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Akufo-Addo condemns assassination attempt on Donald Trump

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has condemned the attempted assassination of the former President of the United States, Donald Trump, stating that politically motivated violence undermines the principles of democracy and peace.

This comes after the former president was injured in an attempted assassination at a rally on Saturday, July 13, in Butler, Pennsylvania.

Shots rang out as Trump was speaking at the event in Pennsylvania, sparking panic in the crowd as Secret Service agents swarmed the former president.

President Akufo-Addo, in a statement, expressed his outrage and extended his best wishes to Trump and the American people.

“On behalf of the government and the people of Ghana, I condemn in the strongest terms the attempted assassination of President Donald Trump. Such acts of politically motivated violence have no place in our world and undermine the principles of democracy and peace that we all hold dear.

“We send our heartfelt best wishes to President Trump and the American people during this difficult time, and we pray for swift and complete recovery.”

Meanwhile, Trump, who emerged with a bloodied face, said he was shot in the ear, describing a “whizzing sound” and feeling a “bullet ripping through the skin.”

The FBI identified the gunman as 20-year-old Thomas Matthew Crooks; he was shot and killed by the Secret Service.

One spectator was killed at the rally and two others were critically injured.

Akufo-Addo completes 12,000km of roads

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has pointed out that his administration has successfully completed a staggering over 12,000 kilometers of road projects across the country in the last seven and half years. This accomplishment, he indicated, far exceeds the combined a over 4,000 kilometers completed during the tenures of former Presidents John Atta Mills and John Dramani Mahama.

The President announced this during the commissioning of the 40.4km Bechem-Techimantia-Akomadan road in the Ahafo Region.

He said the road provides an important link to the Ashanti, Ahafo and Bono East regions.

The road network, he noted, would boost agricultural and economic activities along the corridors. He emphasised the importance of enforcing axle load restrictions and regular maintenance of the road.

The President touted his government’s achievements in road construction, completing 12,830km of roads, six interchanges and 36 major bridges, surpassing the previous administration’s record.

He also mentioned some major roads and interchanges that are to be completed by the end of the year.

“From 2017 to December 2023, we have witnessed extraordinary expansion and improvement in our road network throughout the country. From 2009 to 2016, that is the Mills/Mahama era, our nation completed 4,636 kilometres of roads  and five interchanges/overpasses.

“However, since January 2017, i. e. in the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia era, we have witnessed exceptional improvements in our road network nationwide.  We have successfully completed a total of 12,830kms of roads across the country and added six more interchanges,” he pointed out.

The President revealed that government was working on 10 interchanges. Five of them, PTC in Takoradi, Nungua, Adjiringanor, Flowerpot and Obetsebi Lamptey Circle Phase 2 in Accra, will be completed by the end of year. He added that  five more at Suame, Kpone Barrier, Savanna, Dawhenya and Prampram will be completed in 2025.

“This development is unparalleled in the history of Ghana, reflecting a level of commitment and efficiency in addressing our infrastructure needs that have not been seen before. The impact of these developments is far-reaching, enhancing connectivity, boosting economic activities and improving the quality of life for countless Ghanaian,” he stressed.

President Akufo-Addo called on all successive governments to complete all inherited road projects to reduce the road deficit in the country.

The Krontihene and Acting President of Techimantia Traditional Council, Nana Ampong Kromanteng II, commended the government for the reconstruction work, and requested that the road be named after President Akufo-Addo.

He believes that  commissioning of the road would enhance economic development and regional trade integration, as well as improve the lives of residents in Techimantia and its environs.

Trump picks J.D. Vance for running mate, formally wins Republican presidential nomination

Donald Trump chose Ohio U.S. Senator J.D. Vance to be his vice presidential running mate, as the Republican Party officially nominated the former president to run again for the White House on Monday at the start of the party’s national convention in Milwaukee.

“As Vice President, J.D. will continue to fight for our Constitution, stand with our Troops, and will do everything he can to help me MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform.

The four-day convention opened in downtown Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum two days after Trump narrowly survived an assassination attempt in Pennsylvania, and hours after he secured a major legal victory when a federal judge dismissed one of Trump’s criminal prosecutions.

Trump is due to formally accept the party’s nomination in a prime-time speech on Thursday and will challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in the Nov. 5 election.

Vance, 39, was a fierce Trump critic in 2016 but has since become one of the former president’s staunchest defenders, embracing his false claims that the 2020 election was marred by widespread fraud.

Soon after Trump’s announcement, Vance emerged on the convention floor with his wife Usha, shaking hands with and hugging delegates who swarmed the couple. He smiled widely as he was formally nominated to be vice president and is scheduled to address the convention on Wednesday.

Vance is deeply popular with Trump’s core supporters, but it remains to be seen whether he can broaden the ticket’s appeal. He shares Trump’s aggressive approach to politics, and his conservative statements on issues such as abortion could turn off moderate voters.

Biden told reporters at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland that Vance is “a clone of Trump on the issues.”

Opinion polls show a close race between Trump, 78, and Biden, 81, though Trump leads in several swing states that are likely to decide the election. Trump has not committed to accepting the results of the election if he loses.

The head of the main fundraising super PAC supporting Trump’s campaign, Taylor Budowich, said on X that MAGA Inc had raised more than $50 million on Monday.

After the assassination attempt, Trump said he was revising his acceptance speech to emphasize national unity, rather than highlight his differences with Biden.

“This is a chance to bring the whole country, even the whole world, together. The speech will be a lot different, a lot different than it would’ve been two days ago,” Trump told the Washington Examiner.

Manya Krobo chief hails Bawumia’s chieftaincy integration plan

The Konor of Manya Krobo, Nene Sakite II, has hailed the policy proposal by the Vice-President and flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, to integrate traditional leadership into modern governance.

The chief, who is the president of the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs, made the endorsement when he welcomed the vice presidential candidate of the NPP, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, into his palace in Manya Krobo.

He noted that the stability of the country “depends on the stability of the chieftaincy institution.”

Nene Sakite II indicated that traditional rulers are closer to the people than politicians. Accordingly, he stressed that Dr. Bawumia’s bold initiative to integrate governance with chieftaincy was apt.

The chief explained that integrating governance with chieftaincy involves aligning traditional leadership structures with modern governance practices to enhance community development and effective administration.

He noted that this aims to combine the authority and influence of traditional chiefs with democratic principles, rule of law, and citizen participation in decision-making.

He stressed that the integration must seek to leverage traditional knowledge and cultural values to foster sustainable development and inclusive governance.

He was hopeful that the selection of Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh as running mate to Dr. Bawumia would play a key role in making the dream of the flagbearer a reality.

Nene Sakite II also counselled Dr. Prempeh and NPP party faithful not to be complacent,  but to work hard to convince Ghanaians about their achievements and what they intend to do in their next administration.

“If you work harder, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh will be the next Vice-President of Ghana,” he stated.

In response, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh said Dr. Bawumia is a man of his words, and the chieftaincy institution will be called upon to play its rightful role in his governance.

“I know that Dr. Bawumia will not renege on his promise. In due course, the role of the chieftaincy institution will change, and traditional leaders will be asked to contribute meaningfully to the development of the nation in the era of Dr. Bawumia as President of Ghana,” he stated.

He added: “As politicians, we must understand that for the unity, stability, progress and development of this country, government, religious leaders and the chieftaincy institution must be coordinated effectively, build consensus to bring proper development to the people of Ghana. I say this because we work closely with the people, hence the need for proper synergies to be built to facilitate their well-being.”

He stated that chiefs had been leaders of society since time immemorial, while religious leaders had been there for the country spiritually.

“Therefore, as politicians, we must not attempt to raise ourselves higher, and lord it over the people; instead, we must all see ourselves playing different, equally important roles to make society better,” he indicated.

Akufo-Addo touts educational record

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says that since assuming office in 2017, he has prioritized education as a cornerstone of his government’s agenda, implementing policies and programs aimed at transforming the educational landscape of Ghana.

Speaking during his award of a 5th honorary doctorate from Valley View University, the President highlighted the remarkable strides his administration has made in the education sector.

“One of the most notable achievements is the Free Senior High School (Free SHS) policy, launched in 2017. This bold initiative aimed to remove financial barriers that previously prevented many young Ghanaians from continuing their education beyond junior high school. Education has been a cornerstone of my administration’s agenda,” he stressed.

He pointed out that the Free SHS policy had enabled over five million Ghanaian children to pursue secondary education, with a record high enrolment of 503,000 students this year.

The President highlighted the substantial budgetary allocations made to the education sector, totaling GH¢12.88 billion. These funds, he said, had been used to improve infrastructure, provide teaching and learning materials, and support various educational programs that enhance the quality of education at all levels.

“Our attachment to education is further reflected in the unprecedented budgetary allocations we have made to the sector,” he stated.

He also outlined various interventions aimed at improving the quality of education. These include teacher training programs, curriculum reforms, and the introduction of digital tools and resources to enhance teaching and learning.

He noted that by investing in the professional development of educators and modernizing the educational system, the government aims to lay a strong foundation for the future of the nation.

“We have launched several interventions aimed at improving the quality of education and ensuring that every child receives a holistic and well-rounded education,” the President said.

Additionally, the President highlighted efforts to support tertiary education. “The ‘No Guarantor’ policy under the Student Loan Trust Fund has significantly increased access to higher education by eliminating the requirement for a guarantor.

“This policy has empowered students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue their educational aspirations without undue financial burden. The number of students seeking tertiary education has risen from 443,978 in the 2016/2017 academic year to 711,695 in the 2022/2023 academic year,” he added.

He said the government had decided to establish four new universities in Mampong, Akrodie, Bunso, and Kintampo, and expand facilities in existing ones to accommodate the growing number of tertiary students.

He explained that these initiatives are part of the government’s strategy to achieve a 40% Gross Tertiary Enrolment Ratio by 2030, up from the current 18.84%.

“The educational reforms carried out by the Akufo-Addo Government have also encompassed tertiary education, materially advancing access, infrastructure development, and STEM initiatives across the country,” the President noted.

President Akufo-Addo reaffirmed his commitment to making education a cornerstone of national development.

Ga Mantse cautions sanitation violators

The Ga Mantse, Nii Tackie Teiko Tsuru II, has cautioned those who flout sanitation regulations to refrain from the practice.

The king gave the caution during an inspection tour of the central business district (CBD) of Accra, where he commended participants of the Homowo clean-up exercise held last Saturday.

“We will ensure that this exercise goes beyond the Homowo celebrations, and become a regular feature in Accra,” he said.

The Ga Mantse stressed his commitment to sustained cleanliness, and warned that a special taskforce would begin patrolling Accra immediately to enforce sanitation by-laws.

He reiterated that violators would face prosecution in sanitation courts as a deterrence.

He called for concerted effort by local authorities and private entities to uphold cleanliness standards in Accra, aiming for a sustainable solution to sanitation challenges beyond seasonal events like Homowo.

He particularly urged residents and businesses to comply with sanitation regulations to keep the city clean and disease-free.

For her part, Madam Emma Adwoa Appiaa Osei-Duah, Director of Communications and Corporate Affairs at Zoomlion, stressed the importance of public participation in maintaining cleanliness.

She highlighted the health risks associated with unsanitary conditions, urging traders, hawkers and shop owners to actively support sanitation efforts for their own well-being and that of their customers.

The clean-up exercise, organised as part of the Homowo festivities, saw collaboration between the Ga Mantse, various government agencies, and Zoomlion Ghana Limited. The initiative aims to maintain cleanliness beyond the festive period, ensuring that Accra remains clean and healthy for its residents and visitors.

Accompanied by senior officials from the Greater Accra Regional Coordinating Council and the Asafoatsemei of the Ga State, the Ga Mantse visited key locations such as Rawlings Park, CMB, Makola and Tudu. These visits were aimed at assessing the impact and progress of the sanitation efforts.

The clean-up operation itself, led by a dedicated team comprising Asafoatsemei, Asafoanymei, and environmental sanitation officers, was supported by Zoomlion Ghana Limited. The company provided essential resources, including garbage trucks, personnel and equipment, to ensure the thorough cleaning of streets and public spaces.

‘I was saved by luck or God,’ Trump says

Former US President Donald Trump has said he is “supposed to be dead” after Saturday night’s assassination attempt at a rally in Pennsylvania.

In one of his first interviews since the incident, Mr Trump told conservative US media he felt that he had been saved “by luck or by God”.

“The most incredible thing was that I happened to not only turn [my head] but to turn at the exact right time and in just the right amount,” he said, adding that the bullet that grazed his ear could have easily killed him.

“I’m supposed to be dead, I’m not supposed to be here,” he said.

A spectator was killed in the attack, while two other people were seriously injured. The gunman, who also died, has been named as Thomas Matthew Crooks.

Trump says he’ll ‘bring country together’ at Republican convention after shooting

Mr Trump described the moment he looked up at the crowd after realising he had been shot.

“The energy coming from the people there in that moment, they just stood there. It’s hard to describe what that felt like, but I knew the world was looking.

“I knew that history would judge this, and I knew I had to let them know we are OK,” he told the Washington Examiner.

Speaking as he prepared to board a flight to the upcoming Republican National Convention (RNC) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he is expected to be confirmed as the party’s candidate for president, Mr Trump said he now had a “chance to bring the country together”.

He said his speech would now be completely different instead of the “humdinger” aimed mostly at current President Joe Biden’s policies he had previously planned.

“Had [Saturday’s attack] not happened, this would’ve been one of the most incredible speeches. Honestly, it’s going to be a whole different speech now. It is a chance to bring the country together.”

Source: BBC

Napo’s uppercut that made Otumfuo’s jaws drop

If we think politicians cannot play the prank, we are being simply naïve…And if Adam could not protect himself in the Garden of Eden setting, what would a wooden head son do? So, the animal in Cain, father of the Chinese, showed.

That animal retorted in the face of God: Am I my brother’s keeper?

Earlier, God had warned him, saying “Cain, evil is at your door”. He laughed. “What is evil?” In that, he pirated Pilate, who asked Jesus: “What is Truth?”

Jesus would later warn Judas: “You, you will sell me for Roman coins…”

But Judas, like Cain, ignored the import of the message.

But my gripe this week is not about Cain, Judas, Pilate or pirates; or, for that matter, Napo and Emperor Napoleon, who responded, in clenched fists, to his inquiring Ministers when he was asked to put the State first in a matter about his craze for war.

“The state?” Napoleon had retorted: “I am the State.” “L’état? C’est moi” That’s the French version, for those of you who decided to dodge French classes because it sounded like romance between a Romeo and Juliet. But that has been the sin of the sons of Adam, particularly the African politician.

It is in our blood

If we blame Napo for the uppercut on the chin of the Otumfuo, we must go back to the Bible, and start from KA Busia, through Kutu Acheampong to Rawlings, JAK, JM, Old Boy Billy…I won’t smack JEAM, however, over his Dze W Fie Asem because we know this was a poor, harmless “sad, old padre” engaging in humour.

When Lawyer Nii Ayikoi Otoo told Justices of the Supreme Court during the infamous Election 2012 Petition that there is a demone [feminine French for demon] in every politician, the ace Ga lawyer knew exactly what he was saying, though it was no excuse for his political fingerling and Journalist, for that matter, to poke a Justices of the Supreme Court.

It appears that from entertainment, including football and boxing, to administration and conduct in business life, everything for the Ghanaian, even including taking penalties, has been sweat. The grace of people or personalities conducting or completing or committing to excellence in public state organizational and personal lives is becoming a missing link in our aspiration and desire for excellence.

That’s how come we have military officers just graduating hallucinating about being Presidents in April 1967. But that was also why we had a team that had worked out programmes with the British Colonial government being jettisoned by one man’s plot to become head of the pack when a beautiful cooperation was already in place for national independence. But, again, that is an academic argument.

So, we came to have Assemblymen and Assemblywomen who saw nothing wrong with attempting to fight MPs already ensconced in their constituencies, just to leap to the next stage – lettered or unlettered. On and on, we began to have MMDCEs also plotting to remove MPs – both in the opposition party or the ruling administration in all the tenures.

It has been a whole cycle of stress, sweat, attrition, dog eat dog and crabs-in-a-bucket culture…for us as a nation.

Records

Again, I won’t touch Kwame Nkrumah. As a cornered rat, he must have had reason for skewing political power for political profit. Being in a situation that a cat finds itself from a cat-eating community, he must be awake 24 hours a day in a 24-hour state economy and other businesses of state to perform and enjoy his tenure…He had hopped atop a tiger, and he must evermore live with that risk.

And I suspect he knew, like Idi Amin or Sanni ‘The Butcher’ Abatcha, that it could not be forever in Flagstaff House or Aso Rock.

So, we would be also having Methodist, Christian, educated academic Dr KA Busia. And the records are that he was so vehement over previous appointees that he became infamous for his verbal excesses in a case that he lost in the Supreme Court called Apollo Koomini…

He was strident and shrill over that urge to defrock Kwame Nkrumah’s bureaucrats and technocrats.

It was as if those people had raped his mother. Yet, there were raging issues that should have drawn more sweat and stress for the cameras and GBC, VOA or BBC and Deutsche Welle newsrooms.

Kutu, too, who griped during KA Busia’s tenure would be ignoring calls from the Bar Association and Professional Bodies Association of Ghana to throw jibes at students who parents in rural communities were educating from palm oil sales.

Hilla Limann was one of the most harmless Presidents Ghana would ever had; and to think that he was chosen tactically by the People’s National Party (PNP) as a compromise candidate in uniting the nation with a Parliament that would be Ghanaian and alive to its duties…

But, what about cousins Jerry Rawlings and Courage Quarshigah doing it to themselves and the Panins and Kakra Essamuahs; or Sekondi lawyers from NPP and NDC calling each other names, with the NDC chap citing the then NPP opposition as rats. Kusie…It is, I insist, in our genes…Everything irrelevance is in our genes, otherwise we would not be going endlessly to the IMF…

ET Mensah…Rest in Peace…. At Teshie, he would be referring to any Ga who voted for JA Kufour as odonkpo (donkey) or ugly beast. Josiah Aryeh’s GaDangme jibes before he was trapped by a GaDangme chieftain, with Rawlings almost excusing him because, in his very informed opinion, there were others in the NDC who were worse than jailbirds.

JAK himself, just like Limann, hit the roof against ET Mensah, I suppose in political retaliation over the Odonkpo jibe in an indigenous Ga community. That was during the inauguration of a bridge between Prampram and Ningo, the twin fishing communities bordering Ada. Again, it is in our genes, as Ayikoi Otoo lamented in attempting to save the angry MP aspirant for Okai Koi North claiming to go independent.

Sparing Napo, tackling the issues

If Napo is considering committing suicide for offending Otumfuo, like Judas did, he should pardon himself, because even Mahama, like JA Kufour, reacting to a demonstration that the NPP professionals and GUTA Boys would be embarking on later, called for a Sledge Hammer that, indeed, came up from the nozzles of a state police to break heads and break one eye into the head.

So, NPP or NDC; propaganda or facts, what is more compelling is the issues, not the braggadocio and tumbling from the fingerling.

How today’s Nkrumaists vote 

I may not have to blame Napo because if the researchers are on top of their jobs and research is going into communication, the Research Team would have known and communicated to Napo that Nkrumaists in Greater Accra and up inti the Northern Regions vote more for the NPP than NDC. Ask Nana Akomea, who must be familiar with the voting trend at Kaneshie-Awudome, Mpamplo neighbourhoods…the children of the Nkrumaists have since 1996 been voting for NPP.

Awudome Estates housed Kwane Nkrumah’s security personnel and other party apparatchiki. Ask IC Quaye and he would tell you that from Kokomlemle though New Town and Abavana Juction and Alajo to Kotobabi, the children and grandchildren of the Nkrumaists largely vote NPP. Check the Caantonments, North and South Labone…Third generation CPPists are voting NPP…

It is the same pattern in Adabraka, Ringway Estates and Nyaneba named after Kwame Nkrumah’s mother. But, it is also the same in South La Estates. Yet, I won’t see coins from the Research Fund coming my way. Should I blame it therefore on Dan Botwe or the Communication Minister? Or take the Research Team to School in grassroots communication which twaddle the loony Russian Communists have since been calling propaganda?

This is AD 2024 and a Breaking of the Eight. It is the year of rising and falling of kingdoms as the theologians insist.

That means developing fighting – not noise-making – strategies. Jericho fell long ago. What we have today is Hamas. The battle is not against Nkrumah; it is against JM and all that he and his men represent from 1992 till date.     

By Abena Bawuaah

Strengthen your internal structures- Dr. Amoah tells businesses

Ghanaian businesses have been advised to improve their internal structures and risk management practices to compete more effectively, both locally and internationally.

The Deputy Minister of Finance, Stephen Amoah, highlighted the need for Ghanaian business owners to build stronger foundations in addressing their concerns about the influx of foreign businesses operating in the country.

If most of you are to present how you’re doing your investment, your manufacturing, importation, the things I’ll point out to you, you’ll be shocked. How many of you even set annual budgets, and strictly go by them as a company?How many of you honestly and properly do bookkeeping, and build that up to presenting your financial statement before even going to investment and go for loans? Most of the time, people just cook figures and they get someone just to stamp,” he said.

“Government will do its part, but it is time our investors and businessmen understood how things are changing. They should involve proper staff in terms of models and professionals to develop businesses. Our businessmen should understand how to even build their value chains apart from getting profit,” Dr. Amoah said.

“Government will come, government will go. The interest rate will be 1%, but ask yourself if you don’t also build some resilience as a private entrepreneur, how does your business compete with others?” the Deputy Minister further queried.

He was interacting with policymakers and business leaders at the 2024 Mid-Year Stakeholders Meeting in Accra.

The meeting was to discuss the 2024 budget implementation, and receive input for consideration into the document.

The stakeholders included civil society organisations, think tanks, academia, trade organisations, faith-based organisations and social partners as well as financial and non-financial institutions.

Dr. Stephen Amoah also disclosed efforts by the government to create a viable small and medium-scale enterprise (SME)ecosystem. He announced the upcoming launch of the SME Growth and Opportunity Programme tomorrow, Tuesday, July16.

The Development Bank Ghana, as part of the program, is looking to channel close to GHC1.4 billion through the financial sector for onward lending to SMEs. Development partners such as the IFC are also looking to structure a $400 million package to complement this financial support and ensure we can close the financing gap for our SMEs over the medium term,” he said.

“Along that vision, we will continue to engage with PFIs to ensure you remain an important anchor of our economic progress,” he added.

Interacting with the media on the sidelines of the event, the President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), Dr. Joseph Obeng, expressed satisfaction at the government’s pledge of no new taxes to be announced in the upcoming Mid-Year Budget Review presentation scheduled for July 23.

As you may recall, just recently we were talking about the imposition of a 5% tax on plastics and we are very happy to hear that there’s not going to be another layer of cost of doing business in this country,” he said.

On the depreciation of the cedi, Dr. Joseph Obeng attributed it to the excessive importation caused mostly by the foreign businesses operating in the country, saying “the local contribution to this problem is just 20%.

The GUTA boss highlighted the need for the diversification of trade and proposed a retention policy by the government.

“…the reality on the ground is that the proceeds that we make from export do not return to the country. Whatever exportsfrom oil, from gold, except cocoa, are dominated by foreigners, these leave the shores of the country, and the returns, the proceeds, actual proceeds do not return. And so we should also find a way to have a retention policy where some of these funds can be retained,” he said.

Government should also make a serious effort to invest in the more lucrative areas rather than leaving it all to these foreigners. As much as we need foreign direct investment, there should be regulations around it so that we do not lose our economy to them entirely,” Dr. Obeng added.

15 financial service providers partner with GIZ to develop innovative financial products

To reduce the financing gap for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs),15 Ghanaian financial service providers have partnered with the Support to Private and Financial Sector (PFS) Programme to develop innovative financial products.

With funding from the German Cooperation, through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, this initiative aims to develop innovative financial products tailored to MSMEs’ needs.

A kick-off meeting in Accra, which was attended by insurance and pension regulators, partner financial service providers, and consultants provided a platform for stakeholders to engage on how to improve MSMEs’ access to financial services through this financial product development intervention.

These financial products will include loans, savings, investments and bundled products. The primary target of this product development intervention is on MSMEs, with particular attention to businesses owned or run by women, youth, and persons with disabilities (PWDs)

At the kick-off meeting, Angela Armah from GIZ said “GIZ is happy to support this because MSMEs are considered efficient and prolific job creators, the seeds of big businesses and the fuel of national economic engines. We are here to discuss together how we bring need-based financial products to the doorstep of MSMEs.”

Despite employing approximately 85% of Ghana’s workforce, MSMEs face significant challenges in accessing finance. Furthermore, many MSMEs lack a comprehensive understanding of the various financial products and their requirements. This initiative aims to develop tailored financial solutions to enhance MSMEs’ access to finance, enabling them to grow their businesses and create more employment opportunities.

To reach this goal, the GIZ team is delighted to partner with fifteen financial service providers and fifteen Trade Associations to develop need-based financial products for MSMEs jointly. This effort underscores GIZ’s commitment to fostering economic growth and supporting the backbone of Ghana’s economy – its MSMEs.

Mion Regent offers support for Bawumia

The Regent of Mion, Mion-Gbonlana AlhassanAbdulai Mahamadu, has expressed his strong support for the NPP Flagbearer and Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, towards securing victory in the upcoming December polls.

He expressed the support when Dr. Bawumia paid a courtesy call on him as part of his campaign tour. He said his support was influenced by the impressive work done by Dr. Bawumia during his tenure as VicePresident.

He stressed that Dr. Bawumia’s exceptional qualities and effective leadership are unparalleled by any VicePresident in the history of Ghana’s democratic governance.

The Mion-Gbonlana highlighted Dr. Bawumiascontributions to peace in Dagbon and numerous projects initiated in the Mion traditional enclave.

He noted that these examples of Dr. Bawumia’sefforts as VicePresident convince him that he will make an excellent president for the country.

Your Excellency, your call on me today reminds me of the special role of my father, the late Mion-Lana Abdulai II. He offered a lot of prayers for Dagbonpeace, and initiated a lot of projects in the Miontraditional enclave. It is also public knowledge that he held a close affinity with your tradition, and charted paths of projects to enhance the living standards of the people of the Mion area.

These projects, no doubt, have contributed to the success of your party in the constituency. It is in collaboration with you that these efforts have yielded a lot of dividends in our traditional area,” he added.

The Regent stated that the stature of, and work done by, Dr Bawumia as VicePresident  were peerless in the history of VicePresidents of the Republic.

He pointed out how the VicePresident had played a pivotal role in bringing development to the MionTraditional Area, in particular, and the Eastern part of the Northern Region (Dagbon) as a whole

Your Excellency, having watched your performance as Vice President of our Republic, I have seen a lot of good potentials which can not be swept under the carpet. Your sterling qualities and most effective leadership are undoubtedly unparalleled by any vicepresident in the history of our democratic governance.  You have played key roles in major projects in Eastern Dagbon, which the Miontraditional area is part of,the Mion-Gbonlana said.

The Regent commended Dr. Bawumia on how he responded with to his appeal for a police vehicle to beef up security patrols in the Mion area. He cited several other development projects Dr Bawumia hadbeen instrumental in bringing to the people of Mion.

“I remember the speed with which you attended to our appeal for a police vehicle to beef up security patrol along the Sang-Sambu stretch of the Yendi-Tamale Road. Mention can also be made of the Tamale-YendiTatale Road project as well as the Agenda-111 project in Mion, which has achieved a speedy progress compared with similar ones in other areas.

