Friday, February 25, 2011

Esoko unveils mobile market services

The Chief Executive Officer of Esoko Networks, Mark Davies, says three thousand farmers across the country can now negotiate better prices for their crops thanks to real-time market data sent to their mobile phones.

“The mobile phone application sends farmers market data via SMS messages, monitor prices, crop demand, weather and the location of seeds and fertilizers.” Davies said.

He made this known to B&FT during the launch of the company’s range of services, including 1900 short-code that allows farmers to text and receive commodity price results.

Esoko is an innovative market service that allows anyone to access market information over their mobile phones. With up to date information from markets across the country, businesses and individuals can access prices, browse offers to buy or sell, or advertise their own products and services.

Results demonstrate that farmers are able to improve revenues by negotiating better prices, or selecting more favourable markets for their produce. Traders that use Esoko's SMS can procure product more quickly and at better prices for everyone.

“Our goal is to demonstrate that targeted market information can not only dramatically change lives, but be a viable commercial business at the same time.
“Farmers are prepared to pay for the service simply because it has real and immediate value to them,” said Davies.

Bernard Otabil, Managing Director of Esoko Ghana, speaking at the launch, said: “We have demonstrated how a modern business, with both social and financial objectives, can improve livelihoods not only in Africa, but beyond.

“We believe that with the right kind of information and support, farmers can transform agriculture to become not just a business, but serious business.”

As part of the launch activities, the company is to embark on a 34 market road-show; visiting key locations across the country to demonstrate the product. It will also promote the “There’s a better way” campaign, a provocative series of advertising suggesting how communication tools can transform business.

Otabil explained that the road-show was about getting the word out in an entertaining an informative way, adding that, “Ghana is pioneering all these approaches because we want to show the rest of the continent how it’s done.”

Esoko is currently in 15 African countries with different public and private partners in each, and is expanding rapidly.

In Ghana, it is the first company to develop an agricultural commodity index, providing market trend analysis on both retail and wholesale commodity trading levels. The index is made public on a weekly basis.

The International Finance Corporation and Soros Economic Development Fund (SEDF) have invested $2.5 million in the company, which they think will help revolutionise the terms of trade for small-scale agriculture on the continent.

Gov’t , COTVET strategizes to enhance youth dev’t

Government and other donor partners in collaboration with Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET) are strategizing on mechanisms to support capacity building through the skills development fund and the national apprenticeship programme to make Technical Vocational Educational Training, (TVET) more attractive to the country’s youth.

This programme would help provide an alternative means for skills development, wealth creation and poverty reduction in the country.

Mr. Daniel Baffour –Awuah, Executive Director, COTVET told B&FT in Accra, after addressing a day’s workshop aimed at reviewing the result of the piloting programme of the Competent Based Training, (CBT) and discuss the Way Forward for implementation in other institutions.

He explained that as part of the COTVET’s vision to institutionalize quality CBT-TVET system in the country, it has set up three standing committees to develop a TVET qualification framework to determine training standards and competencies and also to provide registration and accreditation services.

A Skills Development Fund has been established to provide a challenge fund to ensure sustainable TVET funding.

COTVET in collaboration with JICA and ECOWAS, held an institutional capacity building programme for selected Curriculum Development Specialist in TVET training to better place training providers to effectively deliver training in CBT.

He identified the informal sector as a major area of concern in the TVET System in the country.

Available statistics indicate that about 55 percent of graduates from Junior High Schools are unable to enter into Senior High School. Out of this, only seven percent continue in the formal TVET, while majority go into apprenticeship in various trade areas in the formal sector.

The Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFUND) has released GH¢ 3,000,000, to the COTVET to support apprenticeship training in the informal sector.

It is also expected that more than 15,000 Junior High School graduates who could not pursue further education would benefit from the training which started in the 2010/2011 academic year.

The Minister for Education, Betty Mould Iddrisu reiterated government’s support for an apprenticeship programme, hence the training of 5000 basic school leavers in CBT.
She expressed gratitude to industries that provided work place training for CBT Students and called on other firms to emulate this step.

Mr. Kunihiro Yamauchi,Resident Representative, Japan International Corporation (JICA), revealed that the CBT pilot project has been extended to December 2011, instead of March to enable institutions that have planned to expand the demand of the driven CBT method to other certificate levels which is currently not targeted in the piloting.

“The CBT method is expected to provide students with the skills and working attitudes to persue productivity and competitiveness and also develop the human resource base for national economic growth, contribute to job creation, industrial development and poverty reduction,” he said.

JICA has so far provided a grant of US $3.4 million towards the successful development of the technical and vocational education training system.

Mr. Stephen Turkson, a Competent Based Training, expert described TVET, as a master key to national development and that it has been used as a poverty alleviation tool in many countries and often for meeting conflicting economic and social goals.

Mr. Turkson said the TVET system is under going reform as recommended by the Government 2004 White Paper on education and that this can only be attained by changing and modifying certain old educational policies that are slowing down recommendations made on the White Paper.

“There is a need to alter old policies to conform to the agenda, unless new policies are made to support the reform, then, there is a need to forget about it”. Mr. Turkson said.

He urged stakeholders in the educational sector to reconsider the inclusion of the recruitment policy which seeks to select a master degree holder as head of a technical institution instead of a competency based individual.

Mr. Turkson advocated for a separate entity to administer Technical Vocational Institutions rather than the Education Ministry, since budget support for vocational education is always not enough and most often diverted for secondary education.

Producer Price Inflation up 23.14% in January

The year-on-year inflation from the producer’s perspective for all industry for January 2011 is 23.14%, a rise in the December, 2010 figure of 17.79 percent, the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) has announced.

“The ex-factory prices of goods for all industry on the average increased in January 2011 compared to January 2010 by 23.14 percent,” explained, Mr. Magnus Ebo Duncan, Head of Economic Statistics Division-GSS in Accra.

Utility recorded the highest year-on-year inflation of 71.81%, followed by mining and quarrying recording 25.99% and manufacturing having 11.41% during the period under review.

Manufacturing recorded the highest monthly change of 8.30%, followed by Utilities -0.01%, and Mining and quarrying the least, recording a negative change of -0.41%.

Mr. Duncan made this known in Accra at a media briefing to announce current Producer Price Inflation (PPI) data which measures inflation in the producers perspective.

The Producer Price Index measures the average change over time in the prices received by domestic producers for the production of their goods and services.

