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Government of Ghana to facilitate Christian pilgrimage to Israel.
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs Minister Kofi Dzamesi

Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs Minister Kofi Dzamesi

The Government of Ghana has stated that it will organize another trip for Christians to Israel after last year’s “successful” piloting of the programme.

According to the Ghana’s Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, the fares for this year’s pilgrimage to Israel remains the same as that of 2017. The fee for the trip per person was $2,700.

The Government was heavily lambasted when it announced its intention to facilitate the pilgrimage of about 100 Christians to Israel and the Vatican.

A religious expert and lecturer at the University of Ghana Dr. Ben Willie-Golo condemned the decision then as “reckless.”

“Why will you want to push this? I mean don’t we have earnestly [something] doing with our resources,” he quizzed during an interview on Morning Starr.

Despite the scathing condemnation, government remained resolute and went ahead to execute the programme.

In an address to a News Conference to announce the latest move, the Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs Minister Kofi Dzamesi last year’s event was successful.

“Last year this [Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs] Ministry facilitated a pilot pilgrimage to the state of Israel, which in our view was largely successful and very beneficial, confirming in the large measure the importance of pilgrimage in the life of a Christian,” he said.

Thus, he added “this [Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs] Ministry intends to facilitate another pilgrimage to the state of Israel but on a much broader scale and within manageable limit.”

He said this year’s fares remain the same as last year’s with similar package.

Parliamentary summons

The move to send over a 100 persons to Israel and the Vatican last year was described by majority of the public as a misplaced priority on the part of government.

The Christian Council of Ghana also stated then that “it did not want tax payers to bear the cost”.

And in the heat of the conundrum surrounding the government’s programme, parliament hauled the Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs Minister to the lawmaking chamber to disclose the modalities surrounding the trip and to ascertain if the State is footing the bills.

However, the Ministry has insisted it “is not in to make profit” but only facilitating travelling arrangement for Ghanaians Christians to embark on the trip.

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Pay taxes to develop Ghana – Bawumia
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Bawumia

Bawumia

Ghana’s Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has challenged the country’s citizens to honour their civic obligations to the State by filing their tax returns in order to mobilise domestic revenue to help meet development aspirations.

The vice president said mobilising adequate domestic revenue will also help achieve President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s vision of a Ghana Beyond Aid.

Emphasising the importance of domestic revenue mobilisation to national development across the world, Dr. Bawumia stated: “All over the world, taxation is the main tool countries rely on to mobilize revenue to develop their economies and provide services to their people. Perhaps least talked about and also less understood by many of us is that whatever the advanced countries send to us as aid is the result of their own ability to mobilize domestic resources. What we take for granted as aid resources, is the result of their capacity to raise taxes, especially income tax. As we embark on this journey of Ghana Beyond Aid, it is imperative for us to take rigorous and decisive steps to raise enough income tax.”

The Vice President made the call for greater tax compliance when he launched the 2018 “Tax and Good Governance Week” organised by the Ghana Revenue Authority in Accra, on Friday April 6, 2018. The celebration is under the theme “Filing your tax returns, your civic responsibility”, and is aimed at getting all eligible tax payers to file their tax returns on or before the deadline of 30th April, 2018.

Vice President Bawumia bemoaned the poor tax paying culture in the country, indicating that though potential employees in the country are estimated at 6 million individuals, only about 1.5 million persons are registered with the Ghana Revenue Authority and pay their Pay As You Earn (PAYE).

“In fact, Ghana ranks below Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Senegal, Cape Verde and Swaziland in terms of the contribution of payroll tax to GDP. In 2015/2016 fiscal year, PAYE contributed about 15% of total domestic revenue, the self-employed about 1.1% and corporate tax about 19%. The combined contribution of about 35% is significantly below Singapore’s 50%, South Africa’s 54%, Canada’s 58% and Denmark’s 60%.”

“Let me reiterate that filing of tax returns, in addition to being the civic responsibility of every Ghanaian, is also a requirement by law. The Income Tax Act 2015 (Act 896) and the Revenue Administration Act, 2016 (Act 915) mandate every eligible person to file an income tax return with the Commissioner-General not later than four months after the end of each year of assessment.

