Friday, December 16, 2011

Africa urged to keep eye on the ball

Africa has been warned to brace itself for a possible economic shock due to the current economic crisis that has hit European countries, Dr. Austin Nweze of the School of Media and Communication at the Pan-African University, Lagos-Nigeria, has predicted.

“If the European Union (EU), Germany and United Kingdom (UK) don’t have the political will to turn things around, the euro will crash and it will affect many other markets -- which will eventually lead to a major catastrophe that will affect businesses globally, including Africa,” he said.

Presently, nations such as Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal are contending with financial and economic crises, and this has in recent times called for an urgent meeting of the heads of EU governments to find possible ways of solving them.

“What is happening in Europe will definitely affect Africa. In terms of trade, Africa’s economy will contract. No country in the world today is isolated.

“If the world economy collapses, it will affect your business and trade,” Dr. Nweze told B&FT in Accra on the sidelines of a five-day annual course for African reporters, organised by GT Bank Plc.

It was aimed at facilitating development of the African media industry in areas of qualitative reporting and relevant knowledge-acquisition. It brought together senior journalists from Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, The Gambia and Sierra Leone.

Dr. Nweze, who spoke on a wide range of issues, said: “Global leaders are looking for economic solutions to end this recession which is unparalleled in the history of the world.”

He therefore proposed that African leaders invest massively in education that will focus on research, engineering, science and technology; this will aid innovation to help them compete favorably in the global market.

“In this global knowledge-based economy, it’s all about innovation; and this cannot happen without research.

“Africa needs to improve on the educational system to come up with technically-based human capital to enable us become original manufacturers of equipment. Until we become original equipment-manufacturers without depending on other nations, Africa will never grow.”

He again suggested massive investment in the infrastructure sector, which will promote easy movement of goods from the rural to the urban centres, and reduce rural-urban migration.

GT Bank’s annual course for African reporters, which began in 2006, was conceived as a tool to facilitate the development of the African media industry in areas of qualitative reporting and relevant knowledge-acquisition. It is part of the bank’s corporate responsibility.

The bank’s hallmark over the last two decades has been its passion and penchant for promoting professionalism, integrity and the quest for knowledge and expertise among its numerous stakeholders.

Being the first bank to undertake the initiative, the programme has continued to generate media support, goodwill and visibility of its brand within and across Africa.

According to the bank, the reporters’ course was designed to enhance professional skills of reporters in brands and marketing, business, and capital market and financial sectors as well as increase their knowledge of the financial industry.

Meanwhile, participating journalists have commended the bank for the initiative -- saying that such could only be done by a socially-responsible organisation. They however encouraged other corporate organisations on the continent to emulate the bank.

Guaranty Trust Bank was incorporated in 1990 and has over 180 branches in Nigeria, with subsidiaries in The Gambia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, United Kingdom and Liberia.

The bank also owns non-banking subsidiaries such as G Thomes Limited, Guaranty Trust Assurance Limited, GTB Registrars Limited and GTB Asset Management Limited.

In Ghana, GT Bank was licenced in 2006 and currently operates 23 branch outlets across the country with 15 Automated Teller Machines.

DELL deepens Ghana’s operation

Dell, A leading Technology Company says it will focus more resources in emerging markets particularly Ghana where there is growth prospects.

“We are focusing more resources in emerging markets, particularly in West African countries like Ghana and Nigeria where we seem to be getting much growth, “Mr. Clune said.

“In the West African sub-region, Nigeria and Ghana are key markets that the company is focusing on to drive its key markets,” Mr. Pearce Clune, Marketing Director Europe Middle East and Africa Product Strategy Dell Consumer and Small Business said in Accra.

“In West Africa, the focus was on Ghana and Nigeria and there was the need to have the right partners in their quest to maintain the presence in the region saying there were a lot of growth opportunities in Ghana.

“Dell will continue to give the best to its customers especially with the developing nature of technology and that it is the desire of Dell to build stakeholder values and strong sales growth in the country.”

Mr. Clune was speaking made this known in Accra at a meeting with the company’s clients in targeted at introducing new equipment that the company had outdoored.

He disclosed that Dell has eneterd into a partnership deal with Mitsumi Computer Ghana for the distribution of its computer hardware, software and accessories in the Ghanaian market.

According to him, the choice of Mitsumi was a as a result of a growing partnership between the two entities adding that it was also for along-term strategy.

He noted that with the new partnership there will be a lot more avenues, together with its other partners in Ghana to look at all queries regarding their products in Ghana.

“The company will continue to invest in human resources and also look forward to employing a number of Ghanaians into its system.

“Dell was focusing on maintaining its technological edge in product development to be able to meet the needs of customers both at the lower and higher ends of the market. This, he said, was important to develop shareholder value,” he remarked.

Mr Chintan Vyas, Managing Director, Mitsumi computer, said the partnership with Dell had delivered solid financial results over the last 20 months.

“We have seen solid response for the company’s product in the last few months and looking forward to a great performance in the next year.
“The prospects are even looking better and Mitsumi was expecting significant growth in the future,” he said.

Mr. Alwin Thankachan, Regional Sales Manager, East, West and Central Africa, said Dell was developing strategic partnership with like-minded distributors across the region.

He said Dell has been the leading brand in the Ghanaian market for the last four years.

Mr. Chidi Duru, Sales Manager, West Africa Dell Consumer and Small Business, said the region held a huge potential for the future development of the company.

“Dell’s consumer products have been accepted world-wide which forms the basis of ensuring that the brand presence is everywhere including Europe ,Middle East & Africa –EMEA; for which Ghana has been described at fast growing IT-market in West Africa,” he remarked.

Mining tax-hike tango

Uncomfortable with new mining and mineral taxes expected to be implemented next year, sector operators have described them as too high and having the potential to impede future investments in the sector.

Dr. Toni Aubynn, CEO Ghana Chamber of Mines, told B&FT: “Uncertainties must be looked at carefully. The new reforms could deter the mining companies from making further investments in the sector.

“The country’s new tax moves have brought forth warnings and cautions about the impact these measures could have, such as making the nation unattractive for future mining efforts and scaring off investors.”

Government in its 2012 budget statement announced that the corporate tax rate for miners is being increased from the current 25% to 35%, while a windfall profit tax of 10% will also be imposed.

But indeed the reactions have so far been mixed -- with mining firms fretting over the impact the measures would have on their earnings and investments even as groups such as the Ghana Mineworkers’ Union celebrate the changes.

Seth Terkper, Deputy Finance Minister, in a recent engagement with representatives of mining firms, said: “The changes in the taxes are part of a rationalisation plan.

Later on, other natural resource sectors will be brought on board. So, it’s not about targetting mining companies; and they are not meant to be anti-investment.

“It is the government’s intention to review its involvement and interest in the mining sector, and it has been engaging with miners on the changes it intends to bring about.”

Civil society organisations are commending government for the bold move, in particular for measures to rationalise fiscal operations in the natural resource sector. Others, especially the mining community hard hit by the proposals, are unhappy and are calling on government to take a second look at them.

The Ghana Aid Effectiveness Forum, an umbrella-body that brings together national networks on aid and development issues, commended government for the move -- arguing that although Ghana is a resource-rich country, the benefits from exploiting natural resources have been minimal and many communities where the resources are found are mired in abject poverty.

The proposals announced by the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr Kwabena Duffuor, in the 2012 budget include -- in addition to the hikes in corporate and windfall taxes -- the reduction in capital allowance tax from 80% to 20% for a period of five years for all mining companies, as in the case in the oil and gas sector.

Other mineral-rich African states that have recently raised mining taxes or royalties include the region's top copper producer Zambia, and Zimbabwe which has the second-largest known platinum reserves in the world.

Notably, though, Zambia has announced it will not re-introduce the 25 percent windfall tax it abolished in 2009 as such a measure could harm mining operations and negatively effect the economy.

“It would be unwise for the government to introduce a windfall tax when metal prices are unstable and are usually trending downwards,” said Zambian Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda.

Several analysts have said the wave of resource nationalism, which coincides with sky-high commodity prices, is one of the biggest political risks to the mining sector.

Gold Fields Chief Executive, Nick Holland, is quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying planned projects that could bring $1billion in investment to Ghana were at risk because of looming tax changes outlined in the nation's budget.

“The company is concerned about Ghana’s move to increase corporate taxes on the mining sector to 35 from 25 percent. It is a source of deep concern to us. “It isn’t sustainable for Gold Fields to be paying higher royalties than other gold producers in the country.”

Holland's comments at a presentation to investors in Johannesburg, South Africa, last week Monday were the strongest to date by a mining company on the issue. Gold Fields is the world's fourth-largest gold producer and regards West Africa as key to its global growth strategy.

The Ghanaian government is however insistent that the issue with mining is about fair and transparent sharing of the benefits and windfall gains from the exploitation of the country’s precious and irreplaceable natural resources. It is also aimed at attracting additional financial benefits from the mining and minerals sector.

In a sign that more actions will be taken, the government has set up a National Re-Negotiation Team to critically review the fiscal regimes and mining agreements with the view to ensuring that the country “benefits adequately and fairly from the gains in the mining sector”.