He explained that there was a big jump in inflation in the petroleum industry in January after a decline in November last year. In January, inflation in the petroleum industry jumped to 23.39 per cent.

The all industry monthly inflation is 5.90 percent with specific industry such as mining and quarrying sector recording a monthly change of-0.41 per cent in January, while the manufacturing sector recorded 8.3 per cent followed by the utilities 0.01 per cent.

Mr. Duncan indicated that five out of the 16 major groups in the manufacturing sector recorded inflation rates higher than the manufacturing sector average of 11.41per cent.

Manufacture of electrical machinery and apparatus recorded the highest inflation rate 47.71 percent, whiles manufacture of wood, wood products and cork recorded negative inflation rate of 2.64 per cent.

New US Visa Appointment Service

The U.S. Embassy in Accra has announced that it will migrate to a new non-immigrant or visitor visa appointment service from next Tuesday, March 1.

Applicants will, from the date, be expected to go through five distinct steps including paying the visa application fee at any ECOBANK branch.

Applicants are then to complete the online non-immigrant visa application form (CEAC/DS-160)

Subsequently, applicants would have to schedule a visa interview appointment at or by calling 233-263011685.

Three pieces of information will be required to successfully schedule an appointment, including applicants passport number; MRV fee payment receipt; and the 10 digit barcode number from your DS-160 confirmation page.

The fourth step is for the applicant to visit the U.S. Embassy in Accra on the date and time of the visa interview.

Applicants will be expected to bring along a printed copy of the appointment letter, the DS-160 confirmation page, one recent visa photograph, current and all old passports, and the original visa fee payment receipt.

Applications without all of the above mentioned items will not be accepted.
Finally, applicants will be expected to personally collect issued visas at the U.S. Embassy in Accra.

The Embassy announced that applicants who have already scheduled visa appointments will not be impacted by this change.

Those who have already scheduled an appointment through the current online system should bring along their Standard Chartered receipt and proceed via the current process.

Applicants who have paid their MRV fee prior to March 1, 2011, but have not scheduled an appointment, will have a grace period from March1, 2011 until April to use their MRV fee for appointment scheduling.

Anyone with an MRV receipt obtained prior to March 1 will have to pay the MRV fee again if they have not scheduled an appointment before April 30, 2011.

Energy Bank begins operations in Ghana

Energy Bank Ghana, the country’s 27th, has opened to the public for business with the mindset of playing into key sectors of the country’s fast-growing economy.

Chairman of the Bank Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim disclosed that the Global Fleet Group, mother-company of Energy Bank, is looking to immediately invest another US$50million toward building of a first-class hospital.

“We offer a robust partnership with Ghana Civil Aviation Authority to put Ghana Airways back in the sky in less than six months from today - if government is interested,” Ibrahim said, showing his company’s eagerness to participate strongly in the development of the country’s economy.

Ibrahim disclosed that Energy Bank will partner government in funding projects that relate to Real Estate, Service Industries, Oil and Gas, and Infrastructure Investment, adding “our concern will be to develop indigenous entrepreneurs.

“We’re looking to hit the ground with quality services that will immediately differentiate us as a bank of choice for corporate customers, who are our primary focus,” MD/CEO Sam Ayininuola disclosed to B&FT.

Energy Bank Ghana is the first universal banking endeavour of the Global Fleet Group, which has operations in several industries including Insurance, Airlines, Properties and Oil & Gas across West Africa and is headquartered in Nigeria.

Group Executive Director, Strategy & Perception, Mrs. Yetunde Akinluyi , stresses that Energy Bank seeks to reverse the current trend by establishing and growing a strong Ghanaian bank which then moves on to establish a presence in other African countries, rather than the other way round.

Akinluyi explained that though the name of the bank immediately creates the impression “we’re here because of the country’s emerging oil and gas sector, our choice of name has more to do with our outlook on business where we see a vibrant, vigorous bank working with enthusiasm to meet our customers’ expectations.”

Energy Bank, which has met the Bank of Ghana’s minimum capital requirement of GH¢60million, making it one of the most capitalised in the country, opens up with strong emphasis on the deployment of IT and electronic banking to help reduce costs, “which will enable us meet customer needs without putting in obscene margins,” Ayininuola said.

Ayininuola observed that Ghana’s economy has registered impressive growth rates in recent years, making it a leader on the African continent, which is also expected to experience high growth in coming years, thereby making the country attractive to global investors.

“Capital will move to where conditions are favourable, and Ghana’s political and economic stability offers the security investors crave, therefore the country’s investment space is bound to open up even more - and that is our motivation for entering the market,” he disclosed.

Ayininuola added that loyalty is the underlying philosophy of the bank, and its energy will be channeled into bringing out the humanity of the bank.

“We will endeavour to identify specific areas of much concern to Ghanaians, and then we will tailor our corporate social responsibility to address those needs.

“We will work hard at discovering the market and the people, who are our primary concern, because we acknowledge that though the corporate customers are our main targets, they in turn have relationships with the other end of the market and there is therefore need to have an eye for that sector as well,” he said.

“We intend to grow conservatively, seizing opportunities in various sectors of the economy - including construction, transportation, oil & gas; commodities such as cocoa, rice and sugar; in fast-moving consumer goods; and also in the public sector, targetting such institutions as VRA, ECG and public schools,” Ayininuola disclosed.

The bank, however, intends to have a dominating presence in the country’s nascent oil and gas sector.

“We are open to all options in the sector. If it means taking up projects individually or in syndication with other banks, be they local or foreign, we’re given to all that,” he said.

“We will not rush into rolling-out branches, which is not cost-effective, but we will still register strong visibility across country through the deployment of ATMs and other innovative electronic banking means,” Ayininuole explained.

He disclosed that Energy Bank opens with a main office in Accra on the second floor of GNAT Heights, with plans to open branches subsequently in Tema, Takoradi and Kumasi.


Tigo presents Benz car to customer

Millicom Ghana Limited, operator of Tigo Network, has presented a brand-new Mercedes Benz and GH¢150,000 cash to Mr. Edmond Boateng, a 62-year-old taxi-driver of Palladium in Accra.

He was the grand-prize winner of the Tigo Christmas Bonanza, a text and win promotion that commenced on the 8th of November 2010 and climaxed in February 2011. The promotion spanned a period of 13 weeks.

