Monday, February 22, 2010

Working Group On Gender Statistics Begins Work

The Gender Statistics Working Group (GSWG) of the Ghana Statistical Service has launched its first technical meeting, aimed at bridging the data gap required for development-oriented decision making.

The Group as part of its target will strengthen and address policy gaps and improve upon development programmes directed at dealing with gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Programmes to be monitored will include the Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRS), the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other conventions and protocols signed by the country for monitoring and evaluation.

It is made up of experts in the field of gender and statistics from civil society, national statistical organisations, gender training centres and development partners.

Mrs. Benedicta Quame, an Economic Planning Officer of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, at the ceremony stated that the meeting will provide a platform for stakeholders as well as partners to discuss issues related to the development of gender statistics and indicators for monitoring.

“The GSWP will also strengthen the efforts of the National Advisory Committee of Producers and Users of Statistics (NACPUS) to address policies and programmes initiated by government and other stakeholders who deal with gender equality, women’s empowerment, orphanages, homelessness and persons on the street.

“These conferences will focus on the need for gender-specific data as a necessary starting point for any programme aimed at advancing the cause of women.” she explained.

Mrs. Quame urged members of the Group to develop appropriate mechanisms that will facilitate mainstreaming gender statistics in concepts, methods of data collection, processing, analysing and dissemination of statistics.

Government Statistician Dr. Grace Bediako, speaking on the theme ‘Gender Mainstreaming for Equitable Development’, expressed the need to improve statistics and indicators concerning women as first recognised internationally by the World Conference of Women held in Mexico City.

She said part of its aims was to inform the International Community of the prevalence of discrimination against women in most parts of the world.

“Launching of the GSWG consolidates all earlier initiatives at international and national levels, and also provides further sensitisation on the role and importance of gender statistical information in managing development-oriented results.

“The third and fourth world conferences on women, which took place in Nairobi, Kenya in 1985 and Beijing, China in 1995 respectively, recognised that different policies, programmes and actions have not impacted on gender equality,” Dr. Bediako remarked.

BUSAC rescues businesses

The Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund has pledged to double its grant to the private sector over the next five years, beginning March 2010, to facilitate the development and growth of a competitive, vibrant private sector, B&FT has gathered.

The Fund last year doled out US$8.2 million to 362 businesses in all the 10 regions in the first phase of its operation from 2004 to 2009.

The project is being jointly funded by Danish International Development Assistance (DANIDA), Danish Fund for International Development (DFID) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and aims to broaden the engagement of the Private Sector in its policy formulation and advocacy to promote growth and a vibrant private sector.

Dr. Dale Rachmeler, BUSAC Fund Manager, in an interview with B&FT said: “DANIDA has indeed gone forward to design the BUSAC Fund II, which should begin in March 2010 when they finish the bidding process for the next phase of BUSAC.

“The entire project will still deal with private sector advocacy, and all the sectors within will still be able to submit proposals for funding on a competitive basis. With the expected amount there will be more funds for grants in phase II than in phase I,” he emphasised.

Ms. Hannah Tetteh, Minister of Trade and Industry, last week at the closing session of the first phase of the project in Accra commended the impressive performance of the Fund, which has contributed immensely to growth in the economic sectors of the country.

“There has been clear evidence of growth and development in the private business sector, more especially among Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) over the past few years due to the immense financial and technical assistance from the BUSAC Fund.”

She commended management of the Fund for implementing the support system to improve the performance of public and private sector businesses in the country.

Ms. Tetteh said the Fund had performed a very useful task by way of empowering SMEs to sensitise government on the various constraints and challenges that confronted the sector, leading to various changes and amendments of policies and programmes to address their demands.

“The private sector seemed to be driving government policies and programmes; I hope that there will be enough funding to support a second phase of the project. This would help bring on board new players and also extend the facility to others,” she said.

Dr. Joyce Aryee, Chief Executive Officer, Ghana Chamber of Mines, acknowledged the immense contribution of the BUSAC Fund in relation to improvements in the mining sector.

“The Fund has been extremely useful to the Chamber in its quest to reduce various constraints in the sector.“As a beneficiary of the Fund, the Chamber is advocating a clear and standardised compensation mechanism that would reduce litigation among stakeholders - while ensuring that the communities affected by the project are not made worse-off as a result of mining operations,” she remarked.

ProCredit deploys more funds to SMEs

ProCredit Savings and Loans Company Limited has reiterated its promise to deploy more custom-made products and services to close the financing gap faced by the country’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The SME sector covers over 85 percent of the economic activities in the country.

Last year, ProCredit’s SMEs portfolio was valued at GH¢9 million and it hopes to double the amount in 2010.ProCredit’s loans portfolio grew by more than 18 percent to GH¢26.4 million in 2008. Deposits rose at a faster rate, increasing by 25.1 percent to GH¢29.1 million in the same year.

Edwige Takassi, Managing Director of ProCredit who made these known to B&FT, said: “The Company increased its financing support for the agricultural sector, which continues to be largely neglected by formal financial institutions despite its huge potential to create wealth and drive development.”

Ms. Takassi was speaking at the opening of the company’s second SME Clients Business Centre located at Kokomlemle, a suburb of Accra, to provide tailor-made business solutions that satisfy the demands of SME’s in the country.

She said the Centre will operate on a client-manager relationship basis and will ensure that clients receive the best investment advice to enable them to contribute to the country's socio-economic development.

