Friday, February 22, 2013

Mahama outlines four national pillars

President John Dramani Mahama has pledged to pursue rapid economic development with a sense of urgency to create new jobs and expand infrastructure in a manner that will accelerate economic growth.
“In partnership with the private sector, we will embark on an ambitious but realistic programme of building new roads and bridges; expand electricity generation to energise our economy; increase access to good drinking water and quality healthcare for our growing population; and improve sanitation and human security for all. 

“We aim to transform our schools, colleges and universities to meet the demand of a new age with emphasis on technology and innovation,” President Mahama said.

Presenting his first State of the Nation Address to law-makers, President Mahama outlined four pillars to anchor the state which are captured under theme “Advancing the Better Ghana-Opportunities for Growth”.

Pillar-one focuses on Putting People First, which is the thrust of his party’s  social policy and human development programme that revolves around education, healthcare, social security and protection for the vulnerable -- women, children, the aged and people with disabilities.

The thematic areas are quality education; health for all; social protection; youth and sports development; and the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA).

Pillar-two will be executed based on a strong and resilient economy -- on thematic areas of prudently facing the fiscal challenges; adopting corrective measures; partnership with the private sector; accelerating agricultural modernisation for job-creation and working toward achieving sustainable production of the historic one-million-tonnes of cocoa.

Another area under pillar-two is using tourism as an instrument for fully-realising the economic potential of culture and creative arts.

Pillar-three will focus on expanding infrastructure with the use of information technology to support infrastructure development, urban renewal, land use management and environmental protection, the roads and transport sector, revamping and modernising the railway sector, and housing and urban renewal.

The rest are substantial reform to ensure that Ghana moves toward an economically and socially sustainable mining sector; and ensure reliable, stable and progressively cheap power for economic development in the country and the wider West African region.

Pillar-four is based on transparent and accountable governance with the provision of support to the Electoral Commission to carry out its programmes and reforms; strengthening the role of traditional institutions, strengthening Parliament.

According to him, his administration will be focused on putting the people first because they are considered as the 'most treasured assets'.

“We believe that our people are our most treasured assets; we will also ensure that the most vulnerable people in our society are protected,” President Mahama indicated.

He added: “Our people need decent and sustainable jobs to lead meaningful lives. Job-creation and gainful employment, therefore, will be at the core of my priorities.

“I am determined to expand opportunities for all. Our policies and initiatives will be geared toward facilitating sustainable employment generation, which will then facilitate economic growth and enhanced incomes.”

He said that Ghanaians deserve to live in a country with improved infrastructure, which is inextricably linked to enhancing the quality of life.

He said the viability of private sector investments hinges on a robust and functional infrastructure of the roads, rail, sufficient and efficient energy, stable water supply, and a seamless communalisations and ICT infrastructure.

Government will use information technology to support infrastructure development, urban renewal, land use management, and environmental protection.

Government will continue with the positive outlook and promote the rapid development of the broad.

“We are determined to deliver on the development goals which we have outlined. We have objectives to meet and the expectations of people to fulfil; our people expect to see results, whether it is in the delivery of water, electricity, healthcare or sanitation services.  We must not overlook the little things that matter to our people even as we stress on responsible citizenship as an important factor in nation-building,” he remarked.

Energy crisis gives Mahama nightmares

On the supply of electricity, the President said millions of Ghanaians and businesses are “today experiencing very erratic and frustrating electricity supply.

“It is a situation that I am deeply concerned about and in which I have devoted considerable energy to solving. This is especially urgent because compounding the problem of unstable power supply is an equally worrying issue of unreliable water supply to some communities,” he said.

The current developments do not reflect the investments and progress Ghana has been making in the area of electricity generation: “Government’s overall objective for the energy sector is to ensure reliable, stable and progressively cheap power for economic development in the country and the wider West African region,” he said.

 “What should be our successes and rather augment available generation capacity has unfortunately been undermined by a number of unforeseen developments.

