Monday, May 23, 2011

Book Review:Microfinance and Poverty Reduction: The Experience of Ghana

Title: Microfinance and Poverty Reduction: The Experience of Ghana

Author: Dr. Joseph Kimos Adjei

No. of pages: 211

Publisher: Bold Communications Limited

Reviewer: Ekow Essabra-Mensah

Price: GH¢ 30 (Thirty Ghana cedis only).

Book shops: Copies of the book can be obtained from the various public universities, Chartered Institute of Bankers, offices of HFC Boafo Microfinance Services Ltd, National Banking College, as well as from the publisher or the author.

Information on microfinance may abound in many books but when it comes to giving a comprehensive insight to, and making thorough analysis of, the microfinance sector in Ghana, there may be no other better book than the one titled ‘Microfinance and Poverty Reduction: The Experience of Ghana’, authored by Joseph Kimos Adjei, an academic and a practitioner in the field of microfinance.

The book, which is simply a masterpiece, has been produced from long years of academic inquisition into, and practical experience of, the microfinance sector in Ghana.

With a rich research background, the author illustrates the book with relevant graphs, tables, figures, academic references and scientific analyses that make very interesting reading, demonstrating the impact of microfinance on poverty-reduction in the country’s economy.

It is a must-read for players in the microfinance sector, researchers, lecturers and students of banking and finance and development studies, as well as public-policy crafters.

The foreword, which was written by Dr. David O. Andah, the Executive Secretary of the Ghana Microfinance Institutions Network (GHAMFIN), puts it thus: ‘Microfinance and Poverty Reduction: The Experience of Ghana’ is “a must-read for anyone interested in the growth of the small and medium-enterprise sector of the country which constitutes approximately 80 percent of the country’s business sector.

He adds: “The book has been set up to provide additional knowledge on the output of microfinance operations in Ghana.”

Coming in a beautifully-designed cover-pack, the book is cast in eight main chapters, the first of which provides clues to how microfinance can be used as an effective tool for poverty-reduction.

The author provides a vivid overview of poverty-reduction strategies in Ghana from 1980 to 2008, and the role of microfinance in reducing poverty in the country. He observes that for most micro and small entrepreneurs in Ghana, the lack of access to financial services “is a critical constraint to the expansion of viable micro-enterprises.”

Microfinance institutions have been allowed to operate and play a role in poverty- reduction through the provision of small loans, savings and insurance products, money transfer and other financial and non-financial services to enable the poor generate income, build assets, and improve on their housing structures and other related facilities.

The author, in chapter two, evaluates the development and success factors of microfinance in general, and makes a very intriguing comparison between micro-credit and microfinance. The chapter also examines the era of state intervention in providing financial services to farmers and other disadvantaged individuals with poor repayment records, as well as contemporary times when most commercial banks and other non-bank financial institutions have deemed it necessary to enter this growing and profitable but competitive market. The innovative mechanisms and the unique methodologies adopted by microfinance institutions are also explored.

In chapter three, Dr Adjei exhibits his rich understanding of theory and practice in microfinance by providing readers with evidence-based effects of microfinance programmes on poverty-reduction and asset-building. The chapter examines the empirical literature on microfinance and its effects on poverty-reduction in general.

Chapter four deals with contextual issues affecting microfinance in the country, examines some factors of poverty, such as population, the economy and inequality, and discusses the geographical disparities in poverty levels, gender dimensions of poverty and policies to support microfinance programmes.

Making references to World Bank and Ghana Statistical Service data, Dr. Adjei observes that although Ghana has achieved impressive economic growth rates since 1991, “poverty incidence and depth in the country remain high.”

He enumerates many interventions and programmes introduced at various times with the view to reducing poverty, among which include the Rural Finance Project, Rural Financial Services Project, Microfinance and Small Loans Centre and Ghana Microfinance Policy.

Microfinance in Ghana has come a long way, and for people who may have little or no knowledge about the history of the sector, the author provides in chapter five of the book in-depth information on the evolution of microfinance in the country to its current status.