“The opening of the Centre consolidates ProCredit’s commitment of providing adequate short and long-term credit facilities at competitive rates to SMEs, which is crucial to stimulating growth and creating jobs,” she remarked.

She said in view of the peculiar challenges that face the SMEs, ProCredit, capitalising on its years of experience as market leader, has decided to give increased attention to the sector to enable it improve its performance for the development of the national economy.

Ms. Takassi said the company would continue to provide socially responsible products and services with a transparent pricing approach to SMEs, an area which was largely ignored by most financial institutions resulting in the huge financing gap that existed between SMEs and big companies.

ProCredit will in the next three months open more business centres at strategic locations in Accra and Kumasi to bring the service to the doorsteps of its clients, she disclosed to B&FT after the event.

Mr. Samuel Appenteng, Vice President of Association of Ghana Industries, inaugurated the facility and said establishment of the Centre consolidates the company’s position as the best in developing innovative products to satisfy demands of customers in the SMEs sector.

“ProCredit proves once more its innovative approach through the creation of services fully dedicated to SMEs; this gives a more complete meaning to ProCredit’s philosophy of better banking for everyone,” he said.

ProCredit, a member of the ProCredit Group International, began operations in Ghana in 2002 and currently has 23 branches serving 170,000 clients in six regions of the country.

NSIA takes over CDH Insurance

CDH Insurance Company, a leading non-life insurer, has been taken over by the NSIA Group, an insurance and banking group based in Ivory Coast.

This follows a major acquisition of over 80% shares in CDH Insurance by the Group, which is headquartered in Abidjan, with the remaining held by private individuals.

Speaking to B&FT during a three-day strategic meeting of Managing Directors operating within the Group, which ends today in Accra, Mr. Bené Boévi Lawson, Managing Director, Insurance Section of the Group, said NSIA is very excited about the deal which represents another success story of the Group since it began to transform itself into a formidable pan-African entity.

He did not disclose the value of the acquisition.

He pointed out that NSIA is bringing to bear its continental exposure, expertise, financial strength and clout, which will help to position the company as a major force in the Ghanaian market.
“The practice of insurance is one language everywhere; however, experience and understanding of the market is key. That is why we need CDH and we believe CDH also needs us.”

“With this consolidation, CDH - now NSIA - is well-positioned to become the market leader in the non-life market. This is because all constituents of capacity will be built and Ghana ceases to be the only source of business for CDH - the same way NSIA has just enlarged its market. The focus is now the continent and that is exactly what we are in for,” Mr. Lawson emphasised.

He however declined to disclose any new capital the NSIA Group is bringing on board - at least until the launch ceremony tomorrow.

In 2009, a number of changes were made within NSIA to improve clarity and efficiency which saw the creation of an insurance branch headed by Bene Boevi Lawson and a banking branch headed by Martin Djedjes of the Banque Internationale pour l’Afrique del’Ouest (BIAO-CI).

The acquisition of CDH Insurance increases the Group’s presence, now in 11 countries on the continent with 18 insurance companies and an International Bank.

Available figures show that in 2008, NSIA’s turnover (before this consolidation) increased by 19% from about 71.9 billion CFA francs in 2007 to more than 89 billion in 2008.

BIAO-CI, its banking affiliate, also increased its net income from 15.8 billion CFA francs to 22.2 billion in the same period a 40% increase. All its subsidiaries, except Senegal and Congo, showed an improvement in net income; with Togo, Benin and BIAO-CI posting increases of 200 to 400%.

CDH Insurance (now NSIA Ghana) on the other hand in 2008 recorded a gross premium income increase of 13.3% from GH¢ 4.71 million in 2007 to GH¢5.34 million during the year under review.

Its investment income rose to GH¢453,000 in 2008 from GH¢359,000 in 2007, representing an increase of 26.2%, while net premium income went up from GH¢2.68 million in 2007 to GH¢2.78 million, an increase of 37%.

It was in pursuit of its geographical expansion objective that NSIA added two new subsidiaries in 2009, namely NSIA Mali and Guinea.

The Group’s aim is to consolidate its position in the sub-region by generating about 125 billion CFA francs in turnover and realising a 10% rate of return by 2015 in its insurance branch.

NSIA’s currently has footprints in Cote D’Ivoire, Benin, Senegal, Gabon, Congo, and Togo. Others include Cameroun, Guinea Bissau, Ghana, Guinea and Mali.

BoG’s policy rate cut biggest in three years

The policy interest rate of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) has received its largest cut in three years, of 2.0 percentage points, bringing the rate down from 18.0 percent to 16.0 percent.

The latest cut represents the second consecutive time, following the cut in November 2009 when the rate was reduced from 18.5 percent to 18.0 percent.

The policy rate’s new position sends a very strong signal to all households, the business and investment community of the positive economic prospects and eased financial conditions expected for the year, which is anticipated to contribute positively to overall economic activity level s.

Banks’ base and lending rates in particular are expected to ease more speedily in the coming months, especially so when the benchmark 91-day Treasury bill rate is also on the downward trend, currently standing at 17.4 percent (compared to about 25 percent in October 2009).

Average lending rates are now at 32 percent, very much spread apart in comparison to the Treasury bill rate, let alone interest rates of the banks on savings accounts and fixed deposits – which are in the range of 6.0 to 14 percent.

As the lending rates fall, households will be more able to access more credit such as overdrafts, educational finance and credit to meet consumer durables.