The Chief Executive Officer, Tigo Ghana, Mr. Carlos Caceres, at a ceremony said this is one of the many promotions that will bring excitement and enhance communication to all customers.

“In our quest to provide affordable, available and accessible communications to all who embrace our brand, Tigo conducted research in the run-up to Christmas last year and information we gathered that our subscribers need money with which to meet their needs as well as those of their loved ones.

“It was against this background that we rolled-out the Chrismas Bonanza to reward the loyalty of our subscribers.

“We are elated that through the Christmas Bonanza there has been an improvement in the quality of life of our winning subscribers and their loved ones, as some of their long-cherished dreams have been realised.”

He revealed that in a few days Tigo will unveil another promotion that will give bigger prizes to customers than the Christmas Bonanza did.

Mr. Boateng, receiving the car keys and the cheque, thanked management of Tigo for presenting the prize and urged Ghanaians to take part in the Tigo promotions because they are authentic.

Two other prize-winners were presented with GH¢10,000 each at the ceremony.

Frank Ayeetey, a Computer Engineering student of IPMC, said he will use his prize money to further his education and take care of a few family issues, while Kumasi-based Agro-Chemical dealer Francis Nkrumah-Sarpong said he will invest in his business.

More than 1,186 customers won a total of GH¢570,000 in cash-prizes, plus lots of free top-ups in the 13-week promotion.

Stanbic Bank supports Country Side Orphanage

The Transactional Products and Services Unit of Stanbic Bank Ghana has donated items worth GH¢3,400.00 to the Country Side Orphanage at Bawjiase in the Central Region.

Making the donation on behalf of the bank, Head of TPS Unit, John Prempeh, expressed the belief that each child deserves unrestricted access to the basic necessities of life to ensure its comfort.

He said that the gesture is in line with Stanbic Bank’s ultimate aim of improving lives. The items were made up of 20 baby cribs and substantial quantities of toiletries and food items.

Mrs. Yeboah, the Mother of the home, thanked Stanbic Bank for the kind gesture, and expressed the hope that the relationship will be sustained.

She stated that this is the 13th year of the orphanage’s existence, and called on other bodies to come to its aid.

She mentioned challenge with transportation and children’s play and learning items as setbacks that the home needs help with.

The team was taken round the home to acquaint themselves with the current state of its facilities and also interacted with the children at the home. The St. Joseph Country Side Orphanage is home to about 143 children, as well as some older ones who are in second-cycle and tertiary institutions across the country.

Reroy Cables receives trade delegation

Reroy Cables Limited is hopeful of entering the Equatorial Guinea market by close of this year, to deepen its international expansion strategy and promote Made-in-Ghana products.

The firm currently produces electrical and telecommunication cables and exports predominantly for the international market - namely Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Mali. It has a significant domestic market.

Mrs. Kate Quartey-Papafio in an interview with B&FT said: “Our strength as a manufacturer of electrical and telecommunication cables lies in our ability to tailor products to suit the specifications of our domestic and international clients.

“Having seen the huge market available for our products in Equatorial Guinea, we see this visit as an affirmation of our intention to doing business in that country.”

She made this known in Accra when a nine-member delegation from Equatorial Guinea toured the factory premises of the Reroy Cables, as part of a follow-up visit by the leadership of Bioko Chamber of Commerce, Agriculture and Forestry (BCCAF).

Reroy Cables participated in a solo-exhibition of Made-in-Ghana goods in Equatorial Guinea last year, organised by the Ghana Export Promotion Council in collaboration with BCCAF.

The visit was also to verify whether the products showcased at the exhibition were indeed produced in Ghana.

“We are excited by this, because it will go a long way to confirm the standard of Reroy Cables Limited Products - and by extension portray our country, Ghana, as a nation that ensures adherence to international standards in all the productive sectors of the economy.

“We are going to sail on the ticket that Equatorial Guineans believes and has come to accept Made-in-Ghana goods are of high-quality standards and durable,’’ said Mrs. Quartey-Papafio.

Mr. Gregorio Camo Boho, President, Bioko Chamber of Commerce who expressed his excitement about the visit and facilities at the Reroy’s factory premises, said “very few countries in Africa are really developed in such ways like Reroy.

“The relationship has opened the door for the two countries, in the hope that there will be continuity in the promotion of Made-in-Ghana products in Equatorial Guinea as well as in the global marketplace,” Mr. Boho remarked.

Gold Coast Securities opens customer centre

Gold Coast Securities Limited (GCS) has officially opened an ultra-modern customer service centre to serve clients better, and plans to set up similar centres across the nation.

The centre has also been established to offer its clients the needed advice to enhance their businesses.

Mr. Seth Asante, Managing Director, at the ceremony said the centre would enable his outfit “to educate, distribute and provide efficient investment information and services to present and potential customers.

“The centre will serve as Gold Coast’s central communication link with its regional offices to provide timely and consistent handling of customer needs through a motivated and knowledgeable team.”

He urged the public to take advantage of the numerous products the company offers to improve their businesses, adding that staffs at the centre are equipped with requisite interpersonal skills to effectively respond to customers’ needs.

Mrs. Elizabeth Villars, Chairperson, Board of Directors, indicated that the company’s “unique but consistent research reports” have led to a long-standing relationship with internationally-known financial and investment analysts such as Bloomberg and Standard & Poors.

“The Gold Coast Securities has been tested and proven to be trustworthy as a manager of investment for the over-17 years of its existence,”

“Very soon, our customers can also go to the Gold Coast Securities desk at any of the over-40 branches of a well-known banking organisation across the country for investment advice and services.”

Mrs. Villars said: “We will from today work with urgency to address any inconveniences, doing whatever it takes to assist our customers; and in the end, we believe that our customers will be consistently delighted.”

Gold Coast Securities is licenced by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) as Authorised Primary Dealer in Government of Ghana Treasury bills, licenced by Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) as its 4th authorised licenced dealing member on October 21st 1993 and also licenced by the Securities and Exchange Commission as a Professional Investment Manager.

The company, however, started operations on March 15, 1994 and participated in both domestic and international selling groups of US$478m Global Equity Offering for AGC and again was selected as the broker for the ¢12 billion AGC share-offer to Ghana Government employees.

Gold Coast Securities Limited is an investment Advisor licenced as a corporation by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) under the Securities Industries Act 1993, with its registration as Pension Fund Manager still under consideration. It was established on August 16th, 1993.