In chapter six, the author makes the book a class act by bringing readers up-close to the operations of microfinance institutions. Presenting a case study of Sinapi Aba Trust (SAT), Dr. Adjei measures the depth of SAT’s outreach programmes through a survey that gives a better appreciation of the positive contributions of microfinance institutions.

While chapter seven examines the determinants of borrowing from SAT, it also analyses the effects of programmes on clients in terms of financial, human and physical capital/assets.

In tune with the adage that the past guides the future, the author peeps into the future in chapter eight, the last chapter of the book, as he discusses some challenges facing the microfinance sector in the country and the way forward.

Dr. Adjei observes that the key challenges confronting the microfinance sector in developing countries, including Ghana, are capacity-building; inadequate and expensive infrastructure base; poor credit delivery and management; inability to properly target the vulnerable and marginalized; research, monitoring and evaluation.

On the way forward, the author underlines the need for microfinance institutions to expand access to commercial sources of funding in order to enlarge their operational tentacles.

Furthermore, there is the need for microfinance institutions to develop the requisite skills and build good corporate governance, as well as dynamic and mission-oriented management to ensure efficiency.

The book: ‘Microfinance and Poverty Reduction: The Experience of Ghana,’ from my point of view, is a hidden treasure of microfinance issues exposed, detailing the development and impact of microfinance on poverty-reduction.

The chronicling of developments in microfinance operations using data, figures, graphs and tables indicates the book’s invaluable contribution to knowledge of the micro, small and medium-enterprises sector in the country and that of the African continent.

It is a masterpiece with ample recommendations from a rich Ghanaian mind.

US$48m crude fraud suspects granted bail

An Accra Circuit Court presided over by Mrs. Nana Adwoa Coleman has granted GH¢30,000bail with one surety each to two people who allegedly attempted stealing crude oil valued at US$48million with forged documents.

The two, Ofademe Ikenna Sylvester - a 35-year-old Operations Manager of Nigerian firm Zicokem - and Dennis Ofori Carter, a Ghanaian business executive, are to reappear on June 14, 2011.

They pleaded not guilty to four counts of conspiracy, possessing forged documents, attempting to steal and deceiving public officers.

Police prosecutors told the court that in August last year, crude oil valued at US$48million was supplied to the Tema Oil Refinery by Sahara Group, a Nigerian oil firm.
According to the prosecution, the two accused persons and one other Nigerian, Dr. Iduh, who is on the run, in February this year submitted fraudulent documents claiming ownership of the consignment. Checks on the said documents from Nigerian authorities revealed that they were forged.

Chief Superintendent Boi Bi-Boi, representing the prosecution, told the court the US$48million crude was supplied to the Tema Oil Refinery by Sahara Group through Refinee Petroplus.

He said two different companies, namely Uviesa Oil Wellss Limited and Zicokem Diamond Shipping Company Limited, later emerged to claim ownership of the consignment.

According to the prosecution, each of the groups provided documents which, they claimed, emanated from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

Chief Superintendent Bi-Boi said the accused persons then propagated the falsehood on various radio stations, thus “causing a lot of embarrassment to the whole nation”.
On April 1, Sylvester was arrested after one of those radio discussions on the issue, and investigations led to the arrest of Ofori, but Dr. Iduh left the country before he could be apprehended.

Atta Akyea, the defence counsel for Sylvester, expressed shock at the turn of events in the case, explaining that Sahara had initiated civil proceedings against the accused at the Accra Commercial Court and wondered why a civil case was “masquerading as a criminal one”.

“If the crude oil is not for them, the commercial court will determine that,” he said, and therefore questioned the rationale behind the move to criminalise the case.

Camelot eyes local cheque market

Camelot Ghana Limited says it is re-positioning itself strategically to harness the opportunities offered in the local cheque market to significantly boost its revenues.

“We will continue to further consolidate our positions with other clients in the international market by enhancing our product-quality through innovation and application of modern technologies.

“We look forward to a brighter future and will be working together with all stakeholders to build an enviable company delivering high returns to our shareholders.”

John Colin Vilars, Group Managing Director, made this known to B&FT after its Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Accra.

He disclosed that Camelot has secured five million euro to undertake effective technological re-engineering to improve its operations, which will enhance product delivery.