Businesses, too, will be more able and willing to borrow for capital investments or to expand their operations. This should generate increased employment and bring about a rise in income levels.

The downward trend in the Treasury bill rate also constitutes a disincentive for the banks to continue investing in Treasury bills. This will free up loanable funds of the banks to give out more credit to the public.

Briefing the media in Accra after its first review in the year, the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), Chaired by the Governor of the Bank, Mr. Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, noted that all data point to steady diminishing inflationary pressures.

He said the rate of inflation, which stood at 18 percent in October 2009, declined to 16.9 percent in November and then to 15.9 percent in December 2009.

He indicated that the further decline in inflation, to 14.8 percent in January 2010, anchors the BoG’s forecast that the inflation rate would fall further to a target range of 7.50 to 11.5 percent by the end of the year.

The Governor’s main optimism about the broad outlook on inflation stems from the favourable trend in the food component of inflation, compared to a year ago.

The latest assessment done by Ghana Statistical Service shows that the food component of inflation has fallen from about 40 percent a year ago to 18 percent currently, attesting to the relatively effective policies of government in addressing the problems with food supply across the country.

Barring any negative developments in world crude oil prices and utilities, the Governor said government’s revenue and spending plan, as well as external sector prospects, stand to provide positive support for the macroeconomic conditions of 2010.

He indicated that the overall revenue and expenditure gap realised in 2009, which was a narrow cash deficit of GH¢1.1 billion, translating into 5.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), compared with a deficit of GH¢2.5 billion representing 14.0 percent of GDP, is already engendering positive support for expected macroeconomic conditions.

“The improvement of the fiscal situation has resulted in a reduction in the public sector borrowing requirement (PSBR), which has contributed to the reduction in Treasury bill rates,” the Governor explained.

“The market has also witnessed a shift towards long-dated instruments, in line with easing inflation expectations. The share of the short-dated securities in the outstanding stock of government securities fell to 56.7 percent in January 2010, after rising consistently and peaking at 66.2 in August 2009,” he added.

On the external front, total merchandise exports rose marginally in 2009 to US$5.8 billion from US$5.3 billion in 2008. Merchandise imports on the other hand declined 21.6 percent from US$10.3 billion in 2008 to US$8.0 billion.

Combined with the Capital and Financial Account which registered a surplus of US$2.8 billion, Ghana’s overall balance of payments registered a surplus of US$1.2 billion in 2009 compared with a deficit of US$904.8 million in 2008.

Gross international reserves also grew, extending cover for the importation of goods and services. The reserves grew from US$2billion, the equivalent of two months cover for imports at the end of 2008, to US$3.2 billion, the equivalent of three months cover for imports.

The favourable external environment continues to support the stability in the foreign exchange market, arresting inflationary tendencies that are due to currency depreciation.

In year-on-year terms as measured to end-December 2009, the cedi recorded depreciations of 14.8%, 22.4% and 16.2% against the US dollar, the pound sterling and the euro respectively. By the end of January 2010, the year-on-year depreciations had slowed to 10.25, 20.7% and 15.6% against the respective major trading partners.

Concluding his report, the Governor noted that the outlook generally points to low risks for the economy and it is the expectation that banks in particular would respond accordingly by bringing down lending rates, which would allow for a restoration of credit growth and ensure steady growth in output.

source :B&FT

Friday, February 19, 2010

British Airways’ Boeing 777 makes first flight

British Airways’ has announced the first take off of its Boeing 777 bound for Chicago, United States of America.

The airline has invested £100 million in its flagship brand drawing on its rich heritage to create an exclusive experience based on classic design and understated luxury.

The new key features include: a 60 per cent wider bed at the shoulders, personal wardrobe, personal electronic blinds, a 15” in-flight entertainment screen, USB port and noise-cancelling headsets, fully integrated ambient and mood lighting ,Anya Hindmarch washbag and amenities by D.R. Harris & Co. leather bound writing table among others.

The airline’s Coat of Arms with the motto ‘To fly to serve’ is a core feature and the 1920s pioneering era of luxury travel is captured through motifs such as Cyril Kenneth Bird’s ‘Care in the Air’ character.

The design of the new cabin is inspired by premium brands like Aston Martin and Jaguar. At the heart of its Quink blue and cream design is an enhanced bed - wider with a new ‘intelligent’ mattress and the finest 400-thread Egyptian cotton bed linen.

British Airways frequent flyer, actress Rachel Weisz, said: “For style, stellar service and complete luxury, it doesn’t get better than British Airways’ new First cabin.”

British Airways’ head of customer experience Mark Hassell, said: “We have contemporised First and created an intimate private jet experience onboard. We have resisted gadgets and gimmicks and focused instead on simplicity and quality. Every feature has been carefully considered and researched to ensure we are giving our customers what they want.”

Each individual suite has its own personal wardrobe, a leather-bound writing desk that converts into a dining table, a new 15” in-flight entertainment screen and a buddy seat to enable customers to dine together. The lighting and electronic blinds can be modified to reflect mood and time of day.

A seat control unit replaces the switches to activate the bed and give the customer precision control over the seat position and pneumatic panels to support the head and lumbar positions.

A new premium service style has been developed for cabin crew to ensure world-class service for customers who can eat, sleep and work whenever they want to.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Securities markets regulators look ahead

Experts in the securities markets in Africa and the Middle East have proposed a set of actions for the development and deepening of the securities market in Africa and Middle East.