During the recent global financial crisis, prices of gold, cocoa and oil reached their highest levels ever on the international market. Yet the country did not benefit much in terms of government revenues from the price hikes, particularly from gold.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), believed to be an instigator of these new tax-reform measures, has stated that Ghana has not benefitted enough from rising gold prices.

The IMF in a statement encouraged government to continue its efforts to strengthen tax administration. It also supported adoption of additional tax policy measures, particularly in the area of natural resources where taxation is low in comparison with peer countries.

Higher prices, more money….. or not

But Ghana’s private sector umbrella-body, the Private Enterprises Foundation, does not think the issue is necessarily so.

PEF President, Asare Akuffo, opined that the mining corporate tax hike is in order since government and the country should benefit more from the mining sector.
He however cautioned government to reconsider the proposed windfall tax on the mining companies.

“Companies thrive on profit; the reality in business however is that there are periods of losses and the savings made in good times are what keeps the companies in operation,” Mr. Akuffo said, adding that the windfall tax may be a disincentive for future investments in Ghana’s mining sector.

The Chamber of Mines has warned that the new tax measures need to be implemented ‘scientifically’ because high gold prices do not necessarily mean mining companies are making more money.

According to the Chamber, some gold miners are currently producing at US$1,200/oz.
At that rate, their gold mining costs appear to be far above the average for the continent. The average per ounce production cost in “other Africa”, which excludes South Africa, in Q1 2011 was US$647 -- resulting in a record cost/price differential of US$740/oz, according to a gold mine cost report.

Government will still demand more

Ernst & Young annually analyses business risks and reported that for 2011-2012 the number-one risk for miners is resource nationalisation (number four in 2010), which involves countries attempting to get more money from their minerals.

The report says resource nationalisation takes many forms, including increased royalties, taxes and mandatory participation whereby governments mandate the involvement of certain stakeholders.

The mining and metals sector rebounded quickly from the global financial crisis, making it an early target to restore Treasury conditions, the report said.

2011 has marked a period when more governments are aiming at that target. A growing amount of legislation has been implemented and is being considered that attempts to extract more profits from the minerals that miners are extracting. This is a trend that Ernst & Young predicts is only likely to increase.

Mining sector operators have proposed an intensive dialogue with government for possible and future negations regarding mining tax reforms.

“It appears it was difficult for government to dialogue with us, the mining operators, concerning the introduction of the new mining tax. We are ready to dialogue with government to ensure that the country maximises revenue from mining rather than deterring investors,” said some mining operators.

Mining revenues already substantial

Total mineral revenue rose significantly from US$2.93billion in 2009 to US$3.73billion in 2010, representing an increase of 27 percent mainly on the account of the healthy price of gold, although other minerals recorded increases in prices during the period.

In 2010, mining companies returned about 68 percent of the US$3.7billion mineral revenue to the country through the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the private commercial banks.

An average of 20 percent was repatriated to the country through BoG and the remaining 48 percent through private banks. This ensured that the country received considerable foreign exchange from the mining sector to support the nation’s foreign currency transactions.

Last year, the industry spent US$ 865million representing about 27 percent of its total funds to procure inputs locally, including diesel and power.

In addition, the mining sub-sector contributed about GH¢520million to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), representing 21 percent of total GRA collections in 2010.
The sector also paid GH¢242million in corporate tax to the GRA, representing 24 percent of the total company tax collected last year.

Nokia warns of fake phones

Nokia’s General Manager-sales- in charge of Ghana and Senegal, Mr. Ludovic Falcou, has warned that the prevalence of counterfeit mobile phones in the country is capable of negatively impacting the Ghanaian economy.

Mr. Falcou was making a presentation at a media interaction in Accra. “Importers of fake mobile devices typically avoid payment of taxes and levies thus creating huge income losses for the government,” he said.

He noted that the trend is also capable of discouraging foreign direct investment as international companies are likely to direct their investment elsewhere.

He further warned that high penetration of fake devices impacts negatively on the operator networks. This, he said, “lowers the profits of the networks and the attendant tax income.”

The Nokia boss however said that recent trend in the market shows that Ghanaians are beginning to embrace genuine products. The trend, he said has been helped by the recent launch of the Nokia dual-SIM in the Ghanaian market.

Mr. Falcou said the lure of cheap prices amounts to being penny-wise pound-foolish, as the so-called cheap devices have a shorter lifespan.

He also stressed the need for users of Nokia phones to take full advantage of the numerous applications available on Nokia store, including Music, videos, games and navigation.

The Ovi store is only available on genuine Nokia Devices. Beyond this, all genuine Nokia devices purchased in Ghana are covered by a one-year warranty.

The Nokia warranty starts from the date of purchase and it guarantees the user of repair at no cost and even replacement in the event of malfunction.

He said Nokia is also able to reduce the cost of Internet access on their phones through strategic partnership with operators.

Nokia is the world’s number-one manufacturer of mobile devices by market share.

Beyond its leadership status as a manufacturer of devices, Nokia is fast-becoming a leading solutions provider in the converging Internet and communications industries, providing Internet services that enable users to experience media, messaging, maps and games.

IFC to approve US$300m for infrastructure

The International Finance Corporations (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, aims to approve approximately US$300 million for the development of the country’s infrastructure sector, beginning 2012.

Its investment commitments in the country amounted to $191.8 million in five new projects during 2011 financial year. It also provided $150million worth of trade finance guarantee commitments to Ecobank, GTBank, Merchant Bank, and The Trust Bank.

“As part of its goals through 2012, the IFC says it aims to “balance the urgent needs in developing countries with its capacity to address them in a way which maximises development impact and ensures a sustainable business model for the Corporation,” Mary-Jean Moyo, IFC’s Country Manager for Sub- Saharan Africa Development told selected journalist in Accra.

She added: “IFC’s strategy in Ghana focuses on supporting the development of infrastructure, including oil, gas, and mining, telecommunications.
“IFC also aims to deepen the financial sector, promote smaller businesses and encourage agribusiness and other key sectors of the economy.”

Moyo disclosed that the Corporation has greatly expanded its investment and advisory services portfolios in the country, investing $1.5 billion in 63 projects, with $1.1billion from its own account and US$380 million in syndicates and guarantees.

“IFC establishes partnerships with donors, governments, and the private sector to design and deliver advisory services solutions in Ghana that improves the investment climate, mobilise private sector investment and enhance the competitiveness of private enterprises.”

IFC’s primary goal is greater development impact, and, together with additionality for its investment and advisory activities which becomes even more critical in a resource-constrained environment.

IFC will therefore further strengthen its development impact measurement and analysis as a tool for decision-making, and will also concentrate on reaching more SMEs, which are a key part of the private sector in most emerging markets and important for job growth in many countries.”

Investments in Africa

In the region, the IFC’ s recipient countries include: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’ Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome and Principe, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia.

Through another record year, IFC is demonstrating the enormous private investment potential in Africa and the continent’s readiness to attract more.

In support of increased development impact in the world’ s poorest countries, the IFC dedicated nearly US$400 million in financing in Africa to projects that strengthen micro-, small and medium enterprises.

A key component of the IFC’ s SME support initiatives are its IFC SME Solutions Centers. These centers promote access to finance for SMEs in the region, with support including business information, broadband access, office space and database management. Over 450 businesses in Madagascar and Kenya have benefited from these incubation services in recent years.

In the past year, the IFC provided significant support for trade finance to domestic and international banks. More than $68 million went toward lessening the effects of climate change on the continent.

The IFC managed 168 regional Advisory Services projects in Africa, supporting increased access to finance, sustainable business practices, and improved investment climates. Seventy percent of the $248 million in Advisory Services projects under management were dedicated to the region's poorest countries, also known as IDA countries.

PHC Motors launches Range Rover ‘Evoque’

PHC Motors Limited has launched its latest luxurious Range Rover Evoque vehicles onto the Ghanaian automobile market.

The Range Rover Evoque, the first to be launched in Sub-Saharan Africa, joins the family of Range Rover Vogue edition, Sports, Discovery, Freelander and the rugged Defender.

It has been manufactured with a blend of dynamic and sporty features that has the ability to withstand all weather conditions including African terrain. The exterior design of Evoque was shaped from Egyptian eyeliner and castles.

Mr. Peter Jones, British High Commissioner to Ghana described the unveiling of the Range Rover Evoque as not only an addition to the Range Rover brands but also a promotion of British excellence.

“PHC Motors is one of the first to launch the Evoque in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is a testament to the high volume of Land Rover Discoveries and Range Rovers sold in the country.

“The Evoque is a vehicle with an altogether different spirit. The most exciting vehicle of this generation with clever technology that’s innovative, relevant and always intuitive to use,” he said.

Mr. Paul Kwabena Pepera, Managing Director of PHC Motors Limited said: “The Evoque is a new kind that has core brand values of luxury, performance and all terrain capabilities that comes with two body distinct styles.

“The first one has three compact doors with sleek striking designs to suit specific lifestyle needs and the other with five doors version.

“It is a quantum leap in the evolution of the Range Rover design. The vehicle provides an engaging blend of dynamic and sporty handling with impressive refinement. The Range Rover Evoque masters all surfaces and all weathers, using legendary Land Rover all –terrain technologies.