“The company expect to grow its balance sheet, consolidate and become solid with a 20% growth rate; but 2012 will be the real push where the dividend will be seen manifesting.

“The new investment will ensure that beyond September this year, we’ll serve more clients both locally and the West African market,” he revealed.

Dr. Sam Mensah, Board Chairman, stated that Camelot group recovered from an exceptionally weak performance by its subsidiary that negatively affected its performance in 2009 by posting an impressive performance in 2010.

This was on the back of improved performance by both the parent company in Ghana and Nigeria, the group’s profit after tax grew by 290% from GH¢48,497 in 2009 to GH¢189,054 in 2010.

The improved performance culminated in a 106.81 % improvement in shareholders’ funds. This is an indication of its strengths and capability to remain competitive in the industry within which it operates.

The shareholders approved a dividend of GH¢0.0050 per share, representing a 10% increase over the payout for 2009.

Camelot Ghana has evolved from a local business forms-printing company into a security printing company listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange and accredited by Bank of Ghana and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to print security instruments for both countries.

Camelot over the years developed footprints across the sub-region and beyond, serving banks, governments and top-tier financial institutions across West Africa including Gambia, Liberia, Guinea, Togo, Rwanda and Nigeria.

Laurus to build US$60m complex in Airport city

Laurus Development Partners is to acquire and develop a 20,000-square metre land at the Airport City in Accra for a corporate office complex.

The project, ‘One Airport Square’, is estimated to cost US$60 million and will be designed by an award-winning Italian architect, Mario Cucinella. It is expected to commence in September this year.

Currently, the Accra Airport city boasts ultra-modern building designs including the Accra Shopping Mall, International Hotels, office complexes as well as high-rise buildings.

The ‘One Airport Square’ project will have office and retail space and serve as a social point with cafes, shops and bars. It will also have 250 car parking spaces, full fire sprinkler provision - among others, designed to capture rainwater for toilet-flushing and watering the landscape.

Laurus as well anticipates investing approximately US$100 million in developing modern retail shops, future malls, office complexes - all to be located in Accra within the next three years.

Laurus Development Partners, a property development company, was founded by private equity firm Actis, which is also responsible for financing the project with focus on property development in West Africa.

Mr. Carlo Matta, CEO Laurus, at a media interaction in Accra said: “There is a persistent need for sustainable, high quality real-estate in Ghana and Nigeria; but too often buildings remain unfinished because of a lack of capital and development expertise.

“Laurus has been created to challenge the status quo and develop environmentally sustainable, large-scale residential and commercial properties.”

The company, whose sub-regional office is headquartered in Accra, is undertaking feasibility studies to venture into affordable housing projects and retail market centres using local content – human resource and materials.

Amanda Jean-Baptiste, Director of Real Estate, Actis, revealed that 40% of Actis’ investment is in Africa.

She explained that Actis, the lead investor and developer of the Accra Mall, has invested about US$150 million in real-estate development in Africa and intends to double its investment in the next five years.

“For Actis, Ghana is the obvious choice for Laurus’ strategic development plan.

Accra is fast becoming the business hub of the region with a flourishing economy and a growing numbers of multinationals choosing to locate here. We see great demand for office and leisure facilities, both here in Ghana and also in Nigeria – this is what Laurus will deliver,” Jean-Baptiste said.

“Actis will direct huge equity investment in emerging markets including Asia, Africa and Latin America; it currently has US$4.8bn funds under management.

“With over 100 investment professionals on the ground in nine offices worldwide, Actis identifies investment opportunities in the emerging markets by bringing local experts together with specialist sector teams,” she remarked.

The Relevance of Data-Centres in Corporate Ghana

In today’s business environment, companies globally are faced with a number of risks. Aside from competition, companies face risks in the form of natural disasters, fire, theft etc. When unfortunate events such as these occur, business continuity becomes critical. Insurance may cover the office building, equipments and furniture, but what about the business critical data? The customer records, product catalogue, invoices, and stock guide; how do you insure them? How safe is your business data?

