Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ex-factory prices slips to 16.8% in Sep.

The annual producer price inflation fell to16.8 percent in September, representing a decrease in producer inflation of 1.0 percentage points. The August 2012 figure was 17.8 percent.

The ex-factory prices of the manufacturing industry recorded the highest year-on-year producer inflation rate of 20.5 percent, being the major contributor to the producer price index’s decline during the year under review.

 Mining and quarrying which followed also recorded a 19.5 percent decline, with utilities marking a 3.0 percent decline.

The pace of producer price inflation for August had initially been recorded at 16.6 percent, but has since been revised to 17.8 percent, the acting Government Statistician, Dr. Philomena Nyarko, explained at a news conference in Accra.

 Dr. Nyarko said that the producer price changes since September 2006 -- as well as the year-on-year and monthly inflation rates -- for all industry and three major sub-sectors of industry Mining and Quarrying, Manufacturing and Utilities for the last twelve months reflected a reduction.

The fall in month-on-month producer prices between August 2012 and September 2012 was 1.3 percent. In spite of the double-digit inflation in the wholesale market, the country has managed to keep consumer price inflation below 10 percent.

Annual consumer price inflation increased marginally to 9.4 percent in September.

 In September 2012, producer price inflation in the mining and quarrying sector increased by approximately 2.6 percentage points over the August 2012 rate of 16.9 percent, to record 19.5 percent.

 Manufacturing, which constitutes more than two-thirds of total industry, increased slightly to 20.5 percent from a rate of 20.4 percent in August 2012.

The Utilities sector recorded 10.5 percent inflation rate in August 2012, but dropped to 3.0 percent in September 2012. During the 12-month period, all industry recorded the highest inflation of 19.6 percent in September 2011 and the lowest of 13.6 percent in December 2011.

From January to May 2012, producer inflation fluctuated between 15.0 percent and 16.6 percent.

However, in June 2012 the rate rose to 19.1 percent but declined slightly in July 2012 to 19.0 percent and further dropped to 17.8 percent in August.

The declining trend continued in September 2012, to record an inflation rate of 16.8 percent.

 During the month of September 2012, seven of the 16 major groups in the manufacturing sector recorded an inflation rate higher than the sector average of 20.5 percent.

Publishing, printing and reproduction of recorded media recorded the highest inflation rate of 42.0 percent, while manufacture of machinery and equipment recorded inflation of negative seven percent.

During the last 12 months, producer inflation in the petroleum industry exhibited a downward trend. The highest inflation rate in the industry was recorded at 27.1 percent in September 2011; and the lowest was 16.7 percent, also in September 2012.

SME market set for March 2013

The Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) says it plans to launch the Ghana Alternate Market (GAM) for small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) by the end of first-quarter 2013.

This follows approval by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the rules and regulations that will govern the proposed market.

 “With the approval of the regulations, GSE can now approach SMEs. We have applied for funds from donor agencies and are working with the Venture Capital Trust Fund to prepare them to list,”

Mr. Ekow Afedzi, Deputy Managing Director of the GSE, said. The concept of the Alternative Market is to address complaints by SMEs about the stringent criteria which make it impossible to use the main stock market to raise equity for their businesses.

 According to the GSE, it is tentatively looking at SMEs with a minimum stated capital of GH¢250,000 and that have been in operation for at least a year. It will however consider “greenfield” companies that have the potential to be profitable.

 Ordinarily, a company should have been in operation for at least three years with a minimum stated capital of GH¢1million to qualify to list. And once listed, the entity is required to publish its financial statements quarterly.

For the new SME market, listed entities will be mandated to publish their statements half-yearly. The GSE has also set up a GH¢1million revolving fund to support the listing of SMEs on the proposed Alternative Market.

The Fund, known as the SME Listing Revolving Fund Facility, will provide resources to qualifying high-growth companies to have listing expenses paid ahead of actual public floatation.

This fund is expected to be operational following approval of the structure for creation of the GAM. The GSE and other donors are expected to contribute to the fund. Once the fund is in place, SMEs will be able to apply for monies to meet the cost of listing.

The Venture Capital Trust Fund (VCTF) has contributed US$500,000 into the fund. In recent times, the Exchange has taken measures to boost liquidity and trading. Among them is a new requirement for companies to increase the number of their issued shares to 100 million. Of the 35 listed entities, 15 have been affected by this policy.

 Last year, the exchange signed a memorandum of understanding with a private equity fund-manager specialising in SMEs to use the market as an exit-vehicle for investee-companies under the fund’s management.

SEC is also considering a proposal to increase the minimum capital of licenced dealing members on the exchange.

More capital would help dealers trade more stocks and create demand when the market is lean. source:b&ft

China beats US to Africa’s oil

Although the US is still an important buyer of Middle Africa’s crude oil, China has emerged as the largest buyer in 2012, accounting for close to 60% of all Asian imports from the region, research by the Ecobank Group has shown.

 Middle Africa crude includes oil produced by countries in sub-Saharan Africa such as Nigeria, Angola, Cameroon, Chad, the Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, South Sudan, and Ghana.

 The report, released on October 23, attributes the shift to a “large increase in consumption by China” on the one hand, and the fact that the US is on course to cut its oil demand by 1.5 million barrels per day (mbpd) by 2013, due to rising domestic production.

 “Accelerated development programmes in Texas and North Dakota, which account for 40% of crude production in the US, saw oil production leap 12% in 2011,” the report said.

After accounting for about 45% of all crude oil imports out of Middle Africa in 2005, imports to the US have since declined to around 23%.

Asian refiners, the report noted, have developed a taste for West Africa’s light sweet crude grades, raising their demand for West African crude grades from an annual average of 1.57 million barrels per day (mbpd) in 2011 to 1.76 mbpd in 2012, a 12% increase.

 The dynamics in West Africa, with its newly-emerging oil countries like Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone appear to be no different.

 In Ghana, reports say that China’s largest oil trading firm, UNIPEC, has taken over the marketing of government’s share of crude oil from the Jubilee Field as part of conditions covering the US$3billion oil-backed Chinese loan the country has contracted.

But China is not the only Asian giant with a keen appetite for Africa’s oil. India and the entire Asia Pacific region have seen large increases in consumption of the region’s oil, according to the report.

 With Asia’s evolving role as a major trading partner for Middle Africa’s oil, the economic outlook for Asia will be critical in determining the direction of crude oil prices and the foreign exchange earnings of most of the region’s exporters, it said.

 “A key focus will be on China and India, which are the largest Asian importers of crude oil. Crude oil imports from these two countries account for 82% of imports by the Asian region.”

 While this is largely a reflection of the financial capacity and industrial demand in these countries, it also represents a potential buyer-concentration risk for Middle Africa as underlined by the downward trend in West African crude exports to Asia in 2012.

 Exports of West African crude started strong in the first quarter of 2012, at an average of 1.84 mbpd, but dropped to an average of 1.69 mbpd by the third quarter.

 Another downside is that if crude oil prices rise too fast, even China is likely to accelerate domestic production to take advantage of economic gains and reduce its imports.

The developments in the US and Asia are important for Middle Africa at two levels, the report said. The first is the fact that revenue from crude oil forms the larger part of export and government revenue in most Middle Africa countries, which in turn has significant influence on the level of economic activity -- including providing capital for infrastructural development.

 Secondly, crude oil sales generate the highest level of foreign exchange for most Middle Africa countries, which affects the strength of their respective currencies.

 The report stated: “All things being equal, the forces of demand and supply in the currency market are expected to maintain this delicate dynamic.

However, this has not been the case with several Middle Africa crude oil exporters as most are also net importers, and thus have a high demand for foreign exchange already.

“Furthermore, more Middle Africa countries are looking to issue Eurobonds to cover their budget deficit, diversify their funding sources and reduce their borrowing costs.

These foreign loans will attract repayment in foreign exchange, increasing the demand for foreign earnings.

Thus, developments in the Asia Pacific region need to be closely monitored and could dictate the outlook on Middle Africa’s crude oil revenue potential.”


Dividends should be tax-exempt – SEC

The Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr. Adu Anane Antwi, has called for uniformity in the tax policies that govern interest earned on investing in listed equities and government bonds and treasuries. “We shouldn’t use tax policies to create an unlevel playing field for our investors. If an individual invests or buys government bonds or treasuries, the interest that is paid to that individual is not taxed; so why can’t we use the same system for individuals that invest in equities?” he quizzed. “Sometimes, an individual gets a dividend of GH¢1 or GH¢4 and government still takes 8% [as tax]. We think that it does not encourage individuals to come to the market,” he said. Anane Antwi was speaking to the B&FT on the sidelines of the launch of this year’s Capital Market Week in Accra. He proposed a ceiling to ensure that wealthy individuals do not take undue advantage of a removal of taxes on dividends. “Because we have some wealthy individuals, government can say that if an individual gets a dividend up to GH¢200 it will not be taxed. But if it is more, then it means you are a wealthy person and have to pay taxes.” Mr. Anane Antwi also explained that the risk associated with equities on the country’s capital market makes it precarious to invest pension funds in equities. “Strictly speaking, pension funds should not be invested in equities because of their risky nature; pension funds will normally invest in fixed-income securities -- where you can budget for the incomes that you are going to receive each year and therefore you know your cash flow,” he said. Mr. Antwi said the key area that pensions will have to look at is the bond market. “We must develop our corporate bond market to make sure that we have investment products for the pension funds.” Speaking at the event, the Deputy Managing Director of the Ghana Stock Exchange, Mr. Ekow Afedzie, said government should allow the Agricultural Development Bank to list on the stock exchange to raise more capital. “You know that ADB belongs to government and the Bank of Ghana; it is normally the owners who determine when to go public. The management of ADB and the board came out boldly that they wanted to go public -- not to sell the government’s shares but to raise money to expand, and that is a very laudable idea -- and we will encourage government to allow them to do that.” ADB is 52% owned by government with the remaining 48% held by the Financial Investment Trust on behalf of the Bank of Ghana. “For us at the Stock Exchange, we wish they would come this year or even tomorrow; because ADB has become a very profitable bank and is doing very well, and I believe investors will be willing to pick up shares in the bank,” he added. source:b&ft

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Load-shedding hits miners

Mining companies are sweating over the potential of not meeting their production targets in view of the on-going load-shedding exercise.