“It is smaller, lighter, and the most efficient ever with a true compact form and a new class of Sport Utility Van (SUV), he said.

Mr. Pepera disclosed that PHC would be offering credit packages to enable their numerous customers pay by installment.

He revealed that customers would be given 2.5 per cent discounts until December 9, this year and asked to make good use of that opportunity.

DVLA must check vehicles without emergency doors

Israel Djokoto, Chief Executive Officer, AMI Consult, and an auto expert has proposed a policy that will prevent individuals and firms from importing commercial vehicles that have no emergency doors at the rear into the country.

“Driver’s and Vehicle and Licensing Authority (DVLA) must also desist from registering commercial vehicles that have no emergency door at the rear.

“If all long routes vehicles are to have emergency door, it will help passengers to escape in accident situations.”

Mr. Djokoto who also has over 10-years working experience as a transport expert making a presentation in a media interaction in Accra, insisted regulators in the transport industry should monitor the condition of commercial vehicles while passengers demand better services by patronizing only vehicles which would enable free movement and safety in case of mishaps.

Mr. Djokoto said DVLA and other stakeholders in the transport sector need to embrace his suggestion in the right spirit since safety of passengers is always paramount to the nation.

“It may take time but there should not be any compromise,” he said.
He explained that all commercial vehicles must have at least one emergency exit door, which should be kept closed in normal condition and passengers should be trained on how to operate it.

However, since many cars lack this facility, anytime they are involved in accidents, their doors are often locked, complicating the escape for the passengers. The only way passengers can escape is to break the glass windows of the cars.

He observed that most of the death cases recorded during motor accidents would have been minimized if the commercial vehicles plying the nation’s routes have emergency door in addition to the entry one.

“The time has come for us to create awareness about this. Every commercial vehicle should be made to have emergency exit. The driver and its attendants should be able to explain in some few minutes before the departure just like aircraft.

“Some few commercial vehicles have the emergency exits but they are unscientifically fixed and done for namesake.

“If the emergency exits are not scientifically designed and fixed, it will not operate efficiently,” he explained.

A tour to some of the automobile companies in Accra revealed that most of the commercial vehicles they import have no emergency door. The only commercial vehicle that passengers have easy access to an emergency door exit is the Ford Transit Bus sold by Mechanical Lloyd Co Ltd.

This passenger vehicle has been skillfully manufactured and designed with an all inclusive emergency exit door and a staircase on the rear to help passengers exit quickly and safely in unlikely event of accident.

GRA trains freight forwarders

Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has held a training workshop for operators in the freight forwarding industry aimed at promoting efficiency and reduces errors in custom clearance and registration.

The training was as well to enhance their performances when duty calls while improving relationship with clients, as they develop respect and tolerance with each other.

The workshop, under the auspices of the Customs Division of the GRA brought together managers and executives of the industry to acquaint themselves with modern international customs clearance standards which have become crucial due to many complaints by importers about delays in clearing goods.

Mr. Gottfried Djannie, Principal Collector, Customs Division, GRA making a presentation in Accra on the custom classification said: “As stakeholders in the customs clearance process, you are partners to Customs, in the overall success of its operations.

“Your success is the success of customs and your failure is the failure of customs.”

He explained that classification as carried on by experts within the World Customs Organisation and the World Trade Organisation are made of member states across the world with a total number standing at 206 countries.

“The experts exercise periodic review of the classification process. Each member country determines the rate of taxes to be collected on its goods imported or exported.

“The combination of Harminised community index and the scheduled of tariff rate, provides a very important tool for customs clearance processes.”

Mr. Samuel Eduah, Principal Collector, Customs Division said to ensure that values quoted for imported and exported goods are reasonable, authentic and acceptable, customs administration worldwide demand that all imports are covered by commercial invoices.

“We realized that most of the custom house agents lack the requisite training in business transactions and customs proceedings,” he said.

€22m facility for private sector

The Italian government has approved additional financial facility of €22 million to support the private sector under the Ghana Private Sector Development Facility (GPSDF).

The main component of the project is a soft loan for entrepreneurs amounting to €20million, while the remaining €2 million would be used to manage the credit facility and implement additional activities such as capacity building courses, micro-projects and development of industrial clusters in various parts of the country.

This followed the successful implementation of the first phase which was signed between the two governments from 2004 to 2008 amounting to €11million.

The €11 grant was additional financial resources approved by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2008 to continue to support the efforts of the government in promoting the private sector development.

The programme which has been highly welcomed by both private companies and financial institutions has assisted 29 private companies and expects over 500 applications beginning 2012.

Dr. Joseph Annan, the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, signing on behalf of government in Accra said: “Government had a firm belief that the private sector holds the key to the economic growth and development of the country.

“Government was also convinced that the potential of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) to stimulate such growth was huge as currently contribute over 80% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”

He indicated that the realization of the full potential of this sector is hampered by significant challenges relating to the acquisition and application of appropriate technology, access to finance, logistics management, human resources capacity building, distribution and marketing.

Tullio Guma, the Italian Ambassador to Ghana, explained that the basis for Italy’s economic development had mainly consisted of a high number of SME’s which had, over the years, demonstrated their inherent efficiency and flexibility.

“Our expectations are therefore that the Ghana Private Sector Development Facility will replicate such a development model in Ghana, especially in view of the challenges of the international financial crisis and the liberalisation of the markets in the framework of the WTO agreements.

“The GSPDF was characterized by a strong element of ownership and partnership to bring about an increased responsibility of the Ghanaian institutions and that the Italian government has continuously supported the Ghanaian economy to the tune of 19.8 million euros from Italian grants,” he remarked.

US$185m to support rural enterprises

The Rural Enterprise Programme (REP) has received US$185million to enhance the performance of micro-, small- and medium-scale enterprises in rural communities and improve livelihoods.

The programme, spearheaded by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, is funded by the African Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) with the basic aim of supporting small- and medium-scale enterprises, and getting more Ghanaians to acquire various marketable skills.

The programme, having gone through its initial pilot phase from 1995-2002 through to phase-two from 2002-2011 and to its current phase from 2012-2019, is expected to cover all the rural districts and work towards sustained development and growth of micro enterprises in the country.

As at September 2011, more than 106,000 project clients had been trained in community-based skills training, small business management and marketing -- compared with a target of 70,000.

In addition, over 23,000 new businesses had been established against a target of 21,000 in phase-two of the project.

Ms. Hannah Tetteh, Minister of Trade and Industry, inaugurating a 10-member steering committee to provide policy guidance and technical direction towards the implementation of the programme in Accra, said: “The programme was designed to create jobs, stimulate local economic development and improve the living conditions of people in the rural areas.

“Government is indeed satisfied that the implementation of phase-two of the programme, which has been successful in the establishment of small businesses, generating employment and creating income in 53 participating districts countrywide -- in addition to 13 districts which were carried over from the phase-one.

“The overall goal of the Rural Enterprises Programme is to improve the livelihoods and incomes of rural poor, micro and small entrepreneurs. The development objective is to increase the number of rural micro- and small-scale enterprises that generate profit, growth and employment opportunities.”

She added: “The medium- to long-term advantages of the programme include reinforcement of the national development agenda for job-creation and poverty-reduction in rural areas by drawing idle resources, particularly labour, into productive ventures and value activities.

“An increase in incomes of rural women would translate into greater family expenditures on education, health and good nutrition -- and would also contribute to enhance social standings within the communities.”

Ms Tetteh urged members of the steering committee to ensure effective management of the programme because the membership structure has been designed to reflect decentralisation and the mainstreaming of the promotion of micro- and small-scale enterprises at all levels within the district assembly system.

Mr. Nii Ansah-Adjaye, Chief Director, Ministry of Trade and Industry, and Chairman of the Steering Committee, said: “The effective development of the informal rural micro- and small- scale enterprises subsector is central to the successful implementation of policy in economic and social transformation of the rural environment, and improvement of the quality and dignity of life for our hardworking rural people.

“The group will be up to the task and help execute the programme’s objectives of providing policy and strategic direction in support of the Ministry of Trade and Industry,” he assured.

Tata Indica Vista unveiled

PHC Motors Limited has officially launched the new generation hatchback-Tata Indica Vista vehicles onto the Ghanaian automobile market.

Tata Indica Vista the new variant of Indica from Tata Motors has evolved nicely since initial version of Indica to Xeta and now to Vista.

Its interiors designs have been focussed more on its all new look and the stylish features.

The new indica Vista has category defining attributes of space, style, comfort, safety and fuel efficiency. It’s a new way to look at style, comfort, performance and life itself. The spaciousness of the Vista cannot be described-it has to be experienced.

Packed in style European design, the car is fitted with internationally acclaimed 1.4 litre Safire gasoline engine delivering class leading performance every time you floor the accelerator accompanied with refined smooth driving and unmatched field efficiency.

The strength and masculinity of the Indica Vista is not restricted to just the looks. Strategically positioned crumple zones and rigid side intrusion beam ensures that any impact from the outside stays outside.

Along with this Indica Vista comes with driver airbag, anti-lock bracking system with electronic force distribution mechanism to ensure a more precise, effortless and smooth braking.