Bawumia

Bawumia

“This campaign is therefore meant to remind and educate all categories of persons on this civic requirement and encourage the general public to visit any of the offices of the Ghana Revenue Authority across the country and file their tax returns if they haven’t already done so before the end of April, 2018.”

The President, Dr Bawumia disclosed, has directed all Ministers of State, Government Appointee and Public Officials to file their tax returns before the deadline.

“During this programme, GRA will mount tax clinics at specific places to assist citizens with the filing of their tax returns as well as other tax related matters. The tax return forms have been modified to make it easier to fill. Arrangements are also being made to provide a more efficient electronic system for filing returns in the very near future.”

Vice President Bawumia, together with a number of Government Ministers and Deputies who were at the launch, have since filed their tax returns at the offices of the Ghana Revenue Authority in Accra.

 

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Weah is a Symbol of Liberia’s Progress – Akufo-Addo
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Akufo and Weah

Akufo and Weah

President of the republic of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says President George Weah is a perfect representation of the progress of Liberia after its dark days of war.

President Akufo-Addo observed that President Weah’s election victory and subsequent peaceful handover of power from one democratically elected government to another in Liberia certainly demonstrates that Liberia has put it’s past behind and is ready to build a modern and democratic society that would put the welfare of its people first.

The President made the assertions when he, together with President Weah, addressed a joint press conference at the foyer of the Jubilee House after they held bilateral talks to discuss various ways the two countries can support each other’s developmental efforts.

President Weah is in Ghana for a two-day official state visit.

In his speech, President Weah said his Presidency considers Ghana as a case study that he will study and learn from during his presidency.

He called on President Akufo Addo to personally help Liberia to succeed under his Presidency.

President Weah recalled how Ghana hosted Liberians during their years of trouble and war.

He expressed sincere gratitude for the gesture and pledged to build a much stronger relationship with Ghana during his administration.

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US deal: Akufo-Addo’s address insulting – Ablakwa
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa

Minority spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has described Akufo-Addo’s address on the Ghana – US defense cooperation agreement as “insulting.”

In a national address Thursday evening, the president tagged those opposed to the agreement as naysayers and hypocrites.

“And how else would we have exposed the unspeakable hypocrisy of the fraternity of some frontline politicians, who make a habit of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds, who secretly wallow in the largesse of the United States of America, whilst, at the same time, promote anti-American sentiments to a populist constituency?” Nana Addo said.

Reacting to the 15-minute address, the National Democratic Congress MP for North Tongu, who mounted pressure on the president to break his silence on the issue, said Mr. Akufo-Addo failed Ghanaians.

“A terribly sad night indeed,” Mr. Ablakwa said in a Facebook post.

He added: “This is not how a President talks down to his own people. The intolerant, condescending and insulting response to genuine concerns of Ghanaians from all sections of society is very regrettable.”

In his address, the President also dismissed claims that the US is seeking to build a military base in the West African country.

“The United States of America has not made any request for such consideration and, consistent with our established foreign policy, we will not consider any such request. In consideration of the realities of our circumstances and the challenges to peace in our region in our time, we have deemed it prudent to continue the Co-operation Agreement with the United States of America.”

He was confident that the US-Ghana Military Co-operation Agreement “will help enhance our defense capability, and offer an important layer of support in our common effort to protect the peace in our region.”

Explaining why his Government had departed from the previous norms of predecessor governments to keep military co-operation agreements entered into with the United States of America secret, President Akufo-Addo indicated that his government was of the view that such agreements should be subject to the appropriate scrutiny of Parliament, in consonance with the requirements of accountable governance and the teachings of the Constitution.

“But for this decision to be open about this agreement, how else would we, the people of Ghana, have ever known that, for several decades, Ghana has had defense and security co-operation collaborations with the United States of America? How else would we have known that, in some instances, we have provided them with facilities for the movement of personnel and equipment to help some of our neighbors who were facing security and health challenges?” he asked

1998, 2000, 2015 Agreements

Touching on the conduct of Ghana’s foreign policy, the President stated that the country’s foreign policy has been consistently bi-partisan, and no successor government has found the need to tamper with any Agreement of a non-commercial nature, entered into by its predecessor.

