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Mozambican President Felipe Nyusi Outlines Trade and Investment Opportunities in Mozambique at IGD Presidential Breakfast
October 5, 2018 | 0 Comments
U.S. and global business leaders gathered to learn more about investment and participating in the IGD Advanced Executive Program in Mozambique
President Nyusi

President Nyusi

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 3, 2018 – Touting high growth rates and an improved business environment, H.E. Felipe Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique, outlined why the Southern African nation is an attractive investment destination and invited U.S. and global investors and business leaders to travel to the country to explore its trade and investment opportunities.

The Initiative for Global Development hosted President Nyusi and top ministers from key growth sectors in the Mozambican government at the Presidential Breakfast on Doing Business in Mozambique on September 26, during the United Nations General Assembly, at the Thomson Reuters Times Square Building in New York City.

“Mozambique is a country with untapped potential and there are so many areas to be explored,” said President Nyusi at the breakfast gathering of investors and private sector leaders.

The Presidential Breakfast, sponsored by Thomson Reuters, officially kicked off the IGD Advanced Executive Program, which will be held from October 29 to November 2 in Mozambique. The Advanced Executive Program is aimed at equipping U.S. and global business leaders with the professional capacity and leadership skills, connections and real-world business exposure to effectively explore and engage in trade and investment opportunities on the African continent.

President Nyusi said that Mozambique’s trade engagement with the United States has been primarily through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the signature U.S.-Africa trade law. The president noted that in 2016 only 2 percent of the country’s total goods and products were exported to the U.S. “It shows that Mozambique is not tapping properly into the AGOA program,” he said.

The IGD Advanced Executive Program seeks to reverse that trend by bringing investors to the country to forge potential trade and investment partnerships.

IGD’s Leila Ndiaye with President Nyusi in New York

“Our goal is for American business leaders to return home from Mozambique with not only the knowledge and skills on how to conduct business in the country, but also with meaningful interactions with the local business leaders to form long-lasting partnerships,” said Leila Ndiaye, President & CEO of the Initiative for Global Development (IGD).

“Through the executive immersion program, we look forward to strengthening the trade and investment tis between the U.S. and Mozambique,” said Ndiaye.

Organizational partners include the USAID Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub; USAID SpeedPlus Program; U.S. Commercial Service/U.S. embassy of Mozambique, U.S. Department of Commerce; International Council on Small Business (ICSB); and Thomson Reuters. Sasol is a major sponsor of the executive immersion program.

The five-day immersion program will feature educational seminars led by African business leaders, visits with top African government officials, site visits to leading industries, and a cultural celebration. Upon completion of the Advanced Executive Program, participants will receive certification for completion of the program.

The country’s abundance of natural resources offers foreign investors immense trade and investment opportunities in energy, mines, agriculture, forestry, fishing and tourism. Exclusive meetings with Government Ministers and officials from key sectors will provide insight into the regulatory reforms and business and investment environment.

Understanding and navigating the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the largest trade agreement signed since the World Trade Organization (WTO) was established, will be highlighted during the training program.

During the Presidential Breakfast, U.S. and Mozambican business leaders made connections during the B2B networking session at the end of the program.

To register and learn more about the IGD Advanced Executive Program on Doing Business in Africa, please visit http://www.igdleaders.org/igd-advanced-executive-program/.

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Rule of law key to peace building – UN advisor
October 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Adama Dieng

Adama Dieng

Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, has stated that respect for the rule of law is a key factor in preventing and mitigating atrocious crimes and human right violations.

He said that developing strong rule of law institutions must also be central to governments’ preventive efforts, adding that responsive rule of law institutions is key to stability, conflict prevention and peaceful co -existence.

The breakdown of rule of the law significantly increases the risk of gross violations of human rights which may lead to atrocity crimes.

Mr Dieng made this submission at the 6th Kofi Annan – Dag Hammarskjold Annual Lecture in Accra.

He spoke on the theme: Preventing Armed Conflicts: Identifying and Mitigating Risks.

He said that in post-conflict situations and divided societies, rule of law is especially critical to ensuring accountability and rebuilding trust and confidence in state institutions and government framework.

“Credible state institutions and governments that citizens can trust are essential to build a peaceful society.

 It is always disheartening to see some governments around the world neglect their primary duty to fulfill this role and instead, officials engage in misappropriation of state resources for personal gain thus denying delivery of essential services like education, healthcare and security to their people”, he said.

“Without commitment to provide these essential; services to those who lack them, our hope for the world where human life is respected and rule of law honored will remain elusive”, he added.