“These and many schools, health facilities, and rural electrification projects are contributing to ameliorating the suffering of the teaming masses of rural folks in communities dotted all over the Miontraditional enclave. I wish to thank you profusely for these timely interventions,Mion-Gbonlana added.

He stressed that Ghanaians had faith in his leadership, and would vote for him come December 7, 2024.

Your Excellency, Ghanaians have high hopes in seeing you behind the steer of the vehicle of governance. It is only through a peaceful electioneering process that we can have you lead Ghana as the first gentleman of the country and the first northerner to be president of an NPP government. I wish you and your running mate a successful campaign to break the 8,he added.

Ga Mantse cautions sanitation violators

The Ga Mantse, Nii Tackie Teiko Tsuru II, has cautioned those who flout sanitation regulations to refrain from the practice.

The king gave the caution during an inspection tour of the central business district (CBD) of Accra, where he commended participants of the Homowo clean-up exercise held last Saturday.

“We will ensure that this exercise goes beyond the Homowo celebrations, and become a regular feature in Accra, he said.

The Ga Mantse stressed his commitment to sustained cleanliness, and warned that a special taskforce would begin patrolling Accra immediately to enforce sanitation by-laws.

He reiterated that violators would face prosecution in sanitation courts as a deterrence.

He called for concerted effort by local authorities and private entities to uphold cleanliness standards in Accra, aiming for a sustainable solution to sanitation challenges beyond seasonal events like Homowo.

He particularly urged residents and businesses to comply with sanitation regulations to keep the city clean and disease-free.

For her part, Madam Emma Adwoa Appiaa Osei-Duah, Director of Communications and Corporate Affairs at Zoomlion, stressed the importance of public participation in maintaining cleanliness.

She highlighted the health risks associated with unsanitary conditions, urging traders, hawkers and shop owners to actively support sanitation efforts for their own well-being and that of their customers.

The clean-up exercise, organised as part of the Homowo festivities, saw collaboration between the Ga Mantse, various government agencies, and Zoomlion Ghana Limited. The initiative aims to maintain cleanliness beyond the festive period, ensuring that Accra remains clean and healthy for its residents and visitors.

Accompanied by senior officials from the Greater Accra Regional Coordinating Council and the Asafoatsemei of the Ga State, the Ga Mantse visited key locations such as Rawlings Park, CMB, Makolaand Tudu. These visits were aimed at assessing the impact and progress of the sanitation efforts.

The clean-up operation itself, led by a dedicated team comprising Asafoatsemei, Asafoanymei, and environmental sanitation officers, was supported by Zoomlion Ghana Limited. The company provided essential resources, including garbage trucks, personneland equipment, to ensure the thorough cleaning of streets and public spaces.

Gambia killings suit against Ghana inadmissible- ECOWAS Court rules

The ECOWAS Court of Justice has ruled as inadmissible, three of the four grounds of a suit filed by the son of a deceased Ghanaian seeking to hold the country liable, for among other things, failure to investigate the disappearance of their father, one of the 50 West Africans killed by a Gambian para-military unit during the Jammeh reign in The Gambia in 2005.

The 50 migrants, mainly from Ghana and Nigeria, were in transit in the country when they were reportedly arrested and later executed by the paramilitary unit.

In dismissing the grounds, the Court agreed with the government of Ghana that the human rights violation complained by the applicant, Isaac Mensah, son of the deceased Peter Mensah, were “committed outside the jurisdiction of the Ghana, but in the Republic of the Gambia at a time when the Ghanaian government had neither knowledge nor access to intervene in the matter.”

The Respondent had also told the Court that it made various diplomatic efforts, including the institution of the 2009 UN/ECOWAS investigation, to resolve the matter and is committed to further investigations in light of new information that has been uncovered.

In the judgment delivered by Justice Edward Amoako Asante, presiding Judge, the Court concluded that it lacked  jurisdiction over the “Applicants’ claims related to: (i) the alleged violation by the Respondent of the prohibition against enforced disappearance due to its failure to investigate the detention and enforced disappearance of Mr. Peter Mensah; (ii) the alleged violation of the Applicants’ right to an effective remedy, contrary to Articles 1, 4, 5, 6, and 7 of the African Charter and Articles 6(1), 7, 9, and 16 of the ICCPR; and (iii) the alleged violation by the Respondent of the right to truth, contrary to Articles 2(3) and 7 of the ICCPR.

This is because all these claims are directly linked to or based on the alleged arrest, detention, and disappearance of Mr. Peter Mensah in The Gambia, rather than in the Respondent State.

On the other hand, the Court held that it has jurisdiction over the Applicants’ claim relating to Respondent’s violation of the right to information under Article 9(4) of the Court’s Protocol. Applicants allege that Respondent has failed or refused to provide the First Applicant information including a copy of the 2009 UN/ECOWAS report delivered to Ghana, the pathologist’s report on the bodies returned to Ghana in 2009, and a report on the disbursement of the money paid by The Gambia to the families.

The Court therefore directed the Applicant to provide information to the son of the deceased Ghanaian, mainly the 2009 UN/ECOWAS committee report delivered to Ghana; the coroner’s /pathologists report on the bodies returned to Ghana in 2009; a report of the disbursement of the money paid by The Gambia to the families and a copy of the videotape of the burial ceremonies of the six bodies returned to the country.

The Court held that by denying the son access do these documents, the Republic of Ghana breached the Applicant’s right to information under Article 9(1) of the African Charter and Article 19(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The Court also struck out the second Applicant in the suit, a Gambian-based human rights NGO, the Registered Trustees of African Network Against Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances (ANKED), on the grounds that the first applicant, which it claimed to represent, is already representing himself. Secondly, that ANKED cannot be deemed to be suing in a public interest as the case does not bear the hallmark of a public interest suit.

The Court also struck out the names of the other 23 Applicant’s contained in the initiation application. It held that “contrary to its longstanding jurisprudence, the First Applicant has not shown evidence that he has the authority to represent the 23 other persons on whose behalf he brought the action.

“Therefore, those individuals are struck off from the suit, and the First Applicant is deemed to be suing for himself only,” Court added.

The Court also dismissed all other reliefs sought by the parties which have not been herein granted in whole or in part are hereby dismissed and decided that the parties bear their costs.

Also on the panel of the three judges for the suit were Justices Gberi be Ouattara and Ricardo Claudio Monteiro Goncalves.

Rock City wasn’t given preferential treatment – Bryan Acheampong

The Minister of Food and Agriculture and owner of Rock City Hotel, Bryan Acheampong, has dismissed allegations of preferential treatment in the proposed sale of the 60 percent stake in four hotels owned by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT).

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, the North Tongu MP, claimed that Rock City was allowed to pay half of the bid price and spread the remaining half over 24 months, despite not having tax clearance.

He also noted that the hotel did not present a bank guarantee for the transaction.

“If you read the transaction advisors report, it is clear that transaction from the beginning as I said was an insider dealing…It reveals that Rock City was allowed to make an offer to pay half, 50% of the $61 million bid price and then they were allowed to spread the half over 24 months… Something that was not made available to other bidders.”

“All bidders were told that this is a one-off transaction, no instalment and yet Rock City was allowed an instalment plan. The transaction advisor also discovered that Rock City did not present a bank guarantee,” he stated.

In response to these allegations, Mr Acheampong stated in an interview on Accra-based Citi FM on Friday, that “Rock City Hotel was not given any preferential treatment.”

He stressed that the bid to acquire the SSNIT hotels was conducted transparently and fairly, with no special considerations given to his hotel.

“I continuously express my disappointment in Okudzeto for continuing hammering on points that he has no facts. First of all, Rock City was not given an exemption on tax clearance. They were not. I am told they submitted their bid in February 2022. In February 2022 they need to have filed their taxes for 2021 by April 2022. So even as of 2022 when they applied for the tender, their 2021 taxes were not due. So, you are given a provisional tax clearance based on the VAT and all other taxes that you have paid.”

“So, it is not true that Rock City was given any preferential treatment or did not have tax clearance…Sammy knows that but he continuously tries to mislead the public. During the negotiations, I am told Rock City proposed to pay 50% and the remaining 50% spread over two years. That was when SSNIT requested a bank guarantee and it was a point that Rock City had been offered as the preferred bidder. They were the only ones negotiating with SSNIT because all the others had not gotten to the negotiation stage,” he stated.

Source: citinewsroom.com

Rock City withdraws from bid to purchase SSNIT hotels

Rock City Hotel has announced its withdrawal from purchasing the 60 percent shares of some four hotels owned by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT).

The hotels include La Palm Beach Hotel, Labadi Beach Hotel, Royal Ridge Hotel, and Elimina Beach Hotel.

In a letter addressed to the Director-General of SSNIT, Mr Kofi Osafo-Maafo, Rock City Hotel expressed their disappointment at the lack of stakeholder engagement, which they believe had led to the negativity surrounding their bid.

 They have therefore decided to discontinue their pursuit of this investment opportunity in the hotels.

In a move promoting transparency and accountability, Rock City Hotel also consented to the release of all or parts of their bid documents for public scrutiny or publication if necessary.

SSNIT announces discontinuation of sale of 60% stake in hotels

The Board and Management of Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) have terminated the process to divest 60% of its stake in four hotels.

This follows agitations and pressure by organised labour to embark on a nationwide industrial strike today. They directed their members to stay away from work if SSNIT failed to cancel the controversial hotel sale.

However, a statement from SSNIT assured pensioners, contributors, and the public of its commitment to managing the affairs of the Trust prudently for the sustainability of the Pension Scheme.

“The Board and Management of Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) wish to inform the public that the process to divest 60% of SSNIT’s stake in the hotels has been terminated,” it said.

“We wish to assure pensioners, contributors and the public of our commitment to managing the affairs of the Trust prudently for the sustainability of the Pension Scheme,” it added.

Border dispute resolution instrument for regional security and stability — Akufo-Addo

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stressed the need for robust border dispute settlement systems to prevent conflicts over natural resources in West Africa.

He noted that boundary issues had a negative impact on national and sub-regional security, and that an effective border resolution mechanism was a potent tool for the region’s socio-economic development and stability.

The President said this when the heads of Boundary Commissions in West Africa called on him at the Jubilee House, Accra, on Wednesday.

They are in Accra to participate in a three-day meeting aimed at drawing up modalities for the establishment of a coordinating mechanism between national and regional actors.

The meeting is being organised by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Its goal will be to promote a better orientation, adopt border governance measures, and manage international boundaries within the subregion.

President Akufo-Addo said that it was important for ECOWAS states to work to preserve their boundaries to avoid conflicts.

He emphasized that one of the most crucial choices made at the onset of the OAU was to adhere to the colonial boundaries inherited before independence.

That choice, he noted, should be preserved to maintain regional stability.

The President recalled the maritime boundary dispute between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, which had to be resolved in court.

“Fortunately for Ghana, this dispute was litigated at the Maritime Court in Hamburg and the outcome, which weas favourable to Ghana, was readily accepted by Cote d’Ivoire.

“This was possible because of the farsightedness of President Alassane Ouattara, who saw the importance of ending this conflict peacefully,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo noted that such gesture should not be taken for granted since not all leaders would act like President Ouattara, saying, “it is therefore important for us to take it out of the hands of possibilities,”

“We can’t take it for granted that every president will behave like Alassane Ouattara. For this reason, the work that you are doing to establish a coordinating mechanism is very important,” he told the delegation.

The President commended the ECOWAS for the initiative to bring the regional boundary commissions together to deliberate on border governance.

“The initiative that has been taken by ECOWAS to bring you together to discuss these very important subjects is commendable,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo urged the regional Boundary Commissions to continue their efforts to prevent disputes and instability in the economic bloc.

“All of us know that, for instance, European history is littered with wars over boundaries in Europe right now.

“So, to have a mechanism for being able to resolve peacefully issues to do with national boundaries is an extremely important development.

“I want to encourage you to give this effort that is being done to establish a coordinating mechanism and find a way of working together to concretise the decisions about boundaries.

“I hope that by the end of your visit, the conclusions and recommendations that will come from your work will go a long way in securing our borders,” he said.

The President reiterated Ghana’s commitment to ensure that boundary disputes with its immediate neighbours are resolved peacefully.

“As far as our immediate neighbors as Ghanaians are concerned, we will continue to work with them to ensure that disputes over our boundaries are peacefully resolved,” he said.

Major General Emmanuel Kotia, who spoke on behalf of the delegation, said the Accra meeting set up some goals envisioned to facilitate collaboration and coordination among boundary commission in West Africa.

This would enable actors to avoid duplication, facilitate information and intelligence sharing, and good practices.

Maj. Gen. Kotia noted that ECOWAS nations have faced challenges in establishing institutions for boundary commissions, thus the meeting will focus on the region’s border governance framework.

He said some of the issues to be deliberated at the meeting include border geopolitics, as well as the challenges and potentials of West Africa.

Source: GNA

Jakpa subpoenas Bagbin, top military officials in ambulance trial

Richard Jakpa, the third accused in the ongoing Ambulance case has filed processes to compel two former Health Ministers Alban Bagbin and Alex Segbefia as well as Chief of Defence Staff Lt. General Oppong Peprah and others to testify in the ongoing trial.

Richard Jakpa ended his testimony on Tuesday, July 9, and has been asked by the court to call his witnesses.

Richard Jakpa notified the court that he will call eight witnesses some of whom are to be subpoenaed.

Part of the eight to be subpoenaed include the Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin and former Health Minister Alex Segbefia.

The judge, however, noticed that the order to subpoena the witnesses did not include a request for documents that should be presented by the witnesses.

Lawyers for Richard Jakpa in court on Thursday, however, revealed that the Chief of Defence Staff Lt. General Thomas Oppong Peprah and Military Secretary Air Commodore Adu Gyamfi are to be subpoenaed as well.

The case has been adjourned to July 18.

Empty Mahama running from debate – Bawumia

Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), has chastised his counterpart from the National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama, for declining to engage in a debate with him.

The spokesperson of the John Mahama Campaign Team, Joyce Bawah Mogtari, said there’s no need for a debate between Mahama and Bawumia.

Addressing party supporters during the second phase of his nationwide campaign at Nalerigu on Thursday, July 11, Dr. Bawumia said Mahama is running away from the debate because he will defeat him hands down by exposing his unrealistic promises.

He labelled Mahama as “empty as an empty barrel”.

“I’m looking forward to a debate with John Mahama on the economy, the governance, the country, but I’m afraid he’s running away from a debate. Isn’t it? His people are saying he doesn’t want to debate, he doesn’t want to debate because he knows I will expose the emptiness of his policies, he says he has a 24- economy that he cannot explain.”

“He’s as empty as an empty barrel. He cannot explain it, none of his people can explain it. They say they will be exporting lions and elephants. But when we meet man-to-man, we can debate, and the country will see where our policies lie. And that is where we should go. We should give the country an opportunity to listen to us. But if he refuses, I will continue to sell my policies to the country, and they will take a decision.”

Persons fingered in banking sector cleanup not fit for a position-BoG

The Bank of Ghana (BoG) has reminded banks, Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions (SDIs) and the public that persons who had been directly implicated in the 2017-2019 financial sector clean-up did not qualify to hold key positions under the fit and proper person criteria.

All previous directors of failed banks and SDIs since the enactment of Banks and Specialised Deposit-Taking Institution Act, 2016 (Act 930) are also included in the scrutiny.

BoG, to further promote the safety and soundness of Regulated Financial Institutions (RFIs), reminded them of their obligation under the Banks and Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions Act, 2016 (Act 930) and the Fit and Proper Persons Directive, 2019.

This is to ensure the continuous fitness and propriety of significant shareholders, and persons, serving as directors and key management personnel of RFIs.

The regulator of the financial sector had reminded all and sundry that poor Corporate Governance contributed significantly to excessive and imprudent risk-taking in the financial sector, which led to the failure of some RFIs licensed by the BoG, consequently necessitating the 2017-2019 banking sector clean-up.

“To sustain the gains made from the clean-up, the BoG issued the Corporate Governance Directive in 2018 as well as the Fit and Proper Persons Directive in 2019 to strengthen and embed sound corporate governance practices in RFIs and to entrench the gatekeeping role of the BoG in the financial sector,” it added.

To enhance governance disclosure practices by RFIs, the BoG further issued the Corporate Governance Disclosure Directive in 2022 to convey its regulatory expectations under Pillar III of the Basel Capital Accord, relating to regulatory and public disclosures.

BoG re-echoed that significant stakeholders, directors, and key management personnel in their oversight and management functions shall at all times be of good repute and possess sufficient knowledge, skills and experience to perform their duties in line with the dictates of the Fit and Proper Persons Directive, 2019.

Among others, the Fit and Proper Standards consider whether a person has been a director of, or directly involved in the management of, any company or institution: a. which had its licence revoked; b. or is being or has been wound up by a court of competent jurisdiction or other authority competent to do so within or outside Ghana; c. has gone into receivership, insolvency or involuntary liquidation.

NPRA approves sale of SSNIT’s 60% shares in four hotels

The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour Awuah, has announced that the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) has approved the sale of 60% of SSNIT’s shares in its hotel investment portfolio.

The NPRA on June 28, directed SSNIT to suspend its negotiations with Rock City over the sale of four hotels, pending further evaluation and engagement.

Answering questions on the floor of Parliament, the sector minister confirmed that all due processes have been complied with.

“Yes, it is true that NPRA came up with a directive, but I would appreciate it if my brother, my colleague, really read the directive from NPRA. It said it needed to be furnished with all information relating to the sale of the hotels, which SSNIT has since done that.

“So, it wasn’t like a direct something that SSNIT should not go ahead to do anything, but then, SSNIT can only go ahead when NPRA, which is the regulator within the field, had actually certified that they have seen all the documentation and the processes, and they think that we are good to go.

“Yes, so, as a minister, I can tell you on authority that NPRA has since indicated that they have seen the processes, and they think that SSNIT can go ahead.”

He also outlined some reasons for the sale of SSNIT’s 60 percent shares in the hotels.

“SSNIT considered only the sale of shares for its hotel investment portfolio as a strategic decision after multiple attempts at restructuring proved insufficient.

“70-60% of its shares are deemed the most viable solution to prevent further depletion of resources and to bring in private participation.”

“Is it a good business activity? Yes, I want to believe my colleague is listening to me fully, well because I answered by saying that some of the investments are either making low returns or making losses.

“So it is not in all cases that we are making losses, but even for those that are making profits, the returns are low.”

Pilot of housing incentives for developers begins with SHC

Government is piloting a set of housing incentives aimed at encouraging private developers to  undertake large-scale affordable housing projects.

The initiative, currently being piloted with the State Housing Company Ltd (SHC), is set to  significantly reduce construction costs, and expedite housing delivery across the country.

During a working visit to various housing project sites yesterday, the Minister of Works and  Housing, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, said the initiative was part of the government’s broader plan  along with the introduction of a Master Framework to streamline Public Private Partnerships  (PPPs) to entice master developers to undertake huge housing projects to reduce the country’s  housing deficit.

He said the government was orchestrating a strategic collaboration between key Ministries and  Agencies to handle the provision of essential infrastructure like water and roads.

Having these Ministries and Agencies take on these responsibilities, he explained, would lower  the construction costs for developers.

“In particular to this Amrahia project, we are piloting synergies with other sectors of  government. For example, the Ministries of Roads and Energy, as well as the Ghana Water  Company Ltd., Mr Oppong Nkrumah said.

He explained that “when we build in those synergies, it means the developer doesn’t have to  construct the road himself, or extend electricity himself, or extend water, and it has the potential  to reduce the cost of the final unit that is being sold by up to about 30%.”

The Minister also indicated that piloting these synergies with the SHC allows the government to see how they might be implemented on a larger scale as they work with private developers.  He added that, along with others, it would be integral to the proposed incentives package aimed  at master developers.

“The goal is to further reduce development costs while enhancing affordability through  mortgage financing, allowing prospective homeowners to spread the cost over many years,” he  said.

He disclosed that beyond the immediate construction projects, the establishment of a Works  Inspectorate Unit within the Ministry was underway.

He said the unit would be responsible for enforcing building codes and safety standards across  construction sites nationwide, ensuring the durability and safety of housing infrastructure.

The Minister’s visit included tours of the Surge Homes, where SHC is constructing 200 housing  units, Legacy Court, where 70 abandoned affordable housing units are being redeveloped, and  the SHC Court in Adenta. Accompanying him were the Managing Director of SHC, Kwabena  Ampofo Appiah, and the management team of the housing company.

Bawumia, NAPO hit ground running with serious campaign

Following the unveiling of its presidential ticket on Tuesday, the Vice-President  and NPP Flagbearer, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, and his running mate, Dr  Matthew Opoku-Prempeh(NAPO), yesterday hit the ground running with serious campaign ahead of the December presidential and parliamentary  elections.

While Dr Bawumia was in the northern part of the country meeting the  electorate at the community level, NAPO was also in the Western Region  holding engagements with traditional authorities, and interacting with the  people.

Dr Opoku Prempeh’s first visit was to the Chairman of the Western Regional  House of Chiefs and the Omanhene of Wassa Amenfi Traditional Council. He also visited the paramount chief of the Upper Dixcove Traditional Area,  Obrempong Hima Dekyi XIV.

At the Wassa Amenfi Traditional Council, Dr. Opoku Prempeh expressed  gratitude to the Omanhene, and for his prayers for him and the flagbearer as  they crisscross the country, seeking the electorate’s vote.

“For me, I have always held that there should be a perfect relationship between  the political class and traditional authority. I am committed to this more because  that is the vision of Dr. Bawumia,” NAPO said.

In response, the Omanhene assured the NPP vice-presidential candidate that he  and his chiefs would continue to pray for him and Dr. Bawumia for their dreams  to become a reality.

“I am grateful that right after your outdooring you are here to pay homage. It is  a testament of your reverence to me and traditional authority. Keep your focus  as we also pray for you and Dr. Bawumia,” the chief assured.

He added, “I am grateful that right after you were outdoored, my palace is your  first point of call. Those who say the things they say about you don’t know you,  and so don’t worry. It is said that if you want to test the intelligence of people,

intentionally lie against them. I urge you to keep your focus as we continue to  pray for your dream and that of Bawumia to come to pass soon.”

At the Upper Dixcove Traditional Area, Obrempong Hima Dekyi XIV praised  NAPO for leading the successful implementation of the NPP’s flagship Free  Senior High School Policy. According to Obrempong, the energy with which the  policy was implemented makes him the best person to support Dr. Bawumia’s  selfless leadership and bold solutions for the future agenda.

“At first, we used to receive numerous requests from people seeking support for  their wards, but now because of this huge relief, we are no longer burdened. I  believe you have what it takes to support Dr. Bawumia, and so we are solidly  behind you as Ahanta man,” he said.

In the northern part of the country, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia also visited  Nayiri’s Palace in Nalerigu to seek the blessings of the king of Mamprugu  before touring the North East Region. He toured the Nalerigu/Gambaga, Yunyoo  and Bunkpurugu constituencies.

At Nayiri’s Palace, Dr. Bawumia shared his vision and policies for Ghana, and received their suggestions. He indicated that his government, if elected, will pay  allowances to chiefs. He said his manifesto committee would come out with a  policy for chiefs to be paid an allowance they can live on to enable them to  discharge their duties effectively.

“The Manifesto Committee is coming with a recommendation that will soon be  unveiled. We will pay the chiefs’ living allowances they can live on because we  want you to have the resources that you can work,” Dr. Bawumia said.

For his part, the Overlord of Mamprugu Ndugna, Nayiri Naa Bohugu Abdulai  Sheriga, thanked Dr Bawumia for the visit. He expressed strong belief in the  ability of Dr. Bawumia to successfully make Ghana better, should he become  President.

“I am deeply persuaded that you have it in you to carry out the task ahead. And  you have my full support,” said the Nayiri. “You can rise to the challenge, and

uphold the good name of Ghana and make her greater and stronger,” he  indicated.

Akufo-Addo rallies support for Bawumia-NAPO ticket

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called on members of the New Patriotic Party to unite,  and rally behind the ticket of Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh.

He expressed confidence that the party’s flagbearer is competent, hardworking and capable of achieving greater goals for Ghana.

Speaking at the official outdooring ceremony of the party’s running mate at Jubilee Park in Kumasi, President Akufo-Addo stressed, “I can boldly vouch for Bawumia and Opoku Prempeh.”

“From the start, Dr. Bawumia joined me, and we made a perfect pair. The NDC’s John Dramani Mahama denigrated him, claiming the NPP would never honour a Northerner, but he has been proven wrong. With Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh, I saw his potential, and appointed him as my campaign director, where he excelled. He also performed exceptionally well in the Education and Energy sectors.”

The President encouraged party faithful to vote massively for Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia,  come December 7.

For his part, the Vice-President President and flagbearer of the NPP , Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, disclosed that the party’s manifesto for the 2024 general elections would be launched in August.

Dr. Bawumia indicated that  he aims to bring a new vision to build on the strides made by President Akufo-Addo’s government, partnering with the newly outdoored Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh.

He noted that the performance of the Akufo-Addo-led administration, despite the harsh world economic conditions, had been superior to that of the opposition National Democratic Congress.

He said he would work with his running mate towards achieving more developmental goals for the country.

He added, “We have performed better in all sectors of the economy, and we are ready to challenge the NDC anytime, any day. Dr. Prempeh and I have proven ourselves, and we won’t disappoint.”

“I started as a banker, and now that I’ve come this far. I need someone to support me with legislation and governance. He is a generational thinker, and therefore, our ticket represents change and greatness,” Dr Bawumia added.

He expressed gratitude to the NPP for the honour done him, adding, “The NPP is the only party that selects our leaders through tradition. Today, we can boldly say that we respect the Dankwa-Busia-Dombo tradition.”

Meanwhile, the newly outdoored NPP running mate, Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh, has set a target of 85% of the votes from party faithful and supporters in the Ashanti Region.

“We don’t want 75% again; we want 85% from the Ashanti Region. Join hands with us to win, and make Ghana a safer and better place for all. What happened in 2008 will not happen again; we must come out, campaign, and vote massively in the elections,” he appealedto NPP members and supporters.

Napo, as he is popularly called, emphasised that the NPP rewards hard work and loyalty, stating “if you are a youth in the NPP, work hard, and you will be rewarded.”

The running mate further encouraged the youth to consider the future, and vote for Dr. Bawumia.

GEA announces partnership to enhance MSMEs Market Access

Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA) has announced a partnership with two qualified concept shops to facilitate market for micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.

The Agency reached the deal with Lokko House and Jowato Company Limited under its GEA/Mastercard Foundation Business In A Box (BizBox) Project.

A statement from GEA indicated that the initiative aims to promote MSMEs by providing market access for inclusive and sustainable development.

Following a rigorous selection process, Lokko House and Jowato Company Limited were chosen to provide retail spaces for Ghana-made products under the BizBox Project’s Concept Shop Model.

This Model is designed to provide MSMEs, particularly those run by young women and Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), with dedicated retail spaces to showcase their high-quality and innovative products.

The expected benefits are increased Sales and Revenue. By offering dedicated retail space, the Concept Shop Model is expected to significantly boost sales revenue for participating MSMEs.

The partnership will also increase the visibility of Ghana-made products, attracting both local and international investment, stimulate economic development through the influx of investment to support individual business growth and contribute to broader economic development, fostering a dynamic market environment.