He noted that “we respect the age-old norms of international diplomacy that, when a country has accorded concessions and privileges to another, these are not removed or altered by a successor government, unless, firstly, the conditions under which they were granted have been reversed; or, secondly, there is proven evidence of abuse.”
The President explained his administration came to know that Ghana had entered into a Co-operation Agreement with the United States of America, in 1998, 2000, and under the government of my predecessor in 2015.

His government was, nonetheless, satisfied that the conditions which necessitated the Agreements of 1998, 2000 and 2015, namely the creeping threat to the peace of the region, had not disappeared, adding that if anything, the threat had increased and, therefore, the need had arisen for continuing with the co-operation with the United States of America.
President Akufo-Addo stressed that no suggestion had ever been made that the United States of America had abused any of the privileges or concessions granted under any of these agreements, and it would, thus, have been deemed an unfriendly act to attempt to deny them any concession granted them under the earlier agreements.

Conditions of agreement

Touching on the conditions of the Agreement, President Akufo-Addo explained that these conditions mirror closely the conditions under which Ghana participates in peace-keeping operations under the United Nations, citing the example that when Ghanaian troops go on most peacekeeping duties, they do not carry their national passports, but rather carry their military identity.

Again, the President noted that quite apart from how this Agreement involves the military as an institution, it was worth pointing out that, virtually since independence, Ghana has had very fruitful relations with a range of foreign embassies and major international institutions.

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Unemployment: Arab spring not imminent – Expert
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments
Vladmir Antwi-Danso

Vladmir Antwi-Danso

The Dean of Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College Vladmir Antwi-Danso has dismissed fears of a possible replication of the Arab Spring in Ghana over increasing spate of unemployment.

More than 1.2 million persons from 15 years and older are estimated to be unemployed, representing the total unemployment rate of 11.9%, according to a 2015 Ghana Labour Force Survey Report.

Of this number, about 714,916 are females, representing 57.2 per cent and 535,997 for males representing 42.8%, the survey commissioned by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) stated.

President Akufo-Addo hesitated in January this year in a media encounter to give an accurate data of how many jobs his government created since coming to power. The figures, he said should be expected this month [April] as government was in the process of putting together the statistics on the exact number of jobs that have been created by his NPP government.

Speaking Thursday at the 5th African Policy Think Tank Summit in Accra, the Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta attributed Ghana and the Africa’s debilitating youth unemployment figures to the failure of the continent’s economy to drive job creation, warning that if care was not taken the situation will lead to the replication of Arab spring in the country

The Arab Spring was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings and armed rebellions that spread across the Middle East in early 2011 due largely to massive youth unemployment in the region.

But Vladmir Antwi-Danso observed that the situation in the country, even though alarming, does not provide fertile grounds for a civil unrest of that kind.

“The point is that something has to trigger something. Even when you have just two and half percent of unemployment it could trigger anything. Now you have twelve and half percent, thirty percent like you have in the Arab spring; thirty-one percent seriously employed and it is like they are unemployed and unemployable. We are getting there somehow but those things that trigger what the unemployed could do I haven’t found them yet,” the International Relations and security expert said in response to concerns raised by the Finance Minister.

“We have a certain social kind of situation [and] the family system that we have in Ghana does well. Then the social safety net either from the government or from relatives does well to cushion us…that kind of bond where society is taking care of itself is still there. It is dying gradually but it will a lot of time before it dies [completely]. The religious kind of believe in the spirit is also working well even though it’s bad. So I wouldn’t say tomorrow we are going to have Arab spring,” he added.

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Speech on military deal: Akufo-Addo’s emotional outburst bad – University Don
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Prof. Ransford Gyampo

Prof. Ransford Gyampo

Outspoken Political Scientist Prof. Ransford Gyampo has described as unnecessary President Akufo-Addo’s emotionally fiery defense of the controversial military agreement between Ghana and the United States of America.