Mr Dieng said that rule of law calls for accountability for atrocity crimes and other violations of human rights.

“I have always argued that peace and justice are like identical twins joined at the hip. It is difficult to separate them and achieve sustainable peace in post conflict situation or indeed any other society.

While we would expect domestic judicial institutions to effectively complement the work of international and regional judicial institutions, the reality on ground in many countries demonstrate that local judicial systems are inadequate to sufficiently respond to the demand for justice that they are supposed to satisfy”, he added.

He said his office had developed a framework of analysis based on international standards and practice that identifies risk factors for atrocity crimes that could assist to prevent conflict situations before they deteriorate.

He said this framework had helped the office to raise risk of atrocity crimes at an early stage in many situations, including the Central African Republic, Myanmar and South Sudan.

Speaking on human rights, Mr Dieng said, “We cannot undertake meaningful prevention without respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms universally recognized and guaranteed by the international Bill of Rights and other international and regional instruments.

United Nations Resident Coordinator Christin Evans-Klock, said the lecture rightly put cooperation and coordination among regional and national actors at the heart of that effort form the United Nations, the African Union, ECOWAS, down to the national governments and civil society organizations.

“They all have relevant mandates to bring to bear and lessons from experience to share in identifying and mitigating risks”, she said.

“So today, here, we have the opportunity to examine root causes of persistent conflicts, to identify new risks, and to discuss candidly what we have tried so far and what new approaches are needed to resolve conflicts and avert violence”, she added.

The Commandant, Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) AVM Evans Santrofi Griffiths said that loss of lives and properties, displacement, and increased levels of poverty, sexual exploitation and gender-based violence, spill-overs into nearby states are sine if the negative effects of armed conflicts which retrogress individuals and communities.

He said “in spite of its natural resource endowments and very youthful population, the continent is still described as “poor in the midst of plenty” and its influence on international politics has profoundly diminished due to deficits of peace, governance and development”.

“We cannot continue with this same narrative. We need to reverse this trend, we need to offer our people better life opportunities so that they can feel safe to be part of the change we so desire.

The journey to reverse this trend, I believe, is by tackling the root causes of conflict and the precursors to instability by prioritizing, financing and investing in same”, he said.

He added that “this theme is a natural fit into KAIPTC’s vision to be the leading and preferred international center for training, education and research in African peace and security.

We strive to incorporate the needs of the SDG’s, agenda 2063, ECPF and the governance and democracy principles into our training, research and academic programming to build the needed capacity and to influence policy to foster peace and stability”.

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Ghanaian Cocoa Farmers Threaten to Halt Production
October 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Cocoa farmers in the Ghana have threatened to halt production if government does not increase cocoa producer prices for the 2018/2019 cocoa season. The Government of Ghana has resolved to maintain cocoa producer prices at GHC475 per bag.

President of the Cocoa Farmers Association Nana Opambour Bonsu says that due to this development, members would be forced out of business, leaving the country without an industry. “We are the farmers on the ground and we know what is happening and we know the challenges the farmers are going through, ”he said. He added that ” the GHC475 is nothing, its peanuts. What we are saying is if government can’t buy our cocoa at 1,000 cedis, then we are sorry, we will not produce the cocoa”.

This follows the Agric minister’s announcement that government will maintain the price of each bag of cocoa at GHC475 cedis. Meanwhile, a former deputy minister of Finance, Cassiel Ato Forson has said that government has cheated cocoa farmers, asking for an immediate reversal of government’s decision to maintain the producer price for cocoa at GHS 475 per bag.

He said “Government has to add GHC35 to the existing price of a bag of cocoa”.

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Ghana’s Auditor General calls for Privatization of corruption prosecutions.
October 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Domelovo

Domelovo

Ghana’s Auditor General, Daniel Domelevo, has called for the privatization of prosecution of corruption cases in the country. That, according to him, will make it “more distasteful” for an individual; be it in the public or private sector to be corrupt.

“With due apologies to the Attorney General, it is not to take anything at all from her office. But the truth of the matter is that corruption cases are so plenty. In fact, it is even difficult to prioritize them. And being the Attorney General who is supposed to prosecute murder cases, armed robbery etcetera, doing all that together with corruption becomes a problem,”  said Mr. Domelevo at a Multi-Stakeholder Business Integrity Forum by the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), local chapter for the Transparency International.

“So I am suggesting that we should look at how to privatize or commercialize the prosecution of corruption and corruption related cases. So that the grand ones which the Attorney General and the office of the Special Prosecutor will like to keep, they can keep them,” he stated.