The collaboration is expected to generate employment opportunities for Ghanaians, creating sustainable livelihoods and providing participating MSMEs with sustainable access to market opportunities, driving increased sales and investment.

Overall, the BizBox Project’s partnership with Lokko House and Jowato Company Limited is a significant step in empowering Ghanaian MSMEs, particularly those run by young women and PWDs.

This initiative will contribute to creating dignified jobs, drive sustainable economic growth, and showcase the potential and quality of Ghana-made products.

The Business In A Box (BizBox) Project is a partnership between the Mastercard Foundation and Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA).

The goal of the 4-year Project is to create dignified and fulfilling jobs for 250,000 young people in Ghana, with 70% being women and 10% Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) by 2027.

The synergy of this partnership lies within the Agency’s mandate as the apex body to promote and develop Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Ghana and the Foundation’s vision for Ghana; to enable 3 million young women and men access dignified and fulfilling work by 2030.

 

Call center, app to address public concerns road issues in offing

The Minister of Roads and Highways, Francis Asenso-Boakye, has announced that the Ministry will soon set up a maintenance call centre and mobile app to swiftly address public concerns about road defects.

The maintenance app would enable citizens to report potholes and other road issues by submitting photos and location information in real-time.

He announced this during the launch of the Ghana Highway Authority’s 50th-anniversary celebrations in Accra. It was under the theme “Ghana Highway Authority at 50 – Development and Maintenance of Quality Highways: Retrospect and Prospect.”

The Minister emphasised the need for improved road maintenance in the country. He indicated a persistent challenge facing the country: while substantial investments have been made in road development, maintenance efforts have not kept pace.

He noted that successive governments had made significant investments in road development without a corresponding investment in road maintenance.

He stated that to address this challenge, the Ministry had planned to allocate “60% of its annual maintenance budget to support the call centre and app initiative”.

Mr Asenso-Boakye expressed confidence that “prioritising maintenance, particularly in critical areas like pothole patching and spot improvements, would help address the country’s poor road maintenance culture.”

For her part, Mrs Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, the Chief of Staff, commended the Ghana Highway Authority for its significant contributions to the country’s economic growth and development.

“The Authority has enabled the seamless flow of goods and services across the nation, connecting rural and urban areas and ensuring equal access to opportunities for all citizens, regardless of location,” she noted.

She lauded the hard work and dedication of the Authority’s staff over the past five decades.

She particularly highlighted the notable contributions of distinguished individuals such as Ing. Kwesi Abbey Sam, Ing. H.O.A Quaynor, Ing. B.L.T. Sakibu, and the pioneering female engineer, Ing. Sylvia Asare.

I have assisted to bring more development to the North than John Mahama – Bawumia

Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has made a compelling case as to why the people in the Northern region should give him the nod to be President of the Republic of Ghana over his main competitor, John Dramani Mahama.

At a courtesy call on the paramount chief of Chereponi in the North East region, Dr. Bawumia underscored the fact that although he has not been president before, unlike Mr. John Mahama, he has assisted to bring more development to the northern part of the country.

He cited areas in roads, healthcare delivery, education, energy and many others which have all been executed under the tenure of the current government and visible to skeptics.

“As you know, per the constitution of Ghana, all the powers are vested in the president.  I am Vice President. I have not been President before unlike John Mahama but I have assisted to bring  more development to Chereponi and the north than Mahama. It is therefore in the interest of the region to elect me as the president and not Mahama,” he argued.

Vice President Bawumia pledged his commitment to the development of the people in the North, adding that he will do his best to deliver on the requests made to him. He particularly mentioned the fact that the programme for the extension of rural electrification projects has been approved with work to commence very soon, while modalities for the establishment of the nursing training school are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

According to him, the development of the north and the country as a whole  remains his topmost priority, and with the support of all Ghanaians, he is poised to deliver accelerated, holistic, transformational leadership.

Dr Bawumia, who is in the North East Region on the second day of his nationwide constituency-focused campaign, will tour the Chereponi, Saboba and Mion Constituencies on Thursday.

Your plight as widows touches my heart”- Bawumia to widows in Bunkprugu

Flagbearer of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has urged widows in Bunkpurugu in the North East Region to vote for him in large numbers in the forthcoming election.

This appeal came after he hosted an event for the widows on Wednesday, July 10, which was attended by hundreds of widows and NPP supporters in high spirits.

During his address, Dr. Bawumia emphasized the importance of their support, assuring them that, if elected President, he would implement policies and actions aimed at improving their lives.

He highlighted his commitment to addressing their needs and enhancing their well-being.

Dr. Bawumia also announced that the event marked the beginning of his constituency-to-constituency campaign, which he chose to start in his home region.

He also expressed his readiness to promote his vision for the nation’s progress and development.

The event not only showcased Dr. Bawumia’s dedication to grassroots engagement but also reinforced his campaign’s focus on inclusive development and support for all citizens.

The Vice President also emphasised his intent to connect directly with voters and understand their concerns.

“I am very touched and grateful to be with you this evening as the Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party for the 2024 presidential elections. Today is the first of my campaign at every constituency, and I decided to start the campaign at home, and that is why I am with you today.”

“I am your son and your husband, and therefore, I am asking for your support, so I can help you when I become the president of Ghana in 2025,” he said

Thank God NDC Has Abandoned Ny3bro, Anti-Ashanti and GaDangme Politrics

Gradually, the National Democratic Congress is shifting from its Neanderthal stance in party politicking and ultra-leftist tendencies, and adopting friendlier tactics. All of a sudden, somehow, by the grace of God, the ethnicity propaganda that held the North and the Volta as well as the indigenous communities of Ga, with Kofi Awoonor and buddy, Dr Josiah Nii Armah Ayeh, is fizzling.

Maybe, a day might come when another generation of hardliners will hit the ground mouthing such excretions. But, as the tables stand today, courtesy the invasion of Dr Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia, the noise about who comes from where has drastically shifted to which of the Norther-ners is competent, capable and commit himself to Ghana without the SADA and NDA nuisances that haunt both political parties.

I recall NDC kingpins like distant cousin Enoch Teye Mensah, VR in-law  Prof Kofi Awoonor and Jerry Rawlings being several times caught in it. As I do this piece, there is a strong grassroots Dangme activist chasing Abena for something no NDC person can do for him. But that is life…As the sages have said, a sheep will always lay the whitest part of its wool where [part of ground] it loves most.

But I similarly recall noises – indeed, ugly noises – made by some top party gurus in the NDC adding to the ethnicity jibes; and to think that these are educated persons irritate me. We can understand it, if those persons were just ordinary political persons seeking to live perpetually on politics money. But some of these were from academia and other professional bodies.

I am glad Harry Sawyer never did that nor did Obed Yao Asamoah and Kwabena Adjei. But  I am sad that pal Josiah Aryeh got embroiled in that. Sad that, in the end, he exited this life like the poor Reverend Father Osofo Komfo Damuah did. Not an NDC fly was at his funeral officially. Worse, he died with NDC girls attempting to loot his property – though they had nothing to show that they were married to him. That’s how bad we can degrade education. Fare thee well, Nii Armah. Even exiled in academia, the NDC made sure he struggled to attain his professorial. I should have said he almost because he had made too many enemies even in academia where his boss was…That’s how they packed academia with their favourites and how I further recall that a couple of VR lecturers sought to portray that Ewes number 63 per cent of Ghana’s population.

Well, now, it is Baba versus Baba vying for the prized position of the president  – the Zongos in Accra through the mosques in the Central Region to the millet granaries and livestock kraals in the Savannah. That is a huge population about to be split into two, but also Andanis and Abudus; Mamprusis and Gonjas and Kusasis and Kooominis… dividing the NDC presidential votes. Ay3 huhuuhu

Keta Sea Defence Project

The evil about ethnicity politics, in my opinion, is manifested in how indigenes in the Volta Region bastardised, degraded and disdained the invaluable project. It was meat for the good of ordinary citizens and protection of ordinary communities.

Well, since JAK, little has been added to it. Little wonder, we would be seeing the effects of our collective folly in flooding that could have been avoided had we considered that this was government resources intended to arrest a dire situation. I recall hearing at some Church of Pentecost convention at Tesshie when I was a kid at the military barracks. The lay preacher, a female, made quite some jolly good noise about Old Noah calling his community to penitence, and warning of a flood.

“They ignored Noah, just like you may be ignoring me today…They even defecated in the boat…But the more they defecated into it, the more the boat became cleaner because, at some point, they slipped and fell into the mess, resulting in their traditional long garbs absorbing the human faeces.”

While that may be a comical illustration, it tells a story about how we joke with very critical matters till we are caught naked in misery – like the criminal who joked with a passport gratis to Paradise. He had told Jesus to save himself and them [two criminals] if “He were truly the Son of God.” Stupid to have missed an opportunity, with his whole being already in Hell.

So, the rains came in the Volta Region several times. But the sae also got angry because boys and girls squatted opposite looking back to back and doing into the sea what they should have done in the traditional atonko cabin or pit latrine. Gradually that attack on nature began affecting catch in the Volta and in the sea. That’s the fruit of ethnicity politics. Worse was when the floods and, not even the rains, began attacking shrines and the dead in graves.

But there is also this phenomenon their male and female kids in Accra and Kumasi are getting into. Male Ewe graduates marrying Ashanti girls is becoming fashionable. The other day I asked an agro scientist I did a project with why she went to the VR.

“That means nothing; we are both from the same Church…” she said.

When I asked how his folks would react back home, he said the guys parents have been lost in Accra for decades. And, I said to myself: “That’s probably why”. But I added a joke that she didn’t understand.

“Take care they don’t foist another wife from home for him”, to which she replied “Over my dead body.”

As my NDC friends would appreciate, these are the socialisation angles we should be humorously discussing” instead of the Kofi Awoonor and Josiah Aryeh or Jerry Rawlings and ET Mensah uppercuts bequeathed to the Fiifi Kweteys of yesteryears.    .

NDC’s Volta Region woes

The NDC’s woes may also open up in the Volta Region like a festering sore; already, by the records, the tightening of the processes and desperation is eating away chunks – even if bits and pieces – of the VR NDC votes. They can no longer steal and push kids to go vote, but also vote multiple, nor can they beat up Jake’s and DI boys on assignment to monitor polls, particularly in the Volta South and Aflao constituencies.

So, Fiifi Fiave Kwetey is agitated and has to change strategy to the “issues.” That the way to go. The issues is what politics is all about, but also which party and government can be trusted to deliver food security, health and education, besides jobs and social protection.

Galamsey, forbidden issue 

As for galamsey, we have all lost the war. So lost it that none of the flagbearers and political parties have said and committed his party or government to a sanitisation of the sector to deliver food security, enhanced cocoa output, job creation, timber production and cleaner waterbodies and greener and enlarged vegetative cover.

That means collective complicity that God will whip us all for, beginning with the former Presidents and flagbearers. As for the little imps still assaulting our collective heritage it is good they are dropping dead in pits in helping fertilise the ground till the days we would wise up and consider food security the basic occupation since Adam. We get that right and everything falls into place. We get that wrong and everything falls apart.

Indeed, we opt for galamsey and with it comes deficits in food security targets or boom in Anloga Junction activity and we lose our timber reserves to illegal lumber operators. Again, what we may also have is danger to the tourism sector and threat to aquaculture and shellfish down to Samuel Ablakwa Okudzeto’s and original Sam Okudzeto’s Tongu constituencies…

Fiifi Kwetey’s ‘Zero Election Petition’ Epistle

So, with NDC General Secretary Fiifi F Kweteys epistle in mind, I think am in good company. That means we are all in good company as NDC and NPP.

It also means we are back to the issues. l have always held that if the NPP administration jails the NDC and the NDC returns to power and begins jailing bad boys in the NPP, corruption will be minimised. Welcome Fiifi to the party.

That how we should be growing our democracy till all the animals get behind bars, like wolves and hyenas in a zoo, so that society eventually is rid of the dog breeds.

By Abena Baawuah

Napo is result-oriented- Veep

Vice-President and NPP Flagbearer, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, has defended his nomination of Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh (NAPO) as his choice of running mate, describing him as a result -oriented person.

He said this yesterday at Kumasi’s Jubilee Park, where NAPO was officially introduced as running mate for the upcoming December 2024 elections.

Dr. Bawumia highlighted NAPO’s exceptional work rate, results orientation and impactful tenure as Minister of Education and now as Minister of Energy.

According to the Vice-President, these qualities were pivotal in the decision to select NAPO as his running mate.

Following the outdooring, party members and supporters praised Dr. Bawumia’s choice, and expressed optimism about the potential of the Bawumia-NAPO ticket.

They indicated that the combination of Dr Bawumia’s economic expertise and NAPO’s youthfulness, administrative prowess and political experience would position them to articulate a compelling vision for Ghana, and secure an unprecedented third term victory for the NPP under the Fourth Republic.

The choice of NAPO as running mate was widely regarded as a “no-brainer”, given his proven track record and strong support base. Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh represents Manhyia South in Parliament, a stronghold where the NPP consistently garners over 80% of the vote.

His royal lineage at the Apagyafie of the Manhyia Palace and familial ties to former President John Agyekum Kufuor add historical and cultural depth to his candidacy.

 

Asantehene charges NAPO to serve in humility

The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has expressed unwavering confidence in the NPP running mate, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, popularly known as “NAPO”.

Affirming his dedication and commitment, the Asantehene expressed the belief that the NPP running mate will not give Dr Bawumia any cause to regret his decision of nominating him.

The Asantehene made the remarks yesterday  after President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Dr. Bawumia and officials of the NPP had officially introduced NAPO to him at a durbar of chiefs at the Manhyia Palace.

The King said he has a deep understanding of Dr. Prempeh’s journey and their shared history. He, therefore, urged the Minister of Energy to prove himself worthy of the trust placed in him.

“I have spoken to Napo, my son, behind closed doors, and counseled him well. But let me tell you [Napo] in public that don’t let Dr. Bawumia regret his decision in choosing you,” Otumfuo advised.

He added: “Go and serve Dr. Bawumia with humility, loyalty and dedication. Listen to his directives, and obey him at all times. What I have told you behind closed doors is what I am repeating to you in public. Be humble, and serve Dr. Bawumia well”.

The King also reminded Dr. Prempeh about his roots and the importance of honour, discipline and service.

He entrusted NAPO in the care of Dr. Bawumia, and urged the duo to work together diligently.

“As you work together, whenever there is some disagreement, don’t hesitate to inform me so I can scold him behind closed doors,” he told Dr. Bawumia.

The King expressed his gratitude to the Ashanti Regional Chairman of the NPP for supporting Napo in his political journey.

He used to the occasion to counsel political actors in the country to be decorous in their campaigns. He also urged them to assist the electorate to make informed decisions on the kind of policies and programmes they intend to introduce when elected into office.

For his part, President Akufo-Addo recounted how the Manhyia South lawmaker had contributed meaningfully to his government.

He was very confident that the pair, Dr. Bawumia and NAPO, would not disappoint Ghanaians when given the chance to serve them.

“NAPO has served me with humility and all his might. I strongly believe that with the task he has been entrusted with, he will execute it diligently. I know his strength and what he brings on board. I am confident that he, together with Dr. Bawumia, will uplift Ghana to greater heights,” he said.

He told the Asantehene that he was very proud of the achievements of his grandson, highlighting the role he had also played in Napo’s political journey.

“I can confidently tell you, Otumfuo, that I have contributed a lot to the political life of your grandson. When we came to power first, I entrusted him with executing the Free SHS policy. I knew why I did that, and he never disappointed me.

“He executed the policy to the admiration of all. Today, Free SHS is being hailed everywhere. I also know that what Bawumia has assigned him to do; he will do it diligently,” the President added.

SSNIT boss addresses proposed sale of 60% stake in hotels

The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) says its decision to sell 60% stake in a number of its hotels was to deal with the substandard returns the investments in the hotels were yielding.

It noted that despite the huge investments made in the hotels, they keep making consistent losses, with frequent requests for maintenance, call on SSNIT to fund such maintenance, operational activities and workers emoluments; no payment of dividends, among other things.

The aforementioned had influenced the decision of the Trust to sell the hotels, as part of measures to revive them.

Addressing pressmen yesterday, the Director General of SSNIT, Kofi Bosompem Osafo-Maafo, said to help solve this issue, they sought a strategic investor to salvage the situation after all other means failed.

“I don’t think anyone running an investment funding in the world would be sitting and earning substandard returns.. we have to address the issue,” he said.

He added, “We’ve been through quite a lengthy process to do so. Bear in mind, we’ve also tried having external management companies running the SSNIT hotels and that hasn’t resolved the problem either. So, for us, we look at it two-fold: that we are looking to resolve a problem and do so with the introduction of a strategic investor, and we outlined the reasons there.”

Sharing a track record of the hotels, Mr Osafo-Maafo disclosed that La Palm Royal Beach Hotel made losses in 11 out of its 14 years of operation, and had not paid dividends. Its average return on equity from 2012-2017 has been -4.2%.

Elmina Beach Resort made losses in nine out of the past 14 years of operation. It has also not paid dividends, and its average return on equity is negative 4.8% for the period 2010 to 2017.

Similarly, Busua Beach Resort made losses in nine out of 14 years of operation, and has not paid dividends. The average return on equity is negative 31.7% for the period 2010 to 2017.

Ridge Royal Hotel made losses in all eight years of operation. The average return on equity is negative 33.1% for the period 2016 and 2017, and has had a negative shareholders equity position since.

Labadi Beach Hotel made losses in two out of the past 14 years. It has consistently paid dividends over the years. However, the average return on investment for was 1.7% from 2012 to 2017, and has averaged 5.2% for the period 2012 and 2022.

The SSNIT Director-General further maintained his outfit was guided by its objective to optimise overall returns, as the current profits from the hotel were considered inadequate.

“We want to maximize what we get out of it, and the question that I asked somebody the other day is if you were selling your car or even your house, if you were selling your house, you’d make an attempt to actually paint it.

“You wouldn’t wait for your car to be put on stones and then say, now this is the time to sell it. You make it look good. There’s no reason why if a business is doing well and we seek to maximise capital from its to invest elsewhere, we shouldn’t do so.”

Request for five additional Supreme Court judges constitutional -Attorney General

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, in a 19-page opinion to President Akufo-Addo regarding a request by the Chief Justice to appoint five additional justices of the Supreme Court, has said that the request is constitutional and timely.

The Office of the President, after receiving a 14-page analysis from the Chief Justice, sought the opinion of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice on 18 March 2024.

Responding to the president via letter, Godfred Dame, in a 19-page opinion dated 29 April 2024, said the request by the Chief Justice is not only constitutional but also necessary.

“Having regard to the relevant provisions of the constitution, the determination of the number of justices of the Supreme Court at any point in time would be a function of the administration of justice and the needs of the court.

“Given the breadth of the multiplicity of jurisdictions of the Supreme Court and the influx of cases at the Supreme Court, the request for the increase in the number of justices serving on the Supreme Court from the conventional 15 (in addition to the Chief Justice) to 20 is not only constitutional but would ensure speedy and effective justice, minimise delays and unnecessary expense and conduce to the general efficient administration of the Supreme Court.

“The performance of the functions of the Supreme Court would, in accordance with the constitution, require differently constituted panels of the Supreme Court sitting at the same time.

“Understandably, the permutations in the constitution of the panels, almost simultaneously, could be daunting for effective and efficient work in the face of the limited number of justices at the Supreme Court, as the court is incessantly inundated with cases,” the AG’s opinion read.

“The exponential increase in the backlog of 414 and 595 cases in 2021/2022 and 2022/2023 legal years, in which there was the fewest number of justices of the Supreme Court for the five years under review, provided scientific justification for the necessity to expand the number of justices at the Supreme Court to stem the tide of the increasing backlog of cases.

“The enhancement of the membership of the Supreme Court to 20, as requested in the brief by Her Ladyship the Chief Justice, is appropriate. However, attention needs to be drawn to the fiscal implication on the public purse of any additional appointment of justices to the Supreme Court. This is in view of the charge of emoluments payable to justices of the Supreme Court on the Consolidated Fund,” the AG further said.

The Attorney General observed that the Supreme Courts of the UK, Canada, Kenya and most common law traditions exercise only an appellate jurisdiction as the final court of appeal in those countries, with the right to appeal to those courts circumscribed by various requirements of leave and a satisfaction of a threshold to appeal. Thus, only a few cases are actually dealt with by those courts in a year.

Ghana’s Supreme Court exercises seven jurisdictions, with, as the AG pointed out in his letter to the president, an appeal largely mandated by the constitution and the Courts Act to be as of right. The UK Supreme Court is a court of 12 but entertains appeals to it only in exceptional circumstances. The same holds in Canada, which has a Supreme Court of nine.

In South Africa, there is both a Constitutional Court and a Supreme Court of Appeal, which has 23 members. The Constitutional Court is composed of a Chief Justice, a deputy Chief Justice and nine other justices, and is the highest court of the land. However, it exercises jurisdiction in constitutional cases only.

The highest court for hearing appeals in South Africa is the Supreme Court of Appeal, which is composed of 23 judges.

Kenya’s Supreme Court exercises only an appellate jurisdiction, with the high court given original jurisdiction in constitutional cases.

“The jurisdictions exercised by other Supreme Courts in notable countries in the common law tradition are relatively much narrower, in comparison to the width of the multiple jurisdictions conferred on the Supreme Court of Ghana,” the AG said. “Ultimately, a constitutional amendment circumscribing the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Ghana, in the long term, is necessary.

“Therefore, unlike in Canada, the United Kingdom, Kenya and South Africa, where the number of justices of the Supreme Court is capped, the highest number of justices of the Supreme Court of Ghana is not capped in the constitution or in the Courts Act 1993 (Act 459). This gives discretion to the appointing authority to increase the appointment of justices to the Supreme Court subject to the demands of the needs of justice,” the Attorney General concluded.

Source: asaaseradio.com

NPA boss: CRM is creating more investment opportunities

The Chief Executive of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, says the cylinder recirculation model (CRM) is allowing entrepreneurs with limited capital to invest in the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) distribution chain.

According to him, unlike the traditional LPG distribution system which requires huge capital in the establishment of LPG filling stations and related distribution costs, little investment is needed for the setting up of LPG depots and exchange points under the CRM.

Speaking at this year’s NPA’s Consumer Week Celebrations in Koforidua, the NPA boss said the CRM would also create more jobs for the youth at the LPG depots, exchange points, and transportation of cylinders.

Dr. Abdul-Hamid explained that huge capital was needed to acquire a license for the importation of petroleum products.

He said a substantial amount was also needed by an investor for the setting up of filling stations and indicated that the investor would start with seven filling stations, comprising four state-of-the-art and three ordinary.

However, the NPA boss, who is also the President of the African Refiners and Distributors Association (ARDA), said people who owned land or students with limited capital could use their parents’ land to establish LPG depot exchange points.

Besides, he said, people could procure vehicles to engage in the transmission of filled cylinders to customers.

Dr. Abdul-Hamid said the authority was engaging with the government to reduce taxes on LPG to make it affordable, accessible, and available to the majority of Ghanaians.

He, therefore, urged the people to embrace CRM to improve safety in the distribution and use of LPG and ensure the attainment of 50% penetration by 2030.

In his remarks, a Deputy Minister of Energy, Collins Adomako Mensah, said the CRM was geared towards encouraging the use of LPG for cooking and saving the lives of women from the harmful effects of smoke from charcoal and firewood.

It would also reduce the felling of trees and preserve the environment.

In his contribution, the Eastern Regional Minister, Seth Kwame Acheampong, and a Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Michael Okyere Baafi, urged the public to opt for the CRM to ensure safety in using LPG to protect lives and property.

For his part, the Industry Coordinator of the Association of Oil Marketing Companies, Dr. Clement Amoako, gave the assistance that the association would collaborate with the NPA to ensure the successful implementation of the CRM.

The General Manager of Blue Ocean, Mr. Zwelithini, and the Head of Brands and Communications of New Gas, Samuel Bonnuedie, said their bottling companies had started dispatching filled cylinders to selected exchange points in Accra and would be extended to the other regions.

In his remarks, Daasebre Kwaku Boateng III urged all the people to embrace the CRM since it is the surest way to save their lives and prevent the harmful effects of climate change

Otumfuo declares war on land guards, chiefs face destoolment

The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has issued a stern warning that he will destool any chief in Asanteman who tolerates the presence of land guards within their jurisdiction.

This follows concerns the Ashanti Regional Security Council raised in June about the rising menace of land guards, which was previously uncommon in the region.

The Council acknowledged that the time-tested modalities in the Region that have kept it devoid of land guards over the years was gradually giving way as land disputes was now entertaining the menace of land guards.

Speaking at the first Asanteman Council meeting after the Silver Jubilee celebration at the Manhyia Palace on Thursday (4 July), Otumfuo Osei Tutu II revealed that a security agency committee has been established to investigate the illegal activities of land guards in Asanteman.

He stressed that any chief found complicit in these activities would face destoolment.

“A practice that didn’t have any place in Asanteman has started gaining roots – Land guards. The police and the military will tell me where the practices are taking place and all those who will be implicated will lose their stools. Let’s wait for the report to come out”, Otumfuo said.

Lands do not move, and they cannot be taken anywhere. In case of any dispute, there are modalities to settle it. When I gave the land to you, I didn’t add any land guards why should you resort to them, the Asantehene questioned.

Additionally, he touched on issues of illegal mining in other parts of Asanteman as he stated that nananom have a hand in it.

“I will investigate any chief who gets implicated in any illegal mining report that comes before me henceforth and destool you. We have some of those cases pending before us which must be fast-tracked, he added.

Free SHS has come to stay; I’m committed to improving it – Mahama

Flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama has affirmed his commitment to the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy and promised to improve it if he is re-elected as president in the upcoming elections.

Mahama, who served as the President of Ghana from 2012 to 2017, acknowledged the importance of the Free SHS policy in providing equal educational opportunities for all Ghanaians.

“The Free SHS policy has come to stay, and I am committed to improving it,” he said while addressing journalists in Accra on Sunday.

He once again debunked claims of being against the policy and insisted that he supports and only wants the policy improved to deal with present challenges.

On the Free SHS Bill yet to be laid before Parliament, Mr Mahama said he would support it if it sought to improve and sustain the policy.

No one in my government will be allowed to buy state assets- Mahama

Former President John Mahama says none of his appointees should think of buying a state property if he is elected to power.

This announcement comes in response to growing concerns over state asset acquisition by officials under the current administration.

In one of his Mahama Conversations with journalists in Accra on Sunday, the NDC flagbearer stressed the need for a change in attitude among appointees and public office holders.

“Appointees and public office holders must change their attitudes. That is what we’re going to insist on. People that we appoint are modest people, they are humble, they will open up to the people, and they’ll do the things that will make the lives of our young people better. And so we’re going to hold them to a higher criteria of service. You must not go and buy state property,” he stated.

Mr Mahama reiterated his commitment to this policy, making it clear that any official in his government would be prohibited from purchasing state assets.

“Anybody serving in my government will not be allowed to buy a state asset. Nobody serving in my government will buy a state asset. Vehicles or cars or buildings or land or anything, nobody serving in our government will be allowed to buy a state asset,” he asserted.

The NDC leader’s stance underscores his dedication to integrity and transparency in governance, aiming to ensure that public office is not used for personal gain.

Source: myjoyonline.com

President Akufo-Addo inspires BECE candidates

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has extended his best wishes to the 2024 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) candidates, urging them to stay focused.

