Monday, September 26, 2011

Economy expands by 34.0%

The country’s economy grew by an annual 34.0 percent in the second quarter of this year compared to the same period a year ago, the latest adjusted real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures show.

The growth rate, which is the highest since 2007, is due largely to exports of oil, and significant improvements in mining and quarrying recording 302.8 percent.
The government has forecast oil revenues of one billion dollars this year after commercial oil production began last December.

This, it expects, will help boost economic growth to around 13 percent this year, from 7.7 percent in 2010.

Oil output is nearing a peak of 120,000 barrels a day, with millions already exported to refineries in Europe.

Addressing a news conference in Accra, Government Statistician, Dr. Grace Bediako said: “The mining and quarrying growth was led by a strong growth reflected in the production of gold, oil and quarrying.

“Manufacturing growth was led by a strong growth in the manufacturing of wood, petroleum, chemicals, motor vehicles and furniture; and the growth in crops was led by increases in the production of cocoa.”

She added that quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted, the financial and insurance activities sub-sector of the services sector recorded the highest growth of 47.1 percent within the industry.

Crops and cocoa inclined 58.2 percent from 27.5 in the first quarter to lead the agricultural sector with forestry and logging, and fishing behind.

From the industry sector, mining and quarrying was 18.7 percent, ahead of manufacturing and utilities.
“No doubt the mining and quarrying sector, which includes oil, contributed heavily to the increase; oil is having a heavy impact on the country's growth.”

The Government Statistician said, judging by historical trends, growth will likely be stronger in the ensuing quarters of the year due to the strong performance of oil production together with revenue from gold and cocoa exports.

Data on the external sector also reveal improving indicators, according to the Bank of Ghana. Total merchandise exports increased by US$2.9billion to US$7.5billion in 2011, representing a growth of 62.3 percent over the same period of 2010.

The strong export growth was driven by gold, cocoa beans and crude oil. The total export of crude oil from January to July was 12.6 million barrels valued at US$1.4billion, while exports of gold and cocoa beans were US$2.8billion and US$1.5billion respectively.

Last year, real GDP growth was 7.7 percent, a strong rebound from four percent growth in 2009. The services sector was the main driver, growing by 9.8 percent.

Maritime trade surges

The country’s total maritime trade for the second quarter of this year recorded 4.36 million metric tonnes, a surge of 18 percent, according to Ghana Shippers Authority figures obtained by Business and Financial Times.

This was made up of 3.13 million metric tonnes of imports representing 72 percent, while exports amounted to 1.23 million metric tonnes representing 28 percent during the period.

A comparison of the figures to the previous quarter’s performance showed an increase of 18 percent in the total trade.

The port of Tema handled 79 percent of the total trade while the port of Takoradi handled the remaining 21 percent for the period.

According to the Authority, total transit cargo (import and export) for the period was 189,085 metric tonnes at the two seaports, representing a 4 percent increase.
On the import side, the Authority said the total liner trade amounted to over 1.26 million metric tonnes for the review period. This was 16 percent more than what was recorded for the same period in 2010.

The dry-bulk trade for the review period also recorded 33 percent more than the tonnage recorded for the same period of 2010, while the liquid bulk trade saw a 5 percent decrease from the 2010 period.

The Authority indicated that major import items in the liner trade included pharmaceuticals and medical supplies (153,469 metric tonnes), lubricating oil (136,844 metric tonnes), and processed food and beverages (91,544 metric tonnes).

Regarding dry-bulk trade, import items included alumina (1.26 million metric tonnes), fertiliser (204,423 metric tonnes), coke (162,937 metric tonnes), cement (37,655 metric tonnes), and clinker (11,743 metric tonnes).

The major liquid-bulk import items were petroleum products (27,399 metric tonnes) and other liquid-bulk (967,477 metric tonnes).

During the period, the majority of imports into Ghana came from the Far East range, amounting to 959,012 metric tonnes. This was 31 percent of total imports.
The Africa range contributed the next highest tonnage, amounting to 699,633 metric tonnes or 22 percent of total imports.

This was followed by the North Continent range with 528,429 metric tonnes, representing 17 percent of total imports.

The other ranges made up of the countries of South America, Australia, Jamaica, Lebanon and New Zealand came next with 400,654 metric tonnes, amounting to 13 percent of total imports.

The North America, Mediterranean Europe and United Kingdom ranges followed in that order with 9 percent, 7 percent and 1 percent respectively.

The Authority explained that export trade recorded an increase of 30 percent in the liner tonnage, from 519,014 metric tonnes in the 2010 period to 672,774 metric tonnes in 2011.

The dry-bulk export trade recorded an increase of 18 percent. The liquid-bulk export trade showed significant increase, moving from 7,600 metric tonnes in the 2010 period to 71,543 metric tonnes. This was an increase of over 800 percent above the 2010 tonnage.

On indications of the direction of maritime export trade for the review period, the Authority said over 38 percent of the export trade -- amounting to 470,361 metric tonnes -- was shipped to the Far East range.

The North Continent range received 421,425 metric tonnes representing 34 percent, followed by the other ranges with 140,994 metric tonnes or 11 percent.

The Mediterranean Europe, Africa and United Kingdom ranges registered seven percent, five percent and three percent respectively. The North America range had the least at two percent for the period.

The Authority indicated that major liner export items included cashew nuts which contributed nearly 32 percent or 213,127 metric tonnes, while cocoa beans recorded 157,813 metric tonnes representing 23 percent of the total liner export trade.

Cocoa products contributed seven percent, while metal scrap recorded six percent with timber logs and sawn timber each recording five percent.

In the dry-bulk export trade, major export items were manganese, 83 percent (412,025 metric tonnes); bauxite, 11 percent (55,976 metric tonnes); and sheanut, about 4 percent (19,213 metric tonnes).

The liquid-bulk items were mostly petroleum products amounting to 38,306 tonnes or about 54 percent, and other liquid-bulks at 46 percent.

The Shippers Authority told B&FT that a total of 189,085 metric tonnes was recorded for the transit trade (export and import). This was 60 percent more than was recorded in 2010 for the same period.

The transit export tonnage recorded for the period amounted to 33,815 tonnes, or 18 percent of the total transit trade, while transit import amounted to 155,270 tonnes.

Major countries whose transit trade passed through the seaports of Ghana include Burkina Faso which recorded the highest share of the total transit trade, amounting to 125,012 tonnes and representing 66 percent.

This was followed by Mali with 18,239 tonnes representing 10 percent, while Togo registered 12,104 tonnes or 6.40 percent, Niger with 11,704 tonnes or 6.19 percent, and Ivory Coast with 11, 474 tonnes or 6.07 percent.

This increase was a reflection of 14 percent and 31 percent increases in the import and export tonnages for the review period. Total transit tonnage also increased, by 60 percent during the period.

Chamber of Mines, UN promote sustainable development

The Ghana Chamber of Mines, in collaboration with United Nations Global Compact, has commissioned a study aimed at promoting sustainable development in the mining communities.

It is also targetted at prompting mining companies to pursue the right linkages between various elements of any alternative livelihood project development and help reduce communities’ economic dependence on the mines, making them self-sustaining after mine closure.

The study, dubbed ‘Integrated Alternative Livelihoods Framework for Mining Communities’, surveyed current alternative livelihood practices among selected mining companies in the country.

The study covered six thematic areas, including: developing local economy based on the presence of mining companies; promoting rural private sector by supporting micro, small to medium enterprises; and regulatory reforms on mining policies that would formalise and strengthen the corporate social responsibility agenda.

The rest are education and advocacy of alternative livelihood programmes by mining companies; monitoring and evaluation of alternative livelihood programmes; and marketing of alternative livelihood projects, goods and services.

It also solicited views of key stakeholders involved in delivering sustainable alternative livelihood programmes, and proposed a common framework for developing alternative livelihood projects in mining communities based on best international practices.

