Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I million tonne cocoa target can be a mirage -Duffour

Dr. Kwabena Duffour, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning says Ghana’s dream of producing one million metric tonnes of cocoa by the 2011/2012 cocoa season could be possible if the major constraints of solving the poor extension support to cocoa farmers were solved.

"If no solution is found to this major constraint to increase farm productivity, this aspiration will remain a mirage and the huge investment in the importation of fertiliser and other inputs for the cocoa programme will be a waste of very scarce resources," Dr. Duffuor.

Attaining the 2010/11production target will position the cocoa sector as the country’s major foreign exchange earner, expected to attract revenue of over US$1.7 billion to support developmental programmes.

Last year, the sector earned about US$1.5 billion, making the cash-crop the second-biggest earner after gold, which registered revenue of US$1.7 billion.

Dr. Sam Mensah, Technical Adviser of the Finance Ministry, made these statements on behalf of Dr. Duffuor in Accra at the opening of a two-day workshop on the New Cocoa Extension System for cocoa farmers under the private-public partnership.

Dr. Duffuor indicated that the cocoa sub-sector is the backbone of the Ghanaian economy and is crucial to addressing the constraints facing the industry to ensure a maximum impact on the nation’s cocoa production.

"Government supports private partnership in achieving among other things innovation and diversity in the provision of extension services, removal of capacity constraints and bottlenecks in the delivery of extension services to cocoa farmers, and creation of added value through synergies between public authorities and private sector," he said.

Mr. Tony Fofie, Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, disclosed that the current average yield was 400 kilogrammes per hectare whilst research plots at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana yielded more than two tonnes per hectare.He said the private-public partnership will provide the needed technological and allied information to farmers for the benefit of all the three distinct classes, which are the high, medium and low classes.

Mr. Fofie called on all stakeholders to contribute in making the dream of achieving one million metric tonnes of cocoa in the short-term a reality

Mr. Fofie stated, "An effective and efficient extension system is critical to the efforts to bridge the gap between potential yield and actual output on farmers’ farms."

He explained that there is a vast difference between farmer outputs and outputs from farms managed by the research division of the COCOBOD and that given the right extension services, the difference can be reduced greatly.

‘Our farmers obtain an average of 400kg/ha whilst on research plots at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana, yields of over 2 tonnes per hectare have been achieved.’ Mr. Fofie explained.

Dr. Yaw Adu-Ampomah, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, COCOBOD, in an interview with B&FT expressed the hope that with the new extension system the set target is attainable.

"With a current production level of about 400kg per hectare, the new extension system if well implemented will see an increase of not less 200kg per hectare.

Nokia deepens presence in Ghanaian market

The mobile phone manufacturing giant, Nokia is to begin a promotion aimed at rewarding Ghanaian clients who purchase the new handset, the Nokia 1208 and Nokia 1661.

The promotion which is in partnership with Mobile Telecommunication Network (MTN) Ghana is expected to begin this week and will run for six weeks.

For the period of the promotion a buyer of either of the two new devices will be offered a free MTN SIM Card loaded with call card, as well as, GH¢ 2 bonus airtime every month for a period of six months with 10 free SMS.

Account Manger, Sub Saharan Africa, Nokia, Tidiane Gueye, briefing the media in Accra ahead of the promotion said the programme is an appreciation to its Ghanaian customers.

He advised Ghanaian users to get their Nokia mobile phones from the authorized Nokia sale centers located at Kumasi, Tema, Takoradi and Accra.

Communications Manager for Nokia in charge of Nigeria and West Africa, Ngozi Ife Anene addressing the issue of counterfeiting, explained that, Nokia is doing everything possible to ensure that the practice is eradicated from the market.

"Nokia is collaborating with the appropriate government agencies to put the right measures in place to curtail the situation and in due course Ghana will be aware of its fight to curb the counterfeit and fake Nokia phones.

"In every market Nokia is working to curb the issue of counterfeit phones," she said.

In a related development, Nokia presented educational materials valued at GH¢3,000 to the Dampase, District Assembly Primary School in the Gomoa East District of the Central Region.
The items include tables and chairs, exercise books, novels and other teaching materials.

The presentation forms part of Nokia’s corporate social responsibility programme in the country.

Ife Anene at a ceremony to present the items to the school indicated that Nokia is passionate about helping to develop the talents of student and youth to ensure the benefit of human capital development of the country.

