Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Vodafone set to roll-out 2,000 V-Booth for schools

Vodafone Ghana is to install 2,000 telephone-booth facilities by the end of the year, and by 2011 replicate the platform in all senior high schools in the country to help bridge the communication gap of students.

It has rolled-out 1,440 V- Booths in 391 senior high schools, six junior high and primary schools and 10 communities in all the ten regions of the country.

This innovative project by Vodafone, dubbed ‘V-Booths’ and which is the first in the country, is to ensure effective and appropriate use of the facility at the schools, Dr. Kobina Quansah, Board Chairman of the company, made these known in Accra at the first stakeholder forum.

He revealed that all the school authorities have been involved with all aspects of the project so that school regulations are not flouted.

“The V-Booth has become particularly important for students as an effective means for communication with their families and friends while in boarding schools as students in senior high school are not permitted to use mobile phones when at school.”

Dr. Quansah also indicated that the company has also donated a total of 163 computers to 19 schools and institutions across the country.

“ICT is no doubt the backbone of development in all areas of our lives, and therefore it makes sense having ICT infrastructure in our schools and giving training to students who in turn will use their knowledge in contributing to national development.

“We believe that as a responsible organisation we owe it as a duty to the people that we serve to see to it the environment we live in is well-protected and safe.”

Participants for the first Vodafone Stakeholders’ Forum were drawn from Non-Governmental Organisations, industry regulators, investors, academia, entrepreneurs, telecommunication industry regulators, and Environmental organisations.

The forum, among other objectives, was to facilitate discussions among stakeholders in the areas of compliance with supply engagement procedures, health & safety policies, and Vodaphone’s quest to be an employer of Choice.

Paul Ryan, Director External Affairs, speaking at the occasion, emphasised that the eengagement with stakeholders is an important part of developing its corporate responsibility plan.

“We believe that the involvement of a broad range of stakeholders ‘will help a great deal in achieving a better corporate responsibility plan that will be implementable and easily adaptable.

“We consider stakeholders as people who can affect our business or who are affected by it; and this group includes employees, suppliers, NGOs, government agencies, regulators and the Communities within which we operate,” Mr. Ryan stated.

He said engagement with individuals and organisations will represent the full diversity of those who will be affected by the activities.

“Our expectation at the end of the workshop is that we will have succeeded in ensuring that people’s understanding of the activities of Vodafone Ghana is greatly increased - and that we have created opportunities for people to provide relevant information in the focus areas of our discussion and to the development of telecommunication business in Ghana,” Mr. Ryan remarked.

Jubilee gas to be pumped back

Natural gas produced alongside first oil from the Jubilee field will be pumped back into the well, contrary to recent expectations of gas being exploited before oil.

Tullow Oil Chief Operations Officer Stuart Wheaton said: “Associated gas from oil production in Jubilee will have to be injected back into the well until infrastructure for utilising gas is ready.”

Oil production, expected to commence towards the end of this year, will produce the equivalent of 10 times as much in cubic feet of natural gas as daily oil output. Initial oil output is expected to be about 60,000 barrels per day (bpd), ramping to 120,000 after about six months.

In a presentation at the just-ended Ghana Oil and Gas Summit, Wheaton disclosed that eight oil producer wells, and six water and two gas injectors have been drilled with one producer well to be drilled post-first oil.

In recent times, official statements have been indicating that Ghana will exploit its Jubilee gas resources ahead of first oil, with Energy Minister Dr. Joe Oteng-Adjei reportedly affirming this on the sidelines of an international conference on oil and gas in Trinidad and Tobago.

With a zero gas-flaring policy, the country hopes to utilise all associated gas from oil exploitation in the production of electric power, mainly, as well as for domestic use and other industrial uses such as fertiliser production.

Natural gas output from Jubilee is expected to be around 1.2 million cfd, with half of that injected back into the oil reservoir to boost pressure while the remaining 600,000 cfd is channelled through a pipeline attached to the flange of the FPSO (floating processing and offloading) vessel to an onshore gas processing plant to be sited at Bonyere in the Western Region.

The installation of the FPSO is expected to begin in June after arriving from a Singaporean shipbuilding yard, but infrastructure for gas has not yet commenced.

Experts at the Ghana Oil and Gas summit said the gas infrastructure may take a little longer in being developed.

The Ghana Summit, organised by the CWC Group brought together international industry players who deliberated on how best to make Ghana’s oil industry a success story.

Experts said the country needs to focus more attention on the development of credible local content that would see Ghanaians participating more meaningfully in the emerging oil and gas industry.

Dr. Oteng-Adjei said: “The active involvement of Ghanaians in the oil and gas exploration, development, production and utilisation through local content and local participation has become a major policy issue.

“Many of our people see the oil discovery as the last opportunity for achieving the national prosperity that has eluded our nation all this while.”

Participants at the summit said a clearly defined local content is critical to the country’s nascent hydrocarbon industry if Ghana is to emerge as a successful oil economy.

The Managing Director of GNPC, Nana Asafu-Ajaye, said Ghana’s concept of resource nationalism is to get Ghanaians participating at all levels of the oil and gas industry - with the indigenes controlling about 80 percent of the resource and ultimately controlling about 90 percent.

Source: B&FT

LeapFrog Investments channels GH¢ 35m facility for insurance businesses

LeapFrog Investments, the world’s first microinsurance fund, has announced that it has selected Ghana as one of three priority countries on the continent, to invest GH¢35 million (US$25 million) in local companies.

This is expected to deliver affordable and life-changing insurance in the country.

The senior officials of the company who made this disclosure in Accra at a media conference revealed that it has raised an equivalent of GH¢155 million (US$110 million) for investment in insurance businesses in Asia and Africa. It estimates that over half could be deployed in Africa.

LeapFrog Principal Doug Lacey explains: “We see significant potential in the Ghanaian market, particularly given the rapid growth of the insurance industry since it was privatised and the strong demand and need among the majority of the population – who are still underserved by insurance products.

The Commissioner of Insurance has on many occasions stressed the importance of promoting and developing microinsurance, and we see genuine openness to foreign investment. LeapFrog will invest to help Ghanaian insurance companies to grow and help the Ghanaian people to achieve greater financial inclusion and security.”

The brainchild of a largely African team of insurance and investment industry CEOs and experts, LeapFrog is a long-term and strategic investor. T

he fund commits substantial capital and expertise to supporting high-growth, high-impact insurance opportunities. LeapFrog now aims to leverage its unique resources and capabilities to make investments in, or partner with, local insurance companies, microinsurers, or businesses with significant distribution platforms that reach the mass market.

“Millions of people in Ghana still do not have access to affordable and relevant financial services. With this latest capital injection to the fund, we look forward to partnering with local companies and insurers, bringing to bear substantial capital and global best-practice to ensure microinsurance is delivered with commercial success and profound social impact in Ghana,” adds Lacey.

In addition to Ghana, Leapfrog’s priority countries for investment include Kenya, South Africa, India, and the Philippines.

Asked why LeapFrog is especially interested in Ghana, President and Founder Dr. Andrew Kuper said: “Over 96 percent of the Ghanaian population, or more than 18 million people, are classified as low-income, but they do have sufficient income to afford insurance for their families and enterprises. Insurance can have a transformative impact on their lives and livelihoods, enabling them to build futures without fear. We should be reaching everyone – it can be done on a commercial basis and no one should go without protection.”

The LeapFrog fund aims to invest amounts between around GH¢7 million and GH¢21 million (US$5 million to US$15 million) per business, so as to drive significant growth.

In describing the fund’s investment approach, Kuper said “Our success will be driven by the fact that we are meeting the escalating demand for microinsurance at the right time, with the right people. Our team can add value to portfolio companies in business planning, product design, regulatory and risk management, and development of efficient and high-volume distribution channels.”

Leading investors have aligned behind LeapFrog’s profit-with-purpose investment proposition, with four global institutions announcing investments today at a signing ceremony in Frankfurt.

The International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank Group, committed US$20 million. The board of the Soros Economic Development Fund has approved a US$7 million investment.

Flagstone Reinsurance, a global reinsurer, committed US$12 million. The largest amount of US$25 million was committed by KfW Entwicklungsbank and BMZ, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. LeapFrog is now by far the largest dedicated investor in the microinsurance sector worldwide.

With nearly a half a billion rand ready to be invested in Africa, LeapFrog is on the lookout for innovative insurance and financial services companies, or businesses that own strong distribution platforms who could be strong local partners.

LG Electronics boss visits Ghana

Mr Jae Young Lee, the Managing Director of LG Electronics in Africa (LGEAF) operations, was in the country last week for a business visit.

As part of the visit, he had business discussions with Somotex Ghana Ltd. - the sole and exclusive distributors for LG Products in the country.

Mr Lee, who has 25 years working experience with LG, visited the Somovision showrooms and LG Digital Centres during his visit and also visited competition-outlets selling consumer electronics and home-appliances in Accra.

Mr Lee at a media interaction in Accra said: “This has been a very instructive and fulfilling visit. I have always wanted to visit Ghana, and the warmth and hospitality extended by all Ghanaians during my visit have been heart-warming, to say the least.