Stanbic launches ‘Stretch Your Money’ Promo

Stanbic Bank Ghana has officially launched its new promotion - the ‘Stretch Your Money Promo’ aimed at inculcating the habit of saving and also rewarding clients.

The 12-week campaign which started on Monday will have mini-draws nationwide, and will be climaxed with a grand draw on May 2, 2011.

The ‘Stretch Your Money’ promotion targetting potential and existing customers requires participants to either open a new current account or deposit GH¢300 into an existing Stanbic Current Account.

Salaried workers who open a current account and receive their salaries through the bank, as well as customers who benefitted from personal or vehicle loans, have the chance to win prizes in the promotion.

Mr. Kevin Wingfield, Director, Personal & Business Banking of Stanbic at the ceremony said: “At Stanbic Bank, we help stretch customers’ money by using our expertise and experience to support customers to make the right financial decisions. And you also get to win interesting rewards, as is the case with the promo.’’

He explained that the promotion is targetted at giving the best opportunities to regularly share Stanbic’s banking expertise with clients and encourage customers to nurture the habit of depositing. It will also enable the bank to showcase its relationship-banking expertise with the Ghanaian public.

The grand draw winners will receive a three-month fixed-deposit investment package credited into their current account: the amount includes GH¢10,000, GH¢7,500 and GH¢5,000 for first, second and third winners respectively.

A nationwide mini-draw will be held in the sixth week, and this will be targetted at incorporating the regional customers into the promotion and making them feel part of the bank’s activities.

Ben Mensah, Head of Personal Banking of Stanbic, urged customers to open a Stanbic Bank current account and enjoy many benefits - including a free visa debit-card, the option of an international debit-card, and the opportunity to enjoy several innovative products and services.

“The frequent promotions by the bank over the years have been aimed at enabling the bank offer financial literacy.

“The bank’s promotion strategies are aimed at ensuring it remains relevant to clients and being responsible to assist the customers create wealth and generate income, as well as help grow their money,” he remarked.

Krofah calls for more training

Wilson Atta Krofah, President of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has charged the country’s entrepreneurs to embrace human capital development programmes and strategies to help promote business growth.

“Entrepreneurs need to take the opportunities offered by training workshops to enhance their management capacities and improve on their businesses,” he said.

He made this call at the 557th monthly meeting of the Greater Accra Regional branch of the Chamber.

He urged small business operators to set aside some investment package for capacity building, as well as their employees, to help build their businesses.
Mr. Krofah observed that Ghanaian businesses, instead of directing their investment to human capital development, rather spend their monies on funerals and other social ventures.

The Chamber is doing all it can to improve on its members capacity to help grow small businesses in the country, Nana Appiagyei Dankawoso, Chairman of the Greater Accra Regional branch of the Chamber explained.

He said it would be of no use for anyone to have the necessary resources but lack the managerial skills to put them into effective and profitable use.

"It is very important for us as business people to have knowledge of financial management and record-keeping to sustain and grow our businesses," he added.

He therefore advised entrepreneurs to avail themselves for training workshops organised by the chamber, and pay their dues regularly to enable the chamber to honour its obligations satisfactorily.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Keta Industrial salt estate to support petrochemical sector

Government of Ghana is to establish an Industrial Salt Estate at Keta in the Volta Region, to produce sufficient volumes of salt to support the country’s petrochemical industry.

“The Keta Industrial Salt Estate is going to generate and support the downstream petrochemical and industrial sector,” Hannah Tetteh, Trade and Industry Minister disclosed.

Government has commissioned a specialized team to undertake a feasibility study to guide the development of the estate.

The submission of the final report to commence the establishment is expected to be ready by April this year, and would be the blue print to guide the creation of the estate next year.

Ms. Tetteh made known to B&FT, in Accra, that government recognises that salt is a key industrial component in the petrochemical industry and has sourced funding from the China Development Bank for the operation of the Salt estate.

“The Ministry of Trade, UNICEF and the Global Alliance For Improved Nutrition are already collaborating to support the Universal Salt Iodization Programme through the establishment of eight salt Banks in the major salt-producing areas along the coast,” Tetteh said.

Analysts are optimistic that the country stands to rake in extra hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, provided it is able to revamp its salt industry to supply the expected one million metric tonnes (mt) to be required annually by its nascent oil industry.

Salt is usually used to dispose off waste during the production of crude oil.

The country’s annual salt production of 250,000mt falls far short of its potential, estimated at between 2.5 and 3.0 million mt.

Ghana’s coastline had long been identified as one of only a couple, along the entire stretch of Africa’s Atlantic coastline, capable of producing salt in commercial quantities.

The commencement of oil production in commercial quantities in the country’s offshore has now raised the prospects of the country’s salt industry getting the needed attention to improve its fortunes.

A 2008 collaboration between the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Center for Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Services and UNICEF, established the National Geographic Information Systems to provide the right information needed for an accelerated growth of the industry.

From the effort, investors can now benefit from an information gateway, a database for the salt industry contours on producing areas in the country and detailed information on towns where there is salt, as well as pictorial presentations on the salt industry in the country.

The versatile Land Rover Discovery 4.

The new ,fouth generation of Land Rover’s supremely versatile seven-seat vehicle gains a new name-Discovery 4-with its powerful and highly efficient dynamic improvements for both road and off-road driving, Ekow Essabra-Mensah looks at its luxurious and flexible distinct design evolution.

The Land Rover Discovery has evolved a distinct design heritage over the 20 years and four generations of iconic, instantly recognizable vehicles.

Discovery 4 stays true to its clean, geometric, architecturally-inspired which features a new progressive and more contemporary exterior.

PHC Motors Limited, an official dealer of Land Rover vehicles in the country admits: “the New Discovery 4 features striking new headlamp styling, and a new re-profiled front bumper with improved aerodynamics.”

“New Discovery 4.always original with its distinctive profile, key design features comes with even more integrated and premium. And new jewel-like rear lamps, new front fenders and the option of new 19 inch or 20 inch lightweight alloy wheels making its bold, flexible and more luxurious for driving,” said Anthony Torsu, Deputy Sales Manager, PHC Motors-Luxury Brand.

A fresh attitude that gives new Discovery 4 a more refined, more modern presence on-road and off-road dynamics transformed by comprehensive framework system development and a new super-smooth 6-speed adaptive transmission, Mr. Torsu emphasised.
New Discovery 4 comes in both petrol and diesel engines-priced at $86,950 and $77,950respectively.