To complement the exterior and performance, the Vista has a combination of stylish two tone interiors characterized by clean surfaces with an emphasis on simplicity and utility. The break through central instrument cluster draws you into the Vista experience.

The quality, comfort and convenience the Indica vista provides are pretty commendable. The boot space at the back and leg space for the back seats is very good compared to other models in the B+ category cars.

There is a glove box that can hold even a laptop, under deck space to hold water bottles, cubby holes, wide door pockets and 60:40 foldable rear seats can give you the most comfortable journey that even a class above fails to offer.

The front bucket seats are comfy, swaparound at some place to offer support of every parts of your body. The driver seat is height adjustable.

Gyan Prakash, Area Manager of Tata Motors, the Tata Indica Vista “has been packaged in stylish design, fitted with internationally acclaimed 1.4L Safire petrol engine, new transmission and new improved suspension.

“This car comes fitted with air conditioning, power steering, central locking, driver airbag, height adjustable steering, interior space and comfort has always been our strength.”

Mr. Prakash explained “the strength and masculinity of the Indica Vista is not restricted to just the looks, but the strategically positioned crumple zones and rigid side intrusion beam ensures that any impact from outside stays outside.”

He said that the partnership between Tata and PHC Motors is strengthening and promised the company’s resolve to deepen the relationship.

Paul Kwabena Pepra, Managing Director of PHC Motors, said Tata has now become a household name and PHC Motors has played a significant role in ensuring that Tata products remain the preferred brand.

“PHC Motors has its presence all over the country, contributing to eight service centers; one of the largest networks in the country.”

He said: “The partnership between PHC Motors and Tata has come a long way. We have sold not less than 40,000 vehicles. We have been representing Tata in Ghana since 2002 and we have been at the heart of the motor industry in Ghana since 1968.”

Mr. Pepera said they took into consideration the feedback generated from customers before designing Tata Indica Vista, saying “this vehicle is specifically-designed based on the inputs of customers.

“The strength of the Tata franchise has been the close collaboration between PHC Motors and Tata, adding “we have Tata’s technicians’ right here in Ghana who are assisting customers with excellent service support.

“PHC Motors is committed to getting the right products at the right price onto the Ghanaian market,” Mr. Pepera said.

Simran Oberoi, National Sales Manager Tata Motors said: “Vista’s value proposition is far in terms of the new indica Vista has category defining attributes of space, style, comfort, safety and fuel efficiency is far superior as compared to the Japanese and South Korea model.

“It’s a new way to look at style, comfort, performance and life itself. The spaciousness of the Vista cannot be described-it has to be experienced. The power is better compared to the previous model and also to meet competition.”

Small scale mining to become self reliant

Government aims to position the small-scale mining industry to become efficient, indigenous and self reliant, Mike Hammah, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources has said.

“Under the constitution, illegal mining is criminal and called on small-scale miners to legalize their operations to avoid prosecution.

“Despite problems associated with both legal and illegal mining, the activities of small-scale miners have contributed significantly to the economy of the country.

Available checks estimate that over one million people are involved directly in small scale mining and over a million people benefit directly or indirectly from this activity.

Last year gold production from the activities of small scale miners from both legal and illegal sources contributed approximately 800,000 metric tones, which is 28 per cent of total gold production in Ghana.

Mr. Hammah speaking at a workshop on the development of a framework to improve artisanal small scale mining activities in Accra said: “Government recognizes that small-scale mining operations undertaken by Ghanaians offer opportunities to support rural livelihoods develop entrepreneurship and provide a source of industrial raw materials.

“Government has implemented a range of measures relating to the regulation and promotion of small-scale mining with some positive results.

“These include: The establishment of district offices manned by Minerals Commission personnel to give technical assistance to small-scale miners, and the geological investigation and demarcation of areas suitable for small-scale mining, Provision of finance to small –scale miners to improve their operations.

“Government’s intension is to build upon these achievements to implement further initiatives to enhance the development of an efficient, modern and sustainable small-scale mining sector, involving both precious and industrial minerals.”

Mr. Hammah added: Small scale mining is increasingly becoming a very lucrative venture for many people; it still faces some significant challenges.

“The challenge of accessing viable demarcated areas for their activities has given room for illegal small-scale miners to encroach on concessions of large scale mining companies.”

Financial constraints have compelled the miners to “use unsustainable mining methods without regard to its effects on the environment.”

Benjamin Aryee, Chief Executive Officer, Minerals Commission, said: “There should be strict enforcement of the laws governing artisanal and small scale mining, Ghanaian concessionaries must be allowed to source foreign partners for expertise and finance, procedures for license acquisition should be simplified, some mining lands should be reserved for posterity and land reclamation must be enforced strictly.”

Small-scale mining is reserved for Ghanaian citizens

The minerals licensing system provides for the granting of mineral rights for small-scale mining operations reserved for Ghanaian citizens.

The Minister will exercise his authority, in consultation with the Minerals Commission, to designate further areas to be reserved for small-scale mining activity based on technical and financial viability of the areas for small-scale mining activities.

To manage land use conflicts in the context of small-scale mining, the Minerals Commission will develop standardized procedures, including adequate advance notice, and community representation in deliberations leading to the designation of areas.

Government will continue to ensure the use of appropriate, safe and affordable techniques in small-scale mining.

To encourage the use of appropriate, affordable and safe technology, government is giving support to the collation and dissemination of information about appropriate technologies, the provision of extension services and demonstration of improved technologies.

In seeking to promote the interests of small-scale mining, government will endeavour to provide advice and support to small-scale miners on forming representative associations.

Government will work with, and encourage, mining companies to collaborate and give support to small-scale miners where it can be established that this will be in the mutual interest of the parties.

To mitigate the negative impacts of small-scale mining, government will disseminate information to raise awareness of health, safety and environmental risks, and will periodically reverse and disseminate occupational health and safety guidelines for small-scale mining.

Nothing in this policy document should be constructed to equate small-scale mining with illegal mining. While encouraging small-scale mining in approved areas, the government will protect bona fide mineral rights holders from interference in their operations by unlicensed persons. Government will work in partnership with all stakeholders in this regard.

US$200m to revive Obuasi mine

AngloGold Ashanti (AGA) is to spend approximately US$200 million as investment capital next year to revamp the Obuasi mine, which has more than 20 years life of mine with nine million ounces of gold reserves, Mr. Peter Anderton, Senior Vice President, AGA (Ghana) has revealed.

“Obuasi production marginally declines on lower grades and underground-equipment availability, costs remain in control. Obuasi remains the key outstanding issue from 2011.

“Once the leading gold mine in the country, it is a high cost producer and has never produced beyond 400,000 ounces, since the merger between the former AngloGold of South Africa and Ashanti Goldfields Company of Ghana.”

This was made known during the Company’s Stakeholder Town Hall meeting held in Accra. It was attended by its social and business partners, members of the diplomatic community, banks and financial institutions, chiefs and people in the host communities and government representatives.

Mr. Anderton revealed that a high level special taskforce ‘The Obuasi Taskforce’ has been formed for a twelve month period to fast track additional corporate funding and external resources to support define the long term turnaround strategy for the Obuasi underground operation, which has been struggling in the past years.

The objective is to accelerate the refurbishment and improve operational stability at Obuasi mine.

The taskforce was also looking to ensure that the work done today links to the long term strategy for Obuasi and that the outcomes of this work provided sustainable outcomes for AGA’s Ghanaian stakeholders.

The work of the taskforce has now largely been handed over to the AGA Ghana which has been expanded to ensure the delivery of ounces today but also to invest and create a world class operation at Obuasi.

AGA Obuasi will be supported from corporate funding as put in place by the Taskforce and additional expertise where required from AGA Corporate.

He said AngloGold Ashanti gold production was 4.52 million ounces last year of which about 11% came from the Obuasi and Iduapriem mines, though Obuasi was challenged by restricted ore passes and unplanned plant shut down for maintenance of tailing dam facility.

The Ghana mines produced just over 502,000 ounces, of which Obuasi churned out 317, 000 ounces and Iduapriem producing 185,000 ounces.

Ghana accounts for 33% of Continental Africa Gold production but only contributes 13% of the region’s cash flow.

Kwesi Enyan, Managing Director of Obuasi, explained that efforts been made to tackle the company’s social and environmental problems head-on.

He indicated that the project to resettle the Dokyiwa community was at advanced stage and efforts were also been made to tackle poor roads at Sansu and Anyinam villages this year, in partnership with the municipal assembly.

“The 116 housing units and all other infrastructural facilities completed at the New Dokyiwa site. Keys to new houses being given to landlords Relief package lined up for re-settlers.

Movement of people from old village to new site envisaged to be completed by end of this year.

“AGA is consistently demonstrating itself to be a responsible corporate citizen, in Ghana and around the world. AGA will engage to an even greater extent to ensure that all its stakeholders are fully aware of the real positive contributions to the communities and the country,” Enyan said.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Improve Africa health delivery-Veep

Vice President, John Dramani Mahama has predicted that Africa will fail to meet most of the health Millennium Development Goals targets come 2015, due to weak health financing capacity and health conditions.

“Within the Africa region, we are still struggling with combination of poor health policies, unfair economic arrangements and unfavorable financing arrangements that result in the unequal distribution of health services and damaging experiences.