According to the Senior lecturer at the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana, even though he subscribed to the President’s unflinching resolve to expose the hypocrisy of the opposition regarding the agreement, he erred in his choice of language.

“The president in his speech at certain times was a bit emotional. But I was thinking that he could have still exposed political hypocrisy without being emotional and then also sounding or insinuating that a section of the Ghanaian population are anti-America,” Prof Gyampo said.

“I don’t think that it is helpful,” he stressed.

In a televised address Thursday evening President Akufo Addo tagged those opposed to the agreement as naysayers and hypocrites.

“And how else would we have exposed the unspeakable hypocrisy of the fraternity of some frontline politicians, who make a habit of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds, who secretly wallow in the largesse of the United States of America, whilst, at the same time, promote anti-American sentiments to a populist constituency?” Ghana’s President said.

In his reaction however, Prof. Gyampo stated speaking against the agreement does not make one anti-American and that as a father of the nation the President shouldn’t be seen as being intolerable to criticisms.

“For the want of a better word serious emotional attack on those who were peddling hypocrisy and all that, I think he is the father of the nation and so his words on an issue like this should put all debate to rest. It should not stoke further debate,” he stated.

Address insulting

The Minority in Parliament’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa also described President Akufo Addo’s address on the defense cooperation agreement as “insulting.”

Reacting to the 15-minute address, the National Democratic Congress MP for North Tongu, who mounted pressure on the president to break his silence on the issue, said Mr. Akufo-Addo failed Ghanaians.

“A terribly sad night indeed,” Mr. Ablakwa said in a Facebook post.

He added: “This is not how a President talks down to his own people. The intolerant, condescending and insulting response to genuine concerns of Ghanaians from all sections of society is very regrettable.”

No military base

In his address, the President also dismissed claims that the US is seeking to build a military base in Ghana.

“The United States of America has not made any request for such consideration and, consistent with our established foreign policy, we will not consider any such request. In consideration of the realities of our circumstances and the challenges to peace in our region in our time, we have deemed it prudent to continue the Co-operation Agreement with the United States of America.”

He was confident that the US-Ghana Military Co-operation Agreement “will help enhance our defence capability, and offer an important layer of support in our common effort to protect the peace in our region.”

Explaining why his Government had departed from the previous norms of predecessor governments to keep military co-operation agreements entered into with the United States of America secret, President Akufo-Addo indicated that his government was of the view that such agreements should be subject to the appropriate scrutiny of Parliament, in consonance with the requirements of accountable governance and the teachings of the Constitution.

“But for this decision to be open about this agreement, how else would we, the people of Ghana, have ever known that, for several decades, Ghana has had defence and security co-operation collaborations with the United States of America? How else would we have known that, in some instances, we have provided them with facilities for the movement of personnel and equipment to help some of our neighbours who were facing security and health challenges?” the President asked

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UN expert on extreme poverty to visit Ghana
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston

UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston

The UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, will visit Ghana from 9 to 18 April 2018 to examine the government’s efforts to address poverty through the lens of international human rights law.

“It is widely recognised that Ghana has made great strides in poverty eradication over the past two decades, but government statistics indicate that poverty is still prevalent and inequality is on the rise,” said the human rights expert.

“This is a critical time in Ghana’s history, as the macroeconomic turbulence of the past few years is beginning to stabilise and the country is seeking its own development path. It will be important for the government to address the rising inequality and keep human rights at the centre of its policies, if the country’s longer-term development goals are to be achieved.”

Alston will meet with government officials, civil society organisations, academic experts, and people living in poverty to address a range of issues. These include the specific challenges of urban and rural poverty, the extent and efficacy of the government’s social protection programmes, the ways in which those who are not wealthy fare in the criminal justice system, and the experiences of vulnerable and marginalised groups such as women, children and persons with disabilities who are living in poverty.

He will visit Accra, Old Fadama, Tamale, Bolgatanga, and rural communities in the Northern and Upper East regions.

The Special Rapporteur will share his preliminary observations and recommendations at a press conference on Wednesday, 18 April 2018 at the Ghana Journalists Association’s International Press Centre in Accra.