Comprehensive dynamics

Major dynamic advances introduced for the Discovery 4 include suspension architecture, improved steering, larger brakes and enhanced versions of Land Rovers with Hill Decent Control Systems. It is packed with features aimed at reducing fuel consumption and reducing CO2 emissions.

The Terrain Response Control is easier to reach in its new, more prominent position at the base of the centre console.

New Discovery 4 features the legendary Land Rover command driving position, which gives better visibility over the traffic ahead for spotting hazards and helps parking off-road driving. The command driving position brings a sense of control and reduces stress and fatigue as all key controls are closed to hand and information is easy to read.

The new TDV6 3.0 advance Turbo Diesel engine uses the latest materials and sequential turbochargers to optimize responsiveness by delivering increased torque at very low revs.This is one of the most technically advanced diesel engines in the world and uses unique, parallel sequential turbochargers for the first time in a V-engine.

The new V8 Petrol engine improves driveability and harnesses the very latest technology for outstanding overall performance. It includes a torque actuated dual independent variable camshaft phasing system, shared with the new 2010 Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, to make the vehicle more reactive to driver inputs and driving conditions.

The fuel injection systems on both petrol and diesel engines achieve high standards of durability, combustion performance and refinement. The ultra-precise machining of high-pressure injectors ensures a fine-quality spray of fuel into the combustion chambers and optimizes combustion conditions both at cruising speed and during acceleration.


New Discovery 4 features advance technology that helps keep the driver connected with the road and provides an enhanced, more engaged and entertaining drive. It makes getting behind wheels and heading for the open road pure pleasure.

Four –Corner electronic air suspension maintains a smooth, constant ride regardless of the distribution of passengers and size of load. Brakes are upgraded to handle the extra power and torque of the new engines.

It also features Rolls Stability Control, an advanced safety system which intervenes to help maintain stability.

For the keener driver a new variable ratio steering is fitted for greater maneuverability at low speed and improved driver confidence at higher speeds.

Improvements to the suspension geometry include a new, stiffer front anti-roll bar.

The result is outstanding, car-like handling that does not compromise extreme axle articulation and, consequently, the off-road ability of the vehicle.

Increased Breaking Power-A new, larger brake system has been introduced along with the new engines, to cater for the Discovery 4’ enhanced performance and to improve braking feel.

Infotainment system

There is a new centre console with an integrated, flowing design. There is a new In-Car Entertainment system: a new, optional full-colour Infotainment Touch-screen and new more comfortable, more supportive seats both front and rear. Ergonomics are improved too. Driver information is accessed more intuitively and is presented in a clearer, more immediate format. Menus and graphics are upgraded, while functionality is increased.

Making the driving experience effortless. The new, full-colour Infotainment Touch-screen, standard on high line derivatives, is located at the top of the new centre console. This provides all audio and navigation controls and is easier to use and gives more intuitive access. It reduces the number of conventional controls required on the console and frees up space for an eyes-catching analogue clock, which adds to the premium ambience of the interior.

All new interior

Tough luxury. The sumptuous, more tactile all-new interior for new Discovery 4 provides increased levels of craftsmanship and comfort. Meticulous attention to design and detail, such as the seats, that is without compromise. Materials are more premium, creating a superior ambience of quality and prestige. Fine touches, such as double stitching on the facials, are unambiguous expressions of the vehicle’s prestige.

The all-new interior is more premium and rewarding to touch than ever before. Its innovative design maximizes all available space. While the truly flexible seating layout offers multiple configurations and up to seven full-size adult seats.

The interior of new Discovery 4 offers both supreme luxury and class-leading flexibility by offering stadium seating and second and third rows of seats that can be folded independently of each other.

Making the passenger experience sublime. Thanks to new Discovery 4’s bold, innovative design and upright side profile, there is more head and shoulder room than in competitor vehicles. Stadium seating ensures that all occupants share clear views of the surrounding landscape.

January inflation jumps to 9.08 %

Headline inflation rate for last month jumped to 9.08 percent, due partly to a 30 percent increase in petrol prices, Ghana Statistical Service has announced.

The rate which is 0.5 percentage points high than that of December 2010 figure of 8.58 percent is the first time in 19 months.

The fuel price will continue to impact on prices of goods, Mrs. Philomena Nyarko, Deputy Government Statistician who announced this at a media interaction in Accra said, prices climbed 2.1 percent during the month under review.

National Petroleum Authority increased gasoline prices on January 4, prompting the Ghana Private Road Transport Union to raise fares by 18 percent. The increase follows a rally in global oil prices and was the first since October 2009, when gasoline was raised by five percent.

Since the outlook of inflation for the year points to further rise inflation rate would continue to rise in the coming months as the recent fuel price hike and currency weakness feed through, an analyst predicted.

Mrs. Nyarko explained that the food and non-alcoholic beverages group has been recording single digit inflation rate since January 2010;The non-food inflation rate, on the other hand, though declining has been recording double inflation rates.

“In the food group which has a weight of 44.91 percent, the sub groups with the highest inflation rate are minerals waters, soft drinks and juices recording 24.06 % whiles sugar, jam, honey, syrups, chocolate and confectionary had 18.57,and fruit 12.87 percent.

“The non-food group with a weight of 55.09 % has major influence on overall rate of inflation. In January there was an appreciable inflation rate in transport (19.42%), Alcoholic beverages, tobacco and narcotics (1925%) and housing, water, electricity, gas and other (14.79%). The average January non-food inflation rate is (11.82%)”.

The inflation rate had fallen from a five-year high of 20.7 % in June 2009, enabling the central bank to cut its key interest rate by 4.5 percentage points last year.
The last reduction in July took the rate to 13.5 % from 15 %.

The stability in the foreign exchange market that facilitated the slowdown in inflation ended in January, with the cedi losing 5.5% against the dollar in the month, pushing up import costs.

Mr. Willson Atta-Krofah, President of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told B&FT that the rise in inflation for this month was expected because of the fuel price increase by government, but predicted it’s just a short-term hike.

He explained that the food items are the major determinant factor of the national inflationary trend and that the country is currently experiencing increased food harvest.