Dr. Joyce Aryee, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, speaking at a validation workshop on the study in Accra, said the initiative underscored the Chamber’s quest to promote sustainable development in mining communities.

Dr. Aryee said: “The Chamber and the UN Global Compact sponsored this research to take a wider approach from previous alternative livelihood activities, rather than just considering how existing alternative livelihood systems could be harmonised.

“Available social data showed that it would be prudent for mining companies to select their alternative livelihood programmes based on a common framework, while staying within their own corporate requirements to achieve optimal results.”

Dr. Aryee said further: “We recommend that all stakeholders involved in the delivery of alternative livelihood programmes initiate an all-inclusive effort to reverse the escalating trend toward poor planning, design, implementation and monitoring of alternative livelihood programmes in the mining communities.”

Mr. Sam William Quaye, Director of SWQ Consulting Limited - one of the two firms undertaking the study on behalf of the Chamber and the UN Global Compact - said the proposed alternative livelihood framework focuses on core objectives at the community level relating to non-mining economic activities, land access management, quality of life and diversification of income generation, taking into account the various situations pertaining to individual mining companies.

The validation workshop was attended by representatives of stakeholders in the mining sector, including the Minerals Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Lands Commission, UN Global Compact, the Chamber, mining companies, mining communities, and civil society.

The Tiguan: Overcoming boundaries

Think differently, take a new approach, and overcome boundaries. Something that is often only talked about can now easily be put into action with the VW Tiguan. Ekow Essabra-Mensah writes.

The off-road capability of the Tiguan vehicle makes it a pleasure to drive off the beaten track now and again.

The Tiguan takes you everywhere you get no further with conventions. The Tiguan has everything you need to really get going. You therefore experience sheer driving enjoyment and a high level of traction, directional stability and safety.

With the optional 4MOTION permanent all-wheel drive system you are well prepared for every situation-as engine power is distributed to all four wheels in line with conditions.

For example, a sporty 6-speed manual gearbox or an up-to-date 7-speed dual clutch gearbox DSG: both have been optimized specially for the Tiguan and deliver a sporty driving experience and maximum ride comfort.

With its power and smooth running the Tiguan is able to enthuse you from the very first moment. In short: whatever you are planning, you will find the Tiguan a refined and adventurous companion.

The Tiguan ‘’Track & Field’’ is ideal for those who see the town as terrain. The self-assured off-road design of this model makes it clear from afar that it has been built to master off-road stretches and deliver maximum driving enjoyment to its occupants.

Those who prefer a more sporty, elegant version will appreciate the on-road design of the Tiguan. The stylish front and accents the ‘’Trend & Fun’’ and ‘’Sport & Style’’ equipment lines.

In addition, attention is focused here on an up-to-date sporty design. Yet however different the equipment lines are-they have one thing in common: their distinctive, powerful design makes an impression that no-one will forgive in a hurry.

Georgina Mensah, Marketing Manager of the Universal Motors Limited, the official dealers of VW cars in the country in an interview with the B&FT about the VW

Tiguan’s unique selling features revealed: “The new Tiguan offers more powerful and more economical engine – especially with regards to the petrol engines. It also has a better range of gearboxes with the 6-speed manual and the 6-speed automatic.

She added: “The new Tiguan performs impressively on all counts from its considerably more efficient engine and its hi-tech equipment features, like the new infotainment system with touch screen operation, to the panoramic sunroof.

“The vehicle is available in three equipment lines and, with a considerably large range of equipment options. It offers a far better choice of special accessories.”

Safety & Comfort

The highest awards in crash test are not a luxury for the Tiguan-they are standard. The innovative safety concept offers you occupant protection at the highest technical level. This includes further developed systems like an innovative airbag system and clearly visible turn signals. You can therefore with a clear conscience concentrate on the essentials: pure driving enjoyment.

Innovative safety concept. A well thought out airbag system consisting of front, curtain and side airbags offers optimal occupant protection in the event of an accident. When the airbags are triggered, the doors are unlocked, the harzard warning lights and interior lighting switched on and the fuel pump deactivated.

Thanks to this airbag system, and extremely robust body structure and many other safety features, the Tiguan attains 5 star for occupant protection which makes it one of the safest vehicles in its segment.

Equipment lines

Sheer driving enjoyment, a power pack or an athlete-you decide which Tiguan suite you best. You have the choice of three equipment lines: “Trend & Fun”, “Track & Field” and “Sport & Style”.

Each one has out of the ordinary features to offer-chromium-plated radiator grille, the off-road driving programme, or easy to operate cruise control. You can therefore be sure in each and every situation that your new travelling companion is just your type.

The Tiguan “Trend & Fun” stands for everything that adds up to driving enjoyment. A glance at the standard chromium-plated radiator grille will set your pulse racing, and the high quality materials including stainless steel look decorative inserts will make you eager to take hold of the elegant 3-spoke steering wheel and drive off.

The Tiguan “Trend & Fun” offers not only a high level of comfort but also perfect ergonomics. The compartment in the roof, the illuminated glove compartment, and bottle holders integrated in the stowage pockets on the doors are all within easy reach. The heated door mirrors also have convenient adjustment.

Your entertainment during the journey is assured by the radio system, and the air conditioner keeps the temperature at a pleasant level. After all, the driver’s well-being is also a standard feature of the Tiguan “Trend & Fun’’.

The Tiguan ‘’ Track & Field’’ is a real bundle of energy. The off-road design of the front end, the drive unit underride guard, and 16 inch alloy wheels make for a very self-assured appearance-as do black roof rails and colour-keyed side rubbing strips.

The intelligent off-road driving programme, tyre monitoring display and compass in the multifunction display will make it easy for you to realize your desire for freedom.

Yet however wild the exterior impression may be, the interior is all the more comfortable with a height-adjustable armrest and luxe seat at the front with lumbar support.

Its practical side is demonstrated by additional stowage space and a front passenger seat that can be folded down completely. Enjoy finding out for yourself that the Tiguan “ Track & Field’’ offers not only genuine off-road qualities but a great deal more besides.

The Tiguan ‘’Sport & Style’’-the equipment line of the Tiguan does justice to its name. You will be impressed by the sporty exterior designer even before you get in. In addition to refined designed and high-grade materials, many technical features await you inside.

Cruise control can be operated with ease from the elegant sports seats and as of 30 kph keeps the speed at the desired level. The multifunction display supplies important information during the journey, example, current consumption, driving time and average speed.

The sporty overall concept will make your heart beat a little faster every inch of the way. Which only goes to shows that a vehicle as elegant as this can be exciting as well.


First impressions are decisive. With the Tiguan you can decide whether you create a stir with the optional panoramic sliding roof, show everyone else on the motorway your eye-catching tail lights, or light up the darkest corners with the bi-xenon head-lights available as an option.

Whichever you decide on, one thing is certain-you will not only impress others with the Tiguan but above all yourself.

The Panoramic sliding roof is three times as large as a normal sliding roof and therefore creates a completely new feeling of space. The front part of the roof can be adjusted in a number of different positions for individual ventilation settings.

There is an ergonomic switch in the roof to operate both the roof and adjust the integral blind which provides perfect light and heat protection.


The interior of the Tiguan lives up to the promise of the exterior appearance. High-quality materials, up to the minute design and a high level of functionality make sure that every journey is memorable.

GRA reforms gain traction

Reforms at the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) have gained traction with the introduction of a new computerized system for administering domestic tax, the Total Revenue Integrated Processing System (TRIP), which will be rolled out in some piloted offices.

The TRIPS is an integrated revenue information system which will provide a platform for the administration of all domestic taxes under the e-Gov project.

As part of the reforms of the revenue administration, the GRA will be linked with the Registrar-General’s Department (RGD) electronically under the e-Gov. project to ensure that the GRA has access to the database of the RGD to access the details of registered businesses for easy tracking for tax purposes.