Nokia is in collaboration with Plan Ghana to ensure successful development of the youth in the country this is targeted at developing youth into better citizens.

One of such programme was ‘Kids Wave’ which allows children to talk about issues affecting them such as street kids, education, HIV as well as children’s rights.

About $20,000 has been earmarked for a successful implementation of the company’s corporate social responsibility programmes in the country this year, Ife Anene disclosed.

Shell undertakes fuel economy expedition

Fuel retailing giant Shell Ghana Limited last week embarked on a fuel economy expedition aimed at demonstrating the fuel saving qualities and tips of the ‘New Shell Diesel Extra’.

The demonstration was also used to confirm Shell Ghana’s commitment to conserving the environment and contribute to sustainable development, as well as taking advantage of Shell's fuel economy formula - users can save 10 percent or more fuel while driving.

Shell Ghana - which controls the lion’s-share of the market, estimated at 60,000 barrels daily - believes in effective and efficient management and control of fuel expenses by vehicle owners, motorists and businesses in the country.

International fuel economy driving experts, John and Helen Taylor, holders of the Guinness World record for the lowest fuel consumption and holders of many other national and international records on fuel economy, led the exercise named "Fuel Challenge Drive".

The voyage to test the qualities of the New Shell Diesel Extra started from the Accra Airport Shell, through the Tema Motorway to Sogakope in the Volta Region and back through Tema Township, Spintex Road and ended at Airport Shell Accra.

During the challenge drive, the Taylors explored several of Shell’s top-10 fuel-saving techniques.
"Fuel economy is maximised in the engine through a combination of good driving habits and using the right fuel.

The Shell fuel economy formula is designed to help reduce friction and improve cleanliness in the engine, thereby improving fuel efficiency. Aggressive driving can use as much as a third more fuel than safe driving," the Taylors said.

They advised drivers and motorists to avoid accelerating or braking too hard and keep their steering as smooth as possible.

The Taylors said that changing gears carefully improves fuel consumption and that a well-tuned engine improves fuel economy.

In an interview with B&FT, Mr. Taylor said: "It is important that there are improvements in the way scarce energy resources are used. Shell has created the ‘New Diesel Extra’ with a fuel economy formula not only to respond to customers’ needs, but also keep ahead of industry trends."

Diesel is recognised for its fuel efficiency and Shell has built on that benefit by developing a new fuel economy formula, which if used in combination with Shell fuel save tips can help reduce customers’ trips to the pump."

The Taylors, who now live in Singapore, have established not less than 82 world driving records including 36 for fuel economy since 1982. This includes a 3,800km trip around South Africa in 2006.

Zain presents cheques to winners of ‘Live Your Dream’ draw

Zain Ghana has presented cheques to the winners of the first weekly draw of the ‘Live Your Dream’ promotion held in Accra.
The presentation, which took place during the second weekly draw of the promotion, saw another 50 winners.

Carmen Bruce-Annan, Head of Corporate Communications at Zain Ghana, presented a cheque for ¢2,500 to Peter Kweku, the first-prize winner of last week’s draw and GH¢1,000 to second- and third-prize winners Benedicta Avork and Ernest Adjei respectively.

Presenting the cheques to the customers, Mrs Bruce-Annan said: "Zain is excited that our customer reward programme is making such a huge impact in the lives of our customers.

It’s going to be a very interesting twelve weeks and we encourage customers to join the Zain network; not only to experience the fastest network in Ghana, but to stand a chance of winning ‘Live Your Deam."

The Greater Accra region dominated the second-week draw when Frank Tetteh from Lashibi and Sixtus Kudjoe from Tema were drawn in third and second place respectively to win GH¢1,000 each.

The first prize winner, Ubeyidatu Iddrusu from La Paz, will receive GH¢2,500. All winners will be presented with their cheques at the weekly draw to be held live on TV3 Accra.

Zain is a leading telecommunications operator across the Middle East and Africa, providing mobile voice and data services to 64.7 million active customers as at 31st March 2009.

In terms of country footprint, Zain is the 3rd-largest mobile operator in the world with a commercial presence in 24 countries.

Zain operates in the following countries: Bahrain, Burkina Faso, Chad, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Malawi, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Palestine (currently known as Paltel Group), Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

In Lebanon, the company manages ‘mtc-touch’ on behalf of the government. In Morocco, Zain owns 31% of Wana Telecom through a joint venture.