The experts at a two-day meeting that ended yesterday identified that macroeconomic environment and sufficiently high income levels, transparent and accountable institutions are foundational necessities for a thriving securities industry.

Others primary factors mentioned were adequate shareholder protection, and a well-developed banking system that will encourage private capital flows.

Professor Victor Murinde of University of Birmingham presenting a paper noted that the above factors are primary, before other factors as securities regulation can be considered.

He said regulation is meant to ensure the smooth functioning of trading and clearing and settlement mechanisms to prevent disruption and foster investor confidence.

“The key objectives of securities market regulation are to protect investors, ensure that markets are fair, efficient, and transparent and reduce systematic risk,” he emphasized.

According to him, serious gaps in securities regulations have become a world wide phenomenon and the inability of securities market regulators to enforce compliance with existing rules and regulations has tended to hinder the healthy development of the market.

“A critical review of the strengths and weaknesses of securities regulatory systems world wide is required to provide a better understanding of common problems and areas of global concern and action,” he stated, adding that Africa and the Middle East must face theirs squarely.

In a speech read on his behalf, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning reiterated the need for the regional integration of stock exchanges in Africa, automation of the trading systems, involvement of institutional investors and regular disclosure and transparency as the major drivers for a vibrant capital market in Africa.

“Expanding securities market development in Africa and the Middle East would also require policies to address institutional and infrastructural bottlenecks to improve liquidity.

“Africa’s capital markets have generally been high compared to those operated in the Latin America, Asia and the Middle East, even when the result are converted into dollars,” he pointed out.

The number of stock and bond markets in Africa’s financial landscape has changed with growth recording from five in 1990 to 18 currently with assets and listings recording considerable .Total market capitalization increased by 113 percent between 1995 and 2005.

The region’s markets have helped to finance the growth of African companies but need to develop further to offer broader economic benefits.

The 24th International Organisation of Securities Commissions –Africa and Middle East Regional Committee Meeting held in Accra was under the theme: ‘Information and Capital Market Development in Emerging Countries.’

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Signals stronger for interest rate cuts; inflation falls to 14.78%

As the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) begins its meeting today, the expectations of the business community is that prime rates will be reduced.

Thankfully, signals are positive for the MPC to cut the Bank of Ghana’s (BoG’s) prime rate for the second consecutive time as inflation drops for the seventh consecutive time.

Headline inflation further dropped to 14.78 percent in January from 15.97 percent in December 2009, representing a decline of 1.19 percentage points. Since reaching its highest level of 20.74 percent in June last year, head-line inflation has consistently been on the decline.

The January rate is the lowest figure of the past twelve months. It shows 5.08 percentage points lower than the January 2009 rate of 19.86 percent.

The prime rate - which eased to 18.0 percent in November last year - was stuck at 18.5 percent for the nine consecutive months to October last year, owing to the high inflationary pressure that was in the economy.

Since the outlook for inflation points to further declines, analysts expect MPC to cut the prime rate again because the inflationary trend is a key determinant factor.

Executive Director of FirstBank Financial Services, Mr. Mawuli Hedo, said a cut of between 2.0 and 3.0 percentage points is a realistic range for the MPC to ease the prime rate, as it begins its crucial meeting this morning to decide on the rate.

“At its last meeting in November, we think the outcome was a cautious move by the MPC. With the new headline inflation figure, the outlook should be clearer now for the MPC to cut the policy rate more significantly,” Mr. Hedo indicated.

Dr. Grace Bediako, Government Statistician, briefing the media in Accra on the latest developments in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) attributed the continuous decline in headline inflation to steps government took in the previous year to tighten fiscal and monetary policies.

“There is a lot of attention on the country’s inflationary rate,” she pointed out.
Official figures released by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) named recreation and culture, furnishing, household equipments and health, as the main movers of the decrease in the non-food component national consumer basket.

Whilst products like sugar, jam, honey, syrups, chocolate and confectionary, milk, cheese, eggs and mineral water were the major contributors to the decrease within the food and alcoholic beverage component of the basket.

On regional inflation, the Upper East and Upper West Regions recorded the highest inflation of 24.57 percent, with the Northern Region recording the lowest of 9.87 percent.

The Central Region which placed second had 22.68 percent, Volta Region 19.93 percent, Ashanti Region, 15.52 percent, Brong Ahafo region, 14.20 percent, Western Region 13.75 percent, Greater Accra region 12.57 and Eastern Region 10.15 percent.

World Bank to channel US$450m to economy

The World Bank Group has pledged to channel an estimated amount of US$450 million facility for the year 2010 to help strengthen the economy.

The long-term interest-free repayment loan entails a budget support of US$250 million and sector-specific project supports of US$200 million.

Areas such as enhancing commercial agriculture, building capacity in the oil and gas sector, and improving Information and Communication Technology (ICT) will benefit from this support.

Managing Director of the World Bank Group, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who disclosed this in Accra at the end of her two-day working visit to the country, explained that the Group as part of its strategic plans for the country will help scale-up the irrigation projects in the agricultural sector to promote employment generation and reduce poverty.

The Group will also offer capacity-building training programmes to enhance personnel development in the educational sector for the full operation of the oil and gas sector.

She urged government to strategise diversifying the economy, using the expected revenue from oil and gas for socio-economic development.

“Transparency, accountability, human resource development and use of local content in the oil and gas industry should be key in managing the resources for development,” she said.Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, who expressed confidence in the economy, stressed that Ghana could practice value-added agriculture to create more jobs - especially for the youth.