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US military deal exposes NDC’s hypocrisy – Akufo-Addo
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

Nana Akufo-Addo

Nana Akufo-Addo

President Akufo-Addo says his government’s handling of the military pact between Ghana and the United States exposes the hypocrisy of some front-line politicians in Ghana.

“And how else would we have exposed the unspeakable hypocrisy of the fraternity of some frontline politicians, who make a habit of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds, who secretly wallow in the largesse of the United States of America, whilst, at the same time, promote anti-American sentiments to a populist constituency?” the President wondered in his national broadcast on the controversial deal which has been criticized by the opposition NDC and former President John Mahama.

The President also dismissed claims that the US is seeking to build a military base in Ghana.

“The United States of America has not made any request for such consideration and, consistent with our established foreign policy, we will not consider any such request. In consideration of the realities of our circumstances and the challenges to peace in our region in our time, we have deemed it prudent to continue the Co-operation Agreement with the United States of America.”

He was confident that the US-Ghana Military Co-operation Agreement “will help enhance our defence capability, and offer an important layer of support in our common effort to protect the peace in our region.”

Explaining why his Government had departed from the previous norms of predecessor governments to keep military co-operation agreements entered into with the United States of America secret, President Akufo-Addo indicated that his government was of the view that such agreements should be subject to the appropriate scrutiny of Parliament, in consonance with the requirements of accountable governance and the teachings of the Constitution.

“But for this decision to be open about this agreement, how else would we, the people of Ghana, have ever known that, for several decades, Ghana has had defence and security co-operation collaborations with the United States of America? How else would we have known that, in some instances, we have provided them with facilities for the movement of personnel and equipment to help some of our neighbours who were facing security and health challenges?” he asked

1998, 2000, 2015 Agreements

Touching on the conduct of Ghana’s foreign policy, the President stated that the country’s foreign policy has been consistently bi-partisan, and no successor government has found the need to tamper with any Agreement of a non-commercial nature, entered into by its predecessor.

He noted that “we respect the age-old norms of international diplomacy that, when a country has accorded concessions and privileges to another, these are not removed or altered by a successor government, unless, firstly, the conditions under which they were granted have been reversed; or, secondly, there is proven evidence of abuse.”

The President explained his administration came to know that Ghana had entered into a Co-operation Agreement with the United States of America, in 1998, 2000, and under the government of my predecessor in 2015.

His government was, nonetheless, satisfied that the conditions which necessitated the Agreements of 1998, 2000 and 2015, namely the creeping threat to the peace of the region, had not disappeared, adding that if anything, the threat had increased and, therefore, the need had arisen for continuing with the co-operation with the United States of America.

President Akufo-Addo stressed that no suggestion had ever been made that the United States of America had abused any of the privileges or concessions granted under any of these agreements, and it would, thus, have been deemed an unfriendly act to attempt to deny them any concession granted them under the earlier agreements.

Conditions of agreement

Touching on the conditions of the Agreement, President Akufo-Addo explained that these conditions mirror closely the conditions under which Ghana participates in peace-keeping operations under the United Nations, citing the example that when Ghanaian troops go on most peacekeeping duties, they do not carry their national passports, but rather carry their military identity.

Again, the President noted that quite apart from how this Agreement involves the military as an institution, it was worth pointing out that, virtually since independence, Ghana has had very fruitful relations with a range of foreign embassies and major international institutions.

These, he said, include the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, amongst others. All these agencies enjoy similar conditions as those which the Co-operation Agreement offers to the US military here.

“No one has dared suggest that granting these foreign embassies and international institutions these concessions constitute an attack on the sovereignty of Ghana. Nor has anyone also felt that the concessions have in any way worked against the interests of Ghana. Indeed, I have no doubt that it would be the general consensus of all well-informed Ghanaians that this nation has benefitted significantly from the presence and activities of these institutions over the past decades,” the President said.

It was clear to President Akufo-Addo that, if the people of Ghana knew the conditions under which foreign embassies and our friendly international institutions operate in Ghana, nobody would have been surprised that a Defence Cooperation Agreement would make such provisions.