The issue is not just about producing below targets, but also the resultant retrenchment of some of their workers because they have to keep tabs on the cost of operations.

 The companies say having to rely on generators to keep their mines running 24-hours is much more costly than using power from the national grid.

 The load-shedding has occurred as a result of the inability of the Sunon Asogli Power Plant to produce power after pipelines belonging to the West Africa Gas Pipeline Company (WAPCo), which carry gas to the plant, were damaged by a ship in Togo.

 Mining executives told the B&FT it is only logical that the companies take a second look at their operations, in terms of their manpower deployment, if the load-shedding persists longer than expected.

Kwame Addo-Kuffour, Anglogold Ashanti’s (Ghana) Vice President in charge of Corporate Affairs, said the mining industry will suffer most in terms of keeping up with the pace of running costs.

He expressed sentiments indicating that the industry will have to rationalise its operations to make production profitable.

 Currently, mines that have been severely affected by the load-shedding are Goldfields Ghana Limited’s Damang and Tarkwa Mines; Ghana Manganese Company’s Chirano Mines; and Adamus among others who rely on the Electricity Company of Ghana for power supply. President of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Mr. Dan Owiredu, in an interview said so far the challenge has been with the ECG customers.

 “The ECG customers are potentially exposed, so there have been some formal communications between ECG and the mining companies in which we have said that given the difficulties in the management of the load-shedding, sometimes we are not too sure of what the load will be like at the bulk supply point during the peak period.

 “This means that those on the ECG [system] will have to put on their generator sets within that period to sustain production,” he said.

 “The fact is that ECG customers are now incurring higher costs of energy bills and cannot sustain the same number of employees if the load-shedding becomes acute.

 “This can be managed in the short-term, but if it goes on beyond a certain point we will have no option than to cut down on our numbers and our production,” he added.

Mr. Owiredu revealed that there are on-going negotiations between a consortium of four mining companies -- AngloGold Ashanti, Newmont Gold Ghana, Golden Star Resources, and Gold Fields Ghana Limited --- to run approximately 35 megawatts of power from the 80-megawatt power plant the four donated to government through the Volta River Authority.

The four companies had provided the plant to VRA to maintain as back-up capacity in the event of a crisis like the industry has now been plunged into.

 “For us, we opted for that because the cost to our business of not running is higher. If we shut down the cost will be too high, because you’ve got the fixed costs and you will be producing nothing if every time your plant is down,” he said.

Mr. Sulemanu Koney, Director of Analysis, Research and Finance of the Chamber, confirmed that the challenge has been with ECG’s customers in the industry.

“It is in the interest of government to stabilise the situation,” he said. Meanwhile, the ECG has said the ongoing load-shedding exercise is likely to continue into next year if repair works on the West African Gas Pipeline are not completed by December 25, as WAPCo has indicated.

According to the company, it can only supply power to its customers if it continues to receive power from its generators. “For us, since we are not a generator, whatever we get from the generators we sell.

If by December they can give us the extra energy, then we will take that and sell to our customers.

This means the load-shedding will stop. If it continues beyond that, we will have to do the load- shedding until we can get the full complement of energy,” a source at ECG explained.

Maritime trade to hit 19m tonnes

Maritime trade is projected to record a total volume of 19 million tonnes in 2012, an increase of 20 percent over last year’s 17.9 million tonnes, Bashiru Hakim of the Research Department of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority has told B&FT.

The volume of maritime trade was 4.86 million tonnes at the two ports in Tema and Takoradi during the second quarter of 2012. Of this, total imports were 3.67 million tonnes representing 76 percent while total exports amounted to 1.19 million tonnes, representing 24 percent.

The Tema Port handled over 79 percent of the total trade, which was over 3.84 million tonnes, while the Takoradi Port handled the remaining 21 percent amounting to 1.02 million tonnes of the total trade volume.

 Additionally, transit tonnage during the period was 161,905 tonnes at the two ports, accounting for three percent of the total maritime trade.

Data on the type of trade show total liner trade, on the import side, amounted to over 1.51 million tonnes in the second quarter. This was 20 percent more than what was recorded for the same period in 2011.

Dry bulk import trade for the period was eight percent more than the tonnage recorded for the same period in 2011, while the liquid bulk trade saw a 24 percent jump from the second quarter of 2011.

On the export side, total liner trade was 589,315 tonnes in the second quarter, down 12 percent from a year ago. Dry bulk export trade was 568,455 tonnes, an increase of 15 percent during the review period.

 Direction of trade During the second half, a greater share of imports -- 29 percent -- into the country came from the Far East, while the North Continent contributed the second-largest share of 20 percent. The share of imports from Africa was 10 percent.

 Forty-nine percent of exports went to the Far East in the period, 17% to the North Continent region, and 4% to Africa. Major import items in the liner trade included processed food and beverages (194,054 tonnes), machinery and equipment (112,418 tonnes) and Iron/Steal/Pipes (172,935 tonnes).

 For dry bulk trade, major import items included grains (136,495 tonnes), fertiliser (83,848 tonnes), cement (186,330 tonnes) and clinker (494,208 tonnes).

Major liquid bulk import items were petroleum products (740,924 tonnes) and crude oil (244,749 tonnes).

Major liner export items for the review period included cocoa beans which contributed 193,426 tonnes, and cashew nuts (62,759 tonnes).

Cocoa products contributed 36,273 tonnes; metal scraps, 39,233 tonnes; timber logs, 34,592 tonnes; and sawn timber, 98,051 tonnes.

 In the dry bulk export trade, major export items were manganese (401,543 tonnes), bauxite (129,281 tonnes) and sheanuts (17,315 tonnes).

The liquid bulk items were mostly petroleum products. Major countries whose transit trade passed through the sea ports of Ghana included Burkina Faso, whose share was 64 percent.

 This was followed by Togo with 11.20 percent; Mali with 9 percent; Niger with 7.1 percent; and Ivory Coast with 2.3 percent.

Otumfuo lauds Newmont’s Development Foundation

The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has commended Newmont Ghana Gold Limited for establishing the Newmont Ahafo Development Foundation that seeks to ensure the sustainable development of its host communities.

 “If all other mines can emulate the Newmont example, the lives of mining communities will improve tremendously,” he said during a courtesy call on him at the Manhyia Place by a delegation from Newmont Ghana led by its Regional Vice President for Environment and Social Responsibility, Randy Barnes.

The delegation included some members of the Board of Trustees of NADeF, led by its Chairman, Kwame Saraah Mensah. Otumfuo again commended the company for the cordial working relationship it has maintained with its communities.

He called for a closer collaboration with the traditional authorities of the Ahafo mine’s host communities to develop the area while also urging the communities to provide a peaceful atmosphere for the company to operate.

On behalf of the company, Mr. Barnes donated GH¢20,000 to the Otumfuo Education Fund and applauded Otumfuo for contributing to the development of education in Ghana.

He said human resource development is a key foundation to the country’s success and Otumfuo’s lead is a significant contribution.

 He added that Newmont’s commitment to education is in line with this effort, and it is therefore proper for it to support the Otumfuo Education Fund.

This is Newmont’s fourth donation to the Fund. The company has a special interest in the development of human capital in Ghana. Through its Newmont Ahafo Development Foundation (NADeF), Newmont has committed 24% of the Fund’s annual contribution to human resource development in its 10 host communities.

 To date, NADeF has awarded and disbursed over GH¢2,700,000 as scholarships to over 3,000 students in both tertiary and second-cycle institutions in the mine’s catchment area.

Besides the scholarships, the company has also partnered with community stakeholders to support the construction of several educational infrastructure projects such as classroom-blocks, teachers’ quarters, and community libraries in all the 10 host communities of the Ahafo mine.

ECOWAS moves to diversify regional economy

The ECOWAS Commission is implementing programmes aimed at developing a competitive, dynamic and diversified regional economy that would be preferred by investors, Vice President of the Commission, Dr. Toga Gayewea McIntosh, has said.

“Key programmes and activities being implemented include the development of a Community Investment Code, organisation of a bi-annual ECOWAS Common Investment Market, the development of a framework and system to monitor the regional investment climate and a regional trade agreement and cooperation with emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil,” he stated.

Dr. McIntosh was speaking at the Fifth West Africa Monetary Zone (WAMZ) Trade Ministers’ Forum in Accra under the theme, “Building the Capacity of ECOWAS Member States towards the Free Movement of Goods and Services Across Borders.”

 Dr. McIntosh said: “With commitment and the requisite political support, we can improve on intra-ECOWAS and WAMZ trade and hence reduce the high level of unemployment and poverty in our region.”

He observed that there are still some challenges militating against the effective implementation of trade- integration policies and programmes in West Africa.

The key challenges, he said, include weak production capacity, low level of intra-regional trade and product diversification, inadequate power and water supply, poor conditions of transit routes, and ineffective implementation of ECOWAS trade and trade-related protocols.

