-term interventions.

Mrs. Bawumia argued that pushing governments to make decisions that only affect their four-year tenure will only breed inefficiency.

“…that is what has forced governments to pave roads in a shoddy way because you see it’s asphalted then it is a vote buyer,” she explained to Accra based Citi FM Wednesday.

The Second Lady said electorates should rather gauge leaders on the investments they make in the human resource of the citizenry.

This, she says, will affect their long-term development and in turn progress the nation and eradicate poverty.

Drawing the link between education and development, she argued that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government has got the ball rolling with its flagship free SHS policy.

"Recently, one of my husband’s friends that we met at an event congratulated him [government] for rolling out the free SHS policy," she said. “He said so because it was education that turned his life around. He told us he had two other friends when he was young but because his uncle took him from the village to the city to be educated, today, he is an economist and can help those friends."

She added that she herself is where she is now because she had access to education.

“Education is a leveler,” she stated.

She argued that if the subsequent governments sustain such long-term policies, it will help to break the culture of poverty.

“If we sustain them it will breed results.”

The NPP government rolled out the free SHS policy in September 2017 after promising it since 2008.

Currently, only first-year students benefit from the progressive roll out but it is expected to be extended to cover continuing students.

Source: Myjoyonline

13 May 2018

Ghana, Kenya Ratify African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement

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The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA)
The Republics of Ghana and Kenya jointly deposited the instruments of Ratification of the Agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

In his statement (below), African Union Commission Chairperson, His Excellency Moussa Faki Mahamat, congratulated both nations, the first two African nations to do so and encouraged others to follow suit.

"Today is indeed a historic day in the annals of the African Union. We warmly welcome you and would like to thank you as the two first countries who deposited the instrument of ratification of the Agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), following the ratification of the Agreement by your Parliaments.
I congratulate both countries (Kenya and Ghana) for being the first AU Member States to deposit their instruments of ratification with the African Union Commission.
The speed with which your countries ratified the AfCFTA Agreement is a testament to the commitment that you have always shown, not only to Africa in general but also to the African Union.
Your leadership role also presages the role played by your respective RECs in the African Union and therefore the AfCFTA. So this moment should not be underestimated.
Your countries have led the way in signaling to the rest of the AU Member States that the process of our integration is irreversible and will benefit all citizens of Africa.
We encourage the other Member States to follow your action. We note with the greatest appreciation the fact that other Member States have ratified the AfCFTA Agreement.
We congratulate the governments and people of both countries and we appreciate your commitment to the landmark achievement of the legal foundation of the African integration agenda. We expect to receive more instruments of ratification anytime from now.
I look forward to you encouraging other signatories to the AfCFTA Agreement to ensure that a minimum of twenty-one (21) additional instruments of ratification are deposited with the Commission before the end of 2018. That is the expectation of our Heads of State and Government.
Once again, on behalf of the African Union Commission, many congratulations to the People and Government of Ghana and Kenya. We wish your people the very best in obtaining the most from the implementation of the AfCFTA once the Agreement comes into force.
I thank you."

Illegal Miners In Upper East Trained In Entrepreneurship

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Illegal miners at work

Trax Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) operating in Bolgatanga, has supported some youth in selected mining communities in two districts in the Upper East Region with artisan and craftsmanship training.

The project which was on the theme “Tools for Self-Reliance Entrepreneurship and Life Skills Training” and had its funding from Tools for Self-Reliance (TFSR), UK, an NGO, drew the participants from the Pelungu community in the Nabdam District, Duusi and Gbani communities in the Talensi District.

They would be equipped with knowledge in trade fields including; carpentry, masonry, dress-making, blacksmithing, shoemaking/repairs, motorbike repairs, electrical works and bicycle repairs.

Trax Ghana, which operates in the Upper East and the Northern Regions and other regions in the country organized the five-day training as part of its programme known as “Preventing illegal gold mining by supporting self-reliance through artisanship and craftsmanship”

The beneficiaries would be attached to master craftsmen and artisan in the above-mentioned trades and undergo twelve months of intensive training in their respective fields to gain in-depth practical experiences.

The initiative, which is also aimed at minimizing the damage illegal mining caused to the environment, apprenticeship fee, tools kits and start-up capital with low loans interest to the beneficiaries to start their own businesses when they complete the training.

Speaking at the inauguration of the programme in Bolgatanga, Mr. Vincent Subbey, the Director of Trax Ghana commended the participants for patronizing the intervention and said the training was part of strategies to re-orient and re-equip illegal miners to learn some trade and avoid engaging in the illegal mining business.