On the regional inflation, Greater Accra recorded the highest inflation rate of 12.50% and Volta region recorded the lowest inflation of 5.83% in January 2011.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

EDIF to disburse GH¢56.91m to Ghanaian firms

The Export Development and Investment Fund (EDIF) is hopeful of disbursing approximately GH¢56.91million for the year 2011 to promote the growth of small businesses in the county, acting Chief Executive Mr. Agyabeng Antwi-Agyei said.

This amount, which consists of both grants and credit components, will be aimed at boosting the export trade finance sector.

EDIF budgeted support for small businesses in 2010 was GH ¢40.0 million; disbursement for the year however exceeded the budgeted amount, with total disbursements coming to GH¢55.12million.

Mr. Antwi-Agyei at a media interaction in Accra said: “In line with the government’s policy to turn the savannah regions of Northern, Upper East, Upper West, Volta and Brong Ahafo into a mango production hub, EDIF has developed a five- year mango development plan targetted at financing the cultivation of 20,000 acres of mango over the period 2009-2013.”

“As part of the project, key infrastructure along the mango value chain such as the pack houses and a processing facility would be provided. These will ensure international market certification requirements are met as well as reducing post-harvest losses to the barest minimum through value addition to non-exportable fruits,” Antwi-Agyei revealed.

The estimated cost of the project is GH¢52,240,205 and as at December 2010, the EDIF Board had approved a total amount of GH¢8,276, 800 for the cultivation of 6,600 acres of mango in 32 districts - providing direct employment to over 1,800 people.

To ensure a ready market for the fruits, a strategic marketing partnership has been reached with Minor, Weirs and Willis – a British Produce Buying Company, to purchase the produce.

Under the deal, the British firm is expected to provide a large clientele ready for Ghanaian farm produce that meets UK market standards.

The agreement is expected to generate a total revenue of GH¢46.03 million by 2013, increasing to about GH¢184.2 million by the close of the project in 2017.

“Ghana has the potential to produce about 300 different farm products out of the 600 product lines of the company, hence the decision of EDIF to concentrate on the agriculture sector,” Antwi-Agyei emphasised.

“Considering the long gestation period of mango farmers, in the early stages of the plantation will be supported to inter-crop their farms with groundnuts, soya-beans and sunflowers to improve their income.

“The country has long depended on Cocoa and EDIF is ready to support diversification into mango production, Antwi-Agyei said.

EDIF was established in October 2000 to make financial resources available for the development and promotion of Ghana's export trade. It has to date provided GH¢157.27 million to support 227 projects across the country.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ghana's economy still middle-income …despite new population figures

Ghana's economy has maintained its middle-income status despite a new population estimate that puts per capita GDP for 2010 around US$1,295, against a previous projection of US$1,318.36.

Ghana achieved middle-income status following the rebasing of the national accounts in November last year - but sceptics cautioned that any significant upward revision of population figures could push the per capita figure below the middle-income threshold of US$1,000.

With nominal GDP expected to grow by more than 21% this year, per capita GDP could surpass US$1,500 this year, albeit currency depreciation will pose a downside risk to the projection.

Ghana’s total population is now pegged at 24,223,431, showing an increase of 28 percent over the figure at the last census, provisional results of the 2010 Population and Housing Census have revealed.

The Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), official state agency responsible for the national census, put the total number of females in the country at 12,421,770, representing 51.3 percent, while males make up 11, 801,661, representing 48.7 percent.

The last population census held in 2000 recorded a population of 18,912,079. An approximate 35 million population is expected by 2025.

The Northern region recorded the highest population growth rate since the last count, increasing by 35.6 percent while the Greater Accra, Central and Ashanti regions recorded increases of 34.6, 32.2 and 30.8 percent, respectively.

Annual growth rates in the Central, Greater Accra, Ashanti and Northern Regions were significantly above the national figure of 2.4 percent. The least annual growth rate of 1.1percent was recorded in the Upper East region.

Mr. Kofi Agyeman-Duah, a member of the 2010 Census Coordinating Team, told B&FT in Accra that the new census database is crucial in determining the development policy direction of the country as well as the redistribution of the national wealth.
“It is also an important source of comprehensive data on persons with disabilities, helping to assess their social and living conditions in terms of school attendance and educational attainment, employment, marital status and living arrangements,” he said.

Historical census developments

Ghana's first post-independence population census in 1960 counted about 6.7 million inhabitants. In 1970 the national census registered 8.5 million people - a 27 percent increase - while an official census in 1984 recorded a figure of 12.3 million - almost double the 1960 figure.

The nation's population was estimated to have increased to about 15 million in 1990, and to an estimated 17.2 million in mid-994. With an annual growth rate of 2.2 percent for the period between 1965 and 1980, a 3.4 percent growth rate for 1981 through 1989 and a 1992 growth rate of 3.2 percent, the country's population was projected to surpass 20 million by the year 2000.

The increasing population was reflected in other statistics as well. Between 1965 and 1989, a constant 45 percent of the nation's total female population was of childbearing age: the crude birth rate of 47 per 1,000 recorded for 1965 dropped to 44 per 1,000 of population in 1992.

Also, the crude death rate of 18 per 1,000 of population in 1965 fell to 13 per 1,000 in 1992, while life-expectancy rose from a 1970-1975 average of 42 years for men and 45 years for women to 52 and 56 years, respectively, in 1992.

The 1965 infant mortality rate of 120 per 1,000 live births also improved to 86 per 1,000 live births in 1992. With the fertility rate averaging about 7 children per adult female and expected to fall to only five children per adult female by the year 2000, the population projection of 35 million in 2025 looks credible.

A number of factors, including improved vaccination against common diseases and nutritional education through village and community health-care systems, contributed to the expanding population. The rise in the nation's population has generated a corresponding rise in the demand for schools, health facilities, and urban housing.

A gender ratio of 97.3 males to 100 females was recorded in the 1984. This was slightly below the 1970 ratio of 98 males to 100 females, but a reversal of the 1960 ratio of 102.2 males to 100 females. The fall in the proportion of males to females can be partly attributed to the fact that more men have left the country in pursuit of jobs.

Also significant in the 1984 census figures was the national age distribution. About 58 percent of Ghana's population in 1984 was either under the age of 20 or above 65.

Approximately 7 million people were represented in this category, about 4 million of them under the age of 10 and therefore economically unproductive. The large population of young, economically unproductive individuals grew rapidly through the early 1990s, with about half of the country's population under age 15.