Zain offers innovative services in its markets such as ‘One Network’, the world’s first borderless mobile telecommunications network, enabling customers when abroad to receive calls and sms without charge and to make voice and data calls at local rates throughout 19 countries in Africa and the Middle East.

This service allows a customer to top-up airtime in one’s home country or from more than 1,000,000 outlets within Zain’s One Network footprint.

Monday, July 13, 2009

June inflation hits 20.74 %

Annual inflation rate rose to 20.74 percent in June, up from 20.06 percent in May, reversing the slight drop enjoyed.

The change represents a rise of 0.68 percentage points in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This is well above the 2008 peak of 18.4 percent recorded in June.

The increasing trend in the cost of transport contributed to the change in the current CPI.

Official figures released by Ghana Statistical Services (GSS) indicated that the non-food component of the consumer index contributed 24.66 percent to the inflation rate with high prices of recreation and culture, health and alcoholic beverages, as well as hotels, cafes and restaurants, being responsible for the change of the CPI - making them the major contributors within the non-food group.

Within the food group, mineral water, soft drinks and juice, vegetables and fruit also accounted for the highest upward movement in the national index.

Dr. Grace Bediako, Government Statistician, briefing the media explained that the negative effects of the 30 percent petroleum price adjustment caused the surge.She expressed the hope that with availability of more foodstuffs on the market, the annual rate of inflation might come down.

A further fall in the inflationary trend could result in government attaining its projected end of year 12.8 percent inflationary target.

However, analysts have predicted an increasing inflationary outlook on the economy, emphasising that the sensitivity of the economy to global commodity price developments and fiscal concerns are likely to worsen inflation expectations in the coming months.

Due to these factors, inflation is likely to close the ensuing quarter above 20.0 percent.

On policy outlook and financial market implications, experts suggested an urgent formulation of fiscal policies and directions to combat the increasing trend.

Four regions recorded rates above the national figure of 20.74 percent with the Upper East and West Regions registering 27.00 percent. The others are Western, Greater Accra, Ashanti and Central Regions.

Volta Region registered the lowest inflation rate of 12.35 percent during the month under review.

Investors urged to exploit Papaya

There is the need for investors to exploit papaya fruit production to boost the country’s foreign exchange earnings, Anthony Sikpa, President of the Federation of Association of Ghanaian Exporters has said.

“There is no reason why papaya’s potential cannot be exploited to a greater extent for boosting the agricultural economy in Ghana. This will immensely assist in raising the income of poor farmers. Many tropical countries have successfully exploited this fruit as a commercial crop and have brought a reasonable income to the poor farmer,” he emphasised.

Mr. Sikpa, making a presentation at a stakeholders’ forum in Accra, explained that although the country has a good climatic conditions to grow papaya on a large scale, the sector has not been well exploited.

The country has only managed to register a marginal presence in the international market which has a huge demand for papaya, especially those from Africa.

“In 2008, for example, the 15 core member-states of the European Union imported 35,750 metric tonnes of papaya worth 53 million euro. Out of this, Ghana papaya amounted to 1,061 metric tonnes, representing a market share of only 3 percent,” he said.

Currently, Brazil, Ecuador and Cote d’ Ivoire - with Ghana being the fourth - are the major exporters of papaya, with markets in European Union, Canada, United States of America, Singapore,Hong Kong and Japan.

Mr. Sikpa indicated that although the horticultural sector has seen an appreciable level of investments lately, the papaya sector has not received much attention.

He explained that efforts were made in 2006 to boost the cultivation of papaya with the introduction of the Golden papaya variety, which had shown great potential for increasing returns on investment.

The Trade and Investment Programme for a Competitive Export Economy (TIPCEE) has assisted a number of papaya producers to conduct successful demonstrations of Golden and Solo papaya fields, employing various interventions along the supply chain.

“Opportunities exist for investment in large-scale production for fresh and processed papaya, for both the export and local markets,” he said.

Mr. Lemuel Mantey, a representative from the smallholder farmers, described investment in papaya production as very rewarding as it requires low production costs.

He cited the high cost of irrigation facilities, penetrating the local market, and high cost of Global GAP Certification as major challenges confronting the papaya industry, especially for the smallholder farmer.

Mr. Roland Adade, Market Access Team Leader, TIPCEE, stated that the local papaya market has the potential of outstripping produce from major exporters such as Brazil as the Ghanaian papaya tastes better.