Revealing that the office of Attorney General is overwhelmed with “a lot of unattended” corruption cases, Mr. Domelevo said: “We can put a system in place for registration and recognition, monitoring and supervision such that it is done and done well,” stressing “…if we decentralize it and there are multiple sources of which action can come, it makes it more distasteful to be corrupt.”

Mr. Domelevo who in his 2016 report revealed that the overall financial impact of “weaknesses and irregularities”  in the public amounted to GH¢2,165,542,375.14, also called for the amendment of the asset declaration law to allow the public access to the declared assets of public officials to enhance the fight against corruption.

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Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is Slower than Expected
October 4, 2018 | 0 Comments
Investments in Non-Resource Sectors, Jobs and Efficient Firms and Workers are Needed
Albert Zeufack, World Bank Chief Economist for Africa.

Albert Zeufack, World Bank Chief Economist for Africa.

WASHINGTON, October 3, 2018 – Sub-Saharan African economies are still recovering from the slowdown in 2015-16, but growth is slower than expected, according to the October 2018 issue of Africa’s Pulse, the bi-annual analysis of the state of African economies by the World Bank. The average growth rate in the region is estimated at 2.7 percent in 2018, which represents a slight increase from 2.3 percent in 2017.

 
“The region’s economic recovery is in progress but at a slower pace than expected,” said Albert Zeufack, World Bank Chief Economist for Africa“To accelerate and sustain an inclusive growth momentum, policy makers must continue to focus on investments that foster human capital, reduce resource misallocation and boost productivity. Policymakers in the region must equip themselves to manage new risks arising from changes in the composition of capital flows and debt.”
 
Slow growth is partially a reflection of a less favorable external environment for the region. Global trade and industrial activity lost momentum, as metals and agricultural prices fell due to concerns about trade tariffs and weakening demand prospects. While oil prices are likely to be on an upward trend into 2019, metals prices may remain subdued amid muted demand, particularly in China. Financial market pressures intensified in some emerging markets and concern about their dollar-denominated debt has risen amid a stronger US dollar.
 
The slower pace of the recovery in Sub-Saharan Africa (0.4 percentage points lower than the April forecast) is explained by the sluggish expansion in the region’s three largest economies, Nigeria, Angola, and South Africa. Lower oil production in Angola and Nigeria offset higher oil prices, and in South Africa, weak household consumption growth was compounded by a contraction in agriculture. Growth in the region – excluding Angola, Nigeria and South Africa – was steady. Several oil exporters in Central Africa were helped by higher oil prices and an increase in oil production. Economic activity remained solid in the fast-growing non-resource-rich countries, such as Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, and Rwanda, supported by agricultural production and services on the production side, and household consumption and public investment on the demand side.
 
Public debt remained high and continues to rise in some countries. Vulnerability to weaker currencies and rising interest rates associated with the changing composition of debt may put the region’s public debt sustainability further at risk. Other domestic risks include fiscal slippage, conflicts, and weather shocks. Consequently, policies and reforms are needed that can strengthen resilience to risks and raise medium-term potential growth.
 
This issue of Africa’s Pulse highlights sub-Saharan Africa’s lower labor productivity and potentials for improvement “Reforms should include policies which encourage investments in non-resource sectors, generate jobs and improve the efficiency of firms and workers,” said Cesar Calderon, Lead Economist and Lead author of the report.
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Ghana to lose $1.5bn if it doesn’t diversify into coffee production – Experts
October 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah.

Ghana is expected to lose about US$1.5 billion in foreign exchange annually if it does not diversify into coffee production, industry experts have hinted. The commodity, apart from having the potential to rake in more revenue to shore up the US$2 billion cocoa generates annually, according to the experts, could also create more than 500,000 jobs into the Ghanaian economy. Industry experts say the commodity, especially the Robusta coffee is better adapted to slightly higher temperatures and is a better alternative to the country’s number one export commodity, cocoa. The President of the Coffee Federation of Ghana, Chief Nat Ebo Nsarko, in an interview with journalists at the Secretariat of the Federation said Ghana cannot continue to rely on cocoa production to develop its economy looking at the alternative opportunities coffee presents to the country. “Ghana as a country has to diversify into coffee production and would like to see our women at the forefront of this exercise. We’ve had too much of cocoa and we have a lot of lands that could be diversified into coffee production. Coffee has a golden opportunity to do that. When you look at the coffee market, it is quite broad, attractive, lucrative and marketable”, he said. He added “The world is becoming more coffee and the health benefits too are very high. It is not just a great energizer; it can also boost the heart, especially, the elderly, protect one from liver cirrhosis, reduce risk of type 2 diabetes and boost ones exercise routine”.