Mr. John Tei Kitcher, acting Director-General of the West Africa Monetary Institute (WAMI) in a speech read on his behalf, said that deeper trade integration in the WAMZ and ECOWAS could reduce the unemployment rate in member states.

He indicated that both production and consumer demands of the free, large market of the ECOWAS region could spur competition, lower cost of production, create jobs and generate revenue for economic development.

“It is our hope that implementing a trade-facilitation support project will enable deeper trade integration in the WAMZ and ECOWAS,” Mr. Kitcher said.

 Ms. Hanna Tetteh, Minister of Trade and Industry, advised ECOWAS members to authorise the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI) to develop Terms of Reference and a Governance Structure to operationalise the concept of a Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS).

Ms. Tetteh said due to issues surrounding the implementation of the ETLS, Trade Ministers at the Second Ministers’ Forum held in 2009 proposed the establishment of an ECOWAS Standing Committee on the Scheme.

She said the Committee was established to ensure integrity in the application of the Scheme.

The ETLS is the main ECOWAS operational tool for promoting the West Africa region as a Free Trade Area.

The Scheme also seeks to establish a common market through the liberalisation of trade by the abolition of customs duties levied on imports and exports and the removal of non-tariff barriers among member states.

The ETLS is to encourage entrepreneurial development in the region, increase intra-regional trade and boost economic activity, augment West African competitiveness on the global market as well as increase the Gross Domestic Product of member states.

 Ms. Tetteh said the ECOWAS region could set up a Corridor Transit Agency to ensure free flow of transit consignments without compromising the national security of member states.

She expressed optimism that the Forum would be used to agree on strategies to resolve differences in trade relations among member states and to fashion out innovative ideas to enhance trade integration in ECOWAS

Illegal Chinese miners endangering US$4m Obuasi Airport

More than 500 Chinese illegal miners are seriously working about a quarter of a kilometre away from the US$4million-investment Anglogold Ashanti (AGA) Obuasi Airport, which was inaugurated last month.

The Chinese illegal miners are currently located at Obuasi and Amansie central and are believed to be mining on AngloGold Ashanti property, without proper documentation, a source at AGA hinted B&FT.

“They are seriously working about a quarter of a kilometre away from our newly-built US$4million Obuasi Airport, which was inaugurated recently by the Minister of Transport, Alhaji Collins Dauda. This poses a serious danger and even a threat to the life-span of the airport’s runway.

“They are mining with brand-new excavators and other pieces of equipment, which were certainly imported from China and cleared through our ports,” he said angrily.

 Investigations have revealed that these Chinese illegal miners apply the use of deadly mercury and this has destroyed farmlands and water-bodies meant to be a source of drinking water to surrounding communities. A source at Anglogold Ashanti in an interview with B&FT said:

“The illegal Chinese gold diggers are mining on the company’s concession from Kowiaso, Yawso, Akatakyieso, Fiakoma, Kokoteeten, Womase, Apitiso, Apetikoko, Akutuase and Ankona in the Sanso area of the Amansie district and Obuasi municipality.

“What is baffling the communities and business people in the area is that all these illegal activities are going on under the eyes of the district administration of Obuasi Municipal Authority and Amansie districts, the police and other security agencies,” a local landowner and businessman revealed.

The Obuasi area -- which hosts the country’s biggest underground mine and resources -- is not the only place the Chinese are working and bleeding Ghanaians with impunity.

 “The situation is no different in other gold mining communities such as Anhwiankwanta, Manso Mim, Bekwai areas, Lower and Upper Denkyira and the Tarkwa Nsuem areas.

“They are destroying our lands and taking our fortunes away,” a 60 year-old farmer, Kofi Badu, whose two acre orange farm was forcibly taken away from him at Huni Valley in Western Region said, adding that “our politicians and chiefs have failed us.

 “Our security capos must watch out before it becomes too late,” he said. Illegal miners pay no compensation to these poor communities; neither do they pay taxes or royalties to the government as they export their gold freely, yet local illegal miners eking a living with spades and hammers are always hunted down with all the force the police can muster.

Their destruction of the environment is crystal-clear, as they leave their mined-out pits unfilled.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Minerals Commission, both governmental agencies responsible for the country’s environmental issues and coordination of the industry, seem to have lost their mettle to do their work -- in the same way as the Immigration Service has literally opened the country’s borders for all kinds of Chinese to invade the mining communities.

The police seem to have lost the battle already, as allegations fly that they are eating from the palms of the Chinese.

Bibiani mine seeks survival

Noble Mineral Resources, which owns the Bibiani mine, has secured an A$84.7million investment from China’s Zhongrun, which will see the Chinese mining and investment group owning 41.5% of the Australian company with an option to increase its stake to 51.6% .

Noble’s Managing Director, Wayne Norris, said that the A$84.7million investment will be executed over two tranches, with some 101.8-million shares issued at 16 cents per share under the first tranche of the offer.

The second tranche will consist of 380 million shares issued at 18 cents per share. Zhongrun will also be issued with options over an additional 240.9 million shares in Noble, exercisable at 23 cents per share.

Norris said the funds raised by the share placement will enable Noble to accelerate and complete commissioning its flagship Bibiani project in Ghana, as well as meet all its existing liabilities and allow the company to potentially pursue other organic and inorganic growth options.

 The Bibiani mine, formerly owned by AngloGold Ashanti, could be become a major gold producer if the deal goes through.

 “Following the investment, Noble will have a fully-funded, ungeared and unhedged gold company with a clear pathway to production of some 150,000 oz/y from Bibiani, and a strong platform to pursue future growth opportunities with the benefit of a supportive strategic shareholder and partner.”

Noble announced in July that it was reviewing its options to raise additional capital to fund its operations, and Norris said last week that the company has received a number of approaches from third parties around potential corporate and strategic transactions.

However, in a conference call he said the Zhongrun offer had been considered as the best option for Noble.

 “The announced strategic partnership with Zhongrun represents the culmination of this process and follows extensive discussions with a broad range of parties who expressed interest in investing in Noble.

 “The strong level of interest received reflects the underlying quality of the Bibiani project, as well as the significant progress made by Noble management in the short time period since assuming operational control of Bibiani,” Norris said.

Bibiani, initially acquired by the former Ashanti Goldfields from Canadian and Libyan investors in the 1980s, was sold to Central Africa after the creation of AngloGold Ashanti in 2005 -- and since then Bibiani has gone through long periods of ownership-change due to operational and funding difficulties.

 The Chinese deal has been secured at a time Chinese miners are being accused of scrounging illegally with sophisticated equipment on concessions owned by the big mining companies; such as AngloGold Ashanti and Golden Star Resources as well as individual Ghanaians.

Noble Mineral gold reserves grow

Noble Mineral Resources has seen its gold reserves grow at its Bibiani Gold Project in Ghana from a new study undertaken by Coffey Mining. The new ore reserves measure 912,000 ounces of gold. Noble's global gold reserves now stand at 16.0Mt at 1.9g/t gold (972,000 ounces). Total Resources at Bibiani are 51.4Mt at 1.7g/t gold for 2.8 million ounces. The study, which was completed this week, focused on four pit areas within the Project and included a comprehensive review of Noble's resources and updated geological models, pit designs and mine schedules. The upgrade in reserves follows a previously announced 24% increase in total gold resources at Bibiani, after earlier resource modelling work completed by Coffey Mining. Noble's main focus is on reaching target production levels of 150,000 ounces per annum. Noble Mineral Resources Limited listed on the Australian Stock Exchange on 26th June 2008 with a focus on exploring for large-scale gold deposits in the world-class Ashanti Gold Belt in Ghana’. In November 2009, the Company entered into an agreement for the acquisition of the Bibiani Gold Mine, a project located in the Sefwi-Bibiani Gold Belt in Ghana and host to over 30 million ounces of gold. On July 20th, 2010, the final Share Transfer Form was executed to consummate the purchase. Noble's other primary gold concessions are Exploration Licences at Cape Three Points, Brotet and Tumentu, which cover some 141.3km² and all are located within the world-class Ashanti Gold Belt in the south-western part of the country. Noble's on-going focus will be to expand the drilling programme at Bibiani to target new shallow resources near the Bibiani mine and adjacent tenements while still prospecting the Cape Three Points, Brotet and Tumentu concessions within the Southern extension of the Ashanti Gold Belt. Initial exploration at Cape Three Points will be targetted toward the Satin Mine Project and the Morrison Project, both of which lie in an area of historic underground gold exploration. Noble believes that there is significant potential for the delineation of additional high-grade gold mineralisation relating to the down-plunge and strike extension to these zones. When added to the potential now available at Bibiani, it will place Noble in a strong position to achieve its goal of building Australia's next major gold mining house. The Company recognises the Bibiani, Cape Three Points, Brotet and Tumentu concessions are relatively under-explored, highly prospective projects and aims to rapidly redefine compliant resources for development.