“We need to brand the Ghanaian papaya to give us a unique opportunity in the international market.
“There is need for stakeholders in the sector to improve on harvesting and packaging papaya for the international market.” Mr. Adade said.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Mining firms and compensation payment – the way forward

Ghana’s buoyant mining industry has attracted over 250 local and foreign companies into mining and mineral exploration. These include major multi-national companies such as AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields and Newmont amongst others including a number of Australian Companies.

In 2006, Ghana was rated 10th largest gold producing country in the world and the second largest producer in Africa, the 10th largest in bauxite and 9th both in diamonds and manganese production but the issue of payment of compensation to land owners and communities still remains an albatross to both exploration companies and stakeholders, Ekow Essabra-Mensah, mining correspondent takes a look at the problem.

Injustice against the mining communities and lack of proper compensation has become an everyday affair that usually passes unnoticed.

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) claims that Ghana’s mining laws are designed to attract foreign investors and not to protect the rights of local communities.

Indeed, according to the Ministry of Mines and Energy, approximately 30 percent of Ghana’s land is under concession to mining companies, and every year more farmland is converted for this use.

Western region, specifically the Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipality and the Prestea-Huni Valley District, undisputedly have the highest concentra­tion of minerals in the country.
The mining industry compounded with mirage of problems such as the environmental degradation and the pollution of water bodies in mining communities through cyanide spillage.

The payment of compensation to persons whose assets have been affected by mining has been described by human right activist as the most important problem asso­ciated with the mining industry and seems to have been relegated to the background by industry players and its stakeholders.

There have been records of instances in the Western Region where disagreements, ­misunderstanding and mistrust between the traditional authorities and mining communities on one side, and the mining companies on the other, as a result of inadequate payment of compensation to the beneficiaries.

Section 73 (l) of the Minerals and Mining Act, Act 703 (2006), states: “The owner or lawful occupier of any land subject to a mineral right is entitled to and may claim from the holder of the mineral right compensation for the disturbance of the right of the owner or occupier”
This new mining law prescribes compensation payments for lands, crops and buildings affected by min­ing.

Mining consul­tants and researchers says the new law leaves the determination of actual compensation payable to negotiations between the parties involved, result­ing sometimes in lengthy litigation.

They noted that the issue of com­pensation had been one of the difficult subjects in the mining sector, spanning from exploration to decommis­sioning.

To help find a long-lasting solution to this problem, the Ghana Chamber of Mines and the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund have commissioned an advocacy and research project, titled ‘Advocacy for the Establishment of Standards of Compensation in the Mining.

Current development on payment of compensation by regulators

The Ghana Chamber of Mines has partnered BUSAC in a move initiated to end the bottleneck between land owners and mining companies over compensation on concessions.

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Mining and Civil Society Organisations and the Chamber has also began drafting the first National Compensation Policy to give specification on what should be accepted by property and land owners as fair and appropriate benefits deals.

It is aimed at protecting the future of people who lose their properties for mineral activities aside monetary compensation to sustain and improve their future livelihoods.

Joyce Aryee, Chief Executive of the Ghana Chamber of Mines at a presentation in Accra, on “Advocacy for the establishment of standards of compensation for mining concessions” described compensation as a burden.

She said the unformulated nature of compensation issues had always been a source of worry to the Chamber and its members, hence the need for an effective and reliable legislative instrument to regulate the delivery of fair compensation to beneficiaries.

“The need for a standardized and systematic compensation regime is long overdue. We believe the hassle that investors and mining communities go through over compensation can easily be avoided if there are proper guidelines on compensation ', she stated.

Land experts says litigations on compensation occur mostly as a result of the low knowledge of the linkages and benefits associated with the presence of a mine in a community.

They have therefore mentioned as essential, the need to finding a solution to issues of compensation since delays in project implementation due to compensation related litigations increase cost of doing business in the country.

Meanwhile, industry watchers have called on the Chamber and policy makers to consider developing a Corporate Social Investment Policy besides the compensation policy.

This, they believe will compel corporate institutions operating in Ghana to invest a percentage of their annual profit in some specific projects as experienced in countries like South Africa Zimbabwe to facilitate some community infrastructural projects and lessen the burden on government.

Lands and Natural Resources Ministry is proposing a national forum to seek appropriate compensation for farmers whose crops are destroyed by mining activities.