“Ghana occupies a very important position in the growth plans of LG Electronics in Africa, and we are taking more steps to ensure that our presence here is more comprehensive with a view to being able to service all segments of the Ghanaian populace. We shall, along with our partners Somotex Ghana Ltd., always endeavour to raise the bar in terms of product introductions as well as customer satisfaction norms.”

Mr Lee also expressed his concern on the entry of fake LG products as well as LG products brought in by unauthorised distributors, which were not aligned to Africa-centric conditions.

“We are starting immediate and punitive action against those sources from where fake LG and unauthorised LG products are entering Ghana. We feel very strongly about this issue because this kind of illegal representation gives low benefits to our valued Ghanaian customers - who buy LG only because they are assured of the promises that the brand delivers. We reiterate that Somotex Ghana Ltd has been our sole and exclusive sales & service distributor in Ghana for almost 20 years.

“The LG brand, as represented by Somotex, brings to customers in Ghana products that have been tropicalised and designed for the African market with excellent after sales service given by Somotex - unlike the illegal importers, who do not even carry the LG Pan-Africa Warranty service promise on their products.”

Systematic approach to branding advocated

Ms. Esther Amba Namuba Cobbah, Chief Executive of Stratcomm Africa, has advocated a systematic and professional approach to branding and brand identity in the country, rather than just a casual approach.

She said it is about time companies and individuals realised that effective branding adds enormous value to products and services - adding that without systematic approach to developing a brand, what a company/product communicates may simply be confused fragments of messages.

Ms. Cobbah speaking at the ‘Branding and Identity Conference 2010’ organised by Oxygen, a brand-consulting firm, to brainstorm ideas that will change the face of branding in the country, she expressed surprise at how multinational corporate bodies are quick to transpose adverts they have created in one environment into a completely different one and assume that expected outcomes would be the same.

She said branding has been an integral aspect of culture, citing the use of ‘adinkra’ symbols by our forefathers to represent a particular meaning or activity during their time.

Mr. Reginald Laryea, Chief Executive of MMRS Ogilvy, a brand consulting firm, on the challenges, development and future of branding in Ghana said lack of trained personnel and certain specialised disciplines within the marketing communication sector is one major challenge to the development of brands in the country.

He appealed to business owners to employ the right calibre of branding experts that are able to add the right value to their brands.

He said the country is fortunate to have the human resource base in the areas of brand management and identity, and that a multiplicity of training workshops and seminars would enable such resource persons to bequeath some of their expertise in the field to upcoming brand promoters as well as industry players.

‘’Effective branding also serves as a magnet to attract new customers while providing motivation to employees, increasing productivity and reducing employee turnover,’’ he added.

In a related, development, Nana Kwadwo Duah, the Principal and Creative Director of Oxygen, the branding & identity firm, the organizers of the conference, paid a courtesy call on the deputy Minister of Information, Mr. James Kwadwo Agyenim-Boateng in Accra, last week.

Mr. Duah is currently the proud winner of the global search for the most dynamic and innovative young communications entrepreneur by the British Council, a competition that pitted him with nine other outstanding young entrepreneurs from Armenia, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Latvia, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia and Slovenia.

He said the award offers him an opportunity to educate the youth about the enormous prospect in the country.

“I am thankful for the opportunities that have come my way; this will enable me to fulfil my greatest desire by way of giving back to the next generation of young, creative professionals - through the setting up of a facility offering practical training and seminars aimed at developing their creative, technical and business acumen in the communications industry.”

Mr. Agyenim-Boateng while receiving the delegation emphasised government plans to embark on strategies to ensure the country is well-promoted through effective national branding strategies.

The strategy, which will be aimed at attracting global investors and enhancing business opportunities for the country, will be directed toward embracing the youth.

He indicated that the youth will form part of the main policy programme and that government cannot afford to let the youth down.

Nokia’s Ovi Mail ideal for Ghana

Despite the large number of people without access to personal computers (PC) in Ghana and in other developing countries, staying in touch with business partners, friends and family can be hassle-free and fun with the introduction of Ovi Mail by Nokia.

Nokia hopes to make the use of Ovi Mail an appropriate technology that will help to bridge the information gap.

Providing 1 GB of storage, Ovi Mail provides access to one´s account anytime and anywhere as it can be used on your mobile phone or accessed as free webmail on any PC.

The inspiration for Ovi Mail, the brand for Nokia’s e-mail service, came from the growing number of people - mostly in developing countries such as Ghana - without access to a PC. Ovi Mail is a free e-mail that you can use directly from your Nokia device.

Since its inception in December 2008, Ovi Mail is now available in more than 180 countries and supports 20 languages. The Ovi Mail service saw over one million accounts activated in just over six months after launch and is quickly establishing itself as the email account for the developing world. It is fast becoming one of the leading mobile email services also for Africa.

Ovi Mail is free to set-up straight out of the box and is extremely simple to do. It also comes with spam filters to block unwanted emails. It is also accessible from a broad range of Nokia devices with the Nokia 2330 classic, Nokia 2630 and Nokia 5310 XpressMusic being some of the most popular devices used

The word "ovi" means "door" in Finnish and is a metaphor for your mobile door to a world of Internet services. In addition to Ovi Mail, which forms part of the messaging service, Ovi by Nokia also focusses on other key services such as Games, Navigation, Media, Messaging and Music.

In June last year, Nokia launched Nokia Ovi Suite for PC, the desktop part of the Ovi system, which allows the user to transfer content (pictures, music files, videos, etc.) between a mobile device and a computer; back-up their personal information on their computer and easily drag and drop pictures and videos to Share on Ovi.

A Mac OS X compatible version was announced in November 2008, and has been 'expected soon' ever since. No updates on this announcement have been made available to date.

In August, the latest version of was made available. It offers free functionality for syncing your calendar, contacts, notes and tasks between a Nokia mobile device and

The service can be used as a way to backup your data or to edit it in your computer to then send it back to your phone.

The Ovi Store, which was launched worldwide in May 2009, also enables customers to download mobile games, applications, videos, images, and ring-tones to their Nokia devices. Some of the items are free of charge while others can be purchased using credit cards or through operator billing in selected operators. The content in Ovi Store is sorted into the following categories: Applications, which includes social networking; Audio and video, which includes music and podcasts; Games, of which there is a huge variety; and Device Personalisation, which includes ringtones.

Ovi Store offers customers content that is compatible with their mobile device and relevant to their tastes and location. Customers can share recommendations with their friends, see what they are downloading, and let them see the items you are interested in.

With the Ovi Maps Internet service, customers can browse places from all over the world, plan trips, search for addresses and points of interest, and save them on Ovi. Ovi Maps for web-sites/pages can be used on any browser and any operating system for PCs including Macs.

If the Ovi Maps 3.0 application (formerly known as Nokia Maps) is installed in your compatible Nokia mobile device, you can synchronise places, collections, and routes between Ovi Maps and your mobile device. You need to have a Nokia account to be able to synchronise.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Producer prices eases further

The annual Producer Price Index (PPI) dropped 3.77 percentage points in February to 22.57 percent, down from the January 2010 figure of 26.34 percent.

PPI on monthly basis, February also recorded a drop of 0.24 percent, as compared to the drop of 1.38 percent between December 2009 and January 2010.

Explaining at a media conference in Accra, Mr. Ebo Duncan, Director of Economics and Industry Statistics Division of the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) indicated that the drop in the PPI is expected to impact on the country’s Consumer Price Index, and consequently inflation in the coming months.

On specific industry basis, the manufacturing sector which controls 69.75 percent share of all industry, recorded the highest inflation rate of 28.15 percent but represented a fall of 17.12 percentage points from February 2009.

The mining and quarrying sector which controls 13.97 per cent of all industry share, fell from 37.48 percent to close at 24.48 percent over the period.The utilities sector recorded the least drop figure of 0.49 percent in February 2010 to close at 0.42 percent in February 2010.

Mr. Duncan said the figures show appreciable inflation was recorded in the manufacture of coke and refined petroleum products as against mined products.

“In the mining and quarrying sub-sector, mining of metal ores recorded the highest,” he said, adding that the relatively stable nature of the utilities sector accounted for its recording of the least inflation rate.

CAL Bank’s next hurdle

CAL Bank is currently in the throes of overcoming its next challenge, which is to raise additional capital to meet the minimum capitalization of GHC60 million by the end of 2012.

Frank Adu, Managing Director of the Bank in an interview with Journalists at the end of bank’s annual general meeting in Accra last week said: “the board and management will pursue the best possible options available to ensure that we meet the capitalization as set by the Central Bank with the approval of the shareholders.”

“The next hurdle is to meet the minimum capitalization,” he maintained.

The Bank has through a rights issue in September last year, raised GHC30 million, which placed it ahead of the GHC25 million minimum requirement set by the Bank of Ghana for the locally-owned banks by the end of 2010.

Taking its income surplus account into consideration, of GHC5.9 million at the end of 2009, Cal Bank may only have to worry for about GHC30.1 million new capital to meet the 2012 requirement.

The Bank recorded a profit before tax of GHC10.5 million, a nine percent dip on the previous year figure.

This was largely due to the result of the valuation losses taken on the equity portfolio held by the brokerage arm of the group arising out of the adverse performance of listed equities on the Ghana Stock Exchange.