Members of the Federation had met to celebrate this year’s International Coffee Day and to reflect on the immense benefits of coffee to the global economy while also raising awareness about sustainable coffee cultivation and fair trade practices within the coffee industry. Each year on October 1 since 2015 the world come together to celebrate International Coffee Day. This global event celebrates coffee’s journey from the farm to the local shop or from the bean to the cup as a beverage. This year’s theme for the celebration is ‘Women in Coffee’. The theme chosen by the International Coffee Organization (ICO), according to Mr. Nsarko, couldn’t have been more appropriate looking at the critical role women play in the whole of the coffee chain – from planting the seeds to processing to trading to brewing and drinking it. Ghana is expected to hold an International Coffee Conference in Accra on October 5, 2018. The conference would be under the theme: ‘Unlocking Ghana’s Competitive Position in the Global Robusta Coffee Market’.

Among the industry experts to grace the occasion include; the Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General and Director of the Centre for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Ghana’s Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Chairman of the Global Coffee Platform, Mr. Carlos Brando and Chief Adams Tiapzi, former Chair, Fairtrade Africa. The Vice-President of Ghana, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia is expected to grace the occasion and launch the IFC project. Mr. Nsarko commenting further wished everybody a happy Coffee Day and called on all to give their maximum support to the call for the country to diversify into coffee production. He was hopeful that the conference will be a success and the outcome will be very positive for Ghana.

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Ghana :NPP, NDC sabotaging RTI bill – CDD
October 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah.

The Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) has accused the governing New Patriotic Party and the opposition National Democratic Congress of colluding against the Right to Information (RTI) bill. The RTI bill was laid before Parliament by the Deputy Attorney General Joseph Kpemka Dindiok in March this year. It has been 22 years since the first RTI bill was drafted under the auspices of the Institute of Economic Affairs, IEA and 16 years since the Executive arm of government in 2002 drafted the first RTI bill. The draft Executive Bill was subsequently reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007 but was never laid in Parliament until February 5, 2010. “…If there’s one, or two or three things that the two main political parties [NPP and NDC] align, agree to, then, it is this RTI that they don’t want. I think that’s what it is,” says Deputy Director of the CDD, Dr Franklin Oduro at a roundtable discussion on METOGU anti-corruption report in Accra. He continued, “My own view is that these two parties have demonstrated that they don’t want the RTI. So there’s no blame game between them, the NDC and the NPP. “Until they pass that law and not passing any law but the good law, I will still stand by my position that the two main parties…especially those represented in parliament have sort of come into secret understanding that let’s not get this law passage,” he added.

RTI will be law by end of 2018

Speaking at a press launch on March 26 as Ghana joined the rest of the world to mark the World Press Freedom Day, former Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid assured that the RTI bill will be passed into law by the end of 2018. “We have shown our commitment in this past year that we have come into office with a commitment to pass the Right to Information bill…the Right to Information bill is going to become law by the close of this year,” said Hamid who is now Zongo and Inner Cities Development Minister following President Akufo-Addo’s maiden reshuffle.

RTI’s passage will end media speculation

According to private legal practitioner Samson Lardy Anyenini, the passage of the RTI bill into would bring an end to the culture of media speculations in the country as public officials would be mandated by law to supply journalists and the public information requested of them. “Your ethics that say that you should be fair and deal with the fact will be upheld because you will get the fact. You will not be speculating. You will not be running rumours on media every morning in the name of a morning show,” he said at a Seminar organized by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) – Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) chapter earlier this year. “They are bound by law to supply you the contract and every information so as a journalist, you will be dealing with facts and figures that the law compels the public officials to give to you,” he added.

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Bank crisis: Gov’t saved deposits of 1m Ghanaians – Akufo-Addo
October 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

President Akufo Addo

President Akufo Addo

Ghana’s President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has revealed that the rationalization of the banking sector has ensured that deposits of 1,147,366 Ghanaians were saved.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the new Standard Chartered Head Office, President Akufo-Addo noted that his administration assumed the reins of office in January 2017, with the country’s banking sector in deep trouble.

According to him, some banks were saddled with high non-performing loans, $2.4 billion energy sector legacy debts, and were also thinly capitalized, and, as such, were unable to underwrite big ticket transactions.