“Such knowledge would have spared many citizens the genuine anxiety and concern they have felt about the Agreement. It is my firm belief that the case for openness and transparency in our governance has been clearly demonstrated, and the argument conclusively settled by these events,” he said.

Reckless self-seeking politicians

President Akufo-Addo urged Ghanaians to take issue with the front-line politicians who have sought to mislead the people of Ghana in this blatant manner, and those who, for mischievous purposes, leaked the document destined for the scrutiny of Parliament prematurely to a section of the media, who then went on to describe it as a “secret document”.

“How could a document intended for the consideration of Parliament be described as a “secret document”? How could anyone who has been in government and run the administration of this nation feign ignorance of the conditions under which Ghanaian troops undertake peace-keeping operations, or the conditions under which our country has collaborated with major international institutions?” he asked.

The President continued, “It is difficult to understand that such people, knowing what they do know, would set about so blatantly to confuse people, and go as far as calling for the overthrow of our democracy? A democracy that has become the beacon of good governance in Africa?”

He was confident that this kind of cynical manipulation by “reckless self-seekers”, in the fullness of time, will be acknowledged and condemned by Ghanaians, stressing that “as the facts become clear and widely available, and as the people come to terms with the evidence, they will reject the falsehood and deliberate attempts to destabilize our peaceful country. Truth is sacrosanct.”

President outraged

In conclusion, President Akufo-Addo expressed his outrage at the defamatory comments from him political opponents, to the effect that Ghana’s sovereignty had been sold by his government and himself.

“I will never be the President that will compromise or sell the sovereignty of our country. I respect deeply the memory of the great patriots whose sacrifice and toil brought about our independence and freedom. I have stood with you, the Ghanaian people, all my adult life, fighting for our individual and collective rights,” he said.

He assured Ghanaians that “Everything I have done, since assuming the great honour and privilege of serving you as President of the Republic, demonstrates that I remain focused on building a self-reliant, free, prosperous Ghana, which will be able to make her own unique contribution to the growth and development of Africa and the world.”

President Akufo-Addo, thus, urged Ghanaians to “concentrate and spend our energies on working together to achieve that goal of a happy and prosperous Ghana, and reject the hypocrisy of the naysayers who led our country into bankruptcy and the worse economic record of modern Ghanaian history. Let us rise above them, and build the Ghana of our destiny, the land of freedom, justice, progress and prosperity.”

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I’ll never sell Ghana’s sovereignty – Prez
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

President Akufo Addo

President Akufo Addo

President of the Republic of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stated that he will never compromise or sell the sovereignty of Ghana under any circumstance.

Speaking on the US-Ghana military agreement for the first time, the President slammed the opposition NDC describing them as “hypocrites” and “cynics” for twisting the facts in the US military agreement. He added that he is outraged by comments from his political opponents that he has sold the sovereignty of the nation to the United States of America.

“I will never be the president that will compromise or sell the sovereignty of our country. I respect deeply the memory of the great patriots whose sacrifice and toil brought about our independence and freedom,” Akufo-Addo said in an address to the nation.

The President’s address comes after massive public outrage over the military agreement with the United States of America.

The main opposition National Democratic Congress and other pressure groups in the country including the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) have been part of a protest to withdraw the deal or revise it to safeguard the sovereignty of the West African nation.

The deal, which has been ratified by Ghana’s Parliament but yet to be signed by the president, gives the US military and its civilian personnel unimpeded access to certain installations in Ghana, including tax wavers.

In his address, Akufo-Add reiterated that the US is not building a military base in Ghana adding that the agreement with the US is only a continuation of a relationship that has existed for decades.

He added that the military agreement will also enhace Ghana’s defence capability and offer an important layer of support in the nation’s common effort to protect the peace in the sub-region.

“Let me state with the clearest affirmation that Ghana has not offered a military base and will not offer a military base to the United States of America. Indeed, the United States of America has not made any request for such consideration and consistent with our foreign policy we will not consider any such request.

“However, In consideration of the realities of our circumstances and the challenges to peace in the region in our time, we have deemed it prudent to continue the cooperation agreement with the USA.