New industrial competitive law out soon

Government is to promulgate an Industrial Competitive Bill to promote, maintain and harmonise business operations within the country.

Cabinet has approved the industrial competitive bill and is expected to be rolled-out in the course of the year, disclosed Hanna Tetteh, Minister of Trade and Industry - the lead promoter of the regulatory framework.

The national industrial competitive framework seeks to expand employment and technological capacity in the manufacturing sector, promote agro-based industrial development and spatial distribution of industries.

For this to be achieved, a spectrum of industrial policy instruments across policy thematic areas will be implemented.

The areas have been categorised into production and distribution, technology and innovation, incentives and regulatory regime and cross-cutting issues.

The formulation of the new competitive policy, according to the sector minister, was accomplished through a comprehensive and inclusive process based on analysis and wide consultation with stakeholders in the country to ensure that it becomes a broad-based policy that will be embraced by all stakeholders.

“The policy is to support local content that does not conflict with the World Trade Organisation’s rules,” Ms. Tetteh told journalist in Accra.

“This policy is set within the context of Ghana’s long-term strategic vision and is fully aligned with trade policy, which will ensure that a consistent and stable environment is created for accelerated industrial development.

“The policy will encourage Ghanaian manufacturers to produce quality goods, processes and services through the use of modern technology to enhance and sustain industrial production. The policy will ensure that markets work efficiently and effectively to deliver economic welfare and growth,” she emphasised.

The Country’s draft Competitive Bill has been considered by government since 1992, but it has not been enacted. No legislation on anticompetitive practices exists - except for the National Communications Authority and the Banking Supervision Department of the Central Bank, which have sector specific legislation to monitor the telecommunications and the banking markets.

Modern Competition law has historically evolved on a country level to promote and maintain competition in markets principally within the territorial boundaries of nations.

An industrial analyst says: “Ghana needs to pass a competitive law and establish an authority to monitor and research into complaints of industry players who feel cheated by acts of their peers.”

National Competitive policy facilitates international competitiveness, private sector development, employment creation and makes an important contribution to the wider economic growth of developing countries.

Australia approves GH¢1.06m grants

The Australian government has approved GH¢1.060million in financial assistance to 12 Ghanaian organisations and four other non-governmental organisations in Mali, Sierra Leone and Liberia for its development grants programme in the 2011 financial year.

This represents the largest annual amount of funding provided by Australia to its grants programme in Ghana and West Africa since the Mission was re-opened in 2004.

The beneficiary non-governmental organisations are expected to undertake projects in the areas of education, solar energy, health, sanitation and the provision of potable water, refurbishment of school buildings, skills training and human rights advocacy.

William (Billy) Williams, the Australian High Commissioner in Ghana, made this known in Accra at a ceremony to present the cheques to representatives of the various beneficiary institutions.

He reiterated the Australian government’s pledge to deepen its commitment to Africa through development assistance and financial aid towards community development and poverty reduction.

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

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

“It is my pleasure to hand over these cheques to the beneficiary organizations, and I hope the projects will be implemented properly.

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

He disclosed that vigorous monitoring systems will be employed to ensure successful implementation of the project to promote community development and improve the lives of the underprivileged in the communities.

Australia is also funding projects this year through the Australia-Africa Community Grants Scheme and the Australian Human Grants Scheme.

Australia in 2009-10 increased its development assistance to Africa by over 40 percent to A$163.9million, and in 2010-11 an overall development assistance to Africa was also increased by over 20 percent to A$200.9 million.

Commodity exchange ready next year

Government says the operation of the commodity exchange and development of a regulated warehouse receipt system to create huge opportunities for the agricultural sector and ensure price stability would be ready by 2012.

“Ideally, by 2012, the operation of the commodities exchange should take-off, if we are able to complete the regulatory framework and the implementation of the strategies within the timelines set,” Ms. Hanna Tetteh made this known at a media interaction in Accra.
“Government has set up a special body made-up of officials from Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Food and Agriculture, Trade and Industry as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to design models that would be adopted to the country’s business environment,” She disclosed.

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

The legal and regulatory framework, which will regulate the modalities in which commodities exchanges may be established, organised and operated, is to ensure that all those in the supply and value chain in agriculture sector benefit from their involvement.

The exchange when fully operational could raise the hopes of millions of farmers, especially large-scale farmers and make their lives more meaningful. It provides for market transparency, efficient price discovery and standardisation, and the attendant improvement in quality standards assists farmers to gain easy access to ready markets - both local and international.

The exchange’s establishment will help to deal with challenges facing the supply of agricultural produce, which in turn will deal with food inflation. It will as well provide a potent tool for a farmer to manage price fluctuations, stabilise his/her income and gain access to relatively cheaper credit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Private enterprise operators have welcomed government’s decision to speedy establish the commodities exchange.

“Since Ghana’s economy is basically agricultural, it would make a lot of sense to see to the establishment of an effective commodity exchange that would not only eliminate the regular post-harvest losses through the buying of produce for storage, but also put money in the pockets of farmers in the short-term to facilitate their downstream operations,” trade analyst stated.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

TTB, Merchant Bank merger over

The Trust Bank Limited says it has discontinued the merger talks with Merchant Bank Ghana which have been going on for some time now, and has announced the bank is now financially solid enough to face any future transactions.

The discussion on the consolidation between the two banks, which both have the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) as their majority shareholder, was expected to be completed last year.

SSNIT has a 70 percent stake in TTB, while it owns about 35 percent shares in Merchant Bank.

Mr. Osei Asafo-Adjei, General Manager, Business Development, TTB, revealed that the Bank is currently worth over GH¢120 million and that it is now financially solid to face any future transactions.

The Bank has also met the GH¢60 million statutory minimum capital requirement proposed by the Bank of Ghana, ahead of the 2012 deadline.

“TTB is under very capable and experienced management, and is supported by a strong board under whose guidance the bank has undergone positive transformational changes and out-performed its peers in terms of profitability and shareholder value since its establishment in 1996.”

He made this disclosure on the sidelines at the official launch of TTB MoneyGram Money Transfer and said the ceremony is testimony to the Bank’s strategic vision of delivering a bouquet of funds transfer services on its network.

On the money transfer business, Mr. Asafo-Adjei said : “The Trust Bank is reputed to be one of the major players in the international funds transfer business in the country today.

“We are aware that MoneyGram has a long-standing relationship with consumers and has become a major player in the international funds transfer business.”