Data-centres provide the industry standard environment for other companies to put their servers and other electronic equipment in operation and back-up their mission critical data and other processes and also host other platforms upon which their company’s systems run. This is what is normally referred to as colocation.
Until recently such an infrastructure did not exist unless it was built by a company exclusively for its own use. Ghana has landed such a data-centre known as RACKAFRICA.
RACKAFRICA is Ghana’s premier state-of-the-art carrier neutral, commercially operated data-centre, providing colocation services to businesses in Ghana and West Africa.

Redeemer Kwame, Chief Executive Officer RACKAFRICA, in an explanation said: “Business continuity and resiliency solutions keep your business running in the event of an internal or external risk, and allow your IT experts to devote more time to innovation. Even if IT is your core business, setting up your own data-centre or computer room is an expensive proposition in terms of money, time and deployment of human resources. Apart from the high capital costs, there are the high day-to-day management costs. Routinely adding new services or upgrading to the latest technology is also expensive. It makes business sense to outsource this
service to a colocation, carrier-neutral data centre.”

RACKAFRICA’s value proposition

RACKAFRICA provides a value proposition based on cost savings, security and business continuity that will positively influence your bottom line.
Mr. Kwame describes a data-centre as a physical facility that allows firms to store and manage servers, networks and other computer equipment in a controlled environment. A data-centre guarantees uninterrupted power supply, a high bandwidth Internet connection, physical and network security, 24x7 monitoring and full technical support.

“RACKAFRICA’s investment in building a robust infrastructure - power, network and personnel affords businesses the convenience of colocating their IT systems in a professionally managed environment without the risks, responsibilities and inconveniences.”

Benefits - RACKAFRICA provides significant benefits for businesses when they colocate with us:

Carrier neutrality

RACKAFRICA is the first carrier-neutral Data-Centre in Ghana. Its clients have complete freedom of choice in carrier and ISP, so can optimise cost and service availability with physical diversity, providing additional resilience.


Its data-centre is monitored 24/7/365 and has multiple levels of security including biometric access and surveillance cameras. State-of-the-art firewalls provide industry strength security for your servers. Only authorised personnel with approved credentials are allowed into the data-centre. All employees have undergone a thorough background security check before being hired. Your sensitive business data is very safe with us.


It provides colocation in a variety of different configurations and can tailor the service to specific business needs.

Cost savings

Its data-centre allows clients to utilise the features of a large IT department without the high cost associated with housing servers. Cutting consumption translates into cost savings and helps the bottom line. Reducing your overall square footage reduces your electrical consumption; sharing the cost of power, network, climate and personnel results in lower costs.


RACKAFRICA bases its entire business offering on the fact that it is flexible and quickly scalable when responding to client needs.

“Here’s what you lose when you use our service: equipment, utility bills, high bandwidth connections, climate controls and consultant fees - all can go! What do you gain? First you have turned an unpredictable expense into a budgetable monthly one that even comes with projected increases so you know in advance how the cost will increase as your business grows. You gain lack of downtime, increased productive time, no data-centre monitoring time and numerous other benefits tied to the efficiency of collocation,” he said.


Mr. Kwame added: “As your business grows and your IT requirements increase, RACKAFRICA helps you to scale your infrastructure. With us, that's one less thing to worry about. We provide the most scalable data-centre environment for start-ups to small- to mid-size to international businesses. How big do you want to be? We are here to support you.”


RACKAFRICA ensures that the electrical power to your colocated equipment is always clean, always there and always working. “We have Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) and diesel generators to ensure that your power never goes down as well as sophisticated cooling systems in multiple redundant configurations. Your colocated equipment will always be operating within the environmental conditions for which it was designed.”

Service Level Agreement

All customers’ contracts include a service level agreement (SLA), which provides a contractual guarantee of availability and compliance of the data-centre environment, climate, power supply, physical interconnects and support team.

These SLAs ensure that RACKAFRICA’s commitments are contractually reinforced. SLA metrics are measured according to global best practice.

Metrics guaranteed include: Power availability to cabinet, Environmental Temperature, Relative Humidity, Physical Interconnect Availability, Support availability, escalation procedures and resolution

Resilient Physical Interconnect

RACKAFRICA is located on the connection path of the major licenced carriers in Ghana, some of who have fibre nodes within the building. RACKAFRICA is home to major ISPs and other leading technology providers.