While encouraging the youth to take the training seriously to enable them to acquire employable skills and knowledge to improve upon their livelihoods and their families, the Director said the project would save them from the dangers associated with illegal small-scale mining activities.

The business and life skills training for the youth which is considering the first set of participants, focused on areas including; business management, record keeping, savings culture, through the Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA), and how to live in good health to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and STIs.

Source: GNA

12 May 2018

Make Mahama Godfather Of NDC 2020 Campaign - NDC Man

John Dramani Mahama, former president of Ghana
Mr. Augustus Owusu-Kwakye, former Tema East NDC constituency Secretary has appealed to aspirants of the NDC flagbearership to make former President John Dramani Mahama Godfather of their campaign in the event that he does not contest.

“President Mahama’s ambivalence in the matter of declaring his intent to run is due to the fact that he is seriously contemplating not running, which I personally think will be a good decision.

“But that is not all, Mahama may also be dominating the media landscape, but on the ground.”

Mr. Owusu-Kwakye, who was speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency on prospective NDC candidates for the Presidential slot said in order to ensure that no cracks emerged in the front of the party during the 2020 campaigns, they should reserve that position for the former President to handle.

“Whether Mahama runs and loses or abstains from running, I think it will be in the interest of the NDC to make him our godfather for the 2020 election,” Mr. Owusu Kwakye said.

He called on the rest of the flagbearer hopefuls to commit themselves to such an arrangement so that in the event that any of them wins to become flagbearer, Mr. Mahama will provide a character for the campaign.

“I want Mr. Alban Bagbin, Dr. Ekwow Spio Gabrah, Prof. Joshua Alabi and Mr. Sylvester Mensah to make a pledge to make former President Mahama their campaign godfather if any of them wins to become flagbearer.”

According to him, Mr. Mahama had invaluable experience and charisma that would serve the party well if they were leveraged.

Mr. Owusu Kwakye advised the party to close its ranks and nip lingering acrimony within its fold in the bud before it becomes too late.

He also urged former President Mahama to resist the temptation to lust after power saying the man has had his turn in the sun and should make way for someone else.

“President Mahama has seen it all; he has been an, MP, Deputy Minister, Minister, Vice President and President. I think its time for him to take a bow.”

CHRAJ Calls For Review Of Single Spine Pay Policy

CHRAJ Ghana
The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), has called for a review of the Single Spine Salary Structure to address the wide salary disparity in the formal sector.

Pastor Emmanuel Appiah-Kubi, a Principal anti-corruption officer at the Brong-Ahafo Regional Office of the CHRAJ made the call at a forum to mark this year's constitution week on Friday.

Reacting to concerns at the forum in Sunyani, Pastor Appiah-Kubi expressed discomfort that the implementation of that pay policy had rather widened the salary disparity in the public sector.

A police officer had earlier raised the concerns at the forum organized by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) in Sunyani for officers of the Regional Police Command.

Pastor Appiah-Kubi partly attributed the rise in corruption to the poor salaries and working conditions of some public officers and stressed the need for an urgent review of the pay policy.

"If you compare public officers on the Article 71 to some of us you will find out that our conditions of service are very poor", he said.

Pastor Appiah-Kubi said corruption remained the bane of the nation’s socio-economic development, noting that until the menace was tackled in a proactive manner, it would be difficult to fight it.

He cited that Malaysia, in particular, had been able to fight and minimize corruption because it tackled the menace in a collective manner devoid of political interference and bias.

Madam Doris Gbongbo, the Acting Brong-Ahafo Regional Director of the NCCE said the rise in corruption had exposed and dented the image of the country in the international community.

She said each and every individual had a role to play and appealed to public institutions and organizations to make concerted efforts to fight the canker.

Source: Myjoyonline

Mahama Saddened By 'Nepotism' In NPP Government

John Dramani Mahama, former president of Ghana, delivering a speech
Former President John Dramani Mahama has expressed his disappointment in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government for promoting nepotism in its administration.

Delivering his speech at the maiden National Conference of Ex-MMDCES on Saturday, May 12, 2018, Mr. Mahama stated that the failure of the NPP government to create equal opportunities for all Ghanaians destroys the spirit of oneness.

“One of the things that I feel sad about is a certain tendency that is destroying the spirit of national integration and unity. We might belong to different political parties but we are Ghanaians first and foremost, and the opportunities of this country should open up to all Ghanaians.