The sector Minister, Alhaji Collins Dauda, described the current payment of less than GH¢10 by the mines to cocoa farmers for each matured cocoa tree destroyed as unfair and expressed optimism that a review would create a congenial atmosphere for the benefactors and beneficiaries.

Current Mining laws on compensation

According to Sections 73 and 74 of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006, the amount of compensation payable under subsection (1) shall be determined by agreement between the parties, but if the parties are unable to reach an agreement as to the amount of compensation, the matter shall be referred by either party to the Minister, who shall in consultation with the government agency responsible for land valuation, and subject to this act, determine the compensation payable by the holder of the mineral right.

Section74 (a) of the Act states that the compensation to which an owner or lawful occupier is entitled to, may include compensation for deprivation of the use or a particular use of the natural surface of the land, (b) loss of or damage to immovable properties, in the case of land under cultivation, (c) loss of earnings or sustenance suffered by the owner or lawful occupier, (d) having due to regard to the nature of their interest in the land, loss of expected income, depending on the nature of crops on the land and their life expectancy.

Recommendations of strategic direction on compensation

It is highly recommended that government and regula­tory agencies, including mining companies and the mining communities need to have a national policy on compensation, which will involve beneficiaries to ensure owner­ship and buy-in, and also recognize the elements of sustainable livelihood framework.

Secondly, mining companies must endeavor to use collabora­tion, continuous dialogue and negotia­tion as a tool, and to ensure pre-disbursement and post-disbursement training for beneficiaries of compensation as well as commitment from mining companies, traditional author­ities and opinion leaders to enforce standards.

Thirdly, stakeholders need to avoid or minimise involuntary resettlement that tend to dislodge project affected persons, mitigate negative social and economic impact on safety, health and the environment and also provide opportunities for displaced persons to improve on or restore their livelihood.

Ghana, Nigeria submarine cable platform excites telecom market

Ghana and Nigeria Telecommunication industry are set to experience exciting times with the completion of a US$200 million submarine fibre optic cable connectivity project being spearheaded by MainOne Cable Company by June 2010.

The 14,000 kilometers span undersea cable system, when completed will provide direct international connectivity for West African countries to Europe and beyond.

The system is expected to complement the business of Regional operators and Internet Service Providers by providing a wholesale solution for international bandwidth on a shared infrastructure basis.

The platform designed to deliver more capacity to the region than any other existing or proposed undersea fibre projects will operate on a Dense Wave Multiplexing (DWM) technology of 1.92 Terabits per second with two fibre pairs, representing approximately 10 times the current capacity available in some West African nations.

The system will also ease the difficulties and reduce the costs of switching traffic between African countries without the need to go through Europe, as well as providing broadband capacity to expand Internet access in the sub-Saharan region, which currently stands at less than five percent.
This is expected to enhance broadband access considerably in the region, providing open access to regional telecommunication operators and Internet service providers.

It is also anticipated that the tariffs for international bandwidth can fall below 20 percent of the current market rate with a much improved services such as easy downloading of information and effective international voice servicing.

The first phase, 6,900 kilometers long which has already commenced, will directly connect landing stations in Accra and Lagos to Portugal with optional landings in Casablanca, Morocco; Dakar, Senegal; Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, and Bonny Nigeria; Libreville, Gabon; Pointe Noire, Congo; Luanda, Angola.

The second phase is expected to extend by another 6,000 kilometers to South Africa, through Portugal where it will interconnect with other cable systems to London, New York and key cities in Asia and the rest of the world.

Funke Opeke, Chief Executive Officer of MainOne Cable Company at a media briefing in Accra, targeted at increasing awareness on the project, disclosed that a landing site, located at Nungua, in the Greater Accra region has been secured with an intensive engineering and testing operations underway.

“Testing of the seabed and major activities to detect any unforeseen impediment has commenced in earnest, the company still remained much focused on ensuring that its deadlines are met and was very happy at the tremendous progress so far recorded.

“MainOne is progressing ahead of schedule, with marine route survey activities underway and key licenses being confirmed including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“We trust that on completion in 2010, the MainOne project will afford a new lease of life in international connectivity on the West African community for an exciting connectivity in the larger global economy.”

Industry players have embraced the project as a major milestone especially for the advancement in the West Africa’s telecommunication arena.
MainOne’s project has come when Ghana is experiencing explosive growth in tele-density but, constrained with access to international cable capacity for global connectivity.