She indicated that Ghana tripled its annual export of horticultural products in recent times, indicating signs of major improvement and huge untapped potential in the export of agricultural commodities.

Touching on the economic potential of the African continent, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, revealed that an amount of US$93 billion has been directed to support Africa’s infrastructural development and regional integration.

“The Group’s attention for Africa’s social and economic developmental has gone up in recent years,” she disclosed, pointing out that development aid alone will not be enough to solve all of Africa’s needs.

She proposed that African countries need to focus on how to mobilise domestic resources to support private sector growth.

According to her, the socio-economic potential of the continent is highly underutilised, citing that only 44 percent of the continent’s arable land is used for agriculture and with only 11 percent of farmers using improved seeds.

Trade data on countries in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) show that ECOWAS imports over US$3 billion a year of rice, fish, meat, and palm oil from the rest of the world.

Meat is sourced all the way from Argentina and Australia while rice and palm oil are sourced from East Asia. The intriguing aspect is that some of the fish are caught illegally by foreigners in West African waters, just for them to be exported later to the sub-region.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Commodities exchange respite for farmers

The Securities and Exchange Commission, (SEC) the lead promoter of the commodities exchange is expected to commence the drafting of the regulatory framework, which will facilitate the establishment of the exchange after gov­ernment accepts the recommendations.

SEC is currently evaluating the submitted applications received from experts for the drafting of the framework, which will be the blue print for the operations of the exchange, a senior official at SEC disclosed to B&FT in an interview.

When adopted, Ghana would be the fifth country in Africa, after South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia to have implemented the commodities exchange and warehouse receipts system which is aimed at improving prices for agricultural produce.

A commodities market or exchange is a platform where various commodities and derivatives are traded.

Most commodities exchange trade in agricultural products and other raw materials like wheat, barley, sugar, maize, cocoa, coffee, cotton, milk products, oil and the metals.

The exchange when fully operational could raise the hopes of millions of farmers, especially large-scale farmers and make their lives more meaningful.

The setting-up of the exchange will help to deal with the challenges facing the supply of agricultural produce, which in turn will deal with food inflation.

It will as well ensure guarantee prices for farmers which will basically help to clear the agricultural produce market as farmers produce to meet contracts for specific quantity, quality and supply date.

They would therefore be empowered and encouraged to produce to meet demand in the lean or bumper season.

Shortage of food supply is the bane of food inflation in Ghana. The country’s agricultural produce constitutes 55 per cent of the national basket of the Consumer Price Index. Therefore, high prices of agricultural produce will trigger inflation.

Current food supply does not meet the nation’s demand due to lack of storage facilities, weak production capacity and low productivity.

Sampson Akligo, Databank Research Analyst in an interview with B&FT recently explained that a commodities exchange will give opportunity to foreigners to trade in Ghana’s agricultural goods, be it real or imaginary.

This will promote the use of derivatives like forwards, futures and options in Ghana as the door is opened to foreigners to participate in speculating on agricultural products or metals traded on the exchange.

“Cocobod for instance will have the opportunity to hedge against falls in cocoa prices,” Mr. Akligo stated.

The prime objective is to bring produc­ers, buyers and consumers together to trade on a common platform by providing ready market for farm gate products from the agricultural centers.

Moves to resolve safety and security in aviation industry

Ghana and the United States (US) Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) are working to resolve deficiencies in safety and security oversight in the country’s aviation industry.

The collaboration entails auditing of safety measures in Ghana’s aviation industry against international standards and taking the steps to step up the areas where the standard falls short.

This will lead to the country’s quest for attaining FAA Category II to I and also position the airspace as a preferred safety and security destination in the sub region.

This came up during the 9th Co-operative Development and Operational Safety and Continuing Airworthiness Programme Steering Committee and the Eleventh Plenary of the Banjul Accord Group, held in Accra on Monday.

The country’s airspace - called the Accra Flight Information Region, comprising the airspaces of Togo, Benin, Ghana and a large portion of the Atlantic Ocean has been considered as one of the safest in the world.

This year, Ghana also successfully implemented the Atlantic Ocean Random Route Area programme, a key international aviation requirement, to enable aircrafts that fly over the Atlantic Ocean to fly with minimum wind effect and take advantage of the wind over the Atlantic Ocean.

In a speech read on his behalf at the meeting, Mr. Mike Hammah, Minister of Transport said government was committed to ensuring that Ghana was seen as a shining example of first class aviation safety and security.

“The Ghana Civil Aviation Authority’s (GCAA) efforts to implement the International Civil Aviation Organization and the Federal Aviation Authority Category 1 action plan could not have come at a better time,” he stated.
Air Commodore Kwame Mamphey, Director General of the GCAA, indicated that at the present stage of the aviation industry, the West African sub-region needed to have a strong voice in matters relating to aviation safety and security.He said this could not be achieved on a silver platter and that the sub-region needs to work at it as a strong regional grouping, to ensure first, that the collective airspace goal of safety and admirable security is achieved.

He explained to B&FT that the meeting will afford the member states to exchange resources. He said Ghana did very well to have attained the safety and regulation requirements, which is a very expensive venture.

The 9th Co-operative Development and Operational Safety and Continuing Airworthiness Programme steering committee, and the eleventh plenary of the Banjul Accord Group was among other objectives to provide among the member states in the sub-region a focal point that deals with all questions relating to air operator certification and technical inspections with a view to harmonizing standards and all related policies and procedures.