In connection with this, new Taxpayer Identification Numbers will be issued to registered businesses and individuals.

Anne Anipa, Public Relations Manager of the GRA speaking in Accra under the topic:

‘Enhancing Voluntary Compliance Through Rights and Obligations of Taxpayers’ said: “GRA’s integration is seriously on-course with the merger of the various revenue divisions.

“The key element of the reform process is the integration of the Domestic Tax Revenue Division (DTRD) offices, comprising the erstwhile Value Added Tax Service and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), to enhance taxpayer convenience and also enable the staff to discharge their duties under the DTRD more effectively.

“This involves merging offices by co-locating staff of these erstwhile Revenue Agencies, movement of files of taxpayers, training of staff to perform on their schedules etc,” he said, adding that the Commission has identified nine offices within the Accra-Tema metropolis to serve as pilot sites for integration of DTRD offices.”

She said effective from the last quarter of 2011, the first pilot office on the Spintex road will be opened, while others at Adabraka, Tema, Agbogbloshie, among others will be opened towards the end of the year. The DTRD offices will also allow for the segmentation of taxpayers into large, medium and small.

Subsequently, other integrated offices will be rolled out in the Greater Accra region and countrywide.

She revealed that institutions with annual turnover of GH¢5 million and above as well as specialist industries, no matter the turnover, would be among the Large Taxpayers; with companies with turnover above GH¢90,000 but below GH¢5 million in the medium category, while the small taxpayers would include those with annual turnover of GH¢90,000 and below.

Meanwhile a staff team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), led by Christina Daseking, commended the country’s tax reforms.

The team explained that the reforms which has impacted positively on the country’s fiscal performance during the first half of the year shows improvement in the tax revenue over the same period last year.

“A preliminary assessment of fiscal performance during the first half of the year shows strong improvements in tax revenues over the same period in 2010. It suggests that full-year fiscal targets are a chievable with continued control over expenditures.

The Authority recorded a 12.1 percent jump in half-year revenue for 2011 to GH¢3.9 billion, compared with GH¢3.5 billion for the same period last year.

The breakdown of the collection is as follows: Domestic Taxes (Direct Tax) recorded GH¢1.622.33 million, recording an excess of GH ¢150.17 million (10.2 percent). Indirect taxes recorded GH¢672.79 million, also showing an excess of ¢48.2million -- representing 7.7 percent.

Customs collection including petroleum also recorded GH¢ ¢1,633.93 million, an excess of GH¢ 224.56 -- representing 15.9 percent.

US$60m ‘One Airport Square’ project begins

Actis, a leading private equity investor, and Laurus Development Partners have commenced a US$ 60 million ‘One Airport Square’ multi-storey project in Accra.

The project, expected to be completed in May 2013, will be designed to become the number one corporate address and the most environmentally friendly complex of its kind in the country.

The One Airport Square will house retail facilities, restaurants, bars and a landscaped plaza on the parking floor, office space above and parking in the basement.

The approximately 17, 000 sq metre area was designed by internationally - acclaimed Italian Architect Mario Cucinella , incorporating a very strong eco-friendly focus.

It will also bring along shops, services and jobs to the local community, boosting the supply chain both locally and nationally.

Hannah Tetteh, Minister for Trade and Industry, said the beautifully, designed, environmentally friendly building sets the standard for future developments in the country, and shows the world what the country can achieve.

“Government will support investors who can showcase the country internationally,” she said.

Mr. Alban Bagbin, Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, said the project has come at an opportune time when the nation is grappling with a number of challenges in the construction industry.

He said government is committed to contributing towards the attainment of a sustainable environment, adding construction of energy-efficient and environment- friendly buildings like the One Airport Square project are therefore highly commendable.

David Morley, Head of Real Estate at Actis said: “We are excited to break ground on a building which, when it is complete, could hold its own in Munich or Singapore. It will enable Ghanaians to work and relax in the heart of the city and follow in the footsteps of Accra Mall which Actis developed in 2006.”

The One Airport Square will be developed by a team of international and local experts in design, project- management, construction and leasing, said Carlo Matta, CEO at Laurus.

“One Airport Square is a great example of how mixing Ghanaian expertise and international best practices can achieve outstanding results. We hope this project will set a new standard in the Country's real estate industry,” Matta added.

60,000 computers for Ghanaian basic schools

Government has officially launched the Basic School Computerisation Project, aimed at distributing over 60,000 computers to schools by the end of 2012.

The initiative is been implemented by the Ministry of Education in partnership with rlg Communications, forms part of the e-school policy that involves the use of ICT in teaching and learning at the basic education level.

Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu, Minister of Education, launching the project in Accra under the theme: “ICT as a Tool for Development at the Basic Level Education,” said:

“Government is committed to providing ICT tool and equipment to facilitate learning in basic schools. In doing so, it is the determination of government to ensure that by the end of 2012 a good number of basic schools would have access to ICTs across the country.

“It is our hope that by end of 2013 Ghana will be competing with the likes of South Africa in terms of ICT in Education.”

She observed: “In this knowledge-based world, with a knowledge economy today we cannot afford to dey our children the opportunity to access the internet. Through ICT, Ghana can go a long way to compete with others countries.
“Indications are that services have exceeded training in the national economy- we need to maintain this in order to achieve the middle income bracket. Aggressive use of ICTs is a tool of development.”
She explained that to avoid the situation where the computers would remain on the shelves without being used, the Ministry and rlg communications had already started training teachers who would further teach the pupils about computer usage.

“There is an agreement with the management of rlg to provide after sales services to users of the products.”

Mrs Mould-Iddrisu expressed appreciation that the computers were assembled in Ghana by rlg for use by Ghanaians and particularly teachers and students, saying, “equipping teachers and children with the complexities of ICT were the surest ways to expose children to the larger world.

“ICTs excite and stimulate their minds and hopefully this will drive them to compete with young minds from elsewhere”.

Mrs Mould-Iddrisu revealed that the Ministry was collaborating with the Ministry of Energy to extend electricity to deprived schools that had no electricity supply to enable them have access and use their computers, under the project which would be extended to senior high and technical schools.

Mr. Roland Agambire, Chief Executive Officer of rlg Communications, said the company was happy for the opportunity to partner the Ministry to undertake such a laudable project to help pupils and teachers for effective teaching and learning.

He said: “I would be extremely excited to see you make good use of this gesture for your own personal development and subsequently the development of those you are training to become future leaders. rlg will always be available for any assistance in this regard”.

Mr. Agambire would offer discounted rates on their computers to all Ministers of State as well as offer credit and hire purchase scheme to teachers.

Gov’t considers agric financing options

Government is collaborating with the banks to promote financing mechanisms and inventory financing such as the warehouse receipts system and commodity exchanges to expand investments in the agriculture sector, Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi, has said.

Long-term financing, which is a priority if agribusiness must grow and become competitive, has been absent in an environment where government itself is looking for the same resources to tackle other priority areas, he said.

Plans have been disclosed to commence the establishment of a commodity exchange and to develop a regulated warehouse receipt system by 2012, to help assist farmers to gain easy access to ready markets - both locally and internationally.

The warehouse receipt system will enable producers and commercial entities to convert inventories of agricultural raw materials into a readily tradable item. Farmers can then access credit facilities by using their inventories as security.

Mr. Ahwoi made this disclosure in Accra at the Invest in Ghana Seminar, 2011, organised by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, under the topic, ‘Agriculture & Agribusiness: Utilising Synergies for Sustained Agricultural Development.’

He said the government is considering an agribusiness-led strategy, anchored on seven pillars, in order to modernise agriculture and make it more competitive and profitable.

The seven pillars, he enumerated, are enhancing agriculture productivity; upgrading and up-scaling value-chains; exploiting local, regional and international demand; strengthening technological effort and innovation capabilities; promoting effective and innovative financing; stimulating the private sector; and improving infrastructure and energy access.