“With time, even more toxic problems emerged, such as systemic widespread abuse, poor, irresponsible governance practices, liquidity challenges, circumvention of banking laws, all with the apparent complicity of some high-ranking officials of the Bank of Ghana,” the President said.

He continued, “There were situations where directors of banks took depositors’ monies, lent those monies to themselves or to their own businesses, and failed to pay back. This led to liquidity challenges and the inability of these banks to pay back when the depositors came calling.”

The Ghanaian President noted that the banks, caught up in these malpractices, became insolvent, and relied on liquidity support from the Bank of Ghana.

What this meant was that, President Akufo-Addo explained, without injection of liquidity from the Bank of Ghana, these were bound to fail and collapse, with depositors losing their entire savings, and all their workers losing their jobs.

The intervention of his Government and the Bank of Ghana, the President said, prevented a banking crisis, with GH¢12.7 billion of public funds, made up of an GH¢8 billion bond issued by the Ministry of Finance, and GH¢4.7 billion of liquidity support from the Bank of Ghana, being injected into the seven banks that failed.

“These measures saved not only the deposits of one million, one hundred and forty-seven thousand, three hundred and sixty-six (1,147,366) Ghanaians and their businesses and the people they employed, but also minimized job losses

President Akufo-Addo reiterated that the rationalization and clean-up of the financial sector were necessary to safeguard the health and strength of the economy.

“I have said it before, and let me reiterate, that those responsible for the sequence of activities that led to the ‘crisis’ will face the full brunt of the law, if they are found to have broken the law, and suffer all the consequences prescribed by law,” the President stressed.

Banking sector

Speaking on the role of the banking sector to the progress and prosperity of the country, the President noted that “when banks do not become mere profit-making enterprises, but see themselves as partners with Government actively to build a healthy and stronger economy, then we would be making significant progress.”

He indicated that the perennial problems of the slowdown in credit to the private sector, high bank lending rates, and financial exclusion continue to be matters of great concern to Government and are being addressed.

Firstly, the President noted that the introduction of the National Financial Inclusion and Development Strategy (NFIDS), which is currently before Cabinet, should help increase the penetration of financial services from 58% in 2013 to some 85% by 2023.

Secondly, Government, he added, is working with financial institutions and regulators to promote digital finance, mobile money usage, and formalize the Ghanaian economy.

With mobile money penetration in Ghana being the second in Africa, and, with reforms to our payment system, the President was hopeful that Ghana will have a strong competitive edge in the region for financial innovation and access to credit.

“The introduction of the mobile money interoperability platform, launched in May this year, resulted in GH¢12.5 million worth of transactions within the first month alone. Currently, mobile money transactions are worth GH¢155.8 billion, up from GH¢78.5 billion in December 2016, representing an increase of 98.5%. We are moving our country’s payment systems from being a pre-dominantly cash-based one to an electronic one,” he added.

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Ghana: NADMO rushes to Afram Plains to rescue 100 submerged communities.
October 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Officials of  Ghana’s National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) are moving to Kwahu Afram Plains North District of the Eastern Rgion as floods submerge more than 100 communities.

The team comprising of the National Headquarters and the Eastern Regional Directorate is expected to arrive by Wednesday October 3. The devastating floods caused by the Bagre Dam Spillage and Torrential rainfalls in the area have collapsed hundreds of houses in the affected communities and displaced many residents who are now being sheltered in classrooms and Churches.

NADMO officials say most of the affected communities are on the Island adding that many more communities have been affected as the organization continues to receive distress calls from other Island communities reporting of similar incidents. Some of the affected communities are Mepe C.K Korpe, Kpekuidzi No.1 & 2 Zikpo,Kpekpa Korpe,Dodi,Apapasu Battor, KorleKorpe , Congo ,Kwaku Dadae,Gbadagba Kpala Tonu among others in the Eastern and Volta regions of the country.

The floods have also destroyed 40 acres of Maize, Cassava, groundnut and Sugar cane farms in Faaso Battor community. The Afram Plains North District Director of NADMO David Nyarko  told Starr News his staff are struggling to visit all the affected communities for assessment due to lack of safety logistics and speed boats.

“The Dwarf and the Afigya Island have about 500 communities, so we cannot cover it a day. Our Zonal Officers are along the lake but not all the areas that they are able to cover because the Volta Lake is bigger so it takes time”.

He added: ” we are waiting for the regional and National to come with speed boats so that we go there tomorrow so we are now mobilizing”.

The District NADMO Director blamed some residents for the devastation noting residents flout warning and build closer to the lake during the dry season.