“It is our firm believe that the agreement will enhance our defence capability and offer an important layer of support in our common effort to protect the peace in our region.”

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Building the Business Case for Housing Microfinance in Sub-Saharan Africa
April 5, 2018 | 0 Comments
Six-year study with 47,000 households demonstrates how housing microfinance can be win-win for poor people and financial institutions

KISSI, KENYA (05/04/16)-
Julius Nyakeya Kinanda, 34,Ruth Nygmorambo Nyakeya, 30,Michelle Kwamboka Nyakeya, 10, (White top)
Elisha Kafiti Nyakeya, 8,
Joy Boera Nyakeya, 2,
©Habitat for Humanity International/Jason Asteros

NAIROBI, Kenya, April 5, 2018/ — A new study from Habitat for Humanity (www.Habitat.org) says that housing microfinance can and should become a mainstream offering for financial institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa as they respond to growing housing needs in the region, particularly from poor people.

The business case study, released today, is entitled “Building the Business Case for Housing Microfinance in Sub-Saharan Africa”  It builds on a project carried out over six years in Kenya and Uganda called “Building Assets Unlocking Access”. The project was a partnership between Habitat’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter and the Mastercard Foundation (www.MastercardFdn.org). So far, the project has reached over 47,000 households and mobilized more than US$43 million in capital to benefit over 237,000 individuals.

To download the case study “Building the Business Case for Housing Microfinance in Sub-Saharan Africa” click here: https://goo.gl/QmYUWT

The business case study argues that housing microfinance, small non-mortgage backed loans for short terms, can become a mainstream offering in the market to address growing housing needs in the region, incremental building patterns, and the land tenure realities of low-income households.

There are an estimated 1.6 billion people in the world living in substandard housing. This figure is climbing, especially as the world becomes more urbanized and people migrate to cities for economic opportunity. In Sub-Saharan Africa, however, as much as 99 percent of people do not have access to formal financing –  credit, savings, mortgages – that can let them start building or improving their homes. Traditionally, they build homes gradually as their resources allow. Developer-built, bank-financed homes are rare in Africa, serving fewer than five percent of households in most countries.

“Solving the housing challenges in Africa will require a massive amount of capital investment and most of that will need to come from the private sector,” said Patrick Kelley, Vice President of Habitat’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter. “Financial institutions of all kinds have a role to play, especially those already deeply embedded in communities and who understand people with informal sector livelihoods.”

Habitat’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter partnership with the Mastercard Foundation sought to motivate local financial service providers in Kenya and Uganda to develop housing microfinance loans to fund the incremental building process common among low-income households. The results have proven that there is demand for housing microfinance among families or individuals earning as little as US$5 a day who are seeking to build, extend, or renovate their home.

“At the Mastercard Foundation, our focus is on helping economically disadvantaged people, especially young people in Africa, to find opportunities to move themselves, their families and their communities out of poverty,” said Ruth Dueck-Mbeba, Senior Program Manager at the Foundation. “This project has provided access to appropriate finance for decent housing. We believe that decent housing can provide more than four walls and a roof over one’s head. It offers people hope, dignity, and a place in their communities.  This report should help financial service providers to scale these products, which would benefit their enterprises as well as the lives of many poor people in Africa.”

Financial institutions in the region that have ventured into housing microfi­nance have often reported it to be a popular product with their clients. To understand the demand side factors, the value proposition of these products, the competitive advantage of financial service providers offering it, and the differentiated features that make housing microfinance a strategic product, the business case study surveyed the work of two financial institutions: Kenya Women Microfinance Bank, or KWFT, and Centenary Bank in Uganda.

The study argues, through the lenses of these two institutions in different geographies, that success and profitability of a housing microfinance product relies on a number of factors: connection with the financial service provider’s mission, good marketing, a clear pricing structure, understanding of land tenure realities, an opportunity to attract new clients, and secure long-term capital to fund the expansion of such portfolios.

“Financing incremental housing solutions is a natural step in the progress of greater financial inclusion. Centenary and KWFT are providing a great example of how financial institutions will benefit from understanding their clients and developing products that serve them well,” said Patrick Kelley.