“Our desire to attain universal health coverage should be built around shared aspirations to develop health on a sustainable basis with a different sense of urgency and determination,” Vice. President Mahama told participants at the first Pan African Health Congress on Universal Coverage in a speech read on his behalf in Accra.

The three-day congress aimed at initiating dialogue among health experts, policy makers, private sector operators, insurance scheme practitioners and implementers and health service providers in Africa. It was as well meant to discuss best ways to initiate and sustain long term health insurance schemes across Africa.

It was hosted by Centre for Health & Social Services (CHeSS), and supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and World Health Organisation.

Mr. Mahama observed that the continent has been presented with a unique opportunity to give meaning to equity in health.

He added: “Though countries like Ghana were making progress in health insurance, there were still challenges of many people with chronic conditions and lives threatening degenerative diseases having to look else were to facilitate their access to care.

“The challenges notwithstanding, was the wish of every government to provide access and financial risk protection as a policy goal within the context of universal coverage. This was in recognition of how critical health care was to the economy and social cohesiveness for governments which profess social justice and equity.”

He indicated that government took the bold step to introduce a national health insurance scheme as a way of removing financial barriers to access; this has received mixed reports of commendations and criticisms.

“African health experts must develop a clear technical framework that pulls together all the existing resolution, declaration and commitment to help move the agenda of universal health coverage into an implementable action plan,” Mr. Mahama urged.

Dr. Anarfi Asamoah-Baah, Deputy Director-General of World Health Organisation (WHO), said: “Health insurance was a unique intervention to facilitate access to health services and not about diseases or the ministers of health.

“Health insurance requires new skills within the health sectors, which includes economists, financial investment experts, lawyers and strategic managers who can think through and develop the system effectively.

“The WHO is open to these ideas including the participation of academia to partner with government to achieve universal coverage.

“Africa has the expertise and that what was needed was to leverage it and partner with international development partners to achieve the goal of universal coverage.”

Dr. James Nyoro, Managing Director, Rockefeller Foundation, Africa Region Office said: “The Foundation considers Universal Health Coverage as critical to creating affordable, high quality health services that ensures better health outcomes and financial protection especially for the poor and vulnerable groups in Africa and around the world.

“As a philanthropic organization, the Foundation has been working with some countries in Africa and Asia to catalyze change in fostering health Systems research and agenda setting for universal health coverage including enhancing professional capacity to plan and manage high performing health systems.

“Harnessing the resources of the private sector to finance and deliver health systems and leveraging on new technology particularly leveraging interoperable system to enhance the delivery of health service are complimentary to achieving success to the Universal Health Coverage.

“This support is in line with our goal of ensuring that more people can tap into the benefits of globalization while strengthening resilience to communities and individuals.”

Dr. Nyoro observed that a great deal of work has already been done on health insurance on the continent but there is a need to draw available materials together, focus on the neglected issues and integrate insights on these areas into the overall health insurance policy framework.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Budget 2012:Infrastructure for job-creation

The Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Dr. Kwabena Duffour, will talk about a wide range of initiatives in his budget statement to Parliament today, but the one with the real impact on families will be the massive infrastructural projects which will be undertaken next year.

Although the country’s infrastructure has improved over the years, the Minister in an interview with the B&FT said there is the urgent need to focus on upgrading its infrastructure indicators in tune with the rebased middle-income status.

Government has spent the past few years stabilising the economy, and the path is now set to build the requisite infrastructural and social projects to create jobs, Dr. Duffour said Ghanaians must benefit from the sacrifices they have made over all these years, he said.

Government is struggling to keep spending under control and avoid a repeat of 2008 when the then-ruling party boosted expenditure ahead of an election that it failed to win. The deficit soared to 24.2 percent of GDP at the time, sparking a slump in the cedi and pushing inflation to a five-year high, Standard & Poor’s said on Nov.

3. But the minister was quick to point out that government will be responsible enough not to throw the economy out of gear because of a looming election next year.

“I can tell you that we are continuing the fiscal consolidation, and that means the deficit will trend down next year. We in government are Ghanaians; why should we destroy the economy because of elections and come back to correct it? We will spend wisely and deliver the people’s aspirations,” he assured.

Dr. Duffour explained that embarking on the infrastructural drive is to correct the weak supply side that has characterised the economy all this while, making it possible for people to benefit from the sacrifices made in stabilising the economy.

The economy has made remarkable gains this year, with the budget deficit expected to reach a record 5.1 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the lowest in more than 5 years.

Statistics available indicate that the GDP growth rate will close the year at about 13.6 percent, with inflation at a single digit of 8.56 percent for October and international reserves settling at over US$5billion.

“Having achieved appreciable success on the macroeconomic front, the government wants to sustain infrastructure,” the minister said.

The GH¢3billion commercial loan from the China Development Bank is expected to feature prominently in the execution of next year’s budget to finance the Western Corridor roads project, railways and gas-processing facilities.

Parliament has already given the go-ahead for signing the loan agreement, but the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is expected to okay the deal in December.

The loan will be signed before the end of the year to enable disbursement to be done in January, 2012.

Besides the Chinese loan, government is expected to dig deep into its coffers to firm-up contracts for the Eastern Corridor roads and also fund social infrastructure: such as building new hospitals and clinics and refurbishing others, continuing with the policy to remove more schools under trees, and also irrigating the Accra Plains for farming purposes.

The 2012 budget will also announce the building of landing sites for fishing activities in the coastal belt with funds from the Chinese loan.

Duffuor mentioned, particularly, the massive injection of funds into resuscitation of the rail lines. The Ghana Railway Company is purely a national operation without any connections to rail services in other countries and is unable to carry the full volume of mining and passenger traffic, which has diverted a growing share of mineral traffic to the road network. This, he said, must be corrected.

Although rural road quality is remarkably good, the physical extension of the rural networks appears inadequate.

It is estimated that only 24 percent of Ghana’s rural population lives within two kilometres of an all-season road, which is below the 60 percent found in Africa’s middle-income countries.


Another initiative is the cleaning-up of the government payroll. Early this year, government started cleaning the public-sector payroll, beginning with pensioners.

This has been reported to be very successful with a lot of savings.

“As we speak today, work on the pensioners’ payroll in the Eastern, Volta, Western, Greater Accra and Central Regions has been completed.”

The exercise, he said, will continue in 2012 and it is expected that a lot of savings will be made to finance the migration of public-sector workers onto the Single Spine Salary Structure, which according to officials is about 80 percent complete.

Government also intends to link up the Single Spine Salary Structure with productivity to ensure that government’s money does not go to waste.


On the revenue side, the domestic revenue agencies markedly exceeded their targets. In the next budget, there will be more innovative ways of expanding the tax-net, while some of the tax measures introduced last year will be continued.

“There will be measures to widen the tax-net, and some of the measures currently on the ground will improve tax administration and make it more efficient.”

ECOWAS finalising common external tariff

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says it is finalising the common external tariff that will lead to the establishment of a customs union.

This is aimed at the realisation of financial and monetary integration of member-states.

“Progress has been achieved in this regard with the effective take-off of the ECOWAS Multilateral Surveillance Mechanism and the adoption of the roadmap for the introduction of an ECOWAS single currency -- the Eco -- by 2020.”

Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean De Dieu Somda, made this statement in Accra at the opening of a three-day joint retreat of Commission officials and ambassadors of member-states aimed at reviewing the status of the region’s monetary cooperation, with 2020 as the target year for the introduction of the ECO.

The meeting among other issues will also discuss the status of the ongoing negotiation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the region and the European Union, as well as impediments to smooth implementation of the ECOWAS flagship protocol on free movement of persons, goods and services.

Mr. Somda said: “The driving and underlying force of ECOWAS Vision 2020 and strategy is our collective determination to ensure that the community citizen owns the integration agenda.

“Achieving this goal requires our collective effort not only to make the ECOWAS brand, programmes and initiatives visible in the membe-states and beneficial to the citizens, but also -- and more importantly -- convince and empower the citizens to be owners.

“This aspiration can only be realised if the institutional arrangements underpinning this transformation are structured and empowered to act according to purpose.”

He explained that ECOWAS has been scaling-up its instruments and institutional arrangements to anticipate and confront challenges to peace and security in the region, particularly with regard to conflicts and political governance.

He mentioned that the Commission undertook measures towards updating the master-plan for production and transmission of electrical energy in the ECOWAS region; access to energy service for rural and peri-urban populations; and promotion of clean energy in addition to other activities relating to the coordination and monitoring of regional energy projects.

“The Commission has also facilitated the establishment of an ECOWAS centre for the promotion of renewable energy,” he said.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Muhammad Mumuni, explained that the purpose of the Commission is to deepen regional cooperation, forge an integrated market and transform the potentialities of human and material resources for the prosperity, well-being and security of community citizens.

He observed that despite the persisting shocks to the global financial system, the economies of West Africa continue to demonstrate remarkable resilience due to a combination of prudent macro-economic policies and strong demand for the region’s resources.

“The region in 2010 achieved an estimated growth rate of 6.2 percent. Continuing efforts by member-states aimed at scaling-up investment in the social sector, formulating economic policies within the framework of a regional development programme, and diversifying the export base of their economies will ensure sustainability and mitigate the impact of future shocks.