This notwithstanding, the Bank realized a significant growth in the balance sheet of the group from GHC339 million to GH 453 million, an increase of 34 percent.

Mr. Adu told shareholders at the meeting that significant growth of the bank was realized in investment in government securities of 73 percent with a modest growth of 12 percent in loans and advances.

These were funded mainly by growth in customer deposits from GHC177 million to GHC278 million, an increase of 57 percent and increase in the capital base of the Bank from GHC8 million to GHC25 million.

There was a deliberate effort to slow down growth in the loan book as a result of the difficult economic environment in a bid to avoid potential loan losses in the loan book going forward.

Shareholders’ equity at the end of the period amounted to GHC58 million compared to the previous year’s amount of GH 37 million an increase of 58percent as a result of the additional injection of equity and retained earnings.

“We continue to increase our activities and presence in the corporate banking segment of the market and also develop our retail banking offering. The growth in the branch network expansion programme was deliberately stalled during the year under review;

This is as a result of the bank’s decision to grow the business in a more measured manner,” Mr. Adu said.

Paarock VanPercy, Group Board Chairman said: “As we move into 2010 there are lots of reassuring signs about the year ahead, inflation has fallen two points to 16 percent, the 91 day benchmark interest rate ended the year at 22.5percent having peaked at 25.9 percent.

“All of these indications allow us to be upbeat about the outlook for 2010 and the opportunities and therein for the bank,” he stated.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cabinet approves GM foods Bill

A Biosafety Bill which will allow the full commercialization of biotechnology and the deployment of the Genetically Modified (GM) products in the country has been approved by Cabinet, B&FT has been told.

The Bill is expected to be presented to parliament by close of the year, which when passed will authorize the use and the consumption of GM foods in the country’s consuming market.

This will be the second GM foods- related bill that Parliament will pass after it had earlier passed the Legislative Instrument on Biosafety (LI 1887) which along with other existing legislation could be used to start field trials of GM crops in the country’s agricultural sector.

Dr. Alhassan Yakubu, Member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Environment, Science and Technology, who disclosed to B&FT, explained that the passage will have enormous implications for the country’s future biotech crop production in the agricultural sector.

This is expected to increase productivity and augment income of farmers, while promoting the protection of biodiversity, environment and climate change and other socio-economic benefits.

Ghana in May 2003, signed the Cartagena Protocol, which affirmed the country’s position on the safe use, handling and transportation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMs) that might find their way to into the country.

The Cartegena Protocol states: “Parties shall ensure that the development, handling, transport, use, transfer and release of any living modified organisms are undertaken in a manner that prevents or reduces the risks to biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health.”

Dr. Yakubu, making a presentation at a media conference in Accra on the topic “Global Status of Commercialized Biotech and GM crops”, explained that Ghana and its neighboring countries continued to exchange planting materials.

“It was, therefore, prudent for the country to put in place all the necessary precautions and mechanisms to formally standardize the usage of GM crops, hence, the framework and the pending bill.”

He emphasized that the proven and potential benefits of modern biotechnology are accepted as means of increasing food production efficiency, of ensuring sustainable agriculture and of developing new products from, and uses for, different plant varieties.

Burkina Faso has legislation to commercialize GM crops, especially, cotton thereby increasing its export. Togo-passed a bio-safety law in 2008, with Mali also passing one in the same year.

Prof. Walter Sandow Alhassan, Coordinator, African Biosafety & Technology Policy Platform, and also a consultant to the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), said: “there is no scientific evidence after 13 years of commercial GM crop production globally, that GM crops pose specific risks to the environment and human health.

He explained that the strict regulatory regime accompanying GM crop production makes these even safer than conventional crops.

GM crop production is reported to have reduced the need for external inputs, thus saving save 356,000mt of pesticides from 1996 to 2008. Its contribution to climatic change is estimated as equivalent to removing seven million cars off the road.

“Future prospects of a new wave of biotechnology crops between 2010 and 2015 are encouraging, therefore top priority must be assigned to operation of appropriate responsible, and cost-effective and timely regulatory systems.

“There is growing political will, as well as financial and scientific support for the development, approval and adoption of biotechnology crops, by countries, and a growing number of farmers, and it is expected that hectares under cultivation would all double by the second decade of commercialization in 2015.”

Friends of the Earth - Ghana (FoE), a non-governmental organization, oppose the introduction of GM foods into the country, observing that GM foods are harmful and unsafe for human consumption and that its impact on the human health is hazardous.

“Ghanaians should take a precautionary approach to the adoption of GM food.”

GM foods watchers say that supporters of GM foods, including heavy weight organizations like, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Monsanto, Inc, and USAID will continue to push for the adoption of GM foods in Ghana and other developing countries.

Gov’t urged to widen tax net

Government has been urged to develop policies to widen the tax net to enhance revenue mobilization in order to enable the country achieve economic self-reliance.

The call was made by a group made up of financial experts from West Africa who were in the country to explore business opportunities.

Their main interstes is in collaboration with government and its tax agencies to enhance revenue generation and improve tax collection in the country.

At a media briefing to announce their presence, head of the group, Mr. Prince Peter’s Banwo said: “Ghana can wean from the Britain Woods Institutions, if policy makers develop strategies that are directed at widening the tax net instead of enforcing new tax rate.

Efforts should be made to also bring into the net workers in the informal sector since majority of them were not captured under the current regime of tax collection.”

Mr. Banwo urged the government to strengthen the revenue agencies like the Internal Revenue Service, the Customs Exercise and Preventive Service (CEPS) and the Value Added Tax (VAT) which will promote transparency and reduce corruption.

“Government must have the political will to implement such strategies inspite of resistance from the civil servant and other policy makers.

Government must also try as much as possible to block the loop hole in the system. We don’t need tax increment but rather block the loopholes and that will increase the revenue base of the economy,” He pointed out.

The IRS is projecting revenue collection of over GH¢ 2.235 billion for this year. The Service exceeded its target revenue collection of GH¢1.55billion for 2009, representing an increase of 14.4 percent.

Tax experts have opined that the revenue agencies have failed to achieve success in their revenue mobilisation efforts due to their manual system of operation.

“The group would deliver services aimed at helping government to widen the tax net and improve revenue collection. CEPS, IRS and VAT Service, in particular would be assisted to operate at optimum levels.

Ghana has relatively peaceful political and economic environment, this will warrant the group to execute it mandate that will ensure an increase of over 85 percent of its revenue collection for national development,” members of the group contended.

Monday, March 22, 2010

BPO sector positive for wealth creation

Mr. Alhassan Umar, Director at the Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) Secretariat says Ghana has abundant opportunities in the Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) industry not only for jobs creation and growth but also for the creation of wealth for economic development.

The country is presently creating a globally competitive enabling environment which has the potential to help develop, build and sustain a strong and vibrant BPO/ITES industry.

This strategy when completed has the tendency to position Ghana as the preferred outsourcing destination in Africa.

Mr.Umar made these known in Accra at a day’s workshop which was aimed at sensitizing the media on the potential of the e-Ghana project and its benefit to the media.

Making a presentation under the topic ‘Ghana’s ITES and BPO Unharnessed Potential,’ Mr. Umar expressed that optimizim that the country’s BPO sector holds great untapped potential when harnessed fully by governments and its agencies.

Ghana’s BPO sector’s has been described as having huge potential to create some 37,000 direct jobs and close to 150,000 indirect jobs, and to generate revenues of approximately US$US750 million within a five-year period.

The country has also been recognised as an attractive destination for BPO and was ranked the No. 1 destination in sub-Saharan Africa, ahead of South Africa, and is No. 22 globally out of 40 countries.

Mrs. Veronica Boateng, Director of Application Systems at the National Information Technology Agency (NITA) in her presentation indicated that the e-Ghana project seeks to create a portal where citizens can do business with government on-line.

“Components of the e-Ghana projects such as e-parliament-immigration and e-services will help in the free flow of information between agencies, government and service providers and the general public.

The project would help minimize the human face in the course of interactions as every thing will be done online.

She explained that the project will help create an enabling environment to attain the policy objectives of accelerated development through ICT, and also help developed human capacity in the sector.

“The project will as well contribute to improve efficiency and transparency of Government functions, through Government Communications and e-Government Applications,” she said.

Ministry of Communications, the lead promoter of the e-Ghana project is optimistic of providing over 6000 jobs and has targeted 50 percent women participation in these jobs before the project ends by 2011.

The objective of the e-Ghana Project is to assist the Government in generating growth and employment, by leveraging information and communication technology (ICT) and public-private partnerships, and to develop the IT Enabled Services and contribute to improved efficiency and transparency of selected government functions, through e-government applications.

UNDP- AMSCO Assists Northern Communities of Ghana

The African Management Services Company (AMSCO) a project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) executed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), has brought a ray of hope to communities in the Northern Region of Ghana through the delivery of a timely training programme which reached 2,313 women shea nut pickers.

This was done as part of AMSCO’s capacity development services offered to its client - The Pure Company (TPC).

AMSCO, a pioneer of capacity and skills development in the African SME sector, is also currently offering management and training services through the support of 24 AMSCO Managers seconded to 15 companies in Ghana.