They should remain calm and give off their best, because a bright future awaits them, he noted.

The President, in a message to the candidates, said the nation was behind them.

“Remember, your hard work and dedication have brought you this far,” he advised.

The message reminded the candidates of the significant milestone in their educational journey, therefore, it behooved them to eschew any form of examination malpractice.

“Honesty and integrity are values that will serve you well throughout your lives. Approach each paper with a clear mind, answer the questions to the best of your ability, and trust in the knowledge and skills you have acquired over the years,” the President stated.

The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) says a total of 569,095 candidates would sit for this year’s BECE, which starts on Monday, July 08.

Of that figure, 282, 648 are males and 286,447 females, with 19,506 schools participating in the examination.

“This figure represents a decrease of 5.29 per cent compared to the 2023 entry figure of 600,900.” Mr John K Kapi, Head of Public Affairs, WAEC National Office, announced this at a press conference in Accra, ahead of the examination.

The examination will be administered in 2,123 locations around the nation, with 2,123 supervisors, 1,889 assistant supervisors, and 19,973 invigilators on duty to ensure the test runs smoothly.

VRA alerts public of potential spillage from Akosombo Dam

The Volta River Authority (VRA) has notified over 40 stakeholders, including the Minister for the Interior and all the assemblies within the dam’s catchment areas of the Akosombo Dam about the potential for excess water spillage.

In a notice dated July 5 and signed by the Deputy Chief Executive in Charge of Services at the VRA, Ing. Ken Arthur, the Authority proposed a stakeholder engagement as a precautionary measure.

The communication underscores the importance of proactive engagement to ensure the Akosombo Dam’s structural integrity and the surrounding communities’ safety.

The VRA emphasised that while the spillage is not confirmed yet, preparing and engaging stakeholders promptly is essential.

According to the notice, these measures are part of VRA’s commitment to maintaining the safety protocols around the dam and responding swiftly to any potential risks posed by the water levels.

“The Volta River Authority (VRA) intends to commence engagements regarding the potential controlled spillage of water from the Akosombo Dam. This precautionary measure is crucial to maintaining the structural integrity of the dam and ensuring the safety of our communities,” the notice said.

“We propose to engage you and the relevant team to discuss the potential implications, mitigative measures and information dissemination,” the statement added.

In October 2023, a controlled spillage of the Akosombo Dam was conducted to prevent overflow, leading to the displacement of residents in low-lying areas.

The most affected communities were in the North and Central Tongu districts, with estimates indicating that over 35,857 people were displaced, and numerous homes and farmlands were destroyed as a result.

NPP to hold Manhyia South parliamentary primary July 14

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has approved the timelines for holding a parliamentary primary election at Manhyia South.

This follows the nomination of the incumbent Member of Parliament (MP) of the constituency, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh as the party’s running mate for the 2024 general elections.

The General Secretary of the NPP, Justin Frimpong Kodua in a statement issued on Friday said nominations will be opened on Monday, July 8, 2024, and close nomination on Tuesday, July 9, 2024.

He said the election will be held on Sunday, July 14, 2024.

“An aspiring parliamentary candidate (APC) shall procure nominations forms after the payment of a non-refundable applicating fee of GH 3000 in bankers draft in favour of the NPP national headquarters, Accra.”

“To successfully file the nomination, an APC shall pay a non-refundable filing fee of gh35,000 in bankers draft in favour of the NPP, Headquarters, Accra,” he stated.

Mr Kodua however indicated that women, youth and persons with disabilities (PWDs) will receive a 50% rebate o the filing fees.

“This means they will be required to pay a non-refundable filing fee of GH17,500. To ensure clarity, we define a youth as an individual between the ages of 18 and 40,” he added.

The NPP General Secretary further noted that no individual shall be denied access to purchase nomination forms.

 

100 electronic buses to arrive in Ghana by year-end

The Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, has announced that plans are well advanced to procure and import 100 electronic buses into the country by the end of the year.

Dr Bawumia stated that this initiative aims to reduce carbon emissions as part of the fight against climate change and address rising transportation costs.

Speaking at a meeting with members of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU), Dr. Bawumia explained that the introduction of electronic buses will be a public-private partnership.

He also mentioned that the government plans to construct charging stations at various fueling stations to support the new fleet of buses once they arrive in the country.

“One of the issues we are looking at as far as reducing the cost of transport in Ghana is that we go through two things: we should move towards electric vehicles, which will help the environment. Also, with electric vehicles, two elements will help all of us: It doesn’t consume fuel.

“So, when the price of fuel increases, it will not impact the price of electric vehicles. Again, there are not many spare parts in electric vehicles; the main spare part that will be needed will be the battery, which can last for years. It will reduce the transport cost.

“Beginning this month, we are commencing the construction of charging stations because electric vehicles will need charging stations where you can charge your car. We want to place the charging stations in virtually every station’s fueling stations.

“We want Ghana to move towards solar power. So, the charging stations will be hybrid, both solar and electricity, but we want to move towards this by election. This year, we are hoping to bring in close to 100 electric buses to show the public how it is working,” he stated.

Phase I of Boankra Inland Port 40% complete

About 40 per cent of work has so far been executed on the first phase of the $308 million Boankra Integrated Logistics Terminal (BILT), popularly known as the Boankra Inland Port, at Boankra in the Ejisu Municipality in the Ashanti Region.

JUSTMOH Construction Limited, the contractor of the project, which started on October 10, 2022, has expressed optimism of meeting the extended deadline of September 2026.

“Currently, 40 per cent of the first phase of the project is completed and we are optimistic of meeting the extended deadline”, Dr John Bernard Koranteng Yorke, the Project Manager of JUSTMOH, told members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Roads and Transport when they inspected progress of work at the Terminal last Wednesday.

When the team visited the site, the contractor had almost completed the filling of the terminal and was applying bitumen on the surface of the 12.2-kilometre road network within the terminal.

Dr Yorke said the portion left to be filled was where the ‘Penama Stream’ passed on the stretch, and that it was currently constructing a bridge to channel the water course after which it would complete the entire paving of the terminal.

 

The project, covering a total area of 413 acres, includes an inland clearance depot, customs bonded and unbonded estates, commercial areas such as banks, offices and trading facilities, vehicle parking and light industrial areas, and an administration block complex.

When completed, the project will provide services for importers and exporters in the middle and the northern parts of the country and also act as a major conduit for the efficient transportation of transit traffic to and from neighbouring landlocked countries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

The Chairman of the Committee, Kennedy Osei Nyarko, said the visit was for the Committee to acquaint itself with the progress of work and help address challenges facing the contractor in executing the much-anticipated project.

He said the committee’s mandate was to assist the ministries of Transport, Aviation, Roads and Highways, and all agencies and departments working under them to discharge their duties well.

He expressed satisfaction about the progress of work on the terminal and seized the opportunity to advocate for the contractor  — who is yet to receive payment for work done since November last year — to be paid to ensure the project’s completion on schedule.

“We are appealing to the Ministry of Transport to work towards meeting the financial obligations to the contractor”, he said.

On his part, the CEO of JUSTMOH, Dr Justice Amoh, assured all of his commitment towards the realisation of the project.

“As contractors, we see this project as a national asset and a viable project. With the help of our bankers we have stayed on site executing the project”, he said, and pleaded with members of the committee to use their influence to ensure the release of the funds.

Source: graphic.com

Bawumia, Napo ticket spells victory for NPP- Akufo-Addo

President Akufo-Addo has officially endorsed the ticket of Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh for the New Patriotic Party (NPP), expressing unwavering confidence in their leadership capabilities ahead of the 2024 general elections.

This follows the National Council of the NPP’s confirmation of Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, popularly known as Napo, as the running mate to Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia.

President Akufo-Addo, speaking to journalists after the confirmation on Thursday (4 July) expressed enthusiasm for the ticket, describing it as an “excellent pairing” poised to secure victory for the NPP in December 2024.

“National Council has endorsed the nomination of Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh to be the running mate of Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia,” President Akufo-Addo affirmed.

“The NPP has an excellent ticket and we’re going to win with this ticket on 7th December 2024, that’s the news. The feeling is good, they make a very good pair, and they are going to win.”

The President’s endorsement underscores his confidence in the leadership and vision of Dr. Bawumia and Dr. Prempeh, highlighting their ability to unify the party and effectively communicate their transformative agenda to the electorate.

The confirmation sets the stage for a vigorous campaign season as the NPP prepares to contest the upcoming elections with Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh at the forefront of their campaign.

Source: asaaseradio.com

More women contract HIV in Volta Region – Letsa

Out of the 16,016 people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the Volta Region, 65.52 per cent are women, while young people (15–24), accounted for 27.5 per cent of new infections last year.

The figure includes 230 adult males, 468 adult females, 214 young people, and 80 children in the 0–14 age group.

The Technical Coordinator of the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) Technical Support Unit in the Volta Region, Mary Naa Asheley Anyomi, who disclosed this at the 2024 second quarter coordination meeting of the commission in Ho last Thursday, said 57.1 per cent of PLHIV in the region were receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART).

Mrs Anyomi said Central Tongu and North Tongu districts, and Ketu North and Ketu South municipalities contributed 42.03 per cent of the total number of infections.

Also, nine areas, including Kpando, Ho, Ketu North, South Dayi, Central Tongu, North Dayi, Keta, Ho West and North Tongu had prevalence higher that the regional rate of 1.35 per cent, she added.

The technical coordinator said nine out of the 18 districts and municipalities had less than 49 per cent of ART coverage, while the target was 95 per cent.

“In addition, only three districts had the highest ART coverage of more than 70 per cent, but less than 80 per cent,” she said.

Touching on the way forward, Mrs Anyomi said there was the need to continue utilising the mass media, including community information centres, to disseminate accurate information on HIV prevention, transmission and treatment.

She said it was also important to make use of health clubs at basic, senior high and tertiary institutions for that purpose.

The Volta Regional Minister, Dr Archibald Yao Letsa, advised members of the public to eschew reckless sexual conducts, saying HIV was real.

He entreated all and sundry to avoid binge drinking and narcotics abuse which could make them lose their guard and indulge in indiscriminate and unsafe sex.

The minister said it was everyone’s responsibility to stand firm and help address the HIV situation by living responsible lifestyles.

Source: graphic.com

No need for single currency in Africa, MoMo interoperability the best option – Bawumia

Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia is proposing a policy shift in the adoption of a single currency among African countries.

He is rather suggesting interconnected payment platforms including interoperable Mobile Money service as a far better alternative in bridging the financial divide and boosting intra-Africa trade.

African leaders have been focusing solely on macroeconomic stability across the continent as a key factor in the use of a common currency.

However, Dr Bawumia argues that Africa’s inability to meet the economic convergence criteria for the rollout of a homogeneous currency to boost cross-border trade indicates that a seamless payment regime can only be achieved through financial interoperability systems.

“Making mobile money interoperable allows our citizens across the continent to trade seamlessly and so this is where I believe as African countries we need to focus on. One of the common problems of achieving a common currency was the difficulty of our respective countries in achieving the macro-economic convergence.”

“The idea of a common currency which came in 1963 has really been overtaken by the digital payment age that today you can think about mobile money as a common currency. If we make it interoperable, we don’t need to have the common currency before we get the benefits.”

Dr. Bawumia made this call as the guest speaker at the opening of the Continental Mobile Interoperability Symposium organized by the Africa Prosperity Network in Accra.

It was held under the theme, Scaling-up interoperability, Using Mobile Money to Buy and Sell.

“I believe that If we are serious about it, we can work towards mobile money Interoperability at the continental stage and, therefore, we should move away in this regard from the macro-economic convergence criteria to digital payment convergence criteria,” the Vice President added.

Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr Ernest Addison on his part acknowledged that a harmonized regulatory framework and partnerships among players in the digital space remain a pivot to achieve broad financial sector inclusion and inter-trade in Africa.

NAPO isn’t arrogant- Egyapa Mercer

Tourism Minister Andrew Egyapa Mercer has stated that Matthew Opoku Prempeh, commonly known as “Napo” and nominated running mate of Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia as the presidential ticket of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) for Election 2024, cannot be said to be arrogant.

This comment comes after the National Council of the NPP officially endorsed the Energy Minister as Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia’s running mate.

The endorsement on Thursday, July 4, 2024, followed discussions with the party’s National Executive Council and National Steering Committee.

Mr. Mercer who says he has worked closely with Matthew Opoku Prempeh for three and a half years, asserted that labelling him as arrogant would be unjustified.

Speaking on JoyNews’ Newsfile, Mr Mercer stated that, “I agree that a commentary needs to be confronted head-on in terms of letting people get to know what has been said when you are assertive.”.

He pointed out that Matthew Opoku Prempeh, frequently eats alongside members of parliament in a lodge and shares meals with them.

According to Mercer, if Napo truly saw himself as superior, he would not engage in such activities.

“Napo is a man who has engagement on a constant basis and walks into my office. He calls me bro. If he was to be superior, he would not do that. He comes to my office to have meetings…”

Source: myjoyonline.com

BECE to start on July 8, gov’t releases GHC55,873,689.87

The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) says a total of 569,095 candidates would sit for this year’s Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) which starts on Monday July 8, 2024.

This follows the release of GHC55,873,689.87 to the Council by the government.

Mr John K Kapi, Head of Public Affairs, WAEC National Office, who announced this at a press conference in Accra said, the government was making arrangement for the release of the remainder of the examination fees to the Council

The press conference was to update stakeholders and the public on the upcoming BECE for public schools and private candidates.

Mr Kapi said candidates are expected to write English Language on July 8, and finish the examination with Arabic by Monday, July 15, 2024.

He said out of the total number of candidates sitting for the BECE, 282, 648 were males and 286,447 were females, with 19,506 schools participating in the examinations.

“This figure represents a decrease of 5.29 per cent compared to the 2023 entry figure of 600,900.”

Mr. Kapi stated that the examination would be administered in 2,123 locations around the nation, with 2,123 supervisors, 1,889 assistant supervisors, and 19,973 invigilators on duty to ensure sure the test ran smoothly.

He said school candidates would be examined based on the newly introduced Common Core Curriculum, while private candidates would be examined on the old syllabus.

“As part of arrangements for the smooth conduct of the examination, the Guidelines, Scheme and Structure of the examination with same questions were developed and circulated to all heads of school. Interested stakeholders can also visit our website to have access to them,” he said.

Mr Kapi said in the case of the private candidates, the council registered 1,366 candidates, out of which 735 were males and 631 were females.

“This year’s figure is less by 25.7 percent compared with the 2023 entry figure of 1,839. Fifteen (15) centers mainly in the regional capitals will be used for the BECE for private candidates.”

Mr Kapi said the council had organized sensitization programmes to educate candidates on the rules and regulations governing the examination.

He said the council had also distributed examination stationery such as objective answer cards, answer booklets, pencils, among others, to District Education Offices throughout the country.

The WAEC had also made provisions for candidates with social educational needs, and it was making sure that no candidate was left out.

Source: GNA

82 million Nigerians may go hungry soon-UN warns

The United Nations has again predicted that 82 million Nigerians, about 64 per cent of the country’s population, may go hungry by 2030, calling on the government to tackle climate change, pest infestations, and other threats to agricultural productivity.

The prediction comes in the wake of a persistent hike in food prices in the country.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s food inflation rate hit a record high of 40.66 per cent in May 2024, surpassing the previous month’s 40.53 increase.

This surge represents the largest year-on-year increase in food prices since records began in 1996.

Historically, food inflation in Nigeria has averaged 13.42 per cent, with the lowest point of -17.50 per cent in January 2000.

In 2023, the Food and Agriculture Organisation predicted that no fewer than 2.6 million Nigerians in Borno, Sokoto and Zamfara states, and the FCT may face a food crisis between June and August 2024.

According to a government-led Cadre Harmonisé analysis released in March, 2024, approximately 4.8 million people in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states are experiencing severe food insecurity, the highest level in seven years.

Also, as Nigerian workers commemorated the 2024 May Day, Organised Labour expressed concern about the country’s rising food prices and fuel scarcity, saying that the current situation threatened the survival of workers. 

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Olisa Agbakoba, also recently warned that a hunger riot might soon break out in Nigeria, calling on the Federal Government to act fast.

Speaking recently at the launch of CropWatch in Abuja, the Resident Humanitarian Coordinator of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, represented by one of the UN officials, Taofiq Braimoh, said, “The government of Nigeria, in collaboration with others, conducts an annual food security survey. This year’s results are alarming: approximately 22 million Nigerians will face food insecurity in 2023, and around 80-82 million are at risk of severe food insecurity by 2030.

“Nigeria, like many countries, grapples with food insecurity, climate change, unreliable water patterns, pest infestations, and other threats to agricultural productivity. As an agrarian society, our farms’ success directly impacts food availability for our population. Leveraging technology is crucial to strengthening our agriculture sector and ensuring food security.”

He stressed that satellite-based crop monitoring provided real-time data on crop conditions, enabling farmers and policymakers to make informed decisions and optimise agricultural practices.

He noted that the technology could help expedite the accomplishment of sustainable development goals in food and agriculture.

‘Climate change fuelling high hunger rate’

An agricultural economist from the Centre for Agricultural Development and Sustainable Environment at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Tobi Awolope, attributed the high hunger rate in Nigeria to climate change, which has severely affected smallholder farmers, the main players in food production.

Awolope, who spoke to our correspondent on Friday, noted that those farmers had a low adaptive capacity to cope with the effects of climate change, such as irregular rainfall patterns and lack of irrigation.

“Climate change has reversed the progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 2, which aim to eradicate poverty and hunger. Smallholder farmers are struggling to adapt to the changing climate, and this has led to declining food availability and rising prices,” she said.

She emphasised the need for government support for farmers, including subsidising production inputs, and providing technology and irrigation assistance.

“Farmers cannot mitigate the effects of climate change alone. The government needs to step in and support them to ensure food security,” she stated.

Awolope also stressed the importance of utilising research recommendations to inform policy decisions, saying, “This is not the time to leave research output on the shelf. We need to use those recommendations to make informed decisions that will support our farmers and ensure food availability.”

Transform agriculture with science, technology — Expert

Meanwhile, the Director General of the National Space Research and Development Agency, Dr Adepoju Mathew, highlighted the importance of science, technology, and innovation in advancing agricultural development and food security.

“The world population is projected to reach 9.5 billion by 2050, and food production must increase by 70 per cent to meet this demand.

“Space science, technology, and innovation play a crucial role in transforming agriculture and enhancing food security,” he added.

UN report reflects real situation— Farmers

Speaking with Saturday PUNCH, the National Secretary of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, Dr Yinusu Alidu, said the UN report should be taken seriously, noting that it reflects the real situation in the country.

He said, “What the UN said is trending at the moment, because it reflects the real situation in the country. It is not magic; the UN is only gathering reports, and speaking to the current situation. They are using global warming, climate change, insecurity, and other factors to make the report. People like us on the field know already that the UN’s report is becoming real.

“This is July and there is not enough rain yet. Weather forecast experts have predicted that there is going to be a drought. They predicted that there was going to be a short rain period, and that rain may not fall after August. They advised farmers to plant crops that will yield and mature fast. If not, the crops will be stunted and will not yield well. If people use conventional modes of planting, their farms will be affected by drought.”

Alidu urged the government to act on the report to prevent a food crisis.

He said, “It is the responsibility of the government to prevent a food crisis. The government should encourage irrigation farming systems. The government needs to create dams and channel waste water for farming purposes. Water is being wasted a lot. This is the right time for the government to be serious about off-season farming. Seventy per cent of crops grown in Nigeria are planted with direct rain; few people use irrigation systems. The government has a responsibility to make farming easy for farmers. They should support the irrigation system.

“I don’t know why the government is taking a lackadaisical approach to farming. Maybe they believe they have the money to buy anything they want, regardless of the price, because they have money. What about the average Nigerian? I would only advise farmers to be smart and fast in farming.”

‘UN report reflection of govt failure’

Also speaking with our correspondent, the President of Integrated Agricultural Services, South-West, Mr Adeyemi Adejare, described the UN’s report as a pointer to the government’s failures in supporting agriculture and farmers.

Adejare said Nigeria was already witnessing a shortage of food, saying only aggressive farming could help Nigeria out of the crisis.

He said, “The only way to avert the UN’s prediction is to engage in aggressive farming, and get genuine support from the government. Nigeria is facing food insecurity already, so we can’t shy away from what the UN said. It is a pointer to the government’s failure to support agriculture.

“The food industries and our farming system must reach a sustainable level to avert the prediction, and that requires a holistic approach. We need to discard the old farming, storing, and processing systems. Government at all levels must be genuinely committed to promoting agriculture.

“The government must empower farmers and encourage mechanised farming for the youth. The government must also provide soft loans and subsidise farming inplements for genuine farmers.”

Adejare noted that the UN report was correct, adding that the nation must take proactive actions to end food insecurity.

He said, “The UN report is correct. Currently, it will take Nigeria 30 uninterrupted farming and harvesting seasons to achieve food security, because of the shortage we have already.

“The government has not been fair to farmers. The northern farmers are enjoying little benefits from the government, but the South-West governors are not helping the farmers at all. The governors have not been helpful; they have been paying lip service to the promotion of agriculture.”

Source: graphic.com

China rejects key Western calls for human-rights reforms at U.N. meeting

China yesterday rejected Western-led recommendations for human-rights reforms including calls for greater freedoms in Hong Kong and for Uyghurs in Xinjiang, but accepted others from allies, as it sought to defend its record at a U.N. meeting.

The U.N. Human Rights Council session in Geneva caps off a review process in which Beijing has strived to fend off criticism following a 2022 U.N. report that said the detention of Uyghurs and other Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region may constitute crimes against humanity. China denies any abuses.

The council’s president, Omar Zniber, said China had accepted nearly 70% of the more than 400 reform recommendations it received as part of the U.N. review.

“Progress and development on human rights is achieved in China with each passing day,” China’s ambassador, Chen Xu, told the meeting, alongside a large delegation of Chinese diplomats and officials.

He said it rejected recommendations that were “politically motivated based on disinformation, ideologically biased or interfering in China’s traditional sovereignty” and condemned what he called an attempt to “smear and attack” it.

Yet China’s critics say its high acceptance rate is misleading, with one Western diplomat alleging the country had “stacked the deck” by investing political capital in quelling criticism.

Though there were reports that China had lobbied non-Western countries to praise its record by asking them to make “constructive recommendations.”

British ambassador Simon Manley complained to the council that China had rejected each and every one of its recommendations, including a call for an end to the persecutions of Uyghurs and for the Hong Kong security law to be repealed.

U.S. Human Rights Ambassador Michèle Taylor also voiced disappointment at what she called China’s refusal to take action.

“China’s abuses constitute a rejection of U.N. assessments and recommendations and violate or undermine international commitments,” she said. Other countries were more upbeat, including Russia’s envoy who praised China’s “constructive approach” and Gambia’s envoy who lauded the country’s progress.

The U.N. review of China is not unique and all countries undergo the process every few years at the council – the only intergovernmental body designed to protect human rights worldwide.

An attempt to hold a debate about the U.N. High Commissioner’s China report was voted down by mostly non-Western members later in 2022 – a result seen as a diplomatic victory for Beijing.

Get the latest news and expert analysis about the state of the global economy with Reuters Econ World. Sign up here.

Source: reuters.com

Hezbollah fires 200 rockets and drones into Israel

Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group yesterday launched more than 200 rockets and attack drones into northern Israel, in response to the killing of one of its senior commanders.

Israel’s military said one of its officers was killed in the barrage, which started a number of fires.

The military also said it had targeted Hezbollah “military structures” and other targets in southern Lebanon in response.

Lebanese media reported that one person was killed in an Israeli drone strike in the town of Houla.

The latest barrage, which followed one comprising 100 rockets on Wednesday afternoon, was one of the biggest so far in the nine months of cross-border violence which has raised fears of an all-out war.

The Hezbollah commander killed in an Israeli air strike near the southern Lebanese city of Tyre, Mohammed Nimah Nasser, was one of the most senior figures in the group to have been killed in the conflict.

The Israeli military said Nasser commanded Hezbollah’s Aziz Unit, which is responsible for launching rockets from south-western Lebanon, and accused him of directing a “large number of terror attacks”.

It also described him as “the counterpart” of Taleb Sami Abdullah, the commander of another unit whose killing last month prompted Hezbollah to launch more than 200 rockets and missiles into northern Israel in a single day.

So far, more than 400 people have been reported killed in Lebanon, the vast majority of them Hezbollah fighters, and 25 people in Israel, mostly soldiers.

The hostilities have also displaced tens of thousands of people from border communities in northern Israel and southern Lebanon.

Matthew Opoku Prempeh approved as Bawumia’s running mate

The National Council of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has endorsed the decision by the flagbearer Dr Mahamudu Bawumia to pick Energy Minister, Matthew Opoku Prempeh as his running mate for the upcoming elections.

The National Council endorsed the decision on Thursday after earlier meetings with the National Executive Council, and the National Steering Committee of the party.

Opoku Prempeh, popularly known as NAPO, is also the Member of Parliament for Manhyia South and former Education Minister.

His selection is seen as a strategic move by Bawumia to consolidate support within the party and across the country, especially in the Ashanti region.

Profile

Born on May 23, 1968, in Ashanti New Town, a suburb of Kumasi, NAPO hails from Pakyi No. 2 in the Ashanti Region.

He started his basic education at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Primary and continued to Prempeh College in Kumasi for his middle school education

He studied Human Biology and Medicine at KNUST and completed his MB CHB in 1994. He continued with post-graduate studies in MSc. Clinical Epidemiology at the Netherlands Institute of Health Sciences in 1998 and at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University where he studied Leadership and Government(certificate course). In 2002, he pursued postgraduate training in surgery in the UK (MRCS).

Prior to entering parliament, NAPO served as CEO of Keyedmap Security Services Limited from 2004 to 2009. He is also a medical doctor and served as a member of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of the United Kingdom from 1999 to 2003.

More young people contracting hypertension, diabetes- UGMC

There is a growing number of young people with hypertension and diabetes in the country, the Chief Executive Officer of the University of Ghana Medical Centre (UGMC), Dr Kwame Anim-Boamah, has said.

He said some of the patients were either non-compliant or not on any treatment, making it the number one cause of end-stage renal disease.

Dr Anim-Boamah, who was speaking to the Daily Graphic in an interview in Accra, attributed the increasing cases to abuse of herbal and over-the-counter medications, among others.

In a related development, the UGMC is to perform an additional two kidney transplants this month after successfully performing six similar operations last month.

The patients who are all Ghanaians, were made up of two men and four females aged between 25 and 54.

The Head of the Urology Department of UGMC, Dr Emmanuel Asante, said the procedures were performed seamlessly, explaining that barriers and challenges were overcome by a determined team who made it possible for the procedures to go on smoothly, showcasing the centre’s capabilities in complex surgical interventions and post-operative care.

In a statement, Dr Anim-Boamah said the successful completion of the first set of six kidney transplants underscored the centre’s commitment to pushing boundaries, achieving medical excellence, and improving the lives of patients through cutting-edge interventions and compassionate care.

He said the UGMC looked forward to continuing its mission of advancing healthcare standards and innovative practices in the field of transplantation.

For her part, the Media Affairs Manager of UGMC, Barbara Owusu-Hemeng, said most of the donors for the first six patients were their close family members or acquaintances.

She said the centre was currently doing only living donor transplants as “we do not currently have a bank for organs”.