He explained that an agribusiness-led strategy that focuses on these seven pillars will reveal the diverse actors that need to work together to achieve higher productivity, incomes and economic growth.

“An agribusiness-led strategy requires all actors in the food and agriculture supply chain to take the market as the main target of their businesses.

“The actors include equipment and machinery manufacturers, researchers for continuous development of improved technologies, producers, processors, traders, exporters, bankers, insurance brokers and policy makers who need to create the enabling policy environment for the businesses to flourish and experience sustainable growth.

“The Ministry is currently promoting the development of rice, soya, maize and chicken value- chains in addition to other works such as the Northern Rural Growth Programme, and the Marketing Project that are using the approach to increase productivity and market access.”

Mr. Ahwoi observed that the country’s new economic asset, oil, makes its more pressing for it to develop agriculture through agribuisness.

Doing this will prevent the likelihood of the country experiencing the Dutch disease, and also provide value-added foods and other products to meet the potential needs of high-income consumers.

“Local industry-players and financial institutions need to explore these opportunities and take advantage of them before external players take over the playing field.”

He urged players in the agriculture sector to redouble their efforts to ensure that they capture the emerging local, regional and international markets.

“We can do it if we all apply ourselves to the discipline of denying immediate gain and focusing on painstaking, gradual and consistent investments and improvements in the way we do business.

“We will need to intensify regulation and enforcement of rules, and will require effective market association in this direction,” Mr. Ahwoi stressed.

Mills: We’re ready for investors

President John Evans Atta Mills says government is adopting measures to reform and improve the legal and regulatory framework for doing business in the country to attract and retain foreign direct investment, and contribute to economic development efforts.

The reforms, the President said, include strengthening of the financial sector, improving access to land, and streamlining the business registration and licensing systems.

“In line with the government’s interest in ensuring a conducive environment for investment, the Investment Code, which already offers attractive investment incentives, is being reviewed to make it even more inventor-friendly in order to enhance the business environment.

“Government is also reforming customs administration and taxation, as well as developing infrastructure and institutional reforms. We do appreciate the fact that this requires the adoption of measures that will enable us to be competitive as an investment destination.”

President Mills said this to the investor community, international business executives and government officials as well as entrepreneurs in a speech read on his behalf at this year’s GIPC Invest in Ghana seminar, which was aimed at providing an opportunity for useful exchanges between Ghanaian and foreign investors.

Already, initial reforms undertaken by the government are yielding the necessary results, he said.

According to the country’s lead investment promoters, the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, investments into the economy continue to grow year after year, creating useful partnerships, skills transfer and creating jobs.

GIPC figures show the total number of projects registered for the first half of 2011 was 236, with a total estimated value of US$978.74 million (GH¢1.47 billion). 213 projects were registered for the corresponding half of 2010 with a total estimated value of US$850.84 million (GH¢1.19 billion).

The total initial capital transfers amounted to US$165.93 million (GH¢248.90 million) for the period under review, while transfers in the corresponding half-year of 2010 amounted to GH¢42.50 million (US$30.36 million).

Of the 236 registered projects, 137 were wholly-owned foreign enterprises and 99 were joint ventures between Ghanaians and foreign partners.

The joint-venture projects were valued at US$635.96 million (GH¢953.94 million), and the wholly-owned foreign enterprises were valued at US$342.77 million (GH¢514.16 million).

The FDI component of the estimated value of projects registered during the first half of the year amounted to US$904.04 million (GH¢1.36 billion), and the local currency component amounted to US$74.68 million (GH¢112.03 million).

For the corresponding period in 2010, the FDI component of the estimated value of projects registered amounted to US$760.68 million (GH¢1.06 billion), and the local currency component amounted to US$90.16 million (GH¢126.23 million.

A total of 14,412 jobs are expected to be created by the registered projects from the first half of 2011. 13,170 of the total jobs to be created will be for Ghanaians and the remaining 1,242 will be for expatriates.

The GIPC seminar was also meant to link Ghanaian enterprises with foreign partners who have the potential to provide the required collaboration for economic growth to enable the county prosper in the emerging global economy of the 21st century.

Speaking under the topic, ‘Partnerships for Sustainable Economic Growth: The Role of the Domestic Investor,’ the President said: “I am aware that investors easily shy away from countries whose legal systems are not protective of investments.

“The country has signed bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements and Double Taxation Agreements with quite a few countries to provide further security for investors.”

He explained that government has sought to further deepen the democratic culture, encourage the smooth development of new democratic institutions and adhere strictly to the rule of law.

“This is because of our avowed belief in good governance as a sine qua non for the creation of an enabling environment for business and for rapid and sustainable development.

Mr. George Aboagye, Chief Executive Officer of the GIPC said: “Government recognises the private sector as a very important partner for national development and has implemented policies that are directed at ensuring that the private sector grows.”

Some of these policies are aimed at strengthening the framework for doing business to ensure that it is able to contain the growth of the private sector.

He revealed that the GIPC Act 478, which is currently under review, will see the Ghanaian private sector being empowered to enable it to contribute effectively to national development.

“The Centre as part of its efforts to promote investments into the economy has been engaged in both international and domestic investment drives.

“The GIPC, whose mandate is to encourage, promote facilitate and coordinate investments in the Ghanaian economy, sees the role of the private sector as very crucial at this stage of national development.

“The Centre has sought to engage the private sector, through undertaking outreach programmes to sensitise them on the functions of the Centre and the assistance that the GIPC can offer local investors. These sensitisation programmes have also enabled us to dispel the notion that the GIPC caters for only foreign investors,” Mr. Aboagye said.

Monday, September 19, 2011

PBC tops them all as..... Auto Parts, ELAC impress

The country’s largest-buyer of cocoa beans, Produce Buying Company (PBC), has been ranked number-one in Ghana, up from the 34th position last year in the Ghana Club 100 rankings.

PBC scored first with weighted average of 7.90 %, and fourth with its 2010 turnover figure of GH¢ 632,902,845, toppling Toyota Ghana on the country’s corporate excellence performance ranking.

Auto Plaza Limited, Enterprise Life Assurance Company Limited, Intercontinental Bank Ghana took the second, third and fourth position respectively.

Auto Plaza Limited was able to maintain the second position it enjoyed last year, while Toyota Ghana Company Limited which was first in the 2009 ranking dropped to 16th position.

The Club 100 rankings in its 11th edition showed interesting results, with the financial services sector showing a remarkable performance by dominating the top-20 ranked companies.

The Trust Bank Ghana Limited, Danadams Pharmaceuticals Industry Limited and GT Bank as well as Ecobank Ghana Limited, Gold Fields Ghana Limited and Zenith Bank occupied the fifth to 10th position respectively.

The Trust Bank Ghana Limited moved from the seventh position last year to fifth position in 2010. GT Bank, the new entrant placed at seventh position.

Wienco Ghana Limited, IPMC, and Scancom Limited maintained leadership in their respective sector rankings.

The top-three largest companies in the 2010 rankings – Gold Fields Ghana Limited, Scancom Limited and Total Petroleum Ghana Limited, were not among the top-five ranked companies.

The Ghana Club 100 is an annual award designed by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) to identify and award the country’s best 100 companies with the objective of developing an open information culture within the Ghanaian corporate sector, and also provide incentives for improved corporate performance.

It is as well to develop uniform criteria for evaluating corporate performance which would establish an annual and current analysis of the country’s corporate sector.

The Ghana Club 100 ranking is tabulated with this year’s rankings calculated on the companies’ size (25%), profitability (35%), and growth (40%).

Government commitment

The Vice President, John Dramani Mahama, in a speech read on his behalf said: “Government will continue to put in place strategic measures which seek to remove bottlenecks to the sector’s growth and build the confidence of operators.

“These measures will include initiatives that are aimed the reducing the cost of doing business, attracting investors, and also equipping our youth with the critical skills and knowledge required in the various sectors of the economy.”