The Pure Company, a shea processing firm situated in Benkrom in the northern part of Brong Ahafo, started purchasing shea nuts from the northern part of Ghana in 2006 through women contractors who have been organized into groups and co-operatives.

As a development partner, committed to ensuring successful operations for its client and also to contributing to improving in the standards of living for the people in the community, AMSCO collaborated with TPC to bring this much needed training to the women shea-nut pickers in the Central Gonja, West Gonja and North Kintampo Districts in the Northern and Brong Ahafo regions of Ghana.

As a rule, shea butter produced by traditional methods is generally of poor quality and this is attributable to poor kernel quality and the crude method of extraction. The objective of this training was to educate these women on preferred methods of harvesting.

The women were taken through the necessary steps in producing quality nut and kernel using standard operation procedures (SOPs) while highlighting the critical control points (CCP) to attain quality.

Through pictorial illustrations and practical demonstrations, the women understood that the quality of nuts depended to a large extent, on the method used in harvesting and storing.

At the end of each demonstration, the participants were amazed at the differences achieved in quality when the preferred method was used.

The participants were very satisfied with the training, and impressed with the quality of nuts and kernels produced. As a result, they resolved to adopt these new techniques in treating nuts.

This is expected to improve the market value of shea nuts produced and make the product more competitive on the global market.

This will translate into new job opportunities, improved livelihood, poverty reduction and enhanced socio-economic well being of the communities in the northern sector of Ghana.

The theme adopted for the training was “Sustainable harvesting and processing of Shea Nuts – Towards Organic and Fair Trade Certification’.

The training package also included modules to sensitize the women on other social and topical issues such as HIV/AIDS Awareness and Personal Hygiene. The total package had a singular aim of contributing towards improving income levels and livelihoods in the region.

Ghana and EU sign addendum

Ghana and the European Union have signed two financing agreements on natural resource and environmental governance (NREG) and general budget support, as well as an amendment to the country strategy paper spanning the period 2008-2013.

The deal was signed by Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor and Mr. Claude Maerten, Ambassador and Head of the European Union Delegation in Ghana.

The NREG programme, which is jointly financed by the EU, World Bank, the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands, aims at addressing the challenges in the forestry, mining and the environment sub-sectors in an integrated manner.

The total donor support is about 90 million Euros with the EU contributing eight million Euros.

Mr. Maerten said an initial disbursement of EUR 4 million would be made in 2011, depending on the achievement of mutually agreed targets.

He said the signing of the two documents relates to the additional support that the EU has decided to provide to Ghana in response to the world food crisis that has affected the world economy in the last couple of years, noting that diagnostics has shown that Ghana’s economy has been particularly vulnerable to these external shocks.

He said an additional support was under discussion, adding that the outcome would depend on the progress made in the coming period. A thorough review of the NREG arrangement will take place in July this year.

The food facility seeks to assist government to implement its policy objectives and programmes, especially in the agricultural sector. It will also help government to address fiscal challenges as a result of soaring international food prices.

The facility is a special fund, established by the EU to mitigate the social and economic impact of the potential second round of the global financial meltdown. The EU is supporting the food programmes with 15 million Euros.

An amendment agreement to the 10th EDF seeks to incorporate a general budget support (Vulnerability (V)-FLEX) facility of 35 million Euros which was extended to Ghana by the European Union in December 2009.

Finance Minister Dr. Duffuor expressed government's gratitude for the EU's continued support for Ghana's development agenda and towards the creation of wealth and reduction of poverty.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Skype now available for Nokia smartphones

Skype and Nokia have announced the release of Skype for Symbian, a Skype client, for Nokia smartphones based on the Symbian platform, the world’s most popular smartphone platform.

Skype is software that enables the world's conversations. Millions of individuals and businesses use Skype to make free video and voice calls, send instant messages, and share files with other Skype users.

Every day, people everywhere also use Skype to make low-cost calls to landlines and mobiles. Download Skype to your computer or mobile phone at

Skype for Symbian will allow Nokia smartphone users worldwide to use Skype on the move, over either a WiFi or mobile data connection (GPRS, EDGE and 3G).
It is now downloadable for free from the Ovi Store, Nokia’s one-stop shop for mobile content.

Skype for Symbian enables Nokia smartphone users to make free Skype-to-Skype calls to other Skype users anywhere in the world, save money on calls and texts (SMS) to phones abroad, send and receive instant messages to and from individuals or groups, share pictures, videos and other files, receive calls to their existing online number, see when Skype contacts are online and available to call, easily import names and numbers from the phone’s address book.

Skype for Symbian will run on any Nokia smartphone using Symbian 1, the latest version of the Symbian platform. Skype will soon introduce this client to Symbian mobile devices from other manufacturers, including Sony Ericsson.

“Symbian enables us to bring smartphones to more and more people and ensures scale for our solutions and compelling services, such as Skype.

We’re seeing around 1.5 million downloads a day on Ovi Store now and believe that the Skype client for Nokia smartphones will have wide appeal to Symbian users," said Jo Harlow, Senior Vice President for Smartphones, Nokia.

“Skype, the king of Internet communications, running on Symbian, the world’s dominant smartphone platform, makes for an explosive combination,” said Larry Berkin, Head of Global Alliances and GM USA, Symbian Foundation. “With Symbian’s global reach, Skype is that much closer to becoming the ubiquitous real-time communications platform for hundreds of millions of Symbian-based mobile users.”

Russ Shaw, General Manager, Mobile at Skype said, “With Skype for Nokia smartphones, more than 200 million smartphone users worldwide will be able to take the Skype features they love with them on the move alongside Skype’s relationships with operators and handset manufacturers worldwide.

Making Skype available direct to consumers will help millions of users keep in contact with the people that are important to them without worrying about the cost, distance or whether they are away from a computer.”

The initial Skype for Symbian application is compatible with the following Nokia touch-screen models: Nokia N97, Nokia N97 mini, Nokia X6, Nokia 5800 XpressMusic and Nokia 5530 and the following non-touch devices: Nokia E72, Nokia E71, Nokia E90, Nokia E63, Nokia E66, Nokia E51, Nokia N96, Nokia N95, Nokia N95 8Gb, Nokia N85, Nokia N82, Nokia N81, Nokia N81 8 Gb, Nokia N79, Nokia N78, Nokia 6220 classic, Nokia 6210 Navigator, Nokia 5320.

Ovi Store is available in Ghana and offers free download contents of Nokia maps, games and mobile phone applications.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kofi Annan speaks at Mfantsipim School

The Mfantsipim School in Cape Coast on Sunday held a church service as part of activities to mark the 100th birthday of Dr Francis Ludwic Bartels, the first Ghanaian Headmaster of the School who is still alive.

The immediate past United Nations Secretary General, Mr Kofi Annan, an old boy who was the main speaker, praised Dr. Bartels for his selflessness, hard work and dedication to duty and encouraged his students to aspire to greater heights.

He said when he was enrolled in the school some 50 years ago it never occurred to him that he would reach that far in life and praised the first headmaster for imbibing qualities such as hard work and perseverance in them.

Mr. Annan told the students that they were privileged to have gained admission into one of the best schools in the country and advised them to avail themselves of the opportunities being offered them.

He said they should remain disciplined and time-conscious since time is a factor of production and do away with procrastinations because it could cost them in future.

The Headmaster, Mr. Mieza Edjah, urged the students to let role models like Mr Annan inspire and spur them on to study harder, be disciplined and to chart a better course for their future.

He said a new dormitory under construction would be named "Kofi Annan" house to serve as a monument in his memory.

Monday, March 15, 2010

High interest rates debate rages on

Mr. Daniel Asiedu, Managing Director of Zenith Bank Ghana Limited, has said until government’s Treasury bill rates drop to low levels, it will be difficult for interest rates in Ghana to remain low.

He said the banks are blamed unnecessarily for an issue which they have very little control over; adding, “Banks have consistently been seen as shylocks, which is not the case.”

He was speaking at CITI BUSINESS FOCUS, which is a roundtable discussion under the topic “The Interest Rate Debate, Dancing To Whose Tune?” He spoke from a banking perspective. It was organised by CITI FM in collaboration with B&FT, and was attended by policymakers, captains of industry and bankers, among others.

The roundtable discussion provided a platform for a detailed discussion of the current level of interest charged by deposit money banks in Ghana, with a view to understanding the main issues at stake in getting banks to lower their lending interest rates - and also to gain insights into the effects of the status quo on relevant stakeholders like business groups and traders.

The banks have had to bear the brunt of fierce criticism from the authorities, civil society and advocacy groups, and individuals and institutional bodies for charging very high lending rates.

The concern has been that rates in Ghana are too high to promote financial intermediation between savers and borrowers.

Lending rates for most commercial banks range from 30% to 35% depending on the sectors. Ghana’s official interest rate compares with 7% in South Africa, Africa’s biggest economy, and 6% in Nigeria, Africa’s second-largest.

He said the banks generally borrow from depositors at a high rate which is equal to that 91-day Treasury bill rates, and that explains why banks lending rates are quite high.

“Depositors are becoming smarter by the day; in fact they can forecast over a period and lock in at a certain rate based on their analysis. For instance, they can deposit funds with you and lock in at an interest of 29% by October. In that case, what do you do when interest rates begin to drop?

