Friday, December 16, 2011

Africa urged to keep eye on the ball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DELL deepens Ghana’s operation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mining tax-hike tango

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Higher prices, more money….. or not

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

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

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

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

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

Government will still demand more

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mining revenues already substantial

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

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

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

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

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

Nokia warns of fake phones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IFC to approve US$300m for infrastructure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Investments in Africa

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

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

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

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

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

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

PHC Motors launches Range Rover ‘Evoque’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DVLA must check vehicles without emergency doors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GRA trains freight forwarders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

€22m facility for private sector

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US$185m to support rural enterprises

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tata Indica Vista unveiled

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Small scale mining to become self reliant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Small-scale mining is reserved for Ghanaian citizens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US$200m to revive Obuasi mine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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