“This is why President Mills had the mantra ‘father for all’. It meant that he was president of all Ghanaians and so all Ghanaians should enjoy all opportunities. During our administration, we as much as possible ensured that the opportunities were open to everybody. So NDC businessmen were working, NPP businessmen were working, CPP businessmen were working. Everybody was getting something to do”.

Mr. Mahama asserted that his impartiality “is what created part of the problem for people like me in the party because people didn’t understand why this NPP contractor has this job and I don’t have anything”.

He admonished the NPP administration for selfishly placing the needs of its members above Ghanaians.

“If we are to build a nation, then we must have that heart to build to accommodate everybody in the economic advancement of our country. But since the NPP came, it is like the proverbial ‘you have to feed your children first before you feed someone’s children’. Who are someone’s children? We are all Ghanaians”, the former President argued.

The Akufo-Addo administration has been tagged by members of NDC and PPP as a ‘family and friends’ government. Political critics have also spoken vehemently against certain political appointments by President Akufo-Addo.

The appointment of Virginia Hesse and Professor Abena Busia, both believed to be ex-lovers of President Akufo-Addo, as Ghana’s Ambassadors to the Czech Republic and Brazil respectively, resulted in backlashes from citizens and political opponents.

Source: Ghanaweb

New Ebola Outbreak Could Take Three Months To Control - Virologist

The Democratic Republic of Congo is currently fighting its ninth Ebola outbreak—and Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum is as calm as ever. Warm, round-faced, and preternaturally chill, Muyembe was the first scientist to encounter Ebola during the first-ever outbreak in 1976, and he has been involved in studying and fighting the disease ever since.

“We have a long-standing experience,” he told me on Friday. “I think we will need three months to control [this new] outbreak. Maybe four.”

There are currently 32 suspected cases, dating back to April 4; of those cases, 18 have died. This suspected-case count has risen by 11 since the ministry of health first reported the outbreak on Tuesday, but it’s still unclear how many of them actually have Ebola. (For comparison, during a similar Ebola outbreak last year, the DRC reported 37 suspected cases, of whom only 8 were eventually lab-confirmed.) To date, only five blood samples have been sent to the national lab in Kinshasa for testing, and only two of them were confirmed to have Ebola. Neither of those confirmed cases has died.

Further samples are on the way, but as is often the case in the DRC, shipping is complicated by the lack of good roads and the remoteness of the affected region—a northwestern town called Bikoro and a nearby village called Ikoko-Impenge, 30 kilometers away.

Even in these early stages of the outbreak, confusion is brewing. On Thursday, Reuters reported that cases of hemorrhagic fever were reported in the outbreak area “as far back as December,” and the first deaths “were reported in January.” That’s true, insomuch as health authorities did examine a group of 15 suspected cases and 8 deaths in the same region in January and February. But their investigations weren’t conclusive. “There was no proof that it was Ebola,” said Tarik Jašarević, a World Health Organization spokesperson. It’s anyone’s guess when the outbreak actually began, although it seems likely that it was underway by April.

But there were problems in the flow of information. The investigators filed a report on March 1, but the ministry of health for the province didn’t channel that report onward, as they were meant to, according to Muyembe. It was May 8 when the national ministry of health notified the WHO of the two lab-confirmed cases. That delay is a blow for a country that prides itself on its ability to detect new cases of problematic diseases like Ebola. This time, the fringes of the surveillance web worked as intended, but the threads leading to the center had been severed. “It’s not usual,” Muyembe says. “We have to seriously discuss why the information was not used properly by the provincial level.”

Nonetheless, Congolese health workers, along with the World Health Organization and international partners, are already mobilizing to address the outbreak. They are working to find people who may be infected, track down everyone they had come into contact with, and isolate and treat patients. They are also distributing thousands of leaflets and posters to ensure that local communities practice safe burials. In Congolese funerals, families and friends will dress, clean, hug, caress and kiss the bodies of the deceased—a loving ritual that tragically allows Ebola to spread.

Speaking at a press briefing in Geneva today, Peter Salama, the WHO deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response, said that personal protective equipment (like gowns, masks, and gloves) have already been deployed to the ground, and “we should have a mobile lab up and running this weekend.”

The DRC ministry of health is also considering whether to deploy an experimental Ebola vaccine that has proven its effectiveness in clinical trials but has not yet been licensed. The WHO suspects a decision will be made over the weekend, and meanwhile, they are preparing for a green light. They are readying the freezers and other cold-storage units that will be needed to move and deploy the vaccine. Up to 40 people who were involved in testing the vaccine in Guinea are on standby. “This is a highly complicated, sophisticated operation in one of the most difficult terrains on Earth,” Salama said.