Data obtained from the national telecom regulator, the National Communication Authority (NCA), shows that the number of mobile subscribers has shot up exponentially from the 7,604,053 subscriber figure recorded at the beginning of 2008 to 11,302,647 subscribers at the end of the year.

This figure indicate that more than half the estimated 22 million Ghanaian population have subscribed to mobile telephony services in the country bringing the tele-density rate of the country to 50 percent.

This is fuelled by the entry of new operators and stringent government policy to create a conducive environment for operators.
Currently, there are seven voice telephony operators in the country with Ghana Telecom and Zain Ghana Limited as the only fixed-line providers.

Trade Ministry study SMEs policies

Government says it is studying all Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises (SME) policies and documents

John Gyetuah, Deputy Minister, Trade and Industry, explained that government is embarking on interventions to assist, nurture and grow businesses in the SMEs sector to provide world-class services in the development of the country.

He disclosed that some of the interventions include strengthening the National Board for Small-Scale Industries (NBSSI) and provision of special incentives for venture capital companies to lend to SMEs and restructuring the Export Development and Investment Fund (EDIF) to be more accessible to the SME sector.

SMEs have potential benefits, covering about 80 percent of the country’s economic activities and 70 percent of its employment, which promotes and grows the economy of the country as a whole

Mr. Gyetuah making a presentation in Accra said: “Most of the SMEs hardly grow. Neither the micro nor informal ones grow into the formal or to the small-scale sector. In most cases, the small-scale ones hardly migrate into the large enterprises - not even into the medium-scale sector.

“Some companies started as small family enterprises and gradually grew into giant companies through various interventions by government, the private sector, and in some cases the civil society.”

He indicated that the country’s SME sector plays a pivotal role in creating dynamic, market-oriented economic growth, employing the growing work force, alleviating poverty, creating/widening the tax revenue base and promoting socio-economic as well as political stability.

The Deputy Minister observed that the growth of the sector has stagnated due to lack of access to funding and long-term lending, high bank interest rates, lack of collateral to secure loans, lack of entrepreneurial skills, and lack of appropriate and affordable technology.

“There is the need for attitudinal change on the part of Ghanaian SME operators, and conscious efforts should be made to encourage the vision to grow their enterprises and not to be satisfied with marginal growth.

“An effective public-private partnership to find ways of addressing the problems faced by SMEs need to be adopted,”he stressed.

Clydestone outlines strategic plans

Mr. Paul Jacquaye, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Clydestone Ghana Limited has affirmed the organisation’s commitment to innovate, develop and support solutions that will address the business needs of its customers as well as set benchmarks in the West Africa ICT Market.

Mr. Jacquaye, who was outlining his vision and strategic plans at the company’s 20th Anniversary celebration held in Accra, urged members of staff and management to continue to work with a high sense of duty and professionalism to justify the confidence reposed by customers in their product offering.

“Clydestone is not only the foremost Information Technology (I.T) Company to go public by listing on the Ghana Stock Exchange, but over the years has been at the forefront of some ground-breaking technological innovations in Ghana.”

He explained that the company’s landmark projects and solutions include the installation of Ghana’s first interbank clearing and settlement systems for the Bank of Ghana (BoG) in 1996, which was the first of its kind in the sub-region.

Clydestone in partnership with Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement System (GHIPSS) is rolling out E-Zwich compliant biometric Automated Teller Machine (ATM’s) to banks and savings and loans companies nationwide.

He indicated that with the migration of cheque-clearing from a paper-based regime to Cheque Codeline Clearing (CCC), the company’s solution continues to draw quality reviews from experts, customer-banks and other stakeholders in the industry, consequent to which the GHIPSS has certified its solution as compatible with the central system.

“In its avowed quest to move the frontiers of I.T-driven products in the industry, Clydestone in conjunction with TradeRoot Technologies of South Africa deployed an Enterprise Switch for Transaction Solutions Ghana Limited (TranSol). This enabled TranSol to launch Ghana’s first electronic voucher recharge system with the then Areeba (its premier client).

“Clydestone’s networking solutions are at the heart of data-centres of some blue-chip organisations across the spectrum of industries in Ghana.

“Clydestone premiered the first-ever remittance processing in Ghana - to process water, electricity and DSTV bills, collecting and processing payments through its subsidiary, Remittance Processing Ghana Limited,” he said.