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Postponing Terminal 3 commissioning Petty, embarrassing – Mahama Appointee
October 4, 2018 | 0 Comments
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa

Former deputy education minister under the erstwhile Mahama government, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has expressed concerns over the government’s decision to postpone the commissioning of the popular terminal 3 at the Kotoka International Airport.

According to him, the move puts Ghana in a bad light since aviation giant Emirate has put in place measures to join Ghana celebrate the commissioning of the terminal.

The terminal, constructed by former President John Mahama, was scheduled to be commissioned on Tuesday October 2 by President Akufo-Addo.

Emirate has scheduled their 100th and biggest plane to fly in by a Ghanaian pilot as part of marking the ceremony.

“Insiders within the government confirm to me that there has been an indefinite postponement of tomorrow’s official opening of Terminal 3 and that President Akufo-Addo will no longer be attending the high profile ceremony.

“Now let us remember:

“Based on a request from Ghana, Emirates put out a press release on 18th July, changed crew and aircraft schedules and finalized arrangements to fly the A380 to Ghana. Who has let them and Ghana’s image down so badly?

When did we know that this event was ‘postponed indefinitely’, and did anyone bother to let Emirates know? If so, why are there still murmurings in Dubai? I am reliably informed that passengers who tried to get first class tickets were told that the entire First Class cabin had been blocked off for Emirati and Emirates airlines VVIPs. If this is true, what are we going to do with our VVIP guests who planned to attend a Presidential Commissioning? Is this not too much a price to pay because of bad politics and petty partisanship?” Ablakwa wrote in a feature Tuesday.

Below are details of the write-up

There’s not a scintilla of doubt that this is an exciting period for aviation enthusiasts. On Saturday, September 15, 2018, the new Kotoka International Airport Terminal 3 began operations (Go Live!, they called it).

It was a deeply awesome feeling when I finally had my own Terminal 3 experience last week en route to the 73rd United Nations General Assembly. I could identify with the tangible national pride and a renewed sense of accomplishment that many Ghanaians displayed while we went through embarkation formalities. Many were those who asked that I convey their gratitude to President Mahama for a great job done; obediently I obliged, promising them I will do just that when I meet with the former President upon my return.

Many Ghanaians have subsequently been looking forward to experiencing history and the future at the same place – Kotoka Terminal 3 – that beautiful new edifice, as it is common knowledge, that it will be commissioned at a grand ceremony at noon tomorrow Tuesday 2nd October. To make the day even more memorable and befitting of the international accolades Terminal 3 is receiving, Emirates airlines had scheduled a flight to operate into Accra on that day, using the world’s biggest commercial passenger aircraft – the double-decker Airbus A380. The significance of the first ever visit Accra by this behemoth (the history); and a new terminal capable of handling these new, incredibly large double-decker aircraft (the future) must not be lost on us!

According to Wikipedia, Emirates is the world’s fourth-largest airline in terms of international passengers carried, and the second largest in terms of freight carried. It operates a fleet of more than 250 aircraft, of which 104 are Airbus A380s. They have 58 of these giant aircraft on order. So I can imagine the great pride with which Emirates airlines management put out a press release on 18 July 2018, saying ‘Emirates iconic A380 aircraft will operate a one-off flight to Kotoka International Airport (ACC) on Tuesday 2nd October, 2018 as the global airline joins local authorities in celebrating the opening of the Airport’s new Terminal 3’. The press statement went on to say that ‘we have enjoyed a close relationship with Ghana as a strategic hub to West Africa for over a decade, and are honoured to bring our flagship A380 to this vibrant city’. The participation of this aircraft in the opening ceremony was at the request of Ghanaian aviation officials.

Emirates has been operating a daily passenger service to Abidjan via Accra since January 2004 (a flight with designation EK 787). The airline started operations on this route with an Airbus A340 and quickly changed this to the newer Boeing 777 – 300 aircraft. The flight arrives in Accra at 11:35 am daily and goes on to Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

On Tuesday 2nd October 2018, there will be a switch of aircraft used by Emirates on the Accra/Abidjan route to the world’s biggest passenger aircraft that has never visited Ghana before, and its arrival has been timed to place it at the centre of the commissioning of Terminal 3. The official commissioning of Terminal 3 by government was to be complemented by a separate ceremony by Emirates airlines focusing on the arrival of their special aircraft.