“It is not in the interest of the banks to charge high interest rates. This is because high interest rates lead to high default, which means that a greater amount of scarce resources have to be set aside as provision for bad debts.

“Last year for instance, Zenith Bank Ghana had to set aside GH¢10 million as provision for bad debts. It is something we are not happy about, putting aside such huge funds which could have been channeled into more productive use.”

He suggested that to help reduce interest rates, government should continue with its macro-economic stabilisation programme, while advising banks to consider floating rates on deposits.

Aside from the high Treasury Bill rates, Mr. Asiedu explained that because only 20 percent of the population save with banks, it makes it access to cheaper funds very difficult.

Another area of concern to the banks, he further explained is the high cost of doing banking, which impacts heavily on their operational costs. He said opening of branch offices is quite expensive; however, it is also necessary in order to dilute the deposit base.

Professor Cletus Dudornu, an Economist, challenged the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to not just use the open market policy tool but also rely on other tools in its management of monetary policy.

He said that the high lending rates impede investors’ confidence, which holds back the growth of the private sector whilst also discouraging a savings culture.

“The current high spread between lending and savings rates has resulted in the decline in industrial growth, which has forced government to borrow from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).”

He observed that the high lending rates have affected the growth of the economy with the productive sectors shrivelling, and the resultant effect of a squeeze on employment.

Fifii Kwetey, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, making a submission on the topic “The Implications of High Lending Rates for the Macro-Economy”, made a strong case for a further reduction in banks’ lending rates by following the reduction in the BoG’s Prime rate.

“It is high time banks employed innovative strategies in their operations by making a paradigm shift from the focus on borrowing at high rates from their key lenders to offering lower interest rates to businesses of the productive sectors of the economy.”

More expectations for lending rate cuts

Inflation fell for the eighth consecutive month to its lowest level in almost two years in February, paving the way for fresh interest rate cuts.

Encouraged by falling inflation rates, the Central Bank has cut prime interest rates twice in a row since November, in what analysts said is a clear shift towards focusing on growth. The most recent cut in February was by a larger-than-expected 200 basis points to 16.0 percent.

Although businesses are happy with developments in the economy, they are worried about the slow rate at which government’s risk-free paper, the Treasury-bill, is falling - making it remain attractive to lenders.

The benchmark 91-day Treasury-bill rate, which was 25 percent in October last year, fell to 17.44 percent in mid-February and further to 15.93 currently, based on the latest auction results; but analysts still think that the rate must go down to free credit for the private sector.

Annual inflation has dropped to a near two-year low of 14.23 percent in February, due in part to tight fiscal and monetary policies and an appreciation of the cedi against other currencies. It had been stuck at 20 percent in the middle of 2009.

The outlook, as assessed by the Bank of Ghana (BoG), points to lowering inflationary risks - an indication that the real value of money will have to continue rising for banks to become more willing to reduce their lending rates.

It was based on this favourable outlook that the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the BoG recently cut its policy lending rate from 18.0 percent to 16.0 percent.

Some banks responded to the February rate cut by downward revisions in their base lending rates, except that businesses still complain because of the high margins on the base rates.

Official figures released by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) named recreation and culture, furnishing, household equipment, and health as the main movers of the decrease in the non-food component which contribute 55.09 percent to the national consumer basket.

Meanwhile, in the food group sugar, jam, honey and syrup recorded high inflation rates with fruit recording a negative inflation rate during the month under review.

Magnus Ebo Duncan, Director of Economic Statistics Department, GSS, announcing the figures at a media briefing in Accra said: “inflation in the non-food group has had a major influence on the overall rate of inflation.”

He explained that stability in the exchange rate and import prices has also contributed to the decline for the month of February, adding that the inflation rate may continue to fall if government continues with its stabilisation and fiscal discipline policies.

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.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Banks told to unleash their full potential

The ninth Ghana Banking Awards has been launched with a call on bankers to venture into new and unexplored areas to unleash the full potential of the industry.

“Industry players must look squarely at the growth potential, they must take concrete steps to find ways to finanace the development of real-estate, oil and gas-related industries, tourism, and agro-business.

“Each banker must be asking herself as to what they can do to move the banking industry into new and unexplored areas. This is the moment to make things happen,” said, the World Bank Country Director, Mr. Ishac Diwan, at the ceremony in Accra to officially launch the awards slated for 9th May, 2010.

He observed that the transformation of the banking sector in the country over the last 10 years is a remarkable story which is of a comparable order of magnitude to that of Nigeria and Kenya.

Available data indicate that the industry’s total contribution to Gross Domestic Products (GDP) has increased from 30 percent to 65 percent with its estimated value of GHc13 billion over the last 10 years.

The number of Banks has grown from 16 to 25, with the number of branches also increasing.

Private sector credit has also grown, from about 12 percent to about 30 percent of GDP over the period.

This growth, Mr. Diwan said, has been driven by the rapid growth of the economy, especially the business and service sectors.

“Ghana is a great success story in terms of financial sector growth, and the banking sector in particular is to be congratulated for this. The successes of the past ten years are unprecedented, but the next ten years hold even more promise.

“It is the effort of bankers, financial market participants, regulators, central bankers, and government officials that will determine not only if Ghana will manage to emerge as a dynamic financial centre and a regional hub, but also the speed of socio-economic growth and development for the years to come,” Mr. Diwan remarked.

Minister of Communication, Haruna Iddrisu, who performed the official launch, said the country has every reason to celebrate the success of the banking industry, emphasising that “government will remain focused on deepening private public partnership in developing the financial sector.”

Mr. Afotey Odarteifio, Executive Secretary of Corporate Initiative Ghana, organisers of the awards ceremony, explained that the standard of living of the people will greatly improve if banks can provide financing to create new businesses to provide jobs, financing to build more houses, more clinics, more schools, provide equipment for food processing and so on.

He however indicated that access to credit is still the number-one challenge holding back the growth and development of the private sector, and the rating of banks in the county.

“Our initiative to stimulate competition within the banking industry goes a long way to emphasis the building and restructuring of a good economy.

Ghana will continue to serve as a role model within the sub-Saharan African region on the grounds of political stability,” Mr. Odarteifio emphasised.

“Our strengths have been in growing returns for the banks as well as creating wealth for customers, we shall pursue these ideals as we continually work to improve our survey methodology, introduce award categories that meet national development agenda, and applaud best performing banks,” he remarked.

The 2009 Ghana Banking Awards will be under the theme ‘Aggressive Financial Intermediation for Rapid Socio-Economic Growth and Development’, and will include the following categories: Best Bank in Corporate Banking, Best Bank in Retail Banking, Best Bank in Customer Care, and Best Bank in Advisory Services.

It will also comprises Best Bank in Trade Finance, Best Bank in Short-Term Loan Financing, Best Bank - Medium Term Financing, Best Bank in Long-Term Loan Financing, Best Bank in I.T. & Electronic Banking, Best Bank in Product Innovation, Best Bank in Competitive Pricing, Corporate Social Responsibility, Best Growing Bank, Best Bank - Financial Performance as well as Best Bank - Export Finance.

Experts attribute rampant fires to obsolete cables

Mr. Shehu Adam Wumbei, an electrical engineer has attributed the rampant occurrences of fire outbreaks in the homes and corporate offices to the Electricity Company of Ghana’s obsolete equipment.

He has therefore alerted Ghanaians to brace themselves for future erratic power supply in the country.

Current Fire Outbreak Statistics from the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) for the year 2009 reveals that as at January 25th 2010, electrical fires totaled 218, constituting 8.4% of 2,584 total fire outbreak.

The country recently is experiencing rampant fire occurrences with the first being the store house for the Ministry of Information on Wednesday, February 17.

The fire destroyed bails of material to be sewn into the national flag. This is the second time in less than a year that the Information Ministry has been hit by a fire outbreak.

It also follows the recent fire outbreaks that gutted portions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office complex, the loading section of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), the Kumasi Central Market, the Energy Ministry and quite recently the Ridge residence of the former President, Jerry John Rawlings on Valentine's Day, February 14th.

Mr. Wumbei who is the Managing Director of SMICE International also blamed the frequent fire outbreaks in the country to substandard electrical cables currently on the local market and improper installation.

Mr. Wumbei, made these known to some selected media practitioners in Accra at the end of a five-day training programme for engineers and technicians of the company.

The training programme which was held for eight staff from four African countries including Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone was to enable the engineers acquit themselves with the new technological trend.

A four-member delegation from FG Wilson in the United Kingdom, was in the country to train engineers and technicians of SMICE International

Richard Croft, Production Training Engineer explained that it will offer them first class after sales service for customers in their various countries.

“The training focused on control systems and electrical and trouble-shooting when there is problem.

We don’t just sell but ensure good after sale service,” General Manger, SMICE International, Stephen Opoku-Antwi said.

SMIC is the sole distributor of FC generators in the country, supply equipment to the telecommunication and mining, industrial and construction.

FT Wilson is among the leading generator producers in the European market and was established in the 1916 and has branches in over 120 countries.

AMSCO, IFC support private sector growth through innovative training

The African Management Services Company (AMSCO) in partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has completed a training programme for 44 staff of the Best Western Premier Hotel through the direct services of Pinnacle Business Link to enable them deliver world class services to customers.