To date, the WHO has released $1 million of contingency funds to deal with the outbreak. Yesterday, the Wellcome Trust—a British nonprofit—pledged 2 million more pounds, while the U.K. Department for International Development added a further 1 million pounds.

As in the last outbreak, which took place in the Likati region in 2017, the virus is hitting a hard-to-reach area. “It’s 15 hours by motorbike from the closest town,” Salama said. The WHO is negotiating with the World Food Program to set up an air bridge—a sequence of air drops—between Kinshasa and Bikoro, so that supplies and aid can be more easily moved.
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The region’s remote nature would “usually give us a sense of reassurance,” said Salama, but some aspects of the outbreak are worrying. The number of suspected cases is significant. Those cases have already been reported in three separate locations, which are at least 60 kilometers apart. Three health-care workers have been infected, and one has died; such professionals are especially susceptible to Ebola, which spreads through the bodily fluids of patients, and they can act as nexuses for more infections.

As Helen Branswell reported for Stat, Bikoro’s geographic location is also troubling. It sits on Lake Tumba, which connects to the mighty Congo River. The river then connects to Kinshasa, the DRC’s megacity capital with a population of about 11 million, and Brazzaville, the capital of the adjacent Republic of the Congo. There is a risk that travelers could carry the virus along the river to either major city. “If it’s a traffic line, there is a risk,” Jašarević told me. “The average incubation period is four to six days. You can get the virus and travel for a couple of days before you get symptomatic and become infectious.”

But Muyembe thinks the risk is low, “because the circulation on the river is not so high.” And in the worst-case scenario, the town of Mbandaka would likely act as the canary in the coal mine. It’s a large port town that lies on the Congo River, in the opposite direction to the two capitals, but far closer to Bikoro. If sick people were traveling on the river, they’d show up in Mbandaka first. And Muyembe says that Congolese health workers are already set up there to monitor travelers and check temperatures.

“I think it’s a very different response from ever previously,” Salama added. “At all levels, this is being taken as the highest priority.”

Source: The Atlantic

Spio's Two-Term Argument Against Mahama Weak - Sam George

Sam George, MP for Ningo Prampram
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Ningo Prampram, Sam George, has described as weak the argument by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) presidential candidate hopeful, Dr. Ekow Spio Garbrah, that party members must elect a candidate who is eligible to serve two terms.

Dr. Spio-Gabrah speaking on Morning Starr Thursday urged members of the main opposition party to be particular about the choice they make ahead of the 2020 polls.

His comment comes as former president John Mahama, who per Ghana‘s constitution, has just one presidential term to serve, appears to be eyeing the party’s presidential ticket again.

“The NDC needs a presidential candidate who can lead the party to rule two terms in office,” he told Francis Abban host of Morning Starr.

However, Sam George argues it will be myopic to limit the choice of who leads the party in 2020 to the number of terms he can serve.

“It is weak,” he stated on Morning Starr Friday “to make an argument that if constitutionally, you have the laxity to do two terms, that gives you an urge. Life is not guaranteed. In fact, the constitution doesn’t guarantee anybody two terms. President Mahama is an example of that.”

“So, I believe that Dr. Ekow Spio-Gabrah may need to re-read our constitution again, that portion of the constitution to appreciate the fact that becoming a flagbearer, leading the party and then even winning the election does not automatically guarantee two terms,” he added.

According to him, whoever wins the 2020 elections is guaranteed only four years reiterating that: “Election, leadership is not about probability. It is about certainty. The winner of the 2020 elections is guaranteed four years—one term not two terms.”

“Let’s not build a mirage, let’s not build a fantasy in our minds. Every election will be fought for and won on its own merit. So, anybody saying that I am going into 2020 because I have the possibility of being president in 2028, first and foremost has missed a plot…a plot and what you are going to be selling to Ghanaians is a four-year term. You are not going to be selling eight-year policy document to them. The manifesto is not going to run for eight years,” he further pointed out.

Source: Starrfmonline

GSA To Extend Services To Districts

Prof. Dodoo with some resource persons and some participants
The Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) is to engage the services of personnel under the Nation Builders' Corps (NABCO), to help in an effort to extend its services to other parts of the country.