The manager said the average cost of a kidney transplant at the centre was currently $25,000, adding that they were working towards reducing the cost for the average citizen.

The UGMC is an academic medical centre offering world-class patient care, training and research in Ghana, West Africa and beyond.

Using mobile money to buy and sell across Africa – A fast track to economic integration

For over sixty decades, from the Mali Empire through to the OAU Summit of May 1963 and incrementally to date, African unity has remained but a collective dream. One that has been sustained more by a recognition of its essence rather than a conviction for its manifestation. In 2021, with the coming into being of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Africa began taking clear, deliberate steps of greater conviction towards building the world’s largest single market, in terms of member states. The challenges are, of course, many and varied.

But, if there is one practical instrument that can now ensure that the desire to bring our 55 nations and 1.4 billion people together, then that should be our telecommunication handset. By that, I mean, the exponential heights of financial inclusion to which the technology of mobile money has taken Africa. In short, Africa has, at long last, discovered a fast track to unification and that is the digital economy.

Africa is witnessing a remarkable digital revolution in current times, particularly in the financial sector. Mobile money, a service that allows people to transfer money and make payments using their mobile phones, has become a necessity of daily life for millions of Africans. As of 2023, over 500 million consumers registered for mobile money across the continent, and the value of mobile money transactions reached $834 billion in 2022, according to AfDB.

Interoperability across different digital platforms (across mobile network providers and between telcos and financial institutions) within country has largely contributed to this astonishing growth. But imagine, how huge these transactions volumes can get if we have cross-border interoperability up and down the continent?

Interoperability in mobile money means that users can send and receive money seamlessly across different mobile networks and financial services providers. That has been largely achieved; albeit, in country. Our focus now is how to make it regional and continental, dismantling the old colonial borders of divide and rule.

This is not just a technical upgrade—it offers a game-changer of a shift to driving economic integration, reducing transaction costs, incentivising investments in transport and logistics and enhancing the efficiency and density of cross-border trade.

It will mean opening up a market of 1.4 billion consumers to businesses in Africa, particularly micro-small and medium-size enterprises (MSMEs). It will create millions of job opportunities for young people in Africa. The single market offers a vital key to spreading opportunities and prosperity across Africa for Africans.

And, the ability for hundreds of millions of Africans to participate in this massive market via the mere ease of one’s hand-held device will be truly revolutionary. That is why African leaders struggling with the growing youth bulge should embrace this cutting edge solution to what young Africans see as limited opportunities on our continent.

The technology to make it happen exists. The supply and demand matrix to make it work is already with us. What is required is the political will among African leaders and the courage among central bank governors, especially, to make it happen.

Imagine a trader in Accra effortlessly receiving payments in her local currency from a buyer in Nairobi, who paid with his own local currency using his mobile wallet? Or, Moroccan entrepreneurs sourcing goods from South Africa with just a few taps on their mobile phone. This vision is not far-fetched; it is within reach and the mission is to get us there.

You may wonder, what is the use in buying a product in Africa if the logistics to get it from seller to buyer from state to state is not there? The answer is obviously in ensuring greater investments in cross-border transport infrastructures.

But, investors require incentives and there can be no greater incentive to an investor than the huge demand that can be created for African goods and services for African consumers with the facilitation of cross-border mobile interoperability. Where there is supply and demand, investor money will follow.

The AfCFTA’s digital trade protocol recognises the immense opportunity of interoperability in achieving its goals. Therefore, through harmonising regulations and collaboration among member states, and with clear statements of intent from leadership, the existing protocol can facilitate an integrated digital marketplace. This is crucial for boosting intra-African trade, which currently stands at a mere 15% compared to Europe’s 68% and Asia’s 59%, according to the Afreximbank.

Several initiatives are already underway. For example, the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS), launched by Afreximbank, aims to facilitate instant cross-border payments in local currencies across Africa. This system, if fully adopted, could significantly reduce the reliance on foreign currencies for intra-African trade, lowering transaction costs and mitigating exchange rate risks.

Also essential is the creation of sector-specific technical and operational standards. These standards will ensure that different mobile money platforms can communicate effectively and securely. Such standardisation can be driven by a coalition of stakeholders, including telecom operators, financial institutions, and regulatory bodies.

Setting clear guidelines can pave the way for an integrated and efficient mobile money ecosystem. This can support the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are the backbone of African economies, by providing them with more accessible and affordable financial services.

Collaboration is another key factor. Encouraging different sectors to share best practices and learnings from interoperability initiatives can accelerate progress. For instance, the success stories from the agricultural sector can inform strategies in the retail sector, creating a ripple effect of innovation and improvement. Customised interoperability solutions tailored to different sectors can also enhance usability and adoption.

Each sector has unique requirements and challenges, and a one-size-fits-all approach may not be effective. Developing solutions that address the specific needs of each sector can ensure that interoperability initiatives are practical and impactful.

Finally, implementing feedback mechanisms is essential for continuous improvement. Interoperability is not a one-time achievement but an ongoing process. Achieving full interoperability requires concerted efforts from decision-makers and various stakeholders, including governments, regulators, mobile network operators, fintech and financial institutions.

Policymakers must create an enabling environment for cross-border mobile money interoperability by developing and enforcing regulations that promote free market, enhances national security, promotes both economic growth and stability and protect consumer interests. Mobile network operators and fintech companies must invest in the needed technology and infrastructure, while also ensuring that their services are secure and user-friendly.

Scaling up interoperability in mobile money transactions across Africa can address this imbalance by democratising financial access, enabling more inclusive economic participation, and fostering intra-continental trade. Facilitating seamless transactions and reducing barriers to commerce, mobile money interoperability empowers young and enterprising Africans, especially, to harness their economic potential, access the wider market, retain more value within their communities, and reduce dependency on exploitative external systems.

This digital financial integration can be a powerful tool in promoting equitable growth and shared prosperity across the continent. This is the motivation that underpins the symposium that is being held on Friday, 5 July 2024 at the Labadi Beach Hotel Accra, Ghana, under the theme: “Scaling Up Interoperability — Using Mobile Money to Buy and Sell Across Africa”. The symposium is a useful step towards unlocking the full potential of the AfCFTA.

Perhaps even more critical after the Accra Symposium, is the African Union’s Mid-Year Coordination Meeting in Accra, also to be held this month. This year’s AU Mid-Year Summit has an agenda item promoted by the Champion of the African Union Financial Institutions and President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

President Akufo-Addo, in February 2024 championed the push for continent-wide mobile money interoperability at the 37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, when he presented the ‘Peduase Action Compact 2024’ from the Africa Prosperity Dialogues (APD) 2024 held last January, to his colleague heads of state and government in Addis Ababa.

Again, at the maiden 3i Africa Summit 2024 held in Accra last May, we once again saw a palpable desire among speakers and participants for individuals and businesses to have the freedom and ability to make and receive payments across the African continent.

All these underscore the growing commitment of Africa’s political and business leaders to deepen financial inclusion and intra-African trade. As a critical milestone towards a digitally and economically integrated Africa, the upcoming Mobile Interoperability Symposium on Friday July 5 will culminate in an outcome document to be presented at the AU Mid-Year Coordination Meeting in Accra on 21-22 June 2024.

The Africa Prosperity Network is calling on policymakers, industry leaders, all stakeholders, especially Africa’s large pool of MSMEs and all Pan-Africanists to join forces in the advocacy to realise what will effectively be Africa’s common currency for transactions: a continent-wide single payment system, as facilitated by mobile money interoperability.

Together we can unlock the full potential of mobile money and deepen development and prosperity across the continent. The time to act is now, and with concerted efforts, we can build a more inclusive and prosperous Africa.

The author is the Founder and Executive Chairman of the Africa Prosperity Network, (the organisers of the annual Africa Prosperity Dialogues), dedicated to providing a platform for Africa’s political, business and thought leaders to work together with urgency to realise the single market agenda in Africa and as a necessary pathway to promoting opportunities and prosperity across Africa for all Africans.

By Gabby Otchere-Darko

NPP NEC, NC meet over Bawumia’s choice of running mate

The National Executive Committee (NEC) and National Council (NC) of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) will this afternoon meet at the Alisa Hotel in Accra to deliberate on the Manhyia South Member of Parliament, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempreh as the Running Mate to the party’s flagbearer, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, for the upcoming December 7 general elections.

This follows the nomination of the Energy Minister, Dr Opoku Prempeh popular called Napo by the flagbearer, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia. The NEC will engage with the flagbearer Dr. Bawumia in a crunch meeting to explain to them his choice Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh, as his Running mate before the National Council members will give a final approval to the nominee if they are satisfied.

This move is a constitutional requirement of the party, where after the meeting the Running Mate’s name will be announced by the Party’s General Secretary to the media.

As outlined in Article 12(b) of the NPP Constitution, the Presidential Candidate, in consultation with the National Council, nominates the Vice Presidential Candidate. This nomination must be a known and active party member of at least five years standing, aligning with Dr. Opoku Prempeh’s extensive history within the party.

Acknowledging that various names were speculated as potential running mates, Dr. Opoku Prempeh emerged as a leading contender due to his distinguished service record and widespread support within the party ranks.

With the impending competition between Vice President Bawumia and former President John Dramani Mahama looming over the December elections, the selection of Dr. Opoku Prempeh underscores the strategic positioning of the NPP as they aim for a third consecutive victory.

The Presidential Candidate of NPP, Dr. Bawumia has so far held a crucial meeting with his boss, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor, the Majority Caucus of Parliament, and the National Executives of the NPP among others to discuss his choice of Dr Prempeh as his running mate.

The nomination of the Manyhia South MP has elicited mixed reactions both within and outside the NPP, some members have praised the decision, while others have expressed misgivings.

After today’s event, the ruling NPP will outdoor Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh as the running mate alongside Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP’s) 2024 Presidential candidate to flag off the 2024 election campaign in Kumasi, the Ashanti Regional capital, possibly by next week.

The move is to showcase the official introduction of Napo, to the electorate in the party’s World Bank.

Dr. Opoku Prempeh’s tenure as an Education Minister received accolades, being recognized as the best-performing minister in 2019.
His successful leadership in educational policy reforms and initiatives for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) have left a lasting impact on Ghana’s education landscape.

While his tenure in the Energy Ministry faced challenges, including power sector difficulties and economic impacts, his expertise and contributions are expected to complement Vice President Bawumia’s candidacy effectively.

Born in Kumasi, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh has garnered a wealth of experience and accolades throughout his career, including receiving the Harvard Ministerial Medal of Achievement in 2020 for his efforts in strengthening public education in Ghana.

The unveiling of Dr. Opoku Prempeh sets the stage for a dynamic electoral race, pitting him against the opposition’s Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang. Both renowned for their educational backgrounds and achievements, they will offer voters a contrast in visions for the country’s future.

Source: Daily Guide

52,133 candidates participate in TVET exams

The Commission for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (CTVET) has announced the commencement of this year’s May/June Certificate II exams for TVET students across Ghana.

The examinations, which began on July 1st, will continue until August 2nd, 2024, with a total of 52,133 candidates participating.

According to a press release  signed by Albert Opare, Head of Corporate Affairs at CTVET, the candidates include 37,558 males and 14,575 females. This year’s exams will once again feature the serialization of questions, a measure introduced last year to curb cheating.

The examinations cover a wide range of technical and vocational subjects, including Certificate II, Erstwhile NVTI Certificate II, and various technical certifications such as Technician Part I, Technician Part II, and Technician Part III. Additionally, students are being tested in Diploma, Diploma in Business Studies (DBS), and Advanced level examinations.

CTVET emphasised its ongoing efforts to enhance TVET assessment through a national quality assurance system. This system accredits training providers, facilitators, assessors, and internal verifiers to deliver and evaluate competency-based training programs.

The Commission expressed optimism that the students would perform well, enabling them to advance academically or successfully enter the workforce.

Ghanaian content creators to benefit from Meta expanded monetisation feature

Meta’s Public Policy Manager for Anglophone West Africa, Sade Dada, has unveiled the expanded monetization features for content creators in Ghana.

This initiative includes the ability for creators to earn a share of revenue from Facebook’s in-stream ads when Meta places ads alongside their content.

Furthermore, Meta plans to introduce ads on reels, providing creators with additional earning opportunities from ads placed on their reels on Facebook. Instagram is slated to follow suit later this year, expanding monetization options even further.

To qualify for monetization, content creators must adhere to Meta Partner Monetization Policies and Content Monetization Policies, which impose stricter guidelines than community standards regarding content and its presentation.

A statement signed by the Minister of Information, Fatimatu Abubakar, indicated that advertisers engaging in these platforms are mandated to comply with Meta’s advertising standards, aimed at ensuring a positive user experience and fostering meaningful connections between people and businesses.

“The monetization of content in Ghana is to empower content creators to earn money locally from their online content and access advanced features to manage businesses online. The expansion of the monetization tools is a significant milestone that will help content creators in Ghana to leverage their online presence and build their brands,” it said.

The Ministry commended Meta for this investment in Ghana’s digital landscape, and expressed readiness to facilitate further collaborations between Meta and the New Media Association of Ghana.

This ongoing partnership is expected to foster digital innovation and entrepreneurship, creating new opportunities and contributing to the growth of Ghana’s digital economy.

3 shot dead at Barniekrom as Police chase suspect

A chilling incident unfolded in Barniekrom near Mankranso in the Ashanti Region as three individuals tragically lost their lives in a shooting rampage by a suspect, Osman Majeed.

Police has swiftly launched an investigation into this horrific event that has sent shockwaves through the community.

The grim episode transpired on Tuesday, 2nd July 2024, when the Police were alerted to a distressing report detailing how suspect Osman Majeed had allegedly gunned down three individuals under the claim that they were affiliated with a group intending to harm him.

A police team promptly rushed to the scene of the crime to investigate and subsequently transported the bodies of the deceased to the morgue for preservation and autopsy procedures.

Upon thorough examination of the crime scene, law enforcement officials recovered critical evidence, including a motorbike, eight spent cartridges, and four cutlasses, providing crucial leads for the ongoing investigation.

In a statement, the Police authorities revealed that intensive efforts are underway to locate suspect Osman Majeed, who is currently evading arrest and remains at large following the heinous shooting incident.

“We urge members of the affected community to remain calm and cooperative as our investigative efforts intensify in tracking down the perpetrator to ensure that justice is served,” the Police emphasized in their official communication to the public.

As the investigation progresses, the importance of community assistance and vigilance in aiding the apprehension of the fugitive suspect cannot be overstated, underscoring the collective responsibility shared among citizens and police.

The brutal shooting incident at Barniekrom has rattled residents and heightened concerns over safety in the area.

Ghana, Türkiye sign agreement on science, technology

Ghana has signed an agreement establishing cooperation in science, technology and innovation with Türkiye.

The pact is to serve as a legal framework for the achievement of the science and technology ambitions of the two countries.

The agreement was signed between the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) and The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK).

Mrs Ophelia Mensah Hayford, Minister of MESTI, signed the pact on behalf of Ghana while Professor Dr Hasan Mandal, President, TUBITAK, signed on behalf of Türkiye, at a brief ceremony, in Accra, on Tuesday.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mrs Hayford hailed the long-standing relationship between the two countries.

Diplomatic relations between Ghana and Turkey were established in 1958 following the independence of Ghana in 1957.

Since then, the two countries have continued to enjoy close and cordial relations as development partners and collaborated in various sectors, including education, energy, health, and trade.

Mrs Hayford said the signing of the protocol would further strengthen the bond of friendship between the two nations through collaboration in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI).

“This ceremony charts a new path between our two countries in scientific cooperation, especially in various frontier technologies and breakthrough innovations. I am therefore happy that we set out, as soon as possible within the framework of this protocol to engage, design and agree on specific implementable activities within this half year,” she said.

She assured the partners of the Ministry’s commitment to immediately implement the protocol to ensure the country derived its full benefits.

Prof Mandal noted that Ghana and Türkiye had, over the years, had a good trade relationship, indicating that Ghana was the second largest trading partner of Türkiye in Africa.

However, he explained that the types of traded items had been under the light, noting that the signing of the agreement was taking the friendship a step towards a more science and technology-oriented partnership.

“We have already been collaborating with the CSIR and this agreement will take a step forward in the same respect,” he stressed.

He expressed commitment to ensure full implementation of the agreement for the mutual benefit of the two countries.

“We will now look at the action and implementation. I think this is the most difficult part, more important part because signing the document is showing our interest, in sorting our commitment but the action becomes more important for our societies and our ecosystems,” he indicated.

Prof Mandal said Türkiye had been working with European countries on environment and climate change, as well as changing the ecosystem, indicating, that it provided enough platform to learn from each other.

Present at the signing ceremony was Mr Huseyin Gungor, Turkiye Ambassdor to Ghana and Reverend Dr Patrick Nomo, Chief Director, MESTI.

Ghana’s FDI amounted to $123m in Q1 of 2024- Yofi Grant

Ghana recorded $123.06 million in foreign direct investment in the first quarter of this year, according to data from the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC).

This represents a 16% increase compared to the $106.02 million recorded for the same period in 2023.

According to GIPC’s quarterly report, “in the first quarter of 2024, thirty-two (32) projects were registered by GIPC with a total estimated investment cost of $128.13 million. This comprised [Foreign Direct Investment] FDI component of $123.06 million and local component of $5.07 million.”

“Total initial transfers amounted to US$9.67 million. Of the 32 projects registered, 24 were wholly foreign-owned, representing 75% of the number of projects with a total estimated investment cost amount of $123.34 million. The Joint Venture projects between Ghanaians and their foreign counterparts were 8, representing 25% of the number of projects and with a total estimated investment cost amount of $4.78 million,” it added.

Of the 32 projects registered, 24 were wholly foreign-owned, representing 75% of the total projects. The joint venture projects between Ghanaians and their foreign counterparts numbered 8, representing 25% of the projects, with a total estimated investment cost of $4.78 million.

In the sector breakdown, the manufacturing sector recorded the highest number of projects with 12. This was followed by the services sector with nine projects, general trading with 4 projects, export trade, and building and construction with 2 projects each.

The tourism, liaison, and agriculture sectors each recorded one project. By FDI value, the liaison sector recorded the highest with US$76.30 million, followed by the manufacturing sector with $31.69 million.

A total of 3,602 jobs are expected to be generated from the 32 projects registered in the first quarter of 2024, with operations at full capacity. Of these, 3,379 jobs, representing 93.8% of the total, will be for Ghanaians, and the remaining 223 jobs, representing 6.2%, will be for non-Ghanaians.

The data recorded China as the leading source of investments by the number of projects, with 8 projects registered. Spain recorded the highest FDI value, amounting to $76.41 million in the first quarter of 2024.

Additionally, eight wholly Ghanaian-owned projects with a total project value of $13.49 million were registered during the first quarter of 2024. These projects were in the building and construction, general trade, manufacturing, and services sectors.

 

Okyenhene calls on religious leaders to champion environmental stewardship in Ghana

Okyenhene Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, the king of Akyem Abuakwa, has urged religious leaders to take a more prominent role in safeguarding the environment. He emphasized the critical need for proactive measures to address environmental degradation’s detrimental effects on both the global economy and human survival. Okyenhene made this call during a public lecture titled “Transformational Leadership in Contemporary Ghana,” organized by the University of Ghana’s Graduate Students Association. He emphasized the need for religious leaders to leverage their influence to inspire and mobilize communities towards sustainable practices. He urged them to motivate their followers to uphold their religious tenets in conserving the environment. The Okyenhene cited Christian, Muslim and even Ghanaian traditional beliefs which emphasised on environmental respect. The Okyenhene questioned whether Ghanaians are genuinely adhering to their religious and traditional principles regarding environmental stewardship. He pointed to the alarming evidence of environmental degradation, urging Ghanaians to do more to protect the Earth. The Okyenhene addressed the environmental devastation caused by illegal mining, also known as “galamsey, and his efforts to combat it, including advocating for a collective approach, removing chiefs involved in the practice, and supporting government initiatives. He additionally expressed concerns regarding the effectiveness of Ghana’s decentralization systems,particularly whether current local governance structures effectively promote development at the grassroots level. The Okyenhene pointed out discrepancies between the mandated functions of District Chief Executives (DCEs) outlined in Ghana’s constitution and their roles in practice. He argued that the current system overshadows the contributions of assembly members who share responsibility for executive and administrative functions.

$360m third tranche of IMF cash hits BoG’s account

Government has received US$360 million as the third tranche of Ghana’s bailout package with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The cash meant for budget support and stabilization of the local currency, was officially credited to the Central Bank’s account on Tuesday July 2, 2024.

It follows the Executive Board’s approval of the second review last Friday, June 28, 2024.

This means, Ghana has received a total of US$ 1.56 billion out of the $3 billion approved under the three-year extended credit facility.

Reports say the money will be used to support activities in the 2024 budget.

The fourth tranche of another US$360 million is expected in quarter four of 2024 after the IMF Executive Board approves the third review.

The World Bank funds of US$300 million is expected in quarter three of 2024; and disbursements from bilateral institutions/financial institutions including the World Bank GARID Project of US$ 150 million and EBID facility of US$ 200 million for SME support, and anticipated proceeds from 2024/2025 COCOBOD syndication of up to US$1.5 billion are expected in quarter four of 2024.

AG accuses Jakpa, Big Sea of making 50% profit

Attorney General Godfred Yeboah Dame has accused the third accused person in the ongoing ambulance trial, Richard Jakpa, and Big Sea, producers of the ambulances, of making a 50% profit from the 2.37 million Euro ambulance deal.

According to Godfred Dame, this is to account for the failure of the suppliers of the ambulances to deliver under the terms of the contract.

The Attorney General made this assertion while cross-examining Richard Jakpa. Godfred Dame stated that Richard Jakpa was paid 28% of the contract sum, and then questioned Richard Jakpa about how much Big Sea made from the contract.

Richard Jakpa answered that he was not aware of that information as he did not act as CEO or staff of Big Sea.

The Attorney General then suggested to Richard Jakpa that his firm and Big Sea failed to meet the terms of the contract because of the 50% profit that went to them.

Richard Jakpa, however, answered that this cannot be true as the contract went through all appropriate approvals, including cabinet, parliamentary, and PPA approval.

According to him, all statutory bodies involved in the transaction satisfied themselves that the state was getting value for money from the contract.

Source: citinewsroom.com

KNUST developing AI platform to support victims of domestic violence in Ghana

Data scientists at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) are developing an Artificial Intelligence (AI) application platform to augment the existing support systems available for victims of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and Gender-based Violence (GBV).

This IPV application, when completed and approved by the relevant ministries, will help reduce the human interface of victims and give way for such people to confidently express themselves and access support.

It is the work of the Responsible Artificial Intelligence Lab (RAIL), a maker space to develop talent in data science and machine learning at the KNUST.

Dr Rita Udor, Gender Inclusivity Officer at RAIL, speaking at a stakeholders’ engagement to solicit further ideas, inputs and feedback in Kumasi, said there was already a system, which was called the ‘Boame App’, but was not functioning properly.

The stakeholders’ engagement on the IPV project was, therefore, specifically to get information from different stakeholders, beneficiaries, and service providers on exactly how it should function, and the features expected of the application to exhibit.

She said already, the project team had gathered information from the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service, Departments of Children, Gender, NGOs, and focus group discussions with some community members.

Dr Udor said through these engagements, communities were exposed to how AI functioned and how they could benefit from it.

Gender-based violence, she noted, was very prominent in Ghana but the services provided on these topics were very limited, saying with the use of AI, Ghana would be able to enhance the services provided for victims.

Source: GNA

Dr. Kokofu urges support for Bawumia / NAPO ticket

Former MP for Bantama and former CEO of Environmental Protection Agency, Dr. Henry Kwabena Kokofu, has called on the members of the NPP and the general public to give their unflinching support to the Bawumia/NAPO ticket, going into Elections 2024.

Recent surveys conducted by Research Trust Ltd and Danquah Institute in May placed Dr. Kokofu as the fourth most preferred vice-presidential  candidate if the NPP. He surprisingly moved to become the second most preferred candidate in  similar surveys in June 2024,  with increasing grassroots support.

In a press statement released yesterday, he indicated that he had reached out to Dr. Matthew Opoku-Prempeh, and congratulated him on his nomination by the Flagbearer and the Leader of the NPP. He has further pledged his unalloyed support for the team to ensure that the party breaks – the – 8.

“I have already congratulated Hon. Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh (NAPO) on his nomination and have pledged my unflinching support. We shall together prosecute the Breaking-The-8 Agenda,” the statement said.

He called on the rank and file of the party to come on board, and to prosecute the 2024 agenda of winning the elections.

“Let us all rally behind the Flagbearer and the Running Mate in unity. Reconciling and energising the rank and file remains the only sure bet to clinch victory in the general elections come 2024. Once again, IT IS POSSIBLE!!!,” the statement added.

Napo, Wontumi smoke peace pipes

Vice-President and NPP Flagbearer, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has settled the difference between the Ashanti Regional chairman of the NPP, Bernard Antwi Boasiako (Wontumi), and the NPP lawmaker  for the Manhyia South constituency and Minister of Energy, Matthew Opoku Prempeh (Napo).

Peaceful negotiations

As part of broad consultations being undertaken by the NPP leader and presidential candidate, before naming his running mate, he met with Wontumi and Nana Nkansah Boadu, on Friday, 28 June 2024.

Chairman Wontumi, after the Friday meeting, traveled to France on the same day, and returned on Sunday 30 June 2024. Dr Bawumia subsequently met with Wontumi,  Napo, Nana Nkansah Boadu, and other leading members of the party at his official residence on Sunday,  30 June 2024, to iron out the differences, and to seek a unified front ahead of the 2024 presidential and parliamentary elections

The two leading members of the NPP in the Ashanti Region had had relationship challenges over several issues in the NPP, and Wontumi was believed to have opposed the proposed nomination of Matthew Opoku Prempeh as the running mate of Dr Mahamudu Bawumia for the December 7, 2024 general elections as a result of the issues he had with Napo.

Wontumi had consistently accused Napo of making him spend a lot on his bid for re-election as the NPP Ashanti Regional chairman by sponsoring Odeneho who gave Wontumi a run for his money during the internal party primaries in 2022.

Wontumi and his supporters had felt that the issues he had with the Manhyia Palace recently were engineered by Napo and his constituency chairman, who is popularly known as Tom Tom.

Several attempts had been made by leading party members  such as Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, former Majority Leader, and Alexander Afenyo-Markin, MP for Effutu constituency and current Majority Leader, to resolve these matters, but to no avail.