AMSCO organized this need-based innovative training program which featured IFC’s ‘Business Edge’, a comprehensive range of practical and flexible management training products and services designed to improve the performance of small and medium firms.

Staff from the luxury hotel’s front desk, restaurant, and housekeeping departments received training that will help them improve their skills and deliver quality service to customers.

They were taken through Business Edge courses such as ‘Understanding Service Quality’, ‘Quality and the Customer’, and ‘Planning and Controlling Cost.’

At the closing ceremony, IFC’s Ghana Country Manager, Mary-Jean Lindile Ndlovu, said: “Supporting small and medium businesses is a major focus of IFC’s work in Africa, as strengthening this sector will help create employment and support growth in economies like Ghana.”

She commended AMSCO for putting the training together, saying she looked forward to supporting many more businesses in Ghana with Business Edge.

Best Western Premier was the first client to receive a Business Edge Training since it was launched in Ghana in October, 2009.

The Regional Manger of AMSCO, A.S.Mani also expressed great pleasure at the successful conclusion of the training.

He mentioned that AMSCO a pioneer of capacity and skills development in the African SME sector is currently offering Management and Capacity Development services through the support of 24 AMSCO managers seconded to 15 companies in Ghana.

He encouraged the trained staff to apply the good lessons they had learned in the training.

Ms. Theodora Acquah, the Senior Capacity Development Officer of AMSCO, encouraged the trainees not only to apply the good lessons learned, but to continuously strive to go the extra mile in their respective functions, as she said “there are often no traffic jams on the extra mile”

Mr. Jacob Ainoo-Ansah, lead trainer, Pinnacle Business Link indicated his confident that the trained staff would not let him down.

Zibrim Yamusah, CEO of the Accra Best Western Premier Hotel also expressed happiness to see such a successful ending of the innovative training.

He noted that the knowledge and skills acquired by staff will help improve the quality of service at the hotel and contribute to the growth of the business.

Ghana Gov’t told to take action on money laundering

John Hardy, an International criminal law expert has called on Ghanaian government to implement the anti-money laundering law as soon as possible.

“Implementation of the Anti Money Laundering legislation must be the government’s topmost agenda which must not be influenced by any partisan basis,” he stressed, speaking on the topic ‘Protecting Ghana and Ghana’s Emerging Financial Offshore Centre Status from Money Laundering’ in Accra.

Money laundering is the process of changing large amounts of money obtained from crimes, such as drug trafficking, into origination from a legitimate source.

He urged government to ensure that the implementation of the law is transparent, strict and well monitored to measure performance.

At least US$1 trillion is laundered annually using increasingly sophisticated
methods of moving funds across borders.

In January, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) openly warned Ghana against going ahead with its planned status as a tax haven. Ghana however went ahead to become an off-shore destination by mid 2007.

“In recent years, especially since the events of September 11, 2001, worldwide efforts to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism have assumed heightened importance.

Both are global problems that not only threaten security, but also compromise the stability, transparency, and efficiency of financial systems, thus undermining economic prosperity,” John Hardy said.

At the lecture series organised in conjunction with the Law Faculty, University of Ghana, the Justice & Human Rights Institute and Danquah Institute, he said government must do everything to discourage money laundering because the consequences put the country’s image on the line.

“The loss of investor confidence that follows from revelations of large scale involvement in such activities can sharply diminish opportunities for growth. Once a country’s reputation is tarnished, it takes years to repair,” he cautioned.

The lectures are opportune in light of stated efforts by the new government to tackle corruption.

The Commission of Human Rights & Administrative Justice is holding its first public hearing on a case involving international corruption this month.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Competition law to sanitise local market

Government is to promulgate a national Competition Law to promote, maintain and harmonise competition in markets, principally within the country’s territorial boundaries.

The policy framework is currently in its draft stage and is awaiting stakeholders’ input for onward submission to the United Nations for a final review to meet the international best module.

Appropriate competition policies and the establishment of competitive authority could help to ensure that markets work efficiently and effectively to deliver economic welfare and growth.

Competition law aims to promote or maintain market competition by regulating anti-competitive conduct. Modern Competition law has historically evolved on a country level to promote and maintain competition in markets principally within the territorial boundaries of nations.

“We are working very hard to ensure that it will be passed into law, as soon as possible,” Mr. Kofi Larbi, the Acting Chief Director of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, lead promoter of the regulatory framework, disclosed to B&FT in Accra after a presentation of a draft research report on measuring the economic impact of competition.

The Country’s draft Competition Bill has been considered by government since 1992, but it has not been enacted.

No legislation on anticompetitive practices exists, except for the National Communications Authority and the Banking Supervision Department of the Central Bank which have sector specific legislation to monitor the telecommunications and the banking markets.

A Competition Bill was drafted with the help of UNCTAD consultants in 1992/3 and sought to establish a commission that would ensure fair competition in trade practices as well as a trade practices court.

Mr. Rohit Singh, a research economist with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), speaking on the theme ‘Measuring the Economic Impacts of Competition’, sought to understand and compare the domestic market dynamics in four sectors: sugar, cement, beer and mobile phones in five countries – Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, Vietnam and Bangladesh.

“Ghana needs to pass a competition law and establish an authority to monitor and research into complaints of industry players who feel cheated by acts of their peers. Absence of legislation on anti-competitive practices does not augur well for the country,” he said.

“Apart from undermining corruption, competition facilitates international competitiveness, private sector development and employment-creation, and makes an important contribution to the wider economic growth of developing countries,” he added.

Mr. Singh observed that the mobile phone market in Ghana appears to be well regulated and fairly competitive, and as a result is performing relatively well with high penetration rates compared to Kenya and Zambia.

“A well-performing and competitive mobile sector with low prices and wide coverage can have significant knock-on benefits for the economy as a whole,” he remarked.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Positive outlook expected for mining sector

Ghana’s mining and extractive industry outlook holds great untapped potential with its expected value increasing from US$0.64bn in 2009 to US$1.68bn in 2014, writes Ekow Essabra-Mensah

Ghana’s mining sector holds great potential. The country is regarded as stable, with clear regulatory standards governing the industry. It is already Africa’s second largest producer and exporter of gold, and is among the global top-five in manganese-ore production.

Moreover, with gold being the country’s principal mining asset and prices remaining strong, forecasts for the mining sector in Ghana are more positive than those of some of its African neighbours.

Industry chieftains, in calculating its forecasts have taken account of the vast untapped potential of the extractive sector, and expect the value of the mining industry to increase from US$0.64billion in 2009 to US$1.68billion in 2014.

Ghana containing the second largest area of gold deposits in the African region after South Africa derives the bulk of its external revenue from gold mining, which accounts for over 90 percent of the nation’s total mineral exports. Apart from gold, the country also produces significant quantities of bauxite and diamonds.

The country which is also counted among the top five nations across the globe for its manganese ore production is home to some of the biggest names from the global extractive industry: Gold Fields, Newmont Ghana and South Africa’s AngloGold Ashanti.

In 2008, overall revenue from the Ghanaian mining sector reached US$2.3billion, an increase of 28 percent year-on- year according to figures released by the Ghana Chamber of Mines in June 2009.

Gold revenues stood at US$2.2billion, with output of 2.6million oz, up four percent year-on-year, selling at an average realised price of US$852 per oz. Manganese revenue was up by a stellar 69 percent, to US$62.34millon, while bauxite revenue was essentially flat, at US$19.81million.

Looking forward, the Chamber of Mines anticipates a mixed year for Ghana’s mining industry, expecting gold to perform well, while bauxite and manganese exports could fall as a result of a decline in demand.

Though the mining industry has been successful in attracting foreign capital, it has also been subject to criticism from the government, environmentalists and human rights activists. Foreign players have been known to exploit legal loopholes and abuse both human rights, as well as the environment.

Ghana is still many leagues behind South Africa when it comes to regulations to protect the rights of communities in the vicinity of mining operations.

Stakeholders in the mining sector claim that regulations pertaining to compensation need to be updated, as the price levels for valuing crops, livestock and landed property have not been reviewed for a number of years. They also point out that in other African countries, such as Tanzania, the State pays the compensation and not the miner.

The basic law governing the mining industry is the Minerals and Mining Act 2006 (Act 703). Under the law, the president holds the power to grant mining rights.

Meanwhile, the pressure to amend the law and allow farmers to have a say in authorizing their lands for mining activity is increasingly gaining favour in the country, and is being seen as a necessary move to crack down on the rampant exploitation of the environment by mining industries.

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

An official at the country’s sector Ministry, Lands, Mines and Forestry, disclosed that approximately 30 percent of the country’s land is under concession to mining companies, and every year more farmland is converted for this use.

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) also claims that Ghana’s mining laws are designed to attract foreign investors and not to protect the rights of communities. Particular problems include the pollution of water sources, the deprivation of land and the loss of livelihoods.

Challenges and Opportunities

The mining sector has been slow in its uptake of technology, but the global economic crisis and long-term issues are serving as catalysts for adoption.

The outlook for the mining sector has radically changed due to the global economic crisis. This boom and bust cycle has left many mining companies considering ways to manage operating costs in order to remain economically viable.