He assured the private sector community of government’s unwavering commitment to the adoption and implementation of sound economic and macroeconomic policies aimed at improving the Ghanaian economy and promoting an enabling environment for doing business in the country.

He added that the economy continues to experience robust economic expansion in 2010, with a real GDP growth rate of 7.7percent following a relatively low rate of 44 percent in 2009.

This achievement, he said, was made amidst the uncertainties in the global economy which was characterised by volatility in the commodity price, slow recovery in the United States, stagnation in Japan, and the continuing sovereign debt crisis in the euro-zone resulting in major bail-out measures implemented in some countries.

“All key economic indicators are signal to an increasing pace of economic activities in the economy in 2011 compared to the same period in 2010.

“The fact that Ghana continues to attract tremendous amount of FDI - with the local business community as the first and ultimate point of contact for foreign investors - is a sure of sign of the increasing faith being generated in the Ghanaian economy as a whole and our private sector in particular.

“The crucial role of the private sector in the development of a country will always be recognized, and as a result, the sector will continue to receive priority attention of government,” he said.

Mr. George Aboagye, Chief Executive Office, GIPC, said: “The Centre will continue to recognise the role of the private sector in the developmental agenda of the country, and will acknowledge the sector’s contributions and efforts in nation-building.

“As Ghana continues to position itself as Africa’s gateway to a safe and secure destination for investors across the globe, we will need to further encourage the private sector to endeavor to conform to best business practices that are internationally accepted,” he said.

Mr. Aboagye observed that with the aggressive investment promotion activities and improved economic conditions, foreign direct investment to the country rose significantly.

The total number of projects registered for the first half of 2011 was 236, with a total estimated value of US$978.74million (GH¢1.47billion). 213 projects were registered for the corresponding half of 2010 with a total estimated value of US$850.84million (GH¢1.19billion).

The total initial capital transfers amounted to US$165.93million (GH¢248.90million) for the period under review, while transfers in the corresponding half-year of 2010 amounted to GH¢42.50million (US$30.36million).

Of the 236 registered projects, 137 were wholly-owned foreign enterprises and 99 were joint ventures between Ghanaians and foreign partners.

Top-10 Ghana Club 100 Rankings
Ranking Company Name

1 Produce Buying Company (PBC)
2 Auto Plaza Limited
3 Enterprise Life Assurance and Company limited
4 The Intercontinental Bank Ghana Limited
5 The Trust Bank (TTB)
6 Danadams Pharmaceuticals Industry Limited
7 GT Bank
8 Ecobank Ghana Limited
9 Goldfield Ghana Limited
10 Zenith Bank

Cargill to reverse fortune of sugar production

U.S. agribusiness giant Cargill Inc. says it is eager to expand its sugar operations in the country, hopefully by next year, to revive the sugar sector.

The firm intends to execute a US$100million sugar refinery plant with an initial capacity of 450,000 tonnes.

“We are excited to be making a contribution to Ghana's growing economy. We willincorporate some of the latest technology to ensure Ghanaian sugar-cane is processed to the highest standards.

“Ghana provides a sustainable conducive environment, and we want to operate here -- a very good market to be in for the long-term,” Jonathan Drake, President and Business and Unit Leader, Cargill Sugar, told Business and Financial Times in an interview in Accra.

Already, Cargill operates a 65,000 metric tonnes capacity cocoa processing plant in the eastern port of Tema, and has the potential to expand the capacity to 120,000 tonnes.

The facility - fully operational since 2008 - directly employs over 400 people (including permanent and contract staff) and indirectly employs many more, supporting Ghana’s economy.

“We aim to make Ghana a major sugar exporter and improve conditions in non-urban areas, especially where agriculture is prominent," said Drake.

Cargill trades raw sugar in bulk, white sugar in bags/containers, and ethanol from offices located in Geneva, Hong Kong, Minneapolis, Minnesota and Amsterdam.

The company originate sugar from the world’s leading sugar producing countries including Brazil, where it co-owns and operates a major sugar-export terminal.

Ghana is seen as one of the most political stable and business-friendly environments in Africa, but its sugar sector is virtually nonexistent -- although the Mills administration says it is determined to promote agro-processing in order to accelerate modernisation of agriculture and create over 300 projects by 2013.

The country’s two major sugar factories located at Asutsuare and Komenda collapsed after the overthrow of Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah, more than four decades ago.

Currently the 9th-largest importer of sugar in the world, the country spends about US$500million annually to import 300,000 metric tonnes of sugar.
Available data indicate that the country imported more than 450,000 metric tonnes through the port of Tema in 2010.

“We’ve had a number of discussions with Cargill, and we are facilitating all the necessary permits and other formalities for the establishment of the plant,” Kofi Sakyiama Antiri, Acting Director, Research and Investment Development at GIPC told B&FT.

“We have submitted their proposal to government, but there are number of issues that border on domestic interventions, which we believe government will work on.”
He noted that Cargill’s intention to set-up a sugar-refining plant in the country is a laudable move, adding that it will save the country a lot of foreign exchange in importing sugar and also create jobs.

Industry analysts say demand for sugar is rising at the rate of 2.3 percent annually, creating a huge local and regional market for potential investors.
Pharmaceutical and beverage industries are other potential markets for sugar and its by-products.

“We capable of meeting the demand in Ghana, and create opportunities for local cane farmers to sell their produce,” Drake said.

Drake noted that rural development provides Cargill with reliable partners to help its customers succeed.

For instance, he said, higher crop-yields and quality help ensure a dependable supply of inputs for our processing facilities.

“We’ve the right programmes and pricing mechanism that motivate the farmers to produce to meet our standard -- we will continue to invest in Ghana,” said Drake.

Postal and Courier operators meet

The Postal and Courier Services Regulatory Commission (PCSRC) has held its 4th Annual Stakeholders forum in Accra under the theme “Empowering the Postal and Courier operators for efficient service delivery”.

The PCSRC is the regulator for the postal and courier sector in Ghana, and it is a statutory body created by Act of parliament – the Postal and Courier Services Regulatory Commission A ct, 2003 (Act 649).

The chairman of the Board of the Commissioners of the PCSRC, Osabarima Ansah Sasraku, stated that the objective of this forum is to generate and share ideas to improve services provided by the postal and courier industry.

“This forum is part of a consultative process by the commission to ensure all views are carried on board, question answered and solutions found to address the challenges faced by you the operators in both the postal and courier sector while making sure that the interest of the consumer is equally addressed,” he added.

He announced that as at 31st August this year the commission had registered seven new private courier firms, and this brings to seventy the number of registered postal/courier firms. This includes Ghana post which remains the designated National Postal Service Provider.

“The increase in number of registered operators is as a result of a vigorous exercise by the commission to ensure that illegal operators are weeded out,” he continued.

He therefore renewed the commission’s earlier warning of stiffer sanctions against any persons, individuals or institutions operating a courier business in any part of the country without licence.

“We will continue to engage the police to clamp down on all illegal operators. Such activities do not only constitute punishable offences under Act 649; they also deprive the state of substantial revenue,” he cautioned.

The commission will soon launch an aggressive public education and awareness programme to ensure the existence and functions of the commission are well-known by all Ghanaians, especially business people who desire to venture into the postal and courier arena.

Osabarima Ansah said that the post remains the only cost-effective and easily accessible means of communications, particularly, for people living in rural areas; and that is why this commission is working assiduously with government to ensure the country has a vibrant and efficient postal service.

Mr. Emmanuel J. K. Arthur, Public Relations &consumer Affairs Manager, PCSRC, said the commission plans to create three zonal offices in Kumasi, Takrodi and Tamale to assist prospective operators to secure forms and submit them to the head offices.

Mr. Arthur said PCSRC is in the process of developing a website for the commission and is doing so in collaboration with the National Information Technology Authority (NATA).

The PCSRC licences and regulates postal and courier operations, and protects licenced operators and consumers from the unfair conduct of unlicenced/inefficient operators with regard to quality of postal services.