Service offering: colocation
RACKAFRICA colocation service provides clients with a secure, climate-controlled facility that they cannot readily or inexpensively create in their own place of business.

Locating servers and networking operations in RACKAFRICA provides clients with the highest level of security and optimal operating conditions for their equipment, with enough scope to grow. All cabinet locations are engineered with direct access to a cable distribution system to allow any number of interconnections at one Gbs/s speed.
Cabinets are 19″ racks and 42U high. Conventional cabling difficulties and heat dissipation are overcome by the implementation of a cold containment system. All cabinets have locks, ensuring that only approved personnel have access.

“Our collocation services can be tailored to fit company requirements. Whether you are a small business or an international corporation, we have the right offer for you,” Mr. Kwame stated.

Different Solutions for Different Businesses

Small Businesses

As a small business you may wonder why you would need to colocate with RACKAFRICA as your business grows and your IT requirements increase,
RACKAFRICA has been established and dedicated to help scale firms infrastructure in a cost-effective way. A small business can never predict when it will succeed to become a midsized business, or even a large business.
RACKAFRICA provides the most scalable data-centre environment for start-ups to small businesses. Firms need not to worry about recurring capital costs as it is possible to rent more space when business grows.

Medium to Large Businesses

Data-centres allow organisations to utilise the features of a large IT department without the high cost associated with housing servers. Cutting consumption and sharing the cost of the infrastructure translates into cost savings and helps firms’ bottom line.

As a medium to large business, organisations expect service partners to be more than experts. They need to be highly accountable, responsive and agile in responding to the needs of business.

Medium and large companies need a colocation service that is customised to its business needs with 100% uptime guarantee - and this is what RACKAFRICA offers.

uniBank holds mass-marketing campaign

uniBank Ghana Limited held its mass-marketing campaign at the Spintex Road and its catchment area in the Greater Accra Region, aimed at selling the bank’s products to prospective and existing customers in the area.

The campaign is targetted at increasing the SME portfolio of the various branches to generate a substantial increase in business activities towards the bank’s growth prospects.

The concept, initiated by its SME Department, will be replicated in other branches and forms part of the bank’s future growth and business development strategy.

Samuel Sakyi-Hyde, Head of SME Banking, said: “These campaigns are structured to ensure that the Department achieves its target for the year, as well as improve the bank’s market share of the SME sector to give us a ‘quantum-leap’ in resultant banking and transactional activities.

“Since the bank has the SME industry as one of its key banking targets, these campaigns will increase the bank’s recognition and exposure to businesses in the sector.”

He said the objective is to see the growth of SMEs into big entities that can improve the economy.

As part of the activities, some relationship managers gave advisory services and educated customers about some of the bank products, including electronic products such as uni-alert and uni-mobile.

They also took the opportunity to sell products such as trade logistics credit - which makes credit facilities available at high speed to SMEs customers.

The campaign has been arranged to give relationship managers a valuable opportunity to interact with prospective clients within their working environment, thereby taking uniBank’s unique products and services to their doorsteps.

All accounts won during the mass-marketing campaign will be assigned to the branches from which the campaign took place.

Several accounts were opened for new clients by the Relationship Managers and the Direct Sales Officers.

Audi records 40% sales increase

Audi range of vehicles in the country recorded over 40 % increase in sales volume for 2009 and 2010 and hopeful of achieving its 20% growth rate target by 2016.

The performance greatly driven by improved after sales services and flexible payment strategy has enhanced its market share and volume of trade over the last two years in the country.

Mr. Jaideep Puthran, Brand Manager, Stallion Motors Ghana Limited, the authorized dealers of Audi range of vehicles in the country revealed to B&FT in Accra that its corporate strategy is to ensure that Audi becomes preferred vehicle in the country’s automobile market.

He explained that the company employs the best technologies in the manufacturing of its range of vehicles making them distinct from others.

“Audi Space Frame has been adopted to make the car lighter than any car other car which give users more efficiency.

“The cars LED light have been designed to differentiate its beauty from other cars. Their engine as well, provides the advance technologies used which retains the best performance and best fuel economy,” Mr. Puthran said.