“Ghana, with a projected growth rate of 12 percent this year, epitomises this new dynamism and optimism, and has become a model in the region,” he remarked.

Tigo pledges to excite telecoms market

Carlos Caceres, Chief Executive Officer of Millicom Ghana Limited, operators of Tigo network, has pledged to sustain the company’s investment in technology, data quality and network coverage to offer quality service.

This is to help the country close the gap in Africa’s telecommunication competitive market and to promote affordable pricing to telecom users.

“The Ghanaian market is highly competitive compared with other emerging markets like India and China. Tigo’s new strategies, going forward, will make the company a net winner,” Mr. Caceres told journalists in Accra at an event to officially announce new call rates for the network.

Tigo customers can now call Tigo to Togo for 3Gp per minute, and 8Gp per minute for calls from Tigo to other networks. The 8Gp per minute off-net calls is a default rate, but customers would need to register for free by dialling *555# to enjoy the 3Gp per minute on-net calls.

Tigo’s on-net calls used to be 7Gp per minute and off-net calls was 12Gp per minute, which were some of the lowest on the market.

“The many call tariff plans and promotions in the telecom market are very complex for the average phone user to understand, and they make it difficult for customers to know how much they are spending.

“The new rates replace all other promotional call rates on the Tigo network.

“The new rates are straightforward and they remain unchanged no matter the location or time of day, so customers do not have to get confused about different charges at different times of the day,” said Caceres.

He explained that for those who were on more than one network, the several tariff plans become even more confusing because it is difficult to monitor “how much you are paying during the day, how much you are paying at night, how much you are paying on weekends, and the different charges for different locations at any point in time.”

“We are prepared to welcome competition – but more importantly this move is more of a sign that we are listening to our consumers and that we want to move away from the days of complex tariff plans to a simple one like we have done.”

“We listen keenly to our customers, ensuring that we understand their ever-changing needs and bring out new, innovative products and services to meet those needs.”

Vodafone inducts 50 volunteers

The Vodafone Ghana Foundation has inducted 50 volunteers for its World of Difference programme, aimed at positively impacting the lives of less-privileged communities and individuals by leveraging on individual and corporate philanthropy.

In its second year of running, the programme gives individuals who are passionate about social development a platform to work with a charity of their choice for two months and support them with their professional and intellectual skills and expertise.

The 50 finalists are professionals in their individual careers, are driven by a quest for social good, and will be stepping out of their comfort zones to embark on projects they truly believe in.

The Vodafone Ghana Foundation will give them monthly stipends ranging from GH¢1,000 to GH¢2,000.

Following its successful launch last year, the World of Difference programme attracted over 500 applicants whose forms were taken through a thorough interview session by a four-member panel.

The Head of External Affairs at Vodafone Ghana, Patrick Boateng, said: “We are very happy to be empowering these 50 volunteers from varied professional backgrounds to go all out and undertake life-changing projects they have always been passionate about.

“Empowerment is our brand-promise, and we are glad to be providing them with the adequate training and support they need for the implementation of these projects which will make meaningful impacts in the lives of their selected communities”.

He added: “The Vodafone Foundation believes in partnering with like-minded individuals and organisations to bring about social and economic change in our society. We are confident that when we join hands we are able to achieve more.

It is the little contribution from each one of us that makes a difference when we put it all together. That is why we are empowering these young professionals to undertake their dream projects.

The 50 volunteers were taken through the Vodafone Way training and induction to groom them on how to take up the projects they have set for themselves individually.

The Vodafone World of Difference is an annual community charity programme launched in 2009. It currently runs in 17 Vodafone operating countries. Applications are opened to Ghanaian residents who are 18 years and above.

Ghana's FDI up to US$3.25b

The Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) recorded an increase in the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) valued at US$3.25billion: the corresponding value for the same period in 2010 was US$216.71million.

This figure represents an increase of 99.16 percent of the total estimated value during the third quarter of 2011, compared to the same period in 2010.

The total foreign equity was US$274.35million, while the initial equity transfer was US$27.97million during the period under review.

Mr. George Aboagye, Chief Executive Officer of GIPC, told the media in Accra that out of the 161 new investment projects registered, 105 representing 65.22 per cent were wholly-owned foreign enterprises valued at GH¢908.51million -- which was 18.63 percent of the total estimated value of projects registered.

The remaining 56 (34.78) percent were joint ventures between Ghanaians and their foreign partners valued at US$2.65billion and representing 81.37 percent of the total estimated value of projects registered.

For the corresponding quarter of 2010, 70 wholly-owned foreign enterprises were registered valued at US$253.86million and 27 joint ventures at US$.25million.

Meanwhile, during the second quarter of 2011, 71 wholly-owned foreign enterprises were registered and valued at GH¢339.09million, and 56 joint ventures valued at GH¢561.36million.

India, with 25 projects, topped the list of countries with the highest number of registered projects. With US$2.52billion as the estimated value of the investment, Korea topped the list of countries with the largest value of investment registered.

China, Nigeria, Britain, the Netherlands, Lebanon and the United State of America respectively topped the list of investing countries during the third quarter.

Seven out of the 10 regions directly benefitted from the registered projects during the quarter. The regions are Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Central, Eastern, Greater Accra, Northern and Western Regions. 85.09% of all the projects registered are located in Greater Accra.

From the number of new projects registered, it is expected that 23,998 jobs will be created. This is an increment of 402.38% over jobs created in the corresponding quarter of 2010.

93.23% (22,373) of the total jobs to be created in the third quarter will be for Ghanaians and the remaining 6.77% (1,625) for expatriates.

Mr. Aboagye said GIPC will continue to encourage both local and foreign investors and facilitate investment projects for the country's growth and development.

“The confidence gained in the Ghanaian economy is a result of the prudent economic measures being pursued by the government -- which have resulted in the economy being described as the fastest-growing in the world currently, and international recognition by various surveys on the economic potential of the Ghanaian economy – and continues to influence the flow of FDI.”

He explained that the delegation from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has been in the country to explore areas of economic collaboration in the energy, trade, food and Agriculture, water resources, and housing sectors.

The Centre launched a report dubbed “Ghana 2011” to expose the country’s economic activities and investment opportunities which included a detailed sector-by-sector guide for foreign investors.

The publication, Mr. Aboagye said, will provide an in-depth analysis of the country’s economy.

Look within to grow indigenous businesses - GCCI

Government must put premium on the private sector to create social development and drive growth to reduce poverty, says the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI).

“Since government cannot provide the jobs directly but through the private sector, there should be a conscious effort in that direction.

“The way forward would be to ensure that appropriate macro-economic policies are implemented to create the much-needed enabling environment for businesses as well as entrepreneurs, the main stakeholders for the private sector to become the actual engine of growth,” Mr. Seth Adjei-Baah, President of GCCI, said in Accra at the launch of its 250th-year anniversary.

Mr. Adjei-Baah, who is also the Member of Parliament for Nkawkaw, speaking under the theme “Commerce and Industry in a Growing Economy”, said: “It is time for the nation to look within: government over the years has always created an environment to favour only foreigners. This, we think, is not the best – and we urge government to discard that idea to make the environment favorable for Ghanaian investors to explore as well.”

He indicated that the time has come for the country to undergo an industrial revolution, wherein all goods and services needed would be produced by indigenous companies.

“The mining industry is one example: Ghana cannot boast a single indigenous mining company, even though we have been engaging in mining for a long time.

“In the 60’s and 70’s Ghana had many vehicle-assembling plants; but, sadly, four decades down the line we cannot produce basic car accessories. We import almost everything, from toothpicks to airplanes,” Mr. Adjei-Baah remarked.

Hannah Tetteh, Minister of Trade and Industry, pledged government support to the private sector with the implementation of policies and strategies to enable businesses compete with their counterparts on the global market.

“Ghanaian industries could compete with their counterparts on the world market when they change their style of performance.”

She said the industries needed to focus on higher education and on how to promote Made-In Ghana goods in other countries, and advised local industries to partner their counterparts in other countries in the world to promote Made-In Ghana goods.

Mr. Emmanuel Doni-Kwame, Chief Executive Officer of GCCI, in recounting some achievements of the Chamber over the years pointed out establishment of the free exchange rate regime and review of trade facilitation at the ports.

The Chamber, in collaboration with other private sector development organizations, advocated the reduction of Corporate Tax from 55 percent in the 1970’s to ensure an enabling environment for businesses to operate effectively in the country.

Mr. Doni-Kwame said: “Ghana being acclaimed one of the fastest-growing economies in the world was a motivation for the growth of businesses in the country.

“A lot has changed since 1761 – we moved from an unsuccessful plantation economy to import substitution, to a controlled economy, then to a free liberalised economy and now an oil economy.

“The popularity of Ghana as one of the fastest-growing economies in the world gives us reason to reflect on our theme: Commerce and Industry in a Growing Economy.

“The chamber has been contributing its quota in policy formulation, especially making inputs to the national budget and monitoring its implementation.

“We have been able to research issues in greater depth, and this enabled us to make more meaningful and constructive representations in our role as social partners.”