About the Mastercard Foundation
The Mastercard Foundation (www.MastercardFdn.org) seeks a world where everyone has the opportunity to learn and prosper. The Foundation’s work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion for people living in poverty. One of the largest foundations in the world, it works almost exclusively in Africa. It was created in 2006 by Mastercard International and operates independently under the governance of its own Board of Directors. The Foundation is based in Toronto, Canada. For more information and to sign up for the Foundation’s newsletter, please visit www.MastercardFdn.org. Follow the Foundation at @MastercardFdn on Twitter.

About Habitat for Humanity
Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity (www.Habitat.org) began in 1976 as a grassroots effort. The housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit www.Habitat.org/emea.

About the Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter 
Habitat established the Terwilliger Center (www.Habitat.org/TCIS) to work with housing market systems by supporting local firms and expand¬ing innovative and client-responsive services, products and financing so that households can improve their shelter more effectively and efficiently. The role of the Terwilliger Center stays true to Habitat for Humanity’s original principles of self-help and sus¬tainability by focusing on improving systems that enable families to achieve affordable shelter without needing ongoing direct support

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Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio Is Sierra Leone’s New President
April 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Mohamed Bangura

President Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio

President Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio

The final result for the Run off of the Presidential election in Sierra Leone was announced on Wednesday the 4th of April 2018 at 10pm.The Announcement was made by the Chairman of the National Electoral Commissioner Mr Mohamed Nfa Alie Conteh at the Electoral commission Headquarters in Freetown. Foreign and local observers,Consular and Diplomatic cores and members of the local and foreign press were in attendance when the announcement was made, both parties, The Sierra Leone Peoples party SLPP and the All peoples Congress Party APC were both claiming victory and both parties supporters were celebrating victory in the streets of Freetown making the whole populace of the country in a confused mood not knowing who really is the right winner of the election.

The chairman of the National Electoral Commission started by thanking the foreign observers,Press and the general public for help making the electoral process a reality.He said the total voters  turn out of the Run off election was 2,578,271 representing 81.11% and the valid votes cast 2,546,577 representing 98.76% and the invalid votes cast was 36,694 representing 1.24%.

The full breakdown for each presidential candidates were as follows..Dr Mathew Wilson Samura Kamara for the All Peoples Congress Party APC vote cast 1,227,171 representing 48.19% and the Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party SLPP votes cast  1,319,406 representing 51.24%.

According to the Constitution of Sierra Leone only the Chairman of the National Electoral Commission has the power to pronounce a winner as president and that what exactly the returning NEC officer Mr Mohamed Nfa Alie did as he announced the Retired Brigadier Juluis Maada Bio as the duly elected president of the Republic of Sierra Leone as he defeated  Dr Mathew Wilson Samura Kamara.

Retired Brigadier Maada Bio was sworn in as President hours after the Result was announced at the Radisson Blue Hotel and Dr Samura Kamara also congratulated the newly elected President. Supporters of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party are celebration throughout the country and the supporters and sympathizers of the defeated All Peoples Party are trying hard to cope with the atmosphere in welcoming the newly elected president

 

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I’ll fulfill all my promises – Akufo-Addo
April 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Danakwa Akufo-Addo has stated that he will fulfil all his promises before his four year mandate ends in 2020.

According to the President, most of the promises he made to Ghanaians have been fulfilled adding that the rest will follow soon.

“I told the good people of Ghana that I am up to the task of running the country. I have fulfilled a number of campaign promises. I know we have a lot to do. It is a four year mandate and by the time my four years will be over, I would have fulfilled all my promises.

“I am not one of the politicians who promises and fails to deliver. I will deliver on all my promises,” the President told a Kente Weavers and Sellers Association during a courtesy call at the Jubilee House on Tuesday.

The president has already fulfilled his pledge to make Senior High School Education free. Allowances for teachers and nurses have also been restored as promised by the president during the 2016 electioneering period.

Also several taxes have been cut or abolished by the president while electricity tariff have also been reduced by the government.

However several promises made by Akufo-Addo are yet to take off. The popular one district, one factory and the one village one dam has yet to take off.

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