Temenos upgrades bankers’ skills

Temenos, a banking software development company, has organised a forum to upgrade the skills of bankers in the use of its software in their operations.

The forum, held in Accra, was under the theme “Achieving World-Class Banking Efficiency and Services Delivery”.

It was meant to bring together customers who are already using the software and share with them some of the new innovative products.

Over 150 participants from the banking industry attended the forum. Discussions at the forum focused on products such as T24 Upgrade features, mobile banking, treasure trader, inverter solution, ARC mobile and many more.

He indicated what T24 does is that it handles all financial systems of banks when is come to money transfer, electronic alert (e-alert), depositing, withdrawal as well as any other banking financial product.

He said that in order to improve upon their software effectively, Temenos spent about 20% of their annual revenue on research and development alone.

“For the past five years, we have been able to spent US$500million on research and development,” he added.

The company has offices in 65 countries of the world, with about 1,200 banks using the Temenos T24 product. In Ghana about 10 banks are currently using the product, including CAL Bank as well as some rural banks in the country.

Ralph Talbi, Temenos Client Relationship for West Africa, said Temenos products such as T24 enables the bank to run its bank statement effectively.

He explained that Temenos is a banking software specialist, with its award-winning T24 core banking platform at the heart of its solution portfolio. Their consistently high annual investment in research and development enables it to constantly invest in new technology, functionality and in meeting new regulatory requirements - allowing them to deliver products that are consistently ‘state of the art’.

He expressed concern that the company is committed to open standards and working in partnership with the industry leading hardware, database and middleware solution providers to ensure that its software is available on and optimised for a wider range of technology platforms than any other core banking vendor.

“We believe that the open architecture approach and leaving the choice of platform to their customers enables clients to achieve the lowest total cost of ownership and to leverage existing skills, investments or vendor relationships in order to achieve the highest possible return on investment,” he stated.

Monday, September 12, 2011

VW Amarok breaks new grounds

The VW Amarok, a vehicle which unites cross-country mobility, flexibility and efficiency like no other pickup does on almost all terrains. Ekow Essabra-Mensah looks at its attributes.

When others reach their limits, the Amarok, a mid-size pickup truck built by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV) makes it way without compromise.

The Amarok range consists of single cab and double cab, combined with either rear-wheel drive or 4motion four-wheel drive, and is powered by Turbocharged Direct Injection (TDI) diesel engines.

The VW Amarok unites cross-country mobility, flexibility and efficiency like no other pickup leveraging on its optional 4 Motion all- wheel drive for traction on almost all terrains.

Thanks to the broadest loaded crosswise and its powerful 2.0litre TDI Biturbo engine, which set new standards in terms of fuel economy. And , last but not the least, its robust ladder frame chassis, which offers a high level of stability during even the toughest assignments.

The Amarok breaks new grounds on conventional roads as well: with its high-quality interior and driving characteristics that leave nothing to be desired, it also set a whole new standard in terms of comfort and dynamics.

Even the toughest challenges are easy assignment for the Amarok: It has been designed to consistently provide high resilience and functionality- from the broadest load area in its category to the comfortable seats in a sturdy anthracite spacer fabric. The Amarok offers that little bit extra at all times-particularly in terms of its passenger’s compartment space.

Look forward to generously laid out leg and head room, which remains unequalled in this category. And your tools and small objects have also been taken into consideration: lots of practical storage trays provide ample space to store everything in an orderly manner.
The pickup with certain extras

Georgina Mensah, Marketing Manager of the Universal Motors Limited in an interview with B&FT explained: “The Amarok has particularly dynamic appearance with its numerous optical highlights such as the colourkeyed front bumper and door handles. The rear bumper is kept in black for a distinctive look.

“Another classy and attractive touch is added by the 16 alloy wheels, which literally round off the design. Inside the passenger compartment, the seats are upholstered with the fabric.

“A centre armrest provides added comfort. Particularly practical: small items can be stored in drawers under the front seats. It has the driving comfort of saloon cars and can be used for both work and pleasure.”

Exterior and Wheels

The design of the Amarok is not only functional but extremely striking, too: you’ll recognise the typical Volkswagen face with its distinctive front headlights from afar. The flared wheelhouses, which are standard on the Amarok highline, underline its powerful character and the eye-catching rear lights perfectly round off the vehicle’s strong look.
There’s no question about it, this design clearly conveys pure determination.

The load area

The Amarok boast of its loading width of 1,222mm between the wheel housings, the Amarok can even transport task crosswise –unthinkable for most pickups. The entire load area is used in an optimum manner.

There are four lashing eyes to ensure that the load is secured correctly so that everything stays in place. And the sturdy tailboard can be used as a practical extension of the load area. It heavy duty leaf springs have been specially designed for off-road assignments and allow a payload of up to one tone.

The load platform illumination lights up the load platform so that users can even load the vehicle in the dark. Additionally, a third brake light is integrated in the load platform illumination.

The styling bar-actually depicts the characteristic traits of a pickup. The solid tubing has a diameter of 76 mm and is available in polished stainless steel or in black. The styling bar does not interfere with the load volume as it is mounted on the loading sill.


However tough a work assignment may be, nothing will shake you in the Amarok. The comfortable interior has equipment that you would only expect to find in a passenger vehicle. From the optional leather upholstery to the clearly laid out dashboard, the passenger compartment has been designed to make you feel comfortable. Particularly the generous amount of head and leg room provides you with plenty of space for enjoyment.

Safety and comfort

The Amarok smoothly copes with difficult terrain-thanks to numerous safety systems and comfort features.

Anti-lock Braking System (ABS).If a wheel is in danger of locking, the system immediately intervenes by reducing the brakes pressure in a controlled manner. This helps to keep the Amarok fully steerable when braking hard.

The Off-road ABS. In addition to the standard ABS, Off-road is available for the Amarok. It has been specifically developed for use on difficult terrain. As soon as the Off-road ABS function has been activated-by pressing a button- the braking interval is increased.

The wheels lock up in a controlled manner so that small wedges of material from the ground such as gravel or sand build up in front of each wheel. This can substantially reduce the stopping distance of the vehicle.

The Electronic Stabilisation Programme (ESP) helps prevent the vehicle from swerving. In order to respond to critical driving conditions, the system evaluates data provided by a network of sensors.

It can, for example recognise what direction the driver is steering in and what direction the vehicle is moving in- and it is also informed on the load situation. It can build up brake force to offer directional stability when needed. At the same time, ESP is syschronised with the ABS functions and also remains activated with shiftable 4MOTION all-wheel drive.

The Hill Start and Hill Descent Assist: This system, which is only available in conjunction with ESP, prevents the Amarok from rolling backwards on an uphill incline and increases braking pressure on downhill slopes.

The airbags: You have a choice of three different airbag equipment lines: It has an airbag for the driver to cushion the head and body. The passenger’s side can also be equipped with an airbag as an option. For even more protection, there is a package with combined head/thorax airbags in addition to the airbags for the driver and front passenger. These inflate is a heavy side-impact collision and lower the risk of injury to the ribcage.

Emergency stop signal: In the event of an emergency stop at 50 kph or above, the brake lights start flashing. If the vehicle comes to a standstill, the hazard warning lights are activated and will automatically switch off as soon as you reach a speed of 10kph when you resume driving.


The Amarok offers a variety of attractive sound experience: the radio systems provide great entertainment for the entire passenger compartment with up to six loudspeakers. And to ensure that your journey is not only comfortable but also safe, the multi-function display supplies you with important vehicle data.

The Radio Plus with an MP3 compatible CD drive and climatic air conditioning system to automatically regulate the temperature inside the vehicle are available as standard to ensure your well-being of course, you can also let in a refreshing breath of air by opening the electronic windows with the push of a button.

Now nothing will stand in the way of an exciting and yet relaxing drive. The Amarok is being sold for US$28,400 as the starting price.