EPA ensures strict compliance on re-mining pit

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting social concerns and other implications on a proposed re-mining pit project by the Ghana Manganese Company (GMC) Limited at Nsuta-Tarkwa in the Western Region. This development, which is in accordance with Ghana Environmental Impact Assessment procedure, is to ensure that GMC works strictly according to the new mining law that states communities within 500 metres of a mining company should be relocated. In 2010 the EPA detected that GMC Limited had started digging the north “c” pit, which was not part of the initial agreement with their outfit. The pit had been a liability for the government of Ghana: EPA immediately stopped the activities of the company and asked them to procure the necessary document before proceeding with the work. Mr. Ali Sandow, Tarkwa Nsueam Municipal Director of EPA, addressing the chief, elders and people of Tarkwa Banso on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) report on the proposed North “C” Pit project, disclosed: “The EPA has now received a draft EIS report by GMC Limited on the proposed project, as required under Act 490, section 12 (1) and Regulation 16 of the Environmental Assessment Regulations 1999 (LI 1652). “If the two parties come to a compromise, an independent committee will begin assessment on the resettlement process for the Tarkwa Banso Community, which would be affected if the company began operation.” Mr. Omar Timtey, Community Affairs Manager of GMC Limited, speaking at the public forum said the re-mining operation will affect a smaller portion of the Tarkwa-Banso Community, adding that the company is prepared to relocate that number. He appealed to the community to maintain calm as the company will be required by law to ensure that the welfare of every Ghanaian is put first. Mr. David Nsowa Ansah, Youth Secretary of Tarkwa-Banso, said that GMC Limited had not lived up to its social responsibility in the Tarkwa Community. He observed that throughout the 100 years of mining in the community, the company’s operations have caused health hazards, cracks in their buildings and a poor road network. “The community was not interested in the project, because the company has failed totally in improving the standard of the community,” he remarked.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Ghana-Côte D’Ivoire oil dispute

Although the maritime boundary dispute between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire had existed for a long time, it was reignited around 2010 -- the year Ghana started commercial production of oil.

Cote d’Ivoire has been claiming ownership of the billions of barrels of oil and cubic feet of gas reserves reportedly found in the deep waters near Ghana’s coast.

 In 2011, the Ivorian authorities -- at the time still under the leadership of former president Laurent Gbagbo -- published a map with a new order, claiming portions of Ghanaian oil blocks.

Seismic data from the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), the regulator of the country’s upstream petroleum sector, show that the disputed area covers portions of the Jubilee Field, Tweneboa, Enyenra, the Owo discoveries, West Tano-1X find and the deep-water Tano block, all found in the west coast of Ghana’s territorial waters. GNPC has already allocated some of those blocks to some oil companies, including Tullow and Kosmos, to explore and develop for commercial oil production.

According to officials of the GNPC, the claims of ownership of some the country’s oil fields by neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire do not have merit and will not disturb the country’s oil production in any way.

 “The boundaries between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire have been very clear and undisputed, and any new claims to the contrary will have to be proven with facts,” the Chief Executive Officer of the GNPC, Nana Boakye Asafu-Adjaye, said at a news conference in Accra. Kosmos Energy’s largest stake in the country’s deep-water Tano discovery is located in the disputed area, according to the Communications Manager of Kosmos Ghana, Mrs. Ruth Adashie.

Thus, with Côte d’Ivoire still pushing its ownership claim, indications are that Kosmos will perhaps be distracted from continuing to work on its blocks. But Mrs. Adashie said:

“The dispute has not affected our work at all; if it had we would have laid down our tools and waited to see what the government would say, but that is not the case.”

 She explained that once the International Criminal Court (ICC) has not put an injunction on Ghana, it means Ghana still owns that portion of the sea and Kosmos has no cause to worry.

 Nevertheless, both governments of the two countries have enjoyed cordial relations for a long time and are keen to solve the matter peacefully.

 Possibly, Ghana could expect to rake in an extra eight billion barrels of petroleum reserves if it succeeds in getting its maritime boundaries extended.

 Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Mike Allen Hammah, disclosed that it has already put in an application to the UN’s International Seabed Authority for the extension of the continental shelf and that the country expects a good chance of success.

“The prospects are high for Ghana’s request to be granted, and we are working round the clock to have this done,” he stated.

 Ghana seeks the extension of its continental shelf to about 15,000 square kilometers beyond 200 nautical miles, where preliminary studies have shown the potential for at least eight billion barrels of petroleum reserves. Ghana is among 50 countries globally that have sought expansion of their territorial waters.

The others include Nigeria, Côte d'Ivoire and Kenya. The Jubilee Field is estimated to contain three billion barrels of oil reserves. Other neighbouring countries are in conflict over oil boundaries, writes Toyin Akinosho in africa oil+gas report.

The concluded court battle between Cross River State and Akwa Ibom States in Nigeria's south-south area of 76 oil wells had run for six years. Both states had laid claim to the same oil wells.

The Cross River State is responsible for perhaps the most prolific segment of the Niger Delta basin: four companies -- namely ExxonMobil, TOTAL, NPDC and Addax -- produce over 1million barrels of oil per day in the southeast offshore corner of the Niger Delta, which is roughly one-tenth of the basin.

That same southeast corner is where the main oil production in Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon comes from.

 The same petroleum system spawned what has so far been discovered in the Joint Development Zone (JDZ) between Nigeria and Sao Tomé et Principé (STP). But geology is not a respecter of political boundaries.

That is why countries which share boundaries with hydrocarbon-rich countries are quite often resource-poor themselves -- and they are always complaining they have been cheated.

Somalia and Kenya never had a public spat over boundaries until recently, when Kenya became a magnet for exploration companies and encountered its first commercial pool of oil. Now the two sides are bickering.

The Somali government, ordinarily concerned with keeping terrorists at bay in its war-weary cities, now has a new cause to fight.

It accuses Kenya of awarding offshore oil and gas blocks illegally to TOTAL and Eni, French and Italian oil majors respectively, claiming that the blocks lie in Somali waters.

Just a few days before the Supreme Court in Nigeria ruled that Cross River was not a littoral state, Somali deputy energy minister Abdullahi Dool claimed that L21, 22, 23, and 24 -- the four deepwater blocks awarded to TOTAL and Eni -- were invalid and that his country will take the matter to the United Nations.

Kenya has so far rejected the Somali claims to the area. Although the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding in 2009, which stated that the border should run east along the line of latitude, Somalia rejected the agreement.

The contention between Kenya and Somalia is about acreages in the Lamu Basin, right in the Indian Ocean -- the vast seaway that bounds the African continent in the east.

In the same waters, international oil companies have within two years discovered by their own submission over 100 trillion cubic feet of gas, more than half of Nigeria’s gas reserves, off Mozambique and Tanzania.

And, this is the point about “the trickster god of geology” again: the discoveries in Tanzania have been a fraction of the finds in Mozambique -- even though the assets in question lie in the same Ruvuma Basin and the acreages are quite close to one another.

Tanzania has vowed to get as lucky as Mozambique and is planning a bid-round to award acreages which have “similar geologic features to the richly-endowed tracts of Mozambique”.

 The Democratic Republic of Congo is battling two oil-rich neighbours to the east and west. Some of the most prospective but undrilled structures in the DRC lie along the same trend in the Albertine basin as the reservoirs where Tullow Oil has reported estimates of a billion barrels of oil in several fields in Uganda. Congolese and Ugandan troops have clashed several times in this area.

In Uganda’s Hoima district, Heritage -- the London-listed operator -- constructed a school in memory of Carl Nedft, the British geologist who was slain in a pre-dawn raid on workers by Congolese troops in August 2007.

To the west, DRC has long accused Angola of “stealing” oil from offshore wells near its coast --thought to be a reference to operations in the Cabinda enclave which is surrounded by DR Congo and Congo Brazaville.

In early 2010, Angola’s National Assembly agreed to open talks with the DR Congo on the extension of its border out to 350 nautical miles, rather than 200 miles, as a prelude to an application to the UN for recognition of that boundary. Relations between the countries deteriorated sharply in 2011 after a series of disputes.

 A report in a July 2012 edition of Journal De Angola notes that the Angolan Cabinet in Luanda “analysed a number of treaties between Angola and Congo on joint exploration of oil in the Lianzi development area concerning the share of revenues, customs and migratory matters”.

 It may be a way of saying that the issues are finally getting to resolution.

The clash between Sudan and South Sudan has shown that the more battle-hardened the neighbours are, however, the more difficult it is to reach a solution around boundaries.

 In January 2012, Salva Kiir, the president of South Sudan, took the decision to shut down oil-producing facilities and thus cut off revenue to both Sudan and his own government. It’s an unusual course of action for an African head of state.

When South Sudan became independent of Sudan in July 2011, it inherited over 90% of the crude oil reserves and production which were, until 2005, entirely under the control of Khartoum.

 Even though most of the fields are located in South Sudan, the processing, storage and evacuation facilities are sited in Sudan, and revenues from these resources had been shared equally in the seven years since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that granted autonomy to the South.

The one African leader who has dealt upfront with the issue of hydrocarbon-prone maritime boundaries has been Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria.

 He “settled” disputes which had long lingered before his tenure with Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tomé et Principé and Cameroon.

And his solutions were such that Nigeria, playing the big brother, gave out more territory to these less-endowed neighbours. In coming to a resolution with Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria surrendered a chunk of the Zafiro field, which currently produces 140,000 barrels of oil per day.

 And it was in the process of giving up the Bakassi Peninsula that Cross River lost “its coastline”.

 But in going to court to get an alternative to its probable loss of oil revenue accruing from Bakassi, Cross River could have asked itself: how much oil, really, is in that peninsula?

The answer, really, is not much, if any. Cameroon itself, in total, is producing just about 60,000 bopd.

And if indeed there was some commercial pool of hydrocarbon in Bakassi, it would most likely have made Cross River the least-endowed of the fringe Niger Delta states, like Edo and Ondo.