But this is not the only challenge the sector faces, according to Deloitte’s report, Tackling Trends 2009: The Top 10 Global Mining Issues. In the long run, the sector must find ways to remain sustainable amid the sea of legal, social, economic and environmental issues.

These challenges actually present opportunities for the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector because technology can manage complex systems, streamline processes, reduce costs, and improve efficiency and productivity.

Advice to stakeholders

While it is important that Ghana invites foreign experts to help in its mineral resource development, these experts should be obliged to train and hand over their roles to locals by the end of their contracts. Contracts should be fixed at specific time periods depending on experience and responsibility and training of indigenes should be enforced as part of the contract.

The country’s minerals are exported and not processed, leading to the siphoning of the potential gains. Attempts should be made towards further domestic processing of the resources in the country.

Until resource based industrialization is encouraged in the country, the potential for local consumption of the mineral sector output will remain minimal. Further processing of resources will also ensure greater fiscal revenues and greater stimulus to forward and backward investment opportunities.

While the country has investment laws which encourage foreign investors, very liberal policies regarding repatriation of profits and expatriate wages, make it difficult to reverse the status quo of unequal distribution of the revenue between foreign firms, domestic entrepreneurs and the overwhelming majority of the citizens.

Additionally, many Traditional Chiefs do not use royalties received from minerals for the development of their communities, hence denying the people basic infrastructure such as hospitals, clean water, schools among other social amenities.

There is also the need for policies to boost Ghana’s stock of human and social capital to ensure that Ghana has the best possible education and training to promote research and innovation that are crucial ingredients in improving productivity.

Mr. Benjamin Aryee, Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission, the official government agency responsible effort the regulation of the sector in indicated: “It is up to governments to ensure that the nation’s mineral resources are exploited in a responsible and economically attractive manner. We owe this to all citizens in our efforts to lift standard of living and improve the educational and health needs of the people.”

It is important that further regulation be developed based on practical goals and ensures that local communities benefit from mining projects. The review should incorporate strict environmental and reclamation compliance in line with world’s best practices, Joyce Aryee, Chief Executive of the Chamber of Mines has emphasized.

Ghana in particular has the right blend of prospectively, strength of leadership, political stability, professional talents and an attractive social and cultural environment for mineral investments.
The country should therefore undertake clear-cut mining codes and competitive tax regimes to attract capital injection in the mining sector.

A number of mining parameters such as relative mining costs, the impact of bureaucratic delays and regulatory compliance costs, as well as royalties, corporate taxes, and import duties play vital roles in decisions on mineral investments.

The mining sector should be viewed as an economic “bonus” with which to accelerate structural change rather than as the backbone of the country’s economy.

The long-term outlook for the country’s mining sector is bright, but requires the acceleration of both political, economic and industry reforms to ensure that the mining communities and the indigenes derive the full benefit from the earnings generated by the mining and the extractive sector.

Finance Minister speaks on commodities exchange

Dr. Kwabena Duffour, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning has charged the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to quicken work on the establishment of the commodities exchange to stabilize commodity prices and create alternative exchanges to accommodate small and medium enterprises.

“SEC should facilitate the establishment of the commodities exchange in the hope of stabilizing commodity prices as well as creating alternative exchanges that can accommodate small, medium and micro enterprises,” Dr. Duffour made this call at a workshop in Accra.

SEC, the lead promoter of the commodities exchange and warehouse receipts system in the country is mandated to develop the need­ed regulatory framework to facilitate the establishment of the exchange once gov­ernment accepts the recommendations.

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

Dr. Boeh-Ocansey, Director-General, Private Enterprise Foundation has also endorsed the idea. He said: “Since Ghana’s economy was basically agricultur­al, it would make a lot of sense to see to the establishment of an effective commodity exchange that would not only eliminate the regular post-harvest losses through the buy­ing of produce for storage, but also put money in the pockets of farmers in the short­-term to facilitate their downstream opera­tions”.

Ghana has suffered three failed attempts towards the establishment of the commodities exchange, due to the unavailability of a regulatory framework.

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 also ensure guaranteed 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.

“There is the need for an effective warehouse receipt system and a robust market information system before the establishment of a commodities exchange can be viable.

There is no doubt that a commodity exchange for futures trading is necessary for the efficient functioning of an economy.” A commodity price expert has opined.

In West Africa, and across sub-Saharan Africa, it is rightly envisaged that a properly functioning exchanges that play a big role in poverty alleviation initiatives would increase the incomes of agricultural producers.

Ghana would be the fifth country in Africa, after South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia to operate commodities exchange, which aims to embark on an aggressive over­haul of its agricultural sector.

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.

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.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

US$10bn needed to fix Ghana’s energy problem

Ghana needs an estimated US$10.0 billion investment package to meet its energy requirements over the next five years.

Government intends to increase access to electricity from the current level of 65 percent to 80 percent by 2013 and universal access by 2020.

Power generation capacity is also to be expanded from the current 2,000 megawatts to 5,000 megawatts by 2015.

Deputy Minister of Energy, Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, making a presentation in Accra on the investment opportunities in the country’s energy sector, explained the investment requirement for the sector is huge and therefore government alone cannot bear this expenditure.

Government therefore welcomes development partners as well as private investor partnerships to assist in achieving the targets that have been set for the energy sector, he said.

Mr. Armah-Kofi Buah revealed that government is implementing programmes to: develop a non-congested transmission network by 2015; strengthen transmission infrastructure for power evacuation; improve and modernise distribution infrastructure to reduce system losses from 25 percent to 18 percent by 2015; and strengthen regulatory agencies to perform their functions effectively.

“The focus of the National Energy Policy, therefore, is to create the enabling environment needed to attract private sector investment into the energy sector.”

He said that the country’s two existing hydropower schemes, namely Akosombo and Kpong, have been over-relied on for the country’s electricity needs over the years.

Three other medium-scale and about 40 potential mini-hydropower sites have been identified in addition to Bui.

This, he said, is to ease the overstretched hydropower stations in the country - emphasising that more than half of the country’s hydropower capacity has not been developed.

He enumerated supply shortages arising out of historical under-investment in generation, transmission and distribution. Inadequate access to electricity, poor financial health of utility companies and non-delivery of gas expected from the West African Gas Pipeline project as some of the challenges facing the nation’s energy sector.

“Ghana is committed to cleaner energy and protection of the ozone layer; hence Government - in meeting its objective of ensuring the security of supply of energy for Ghana - proposes to increase renewable energy service in the national energy supply-mix from the current 0.01 percent to 10 percent in the medium-term.

“A renewable energy bill to facilitate the process has been prepared for Cabinet approval before it is laid before the legislature for subsequent passage into law,” Mr. Armah-Kofi Buah revealed.

Stanchart unveils five bancassurance products

Standard Chartered Bank Ghana Limited has unveiled five new Bancassurance product suites to meet banking and insurance need of customers.

The five products include: Drive Safe, Live Safe, Travel Safe, Cargo Safe and Home Safe insurance products.

This development, which makes it the bank with the most insurance products in the country, consolidates Stanchart’s leadership position in the financial sector.

Bancassurance is a partnership between a bank and an insurance company by which insurance products are sold through the bank’s sales channels, but the risk is underwritten by the insurance company.

These insurance solutions are underwritten by Enterprise Insurance Company and the Enterprise Life Insurance Company, the oldest insurance providers in the country.

This new offer complements the Family Funeral Insurance, Educare Insurance and Term Assurance products already on offer from bank.

Mr. George Otoo, Chief Executive Officer, Enterprise Insurance Company, in his remarks explained the partnership is going to greatly improve insurance penetration in the country.

“Ghana’s overall insurance penetration is just about two percent; it is clear that adding another channel of distribution as widespread as Standard Chattered Bank’s branch network can only be good news.

“The products sold under bancassurance will be monitored as closely as all the other insurance products to ensure that the interest of the insured is protected at all times,” Mr. Otoo remarked.

At the unveiling ceremony in Accra, Mr. Ben Mensah, General Manager, Wealth Management, Insurance and Transactional Banking of the Bank said: “At Standard Chartered, our brand promise of being the right partner to our client is central in all we do.

“We strive to offer our customers creative innovations that deliver international standard quality to them. Increasingly, this means a situation where our customers enjoy 360 degree solutions to all their financial problems at any of our touch-points.

“Insurance has become a critical need in the country and this has been highlighted by the various fire calamities that have struck us in recent times. Our Bancassurance solutions have thus been deepened to offer customers a full range of solutions to ensure they are equipped to fulfil all their needs and deal with any risk they might encounter - including fire, theft and many more.”

Francis Mills-Robertson, Executive Director, Consumer Banking, of Stanchart said:
“Our 114-year commitment to the country has once more been translated into relevant, innovative solutions that will deliver real, tangible value to the customer.

“Customers no longer have to rush around town to renew their motor insurance, but can do this through our branches across the country. In doing this, we have created these products with the most reputable and oldest insurance company in the country - Enterprise Insurance Company.”

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ghana's Oil to boost GDP growth to 10 % in 2011

The economy is estimated to grow between eight and 10 per cent in 2011, on the back of the newly discovered oil.