AUDI Group (AG) sales growth

Sales Chief Schwarzenbauer said: “We are clearly en route to our goal of selling 1.2 million automobiles this year”

• Strong April in Germany with 22,204 vehicles sold.

• Particularly significant rates of growth worldwide in the luxury class.

Ingolstadt, May result, AUDI AG is continuing its strong sales growth: the Company sold some 109,400 vehicles worldwide in April – a year-on-year increase of 13.2 percent.

During the first four months of this year, customers took delivery of around 422,000 units – 17.0 percent more than during the comparable period in 2010.

In Germany, Audi even surpassed its first quarter growth rate with an increase of 16.1 percent in April.

Sales also rose once again in Europe as a whole, propelled by particularly impressive growth of 30.1 percent in Eastern Europe. Strong growth in India helped set new records in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Audi clearly continues to grow worldwide. The current order position means we’re well on our way to our target of selling 1.2 million vehicles this year,” says Peter Schwarzenbauer, Member of the Board of Management for Marketing and Sales at AUDI AG.

As for the brand’s luxury class initiative, he adds: “We expect to be boosted once more by the recent market launch of the A7 Sportback in the United States. Over its life-cycle, we hope to sell around 25 percent of all A7 Sportbacks to U.S. customers.”

Even before the A7 Sportback and the new A6 Sedan had reached dealerships in many key markets, Audi increased luxury class sales significantly during the last four months. Worldwide growth in this class amounted to 20.6 percent.

Deliveries of the Audi Q7 luxury SUV rose by an impressive 48.1 percent. The Audi A8 also notched up robust figures: in Western Europe alone, some 3,400 customers opted for the top model from January through April. The A8 further improved its position in Germany
as well, with 1,780 registrations.

In addition to the A8, substantial April growth rates in Germany can be attributed primarily to the Audi A1 and the successful roll-out of the new A6 Sedan: Deliveries of 22,204 vehicles in Germany represented a year-on-year increase of 16.1 percent.

The Audi Group delivered around 1,092,400 cars of the Audi brand to customers in 2010The Company posted revenue of €35.4 billion and an operating profit of €3.3 billion in 2010. Audi produces vehicles in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm (Germany), Győr (Hungary), Changchun (China) and Brussels-Belgium.

Aurangabad in India saw the start of CKD production of the Audi A6 at the end of 2007, of the Audi A4 in early October 2008 and of the Audi Q5 in July 2010. Production of the new Audi A1 has been running at the Brussels plant since May 2010.

The Company is active in more than 100 markets worldwide. AUDI AG’s wholly owned subsidiaries include AUDI HUNGARIA MOTOR Kft., Automobili Lamborghini Holding S.p.A. in Sant’Agata Bolognese (Italy) and quattro GmbH in Neckarsulm.

Audi currently employs around 60,000 people worldwide, including around 46,600 in Germany.

Between 2011 and 2015 the brand with the four rings is planning to invest more than €11 billion, mainly in new products, in order to sustain the Company’s technological lead embodied in its “Vorsprung durch Technik” slogan. By 2015, Audi plans to increase the number of models in its portfolio to 42.

Audi has long been fulfilling its social responsibility on many levels – with the aim of making the future worth living for generations to come.

The basis for Audi’s lasting success is therefore formed by environmental protection, the conservation of resources, international competitiveness and a forward looking human resources policy. One example of AUDI AG’s commitment to environmental issues is the newly established Audi Environmental Foundation.

Huawei Technologies presents to National Security

Huawei Technologies Company Limited has presented security and communication equipment to the National Security Council to aid government fight crime and improve security in the country.

The equipment will as well assist the Police to communicate and respond quickly to the plight of the victims of crimes and help create and keep accurate databases of criminals in the society to enable easy and quick identification of criminals.

The items: Desktop computers, Motorollers, Body Armor, Laptops, Colour Printers, Motor Cycles, and Walkie-talkies.

Ms. Diana Ayem, Manager, Human Resource, Huawei Technologies making the presentation in Accra said: “ Huawei values safety and would like to reiterate that safety is key in every country and the company is ready to assist government to achieve a safe environment for the nation and everyone living in the country.