Compared to the Emirates aircraft that comes to Accra every day, this special aircraft has the following seat configuration:

14 First Class (6 seats more than the 777 that regularly operates on the Accra/Abidjan route)
76 Business Class (34 extra seats)

426 Economy Class (116 extra seats)

In summary, there will be 156 EXTRA SEATS on this special flight and it is important to note that NO EMIRATES FLIGHT WILL BE OPERATED TO ABIDJAN ON THAT DAY – Emirates has, at the request of Ghanaian aviation officials, decided to leave the aircraft on the tarmac in Accra for close to six hours to help us celebrate our big day.

To recap, Emirates put in place plans to do the following on Tuesday 2nd October TO SUPPORT OUR FUNCTION:

Terminate the flight in Accra (no continuation to Abidjan so no Abidjan passengers, revenue lost on the Accra to Abidjan leg, likelihood that Accra passengers alone cannot fill the entire aircraft, inconvenience to potential passengers who had planned to fly to Abidjan on 2nd October)

Schedule British/Ghanaian A380 Captain Nana Quainoo (picture of this great Ghanaian attached) and other Ghanaian crew to handle the flight on that day as a sign of partnership and respect.

Take a huge risk to bring in an aircraft for which they most likely don’t have ground engineering support for.

The icing on the cake is that the aircraft being operated into Accra is registered A6-EUV, the 100th Airbus A380 to be acquired by the airline. It is only 1.6 years old, and it has pride of place in the airline’s fleet. It is popularly known by the name ‘Year of Zayed 2018’, named to mark the 100th year since the birth of the founding father of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) -Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nayhan. What great lengths they have gone to, to celebrate what is essentially OUR DAY!!

Now guess what?

Insiders within the government confirm to me that there has been an indefinite postponement of tomorrow’s official opening of Terminal 3 and that President Akufo-Addo will no longer be attending the high profile ceremony.

Now let us remember:

Based on a request from Ghana, Emirates put out a press release on 18th July, changed crew and aircraft schedules and finalized arrangements to fly the A380 to Ghana. Who has let them and Ghana’s image down so badly?

When did we know that this event was ‘postponed indefinitely’, and did anyone bother to let Emirates know? If so, why are there still murmurings in Dubai?

I am reliably informed that passengers who tried to get first class tickets were told that the entire First Class cabin had been blocked off for Emirati and Emirates airlines VVIPs. If this is true, what are we going to do with our VVIP guests who planned to attend a Presidential Commissioning?

Is this not too much a price to pay because of bad politics and petty partisanship?

If it is not the case of destructive politicking, what possibly could account for this late notice of indefinite postponement of the commissioning which has led to a last-minute scramble to inform invited guests (financiers, contractors, other partners etc.) traveling from all across the globe that the event has been postponed?

Granted that this episode will be quickly forgotten, and another issue will come up soon to drown this one out, but I would plead that this decision is revisited, if at all possible, because we may not care, but in other places, someone’s word is his/her bond. Ever tried buying a rug or attire in a market in Dubai or Tehran? Time spent bargaining, drinking coffee with customers and reaching an agreement on prices matters even more than money. Words matter. Agreements matter. Trust matters. In the larger scheme of things, this may not be a big issue, but it doesn’t portray us as trustworthy partners, honestly.

As Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, I am terribly worried about what this pettiness does to brand Ghana and the ramifications for future strategic partnerships with the international business community with its resultant effect on the already struggling Ghanaian economy. And as for our official ties with the United Arab Emirates; if what I am picking up is exactly the case, then we must begin to tighten our seat belts for the turbulence ahead in our diplomatic relations.

Thankfully, Emirates is still going ahead with their own function to mark the arrival of the aircraft in Accra. Forget how our fellow Ghanaians who work with Emirates will feel about this – they will get over it. Forget about the effect it will have on operations at the new terminal – life will go on, commissioning or no commissioning. But remember that actions have consequences, and trust cannot be bought with money.

If we can do something about this embarrassment, let us do it NOW. 24 hours is a long time in aviation (and politics). EK787 (A6-EUV/A380/02OCT2018) has not taken off yet. Let’s put our best foot forward and fly above the pettiness!!!!

 

 

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Ghana:Cedi to depreciate further – ISSER hints
October 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia

Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia

The Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) has predicted the Cedi to further depreciate against the US dollar in 2018.

“It’s expected that the Cedi will depreciate slightly more than the 2017 levels because of the current rise in interest rate in the US market and the gradual increase in the proportion of foreigners holding Ghana’s domestic bonds,” the Institute’s Director Professor Felix Ankomah Asante said at a press conference to announce their findings.