 “We are expecting the addition of over-500 MW of installed generation capacity this year. 132MW from the Takoradi 3 Thermal Plant by end of March; 130 MW from the Bui Hydroelectric Power Project by end of April; and increased to 400MW by end of September; and 2 MW from a Solar Park at Navrongo by end of February.”

He said work has also started on a 161 kV Tumu-Han-Wa transmission line in the Upper West Region. Other projects are the Kpando-Kadjebi Transmission Project and a new 330KV transmission line from Aboadze–Prestea-Kumasi- Tamale- Bolgatanga among others.
He said gas from the Western Region provides enough flexibilities and cost-efficient ways of additional power generation. To this end, work is progressing steadily on the Gas Infrastructure Project at Atuabo in the Elemebelle District.

“When completed by the end of the second quarter of 2013, it will help expand the system to achieve the planned 5,000MW capacity of power generation by 2016,” he said.

President Mahama said “Government during the year will continue to support the utility companies carry out distribution system improvement projects and increase electricity access to all parts of the country under the ‘Energy for All’ programme to ensure universal access by 2016.”

TEN project plan under review

The Plan of Development for the TEN project which includes the collective development of three hydrocarbon accumulations -- Tweneboa, Enyenra (formerly Owo) and Ntomme -- is under review at the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, and the outcome will be made public in due course, the Director of Petroleum at the ministry Dr. Paul Frimpong has said.
In an interview with the B&FT, Dr. Frimpong said the review is done in “parallel” with the involvement of the Petroleum Commission and Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC).

In its 2012 results released on Wednesday, February 13, 2013, Tullow Oil indicated that it had made good progress on the Development Plan for the TEN Project, which culminated in the Declaration of Commerciality and the Plan of Development (PoD) being submitted to the Minister of Energy in November 2012.

It added that it had submitted a Plan of Development (PoD) to the Minister of Energy and that “approval of the PoD is expected in the near-future”.

Tullow pegged the current estimated capital expenditure cost for the base development plant of the project, which includes around 23 injection and production wells and excludes FPSO lease costs, at around US$4.5billion.

The three oil and gas fields -- Tweneboa, Enyenra and Ntomme -- are part of the Deepwater Tano licence located offshore Ghana.

The fields lie in water depths of 1,000m to 2,000m. The development is located 25km away from the Tullow-operated Jubilee Field. It is the first deepwater field to be developed offshore Ghana.

First production is expected in the first quarter of 2015 and a peak production rate of 100,000 barrels of oil per day is expected by 2018. The project is expected to recover approximately 216 million barrels of oil.

The company said as at 31 December 2012 it had transferred 112 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe) from contingent resources to commercial reserves in respect to the Tweneboa-Enyenra-Ntomme (TEN) development. 

The TEN appraisal programme started in January 2011 and continued in 2012 with the drilling of three wells. The Owo-1RA well was drilled and successfully tested in January 2012 at combined rates in excess of 20,000 bopd.

Enyenra-4A was drilled in March 2012, intersecting 32 metres of oil-pay. Water injection tests on this down-dip well were carried out in April 2012, with results proving that the Enyenra channel sands are suitable for water injection to support oil production.

The Ntomme-2A well was drilled in January 2012 and “found oil (the Ntomme discovery well) down-dip of the Tweneboa-3ST non-associated gas discovery”. The well was production-tested in May 2012 at combined flow rates in excess of 20,000 bopd, confirming excellent quality reservoir.

Tullow said an FPSO design competition has been completed and that bids have been received from two contractors and are being evaluated. “A contract award will take place in early 2013, subject to PoD approval. The sub-sea FEED is now complete.”

Tullow Oil is the operator of the Deepwater Tano licence and holds a 49.95 percent interest. Partners include Kosmos Energy (18 percent), Anadarko Petroleum (18 percent), Sabre (4.05 percent) and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC, 10 percent).

Tullow has interests in two licences offshore Ghana: Deepwater Tano and West Cape Three Points, with the Jubilee Field straddling both licence areas.