SEC gives boost to housing sector funding

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says it is developing various rules and regulations to pave the way for establishment of a Real Estate Investment Trust by next year. The regulation, which forms part of the commission’s 5-year strategic plan for developing the capital market, is aimed at creating a deeper link between the real-estate sector and the capital market. Ghana has a housing gap of 1.5 million units that keeps increasing every day, according to the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing. While the provision of housing has expanded over the years, most developers have gone up-market and there is a large deficit in low-cost housing requirements. Director General of the commission, Adu Anane Antwi, told the B&FT in an interview that SEC is seeking to promote the Real Estate Investment Trust as an instrument for real-estate investment to help solve the housing deficit in the country. “We need to develop the Real Estate Investment Trust so that there can be a link with the capital market which will be providing these funds through these trusts, and there will be subsequent investment of these funds in real-estate,” he said. This, he said, will also be targetted at addressing the funding constraints of the real-estate sector by providing the funding for developers as well as prospective home owners. “The product will help to address the issues of lack capital for real-estate sector and bridge the gap between the supply and demand of houses in Ghana,” he said. He disclosed that investors have already begun expressing great interest in investing in the country’s real-estate sector, which holds huge prospects. “People have been coming and calling the SEC offices always, expressing their readiness to enter the real-estate sector. “We are encouraging people to bring in more products once they meet the standard and protect the investor. We ourselves are trying to talk to issuers -- a lot of them wanted to come out with new instruments and we are there to help,” he added. The Securities Industry Law at present allows mutual funds to invest only 10% of their net income value in real-estate. “There is a restriction on how much a unit trust can invest in real-estate. The draft or new law would seek to remove that restriction,” Mr. Anane Antwi said. He explained the operation of Real Estates Investment Trust should be different from other mutual or unit trusts. “The real-estate trust has so many things to do which may be different from the normal unit trust, and the new guidelines will seek to ensure that.” The new rules will include the determination of how properties are valued, the frequency of property valuations, how to price the properties, and the kind of people who will be in charge of the Real Estate Investment Trust. “Since the Real Estate Investment Trust deals in property -- which cannot be valued daily like other unit trusts -- the new regulations will stipulate how the property is to be valued,” Mr. Anane Antwi said. Real Estate Investment Trusts have been in limited existence in Ghana since 1994. HFC Bank, which has been at the forefront of mortgage financing in the country, established the first one in August of that year. HFC has used various collective investment schemes and corporate bonds to finance its mortgage-lending activities. Collective investment schemes, of which Real Estate Investment Trusts are a part, are regulated by the SEC. A Real Estate Investment Trust is a company that owns -- and typically operates -- income-producing real-estate or real-estate-related assets. Real Estate Investment Trusts provide a way for individual investors to earn a share of the income produced through commercial real-estate ownership, without actually having to go out and buy commercial real-estate. The income-producing real-estate assets owned by a Real Estates Investment Trust may include office buildings, shopping malls, apartments, hotels, resorts, self-storage facilities, warehouses, and mortgages or loans.

New airport for Prampram

Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the China Airports Construction Corporation (CACC) to undertake a feasibility study for construction of a new international airport near Prampram in the Greater Accra Region, Alhaji Collins Dauda, Minister of Transport, has said. “Acquisition of a 16,000-acre land for the new airport near Prampram in the Dangbe East district is in progress,” he said. Alhaji Dauda was speaking at the meet-the-press series in Accra about developments in the aviation sub-sector. The need for a second international airport became more pronounced following the incident when an Allied Air Cargo plane overshot the runway of the only international Airport in the country -- Kotoka International Airport -- and because of the growing air traffic. The country’s aviation industry, with an average annual growth of 10 percent, is one of the fastest-growing and the most competitive in the West Africa sub-region -- spurred on by strong economic growth. The number of carriers has grown from 15 in 2000 to 40 this year. Additionally, projections by the Ghana Airports Company Limited show that air-passenger traffic is expected to hit six million by 2015. This represents an expected increase of more than 200 percent over the total passenger throughput of 1.8 million recorded in 2011. For the first-half of this year, according to Alhaji Dauda, a one million international passenger throughput was recorded. It has been predicted that Accra and Lagos will be aviation “mega-cities” come 2030 -- with the two destinations handling more than 10,000 daily long-haul passengers. This presents an opportunity for the country to construct a new international airport to take the pressure off the KIA. The GACL is undertaking extension and renovation works at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) as well as Kumasi and Sunyani airports. The Tamale Airport has also been earmarked to be developed into an international airport to serve the northern half of the country, Under the Tamale airport project, estimated to cost US$174million, the runway -- which is currently 2,500 metres long -- will be extended to 4,000 metres. Ancillary constructions will include a perishable cargo centre to serve the Sahelien region of Africa, a Hajj terminal, an airport city, and a regional maintenance bay. The GACL has said some Brazilian investors have expressed interest in building the Tamale International Airport and that discussions are on-going. Government has also indicated that it is considering a Public Private Partnership (PPP) for renovation and extension works on some of the domestic airports. There is also the planned construction of greenfield airports at Princess Town in the Western Region and Ankaful in the Central Region, estimated to cost about US$500million. Alhaji Dauda also disclosed that the Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL), per a new legislation soon to be presented to Parliament for consideration, is to become an Authority imbued with the powers to make bye-laws. The new Airport Bill, when passed, will also make it possible for the GACL to enjoy tax exemptions. B&FT

Housing stock increases by 60%

The number of houses in the country increased by 60 percent over a ten-year period to reach nearly 3.4 million at the end of 2010 amidst increasing demand for houses, the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) has reported. According to the GSS, data gathered from the national population and housing census a couple of years ago indicate that the number of houses in the country currently stands at 3,392,745. However, it has been found that most of the houses do not have toilet facilities -- with the proportion of people using public toilets jumping from 31.4 percent in 2000 to 34.6 percent in 2010. The figure comes at a time the national housing deficit has reportedly widened to reach about 1.5 million, which requires an annual delivery of about 150,000 units for the next 20 years to bridge the gap. The current annual supply is however between 30,000 and 40,000. The GSS figures show that there are more houses in rural communities of the country than in the urban areas, where increasing population growth fuelled by rural-to-urban migration has impacted negatively on the provision of housing services to the people. According to the data, the proportion of houses in rural areas (57.7%) is higher than those in urban areas (42.3%). “The data further show that the stock of houses increased by 60.1 percent compared with the figure recorded in the year 2000. The regional distribution shows that Ashanti (16.9%) has the highest proportion of houses, followed by the Greater Accra (14%) and Eastern (12.7%) Regions. “The Upper West Region has the lowest proportion of the housing stock (2.4%). Compared with the 2000 Census data, there are marked differences in the percentage change in housing stock across regions. The increase is highest in Ashanti (81.9%) and lowest in Upper East (30.4%),” the report said. The Service said in an effort to differentiate between what can be classified as a house, it adopted the UN recommended definition of a house -- which considers a house to be “a structurally separate and independent place of abode, such that a person or group of persons can isolate themselves from the hazards of climate such as storms and the sun”. It said the census found that the population per house is 7.3 and ranges from a low of 5.3 in the Volta Region to a high of 9.6 in the Northern region. “Generally, there was a reduction in the population per house from 8.7 to 7.3 between 2000 and 2010,” it added. Some estate-developers have suggested that government should award more housing contracts to local companies in order to provide housing facilities for the populace. The Business Development Director for Waltech Ghana Limited, a real-estate company, Harold Carboo, recently told that the B&FT that the minimum number of houses needed to built annually to meet demand can be achieved by engaging the services of domestic estate developers. “All major projects are directed to foreign contractors; meanwhile, there are local contractors who are equally up to the task and can even do better when given the chance.” He advised that government should boost the capacity of construction firms which already have the artisans and technology, by awarding major contracts to local constructors instead of foreigners. He noted that though there are a number of developments going on, “They are not enough to meet the demand in the country. In order to meet the demand, we need to change our way of construction.” He said help from the government to empower local contractors has not been forthcoming, and this is not helping the industry to stand on its feet to embark on various projects. B&FT

Cargill pledges delivery of nutritional technologies

A U.S. agribusiness giant, Cargill, has pledged to adopt modern technological practices to deliver advanced nutritional technologies for business growth. “Cargill helps customers succeed through collaboration and innovation, and is committed to sharing its global knowledge and experience to help meet economic, environmental and social challenges wherever it does business. “At Cargill, we help improve feed intake and predict animal performance, create customised solutions for environmental conditions, apply diet expertise to increase production, respond to crisis and species health threats, and offer alternatives to high-cost ingredients,” a statement said. Under agriculture the company buys, processes and distributes grain, oil, seeds and nutrition products. They also provide crop and livestock producers with products and services. Food and beverage service companies are also provided high-quality ingredients, meat and poultry products, and health-promoting ingredients. The company provides customers with risk management and financial solutions as and when needed to help boost their financial strength. Industrial users of energy, salt, starch, and steel products can also be served by Cargill. The statement explained: “Cargill touches lives through the provision of starches to help infants grow; oil and sugar for birthday cakes; eco-friendly foam in couches and mattresses, etc. “With animal nutrition, Cargill manages the risk and stabilises pricing for farmers, animal protein processing and distribution.” The company’s global stretch of research facilities gives customers access to some of the best information available about animal nutrition and performance, and extensive knowledge of raw materials, nutrients and nutrient-metabolism. Cargill responds to evolving trends in the industry by developing expertise solutions with functional benefits, partnering customers to manage future regulation changes as well as helping customers protect their margin through comprehensive solutions and a portfolio of products and services. The company is highly diversified global business, composed of 71 businesses organised around four major segments. These segments consist of agriculture, food, financial, and industrial. Cargill is an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services. Founded in 1865, the privately-held company employs 139,000 people in 65 countries.