It was also to facilitate a coordinated approach with regard to shared technical expertise made available to member states in order to avoid duplication of efforts and to ensure that CAA benefit to the greatest extent from these resources.

Annual producer price index rises to 27.69%

The annual Producer Price Index (PPI) rose to 27.69 percent in December 2009, representing 7.33 percentage points higher than that of November 2009, the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) has announced.

The figure for November 2009 was 20.36 percent.

Mr. Magnus Ebo Duncan, Head of Economics Statistics at the GSS who announced the figures at a news conference in Accra explained the rise was due to an increase in the demand for products minerals, especially gold, on the world market.

On specific industry basis, the mining and quarrying sector which controls 13.97 percent share of all industry, recorded the highest inflation rate of 63.99 percent as against the 27.44 percent by the manufacturing sub-sector which controls 69.75 percent of all industry share. The utilities sector recorded the least figure closing at 0.88 percent.

Mr. Duncan said the relatively stable nature of the utilities sector accounted for its recording of the least inflation rate.

“In spite of the higher annual change rates in the last quarter of 2009, the average inflation rate for the year of 15.44 percent was about half the figure in 2008, which stood at 32.36 percent,” he explained.

He explained there was an appreciable upsurge in the rate for publishing, printing and reproduction of recorded works in the media group as against declines in manufacture of wood, cork and basic metals.

The yearly All-industry year-on-year inflation was relatively stable for the first five months of 2009, averaging 11.87 percent.

There was however an upsurge in the rate in June 2009 but it declined in August 2009 just for the inflation rate to rise to an end-year figure of 27.69 percent, the highest in 2009.

Iranian delegation explores business opportunities in Ghana

A 25-member Iranian delegation last week visited the country to explore investment opportunities and to deepen bilateral relationship with Ghana.

The delegation met with the officials of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI) and Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) in Accra.

Mr. Mohammed Reza Babaei, Deputy General Governor of Iran, leader of the delegation indicated their interest to invest in agriculture and industry.

“We have rich experience in the area of textiles manufacturing and construction. Our interest is whether we can add value to Ghana’s textile industry and its linkage to the agricultural sector.

“Iran will use its technical skills to help Ghana in packaging and adding value to raw materials,” he said.
Mr. Seth Adjei-Baah, First Vice Chairman of the Chamber at an official ceremony to welcome the delegation espoused on the nation’s mineral resources and vibrant economy, which had made it Africa’s best destination for investment.

He observed that the country can boost investment in agriculture, agro-processing, financial services and telecommunications.

“GNCCI wants to promote wealth creation that affects all citizens,” he emphasized.

He called for strong partnership from the Iranian business counterparts in the areas of manufacturing, information and communication technology, tourism and mining.

He said the nation has attracted the attention of the international investing public as a friendly invest destination.
“All these investors have come to Ghana because they know we have a congenial social, political and economic environment to invest successfully,” he said.

Australia pledges to deepen support for Africa

The Australian government has pledged to deepen its commitment to Africa through development assistance and financial aid towards community development and poverty reduction.

This reflects Australia’s commitment to broadening and deepening engagement with Africa across a full spectrum of issues including enhance trade and commercial investments, strengthened diplomatic links and increased development assistance.

William Williams, the Australian High Commissioner in Ghana said: “Other areas of assistance which Australia will be extending to Africa will help build Africa’s human resource capacity through an expanded scholarships programme in areas of Australian expertise, such as agriculture, natural resource management, water and health, trade policy and economic governance.”

Australia has increased its development assistance to Africa by over 40 percent to AUD
$163.9 million in 2009-10.

Mr. Williams made these known in Accra at a ceremony to present cheques valued at GHC 743,125 to some twenty –four Ghanaian organizations and two others in Mali and Sierra Leone for its development grants programme for the 2009-2010 financial year.

“The assistance which are in three groups include Direct Aid Programme, the Africa Regional Small Activities Scheme and the Australian Human Rights Small Grants Scheme represent the largest amount of funding provided by Australia to its grants programmes in Ghana since 2004.”

He told B&FT that vigorous monitoring systems will be employed to ensure successful implementation of the project to promote community development and improve the lives of the under privilege in the communities.

“The High Commission is partnering these selected organisations, who have successfully gone through a rigorous and competitive process, to implement these development projects that will benefit the communities throughout the country.

Most of the project will be in the areas of education, solar energy, provision of street lights, health, and sanitation and the provision of potable water, refurbishment of school buildings, skills training projects, assistance to three women co-operatives and human rights advocacy.

Ford unveils 2010 stylishly new cars

Ford has unveiled three new brands of vehicles to strengthen its presence in the Ghanaian automobile market.

The three All-New 2010 Ford models; Ford Ranger, Ford Fiester and Ford Everest have been designed stylishly with fuel efficient and high performance to provide best in-class driving dynamics with genuine toughness and strength.

These vehicles comes with standard features like fabric or leather upholstery, Manual or Automatic Transmission, front and rear air conditioning, fog lamps, driver and passenger side Airbags, Radio/CD/MP3 Player and remote keyless entry to ensure customers comfort.

Mr. Morkporkpor Adin, the General Manager-Sales and Marketing of Mechanical Lloyd Company Limited, speaking at the official launching in Accra, indicated that Ford’s roll-out of fuel-efficient, high performance and beautifully designed vehicles have resulted in the company’s gaining share in most global markets.

Ford’s plan of delivering industry-leading products for customers is working, he said.