The celebration brought together the board, management, staff-members as well as representatives of customers.

Zain launches live your dream campaign

Zain live your dream campaign, aimed at rewarding over 600 customers has been launched in Accra.

The three-month promotion expected to reward both fixed and cellular prepaid customers is to create opportunity for customers to win up to GH ¢75, 000 to embark on their dream project.
The second and third prize winners will take home an amount of GH ¢25,000 and GH¢ 10,000 respectively.

Winner of the monthly draw will take home GH ¢5,000. Other prizes include bonus airtime, a Zain Universal Serial Bus Modem, Laptops, and fully connected 3.5G mobile phones.

Ms Carmen Bruce-Annan, Corporate Communications Manager of Zain Ghana, at the ceremony said the company's objective was to empower its customers to become passionate and creative.

"We want to encourage our customers to be joyful by leading the way in imagination and vision, since we now have over one million subscribers within six months of operating in this country.

“We are marching towards our customer target for 2009" she said.

She said Zain was always finding novel ways in rewarding its customers adding "the more you use the 3.5G network, the closer you get to living your dream".

Ms Bruce-Annan said customers would be given the option of financial counseling to enable them to make the best use of their winnings.

“Zain has so far given out $ 2.5 million as bonuses in its ‘You Pay Zain Pays’ reward programme and would continue to give out bonuses until December, she said.

Zain is a telecommunications operator across the Middle East and Africa providing mobile and data services to 64.7 million customers in about 24 countries.

Golden Star Resources and its Oil Palm Plantation Project (GSOPP).

Golden Star Resources over the years has channeled huge investment resources towards sustainable community development and improving humanity as part of its corporate social responsibility in its operating communities, Ekow Essabra-Mensa,Mining and Metal Coresponden, looks at the development.

Golden Star Resources has among its corporate social responsibility campaigns its award-winning Golden Star Oil Palm Plantation Project (GSOPP), a specially-designed sustainable alternative livelihood initiative for the local communities which gained international recognition for humanity and community development.

GSOPP was established in 2006 as the flagship project under GSR’s alternative livelihood programme. Currently, there are over 700 hectares under active development. This innovative economic development programme enjoys community, traditional leader and government support, and the objective is to assist farmers own their own farms.

The main purpose of GSOPP is to provide an enduring source of employment through oil palm cultivation side by side with mining, and it is projected to replace mining when operations cease in the areas. The overall long-term plan is to plant over 5,000 hectares for 1,250 smallholder farmers and create employment for more than 4,000 people within the mining catchments areas in five years time.

The company has to date invested over US$1.8 million on the project, and the first 69 farmers started work on their smallholder farms last year.. For its innovative community effort, this Project was designated the first outside South Africa to be honoured with the prestigious Nedbank Green Mining Award for Sustainable Development.

Apart from the expenditure in GSOPP, it is significant that within four years the company has provided US$2,109,374.46 worth of community assistance to the communities within and around Bogosu and Prestea where it operates.

These include scholarships for students, potable water for several communities, a three-unit nurses’ quarters for Bogoso hospital, school furniture for five communities, a fully-stocked library for Bogoso, education facilities like the building blocks for the Prestea Secondary school classrooms and staff common-room, health care supplies for Prestea, health posts, electricity poles, school furniture and the grading of roads. The company also recently inaugurated at Prestea a new US$1.2 million police station complete with apartments for police officers to replace the old one specified by EPA to be too close to our mining operations

To fund these and other initiatives, the company through the Golden Star Development Foundation (GSDF) invests one dollar from every ounce of gold produced and sold into a fund. GSDF funds projects which usually fall under the categories of health, education, agriculture, sanitation, potable water and recreation.

Projects funded by the Development Foundation are recommended by a committee made up of Mining and Government representatives and Traditional leaders. This is to ensure that the community ultimately determines which projects best suits their needs.

Indeed, the company strives at all times and in line with its community relations and human rights policy, to conduct its business as a responsible corporate citizen by continuously strengthening good relationships with its stakeholder communities and by addressing their concerns in its development projects and ongoing operations.

In doing so, GSR stresses on the need to allow reality, decorum and mutual respect to inform all discussions and the outcome of the same in order to ensure peace and harmony in the communities it operates in. The company engages the communities through a structured Community Consultative Committee chaired by the area chief with the queen mother, women’s and youth’s representatives, assembly or unit committee members, community-based NGOs or organisations, and the chief farmer as members

This body receives all mining-related complaints, mediates between the mine and the community and also receives requests for assistance.