Otumfuo lauds Newmont’s Development Foundation

The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has commended Newmont Ghana Gold Limited for establishing the Newmont Ahafo Development Foundation that seeks to ensure the sustainable development of its host communities. “If all other mines can emulate the Newmont example, the lives of mining communities will improve tremendously,” he said during a courtesy call on him at the Manhyia Place by a delegation from Newmont Ghana led by its Regional Vice President for Environment and Social Responsibility, Randy Barnes. The delegation included some members of the Board of Trustees of NADeF, led by its Chairman, Kwame Saraah Mensah. Otumfuo again commended the company for the cordial working relationship it has maintained with its communities. He called for a closer collaboration with the traditional authorities of the Ahafo mine’s host communities to develop the area while also urging the communities to provide a peaceful atmosphere for the company to operate. On behalf of the company, Mr. Barnes donated GH¢20,000 to the Otumfuo Education Fund and applauded Otumfuo for contributing to the development of education in Ghana. He said human resource development is a key foundation to the country’s success and Otumfuo’s lead is a significant contribution. He added that Newmont’s commitment to education is in line with this effort, and it is therefore proper for it to support the Otumfuo Education Fund. This is Newmont’s fourth donation to the Fund. The company has a special interest in the development of human capital in Ghana. Through its Newmont Ahafo Development Foundation (NADeF), Newmont has committed 24% of the Fund’s annual contribution to human resource development in its 10 host communities. To date, NADeF has awarded and disbursed over GH¢2,700,000 as scholarships to over 3,000 students in both tertiary and second-cycle institutions in the mine’s catchment area. Besides the scholarships, the company has also partnered with community stakeholders to support the construction of several educational infrastructure projects such as classroom-blocks, teachers’ quarters, and community libraries in all the 10 host communities of the Ahafo mine.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Educators’ Network to spearhead teachers’ course

The Educators’ Network (TEN) has been established with a call on the nation to improve educational standards in Ghana by providing innovative yet affordable professional development courses to teachers, locally. The TEN is an association of highly-experienced Ghanaian teachers who share a deep-rooted passion for the profession. Founded and led by Naami Oddoye -- a renowned educator and literacy advocate -- in late 2011, TEN currently comprises three additional experienced educators with specialisations in various fields. “Literacy is the foundation for emotional and physical well-being, intellectual growth and economic security. The right to read, write and comprehend is a fundamental human right that belongs to all people. “In Ghana, we currently face an unprecedented social and economic crisis because a large percentage of our children are not being taught in a way that guarantees them this fundamental right,” Oddoye said She explained that the Network believes a solution to this crisis can only come out of education -- but it must be quality education and available to all, not just to a privileged few! “With our education system in dire need of a systemic change, nothing short of full-scale adoption of modern research-based teaching methods in our classrooms is required. “If all Ghanaian teachers could have access to professional development in current educational trends, the clear benefit would be a continual and visible rise in the academic achievement of students. “The final outcome would be a highly-skilled workforce that adds to the value and growth of our economy in future.” TEN works with simple, effective teaching methodologies to transform the standard of classroom delivery in Ghana and ultimately heighten student achievement at all grade levels. The Educators’ Network also engages with teachers, parents, community members and children to cultivate and develop positive literacy experiences as the basis for sustainable improvement in academic achievement through their Reading Clubs. Since their maiden Teachers’ Conference in March 2012, TEN has run a number of workshops for teachers in Accra, which have been very well-received. Feedback received from the participants and their respective institutions overwhelmingly credits TEN for the positive impact of these training courses.

NCR launched

The first association of ICT reporters in the country has been inaugurated in Accra to promote the information technology sector and to also help shape policy formulation. The Association, known as the Network of Communication Reporters (NCR), was formed a couple of years ago and currently has a membership of more than 20 active journalists with interest in information technology issues. It is affiliated to the Ghana Journalists Association and has the heads of the Ministry of Communications, the National Communicational Authority (NCA), Ghana Chamber of Telecommunication, Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT, and Google Country Director Estelle Akofio Sowah as patrons. The Director-General of National Information Technology Agency, William Tevie who officially launched the NCR on behalf of the Minister of Communications, said the country is poised to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting ahead of the ITU’s deadline of July, 2015. Mr. Tevie therefore tasked the Association to lead the crusade in educating consumers to understand the migration process and other issues related to information technology, as the ICT sector has become critical in growing the economy. “The NCR comprises journalists who have specialised in reporting on the telecom and ICT industry, which has always been viewed as a very technical and complex area of journalistic interest. “The NCR could not have come any a better time as this, when Ghana’s communication sector in general and the telecom industry in particular have gone into the annals of the world as one of the most dynamic in the emerging markets,” he said. Currently there are six multinational telecom players in the country, which has helped the country to achieve a mobile penetration rate of nearly 100 percent as at August this year. In addition more than 30 Internet Service Providers are presently in operation, with about 100 more licenced to sell Internet bandwidth to consumers in the country. More so, a number of start-up businesses in the IT industry -- comprising young software developers, SMS aggregators, and several other industry service providers -- have added to the industry’s dynamism in the country. The Dean of the NCR, Charles Benoni-Okine, explained that the Association has been formed to promote the industry and not to do the bidding of any player in the sector, the regulator, or the ministry. “Members will be as objective as possible, ensuring utmost fairness in its reportage and advocacy work in the interest of the consumer,” he said.

‘Be wary of EPAs’

African governments must be wary of the European Union’s Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) agenda, which has been designed to keep African countries as perpetual suppliers of raw materials and erode efforts at industrialisation by the continent. “Apart from threatening the food security and livelihoods of smallholder farmers, the EPAs would also thwart government’s ability to use procurement as a tool for social change. “Besides, it will also take away the policy space that is necessary for government to direct foreign investors to areas critical for national development,” Mr. Tetteh Hormeku, Head of Programmes, Third World Network (TWN)-Ghana, said in Accra. Making a presentation under the topic ‘Trade Policy and Industrial Development -- The Case of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)’ at a public lecture organised by the Economic Justice Network (EJN), Mr. Hormeku stated that already liberalisation has led to uneven competition as the EU’s unwillingness to abolish agricultural subsidies has led to the demise of many African producers. “If the EPAs come into effect, countries will experience a catastrophe. Signing to it will cover a large area of trade in goods and services. “The EU demands 80 percent tariff liberalisation; and the abolishing of export tariffs would impact negatively on local producers, consumers and government revenues,” he said. The EU is seeking, under the EPAs, reciprocal trade arrangements between it and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries to replace the non-reciprocal and preferential trade agreements it offered under the Cotonou Agreement. Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria initialled separate interim EPAs 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 interim EPA is explained as a temporary measure meant to alleviate specific issues of countries pending harmonisation and completion at the ECOWAS level. Mr. Gyekye Tanoh, Head of Economic Unit at 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. “The IEPA, as an additional trade regime, will further fragment and eventually derail harmonisation of West Africa’s regional position and integration,” Mr. Tanoh said in a recent interview in Accra.

AGA’s US$1.6m Iduapriem Mine Fund

AngloGold Ashanti (AGA) Iduapriem Mine says its Community Trust Fund has accrued US$1.6million to promote community and economic development. The Trust Fund’s community development investments will include: funding for social infrastructure; health, education and youth programmes; and arts, culture and heritage. Its economic development target will also consider debt or equity investments in local businesses ranging in scale from micro-loans to grassroots entrepreneurs, to significant amounts for established local firms. “Investment programmes initiated by the Trust Fund will benefit communities located within AngloGold Ashanti’s mineral concession at Iduapriem. In effect, Trust Fund Investments cannot be made outside the concession area,” Mr. Frederick Attakumah, Vice President Sustainability, AngloGold Ashanti Ghana, told the gathering made up of chiefs from the various communities, government officials, community members, students and indigenes. Mr. Attakumah was speaking at a ceremony to officially commence the operations of the Trust Fund in the Iduapreim community in the Western Region, and he explained that the Trust Fund will make ongoing investments in community and economic development projects. “Ongoing investments in community and economic development projects will be aligned with local government plans and designed to leverage relationship with other partners or stakeholders. “The Trust Fund will operate in the context of AGA’s broader sustainability programme and be accountable to communities, government and AGA. Community facilitators will lead grassroots outreach to identify community priorities, develop proposals and make funding recommendations. He added: “Economic investments will support local small and medium-sized enterprises through capacity building and facilitating access to finance, to create employment. “Investment proposals will be evaluated using a transparent and participatory process that focuses on need and impact. A board of directors, made up of seven members in each location, will make investment and policy decisions. “They are accountable for Trust Fund performance and ensuring that they benefit the people of Iduapriem, in consultation with steering committees. The steering committees -- with 32 members in Obuasi and 23 members in Iduapriem -- bridge local government, communities and the Trust Fund.” Mr. Sicelo Ntuli, Managing Director, AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem Mines said: “Iduapriem Mine is not only a mine; it’s a community….its people. We are all together… working collectively and responsibly to build and maintain a safe and healthy work environment free of injury and illness, to contribute to sustainable development of our host communities in particular and the Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipality and the Prestea Huni-Vally District in general. He explained: “The company’s corporate social responsibility is not a one-off activity but the way we do business, and it is therefore an important input for our business processes. It is about leadership commitment. It is about respect to the community. It is about empowerment. It is about partnerships, and it is about us building on our credibility. “That is why we are motivated to continue demonstrating our existence as a good corporate citizen in the Tarkewa Nsuaem Municipality and Preastea Huni-valley District where Iduapriem Mines operate. “We believe development is a process, and therefore we need to do more as we deepen our partnerships with stakeholders to ensure that our communities are better for our being there.” Mr. Paul Evans Aidoo, Western Regional Minister whose speech was read on his behalf, commended AngloGold Ashanti for its commitment to working closely with stakeholders. “I am aware that the positive relationship that exists between AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem Mines and its stakeholders has not happened without an intensive stakeholder engagement strategy on the part of the company. “This is clearly a good practice that needs to be emulated,” Mr. Aidoo said. The Trust Fund is aimed at supporting long-term sustainable development in the communities where it operates. As part of the ceremony, AGA donated four brand-new buses and 140 flat-screen desktop computers to schools in Iduapriem and its sounding communities. The Trust Fund at Iduapriem is required under the 2004 Stability Agreement with the government. Under the Agreement, AGA contributes one percent of annual post-tax profits from its Ghana operations. AGA has set aside this amount since the signing of the agreement, with accrued interest. Annual contribution is allocated to Iduapriem in relation to the number of ounces produced at each site in that year.