The New seven-seater Ford Everest is unique in its segment by featuring a side-hinged rear door as against the top-hinged system employed by the competition.

This allows for the full-size spare tyre to be mounted on it. It also opens up the widest an tallest cargo area in the class when the third row seats are folded or completely removed.

The 2010 Everest is a ruggedly handsome vehicle with a full house of impressive features plus a muscular 2.5 Litre and 3.0 Litre Commonrail engain that gives it enough reason to step into the ring with any competitor with great amount of confidence.

Ford Everest was first introduced in March 2003.

The 2010 Ford Ranger, which is the third generation model, is powered by Ford’s impressive 2.5 Litre and 3.0 Litre commonrail engines and comes in both manual and automatic transmissions.

Its trendy design, with an abundance of interior space makes it appealing to off-road work crew as well as urban drivers with an active lifestyle and spirit of adventure.

The all New –Fiesta also comes with capless refueling system with a misfuelling inhibitor. It is a very fuel-efficient vehicle, has excellent driverability and is incredibly spacious.

It is one of the most stylish cars in the world that won the verdict of 28 leading designers and experts. It has quickly become the leader in European small car segment and it is due to be launched in the North American markets this year.

Barclays M.D supports Financ,gial Services Authority

The Managing Director of Barclays Bank Ghana, Mr. Benjamin Dabrah has called for the speedy establishment of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), aimed at promoting efficient, orderly and fair financial markets and help retail financial services consumers.

This he said will effectively regulate the financial service market, exchanges and the firms.

“It’s a positive decision to introduce FSA for the financial market which will ensure the compliance of all the players in the financial service.

“It is good to imitate the best practice from developed countries like United Kingdom which will promote standardization in the industry. Its establishment will help retail consumers achieve a fair deal,” he said.

The FSA is normally set up by an act of Parliament and thus ultimately derives its powers from Parliament and accountable to the public, industry, government and Parliament.

It sets the standard that financial institutions must meet and can take action against firms if they fail to meet the required standards.

Government is responsible for the overall scope of the FSA’s regulatory activities and for its powers.

The FSA is obliged to have regard for principles of good regulation. It will promote efficient, orderly and fair markets.

Barclays integrator re-launched

‘Barclays Integrator’ an internet transactional banking solution platform, aimed at creating opportunity for customers to access banking facilities online has being re-launched.

The online platform, offered to corporate customers, proprietors, partnerships and designated individuals of companies provides secure, reliable and fast online banking solutions.

It enable users to access their accounts, print statements and effect payment from anywhere in the world online.

It allow customers to transfer local and international funds between their own accounts, effects staff salary payments and transfer funds to third parties among others also permit users to transact cross currency payments, direct debit payments, urgent payments and electronic cheque payments.

Mr. Benjamin Dabrah, the Managing Director of the bank indicated that the launch of the facility is a further fulfillment of the bank’s promise to create a new standard in banking.

“By re-launching the products, we are bringing world-class banking to enable our customers conduct business anywhere, at any time, at any place.

At Barclays Bank, we are committed to investing in the needs, desires and financial ambitions of our customers.

Your organization will now be in a position to access its statements as far back as six months online and will have the capability to print or export account information in the various formats. ”
He revealed that the Bank had also put in place security measures to prevent people involved in Internet crimes from penetrating their system - emphasising that customers’ transactions made online are like those made personally at the bank.

“Our security measures are detailed and comprehensive because we recognise the challenges that cyber-crime or Internet presents to all financial institutions, including the Bank.“

As information and communication technology advances become available, will also evolve in tandem to serve our customers with more benefits and create further business opportunities for corporate banking clients,” Mr. Dabrah said.

The Barclays integrator, which was introduced three years ago with over 1000 customers positioned the Bank to win the Euromony Award for cash Management in 2009 of which the Bank placed first and Ghana third in Africa.

Toyota monitors voluntary pedals recall

Toyota Ghana says it is in constant touch with Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), on the issue of safety recall of some vehicles, to correct sticking accelerators pedals on certain Toyota brands of vehicles manufactured in North America, China and Europe.

Mr. Eric Darko, Deputy General Manager, Operations, and Toyota Ghana in a media interaction in Accra said: “Toyota Ghana is closely monitoring the situation on the ground, so far, no related case of incident has been reported.

“We will not hesitate to inform our valued customers of the affected vehicles in our market should any such information become available.”

Mr. Darko explained that Toyota Ghana, sole dealer of Toyota cars in the country imports cars from Japan, United Kingdom and South Africa which have been identified to be free from the pedal problem.

Recently, the Japanese automaker, Toyota recalled 4.2 million vehicles for a gas pedal that could get stuck due to incorrect placement of accessory floor mats.

Toyota’s engineers have developed and rigorously tested a solution that involves reinforcing the pedal assembly in a manner that eliminates the excess friction that has caused the pedals to stick in rare instances. In addition, Toyota has developed an effective solution for vehicles in production.

Toyota vehicles affected by the recall include; 2009-2010 RAV4,2009-2010 Corolla, 2009-2010 Matrix, and 2005-2010 Avalon, as well as, 2007-2010 Camry, 2010 Highlander , 2007-2010 Tundra and 2008-2010 Sequoia.

None of Lexus Division or Scion vehicles are affected by the pedal problem. Also not affected are Toyota Prius, Tacoma, Sienna, Venza, Solara, Yaris, 4Runner, FJ Cruiser, Land Cruiser, Highlander hybrids and certain Camry models, including Camry hybrids, all of which remain for sale.