The ‘defiant’ African president vs the ‘angry’ protester

Kenya nearly hit the roof. It was intriguing that when the nation has a serious food security issue that has to be addressed by a ‘Kenya First’ Parliament, the nation should be divided, with Parliament, which ought to be the voice of the people, regardless of Counties or Constituencies, almost sitting aloof till the alarm bells sounded. According to an earlier BBC report, President William Ruto, in clamping down on unrest, decided to go to the streets in response to street action by street people with Parliament acting ‘street’. Ruto ordered a crackdown on anti-Finance Bill protesters, terming the protests “treasonous.” In his warped and wart opinion, that was the opposition and criminal elements in action. Addressing a press briefing at State House, Nairobi over the incident, the Kenyan President said “dangerous people” were behind the demonstrations that saw Parliament breached by protesters. He said he would unleash security agencies on “planners and financiers” of the demos, who he accused of planning to destabilise the nation, saying they would not go “scot-free”. “It is unfortunate that this (Finance Bill) conversation has been hijacked by dangerous people who have caused us the kind of loss witnessed today,” said Ruto, pointing out the storming of Parliament as “a desecration of Kenya’s emblems and institutions”. Where are Parliament and Caucuses? The BBC report did not state that the Minority or Majority had engaged and that it yielded or didn’t yield any consensus in finding a cure for raising the revenue levels that would be helping manage inflation and make Kenya credible in the eyes of the International Monetary Fund or, for that matter, the global trade and development community. But we must appreciate that once the Bill was before Parliament, yet to be passed, some modicum of tolerance was needed by the angry crowd. Crowds believe in street action. Particularly when they are pushed by an opposition, overtly or covertly, that action can be explosive in our part of Black Africa – from the South of Sudan to the South of Africa and through the West African sub-region into the Congo and eastwards to Kenya and Somalia. Ruto’ s remarks about using state force instead of diplomacy and consensus with the Minority, came an hour after Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale said he had deployed the Kenya Defence Forces to help the National Police Service counter anti-tax protesters, calling the nationwide protests a “security emergency”. Ruto said the protests were an affront to constitutionalism and the rule of law calling the protesters criminals. In his putdown words and reading of the Kenya Riot Act, he said “The government will therefore uphold its constitutional mandate to secure our nation and its development and shall treat every threat to national security and the integrity of our state as an existential danger to our republic. Accordingly, I assure Kenyans that we shall provide a full, effective and expeditious response to today’s treasonous actions,” said the president, who added he was willing to dialogue with the youth over their issues, promising to include them in the development of its policies. He congratulated the police for their conduct during the protests, saying they acted “to the best of their ability”. He ignored concerns about brutality meted on initially peaceful protesters, which degenerated into indiscriminate shooting of demonstrators outside Parliament. Crying wolf Similarly, he avoided the subject of abductions of pro-demonstration Kenyans, which has earned criticism from rights groups. For a better part of last evening, there were fears of State reprisal, amid reports that KDF officers had been dispatched to the Nairobi Central Business District. There were concerns of media and internet shutdowns. Many Kenyans reported low internet speeds, with network providers saying the situation was caused by damage to two underwater fibre optic cables. ‘Criminal protests’ On a few occasions in Ghana, we have had demonstrations in which the state had employed excesses in deploying state security personnel. Even the colonialist did that in protecting itself from unarmed and defenceless Second World War veterans. So, we may appreciate the pressure on tottering post-colonial administrations with leaders whose hands and feet are clay to make mistakes. Jerry Rawlings did it on Kume Preko; John Mahama did it on NPP protestors over SADA, SUBAH, RLG, Bus Branding and koomini. Since then, it had been better, even under Asiedu Nketia captainship, with the police in Ghana more tolerant, though party boys carry pistols on them during demonstration and defy police over agreed routes, aside of disrupting economic activities and abusing the rights of economic actors in CBDs and along streets and lorry parks in fighting for their rights. In one incident, the police didn’t even fight back when a female police officer was pelted with stones. The mischief chiefs in the media have not bothered to check the condition of that female police officer, and whether some compensation has been paid her by the Ghana Police Service or the Government. The good thing about Ghana is that loony demo boys, while they may act macho, know when the police are angry and breaking heads and eyes. Even in the crazy North in Bawku, the crazy Bawku Boys sobered when the security agencies they sought to bully returned with fire, with the Tema Boys also sobering when they dared tread on dangerous grounds. I don’t know when Ghana turned into Palestine and stones became Shepherd Boy David’s weapons of war for us here. I have always told my kids not to fight policemen and women or soldiers because their authorities will stand behind them while your NHIS Card will not replace your eyes or missing teeth. In the days when The Chronicle was The Chronicle, and Kabral’s Independent was The Independent and Chris and Egbert Faibille Jnr managed The Ghanaian Observer, a follow story on the injured police woman would have been effected by reporters. I don’t know how the Editors groom the kids in the newsrooms or how the Journalism lecturers are training the kids in the lecture halls. They come into the newsrooms, and cannot write the. Yet, they come with First Class and Second Class Honours grading, though most of them I have encountered cannot do simple stories…Another story for another day, anyway. Managing crisis Kenya, like Ghana, is under an IMF Programme. They have a leaky purse and they must show they can manage their budgets by raising enough revenue to plug the holes and fall in step with global development agendas in education, health, weight of currency, trade surpluses, infrastructural development and formalisation levels. That’s basic civilisation and good marks of good governance. That is why we have an Executive and we have a Parliament that works hand in hand in applies constitutional processes to arrive at reasonable plans to address issues. Yes, the streets may fill because the laws allow them, but also we must ensure that the streets filling up will not prevent Parliament from doing its constitutional duties or Majority and Minority engaging for the benefit of larger Ghana and immediate and future good of the country. Errant MPs, Executive Agents Far too often, the Rutos of this world, together with the wings-flapping, tumbling, inflated MPs ignore this fact and join the street actors to do what their kids and cousins would not do. When we had a problem with the E-Levy, consensus resolved it. When we had issues with LBGTQ+, we sustained and continue to sustain the conversation while the LBGTQ+ disciples continued to plaster their anuses and injure their anatomy. Five months into the elections, we will be having issues and conversations. That makes us human beings with abilities to find answers to challenges. The UK, Denmark, Finland and Greenland, where Ghanaians run for economic refuge were built by leaders who elected to resolve critical national issues about job creation, welfare programmes for the citizenry, health and education and business generation to make their economies resilient. More importantly, unlike us, they long ago held that it takes taxes to run a country. Thankfully, Ruto has eaten humble pie and gotten back to engage. That is a lesson we here in Ghana need to consider. So, Ruto may be right in striving to rush through his programme for making Kenya look responsible as an emerging economy. But that should earlier have been done, with a Parliament that is united and committed to transforming their economy. Incumbent or opposition, unless we black Africans became tax complaint, we are finished. We would be eternally beggars and consumed in eating our blessings because we loathe giving to the state for national development purposes. As for those eat from the Consolidated Fund, I do not understand why some of them join the chorus when the Fund must be full to enable them even take double salaries without the Executives holding them accountable. But does that mean we should waste our resources through corruption and systemic graft? That is the responsibility of the Executive and Parliament to work at. But that is also the responsibility of institutions of accountability to deal with – unless they themselves are complicit and mired. By Abena Baawuah

Trade Minister to lay LI on cement price regulation after manufacturers boycott

Trade and Industry Minister Kobina Tahir Hammond is expected to lay before Parliament the legislative instrument (LI) seeking to regulate the prices of cement after representatives of cement manufacturers boycotted a stakeholder meeting on Monday.

Concerns have been raised about the rising cement prices, with a bag selling for an average of GH¢105. To halt the rise, the government initiated processes to regulate the cost by introducing a legislative instrument.

A meeting was scheduled between the Trade and Industry Minister and major players in the cement industry to discuss the LI but the latter boycotted it.

Representatives from major cement manufacturers, including GHACEM, Dangote, CBI, Cimaf, and Diamond Cement, boycotted the stakeholder meeting triggered by the unexpected presence of the media at the Ministry’s premises.

The representatives stated that the meeting was intended to be a closed-door session and expressed their surprise and dissatisfaction with the minister’s decision to invite the media without prior notice, leading them to walk out of the engagement.

Despite the boycott, KT Hammond insisted on including the media in the meeting. He proceeded to address the journalists, emphasising his commitment to protecting the interests of the state.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has described the LI as an indication of the wickedness of the Akufo-Addo-led government towards Ghanaians.

Consumer Protection Organisation, Cuts International also criticised the LI and urged Parliament to reject it when it is laid.

Source: citinewsroom.com

Cement manufacturers boycott meeting with KT Hammond over price regulation

Some five Cement manufacturers on Monday, July 1, boycotted a scheduled meeting with the Minister of Trade and Industry, K.T. Hammond over discussions on a proposed Legislative Instrument (LI) to regulate cement prices.

Dangote, Supacem, Ghacem, Diamond Cement, and CIMAF were the manufacturers purported to have declined to attend the meeting, citing the need for closed-door meetings.

This comes at a time when manufacturers have strongly opposed the LI’s efforts to regulate cement prices.

However, at a press conference, the Minister of Trade and Industry, K.T. Hammond, said he remains unfazed about laying the LI on Tuesday, July 2, in parliament.

“This was not supposed to be a press conference. It was supposed to be a meeting with the cement manufacturers. You will recall that in the last few days, I didn’t quite lay a document, but I have given an indication of my intention to lay an LI, which will relate to the pricing of cement in the country.

“I am not sure, but I suspect that in my absence, the majority leader may have sent it out. I haven’t been able to ascertain what exactly happened, but somehow it has gone all over the country that we are trying to lay an LI…I am going to do it; we didn’t do it on this occasion.

“The story out there is that the NDC prevented us; that is not true…I just gave a copy to my leader, the majority leader, concerning what I had in mind. But since that time, there have been so many complaints that I hadn’t consulted with the stakeholders before trying to lay the LI as they claim. I have refuted that on the various platforms.

“Consultation with these players has continuously been taking place. On a specific occasion, when I inaugurated a committee that was going to be responsible for this price regulation, I charged the manufacturers and their respective associations to be mindful of pricing cement in the country. We’ve asked them to publish the expatriate prices for us to have an idea into how much they are going to sell a bag of cement,” he stated.

Ex-gratia hasn’t served its purpose, let’s scrap it – Speaker

Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has reiterated his stance on ex-gratia payments to Article 71 officeholders, insisting it no longer serves its intended purpose.

According to him, the original intention behind ex-gratia payments for certain public servants and political officeholders was to combat corruption, but this is no longer the case in the current dispensation.

Speaking at a public forum in Kumasi to mark the 30th anniversary of the Fourth Republican Parliament, Alban Bagbin emphasised that the payments were initially to assure public servants and political officeholders that their needs would be taken care of after leaving office, encouraging them to prioritise the people’s interests over personal gain.

However, he acknowledged that in practice, this has not been the case, and the payments have not effectively curbed corruption.

The Speaker expressed his support for amending Article 71 of the Constitution to abolish ex-gratia payments, which he believes have become unnecessary.

“The issue of ex gratia is a very thorny issue. The founders envisaged a situation where they wanted some particular category of public servants, including political officeholders. The ex gratia is not for members of parliament and it’s not even ex gratia, it’s gratuity.

There’s a difference between ex gratia and gratuity and it’s not for members of parliament alone. It cuts through a category of public servants and political office holders, including auditor general, including the chairpersons of all the constitutional commissions, including ministers of state, the presidency, judiciary, and all others, it’s not just members of parliament.”

“But the concept was to assure them, because of the importance of the position they occupy, and the decisions they take on your behalf, the concept was to assure them, don’t think about yourself, think about the people you represent because, after your office, we will take care of you. So it was to assist us to contain corruption. And I’m happy that a number of industrial chiefs from this region were members of the consultative assembly.”

“Unfortunately, in practice, it has not served its purpose. It has not been able to assist us to curb or contain corruption. And so when I made an attempt to contest as a presidential candidate, I did announce that if elected as president, I was going to ensure that that article is amended from the constitution. So I agree totally with anybody who comes to say that we should do away with Article 71 of the Constitution. It hasn’t served its purpose, there’s no use maintaining it.”

Francis Poku cautions against politicization of military operations

Former National Security Minister Francis Poku has cautioned Ghanaians against politicizing military operations, emphasizing that such actions can have detrimental consequences for the citizens.

During the Republic Day Lecture on Monday, July 1, Francis Poku emphasized the importance of non-partisan support for security operations, urging the public to avoid politicizing military duties for the greater good of the nation.

He stressed the need for intelligence-driven deployments, particularly during critical events like elections, to ensure the safety and security of all citizens.

Francis Poku highlighted the crucial role of the Joint Intelligence Committee in informing strategic deployments and maintaining national stability.

He also advised security agencies to conduct regular, continuous assessments and reviews of their operations and strategies, ensuring they remain effective, proactive, and adaptable to evolving threats and challenges.

“It must be an honest assessment, let’s us assess, let us communicate, because if we’re going to have elections, decisions are taken, as it is to the deployment, they must originate from the joint intelligence committee, deciding who should go where. And please distinguish ladies and gentlemen, let us not politicize operations.”

Mr Poku further suggested that there must be a good security foundation for operations.

“I advise that there must be communication, this is the reason why they are deploying, there must be a good security foundation for the operation, but the military, must be accountable, first of all conferring with the commander in chief and also the origin of the operations, is it for joint intelligence committee or what it is? But again, respect for the rule of law, human rights, and accountability.”

He emphasized that continuous security assessments by the agencies will enable them to anticipate and prepare for all possible scenarios, identifying the necessary resources and equipment required for effective operations.

Moreover, he stressed that Ghana cannot achieve long-term development and planning without a stable security environment, highlighting the crucial link between security and national progress.

“Contingency plan is not for today, it helps for the unknown time when you are doing security assessment, and when you’re doing security assessment, you know all the possibilities, all the scenarios, we don’t have adequate contingency plan. We have the drones, we have rebels going into the forest and other things, are we ready? So, a proper assessment, but if there’s no stability, you cannot look into the long term.

“So, there must be proper stability, proper stability must be founded on your preparations for the future. The military must justify strategy and operational decisions to the President. If there’s a problem at Ashaiman, you have to do a consultation. I know it can be provocative.”

He commended the military for their professionalism and restraint in the face of the heinous killing of Major Maxwell Mahama, which was a testament to their discipline and commitment to upholding the rule of law, even in the most challenging circumstances.

“When I heard of Major Mahama’s case, I asked myself how did the people survive. Because I know the normal reaction of the military.

‘So, I was very thankful for the military, who was able to go and contain it, because it could easily have spilt over and I have always had respect for the military, but on that day, I was shocked, it shows the professionalism that has come back. Because the military that I know the reaction that we would have received.

“So, the positive must be looked upon, we’re moving forward, but we should never forget the foundation, the values, and our preamble to the constitution.”

Source: citinewsroom.com

 

Inflation drops to 23.1% as fiscal and monetary policies take effect

Ghana’s economy is showing promising signs of recovery, as evidenced by a significant decline in inflation, which has dropped to 23.1% in May 2024 from 25.0% in April 2024.
This decline marks a notable decrease from the peak of 54.1% recorded in December 2022.
Minister for Finance Mohammed Amin Adam highlighted this achievement at a joint press conference held on Monday, July 1, 2024 the Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Ghana (BoG), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Minister Adam attributed this positive trend to a series of effective fiscal and monetary policies implemented over the past year.
“The disinflation process we are witnessing is a direct result of our ongoing fiscal consolidation efforts, the appropriate tightening of monetary policy by the BoG, and the relative stability in the exchange rate,” he stated.
The Minister emphasized the government’s commitment to maintaining macroeconomic stability, which has been crucial in achieving these results. “Despite the challenging global environment, the strong leadership provided by His Excellency, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and the support and input of the people of Ghana have undoubtedly contributed to the successes we are seeing today,” Adam remarked.
Further details revealed that the government’s multi-faceted approach includes several key measures aimed at stabilizing the economy. These measures encompass a tight monetary policy by the BoG, deepening the fiscal consolidation program, intensifying the gold-for-oil and gold-for-reserves programs, and securing anticipated Forex inflows from multilateral, bilateral, and private sector financial institutions.
“We are expecting significant financial inflows, including the IMF’s 3rd Tranche of US$360 million to be disbursed to Ghana by close of business today, following the IMF Executive Board’s approval of the 2nd Review last Friday,” the Minister announced. Additional inflows are anticipated from the World Bank and other bilateral institutions.
Minister Adam also noted the broader economic recovery, highlighting that the overall real GDP growth for the first quarter of 2024 reached 4.7%, the highest since the first quarter of 2022. This growth is substantially better than the 3.1% recorded in the same period in 2023, with industry, agriculture, and services sectors all showing robust performances.
He expressed confidence in the continued positive trajectory of Ghana’s economy noting that in the near term, the country will even see greater results as it ramps up the implementation IMF supported programme.

Gov’t secures $2.8 Billion relief from bilateral creditors

Government has successfully negotiated debt relief totaling $2.8 billion from bilateral creditors, marking a significant milestone in Ghana’s efforts to achieve fiscal sustainability and economic recovery.
Finance Minister Mohammed Amin Adam announced the breakthrough at a press conference on July 1, 2024, emphasizing the importance of the agreement under the G20 Common Framework for Debt Treatments.
The negotiations, initiated following Ghana’s debt standstill announcement in December 2022, aimed at restructuring official bilateral loans totaling $5.1 billion with the Minister highlighting the extensive collaborative efforts that led to this favorable outcome, emphasizing the importance of international cooperation in navigating global economic challenges.
Minister Adam stated, “We have reached a pivotal agreement with our official bilateral creditors, resulting in substantial debt service relief amounting to $2.8 billion between 2023 and 2026. This agreement underscores our commitment to prudent fiscal management and sustainable economic growth.”
The agreement includes a revised payment schedule and reduced interest rates, providing Ghana with breathing room to focus on strategic investments in infrastructure, social programs, and economic diversification. Minister Adam underscored the positive impact of the debt relief on Ghana’s macroeconomic stability and long-term debt sustainability.
With reduced debt service obligations, Ghana is better positioned to accelerate its economic recovery, strengthen resilience against external shocks, and foster inclusive growth. The successful restructuring of official bilateral loans is a testament to Ghana’s proactive approach to addressing debt sustainability and fostering a conducive environment for sustainable development.
This agreement with bilateral creditors represents a critical milestone in Ghana’s journey towards economic stability, bolstering confidence in its ability to navigate global economic challenges and achieve sustainable development goals. Minister Adam expressed gratitude to bilateral creditors, international financial institutions, and stakeholders for their support throughout the negotiation process.

IMF lauds Ghana’s economic progress as reason for third tranche disbursement

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has commended Ghana for its stellar economic performance amidst global challenges.
During a joint press conference held on July 1, 2024, IMF Mission Chief for Ghana, Stephane Roudette, praised the country’s significant strides under the IMF-supported Post Covid-19 Programme for Economic Growth (PC-PEG).
“Ghana’s performance under the PC-PEG has been commendable,” Roudette stated. “The country has surpassed expectations with a strong GDP growth of 4.7% in the first quarter of 2024, demonstrating resilience and effective implementation of fiscal policies.”
He said Ghana’s performance under the programme has been generally strong with all quantitative performance criteria for the second review and all indicative targets met, except one stating that Significant progress is being made on key structural reforms, including enhancing revenue mobilization and streamlining non-priority expenditures which when realized will further solidify the economy.
The IMF last Friday approved the disbursement of the third tranche of $360 million. The new tranche will take total IMF disbursements under the three-year bailout programme designed to help Ghana out of its economic challenges to about US$1.6 billion.
The decision comes after the country finalised a deal with its Official Creditor Committee, a step that had been a pre-requisite to unlock the third tranche.
Finance Minister, Mohammed Amin Adam in his address highlighted the robust measures that accounted for this progress. He said these robust measures are behind the rejuvenated economy that we’ve witnessed in recent times.
“Growth is proving to be more resilient and robust than initially programmed and the economy continues to show strong signs of recovery in Q1 of 2024. Overall Real GDP growth for Q1 2024 was 4.7%, the highest since Q1 of 2022.
This growth performance is better than the 3.1% growth recorded in the same period in 2023. Industry grew the most at 6.8%, followed by Agriculture at 4.1% and Services at 3.3%. The 2024 Q1 GDP growth rate for industry is the highest since Q4 of 2020,” he said.
Minister Amin Adam also noted the progress in managing inflation and stabilizing the exchange rate. “Headline inflation declined to 23.1% in May 2024 from 25.0% in April 2024, after peaking at 54.1% in December 2022. The Cedi has also stabilized, with year-to-date depreciation against the US dollar at 18.4%, compared to 22.0% in the same period in 2023.”
Significant achievements in debt restructuring were also underscored. He said the country reached an agreement with the Official Creditor Committee (OCC) to restructure $5.1 billion of Ghana’s official bilateral loans, resulting in debt service relief of $2.8 billion between 2023 and 2026. Additionally, government has negotiated with Eurobond holders to restructure $13.1 billion, which will lead to the cancellation of $4.7 billion in debt and provide debt service relief of $4.4 billion from 2023 to 2026.
This, the Minister maintained that government is committed to maintaining fiscal discipline and continuing structural reforms to ensure sustained economic recovery and growth.
“We are committed to sustaining our macroeconomic policy adjustment and reforms to fully restore macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability, while fostering a sustainable increase in economic growth and poverty reduction,” he concluded.

NPRA directs SSNIT to suspend Hotel sale negotiations with Rock City

The National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) has directed the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to suspend its ongoing negotiations with Rock City over the sale of four hotels.

SSNIT is currently engaging Rock City Limited as the Strategic Investor in the sale of its four hotels namely Labadi Beach Hotel, La Palm Royal Beach Hotel, Elmina Beach Resort and Ridge Royal Hotel.

The NPRA in a letter to SSNIT on Friday, June 28 indicated that “As you may be aware, section 67 (2) of the [National Pensions] Act requires us to issue relevant guidelines to guide your investment decisions.”

“In furtherance of this requirement, you are hereby directed by the Board of the Authority to suspend all the processes seeking to engage Rock City Hotel as the Strategic Investor in a matter of the sale of the above hotels.”

The NPRA added that it was engaging the Minister for Pensions and relevant stakeholders on the subject matter.

“Further directives shall be issued to you on the subject matter as soon as we conclude our engagements and the evaluation of the relevant facts associated with the subject matter,” it added.

Hajia4Reall sentenced, key details

Mona Faiz Montrage, alias Hajia4Reall has been sentenced to a one year and a day jail term by an American court in a romance fraud case that started in 2023 with her extradition from the United Kingdom.

Her lawyers had earlier argued for three months jail term citing her little daughter and the fact that she did not have previous criminal record.

The prosecution argued that a lengthier term will serve as deterrent for others involved in similar schemes.

Below are some key details that gleaned from the sentencing released by Inner City Press

Judge: The guideline is 37 to 46 months.

Assistant US Attorney (AUSA): The victims were vulnerable senior citizens. Some were promised marriage; they sent and lost money. Middlemen received 10%. AUSA: Defendant participated in this scheme fir six years. 32 victims lost $1.4 million. Meanwhile Ms. Montrage reinvented herself in Ghana.

Judge: She blames an abusive former boyfriend.

AUSA: He was arrested and deported. She continued. One victim confronted her…

Judge: She will be deported.

Defense lawyer: 3 months incarceration would be enough. She didn’t know the money going into her account was from romance fraud.

Judge: She created multiple bank accounts.

Defense: She’s never before disclosed her abuse by her ex boyfriend.

Montrage: I want to pay them back. I feel shame as a mother of an 8 year-old daughter. [Sobs] Please have mercy on me.

AUSA: She started opening these accounts at different banks at an earlier time. Many in Ghana are following this case. General deterrence is needed

Defense: Victim-1 tracked her from her instagram photos – her video had a voice dubbed over, Victim-1 was catfished

Judge: I sentence Ms Montrage to one year and one day in prison, the extra day to allow “good time.”

Defense: We propose she be allowed to fly back to Ghana as soon as she is released, with no ICE detention

AUSA: We consent

Hajia4Reall was charged and extradited from the United Kingdom where she was arrested to the USA for her role in a romance scheme.

Reports say the socialite, who had been talking about her rise through entrepreneurship, was involved in a romance scam to the tune of $2 million.

She is said to have spoken to one of her victims several times and received wire transfers to the tune of $89,000 to help fund her father’s farm.

The socialite was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of money laundering conspiracy and one count of money laundering, she was also charged with one count of receipt of stolen money.

IGP leaked tape: Committee cites COP Mensah, 2 others for professional misconduct

The Parliamentary Committee that investigated the leaked tape involving a plot by senior police officers to remove the Inspector-General of Police has recommended sanctions for the three officers involved.

Chaired by Abuakwa South lawmaker Samuel Atta Akyea, the Committee found that officers COP Alex George Mensah, Supt. George Lysander Asare, and Supt. Emmanuel Eric Gyedi had misconducted themselves, which constitutes a major offence under Police regulations.

The Committee recommended that these officers be sanctioned according to the Police disciplinary procedure.

It has requested that the House communicate its findings to the President, in line with Section 19 of the Police Service Act, 1970 (Act 350), to ensure appropriate sanctions are imposed.

“The House should communicate its findings to the President pursuant to Section 19 of the Police Service Act, 1970 (Act 350) which vests disciplinary powers in the President, to determine the appropriate sanctions for COP George Alex Mensah, Supt George Lysander Asare and Supt Eric Emmanuel Gyebi who have misconducted themselves professionally by breaching among others the following:  Section 17(d) of the Police Service Act, 1970 (Act 350) which states that:

“It shall be misconduct for a police officer to engage in any activity outside his official duties which is likely to involve him in political controversy or to lead to his taking improper advantage of his position in the Police Service.

“Regulation 82(1) (c) of the Police Service Regulations, 2012 (C.I 76) which states that: “It is a major offence for an officer to engage in an activity outside official duties which is likely to “Involve the officer in political controversy or lead to the officer taking improper advantage of that officer’s position in the service,” the report said.

The three officers were heard on the leaked tape plotting the removal of the Inspector-General of Police alongside the former Northern regional chairman of the New Patriotic Party, Daniel Bugri Naabu.

Source: myjoyonline.com

Cyberbullying alert: CSA warns against unauthorized digital lending Apps

The Cyber Security Authority (CSA) has raised alarm over a surge in cyberbullying incidents linked to unregulated digital lending mobile applications in 2024. As of now, CSA has received 130 reports highlighting the risks associated with these apps.

Upon installation, users receive a credit (often less than GHS 200) into their mobile money wallets without requesting a loan. CSA emphasizes that these apps lack authorization from the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and fail to comply with the Data Protection Commission (DPC) regulations, posing significant risks to users.

In a recent statement, CSA advised the public against using these apps due to potential threats such as extortion tactics post-loan disbursement. Fraudsters coerce victims into repaying loans with exorbitant interest rates and resort to blackmail, including threats to share private photos or falsely label victims as criminals.

CSA has established a 24-hour Cybersecurity Incident Reporting Point of Contact (PoC) for victims of cybercrimes to seek assistance and guidance. They identified several unauthorized apps including Ahomka Loan, Antcredit, Beanloan, and others, all violating the Banks and Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions Act, 2016 (Act 930) and the Data Protection Act, 2012 (Act 843).

Victims, having granted these apps access to sensitive personal information during installation, are urged to remain vigilant. CSA warns that despite repayments, fraudsters may continue their schemes, causing prolonged distress to victims.

Coming out of the hotels

When it comes to what subjects I write on in my column, it is often as the spirit moves me, always with the understanding that I am not the type of person to write on Ian Smith and Rhodesia on the day that three former heads of state are executed in Ghana.

Sometimes I do choose to wait out the noise on some subjects and then get onto it when I can see a different path from what had been trodden bare.

Four Mondays ago, I sent this message to the Editor of the Graphic: “I’m unable to write a column this week. All my instincts are to write about the brouhaha that has started about SSNIT and the hotels.

Since I chair the SSNIT Board, I feel inhibited, not because I have nothing to say but because I am not clear in my mind about the rules and conventions on going public with Board matters.

But then, I also don’t really want to write about any other subject and give the impression I am running away from the subject that is dominating discussions. So, I am afraid I am not offering a column this week.”

I have now gone for three weeks without offering any script for the column, and I am thinking that my continuing silence might be interpreted as disrespect or guilt of whatever I am being accused of.