Lack of transparency impedes future oil investment

Lack of transparency in approving oil and gas deals has the tendency to affect future investment in the sector, an international energy security expert has told B&FT. “Lack of transparency or government not wanting to approve oil deals is impeding big oil exploration companies investing in the country, and this will make the country’s oil worthless and attract less revenue to the country,” said Robert Weiner, Professor of International Business, Public Policy and International Affairs at the George Washington University U.S.A, in an interview. He explained that KOSMOS Energy at one time had wanted to sell out its stake to Exxon Mobile but government refused that deal without any explanation; this decision by government had international implications concerning Ghana’s oil business. Kosmos in 2010, agreed to sell its 30.875 percent interest in The West Cape Three Points Block and its 18 percent stake in Deepwater Tano Block in the Gulf of Guinea to Exxon Mobile for around US$4billion. The government has written to Exxon Mobile about the deal, but has not gone beyond repeating the threat, said Reuters. “We're telling them that we prefer that they don't continue ... and if they do, we'll not approve of it,” the Ghana government said, according to the Reuters report. The Wall Street Journal in 2010 reported that government had blocked the deal -- something it has been threatening to do since -- and will only allow the state oil company to buy the stake. These were made known to B&FT on the sidelines of a two-day “Oil, Gas and Media Conference” organised by the International Press Institute (IPI). The conference is aimed at supporting free media and promoting greater transparency in the oil and gas sector and is being attended by more than 170 journalists from 27 countries The conference was officially opened with a statement from President Ilham Aliyev delivered by Ali Hasanov, State Counselor to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Natiq Aliyev, Minister of Industry and Energy for Azerbaijan. Mr. Aliyev observed that the international media has a lot of prejudice and misconceptions about international oil corporations. Anthony Mills, Deputy Director, IPI said: “Citizens have a right to be given accurate information about the oil and gas industry. “Press freedom issues in the oil sector are not limited to Third World countries, as reporters in nations such as the United States have also faced issues in coverage, particularly during the Gulf of Mexico oil-spill. “The Gulf oil-spill highlighted the need for press-freedom and how much reporters were not equipped.” In the lead-up to the conference, IPI had been heavily questioned over its decision to host the event in Azerbaijan -- a country widely criticised for its human rights and press-freedom records. The “Oil, Gas and Media Conference” is expected to focus on how investigative reporting can lead to big answers on how oil wealth is distributed, take a look at the oil industry in Baku, Azerbaijan, and examine how oil companies use social media to promote their image.

Mining companies aren’t overtaxed -- Hammah

While mining companies complain of the new tax hikes, government officials and civil society actors say the Ghanaian situation is nothing out of the ordinary and that the taxes are in keeping with industry standards. Minister of Lands and Natural Resource Mike Hammah said in an interview with B&FT that government looked at what pertains in the industry and arrived at the taxes. He said he is also surprised that the companies are claiming they were not consulted on the taxes: “It is important to state that there is no point in the companies saying that government did not consult them. We could not have done that without consulting them. We consulted them and they appreciated government’s position.” Dr. Edward Larbi-Siaw, a Tax Policy Advisor at the Ministry of Finance, also told B&FT that international consultants were brought in to look at the more controversial windfall tax and that the companies were consulted. “I don’t think government is coming out to overtax the companies,” he said. When the corporate tax was at 25%, he said, the price of gold was around US$600 per ounce, and he said it is only fair that the companies pay more now the price has gone up to about US$1,500. He said there is no need for the companies to get worked-up over the windfall tax of 10% since they will not pay if they do not make extra profits. Dr. Steve Manteaw, Campaign Coordinator of the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), also observed that the gold price was very low in the 1970s and 80s when the country entered into contracts with some of the companies, and so the tax rates were lowered for them. Now that the price of gold has gone up, the country needs to benefit more, he reasoned. “I think government is doing the right thing for Ghana. It is precisely because of the skewed nature of the fiscal terms that Ghana has not been able to derive adequate benefits from its mineral resources.” He said a wrong impression has been created that the companies will fold up and leave as a result of the taxes. “We are not going to lose investment; we are not going to lose jobs. Gold is not found everywhere...” The adequacy of revenue obtained by government from mining has been a subject of controversy. This sentiment has become particularly pronounced since the current mineral commodity boom. Gold prices are up about eight percent since mid-August at around US$1,730 an ounce. In the 2012 budget statement, the Minister of Finance, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor observed: “Although mining is one of the leading sectors in the country, accounting for about 23.5 percent of direct taxes in 2010, the economic and social benefits that the sector provides are not commensurate with our expectations.” In that budget, the corporate tax rate for mining companies was increased from 25% to 35% and a windfall profit tax of 10% was also announced. Additionally, a uniform regime for capital allowance of 20 percent for five years was introduced. These actions were in addition to a previous review of the industry royalty rate from a sliding 3-6 percent to a fixed rate of 5 percent. According to Dr. Larbi-Siaw, parliament has given approval for the implementation of the taxes except the windfall tax, the proposal for which is still before MPs. But mining companies in Ghana argue that the hike in gold prices does not automatically translate into higher profits for them. Dr. Tony Aubynn of the Ghana Chamber of Mines has, since the announcement of the new taxes, been expressing disquiet about the implications for the industry. Speaking at the presentation of the second-quarter report of Gold Fields Ghana Limited recently, Dr. Aubynn called on government to re-examine the taxes. “The cost of feasibility study, ground rent, uncertainty of resources, tax revenue and royalties all take a chunk of the profits derived. Therefore, when the government imposes so many taxes it cripples the companies and drives them out,” he said. Source:B&FT

Maritime trade up 20%

Ghana recorded a total of over 4.9 million tonnes of maritime trade at its two ports in Tema and Takoradi during the first quarter of 2012, according to Shipping Review, a quarterly journal published by the Ghana Shippers Authority. This was made up of about 3.7 million tonnes of imports representing 76% and 1.2 million tonnes of exports representing 24% of the total maritime trade volume at the two ports. The figure represents an increase of 20% on the figures recorded within the same period of 2011, which stood at over 4.1 million tonnes. Out of the total figure, the Tema Port alone handled over 77%, which is over 3.8 million tonnes with Takoradi Port taking care of the remaining 23%, amounting to 1.1 million tonnes of the total trade volume. The total transit trade however recorded 174,516 tonnes, representing 4% of the total maritime trade made up of 150,043 tonnes of imports and 24,473 tonnes of exports within the period. According the journal, while total imports increased by 23% over the 2011 figure, the total export figure went up by over 12% within the same period. “Total imports for the review period was over 3.7 million tonnes. This comprised 2.0 million tonnes of liner items or 53% of the total import trade; 1.1 million tonnes of dry-bulk items (30%); and 629,211 tonnes of liquid bulk items (24.17%). “Maritime liner imports for the review period increased by over 40% from what was obtained in the 2011 period. Dry-bulk import increased by 26.8%. However, liquid bulk decreased by 14% for the review period,” the journal explained. The maritime trade in Ghana is classified into three major areas including liner trade (import and export), dry-bulk trade (import and export) and liquid bulk trade (import and export). Goods that fall under the liner import trade are: iron, steel, pipes, plates, processed foods, chemicals, tiles, frozen meat and foods, machinery and equipment, polythene raw materials, and bagged rice. The liner export goods include: cocoa beans and products, log timber and sawn timber or lumber, handicrafts and other non-traditional export products. While the dry-bulk import goods comprise clinker -- one of the major import items, cement and limestone, bulk grains and fertiliser, the export goods are bauxite, manganese and bulk sheanut. The liquid bulk import trade includes: bulk chemical, crude oil, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and petroleum products, whereas the export traffic consists of petroleum products, palm oil and palm kernel among others. According to the journal, the total import liner trade for 2011 was 1,433,027 tonnes and that of 2012 was 2,017,456 tonnes. Break-down of the others are as follows: Total liner exports for 2011,481,043 tonnes and 631,322 tonnes for 2012. Others are total dry bulk imports for 2011,887,109 tonnes and 1,125,532 tonnes for 2012; dry bulk exports for 2011, 538,380 tonnes and 496,890 tonnes for 2012. The rest includes total liquid bulk imports for 2011, 739,428 tonnes and 629,211 tonnes for 2012; and liquid bulk exports for 2011, 29,014 tonnes and 52,006 tonnes for 2012. source:b&ft