“Huawei is highly committed to, contributing to the sustainable development of the social, economic, health and safety of the country.”

She observed that there have been lots of unfortunate incidents regarding safety in some communities and that innocent people have fallen victims to the dangerous activities and actions of the criminals.

“The Police are well trained but however would need adequate and more modern equipments to help them dispense their duties.”

She urged other private companies to, organizations and individuals to emulate and join in making the country a safe place for everyone by donating to and contributing towards this endeavor.

Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, Gong Jianzhong expressed gratitude for the presentation on behalf of the company, indicating that it would help deepen the bilateral relationship of the two countries.

“Ghana and China are two countries with similar social and political history and that China is ready to support Ghana toward its socio-economic development,” he said.

Kosivi Degbor, Deputy Coordinator, Operations receiving the equipment on behalf of the National Security Council indicated that the items would enhance national security operations and help in combating crime in the country.

“The protection of life and properties cannot be done without appropriate equipment,” he added.

Huawei is a leading Chinese telecom solutions provider with products and solutions being deployed in over 100 countries and have served 45 of the world’s top 50 telecom operators, as well as on third of the world’s population.

Vodafone turns TV sets into computer screens

Vodafone Ghana’s webbox has been launched to bring affordable internet access through customers’ existing television set, by plugging in a keyboard.

The facility which is a plug and play keyboard, converts any standard domestic television into an internet portal, enabling users to browse the internet in the comfort of their homes, offices and schools.

The home screen allows consumers to navigate easily between the core services: Opera Mini 5.1 internet access; Short Message Sending (SMS) and email messaging; internet search and media services including FM radio, a photo and video gallery, as well as video and music players.

“The Webbox, developed for consumers in emerging markets to bridge the digital divide provides affordable, ready internet access at home or in the workplace including the rural communities.

The unique device is suitable for businesses as it aids in training, business presentations among other data services,” Carmen Bruce-Annan, Head of Corporate Communications, Vodafone Ghana explained at the official media launch in Accra.

“The introduction of the Webbox is Vodafone’s response to the use of television as a medium to deliver internet services to Ghanaians including those in the rural communities who have access to TV but not computers and Lap Tops and who are within the Vodafone network coverage areas.

“Vodafone has therefore satisfied its customers needs by providing an innovative all-in one product with great value that also offers the family an exciting experience due to its use on a standard TV set ,” Bruce-Annan stated.

She said: “What we are offering our consumers is a very versatile and affordable product. It features an extensive archive of materials for the benefit of Ghanaians and, bringing the internet to the TV- be it at home for the family, in schools for education or in small businesses to assist local economic growth. This is a product that offers endless opportunities and delivers our brand promise of empowering our consumers to reach their full potential. ”

She added: “ Webbox was a product that offered endless opportunities and delivers the Vodafone brand promise of empowering consumers to reach their full potential.

“By using the Webbox, students can access educational sites and use online learning tools. The unique device is however not limited to students only; teachers, businessmen, retirees, and individuals in rural areas who do not have access to the internet will also benefit. They can play music and watch movies, listen to the radio , play games, access social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, access emails and send SMS.”

Angela Hesse-Owusu,Head of Terminals,Vodafone explained that the Opera Mini browser which provides customer friendly runs over the 2.5G and EDGE mobile networks, compressing data by around 90% and so serving fast-loading internet pages.

“The browser homepage comes with bookmarks such as news, sport and social networking sites as well as locally relevant apps such as a job search and application service. In addition, the portal comes with some games, a dictionary and a basic text editor.

“It is an affordable alternative to accessing the internet with computers. It’s simple, easy and convenient to use as compared to visiting an internet cafe outside your home. It is also a stress-free option for your children in the sense that you can monitor what they do online as it functions via a TV,” Hesse-Owusu remarked.

Vodafone Webbox was first launched at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Spain and has since been launched in South Africa, but Ghana is the first country in West Africa to have the device.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Vodafone Ghana wins ‘Best Telecom Brand’

Vodafone Ghana was awarded Best Telecom Brand at the prestigious Mobileworld Ghana Telecom Awards 2011 held in Accra last week.