The name Amarok which means Wolf in the Inuit language was developed and researched by branding agency Interbrand on request from Volkswagen. VW considers the Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Triton to be Amarok competitors.

US$3b required to improve Ghana's energy sector

Alfred Ofosu Ahenkorah, Executive Secretary of the Energy Commission, says the country requires US$ 3 billion to improve the energy sector.

“The country is faced with a broad challenge of lack of regulations, institutional framework and incentives for investment. The sector is under-capitalised.

“The nation is faced with multi-faceted challenges to get the energy sector into proper shape for efficient delivery throughout the country.”

The country currently produces approximately 2000 megawatt of power and expects to generate 5000 megawatt by 2015.

Mr. Ahenkorah dropped this hint at a three-day capacity building exchange programme for Director-Generals of the West African Power Pool (WAPP) members, aimed at proposing strategic reforms and finding ways of making real progress in the various countries.

“Over the years, the distribution sector has not seen massive investment. The system has been saddled with over-aged and obsolete equipment, overloads, high losses, low voltages and evacuation constraints among others,” he said.

Kwaku Awotwi, Chief Executive Officer, Volta River Authority, indicated that Ghana has been at the forefront of WAPP, focusing on reforms.

Amadou Diallo, Secretary General, WAPP, explained that the drive towards obtaining a fully operational regional network is dependent on the successes of individual national systems, and as such this has being the objective of WAPP-- to push for excellent cooperation between member utilities to enable countries share and learn from challenges and success stories.

He indicated that power-sector reforms have offered viable options for response to challenges faced in the power industry, and these have invariably catalysed the growth of the sector.

He observed that Ghana and Nigeria have in the last years successfully carried out reforms in the power sectors, unbundling key major utilities into various units in order to derive the maximum benefits therein.

“As other sister utilities have embarked on the journey to reform their electricity sub-sectors, and others consider following these steps, this exchange programme offers us the chance to interact on the opportunities and challenges uphill,” Diallo remarked.

Meanwhile concerns have been raised that leaders need to end the routine electricity blackouts occurring in almost all West African countries.

In West Africa, the bulk of power plants and transmission facilities were built in the 1950s and 1960s. Little investment and maintenance has left the infrastructure creaking at the seams. Nigeria, a prime example, operates at one-third of its installed capacity due to aging equipment.

ECOWAS estimates that 5,600 kilometres (km) of electricity lines connecting segments of national grids will be put in place.

About US$11.8 billion will be needed for the necessary power lines and new generating plants. This infrastructure would provide the ECOWAS sub-region an installed capacity of 10,000 megawatts (mw).

Under the WAPP agreement, countries hope to develop energy production facilities and interconnect their respective electricity grids.

The major sources of electricity under the power pool would be hydroelectricity and gas to fuel thermal stations. Hydropower would be mainly generated on the Niger (Nigeria), Volta (Ghana), Bafing (Mali), and Bandama (Côte d'Ivoire) rivers.

Assistance from donor governments is critical. Some donors willing to finance ECOWAS's WAPP project include the Agence Française de Développement, World Bank, European Investment Bank, West African Development Bank and the Nordic Fund.

‘Abandon interim EPA’

Signing of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) will permanently lock the country’s economy deeper into a primary commodity-dependence trap and derail harmonisation of regional integration, civil society organisations have cautioned.

Ghana initialled a separate Interim EPA with the European Union (EU) four years ago, ostensibly to end uncertainty and protect a very small group of exporters who depend almost exclusively on the EU market -- as their products would have attracted additional tariffs upon expiration, in December 2007, of the preference regime for some Ghanaian and Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) exports.

The IEPA is explained as a temporary measure meant to alleviate specific issues of countries such as Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Ghana, pending harmonisation and completion at the ECOWAS level.

“The interim EPA is onerous and indeed inimical to the country’s development and to the region, yet government is threatening to make it a permanent agreement.

“The IEPA, as an additional trade regime, will further fragment and eventually derail harmonisation of West Africa’s regional position and integration,” Mr. Gyekye Tanoh, Head of Economic Unit, Third World Network (TWN), said at a media forum in Accra.

The forum comes ahead of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Ministerial Monitoring Committee (MMC) meeting on EPAs scheduled for Accra next month. The MMC is the highest EPA authority for ECOWAS and its member-states.

The IEPA grants the country export margins into the EU market including full duty-free access, with the country earning approximately €240 million annually from such exports.
Among export commodities eligible under the EPA agreement are pineapples, frozen foods and canned tuna.

According to Mr. Tanoh, the country’s continuous use of an IEPA is a threat to repositioning of the national economy and to regional integration in the ECOWAS bloc.

“The EPAs will not promote industrialisation and structural transformation of African economies, but will lock the economy deeper into a primary commodity-dependence trap.”

Mr. Tanoh proposed that government should explain how the EPAs will help rather than hinder its new industrial policy and the country’s industrialisation imperatives. It must also explain how its own IEPA will help the harmonisation of ECOWAS integration.

“We therefore urge government to reject the IEPAs and join the ECOWAS harmonisation and integration process as the country’s current approach has introduced confusion in these regional EPA processes.

“Ghana’s current stance further threatens to introduce multiple trade regimes in West Africa, a very dangerous step.

“Ghana’s position is also holding to ransom the country’s economy and the much larger Ghanaian exporting community that is less dependent on the European Union (EU) market.

“The IEPA remains a Trojan horse as it will make it easier for the overall EPA process to override as well as block progress towards West Africa’s regional efforts to develop coherent common tariff regimes that provide sufficient developmental space.”

He explained that the EU’s demands and pressure in areas that go beyond tariffs and World Trade Organisation (WTO) commitments – such as financial services, public procurement, investment, health, raw Materials and natural resources - pose even greater threats and are of more strategic importance to Africa’s economic transformation, industrialisation and overall development.

“Our contention is that the IEPA must be abandoned. It is a threat to the repositioning of the national economy and to regional integration in ECOWAS. We urge the government to do so at the MMC meeting it will host in September.

“We also call on the government to expeditiously clear up this damaging uncertainty whose most tangible manifestation is the treacherous existence of the country’s IEPA alongside the regional ECOWAS EPA position and process.”

Dr. David Pessey, Consultant, Ghana National Association of Poultry Farmers, pointed out that signing the IEPAs would add to the woes of the country and deepen unemployment.

He remarked that the rampant importation of chicken from Europe has led to the collapse of the local poultry industry, adding that the cost of imported poultry products is relatively cheaper because foreign farmers receive heavy subsidies from their governments and get loans at cheaper rates, thereby making it difficult for locals to compete.

Rose Mensah-Kutin, Executive Director, Abantu for Development, indicated that there are growing examples of how deeply problematic the EPAs are proving for developing countries and regions.

“The EU sought to extend free-trade rules into new areas such as health and intermediate inputs, which include access to strategic raw materials and natural resources. But it refuses to meet the requirement to provide additional funding for the high cost of adjusting to the EPA in our economies,” she argued.

EDITORIAL;EPA is not good for Ghana

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the country have cautioned government to reject entirely the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) pushed by the European Union (EU).

They argued that signing of the agreement will permanently lock the country’s economy deeper into a primary commodity dependence trap and derail harmonisation of regional integration.

Ghana initialled a separate Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (IEPA) with the EU four years ago, ostensibly to end uncertainty and protect a very small group of exporters who depend almost exclusively on the EU market as their products would have attracted additional tariffs upon expiration of the preference regime for some Ghanaian and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) exports in December 2007.

The IEPA is explained as a temporary measure meant to alleviate specific issues of countries such as Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Ghana, pending harmonisation and completion at the ECOWAS level.