Local content target overambitious

The target to achieve 90 percent local content and participation in both capital and operational activities in the oil and gas industry by 2020 is overambitious and not feasible, an expert has said. “I think the period is too short. We should be able to take a long-term perspective and project our thinking. The strategy must be to grow gradually,” said John-Peter Amewu of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) and Manager of the Regional Extractive Industries Knowledge Hub (REIK Hub). Ghana’s oil and gas local-content plan, in respect to the provision of goods and services, targets 10 percent local participation from the onset, 50 percent participation in five years, and 60-90 percent local participation within 10 years. It is also aiming at 70-80 percent locally-trained management and technical staff in the oil and gas sector within ten years of its implementation. But Mr. Amewu, speaking at a two-day workshop organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) for members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Mines and Energy and other stakeholders in the oil and gas sector, was skeptical. “To construct a dry-dock of a standard size will take you three to four years. It takes a minimum of one year to acquire a welding certification. It takes 10 years of training and experience to qualify as a drilling engineer. The steel that is going to be used, if you say 90 percent local participation, you have to produce it yourself,” he said. There is also a cost to enforcing the local-content provisions. Though local content would lead to an increase in jobs, the downside is that local-content regulation could drive up project costs and affect government revenue. Due to the cost premiums required to meet any new regulation on local content, it could also erode investment returns. “That is one strong argument going on in Brazil, where they have had to reduce their local content drive below the 60 percent target. And so if you take all these into consideration, you realise that the 90 percent target is just not possible,” Mr. Amewu said. He advocated setting of specific targets for different segments of the oil industry, modelled along the lines of the Nigerian Local Content Act (NLCA). The NLCA is specifically targetted at building local capacity in areas such as fabrication/installation; equipment manufacturing; and construction of oil and gas infrastructure. Rather than setting a blanket target, he noted, the country needs to undertake a value-chain analysis to determine where it has comparative advantage and build capacity in those areas. Cost barrier The country’s local content plan is divided into six sub-plans: employment and training; research and development; technology transfer; local insurance services content; local financial services; and local legal services content plans. But before the plan has received legal backing, the cost of licencing a business to operate in the sector looks like becoming an important barrier to entry by locals. A schedule of fees for local businesses seeking opportunities in the oil and gas sector, which is still under discussion at the Petroleum Commission, shows that currently a Ghanaian services company wishing to engage in the oil and gas sector has to pay a subscription fee of US$50,000 (US$30,000 initial fee and US$20,000 renewal fee) and must have a turnover of at least US$5million. A Ghanaian company wishing to participate in exploration and production has to pay US$30,000 initial fee, and a US$30,000 renewal fee. These astronomical amounts risk barring Ghanaians from the sector and defeating the purpose of 90% indigenisation by 2020. source:b&ft

Investment for mining communities …as Cabinet considers Minerals Fund

Cabinet is considering a draft bill for the establishment of the Minerals Development Fund (MDF), the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Kwabena Duffour, has said. The MDF, when approved by Cabinet and subsequently passed by Parliament, will contribute to effective management of part of the revenues generated by the mining sector and received by mining communities. In addition, it will provide resources to the host communities under the Mining Community Development Scheme, which will be invested to improve livelihoods and reduce the negative impacts of mining on such communities. According to him, in 2010 the mining sector contributed 7% of Ghana’s total corporate tax earnings, 49% of total export revenues, 23% of government revenues and 6% of GDP. “Total foreign direct investment (FDI) into the minerals and mining sector from 1984 to 2011 amounted to US$11.2bn. Currently we are an oil-producing economy, which we hope in addition to the mining sector will provide the much-needed finance for economic transformation.” Dr. Duffour added that large-scale mining and mine support services employ about 27,000 people. An estimated 500,000 people are engaged in the small-scale gold, diamonds, quarry and salt industries among others. He said this at the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GHEITI) regional conference in Accra under the theme “Natural Resource Governance, Setting Standards with EITI”. The purpose of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative is to ensure increased transparency in payments by companies in oil and gas and mining industries to governments, as well as transparency in revenues of host-country governments. Naa Prof. John Nabila, President of the National House of Chiefs, said the need for accountability in all aspects of the industry is very imperative; the national house of chiefs and many citizens have been worried about lack of clear guidelines on the operations of Article 267 sub-clause (6), which is on the distribution of revenue accruing from stool lands. He said in as much as the chiefs would want to have a clear explanation or fair accountability of the proportion of 55% which goes to district assemblies within the areas of the stool land, the people are also clamouring for some level of accountability in what goes to the traditional authorities. Dr. Duffour assured that the government is working assiduously to ensure that the enhanced revenues are prudently managed and utilised for the benefit of the people, especially those negatively affected by the activities of extractive sector companies. “We have for instance developed guidelines for the utilisation of mineral royalties at the sub-national level. This is to avert the potential misuse of the districts’ share of royalties, and to ensure that projects financed by royalty transfer from central government to mining districts are those that are consistent with the development priorities established by the people in these communities. “We have also developed guidelines for the implementation of corporate social responsibility programmes, and the purpose is to align these programmes with the development aspirations of beneficiary communities -- thereby making them meaningful within the local development context,” he added. EITI was announced by Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of United Kingdom, at the world summit on sustainable development in Johannesburg, South Africa, in September 2002. It was necessitated by the lack of transparency surrounding international companies’ dealings with governments of resource-rich countries, for which reason those countries have not been able to maximise benefits from their natural resource endowment to reduce poverty. SOURCE:B&FT

GSE defends pre-trading

Ghana’s Stock Exchange (GSE) pre-trading operations on the bourse are in line with global stock exchange standards and are not an illegality, Mrs. Elizabeth Mate-Kole, General Manager, Operations at the GSE has asserted. “Pre-trading is a normal practice among many nations, does not distort share prices on the exchange and is not an illegality, contrary to some views held by some sections of the public. “The daily pre-opening period for trading is to allow the previous day’s surplus to be put on the stock to be traded,” Mrs. Mate-Kole explained to B&FT in Accra, reacting to a statement made by Mr. Kwabena Antwi-Situ, a Senior Audit and Advisory Manager of Deloitte Ghana (DG). Mr. Antwi-Situ said the GSE’s pre-trading operations do not conform to global stock exchange trading standards and have the tendency to distort share prices. “It is not done anywhere as far as I know. There’s no pre-trading time before the official trading on the bourse at any of the active trading platforms in the global financial industry. “It is something they should just do away with because we are growing, and we need to emulate international best practices.” Mr. Situ was of the opinion that the pre-trading exercise has the tendency to distort prices on the bourse since, according to him, the price a company closes its trading activity on the previous day is different from what it begins its operations with the following day. Mr. Situ explained that the price changes have the potential to mislead an investor, and that the pre-trading needs to be discontinued since it is not done anywhere on any active trading platform of the global financial industry. “The practice is not just alien to the global stock-trading industry, it also distorts share prices. “At the end of the day your closing price should be the same as your opening price (on the next day). But because of the trading that goes on before the official trade, you find some of the companies having their closing prices (of the previous day) not the same as their opening prices (at the start of official trading the present day). “This practice distorts the price you knew as at yesterday, based on which you would have made a decision,” he said. While the official time of opening of the GSE for trading is 10:00 am, the bourse runs a daily pre-open trading session from 9:30 am till the official opening -- a practice that it says affords dealers increased contact hours with their clients during the trading day and boosts liquidity. It is also meant, according to the GSE, to afford non-resident investors in time-zones different from Ghana a greater opportunity to do business with their local brokers. Mr. Ekow Afedzie, Deputy Managing Director of GSE, explained that activities of the bourse are overseen by the Council as well as approved by the Security and Exchange Commission. “Journalists need to focus their reportage on how to generate activity on the stock exchange and how to encourage more companies to enlist on the bourse,” he remarked.

Ghana Gas out in Feb

The Ghana Gas Company says the first gas from the Jubilee Field is expected to be delivered to Volta River Authority’s Aboadze thermal plant by the end of February 2013. Victor Sunu-Attah, the Project Development Director of the Company who gave the hint said: “Whatever quantities Jubilee is able to provide for the time being will go to the Aboadze Thermal Plant for power generation.” This is expected to cut down by half the use of light crude oil in thermal power generation at Aboadze. The site had been cleared, pipelines were being laid, and heavy duty trucks were carting red earth to and fro when a group of journalists visited Atuabo and Anorchie, host communities of the Gas project in the Western Region, last Friday. Chinese engineers supported by some locals were seen at various points, frantically working to bed-in onshore pipelines. Work is also ongoing at the site for the Gas processing Plant. The plant, Mr. Sunu-Attah noted, was designed to process an initial 150 million standard cubic feet a day of gas. The associated raw gas production profile from the Jubilee Field development plan estimates a maximum 120 million standard cubic feet a day of gas for the initial phase. This is expected to be maintained over a three-year period. “There are a number of independent power producers asking us if they can come in. We tell them no. If Jubilee can give us more than what Aboadze can take, then they can come in,” he observed. Time, he said, is of the essence because gas has to be evacuated from the Jubilee Field as soon as possible in order not to “jeopardise” the wells. “Right now, Jubilee’s production is going up and up to meet their target and we need to evacuate gas so that they can keep it at that level.” Government made it clear at the onset that it won’t allow the flaring of gas from the country’s oil fields, especially when the country needs the resource. After some amount of flaring initially, the gas has been re-injected into the reservoirs. But this can be done only for a while. “Jubilee cannot sustain long periods of gas injection without damaging the reservoirs and curtailing production,” Mr. Sunu-Attah explained. On the other hand, erratic power supply has recently resulted in a load-shedding exercise across the country, due partly to the unreliability of supply from Nigeria through the West African Gas Project. Liquefied gas for domestic use has equally been in short supply across the country. Mr. Sunu-Attah however assured that the coming of gas from Jubilee will bring about some reliability in power supply “so that industrialists can plan on power”. Domestic users of gas, though, will have to wait a little longer, said Mr. Sunu-Attah. He explained that in the medium- to long-term, the country seeks to build a fully integrated and profitable gas industry to serve the Ghanaian and export markets. The goal is also to attract private investment in Ghana Gas through strategic partnerships and listing on the Ghana Stock Exchange, and to promote investments in the petrochemical industry. source:B&FT