Mr. Asafo-Adjei said: “There is no doubt that consumers of MoneyGram are becoming more and more delighted with the product and its benefits. MoneyGram continues to facilitate the sending and receiving of funds to support families, pay for education and medical expenses, acquire properties and give a boost to small businesses.

MoneyGram can therefore be described as a strong player in the delivery chain of development agents in the Ghanaian economy, and it has consistently and efficiently managed other international funds transfer brands over the past seven years.
He promised MoneyGram an enhanced growth on the basis of requisite competencies and capabilities developed over the years.

“We are well-positioned to partner and deliver the expectations of MoneyGram with regard to their growth projections and strategic plan to be the number-one international funds transfer brand in the country.

“By becoming a principal agent for MoneyGram in the country, we are delighted to be a valued agent for a brand with a strong appeal and a continuously growing customer base,” Mr. Asafo-Adjei stated.

Gabriel Wilson, Marketing Manager-Anglohone, indicated that MoneyGram, picking from the early performance of TTB’s MoneyGram service, is convinced that TTB will in the near-future grow to be a key MoneyGram player in the country.

“We have observed from our short interaction with them that they display enormous passion, hard work, excellent customer service and very good understanding of customers and the market. No wonder TTB has bagged many local and international awards in the recent past.

“We are particularly excited that TTB is ready to roll-out a MoneyGram consumer promotion,” Mr. Wilson remarked.

GRA projects revenue collection of GH¢7.5m

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) is projecting a revenue collection total of over GH¢7,531.06million including petroleum revenue for the year 2011.

Revenue expectations from upstream petroleum will amount to GH¢321.86million - representing 4.3 percent of total tax revenue.

GRA exceeded its revenue collection target of GH¢5,944.05million for 2010, representing an increase of 0.5 percent and posting a 23.6 percent growth in revenue over 2009 collections.

Out of the GH¢5.944 million collected, direct tax amounted to GH¢2.441 million, indirect taxes GH¢1.061 million and customs, including petroleum, which raked in GH¢2.442 million.

George Blankson, Commissioner–General, GRA, at a media interaction in Accra said: “The management of GRA is devising strategies to increase revenue mobilisation to meet this year’s target, and it will focus attention on streamlining the operation of the customs-bonded warehouses, Value Added Tax refunds, issuance of permits and the Communications Service Tax to boost revenue collection.”

“Management is committed to ensuring that the two prongs of tax reform and revenue enhancement are kept in perfect balance and proceed in tandem.

“Considerable investments of time and effort were also made in business processes re-engineering and business requirement specifications,” he noted.

Mr. Blankson explained that GRA made considerable progress in working with private partners in the development of an integrated revenue information system to provide one platform for the administration of all domestic tax under the e-Gov project.

The Commissioner-General indicated that the reform process, which was aimed at putting revenue collection on a higher growth path in the long-term, will be supported by short- and medium-term measures such as intensified tax audit, proper and effective management of information at the district offices, quick examination of submitted returns and expansion of automation process.
An additional direct investment that yields 10 percent growth in collection will mean an additional US$400 million in a year, making GRA the most viable area for government investment.

He observed that the abrupt drop in revenue-GDP ratio from 21.4 percent to a mere 12. 6 percent in the wake of the re-basing raises the need for a comprehensive review of our collection procedure and processes.

“There was the need to look critically at using tax waivers and exemptions as incentives for attracting foreign direct investment.

“The GRA's focus on the tax reforms has been on the review of the tax legislations for purposes of simplifying them and streamlining processes.

“In this direction, a draft consolidated Administration Act that brings together the administration provisions in the Act - under which direct tax, VAT and indirect taxes and customs duties are administered - has been produced,” he remarked.

Major (Rtd) Daniel Sowah Ablorh-Quarcoo, Commissioner, Domestic Tax Revenue Division, urged taxpayers to comply with tax laws and cooperate with tax authorities for good relationship between taxpayers and tax administrators.

He disclosed that GRA is on course with its computerisation system which will include speedy registration of businesses; assessment, collection and accounts; and will also network all other agencies.

“With the completion of the automation system it will help GRA expand the tax net to reach more people and will also improve efficiency in tax administration and enhance transparency,” Ablorh-Quarcoo stated.

Small-scale mining operations to be formalised

Government, in consultation with the Minerals Commission, is to designate areas to be reserved for small-scale mining activity based on technical and financial viability.

The Minerals Commission will develop standardised procedures, including adequate advance notice and community representation, in deliberations leading to the designation of areas.

Small-scale mining in the country is defined to include the exploitation of mineral deposits using fairly rudimentary implements at low levels of production, and with minimal capital investment.

Mr. Benjamin Aryee, Chief Executive Officer, Minerals Commission said: “The minerals licencing system incorporated in the draft mining law to be presented to cabinet, and will provide for granting mineral rights to small-scale mining operations reserved for Ghanaian citizens to manage land use conflicts in the context of 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.

“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,” he disclosed.

About 50,000 small-scale miners extract gold from alluvial, tarkwaian and primary deposits, and wash diamonds from placer deposits.

The majority of these miners, often referred too as “galamsey operators”, work without a legal title and very often on concessions of large mining companies.

While the large-scale mining of particularly gold has become predominant, small-scale mining, which predates such operations, has continued to be an important economic activity - particularly within the remote and poorer areas of the country.

The small-scale gold and diamonds mining industry is of great importance to Ghana. Since its regularisation in 1989, the sector has produced and sold over 1.5 million ounces of gold and 8.0 million carats of diamonds.

During the same period, the sector also provided direct employment to over 100,000 people and improved the socioeconomic life of many individuals and communities.

Mr. Aryee in an interview with B&FT in Accra observed that there is a lot of lawlessness in the country’s small-scale mining sector and that Chiefs, Assemblymen, Opinion leaders and land owners in the mining communities just give out lands for small-scale mining operations. These practices make it unattractive for investors.

He urged stakeholders to properly bring operations to the attention of the Minerals Commission, Inspectorate Division and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for stringent monitoring to ensure that small-scale mining is safe.

“The current mining operation is dynamic, and the country needs to bring on board new international standards including the closure and post-closure criteria.

“The environmental impacts of such small operations have however varied, depending on methods and the scale of operation.

“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 review and disseminate occupational health and safety guidelines for small-scale mining,” Mr. Aryee remarked.