Three of the CSOs, namely Abantu for Development, Ghana National Association of Poultry Farmers and Third World Network (TWN), emphasised that initialling the EPA as an additional trade regime will further fragment and eventually derail harmonisation of West Africa’s regional position and regional integration,

Mr. Gyekye Tanoh, Head of Economic Unit, Third World Network (TWN) said: “The interim EPA is onerous and indeed inimical to the country’s development and to the region, yet government is threatening to make it a permanent agreement.”

This Paper, at present, would like to caution government to be mindful of the fact that there are worrying signals regarding the development of the EPA in the international landscape.

Our position is informed by three basic issues that need to be considered in what decision we take.

Firstly, the EPA is essentially nothing more than the old Marshallian philosophy of divide and rule that the Europeans have used time and again to control the African continent, which they consider as their backyard and a source of supply of cheap raw materials.

Ghana’s economy, and for that matter the whole of the ECOWAS economies, has been one of a primary resource supplier to the European market. The EPA is basically a mechanism for propagating the status quo.

A decision to sign on to the EPA is therefore a decision to maintain the status quo; a decision against it is to kick against the status quo.

The second fact, closely linked to the first, is about the choice of diversifying and integrating economies of the sub-region so as to make them more competitive and stronger in an increasingly difficult global economy.

This fact is not lost on West Africa’s economic juggernaut, Nigeria, which curiously blocked the entry of some 77 Ghanaian non-traditional exports - which are most manufactures - to that country when Ghana signed the IEPA.

Ghana will now have to either pay the price of losing its European market for its primary commodities, or look to bear the cost of developing its more prospective markets in the sub-region and the continent as a whole for its value added products.

The pain of losing the European market, which in this Paper’s opinion is not entirely likely, is the short-term price to pay for the long-term gain of establishing a strong presence in the burgeoning sub-regional market for Ghanaian manufactured products.

The third point, and perhaps the most important, is that the global economy-dynamics have changed with new important capital and commodity markets emerging.

The BRICS countries are becoming important participants in Ghana’s economy, especially China which also has become an important source of financing for basic infrastructure development in the country.

If previously Ghana was entirely dependent upon its development partners for its development programmes, not so now. It is about time the country came into its own and made a strong statement about its readiness to take its destiny into its own hands.

Indeed, there are growing examples of how deeply problematic the EPAs are proving for developing countries and regions. The official position of the Conference of African Trade Ministers held in Kigali towards the end of last year highlighted several of these problems and threats.

The most recent ECOWAS-EU negotiation sessions in Brussels last June show how intractable these problems are. Yet the EU continues to push for more. In the June Brussels sessions, the EU tried to shoot down the Common External Tariff framework that ECOWAS is trying to develop and implement, with threats of WTO sanctions.

The EU further demanded more liberalisation of market access for its goods than the 70 percent ECOWAS is offering, which expert opinion considers as already too high and uncompetitive for West Africa. Ghana’s market opening to the EU in the IEPA is much higher, at 80.5 percent.

This is one of the reasons why ECOWAS rejected the Ghana IEPA as a template, and why the continued existence of the Ghana IEPA poses a huge problem for the country and the sub-region.

The EU also sought to extend free trade rules into new areas such as health and “intermediate inputs”, which includes access to strategic raw materials and natural resources. But at the same time, the EU refuses to meet the requirement to provide additional funding for the high costs on our economies of adjusting to the EPA.

Obviously, the desperation with which the EU is pushing the EPA lends credence to suspicions, especially from CSOs, that their intentions are more than supporting the economic development of the ACP countries. Now is the time to kick against the status quo. Period!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

ECOBIZ to boost regional trade

The Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI) is leading the establishment of common trade platform that would increase trade flows among neighboring ECOWAS countries.

The platform, ECOWAS Business Directory (ECOBIZ) system is an online business information system meant to promote intra community trade and investment opportunities existing in ECOWAS member states.

The overall objective is to deepen and promote business opportunities among neighbouring countries, which is in response to the collective drive of achieving the borderless ECOWAS trade.

The platform as well involves networking to improve cross-border economic ties between member companies of the national chambers of Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire among others.

Mr. Jean De Dieu SOMDA, Vice President of ECOWAS, made this disclosure in Accra when he paid a courtesy call on the senior executives of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Accra to monitor and evaluate the progress of the ECOBIZ activities in the country.

“The project examines the utilization of ECOBIZ, an electronic platform established by the ECOWAS Commission to promote trade among ECOWAS Member States in pursuance of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS).

“Interventions to enhance trans-border trade include the application of information and communications technology (ICT) in the conduct of business,” he stated.

Mr Emmanuel Doni-Kwame, acting Chief Executive, GNCCI explained The GNCCI is seriously working with counterpart chambers in the sub-region to influence policy decisions and enforcement in the removal of barriers that hinder the smooth transit of goods.

“The platform should identify the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats of GNCCI and other related issues that impede GNCCI from achieving its objective of enhancing the performance of its member companies, to be committed to efforts to improve trade flows between Ghana and its neighboring countries within the framework of ECOWAS regional integration process,” he said.

Speaking in an interview with the B&FT, Mr. Doni-Kwami explained that ECOBIZ system is designed to contribute to the development of the external trade of ECOWAS member countries and which as a result give impetus to the ECOWAS trade liberalization scheme.

It particularly aims at the intensification of intra-community exchanges for economic operators namely producers, craftsmen, exporters, importers, agents and service providers in order to enable them establish business relations.

“Over 1053 products and services have been offered to other neighbouring countries whilst Ghana is demanding 219 products and service from businesses.”

He urged Ghanaian business operators to take advantage of the opportunities the platform offers to boost trade with neighboring countries.

To be able to access ECOBIZ, the user must have a computer connected to internet.

The address of the site:

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First quarter mineral revenue records US$1.2b

Mineral revenue for the first quarter of 2011 was about US$ 1.2 billion, up by 47% compared to the same period of 2010 figure of US$ 809.9 million, the latest Ghana Chamber of Mines figures have revealed.

The industry performance was greatly driven by healthy outturn of gold and manganese product segments except bauxite and diamond.

However, the dip in purchases of diamond was compensated for by the prices of the mineral resulting in its positive revenue variance.

The sharp decline in shipments of bauxite could not be helped by the relatively higher realized price of the mineral.

“Whilst the global economic situation appeared favourable to Ghana’s mining industry, the country appeared not to have taken advantage of the situation optimally. The creeping rebound of the economies of some emerging and industrial nations have witnessed a revival in demand for industrial minerals.

“It is however gratifying that, most gold mining companies have continued with their expansion programmes, whilst new production is on stream. In this regard, the gold mining sub-sector is favourably disposed to the healthy conditions,” the Chamber of Mines said.

B&FT has gathered that the total investment inflow into the mining sector in 2010 was US$770 million, up from the US$762 million that was recorded in 2009.he investment came from producing, exploration and support service companies.

Cumulatively, the investment inflow into the sector from 2000 to 2010 stood at approximately US$6.2 billion.

“The year looks promising for the mining industry. Additional production from new mines -Adamus Resources and Owere Mines - as well as the prospects that Owere Mines will increase production beyond the marginal output increases arising out of existing mine expansion projects,” said Daniel Owiredu, President of the Chamber.

“The expected higher volumes of mineral production and strengthening of the gold price is expected to result in increased mineral revenue, with a corresponding increase in mineral royalties and corporate tax payment to government,” added Owiredu.

He explained that mining firms have to spend huge sums of money to secure their concessions due to the illegal mining menace in the country.

Regarding the review of mining contracts, Owiredu said: “Since mining agreements provide certainty to the investor, the Chamber is looking forward to its members concluding the discussions with government expeditiously - having due regard to the fact that commodity prices such as those relating to gold are cyclical.”

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

The mining sub-sector grew remarkably, by 11.2 percent compared to the 6.8 percent it recorded in 2009. By this growth performance, the industry came second behind the electricity sub-sector which grew by 16.7 percent in 2010.

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

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

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

In addition, the mining sub-sector contributed about GH¢520 million to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), representing 21 percent of total GRA collections in 2010.