He added: “We are celebrating 250 years of business advocacy, and we can already conclude that it has largely benefitted the country and our business community.

“The Chamber of Commerce is arguably one of the oldest institutions in the country, with its establishment dating back to the 1760’s at Fort Christiansburg in Accra by the Danes.

“250 years ago, the aim of fostering economic and cultural ties between Ghana and Denmark may have seemed ambitious, but today we can say that this aim has been reached successfully.”

‘We don’t need fanfare leaders’

Brutally frank, insightful, and intensely fought debates, and a very entertaining and memorable gala night were some of the highlights when the curtain was finally drawn on the three-day Vodafone Africa Business Leaders Forum that lived up to its billing.

The forum, organised by the Business and Financial Times and BIA Conferences, brought together about 1,000 delegates from several African, European and the Caribbean countries and the USA.

During an intensely fought debate at the Vodafone African Business Leaders Forum, one distinguished professor stated that: “When they get into power, our leaders think that their role is to distribute wealth - they do not create anything new.”

Professor Kwaku Atuahene-Gima, Executive Director, CEIBS Africa -- who is currently based in China -- went on to give a scathing description of the way in which some African politicians operate today.

“We also have ‘fanfare’ leaders, they like to win awards…so they first distribute wealth to their inner circle and then win awards for it,” he added.

According to Atuahene-Gima, one of the most important things that leaders need to do is self-reflect and become conscious of their flaws. He highlighted this as a particular failing of leaders in new democracies, where democracy is often mistaken for development.

“Democracy does not cause development -- in Africa we focus on this first, without developing the foundations for growth,” said Atuahene-Gima. “We need leaders who can break the rules and first do what is beneficial for their country.

“If you look at the leadership which got us here today, we need a very different type of leadership moving forward,” added Alhassan Andani, MD, Stanbic Bank, Ghana.

“The next big leadership challenge is to think beyond the level of the state in order to break through poverty. Development only happens when people learn to govern themselves, and generate wealth that touches everybody.”

These comments were made during a discussion on ‘whether Africa has the right strength and flavour of leadership to deliver the continental dream’. The overwhelming sentiment from both speakers and audience was that there needs to be a dramatic shift in the focus of today’s leaders.

“Leaders in Africa have to think differently -- a lot of the things that they do today are not useful for tomorrow,” explained Atuahene-Gima. “This is unlike China, where they always have a long-term plan. In addition, we must be able to ensure that leaders have strategies that they can implement -- merely having a vision is useless.”

In a debate on how to tackle Africa’s developmental challenges, Alec Erwin, CEO, UBU Investment Holdings, South Africa, highlighted the need for African leaders to have a focused developmental strategy in order to attract investment.

“It is important to have clarity of purpose,” said Erwin. “We need to attract resources in order to develop infrastructure in Africa, and we will only be able to do this through establishing public private partnerships.”

He emphasised that only by stabilising the economy, legal system and capital markets can African countries gain the foreign investment that they require.

“It can’t be done by proceeding with ‘business as usual,’” he added. “It means changing the way we govern in Africa.”

Dr. IrajAbedian, Pan-African Capital Holdings South Africa, agreed: “If we don’t actively engage and take the appropriate action, we will miss out on investment opportunities in Africa. We need to graduate from being subjects to being citizens,” said Abedian. “A responsible citizen….an engaged citizen.”

According to Dr. Kofi Amoah, CEO, Progeny Ventures Incorporated, Ghana, “Some investors come to Africa, look and turn away. To build a new paradigm, we need to consider key blueprint issues on the continent,” he explained. “These include our political space; human rights; the psychological state of our people; and the global environment.”

Debating on finance, banking, and investment, Daniel Asiedu, the managing director of Zenith Bank, said only 10% of the bankable population of Africa have bank accounts according to the IMF. He suggested that banks should be collaborating and not competing.

He called on banks to develop a common platform to provide banking services to the general population.

Dr. Amoah went on to suggest that when measuring the efficiency or otherwise of the financial system of any country, this should be looked at holistically.

He reminded delegates that banks are only one part of the financial system which includes other financial institutions, the government and, most importantly, the general population.

He called on governments to remember that international investors want stability in a country’s political system.

Meanwhile, Brooks Mparutsa, CEO of Hollard Insurance, in South Africa, cautioned against over-regulation. He suggested that it’s about innovation: innovation in the delivery of financial services to the communities that need them.

Dr. Yaw Perbi -- Global CEO, The HuD Group, Canada, emphasised the importance of education and developing the African youth.

“When we talk of Africa, everyone refers to our natural resources -- forgetting our human capital,” says Perbi. “The existing educational system was built to create factory workers, and it is not going to work. Our greatest resource is our people, and if we do not develop the people it is not going to work.”

Perbi highlighted the fact that 41% of people in Africa are 15 years of age and below; labelling them ‘the generation that must be saved’.

Dr. Esi Ansah, Chief Executive Officer, Axis Human Capital, Ghana, agreed that the current educational system in Africa takes the wrong approach; saying, “It’s important to remember that schooling is not the same as education – we need to be training people who are versatile and critical thinkers.

“The goal of education is societal transformation,” she added. “As a nation, we need to have key things that we are looking for at every level.”

She spoke of the importance of having multiple stakeholders in education, establishing career centres, and building sustainable funding models that decrease the reliance on government.

Stella Appiah-Nkansah, Director of HR, Vodafone Ghana, proposed an additional solution to Africa’s education challenge: recruit and retain the highly qualified Africans who are working abroad.

“Many of our compatriots find themselves in the Western world, with a desire to return home,” she said. “Of crucial importance is the recruitment and retention of these talented individuals.”

Appiah-Nkansah listed various strategies which African companies can pursue in order to attract young professionals back to the continent. These include developing strong company brands, offering attractive and flexible remuneration packages, and targetting African-centred career fairs.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

GNCCI celebrates 250 years of private sector advocacy

Exactly 250 years have turned since the establishment of a national chamber of commerce to spearhead the course of industries in the country’s private sector and towards the development of a vibrant economy. Ekow Essabra-Mensah writes.

The Ghana National Chamber of Commerce & Industry is without doubt, one of the leading business support service in the country, an independent organisation serving and promoting the commercial and industrial interest of small and large companies.

The chamber in its present form was established on the 8 th November 1961 under an Act of Parliament (Executive Instrument No. 196) following the amalgamation of the then four existing Chambers of Commerce.

These were the Accra and Eastern Province Chambers of Commerce, Kumasi Chamber of Commerce, Sekondi/Takoradi Chamber of Commerce that grouped expatriate firms and the Ghana Chamber of Commerce, which represented indigenous Ghanaian firms. The chamber serves the local business community with three core activities that are its founding principles.

The Chamber as part of its mandate is dedicated to helping entrepreneurial growth of companies and seek to promote the interest of companies and organisations engaged in investment, trade, commerce, agriculture, industry and manufacturing sectors.

The Chamber is also committed to playing a leadership role in the promotion of the healthy growth of the country’s economy, establishing a strong international linkage and projecting a good image for Ghana.

Mr. Emmanuel Doni- Kwame, acting Chief Executive Officer, of the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and industry in an interview with B&FT said: “The Chamber is in a unique position to act as a link between established businesses, the emerging sector, and government at the various levels.

“The Chamber is recognized locally and internationally as an impartial third party with a history of promoting the interest of businesses.”

The Chamber currently has a membership of over 2000 spanning across various sectors. Membership is offered to all registered business establishments in Ghana.



The Chamber Of Commerce is arguably one of the oldest institutions in Ghana with its establishment dating back to 8th November 1761 by the Danes.

In 1754, the Danish Gold coast became Danish Crown Colony and the Danish West Indian and Guinean Company was granted a royal charter to take over the administration of the gold coast.

In 1760, the West Indian-Guinean Chamber of Revenues was established. In 1776, the Danish West Indian and Guinean Company was dissolved. In 1781-1782, a West Indian trade company and Baltic-Guinean trade company were founded respectively.

Late in the 18th century, Ernest Schwmmelmann, Danish minister of finance(1784-1813), suggested that Denmark should introduce a plantation economy in its African colonies. In 1816, the West Indian-Guinean Chamber of revenues was merged with the college of commerce to form the General Customs Chamber and College of Commerce.

However neither the plantation economy nor trade in other goods flourished as hoped. The traditional trading partners, the coastal Fanti states were subjugated by the Ashantis by 1807.

The Danish trading posts were finally abandoned. In 1850, Denmark sold its property and claims on the Gold Coast to Great Britain. The Cape Coast Chamber was later formed out of the Customs Chamber and College of Commerce.

In 1894 a deputation from the Cape Coast Chamber of Commerce many of whose members held links to merchants in Great Britain put pressure on the governor to appoint a permanent resident. There was considerable feeling in the colony in support of this move.

The new Asantehene AgyemanPrempeh I declined this request as well as others, but pressure was building for his kingdom to be brought under British control to prevent the French from doing so.

Another travelling commissioner Hendrick Vroom was sent to Kumasi to ask the Asantes to accept a British officer as their friend and advisor.

Eventually the Asantes sought to bypass the authority of the British governor by sending an eight person deputation to London to plead for their state’s independence, but it was neither recognized nor received. They were simply told to deal directly with the Governor of the then Gold Coast. We are proud to say that three of our members and others were mandated by the Governor to draft the 1951 constitution.


The Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and industry will this year celebrate the 250th anniversary of the establishment of the first chamber of commerce in the then Gold Coast and 50 years of the enactment of the legal instrument merging all Chambers of commerce in independent Ghana into one Ghana National Chamber of Commerce.

Prior to 1961, there were four separate and independent Chambers of Commerce in Ghana, namely: The Accra and Eastern province Chamber of Commerce, The Kumasi Chamber of Commerce, The Sekondi/Takoradi Chamber of Commerce, The Ghana Chamber of Commerce.

The first three Chambers mentioned above were composed of expatriate firms and businesses based in the three main trading centers, while the fourth Chamber catered for the indigenous Ghanaian businesses.

The first president of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah did not fancy the duplicated representation smacking of racial discrimination. He rightly ordered the Chambers to merge.

The Ghana National Chamber of Commerce was then established on 8th November, 1961 under an Act of parliament (Executive Instrument No. 196) following the amalgamation of the then existing Chambers of Commerce, which were Nationality based.

The Executive Instrument was amended by legislative Instrument No.611 of 1968 to streamline some of the internal structures of the Chamber. The Chamber was charged with the following functions: Promotion and protection of trade, commerce, industries and manufacturers in Ghana
The collection and circulation of statistics relating to trade, commerce, industry and manufacturers of Ghana.

The provision of facilities for the communication and interchange of views between members of the Chamber on one hand and departments of Government, public institution and other associations on the other hand, on matters directly affecting the interests of the Chamber or any member thereof.

The printing and publication of newspapers, periodicals, books and other documents for promoting the interest of the Chamber.

The establishment and maintenance of libraries and museums for the promotion of trade, commerce, industry and manufacturers of Ghana. The promotion and participation in trade fairs in Ghana and elsewhere. To develop linkages with Chambers of Commerce on other parts of the world.

The promotion of and co-operation with associations or Chamber and other organizations in Ghana discharging similar functions as the Chamber. The grant of donations to local or national charities.

The chamber has since been an independent, non-political organization dedicated to promoting and protecting the interests of businesses in Ghana.



The country being predominately agricultural country lacks a self-coordinating market system for the trade of agricultural produce. Farmers lack access to a well function market where they can get competitive price for their produce.

As a consequence, farmers face the problem of unstable prices for their produce leading to glut in one region or district and shortages in other regions. Lack of access to agriculture raw materials also affect agro-proceessing and other sectors.

The Ghana National Chamber of Commerce & Industry in collaboration with the Ghana Agricultural Producers and Traders Organisation, the Ghana National Cargo Transporters Association and with the support of BUSAC will undertake an advocacy action on the inclusion of the private sector in the establishment of a Commodity Exchange.

Agricultural markets in Ghana had been characterized by high costs and high risks of transacting, forcing much of our agric producer into isolation. With only a few of output reaching the market, commodity buyers and sellers tended to trade only with those they knew, to avoid the risk of being cheated or default.

Trade is done on the basis of visual inspection because there was no assurance of product quality or quantity, this drive up market costs, leading to high consumer prices.

The goal of this action is to partner with other stakeholders to develop a Commodity Exchange to connect buyers and sellers of locally grown agricultural commodities in an efficient, reliable and transparent manner by making use of innovation and technology.

1. To develop an integrated commodity marketing policy that addresses all the processes namely, transport, grading, storage and information facilities for the producer as well as the consumer

2. To develop a well equipped institutional establishment which can provide all marketing services to all market actors;

3. To develop a private and public-partnership in the creation of the commodity market.
The Chamber will undertake a study tour of Ethiopia and develop a position paper. A sensitization workshop will be organized to allow beneficiaries of the action mainly members to contribute to the position paper presented.

A series of media activities will be carried out via TV, Radio and print media to inform and educate the public. Stakeholder workshops’ policy dialogue will be used to ensure a consensus is reached and objective of action achieved. Finally negotiation and follow up on target groups

This project will contribute towards strengthening the culture of doing business by creating a transparent, innovative and efficient marketing system for buyers and sellers especially small-scale farmers who are at the mercy of merchants in the nearest and only market they know, to negotiate better prices or reduce their market risk.

Customer Service Celebration

The Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, collaborated with organizers to promote customer service in the country.

The Chamber recognizes the role of the customer in business development and sustainability and that as a as a leading voice of the business community in the country endorsed celebrations, as it is in the best interest of the business community , encouraging all its members to partner or participate and ensure appropriate customer service .

Business Support services

The Chamber offers its Members a vast number of business support services that range from the local services such as start-up support, contracts and tender information, training, translation support, export market information and documentation.

James Town pupils receives educational materials

Gateway 4 Youth, a non Governmental Organization (NGO) has presented educational materials to over 84 needy children aimed at supporting and encouraging school going children to take their education seriously.

The educational items including School bags, books and pens, pencils were presented to pupil’s residing in James town, a suburb of Accra.

Mr. Paulos Samuel, former country director of Plan Ghana International at a ceremony to officially present the items said: “This passion and spirit to help those affected youth succeed in life should be emulated and supported by those who are in the capacity to do so.

“I embarked on a nationwide tour during which I identified specific deprived localities that needed assistance, I interacted with opinion leaders and other relevant stakeholders all targeted at obtaining the true and real insight information on what was happening on the ground to enable me provide the needed items to support educational needs of the deprived children in the community”.

He explained that ultimate desire of Gateway 4 Youth is to ensure that children reach their full potentials and has its vision strategically set out to champion the total economic and social transformation change of the youth in Africa through the discovery of talent, skills, development and opportunities.

The organization’s primary focus is on the youth between 18- 35 with whom it works to identify it talent, identify opportunities and find ways of bringing the two together to enable them live a meaningful and purposeful life.

Mr.Paulos served Plan International for over a decade and has strong and loyal passion to help bring improvement and hope into the lives of the youth.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chamber of Mines welcomes EPA ratings

The Ghana Chamber of Mines has commended the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its 2010 AKOBEN audit results aimed at bringing environmental improvement and reducing risk of mining operations to the public.

“The Ghana Chamber of Mines commends the EPA and looks forward to working effectively with it and other partners on improving the understanding and functioning of the AKOBEN system in order to improve the ratings of our members,” Dr. Toni Aubynn, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, told B&FT in Accra.

“The Chamber also takes the opportunity to congratulate mining companies who achieved appreciable improvement in this year’s AKOBEN audit, and hopes that the next ratings see a continuation in the performance improvements. We will continue to use the AKOBEN and other evaluation processes to continuously improve our environmental and social performance.

“The 2010 AKOBEN ratings saw an appreciable improvement over that of previous ratings. More member-companies made significant improvements on their performances in the last audit,” he said.

The report, ‘AKOBEN’, is an EPA initiative aimed at reducing the impact of industry on the environment and to bring about environmental improvements in business operations of all sizes.

It is also meant to encourage companies assess themselves so they can reduce environmental risks of their operations to the public.

The other indicators in the report are environmental best practice, community complaints and corporate social responsibility.

Under the initiative, compliance with environmental standards by mining and manufacturing concerns is assessed using a five-colour rating scheme measuring the environmental performance of 61 manufacturing and mining companies on the legal requirements in hazardous waste management, toxic releases and non-toxic releases, and monitoring and reporting.

The AKOBEN ratings are evaluated by analysing more than one hundred performance indicators which include quantitative data as well as qualitative and visual information.
Newmont Ghana Gold Limited joined Abosso Goldfields Limited and Ferro Fabrik Limited as the only three to be rated BLUE (Good) in the rankings.

Newmont’s rating is a huge improvement over last year’s, when it found itself in the RED zone. This was as a result of the over-flow of process-water at the company’s Ahafo Mine.

Other companies with improved performance included Ghana Manganese Company, Golden Star Resources-Wassa, and Chirano Gold Mines Limited.

Daniel Amlalo, Acting Executive Director of the EPA, threatened to revoke the operating licence or impose heavy financial fines on Ghana Bauxite Company-Awaso for “consistently’’ failing to adhere to best environmental performance practices.
Ghana Bauxite Company was for the second time rated ‘poor’ in the latest environmental performance rating and disclosure system.

Other mining companies including AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields Ghana Limited, Golden Star Resources-Bogoso, and Prestea Sankofa Gold Limited also scored ‘poor’ in the ratings.

“These companies did not include environmental reports in their annual reports. Nothing was known of their environmental policies. They again failed to report on how their operations affected the use of water and waste-management, their energy use and the effects of their operations on climate change. Companies do not regard the environment as a material business risk,”

Apart from AngloGold which scored RED in both its mines at Obuasi and Iduapriem, the Ghana Bauxite Company was also rated RED, ‘poor’.

In the manufacturing industry, Accra Brewery Limited and Akosombo Textiles were in the ORANGE (Satisfactory) zone, while Aluworks, Unilever Ghana Limited-Tema Factory and Accra Abattoir were rated RED.

The EPA also announced that it will increase from 50 to 100 the number of manufacturing companies that will be assessed in next year’s report, while the mining companies will increase from 11 to 19.