Community participation

The Community and Mine Consultative Committee is the highest consultative body between all the communities and the mine, and meet quarterly. Membership includes the District Chief Executive, District Coordinating Director, Divisional Chiefs, District Planning Officer and District Social Welfare Officer. The mine is represented by the General Manager (who is also the Chairman) and the Community Affairs Manager.

The Committee may co-opt the appropriate representative to the meeting, depending on the issue under discussion. The Committee also reviews all requests for community assistance from the Community Consultative Committee and administers the Golden Star Foundation Fund.

The Wassa operations, also in line with the community relations policy, adopt the same mode of engagement with the communities. In the area of community support, it has from 2004 to date provided US$1.2million worth of assistance in the areas of schools, a library, scholarships, and several hand-dug wells. Wassa has also single-handedly constructed the 80 km road from Wassa to Mpohor at a cost of US$26 million.

The raod to Wassa to Twifo – Praso is nearly complete. These two projects have opened up the Wassa community to the biggest neighbouring district, and it is hoped to enhance further economic activity.

Golden Star Resources (GSR, as a licensed mining exploration company, is considered to be a mid-tier gold mining company, which also shares the well-known attributes of the big players in the industry in terms of production and size.

Headquartered in Denver, Colorado, in the USA, GSR operates only two mining companies - both of which are located in Ghana. These are located in Prestea-Bogoso and Wassa-Mpohor, both in the Western Region, and are currently under Dan Owiredu, a celebrated Ghanaian mining executive as Vice President, while Tom Mair is the President and Chief Executive.

Together with AngloGold Ashanti, which is another global resources company, the two constitute the only mining companies listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange.

Jubilee Field still viable

The Jubilee Field of Cape Three Points in the Western Region is currently the biggest oil discovery in the world since last year, and with the high quality and natural properties, it makes the field worth investing, an international oil expert has said.

Stewart Williams, Principal Energy Consultants, Wood Mackenzie, an international oil and gas consulting group who made this observation in Accra said the field still remains an economically viable venture and most attractive to global investors in the oil and gas industry, despite the fallen trend of the crude oil prices in the world market.

Crude oil prices in the world market have been falling. The benchmark price is currently below US$70 per barrels, making it unattractive for oil exploration companies to direct their investment in new oil fields.

The development phase of the country’s offshore oil wells which is estimated to hold an upside reserve of 1.8 billion barrels of recoverable oil, have begun with sub sea infrastructure currently being undertaking with the first 120,000 barrels of oil per day expected to commence in the first quarter of 2010.

Mr. Williams in an interview advised government to increase its investment portfolio in the sector. This will encourage and attract more global exploration companies to the field for drilling and will maintain the long term production structure and the expected revenue for the nation.

Conservative estimates of revenue to be injected into Ghana’s economy from the production of oil range from a minimum of US $200 million to US $5 billion, annually.

Once production starts, revenues from petroleum income taxes, royalties and government’s interest in the production are likely to exceed those from the mining sector, which currently accounts for just over five percent of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP).

He explained that during low crude oil prices, exploration budget are usually slashed, making drilling and exploration activities very expensive, adding that, investors are more cautious with this development.

Testing and prospecting stage of a single well in offshore West Africa could cost as much as between US$50 and $100 million, which is incredibly expensive for oil exploration companies and becomes a high risk business.

“The Jubilee Field will continue to be a viable business provided the cost of drilling a well is in control and the oil prices hopefully rise at the world market.”

If the oil prices are generally low oil companies are very reluctant to start drilling, because certain level of fields might not be economically viable, he said.

“It is not business prudent to spend huge monies on explorations wells, if oil prices are going to stay low.

“It is a difficult balance for oil companies” he remarked.

Mr. Theophilus Ahwireng, Manager Geophysics, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation assured that the country has put in place a formidable price volatility policy to cover the realities and the dynamics of the oil and gas industry.

He explained that Ghana has one of the most attractive oil and gas fiscal regime policies, a flexible and progressive fiscal regime, which allows both the company and the State to be able to enjoy returns on investment when oil prices are low.

These are spelt out in a document called, The Oil and Gas Entitlement which will soon be outdoored. The current phenomenon is a good lesson for the country, he pointed out.