The Director-General of the GSA, Prof. Alex Dodoo, who made this known at a workshop in Accra yesterday, said the personnel would be trained and posted to the various districts to provide GSA services there.


He expressed concern about how people had to travel to Accra to seek the services of the GSA, saying that "it was unfair for others to travel long hours and distances to Accra for the same services that others do not spend much on."

The workshop which was organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), in collaboration with the GSA, was aimed at promoting standards, specifically for exported mangoes and pineapples, as well as those for local consumption.

The workshop, which brought together producers and exporters of fruits, was to provide a platform for stakeholders in the industry to brainstorm on challenges and come up with solutions to meeting standards in their areas of operations.

Prof. Dodoo said the absence of GSA offices in the various districts, frustrated clients who were forced to travel the long distance to Accra for the authority's services, and added that some of the products went bad before they reached Accra for testing or certification due to the distance traveled.

Meanwhile, he said, the GSA was working on its online platform to decentralize its operations in a bid to address delays in the system and also make for more efficiency in its work.

Prof. Dodoo addressing participants at the workshop

International standards

The Director General said the country depended much on export but the ability to compete was influenced by meeting international standards, hence the need for those involved in producing and exporting products to be given the needed education.

He noted that people were either not obliging to the standards or they had no knowledge about them, hence the need for such workshops to build their capacity.

Prof. Dodoo said the GSA, for its part, needed to effectively engage clients and also make its services convenient, easier, faster and reliable.

Touching on the market for fruits, Prof. Dodoo indicated that mangoes had a huge market on the international market but much attention had not been given to it.

"Mangoes sell very well on the international market and we need to support the farmers in that sector to meet the quality of the export market. Currently, we are exporting only 17 percent of what we could export", he said.

Demand fresh fruits

A member of the Agricultural Technical Committee of the GSA, Madam Emelia Monney, who was the resource person for the workshop, advised the public to demand good quality fruits.

In accordance with standards, she said, fruits must not only be fresh and clean, they must also be presentable, packaged and labeled well, whether they were for local consumption or export.

She condemned the practice of displaying fruits on the floor and exposing them to the sun, pointing out that it was an unhealthy practice and did not give consumers value for their money.

Source: GNA

11 May 2018

Catholic Church Appoints Palmer-Buckle As Cape Coast Archbishop

Most Rev. Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle, new Archbishop
of Cape Coast
The Catholic Church has appointed Most Reverend Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle as the new Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cape Coast.

This was contained in a release by His Excellency Most Rev. Jean Marie Speich, the Apostolic Nuncio.

The release said: “His Holiness Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of His Grace Archbishop Mathias Nketsiah of Cape Coast”, hence the new appointment.

Apart from His Grace Archbishop Mathias Nketsiah reaching his mandatory retirement age of 75 years, his failing health also adds to the reasons for his resignation.

Under the Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church, an Archbishop of an Archdiocese is supposed to resign at a certain age.

His Grace Archbishop Mathias Nketsiah is, however, eligible to be appointed to other higher positions in the church.

His successor, Most Reverend Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle, is 67 years. He is a former teacher and a key figure in the political scene in Ghana. He was the Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra and is the second Ghanaian native to become Archbishop of Accra.

Appointed in 2005, he became the 4th Ordinary for Accra since its establishment as a diocese. He was also the first Bishop of Koforidua.

He was educated at Pope John Senior High School and Minor Seminary in Ghana and at the Pontifical Urban University, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and another in Sacred Theology. He also holds a Doctorate Degree in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome.

He was ordained a priest on 12 December 1976 in Accra, appointed as Bishop of Koforidua on 6 July 1992, consecrated on 6 January 1993 and appointed as an Archbishop of Accra on 28 May 2005.

From 1994 to 2004 he served as the Bishop-Chairman for the Department of Socio-Economic Development of the Catholic Bishops Conference in Ghana, and from 1995 to 2003 was President of Caritas Africa Region and First Vice President of Caritas International, a federation of 198 member-organizations in 154 countries all over the world with headquarters in the Vatican City. He was appointed the first Bishop of the newly created diocese of Koforidua in 1992 and on 30 March 2005, he became the Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra.

He was a member of the nine-member National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) from May 2002 October 2004 whose stated mission was to bring truth and reconciliation in Ghana after human rights abuses and atrocities.

In 2002, he apologized on behalf of Africans for the part Africans played in the slave trade, and the apology was accepted by Bishop John Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee.

He has remained vocal in the political scene of Ghana and Africa on issues including political violence and homosexuality.

Source: Ghanaweb