This award strengthens the Vodafone brand which was recently ranked by Brand Finance as the Most Valuable Global Telecom brand and also the 5th Most Valuable brand in the world.
The Mobileworld Ghana Telecom Awards was organised by Mobile World Magazine, a UK-based magazine covering the telecoms sector in Africa.

Vodafone won the award amidst stiff competition from other leading players in the industry. The award was based on market performance and other parameters including revenue growth, market share growth, and leadership in product and service innovation. Vodafone Ghana also won the Wholesale Telecom Provider of the Year.

Kyle Whitehill, CEO of Vodafone Ghana said: “A strong brand is important in today’s business world as the battle for customers intensifies day by day. It's important to spend time defining and building your brand. After all, your brand is the source of a promise to your consumer. In view of this, we have carefully managed our brand such that it seeks to make our products and services relevant to our customers.”

Since the launch of its brand promise, ‘Power to you’, Vodafone Ghana has extensively leveraged on this to empower Ghanaians. Among the initiatives done around this brand promise is included new product launches, such as the Blackberry Smartphones with affordable call rates. Vodafone was also the first to launch the Blackberry Torch and Galaxy Tablet in the market.

The ICONS: Divas Edition, a TV music show, was also launched – from which the R&M group emerged as the winners. For their prize, the three young girls took home, GH¢60,000.00, a brand new 4X4 vehicle, a recording deal and an opportunity to feature at the next 20 live concerts. This is an expression of Vodafone’s brand promise of empowering Ghanaians to make the most of their lives potentials.

Another initiative that won the hearts of Ghanaians this year, is the Valentine Day’s ‘home coming’ initiative wherein over 70 underprivileged patients on admission at the various regional hospitals in the country - who have been discharged but unable to pay their medical bills - had their bills fully paid for them by Vodafone to enable them join their families to celebrate this year’s Valentine day.

Others include innovative customer loyalty promotions such as ‘8gp tariff reduction’, ‘bonus incentives’ for customers who register their SIM, ’90-days double bonus’ promotion for new customers among others.

Fidelity Bank pushes for redesigning cities

Mr. Edward Effah, Managing Director of Fidelity Bank Ghana, says government needs to seek ways of partnering with all stakeholders and professionals to bring their expertise to bear in the planning and development of the country's cities.

“The bank will continue to be at the forefront in ensuring that such effective collaboration among the different stakeholders is forged to deliver services that transform the lives of the people.”

Mr. Effah made this statement at a forum in Accra on the theme “Towards Building a Sustainable and Livable and Competitive Global City”, which attracted policy makers, government officials, planners, architects and members of the financial industry.

The programme was meant to host the Singaporean delegation in the country to explore investment opportunities in development and planning of the country's cities.

It was also aimed at partnering with Asian business executives to explore ways in which Ghanaian city authorities can leverage on the experience of Singapore in planning and building sustainable and liveable cities.

Mr. Paul Victor Obeng, Chairman National Development Planning Commission, explained that long-term planning is important for the success of sustainable liveable cities.

He indicated that the knowledge and experience acquired by the Singaporean team will go a long way to help shape Ghana's city authorities’ vision in transforming the country's cities.

Mr. Alfred Vanderpiuje, the Mayor of Accra, in a statement read on his behalf said development of drains to improve water-flow and reduce the incidence of flooding is a key priority of the Assembly.

“There are also plans to improve the traffic situation in the city through a new synchronised traffic management system and high-speed monorail, as well as interchanges to ease transportation in the city.

“The AMA is also dealing with the liquid waste situation through resuscitation of the six damaged pumps, and is in the process of getting an Environmental Impact Assessment report to close down lavender hill in Accra,” he said.

“The success of any city development programme hinges on government policy and a clear and unambiguous vision of what was needed,” Professor Liu Thai Ker, Director of RSP Architects Planners and Engineers professional practices in Singapore said.

“Any planning must take into consideration long-term conditions and preservation of the environment and historical sites.”

Prof. Ker proposed a plan that would connect the three cities of Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi as one, instead of adopting different approaches in enhancing and building facilities.