The Cedi in May this year, according to the Central Bank governor, gained 0.02percet against the dollar then, compared to a depreciation of 0.97 per cent in the same period in 2017.

Since then, however, the cedi has recorded massive losses against the dollar, the latest being last week where it hit GH¢4.97 to the dollar.

It followed a July fall where it traded at GH¢4.8250 to the dollar depreciating cumulatively, by 5.3 per cent in the first six months, compared to 3.3 per cent in the first half of 2017 despite significant increments of weekly dollar sales to local banks in the country.

Critics have blamed government’s policies for the weakening of the cedi against the U.S. Dollar and other major currencies – a stance Vice President Dr Bawumia Bawumia rejected.

Cedi depreciated only 7% because of strong fundamentals

Dr Bawumia defended the Akufo-Addo government’s management of the economy in the wake of the depreciation of the Cedi against the United States dollar.

According to him, the depreciation of the Cedi against the dollar has been only seven per cent an indication of relatively stronger fundamentals of the economy.

He said the percentage depreciation of the Cedi which is only been seven per cent is because “over the last few months the US dollar internationally has strengthened against all the major currencies in the world” because the US federal reserve has increased its interest rate.

“So, you have been seeing over the last few months that many currencies in the world have been depreciating against the US dollar,” said Dr Bawumia. “For example, the Argentina peso has depreciated by 50.2percent this year against US dollar, the Turkish Lira has depreciated by 42percent against the US dollar, and the South African rand has depreciated by 19.2percent against the US dollar. In India, another strong market economy rupee has depreciated by 11 per cent against the US dollar, in the UK, the British pound has depreciated by 4.29percent against the US dollar and in this context, and so far this year the Ghana cedi has depreciated by just 7percent against the US dollar.”

That, according to him, meant that the exchange rate of the cedi to the dollar has remained “relatively stable when compared to the movements in other currencies against the US dollar. The reason for this is because of the relatively stronger fundamentals that we have in our economy.”

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Ghana:Govt blows $6m on private probes to nail Mahama appointees – NDC
October 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Johnson Asiedu Nketiah with John Mahama (right)

Johnson Asiedu Nketiah with John Mahama (right)

Ghana’s largest opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has accused the Akufo-Addo administration of squandering over $6million on private investigations aimed at nailing appointees in the erstwhile Mahama government.

According to the NDC, the investigations being done by private investigators at a staggering cost to the state, are being done simultaneously with other state agencies like the Economic and Organized Crimes Office (EOCO).

“The NDC has credible information that an amount of at least $6.8million has so far being paid by the NPP government under President Akufo-Addo’s watch to these private firms to carry out work that’s already being done or has been completed by state agencies,” said the General Secretary of the NDC Johnson Asiedu Nketia at a news conference.

“Meanwhile,” he added, “the taxpayers’ money is being spent on state agencies like the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of  the Ghana Police Service, the Economic and Organized Crimes Office (EOCO), the Special Prosecutor’s Office, the Auditor General’s Department and  the Attorney General’s. Any of these [institutions] could have carried out these audits.”

He said the party has evidence from some former appointees that while they have been or are being subjected to EOCO’s investigations and while they have submitted themselves to regularly reporting to EOCO, they have also received letters from some of these private firms to answer the same questions they have already answered at EOCO.

The NDC’s accusation follows the uncovering of some procurement irregularities amounting to a whopping US$137,861,127.15 at Ghana National Gas Company during the erstwhile administration of John Mahama by a private firm Morrison and Associates.

Nketia

Nketia

Commissioned by the government, Morrison and Associates’ forensic audit of Ghana Gas further detected that helicopters purchased from China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC) by Ghana Gas “have never been used for purpose of its purchase.”

According to the audit report in possession of panafricanvisions.com, as a result of the situation, a whopping amount of $54,800,000 has gone down the drain as “financial loss to the state.”

It added: “Abnitio training cost not fully utilized for its intended purpose” amounts to US$300,000, making a total of US$61,058,366.756.

The report which has been submitted to President Akufo-Addo and his cabinet also detected procurement breaches worth US$34,451,650.22 and US$42,351,110.17 in contracts with Memphis Metropolitan Limited and Kingspok Company Limited respectively.

The report which covered the board chairmanship tenure of Dr Kwesi Botchwey also has it that equipment for the helicopters worth $5,958,366.76 “were not delivered even though it was part of the contract price.”

A former member of the Ghana National Gas Company board Dr Valerie Sawyerr has since challenged report of the forensic audit describing it as shoddy.

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