Economic growth is expected to recover modestly to 6.5 per cent in 2010, benefiting from the global recovery and exceptional public investment in the new oil sector,

Economic performance in 2010 is expected to be hugely shaped by investments in oil-related infrastructure while 2011 growth is expected to be influenced strongly by revenues from the oil exports.

Available data made known to B&FT indicates that the country would realize at least one billion dollars per annum over the next twenty years as revenue from oil, this represents some 25 per cent of current tax revenue or some six per cent of GDP; barely adequate to make up for the current government deficits.

Dr. Charles Ackah, Institute of Statistical Social and Economic Research, making a presentation in Accra last week under the topic ‘The Economy of Ghana and Outlook: Implications for Doing Business,’ observed that government must continue to make efforts at enhancing the tax administration to increase non-oil revenue mobilization.

Current effort still aims at improving efficiency of the tax system by reforming the tax administration in the country, he stated.

This, he said, entails broadening the operations of the Large Taxpayer Unit to ensure that very large companies receive a one-stop tax service.

Already the signs have begun to show as tax revenue as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has increased from less than 17 per cent to about 23 per cent over the period 2000 to 2009.

Dr. Ackah advised government to have a more diversified economic base which will reduce dependence on a few primary commodities and facilitate much more sustainable growth and development.

“In this regard, policy responses should include a rethinking of the country’s trade and industrial strategies.

“Despite years of impressive economic performance, the fact still remains that Ghana’s economy is still bedeviled with huge structural challenges,” Dr. Ackah explained.

According to the World Bank’s Doing Business Report, Ghana’s rank declined 5 positions from 87 in 2008 to 92 out of 183 countries in 2009.

High cost of borrowing and the high rate of inflation are among the major challenges faced by businesses in Ghana.

A fairly high percentage of companies surveyed by the WB report that they expect to pay bribes to public officials to ‘get things done’ such as securing an operating license, meeting tax obligations and securing government contracts.

The survey also indicates that the burden of customs procedures in Ghana is quite cumbersome and constitutes a competitive disadvantage.

Sir Richard Branson gives economy thumbs-up

Ghana has been identified as the beacon of hope for attracting huge foreign direct investments into the West Africa sub-region.

Sir Richard Branson, founder and president of Virgin Group whose investments cut across a wide spectrum of the global economy, said this in a presentation that was broadcast in Accra at the just-ended 2010 Opportunities Conference. He praised Ghana’s political and economic progress in recent times, which ranks it above the other countries within the sub-region and positions the country as a preferred investment destination among its equals.

“Ghana is a success story in West Africa, which is why more investors and travellers are attracted into the country to partner with entrepreneurs to enter into business for economic growth.”

Ghana’s economic growth is projected to accelerate to between eight and ten percent by 2011, on the back of the newly-discovered oil.

However, economic growth rate is expected to recover modestly to 6.5% in 2010, from the 4.7 estimated growth rate of 2009, benefitting from the global recovery and exceptional public investment in the new oil sector.

Economic performance in 2010 is expected to be hugely shaped by investments in oil-related infrastructure, while 2011 growth is expected to be influenced strongly by revenues from the oil exports.

Experts have indicated that the country will realise at least one billion dollars per annum over the next twenty years as revenue from oil. This represents some 25 percent of current tax revenue or some 6 percent of GDP; barely adequate to make up for the current government deficits.

Speaking to participants drawn from academia, the investing public, government officials and youth from the country’s tertiary institutions, he observed that the last two years has been more turbulent in the financial sector in some countries’ economies with some banks collapsing. But he indicated that this presents opportunities rather than challenges.

Sir Richard cited that in the United Kingdom most established banks collapsed and were forced into government ownership, while government borrowing is sky rocketing into billions of dollars just to stem the global financial meltdown and its implications on economies.

This is a truly global crisis with countries finding demand slowing and availability of money dying out, he explained.

He indicated that with of every crisis comes an opportunity, and it is now the entrepreneurs and dynamic companies that can make a real impression.

The need for innovation and entrepreneurial spirit can never be greater, adding that good entrepreneurs are aware of daunting challenges and develop ways of growing leadership and market shares as well as finding their way through.

He charged entrepreneurs to use challenging times as the real opportunities to find new businesses and keep focusing on their positions.

Ghana's economy on threshold of take-off

The ‘Opportunities Conference’ 2010 ended in Accra with the unanimous reassurance that Ghana is at the threshold of economic take-off, evidenced by the untapped opportunities that abound in the country.

Speakers drawn from academia, business, policymakers and government representatives at the two-day conference concurred that the best of Ghana lies in the immediate future.

They challenged the over-1,000 participants, mainly youth from the country’s tertiary institutions, civil society activists, business executives, entrepreneurs and investors, to begin to take advantage of the opportunities around them, now.

Dr. Kwame Pianim, an Economist and Investment Consultant, observed that the time has come to change the image of the country and resolve the puzzle of a poor country in the midst of abundant wealth.

He cited that the country’s fortune and potential lies in its strategic location at the centre of the sub-region with its prospects of becoming a financial, investment and communication hub for the 15-member Economic Community of West African States.

This consumer population was estimated at 252 million as at 2006, with the purchasing power of some US$378 billion.

“All we require to realise our potential is to proactively spearhead the promotion of sub-regional integration,” he said.

He indicated that the nation needs to have a change in mindset and some hard policy decisions, especially in areas where there is lack of political will to act boldly in the management of the national economy.

Mr. Pianim further stated that the nation is blessed with an educated class and a diversified and talented Diaspora of over four million nationals.

The nation boasts about 300,000 of these skilled professionals and technicians capable of making up for any human resource shortage the country may encounter or the skilled manpower resources the country may need to diversify the economy into a strategic communication, transportation or financial services hub of the global economy.

He charged government to provide focused and sustained delivery of policy consistency and certainty; to identify and promote the drivers of change in the nation; and to permit private Ghanaian initiative to flourish irrespective of the ethnic, religious or political affiliation of the entrepreneur.

The former Rector of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Prof. Stephen Adei, called on Ghanaians to be more creative in identifying opportunities and work even harder to create wealth and grow the economy.

“I believe it has now been amply demonstrated that if any country is going to build wealth, it’ll need to empower its citizens to start and grow businesses - and attract as much investment from outside as possible.

“An important part of doing this is for entrepreneurs and policymakers to exchange ideas share their expectations and generally help each other to perform their respective roles in the economy.”

Opportunities Conference 2010 was powered by Forethought Ghana in collaboration with the Business and Financial Times, which aims at highlighting Ghana’s business opportunities across sectors and empowering people to create wealth.

It also engaged a cross-sector gathering of prominent business, government and academic leaders in a knowledge-sharing experience on wealth-creation through entrepreneurship and innovation.

Kofi Owusu-Nhyira, Chief Executive Officer of Forethought, speaking with B&FT said: “the conference promises to be the country’s biggest high profile knowledge-based gathering, targetting participation from corporate executives, businessmen and women, professionals, industry experts, academicians, entrepreneurs, government officials, investors, think-tanks and the general public.”

Now the platform has been created for the youth to play their role in identifying opportunities that abound in the country and create wealth to ensure a sustained economic growth, Owusu-Nhyira said.

Other speakers at the conference were Ms. Joyce Aryee, CEO Chamber of Mines; Dr Patrick Awuah, founder and president, Asheshi University; Ms Hanna Tetteh, Minister of Trade and Industry; and Deputy Minister of Energy, Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah; Philip Sowah, Managing Director, Zain Ghana; Chief Executive of the National Petroleum Authority, Alexander Mould; Keli Gadzekpo of Databank; Nana Asante Bediatuo, a legal practitioner among others.

Clydestone schools microfinance institutions

Clydestone Ghana Limited, a premiere provider of Information and Communication (ICT) solutions with its partner Craft Silicon, a global software solution house, have organised a Road Show dubbed, “Showing Value through Technology for micro finance institutions” in Accra and Kumasi.

The well attended programmes witnessed a presentation and demonstration of the Micro Finance Core Banking Application and the Mobile Banking solution.

Participants were taken through the functionalities of the solution as well as its ability to effectively and efficiently handle their everyday operational challenges and the issues of fraud and theft, that they contend with on a daily basis.

Craft Silicon solution-(Bankers Realm) core banking with Internet & Mobile banking solution is implemented in over 30 Commercial Banks in Africa, besides several dozen others across the globe.

This well thought out solution comes with well trained engineers to provide around the clock support to users of the application.

The C.E.O of Clydestone, Mr. Paul Jacquaye said our strategic alignment with the MFI is to create a win-win situation, by providing them with a tried and tested, user friendly system, which will help broaden their income and customer base levels.

The system comes with a finger print authentication based POS Terminal and is full proof against theft and fraud by field officers. The mobile banking solution is ideal for banking low income/low literacy groups in remote areas.

The Managing Director of Ezi Savings and Loans, Mr. Jonathan Sam said; “the mobile banking solution has enhanced our operational efficiency and doubled our customer base remarkably over the past year.”

In Ghana, Craft Silicon solutions are deployed in several micro-finance institutions such as Women World Banking Ghana (WWBG), First Allied Savings & Loans, EZI Savings & Loans, Pacific Savings & Loans, Parity Investments and many more.

The partnership between Clydestone and Craft Silicon is strategic for the deployment and support of all clients in the West African sub region.