Further, Camry, RAV4, Corolla and Highlander vehicles with Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) that begin with ‘J’ are not affected by the accelerator pedal recall.

Toyota monitors voluntary pedals recall

Toyota Ghana says it is in constant touch with Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), on the issue of safety recall of some vehicles, to correct sticking accelerators pedals on certain Toyota brands of vehicles manufactured in North America, China and Europe.

Mr. Eric Darko, Deputy General Manager, Operations, and Toyota Ghana in a media interaction in Accra said: “Toyota Ghana is closely monitoring the situation on the ground, so far, no related case of incident has been reported.

“We will not hesitate to inform our valued customers of the affected vehicles in our market should any such information become available.”

Mr. Darko explained that Toyota Ghana, sole dealer of Toyota cars in the country imports cars from Japan, United Kingdom and South Africa which have been identified to be free from the pedal problem.

Recently, the Japanese automaker, Toyota recalled 4.2 million vehicles for a gas pedal that could get stuck due to incorrect placement of accessory floor mats.

Toyota’s engineers have developed and rigorously tested a solution that involves reinforcing the pedal assembly in a manner that eliminates the excess friction that has caused the pedals to stick in rare instances. In addition, Toyota has developed an effective solution for vehicles in production.

Toyota vehicles affected by the recall include; 2009-2010 RAV4,2009-2010 Corolla, 2009-2010 Matrix, and 2005-2010 Avalon, as well as, 2007-2010 Camry, 2010 Highlander , 2007-2010 Tundra and 2008-2010 Sequoia.

None of Lexus Division or Scion vehicles are affected by the pedal problem. Also not affected are Toyota Prius, Tacoma, Sienna, Venza, Solara, Yaris, 4Runner, FJ Cruiser, Land Cruiser, Highlander hybrids and certain Camry models, including Camry hybrids, all of which remain for sale.

Further, Camry, RAV4, Corolla and Highlander vehicles with Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) that begin with ‘J’ are not affected by the accelerator pedal recall.

Quintessentially club, Jaguar hold champagne breakfast

Quintessentially Limited, providers of world class services to elite class has officially announced the opening of its office in the country.

Quintessentially is a first class global network which enable members enjoy a collection of the best luxury services that life has to offer be it opera, travel, music, art, food, drink, hotels, clubs, gyms, spas, restaurants.

Quintessentially brand, being in existence for 10 years now and with over 10,000 members across the globe was set up by Ben Elliot, Aaron Simpson and Paul Drummond in London, in December 2000. The business was registered in Ghana in December of 2009.

The event in partnership with Fairlop International Limited, sole distributors of Jaguar brand of vehicles in the country was to reinforce excellence which is the core value and standard of Quintessentially brand offers for its members in all its 52 major cities in the world.

Ms Sylvia Yamson, Chief Executive of Quintessentially Limited, at the champagne breakfast in Accra, said the club’s mission is to bring the very best of services to satisfy the needs of members.

“Driven by a passion for high quality service and attention to details, Quintessentially offers its members around the world an array of benefits carefully selected to make a difference in their lives.
She noted that the Jaguar brand is a sign of excellence which is the core value and standard of Quintessentially brand.

Since Quintessentially was founded we’ve discovered that, whilst there are many things we can do for our members, it is for travel advice that they turn to us most often.”

Ms Yamson explained that to enjoy the services, one had to register as a member with the club and notify it about his or her programmes in terms of travels, parties and events to attend, hotels or spas to lodge in, shopping needs as well as restaurants and clubs and the company will make all the necessary arrangements for the individual to enjoy those facilities wherever in the world.

The club is partnering with Jaguar in Ghana, She noted that the Jaguar brand is a sign of excellence which is the core value and standard of Quintessentially brand, she explained.

Mr. Harry Ofei-Sah, Sales and Marketing Manager of Fairlop International Limited said the company is pleased with the relationship it had with the Quintessentially brand which is expected to exposed its range of vehicles including Jaguar XF to a wider market.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

ABL unveils Club Gold ‘the connoisseur’s beer’

Club Gold, an innovative and premium lager drink targeted at fun-loving, sophisticated, adventurous and yet individualistic young adults has been unveiled by the Accra Brewery Ltd. (ABL).

The drink is specifically brewed for the urban aspirers, highly driven individuals who combine local pride with global outlook, and want to be seen drinking only the best.

Branded as ‘the connoisseur’s beer, contains sparkling bubbles and gives a rich taste, golden colour with unique aroma, making it appealing to consumers.

Mr. Greg Metcalf, Managing Director of ABL, at the ceremony said the product was developed after careful research, to satisfy the growing needs of consumers who yearned for a drink that was unique and natural.

“It comes with genuine international quality credentials which has been carefully brewed with the choicest ingredients from around the world. It is a home grown premium lager that meets international standards of quality and taste"

Mr. Chris Wuiff-Ceaser, Marketing Director of ABL, said the development of the brand has been through an in-depth understanding of the preferences of target consumers. “We discovered through this process that our consumers value good quality brand that have style and, more importantly, substance”.

Mr. Wuiff-Ceaser said innovation was one of the key pillars of growth of ABL, and that the company’s products met the young adults' drive to make choices that reflected their modern views and attitudes.

“It’s a new drink with a promise to deliver quality beverages to the Ghanaian consumer,” he emphasized.