Plus, last Friday, I went to the launch of a book, written by one of my favourite people and I really want to write about the book, and I can hardly launch myself back into the column without addressing the subject matter that took me off in the first place. So, here goes.

When the Board I chair was inaugurated in August 2021, the Director-General I met often said that SSNIT was like the Black Stars in the sentiments of Ghanaians, all 34 million of us have a view on it and with SSNIT, he thought the widespread interest was legitimate because even if you don’t contribute to the scheme yourself, your uncle, or niece or friend does and their tomorrows are at stake. We both agreed that pension funds are sacred.

Front page

My constant refrain with my Board of Trustees is we should have at the back of our minds that every step we take and every decision we make, could end up on the front page of the Daily Graphic and we should be comfortable with the ensuing headline. I would then add my own personal credo that I had brought with me to the Board.

We met lots of outstanding matters that had been unresolved for years. I announced at every opportunity that I was not prepared to kick any problem down the road for the next set of people to resolve.

We would take decisions and try to resolve issues that come up. Maybe we would make some mistakes and if that is shown up, I would take responsibility, but I would not be paralysed into inaction by the fear of displeasing some people.

I did not imagine that my theories would be played out so graphically and tested in real time so soon. I am afraid I have not followed, as keenly as I should have, the discussions that have been going on since the Honourable Member for North Tongu started his campaign against what he has variously described as the SSNIT Board and management’s disregard for due process, abuse of power, corruption, lack of transparency, deception, procurement breaches etc. etc. etc.

From what I can work out, there are a number of issues that are being raised about the decision to divest a 60 per cent stake in the shares of the six hotels owned by SSNIT: an ideological resistance to the idea of divesting shares in the hotels to a strategic investor, especially since some of the hotels are said to be profitable; the process through which the preferred bidder, Rock City Limited, was chosen, was corrupt; the owner of Rock City, Bryan Acheampong, is a Minister of State and should therefore not be able to bid for a state asset.

There are other side issues that come up depending on who is talking and the person’s individual idiosyncrasies. I will not try to lay out the arguments here for the need to divest shares in the ownership of the hotels, I will simply say that I was persuaded by the decision that the SSNIT Board had taken back in 2018 and I determined to make it a reality.

I am able to say with the utmost certainty that the process that led to the selection of Rock City as the Preferred Bidder was clean, above board and met every rule and regulation and can withstand every scrutiny.

Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa claims to have God and Ghana on the side of his campaign, and I would hope all of God’s Angels and Ghana’s investigative agencies, temporal and spiritual, would examine the process and tell the world if they find any irregularity or trace of corrupt practice. Indeed, if they should find any evidence of corruption, I will assume and accept responsibility and expect to be prosecuted.

Political colouration

I accept that this being an election year, everything takes on a political colouration and Bryan Acheampong being the owner of Rock City is obviously the main reason the decibel level of the discussions has gone so high.

By all means, let us have a discussion about a company belonging to a Minister of State winning an open, competitive bid, no matter how fairly; but surely that is a different argument from whether SSNIT can, or is allowed to find private sector investment for its hotels and any of its other wholly or majority-owned investments.

Quite a number of things baffle me, but I will mention two: the suggestion that this was some secret thing being done that has been discovered and the sordid details are being exposed by a Member of Parliament and secondly, the suggestion that the President of the Republic, and by extension, the government took the decision and was in some way, in charge of the divestiture process of the shares in the hotels owned by SSNIT.

If you want to do something in secret, it would be very strange to announce your intentions with advertisements in the Daily Graphic, the Ghanaian Times and the Economist. And yet, that is exactly what SSNIT did when its Board of Trustees took the decision to seek a strategic investor to take a 60 per cent stake in the six hotels it owns.

The advertisements were followed by various public statements by SSNIT executives at various stages, once the process got going. Indeed, the last two times that SSNIT appeared before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, the subject of trying to find a strategic investor in the hotels came up and SSNIT was urged to hurry with the process and conclude what it was doing.

Strategic investor

So, one can safely say that some people in Parliament, at the very least, the members of the Public Accounts Committee were aware that SSNIT was seeking to divest 60 per cent of its stake in the hotels and the members did not sound like they thought it was such a terrible idea, nor that something untoward was going on.

Suddenly, Ghanaians are being urged to think and believe that getting a strategic investor to take a stake in the hotels amounts to a sordid crime. I am at a total loss to understand how the President and the government got into this.

Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa appears to know something I don’t. The Board of Trustees certainly did not go to get permission or even inform the President of the Republic or any Minister about the decision to seek a strategic investor to take a stake in the hotels.

The Board did not need such permission, was not obliged to inform the government and did not do so. I have seen no evidence in the records of past Boards going to the government or the President to get permission to make an investment decision.

The Board did not involve the President, nor the Minister, nor the government in the process. The Act that governs SSNIT makes no such provision and I had thought it was in everyone’s interest that the pension fund is kept away from government interference.

Obviously, a demonstration is more sexy when it ends at Jubilee House, but I assure the Honourable Member for North Tongu he was out by a long shot.

By Elizabeth Ohene

The more fertile you are, the sooner you may die — study

One of the puzzles of evolution is why we peter out into old age once we can no longer reproduce.

Now, scientists believe that aging may actually be a consequence of how we evolved to reproduce, and it’s all a result of natural selection over millions of years.

A study analyzing the genes of 276,406 UK Biobank participants found that people carrying gene variances promoting reproduction are less likely to survive to old age.

“We confirm a hypothesis called the antagonistic pleiotropy hypothesis, which says that mutations promoting reproduction are more likely to reduce life span,” said Jianzhi Zhang, of the University of Michigan in the US and senior author of the study in the journal Science.

According to the research, people carrying genetic variances promoting reproduction were more likely to die by the age of 76. The study also shows that genetic variances promoting reproduction increased over generations from 1940 to 1969, meaning humans are still evolving and strengthening the trait.

“This shows the evolutionary pattern of high reproduction and low survival [and vice versa] is still visible in modern humans. Our gene variants are the product of hundreds of thousands of years of evolution. What’s surprising is that despite our far better health than ever before, this pattern is still visible,” said Steven Austad, an expert in aging research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in the US, who wasn’t involved in the study.

Why aren’t humans more fertile in old age?

Scientists have been puzzling over the evolutionary origins of aging for some time. It’s unclear why, from an evolutionary perspective, our reproductive performance declines with age. Surely being more fertile in old age would be evolutionary advantageous, giving us more time to pass on our genes?

Not so, according to the antagonistic pleiotropy hypothesis. The hypothesis states that the benefits of fertility in early life are responsible for the dreadful cost of aging. This new study now provides robust evidence from a huge sample of humans to back it up.

“This idea is that some traits [and genetic variants that cause them] are important when we are young, helping us grow strong and be fertile. But, when we get older, those same traits can start causing problems and make us fragile and unhealthy. It’s like some mutations having two sides: a good side when we’re young, and a not-so-good side when we’re old,” said Arcadi Navarro Cuartiellas, a geneticist at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain who was not involved in the study.

One example is the effects of menopause and fertility loss in women. Eggs, sometimes called ova, deplete during a woman’s lifetime. This makes a person more fertile in young adulthood, but results in loss of fertility later in life through menopause.

Biologists think the benefits of regular cycles for reproduction may outweigh the cost of infertility in older age. The downside is that menopause speeds up aging.

“Another example is, say, a gene variant enhances fertility so that a woman is more likely to have twins. Evolutionarily that might be advantageous, because she will potentially leave more copies of that variant than women who have single babies. But having twins leads to more wear and tear on her body so she ages more quickly. That would be an antagonistically pleiotropic process,” said Austad.

The converse is true as well. A gene variant that reduces fertility early in life will likely cause a person to have fewer or no children, so that the person ages more slowly, Austad added.

But how does the environment affect aging?

The antagonistic pleiotropy hypothesis does have its criticisms, however. For one, it doesn’t account for the huge effects of the environment and socioeconomic changes on aging, and nor does this study.

After all, humans are living longer than ever before in history, and it’s mostly due to better health care rather than genetic evolution.

“These trends of phenotypic changes are primarily driven by environmental shifts including changes of lifestyles and technologies,” said Zhang. “This contrast indicates that, compared with environmental factors, genetic factors play a minor role in the human phenotypic changes studied here.”

Austad said a surprising outcome of the study was that reproductive genes had such a strong and observable effect on aging.

“Environmental factors are so important that I’m really surprised patterns [observed in this study] were still visible despite their importance. I think that is the advantage of having hundreds of thousands of individuals in a study,” he said.

Research could have implications for aging

The antagonistic pleiotropy hypothesis had “mountains of evidence before this paper but not for humans,” according to Austad. But the research in humans, and with such a huge sample size, means the study could be important for understanding aging-related diseases.

“Ultimately, some of these variants could now be examined to see if they link to certain later life health problems, so that those problems can be monitored closely and possibly prevented,” Austad told DW.

Scientists think the hypothesis could help explain why many serious genetic disorders are prevalent in our long evolutionary history.

Sickle cell anemia is a good example of antagonistic pleiotropy – whereby an inherited blood disorder which causes anemia actually evolved as a protective mechanism against malaria.

Zhang told DW that antagonistic pleiotropy may also be at play in Huntington’s disease.

“Mutations causing Huntington’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder, also increase fecundity [the possible number of offspring produced],” Zhang said.

Mutations in the gene which causes Huntington’s disease have also been hypothesized to lower rates of cancer.

Zhang said the paper could also have implications for the rising science of anti-aging.

“In theory, one could tinker with those antagonistically pleiotropic mutations to prolong life, but the downside would be reducing or delaying reproduction,” said Zhang.

BoG committed no error in revoking UniCredit’s licence – Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has affirmed that the Bank of Ghana (BoG) committed no error in revoking the licence of UniCredit Ghana Limited.

This is in light of a unanimous decision by the Supreme on Wednesday, June 26, where it reversed the decision of the Court of Appeal and affirmed the decision of the High Court in the case of The Republic Versus Bank of Ghana, Ex Parte Hoda Holdings Limited.

“Today, the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision, reversed the decision of the Court of Appeal and affirmed the decision of the High Court in the case of The Republic Versus Bank of Ghana, Ex Parte Hoda Holdings Limited. By this decision, the Supreme Court affirmed that the Bank of Ghana committed no error in revoking the licence of UniCredit Ghana Limited.”

On 16th August 2019, The Bank of Ghana declared UniCredit Ghana Limited (Unicredit) insolvent and revoked its licence to operate as a savings and loans company, under section 123 of the Banks and Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions Act of 2016 (Act 930).

Hoda Holdings Ltd, the majority shareholder of UniCredit, filed an application at the Human Rights Division of the High Court seeking a judicial review of the decision of the Bank of Ghana, to revoke UniCredit’s licence and an order of injunction restraining the Bank from interfering with the operations of UniCredit.

Bawumia submits Opoku Prempeh’s name as his running mate to Akufo-Addo

Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, the flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), has proposed the Energy Minister Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, also known as NAPO, as his running mate to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

Reports say that a meeting was convened on Tuesday night where Dr Bawumia sought advice from President Akufo-Addo regarding his choice of a running mate.

It is reported that President Akufo-Addo provided some guidance, shared his views, and eventually endorsed Dr Bawumia’s selection.

In presenting NAPO’s name to the President, Dr Bawumia highlighted that the chosen candidate is a 56-year-old medical doctor who earned his degree from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). He was first elected to Parliament in 2008 and has since been re-elected in 2012, 2016, and 2020.

Dr Bawumia further noted that NAPO has served on the Health Appointment and Defence and Interior Committees of Parliament and was appointed as Education Minister in 2017.

There is a growing demand for Dr Bawumia to choose the Energy Minister as his running mate for the upcoming December elections.

Several polls have indicated that Opoku Prempeh is the preferred choice for running mate among NPP party executives ahead of the 2024 general elections.

Pelpuo offers GHC100K reward for information on Wa killings

The Member of Parliament for Wa Central, Dr. Rashid Pelpuo, has announced a bounty of GH¢100,000 for any person or group that provides information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the recent killings in Wa.

So far, about 12 people, mostly private security guards, have been murdered in Wa by unknown assailants.

Announcing the bounty at a media briefing in Wa, Dr. Pelpuo stated that these incidents have caused immense fear and panic in the Wa municipality, significantly affecting business activities in the area.

The Wa Central legislator also expressed concern over the police’s prolonged silence on the investigation results, noting its negative impact on the inhabitants of Wa.

Source: citinewsroom.com

MPs safe amidst Kenya protests- High Commissioner confirms

Several Ghanaian Members of Parliament, predominantly from the Local Government Committee, found themselves amidst violent demonstrations at Kenya’s Parliament.

The MPs, including Thomas Ampem Nyarko and Sylvester Tetteh from Asuogyaman and Bortianor-Ngleshie Amanfro constituencies respectively, were captured on amateur footage seeking refuge inside the building as riots escalated outside.

Other affected MPs identified were Emmanuel Akwasi Gyamfi and Nii Lante Vanderpuye. Anita Quartey-Papafio, a parliament clerk overseeing Governance Cluster Committees, was also part of the delegation caught up in the unrest.

Ghana’s High Commissioner to Kenya, Damptey Asare, reassured the safety of the Ghanaian community amidst the turmoil, emphasizing no reported casualties or incidents involving Ghanaians.

He provided this assurance during an interview on JoyNews’ Connect Africa, underscoring the diplomatic efforts to monitor and safeguard Ghanaian citizens in Kenya.

The protests in Kenya took a violent turn with reports of four protesters shot outside parliament, according to the Kenya Human Rights Commission, which condemned the incidents as severe violations of human rights. However, these reports await further confirmation from additional sources.

The incident highlights the vulnerability of international travelers and officials during civil unrest and the critical role of diplomatic assurances in ensuring the safety of nationals abroad.

Source: myjoyonline.com

Rev. Opuni calls for improved elections

A former General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG), Rev. Dr Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong, has emphasised the need for an improvement in the conduct of elections in the country although past elections had been relatively peaceful.

He made the call when he delivered a peace lecture organised by the Akuapem Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana at Nsukwao, a suburb of Koforidua in the Eastern Region.

He said foreign observers such as the European Union (EU), African Union (AU) and CODEO, among others, which witnessed previous elections, had described elections in Ghana as relatively peaceful.

He said when compared with other elections elsewhere in Africa such as Senegal and DR Congo, however, it may not be the best, hence the need for improvement in the nation’s electoral process.

Rev. Dr Opuni-Frimpong, who is also a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Religious Studies at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), said Ghana’s democracy must mature.

He indicated that the country’s democracy in general was being monetised, making it very difficult for the electorate to choose competent leaders to lead the country, adding that democracy is too expensive.

He called on all political parties to exercise caution and respect in their conduct during the electioneering campaign so as to maintain peace before, during and after the December 7 polls.

He reminded both politicians and stakeholders of the need to curb the disturbing trend of political violence associated with past elections. With regard to voters, he said they should be discerning,  and vote for the best candidate without taking into consideration any financial or material gains.

He stated that the 2024 elections presents a significant opportunity to reverse the violent patterns witnessed during previous elections.

He appealed to political leaders to ensure that the forthcoming elections were conducted in a violence-free manner, stressing the importance of peaceful conduct in preserving the country’s democratic integrity.

For his part, the Chairperson of the Akuapem Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Rev. Ebenezer Acheampong, said the role of the church in ensuring a peaceful elections could not be underestimated and that was why the church organised the event.

He stated that a peaceful election is a collective responsibility of the public, including stakeholders such as the Clergy.

Rev. Asiedu also called on political party leaders to engage in respectful and issue-based campaigns to avoid inflammatory rhetoric that could incite or perpetuate violence.

He urged Ghanaians to do away with partisan differences, and rather unite in safeguarding the nation’s peace and democracy during the electioneering period.

The chief of Akwadum, Nana Osei Owusu Agyapong ll, commended the church for organising such events, and called on other religious institutions to emulate it. He also called on the youth not to be involved in negative acts that would mar the December 7 polls.

 

Okyeman Taskforce calls for arrest of police ‘informants’

Members of the Okyeman Environmental Protection Taskforce have called on the Ghana Police Service to investigate, and arrest individuals who are parading as police informants in the area. They allege that unscrupulous people posing as informants of the Ghana Police Service have been threatening to kill residents, and confiscate their assets.

Speaking to the media yesterday, the Akwansrahene of Kyebi Apapam and the second in command of the taskforce, Nana Baffour Kwabena Baah, said the nefarious activities of such individuals were getting out of hand, instilling fear in residents and, particularly, members of the taskforce. He indicated that the taskforce recently received a report about one Jones Kwaku Okyere, who claims to be one of the informants posting the details of taskforce members on a WhatsApp platform and branding them as “criminals terrorizing innocent residents in the area.”

Nana Baah added that Appiah, as Jones Kwaku Okyere is popularly called, allegedly threatened members of the taskforce, warning them to cease their activities as “their days are numbered.” He is therefore calling on the Ghana Police Service to intervene, and investigate these so-called informants.

Meanwhile, Nana Baah has alleged that contrary to claims of being police informants, the individuals involved are land guards sent by some estate developers to obstruct the taskforce’s efforts. He mentioned that the recent threats stemmed from the taskforce’s arrest of some land guards in the area. He indicated that upon receiving a report about land guard activities, taskforce members were promptly deployed to make arrests. The apprehended land guards were handed over to the police for legal action.

According to Nana Baah, the arrest angered the land guards, prompting the recent threats against taskforce members. However, he emphasized that the members would not be deterred by such threats, and would continue to work for the protection of Akyem Abuakwa lands and the environment.

He affirmed that the taskforce members were dedicated to their work, and would continue to serve the interests of the traditional area. He urged residents to respect the taskforce’s activities, emphasizing that it has the backing of the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Council.

“Bawumia’s role in 2012 election petition contributed to Africa’s democratic growth”

A Political Science lecturer at the University of Media, Arts and Communication (UniMAC), Prof. Etse Sikanku, has said the role of Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia in the 2012 election petition contributed significantly to the democratic growth of Africa.

Speaking on his book, titled “Dr Bawumia and the Modern Vice Presidency in Ghana”, during an interview on Asaase Radio, Prof. Sikanku stressed that the election petition was the moment Dr Bawumia endeared himself to NPP supporters and Ghanaians at large.

“It was a very pivotal moment in terms of our democratic growth because we became an example for a lot of nations. In Kenya, if you realise, they cited us copiously in their own election petition,” he noted.

Prof. Sikanku added that it became such an example for the rest of the world.

“So, Ghana once again becomes a shining example for African growth and democracy that we can solve our political differences not through the barrel of gun or cutlasses or walking on the street and destroying properties, but through a battle in the law court,” he indicated.

Consequently, the lecturer stressed that it was a good advertisement for Ghanaian democracy. “And guess who was at the centre of that particular illuminating part of our history. It was Dr Bawumia, ” Prof. Sikanku said.

Some analysts have described the 2012 election petition hearing as the platform that projected Dr Bawumia as a force in Ghanaian politics due to his dexterity as the New Patriotic Party’s star witness in the case.

Though the NPP lost the petition,  Dr Bawumia’s performance served as a fertile ground for the advancement of his standing with the Ghanaian public, as he displayed his eloquence, intelligence, analytical mind and skills, and complete mastery of debate in the full glare of Ghanaians on national television.

In his book which was recently launched, Dr Sikanku highlighted the significant contributions of Dr. Bawumia to Ghana’s political landscape. It uses Dr Bawumia as a case study to explore the evolving role and significance of the vice presidency in Ghana.

It points up how Dr. Bawumia has transformed the vice presidency from a largely ceremonial role into a dynamic and influential position within Ghana’s government.

The book details Dr. Bawumia’s contributions to political discourse, his influence on key policy decisions and the implementation of numerous impactful programmes.

It presents an in-depth analysis of how Dr Bawumia has effectively utilised the vice presidency to drive significant change and development in various sectors, including digital transformation, economic policy, and social interventions.

The book is expected to spark further debate and research on the role of vice presidents in democratic governance, highlighting how effective leadership at this level can drive national progress.

£1.2m for Bawumia campaign from NPP-UK, YEF

The United Kingdom (UK) branch of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), in collaboration with the Young Executives Forum (UK), has raised about £1,200,000 to support the campaign of the Vice-President and NPP Flagbearer, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, ahead of the December 2024 general elections.

The funds raised by the NPP-UK branch and the YEF, at their fundraising dinner dance at the Landmark Hotel in Central London, is the highest amount realised by the branch ahead of any elections since the premier branch started raising funds to support its parent party, NPP-Ghana.

In 2016, the NPP-UK and the YEF raised about $150,000 for the Akufo-Addo campaign. In 2020, they raised a total of $450,000.00.

Speaking at the fundraiser, Dr Bawumia expressed his appreciation to the NPP-UK and the YEF for their exceptional show of support for him and the party.

He reaffirmed his commitment to prosecuting a spirited campaign as the leader and presidential candidate of the NPP to ensure that the party “breaks the 8”.

He pointed out that one of his primary objectives, should he be elected as President by the people of Ghana, wold be to seek to promote a mindset of possibilities among the citizenry.

The NPP leader reported to the party faithful in London that the first round of his 2024 campaign, which started on 29 April and ended on 12 June 2024, had been largely successful and impactful.

He indicated that from the month of July, he would be shifting to the 2nd gear and reach the 3rd and 4th gear by November 2024.

“The campaign has started in earnest. We have done a tour of the 16 regions, and we just finished with Ashanti. I would like to thank the Ashanti regional chairman and all the campaign team in Ashanti for the massive show of force that everybody saw when we got there,” Dr Bawumia said

Kingsley Adumattah Agyapong, Chairman of the NPP-UK branch, assured Dr. Bawumia of the NPP-UK’s unwavering support. He stressed that the NPP-UK believes in his leadership, and his ability to take Ghana to new heights.

“NPP-UK will work tirelessly to ensure we secure every constituency allocated to us in the December 2024 elections. We understand the significance of this task, and we are prepared to rise to the occasion.

“Our dedicated members and effective communicators will be at the forefront championing Dr Bawumia’s policies and advocating for the NPP’s vision across all platforms. Dr Bawumia, your contributions as Vice President have been very remarkable,” he indicated.

The Chairman of the Young Executives Forum (YEF), Mr Bennard Owusu, thanked the Vice-President for taking time off his campaign to be with the NPP-UK branch.

He assured that the YEF and the NPP-UK would marshal all their strength and capacity to support the NPP’s spirited effort aimed at winning the 2024 presidential and parliamentary elections.

He also thanked members of the NPP-UK and the Young Executive Forum for the overwhelming support.

 

Nima-Paloma drainage project takes off

The Minister of Works and Housing, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has cut sod for the construction works on the Nima-Paloma to Odaw drains to begin.

The construction works, under the Greater Accra Resilience and Integrated Development (GARID) project, will see the upgrade of major drains from Nima down to the Odaw Basin.

At a brief sod-cutting ceremony yesterday, the Minister noted that the project would help mitigate flooding around the Ring Road, Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Adabraka and Asylum Down.

He emphasised the project’s pivotal role in mitigating the perennial flooding issues that have plagued Accra for years.

“This significant milestone is expected to help reduce the perennial flooding challenges in Accra and bring the needed relief to residents, commuters, traders, and businesses, especially those in Asylum Down and the communities upstream,” he said.

The Minister said the GARID project not only aims to upgrade the drainage infrastructure, but also includes the performance-based dredging of the Odaw River and the reconstruction of the broken sections of the Odaw channel at Achimota-Abofu. He announced future drainage improvement plans for Kaneshie. This, he indicated, would be executed in two lots: the construction of a storm drain from Accra Academy to Pramprom Junction, and another from the Bank of Ghana Quarters to the Odaw.

“In the coming weeks, contracts will be signed for drainage improvement works in Kaneshie in two lots. Works will commence with the relocation of utilities, after the completion of the ongoing resettlement of project-affected persons,” he added.

He explained that these developments were part of the broader 2024 National Flood Control Programme, which involves dredging activities, concrete lining of storm drainage channels, and the removal of critical bottlenecks in major drains, particularly in flood hotspots across the country.

The Greater Accra Regional Minister, Titus Glover, praised government’s efforts in improving the country’s drainage infrastructure.

He pledged strong coordination from his office to ensure the timely execution and completion of the project.

He also admonished residents to maintain high hygienic standards, warning that those who defecate openly or dump refuse into the drains would face penalties.

“Government efforts in improving our drainage systems are commendable, and it is imperative that residents also do their part. Open defecation and refuse dumping into drains will not be tolerated, and offenders will be dealt with,” he warned.

Dr. Ohene Sarfo, the GARID Project Coordinator, provided further details on the construction works. He noted that the construction of the 10-meter by 3-meter, 1-kilometer drains is expected to take 18 months.

He added that measures were in place to ensure that that the contractor delivers according to the project timeline without compromising the quality of work.

He stressed that commencement of the project was a crucial step toward addressing the flooding issues that had long affected Accra’s residents and businesses. He urged residents to bear with the constructors as they work around the clock to bring relief to them.

 

AfCFTA launches four-year fisheries program to boost trade and jobs in Africa

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation and TradeMark Africa, has unveiled a transformative four-year fisheries programme. This initiative aims to create over 240,000 work opportunities and increase trade in fish and fish products by approximately $100 million by 2028 across seven countries. Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zambia, Nigeria, and selected Island state are the beneficiary countries. The programmme empowering Small, Medium, and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs), particularly addressing structural challenges faced by women and youth in the fisheries value chain. Key components of the program include comprehensive training, facilitating access to markets and finance, establishing crucial supply chain linkages, developing digital solutions, simplifying trade regulations, ensuring compliance with standards, and facilitating seamless cross-border market access. Secretary-General Wamkele Mene highlighted AfCFTA’s role in fostering entrepreneurship and job creation in Africa’s burgeoning market of 1.4 billion people. The programme aligns with AfCFTA’s objective of inclusive growth and creating a unified African market to benefit all citizens. Allen Sophia Asiimwe, Deputy CEO of TradeMark Africa, emphasized the programme’s significance in overcoming structural barriers for women and youth in the fisheries sector, paving the way for economic growth, food security, and poverty reduction. Daniel Hailu, Executive Director of Pan-African Programs at the Mastercard Foundation, underscored the programme’s potential to generate sustainable employment opportunities, promote intra-African trade, and contribute to overall economic prosperity and poverty alleviation. This collaborative effort marks a significant stride towards inclusive trade and economic empowerment, setting the stage for a more equitable and prosperous future across Africa.

Bank of Ghana clarifies remittance inflow figures amid media reports

The Bank of Ghana (BoG) has described as misleading media reports claiming that $8 billion has been withheld by newly licensed Money Transfer Operators (MTOs) and 11 Fintech companies in the last two years.

It noted that the country had rather seen a consistent increase in remittance inflows year-on-year, as confirmed by data from both BoG and the World Bank.

According to reports, approximately $12 billion in remittances to Ghana went untracked and unaccounted for by the Bank of Ghana and the Auditor General from 2018 to 2022.

It also indicated that data discrepancies exist between the World Bank and BoG regarding remittance inflows. The World Bank tracked a total of $21.1 billion in remittances to Ghana from 2018 to 2022, while the Auditor General’s reports on the Bank of Ghana’s consolidated statements of foreign exchange receipts and payments accounted for only $9.5 billion, leaving a gap of about $11.6 billion.

The reports added that the Bank of Ghana’s 2023 annual financial statement reveals that 11 licensed FinTech companies provided inward remittance services, with remittances totaling GHC57 billion (US$5 billion) in 2023, up from GHC18 billion (US$3 billion) in 2022.

In response, BoG in a statement issued by its Communciations Department insisted that the reports were untrue and not grounded on facts.

The Bank pointed out that it does not license MTOs since such companies are based abroad. However, it conducts due diligence on MTOs who partner local banks and/or FinTechs to deliver remittances into Ghana as part of the authorisation process.

“Furthermore, all remittance inflows are credited to the nostro account of partner banks of Payment Service Providers (PSPs), as such, no PSP holds any forex inflows from inward remittances. The partner bank credits the local cedi accounts of PSPs for onward transfer to beneficiaries,” it said.

Additionally, BoG dismissed claims that Ghana operates two foreign exchange systems, noting that banks and FinTechs who engage in inward remittance services do regularly submit prudential returns to the Bank of Ghana as part of their regulatory obligations.

“Banks and FinTechs have the responsibility of complying with the Foreign Exchange Act, 2006 (Act 723) and other legal and regulatory requirements. FinTechs’ involvement in remittance services in Ghana Pursuant to Section 4 (1) (e) of the Bank of Ghana Act 2002, (Act 612) as  amended, Section 2 (3) of the Foreign Exchange Act, 2006 (Act 723) and  Section 101(2) (i) of the Payment Systems and Services Act 2019(Act 987),” it said.

“The  Bank issued Updated Inward Remittance Guidelines in November 2023,  providing a framework for PSPs, otherwise known  as FinTechs, to partner with (MTOs) and local  banks for termination of inward remittance. These Guidelines complement  the role of banks in offering remittance services and provide alternative  channels, such as mobile money wallets for receipt of inward remittance by  Ghanaians,” it added.

“It is important to note that these authorisations for PSPs are  restricted to inward remittance services only, without any involvement in  outbound remittance services. The Inward Remittance Guidelines mandate FinTechs to work  with partner local banks. FinTechs have no authority whatsoever to hold  remittance proceeds outside of the banking system,” BoG continued.

BoG maintained: “The Guidelines for Inward Remittances for PSPs is consistent with the  Foreign Exchange Act, 2006 (Act 723). All banks and PSPs are strictly  supervised to ensure full compliance with the provisions of the Guidelines and  Act 723.”

Inusah Fuseini, Moses Asaga, others in alleged $8m Dubai property scandal

Some appointees of former President John Dramani Mahama are facing allegations of acquiring luxury properties worth a staggering $8,409,400 million in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, under “dubious circumstances”.

The revelations from an investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) shed light on a network of high-value real estate transactions involving prominent figures from across the globe.

In a detailed report, OCCRP has alleges that Inusah Abdulai Bistav Fuseini, former Minister of Roads, and Moses Aduku Asaga, former CEO of the National Petroleum Authority, are among those implicated.

Mr. Fuseini allegedly owns a portfolio of 20 apartments valued at $7,240,400 spread across prestigious addresses such as The One at Jumeirah Village Triangle and Millennium Place.

Mr. Asaga is alleged to possess a single apartment worth $133,100 in the upscale Spirit Tower.

OCCRP’s findings also implicate Justice Anthony Alfred Benin, a former Supreme Court Judge, and Dr. Joseph Kwaku Asamoah, previously embroiled in financial controversy at the Electoral Commission. The two reportedly own substantial properties in Dubai totaling $412,300 and $623,600, respectively.

Dubai’s allure as a haven for wealthy individuals facing legal scrutiny or sanctions was underscored by experts interviewed in the report.

The investigation further highlights the ease with which politically exposed persons (PEPs) and individuals under investigation can acquire property in Dubai, often without stringent scrutiny into the sources of their wealth.

Concerns raised by OCCRP suggest that Dubai’s real estate sector may facilitate money laundering activities, offering anonymity and minimal oversight in transactions.

A covert investigation by SVT reporters revealed a disturbingly casual approach by real estate agents in accepting cash payments for transactions .

Gov’t to restart stalled projects after successful debt restructuring

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has revealed that a significant number of the nation’s stalled projects are poised to restart. This development comes on the heels of successful negotiations centered around the restructuring of Ghana’s debt.

He made the disclosure during a presentation of credentials to nine newly appointed diplomats at the Jubilee House yesterday.

The President detailed the positive outcomes of these negotiations and their implications for Ghana’s development. He outlined the completion of three major debt restructuring operations: domestic debt restructuring, external bilateral debt restructuring and commercial bondholders debt restructuring.

These efforts, he indicated, had provided the much-needed financial relief, and set the stage for a renewed focus on critical infrastructure and development projects.

“These agreements have provided much-needed breathing space and put our domestic debt-to-GDP ratio on a clear downward trend. The successful negotiations mean that bondholders will provide $4.4 billion in cash flow relief during the IMF Programme, in addition to the cancellation of $4.7 billion of the debt stock,” he explained.

The President highlighted the significance of the domestic debt restructuring, which achieved a high participation rate of almost 95%. He mentioned that coupon rates were reduced from 21% to 9% on average, and maturities were extended, easing the near-term local debt service burden that previously consumed more than 40% of the country’s tax revenues.

“This restructuring has set the domestic debt-to-GDP ratio on a path to reach 55% by the end of 2028. Furthermore, the external bilateral debt restructuring has been a crucial milestone in Ghana’s economic recovery efforts,” he added.

He said the agreement with bilateral creditors, coordinated through the Ghana Official Creditor Committee (OCC) and co-chaired by France and China, resulted in the restructuring of $5.1 billion of Ghana’s debts.

He revealed that this agreement was expected to provide a cash flow relief of approximately $2.8 billion, or GH¢39 billion, in debt service, postponed between 2023 and 2026 to be repaid later at a cheaper interest rate.

“The agreement with our bilateral debt holders will lead to a cash flow relief of around $2.8 billion, or GH¢39 billion, in debt service. This will enable us to resume and complete many projects that are vital for our nation’s progress,” the President noted.

According to him, the successful negotiations had also paved the way for the IMF’s Executive Board to convene and approve Ghana’s Second Review of the Fund Programme, resulting in a further disbursement of $360 million in support of the programme.

“This additional funding will further bolster Ghana’s efforts to revive its economy and accelerate development initiatives. One of the  most notable achievements in the debt restructuring process is the agreement with commercial bondholders,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo mentioned that the restructuring of $13.1 billion of debts resulted in significant savings for the government, including the cancellation of $4.7 billion, or GH¢65 billion, from the debt stock.

Additionally, he indicated that Ghana will save $4.4 billion, or GH¢60 billion, in debt service, providing further financial relief during the IMF Programme.

He explained that the savings include the cancellation of $4.7 billion from the debt stock and $4.4 billion in cash flow relief during the IMF Programme. He stated that this comprises principal savings of $1.5 billion and interest savings of $2.9 billion.

The President commended the Ministry of Finance, led by Dr. Mohammed Amin Adam, for their efforts in achieving these historic agreements. He emphasised the importance of these milestones in creating the financial space needed to resume and complete stalled projects across the country.

“These achievements are unprecedented in the history of country debt restructurings. The Minister for Finance and his team at the Ministry of Finance are to be warmly applauded for this historic achievement,” the President added.

President set to host SDGs Action Summit

The Special Advisor to the President on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Dr. Eugene Owusu, has announced that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, under his leadership as Co-Chair of the UN Secretary General’s Emeritus Group of SDGs Advocates, will host the SDGs Action Summit 2024 in Accra.

The Summit, to be held under the theme “From Mid-Point to Success – Recommitting, Scaling Up, and Accelerating Action on the SDGs,” will take place on July 2 and 3, 2024.

Speaking during a press launch, organized by the SDGs Advisory Unit at the Office of the President yesterday, Dr. Eugene Owusu unveiled the Summit’s details, and underscored its significance.

He outlined the critical challenges Africa faces in achieving the SDGs, stressing the difficulties posed by climate change, conflict, the lingering effects of COVID-19, policy failures, misgovernance and an unbalanced global governance architecture.

“The challenge that Africa faces in achieving the SDGs is compounded by a plethora of man-made challenges: climate change, conflict, the residual but consequential effects of COVID-19, policy failures and misgovernance, and a pear-shaped global governance architecture,” Dr. Owusu stated.

According to him, all these challenges are reinforcing deprivation across the continent, exacerbating poverty, fueling instability, and widening inequalities within countries.

He bemoaned that these challenges were acutely undermining prospects for achieving the Goals. Dr. Owusu, however, highlighted the immense opportunities within the SDGs framework to address these issues and drive inclusive and sustainable development.

“We cannot despair and throw the baby out with the bath water. We continue to have abundant opportunities in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to address these challenges, foster inclusive and sustainable development across our continent, and give our world a fair chance of achieving global peace and stability, engender prosperity for all, and save our planet,” he said.He noted that the upcoming SDGs Action Summit 2024 was inspired by this very conviction. “This conviction has inspired the organisation of the SDGs Action Summit 2024, which is being held under the auspices of H.E the President of the Republic, in his capacity as co-chair of the Emeritus Group of SDGs Advocates.

“The Summit is strategically timed as the world gears up for the ‘UN Summit of the Future’, aiming to catalyze action on the SDGs and build a consensus for delivering a better today while safeguarding the future,” Dr. Owusu indicated.

He added:  “This SDGs Action Summit 2024 comes as our world prepares for the UN Summit of the Future, which aims to turbocharge actions on the SDGs, as well as build a consensus on delivering a better today whilst safeguarding the future”.

For his part, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Charles Abani, lamented the insufficient development finance that had hampered the execution of the SDGs. He emphasised the Summit’s role in uniting key stakeholders to drive progress towards these goals.

He stressed the urgency of accelerated action to meet the 2030 targets, highlighting the dire consequences of not meeting the target.

“The urgency of action on the SDGs cannot be overstated. We are at a critical juncture where accelerated efforts are necessary to give us a reasonable chance of meeting the 2030 targets. The opportunities to act are abundant, and the cost of failure is too high to ignore,” he stated.

In his view, “if we fail to achieve the SDGs, the repercussions will be felt across all sectors of our society. Economic stagnation, increased inequality, and environmental degradation are just a few of the dire consequences we could face”.

The Summit promises to bring together distinguished personalities such as Muhammadu Sanusi II, former President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed, prominent business executive Patricia Poku-Diaby, and SDGs Advocate Hindou Ibrahim, among others.

 

Police arrest Michael Nii Yarboi over assault

Michael Nii Yarboi is facing criminal charges of assault for allegedly slapping a resident of James Town and a branch executive of the NDC in Odododiodoo.

The prosecution in the case, however, reported him to the Dansoman Circuit court for what they believe is a deliberate attempt by Mr. Yarboi to evade the court proceedings.

The case was called for hearing on Thursday, June 20 at the Dansoman court. The court was however forced to adjourn the case to June 24.

But on Monday when the case was called, the accused was not present in court. The police prosecutor handling the case revealed in court that his outfit has information that the accused is deliberately ignoring the directives of the court to be present in court.

The court then issued a bench warrant for his arrest after the police prosecutor made a plea.

Sources close to the prosecution have revealed that Michael Yarboi has since been arrested after the bench warrant was issued by the court.

The case has been adjourned to July 8, 2024.

Source: citinewsroom.com

Bondholder committee reaches agreement with Ghana debt restructuring

The Committee of holders of Ghana’s Eurobonds has announced that it has reached an agreement in principle with the government of Ghana on a restructuring of the Eurobonds.

This was captured in a statement released by the Bondholder committee yesterday, Monday, June 24.

The statement showed that the proposed agreement on the restructuring of the Eurobonds would resolve Ghana’s default on the Eurobonds in a manner that, “It will provide significant cash flow and debt stock relief to support Ghana’s economic recovery in the context of the IMF-financed programme.

“Alongside debt relief, the Committee recognises that the most important factor to support Ghana’s fiscal and debt sustainability going forward is sustained economic policy implementation to bolster macroeconomic stability, improve the investor environment and institutionalise fiscal credibility,” it added.

The Committee also maintained that, in particular, it welcomes the government’s commitment to reinstate and implement an amended Fiscal Responsibility Act.

The Bondholder Committee also revealed that the government had adopted nonfinancial provisions included in the agreement-in-principle, such as the semi-annual disclosure of public debt, the most-favoured-creditor clause and loss reinstatement clause, which are part of the package of measures to normalize relations with bondholder investors and to progress towards restoring Ghana’s international market access.

It also revealed that the implementation of the agreement-in-principle is subject to mutual agreement on deal documentation and other stated conditions.

The Committee encouraged all holders of the Eurobonds to carefully consider the terms of the government’s prospective offer about the agreement-in-principle and to make their own independent appraisal of the merits and risks of participation.

It also disclosed that Members of the Committee include the following holders (acting either directly or on behalf of funds or the accounts they manage): Abrdn; Amundi (UK) Limited; Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. LLC; Greylock Capital Management; Neuberger Berman and Wellington Management.

Source: myjoyonline.com

Let’s resist NDC’s deceptions, lies – A-G to Ghanaians

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Dame, has urged Ghanaians to reject the falsehoods and misrepresentations of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the ongoing Ambulance case.

Addressing a town hall meeting with some Ghanaian residents in the United Kingdom (UK), Mr Dame stated that the NDC’s allegations had collapsed when the cross-examination of the third defendant in the ambulance case commenced.

He asserted that it was for this reason that the party’s lies and deception should be rejected.

“We should resist all the lies, deceptions and deceits of the NDC and indeed that is their stock-in-trade, and I can attest to that. We’ve been around, we were in Ghana and ofcourse we have been around the UK, and my brother who lives in London called me anxiously the last time because he entered a barber shop and they were talking about the Attorney General. But they didn’t know that the Attorney General’s brother was next in line for his hair to be cut.

“Within a matter of two days when we started our cross-examination of the person who was spreading all those lies, you have seen how the matter is going. Their case has crumbled, as the President will say, “case na t) nsuom” [to wit the case has fallen in water]. So, indeed we should resist the deception and lies of the NDC.

“They will come with all sorts of presentations about every major action or step being taken by this government and therefore we should be on the lookout,” he stated.

On May 28, the NDC unveiled a 16-minute tape as proof to back allegations made by the third defendant, Richard Jakpa, in the ambulance case against the Minority Leader, Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson.

The NDC claimed that the recording documented a dialogue between Godfred Dame and Richard Jakpa, in which Dame supposedly guided Jakpa on the statements to present in court, specifically targeting the Minority Leader, Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson.

NDC’s Chairman, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, contended that the tape disclosed a coaching session intended to influence Jakpa’s court testimony.

Nketiah stressed that the alleged coaching was designed to shape Jakpa’s statements to incriminate Dr. Forson.

The dispute started when Jakpa, the third defendant in the trial, claimed that he had been coerced to give testimony harmful to Dr. Forson.

According to the NDC, this tape validates Jakpa’s allegations and brings up serious concerns about the conduct of the Attorney General in this high-profile case.

Source: citinewsroom.com

High Court injuncts Mahama Kabiru from presenting himself as NPP PC for Walewale

The High Court in Tamale has issued an injunction against Dr Mahama Tia Kabiru, barring him from presenting himself as the elected parliamentary candidate (PC) of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) for the Walewale constituency in the North East Region.

This decision, handed down on Monday, June 24, by Justice Richard Kugyapaw, comes in response to a challenge to the election results by the sitting Member of Parliament (MP), Hajia Lariba Zuweratu.

Earlier this year in January, Dr Kabiru, a 35-year-old PhD holder and special advisor to the Vice President, edged out Hajia Lariba in a closely fought primary.

The election, which took place under stringent security measures and was attended by regional and constituency executives, resulted in a victory for Dr Kabiru with 345 votes, compared to Hajia Lariba’s 338 votes.

Hajia Lariba promptly disputed the election results and lodged an ex parte motion at the Tamale High Court, accusing the party, Dr Kabiru, and the Electoral Commission of electoral irregularities and misconduct.

She requested an injunction to stop Dr Kabiru from declaring himself the victor, a request that has now been granted.

In the primary, two other candidates, Tahiru Sham-Una and Jangdoo Mahama, received 145 and 1 vote, respectively. Initially, the NPP, as a third defendant, sought to have the case dismissed, alleging that Hajia Lariba had breached the party’s constitution by not utilising internal conflict resolution mechanisms before resorting to the court.

Prior to this ruling, NPP supporters in the Walewale constituency held a press conference calling for the intervention of the party’s Presidential Candidate, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, to settle the dispute.

They cautioned that if the issue is not resolved swiftly, it could potentially harm the party’s prospects in the forthcoming general elections.

Meanwhile, the High Court in March granted pleas by the NPP to settle the dispute out-of-court.

In a previous session on March 15, the party had asked the court to dismiss the case, but the court refused and fined the party GH¢8000.

But the court agreed to the party’s request for an out-of-court settlement.

Source: citinewsroom.com

Prempeh I Int’l Airport to begin operations July 1

The Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL) has announced that the new Terminal building at Prempeh I International Airport, Kumasi will be operational on Monday, July 1, 2024.

The GACL in a statement issued on Monday said it will in collaboration with stakeholders conduct a series of subsystem simulations followed by two full-scale integrated simulations of all processes and systems in the new terminal building from 25th June 2024 to 30th June 2024.

“The objective is to ensure that all systems, equipment, and staff are fully prepared to operate efficiently and effectively and also to manage risks associated with the transfer of operations from the old terminal to the new Terminal building,” it added.

In line with the operationalisation process, GACL said there will be three live flights from the new terminal building from the 28th to the 30th of June 2024.

“Ghana Airports Company Limited has subsequently advised Africa World Airlines and Passion Air to inform passengers who are scheduled to travel on the selected dates to be mindful of this arrangement.”

“The features of the new Terminal building include the capacity to handle 800,000 passengers per annum, process 200 passengers per hour, 2 passenger boarding bridges, a Presidential lounge and three(3) other lounges; four (4) Boarding Gates; four (4) Self-Service Check-in Kiosks; nine (9) Check-in Desks; sixteen (16) Immigration booths, Airline and Staff offices, large Commercial Retail area, Currency Declaration office, Forex Bureau, visa-on-arrival faciity, automated car park, Multipurpose Faith room, dedicated area for unaccompanied minor, modern Baggage Handling Systems and a Medical Facility among others,” it stated.

GACL indicated that it was committed to providing World-Class Airport Facilities and Services to position Ghana as the Preferred Aviation Hub and Leader in Airport Business in West Africa.

Of Religion, Opiates, Sanitisers; ‘Goro’ Boys, Delegates, Pilgrims and ‘Martyrs’

The world’s leading news networks carried a few days ago a story saying that the death toll from this year’s Hajj had exceeded 1,000, with more than half of the victims being unregistered worshippers who performed the pilgrimage in extreme heat in Saudi Arabia.

According to the reports, new deaths reported days ago included 58 from Egypt, according to an Arab diplomat who provided a breakdown showing that of 658 Egyptians who died, 630 were unregistered pilgrims.

About 10 countries have reported 1,081 deaths during the pilgrimage, one of the five pillars of Islam which all Muslims with the means must complete, at least, once.

The Hajj, whose timing is determined by the lunar Islamic calendar, fell again this year during the oven-like Saudi summer, with the national meteorological centre reporting a high of 51.8C (125F) this week at the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

Rising temperatures, rising poverty 

A Saudi study published last month said temperatures in the area were rising by 0.4C each decade. And, we are told that each year, tens of thousands of pilgrims try to join the Hajj through irregular channels as they cannot afford the often costly official permits.

Saudi authorities reported clearing hundreds of thousands of unregistered pilgrims from Mecca this month, but it appears many still participated in the main rites which began last Friday. This group was more vulnerable, because without official permits, they could not access air-conditioned spaces provided for the 1.8 million authorised pilgrims to cool down.

“People were tired after being chased by security forces before Arafat day. They were exhausted,” one Arab diplomat said on Thursday about Saturday’s day-long outdoor prayers that marked the climax of the Hajj.

The diplomat said the main cause of death among Egyptian pilgrims was the heat, which triggered complications related to high blood pressure and other problems. The report added that Egyptian officials were visiting hospitals to obtain information, and help Egyptian pilgrims receive medical care.

Intriguingly, there are large numbers of Egyptian citizens who are not registered in Hajj databases, which requires double the effort and a longer time to search for missing persons and find their relatives.

In the welter of confusion, Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has ordered that a crisis management team headed by the Prime Minister follow up on the deaths of the country’s pilgrims.

Sisi stressed “the need for immediate coordination with the Saudi authorities to facilitate receiving the bodies of the deceased and streamline the process.

East Asia 

Pakistan and Indonesia also confirmed more deaths on Thursday. Out of about 150,000 pilgrims, Pakistan had so far recorded 58 deaths, a diplomat said. “I think given the number of people, given the weather, this is just natural,” the diplomat said. This was a diplomat speaking. Over 50 deaths was normal – all because such deaths was considered martyrdom – dying for one’s faith, without even knowing which side of your anatomy you would be landing on beyond the grave…

Indonesia, which had about 240,000 pilgrims, reported its death toll to be 183. Last year, its Religious Affairs Ministry said, they recorded 313 deaths.

Deaths have also been confirmed by Malaysia, India, Jordan, Iran, Senegal, Tunisia, Sudan and Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region. In many cases, authorities have not specified the cause.

Frenzied relatives

Friends and relatives have been searching for missing pilgrims, scouting hospitals and pleading online for news, fearing the worst.

Two diplomats said last week that Saudi authorities had begun the burial process for dead pilgrims, cleaning the bodies and putting them in white burial cloth and taking them to be interred.

“The burial is done by the Saudi authorities. They have their own system so we just follow that,” said one diplomat, who said his country was working to notify loved ones as best it could. We haven’t had or heard any in the case of Ghana.

Another diplomat, apparently used to the ritual of burying dead bodies as a state duty, said it would be impossible to notify many families ahead of time, especially in Egypt, which accounts for so many of the dead.

Religious graveyard

Saudi Arabia has not provided information on deaths, though it reported more than 2,700 cases of “heat exhaustion” on Sunday alone. Last year, various countries reported more than 300 deaths during the Hajj, mostly Indonesians.

The timing of the hajj moves back about 11 days each year in the Gregorian calendar, meaning that next year it will take place earlier in June, potentially in cooler conditions.

A 2019 study by the journal Geophysical Research Letters said because of the climate crisis, heat stress for Hajj pilgrims would exceed the “extreme danger threshold” from 2047 to 2052 and 2079 to 2086, “with increasing frequency and intensity as the century progresses”.

That is interesting, with the Saudi authorities and neighbouring Egypt being saddled with the onerous responsibility of playing host to funerals, without families being in attendance. The carnage, however, goes on.

Hajj preparations

In Ghana, preparations for the pilgrimage have been taken over by the politicians. They have hijacked it from the Muslim clerics and traditional bodies that arrange the event.

The hijack started from Jerry Rawlings and succeeding political parties found capital in that. It has been the same for traditional durbars – with the pouring of libation being now considered part of the ritual of our state protocol chiefs.

But there are also those who make capital from it by organising flights and related hospitalities. One eye on the money and another on the opportunity for gain. So, at a time, we had multiple organising bodies that had to be unified for political purposes as the political animal also inserted political names into a protocol list.

So far, so good

So far, so good, if all that culminates in socio-economic wellbeing, law and order, and enhanced moral rectitude that touches public and community life. Unfortunately, it is a NO.

But what should be worrying the host nation and countries like Egypt is why those nations whose citizens stridently break the law to be part of the sacred event are the very countries that have their sons and daughters breaking laws to enter greener Europe and oily Saudi. Each time I have had opportunity to scan the big networks, I visit websites to check the pulse of the migrant landscape.

More and more people dying have not been deterrent enough for the poor and wretched who nonetheless finds money to trek through the Savannah or Sahel’ or the Congo through Mozambique to the Americas and Europe. His pals in travel are packs of bread and gallons of water.

Goro Boys and Boats

The world is full of Goro Boys. From our lorry parks and markets like Abossey Okai and Katamanto or Kejetia to Asafo, they know where every item is sold, except that they don’t know how to find the money to buy and sell those fast-moving items. What they intriguingly haven’t got is the courage of competing or living out their personal dream responsibly and independently.

These boats and their owners that pop up, and trucks that ferry migrants across the space, knowing they do not have licenses or that they are not seaworthy…not much difference between them and bandits. Yet, they all are religious

They are like a certain shellfish species that uses some other shell covers, besides their own. Call them party delegates for bookmen or ushers in churches or deaconesses who only know how to get people dress well, without ensuring that her house and kids are in order.

But that’s how some of our politicians behave: they won’t chase out the boat owners who commit acts of ferrying these pilgrims through dense forests or snake and bandits infested terrains, in offering services that they know are criminal.

It is holy activity burying dead pilgrims. It is holy activity performing the rituals and claiming they died as martyrs just like the animals called HAMAS and other extremist dunces are doing in parts of the Middle East into Africa south of the Sahara. Worse still, that thinking is akin to ignoring the woes and plight of vulnerable citizens and pretending to love them, while we sleep over the relevant and vibrant policies that would be relieving them from the pressures that push them to sell family property and decide to go through silly risks to South America, Italy, Spain or Haiti.

I am glad Christians here in Ghana or Togo or Nigeria do not make noise over forced trips to Bethlehem or Galilee. In terms of sheer numbers, that would be mouthful for the politician. Thank God, we know that beyond the rituals in religion, there is a deep yearning of the heart and soul and spirit that overshadows the Alleluia and Allah Akbar. That day cannot be a crowd thing. It is an individual search.

by Abena Baawuah

YEA support 1,452 businesses under BEAP

The Youth Employment Agency (YEA) has announced the successful rollout of its Business and Employment Assistance Programme (BEAP) with 1,452 businesses, aimed at bolstering Ghana’s economic recovery post-COVID-19. The announcement was contained in a statement released by Kwasi Afriyie, Director of Corporate Affairs at YEA. The statement indicated that BEAP, designed to support 10,000 Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) and startups severely impacted by the pandemic, began with 1,452 businesses. It explained that these 1,452 businesses constitute the first phase of the BEAP initiative, with more businesses set to be added every month. Sustainability  According to the statement, in its effort to sustain the initiative, BEAP commenced payments to the 1,500 beneficiaries verified under the programme. These individuals, as explained in the statement, had been strategically placed within “various sectors such as chop bars, pharmacies, and schools, receiving vital salary support amidst ongoing economic challenges.” “The disbursement of payments to the first 1,500 verified BEAP beneficiaries marks a significant milestone in YEA’s efforts to alleviate unemployment and support struggling enterprises. The programme, offering GHS 500 per recruited employee with additional employer contributions, aims to mitigate financial strains faced by businesses highlighted in a recent survey by the Ghana Statistical Service,” the statement noted. The statement further stressed that BEAP not only provides a lifeline to SMEs but also aims to foster employment opportunities across Ghana, targeting a total of 20,000 beneficiaries as part of its broader initiative. Commitment  It reaffirmed YEA’s commitment to utilizing sustainable funding from the Communication Service Tax exclusively for job creation and economic empowerment initiatives. “In addition to BEAP, the YEA has been instrumental in various employment and skills training programmes, collaborating closely with state agencies to enhance community services, healthcare, and vocational training opportunities. Targeting various establishments such as chop bars, pharmacies, schools, and more, BEAP strives to alleviate the financial burden on these enterprises while bolstering employment opportunities for Ghana’s workforce,” it added.