 Source: B&FT

AGI, BCIU pledge to promote private sector operations

The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) and Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU) have agreed to strengthen linkages between private sector businesses of Ghana and the United States of America.

The AGI is the leading voice of the private sector in Ghana while BCIU is a US-based not-for-profit association that aims to promote international understanding through international business.

Nana Owusu-Afari, President of AGI and Mr. Peter Tichansky, BCIU President, signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Accra on behalf of their respective organisations -- pledging to work together to enhance and increase cooperation between private sector businesses.

Under the terms of the MoU, BCIU will endeavour to provide opportunities for AGI to highlight Ghana as an ideal investment location and regional hub for multinational corporations, and to establish AGI’s identity as a powerful institution vis-a-vis the American business community and the United States Government.

In addition, BCIU will identify strategic business to business partnerships in specific sectors as identified by AGI.

Besides, AGI and BCIU will develop the necessary mechanisms to engage in efficient coordination, decision-making, and joint-planning; create monitoring/evaluation and reporting practices to measure performance and maintain transparency; manage financial matters; and address other matters that arise.

The two entities also agreed and commited to pursuing only those objectives which are mutually in the national interest of Ghana and the United States.

They also pledged to protect and elevate the brands and reputations of the two organisations, and to undertake an official evaluation with the option for renewal after two years.

Owusu-Afari said the MoU is a great milestone in the history of the AGI, and expressed hope that the partnership will further strengthen the relationship between Ghana and the US in terms of business promotion.

He said the deal will also help facilitate business promotion and formalise the private sector’s relationship with the United States.

Mr. Tichansky described the signing as historic moment, and said BCIU will play a valuable role in promoting business to business and government to business interactions.

Mr. Japheth Aryiku, BCIU Senior Advise, explained that the signing of the MoU will go a long way in deepening the relationship between the two groups. 

“Business motivation is going to offer the two groups the opportunity to learn a great deal,” he said.

Bring back Automatic Adjustment Formula -- AGI

The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) has asked government to revert to the Automatic Adjustment system in fuel pricing that makes way for periodic reviews and for effective planning.

The Association said it has noted with concern the timing of the recent fuel price increment that is impacting seriously on business.

“AGI is of the view that fuel price reviews must be made amenable to the Automatic Adjustment system that allows periodic price reviews, for effective planning.” 

For the first half of 2012, the cedi depreciated by about 20% while crude oil prices on the world market averaged an increase of about 8%. Fuel prices should have been reviewed accordingly, a release from the Association said.

“We note the challenges associated with implementing the Automatic Adjustment System when such unexpected changes occur in the determinants of fuel price review -- namely the exchange rate and world crude oil price. We urge Government to develop a system to manage such challenges. In this regard, AGI recommends effective implementation of risk management strategies such as hedging to deal with such situations.”  

Government, the AGI said, ought to make provisions in the National budget for the fuel subsidies for effective planning; and should submit a supplementary budget to cover any unplanned additional subsidies on account of significant changes in the price determinants. 

AGI is therefore calling on Government to: 
Reinstitute the periodic review of fuel pricing to mitigate the huge impact of such fuel price increments. 

Budget for any fuel subsidy before it is absorbed. This should be part of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy presented by the Ministry of Finance. This will enable control and prudent financial management.

Seek parliamentary approval, if it becomes necessary to exceed such budgetary allocations.  
Fix the Tema Oil Refinery, as soon as possible to ensure the continuous supply of finished products including residual fuel oil to Industry, among others. In addition, we would be adding value to crude oil -- thereby generating industrial growth and saving forex.

Local operations top Gold Fields’ portfolio

From this year, Gold Fields’ Ghanaian operations will be the largest contributor to the multinational mining company’s production and earnings after the company spun-off two of its older South African mines, KDC and Beatrix, into a separately-managed and listed company, Sibanye Gold. 
Without the South African mines, the two Ghanaian mines in the portfolio -- Tarkwa and Damang -- would have accounted for 43 percent of Gold Fields’ production in 2012, Ghana Country Manager Pierre Coussey said at a presentation in Accra on the company’s 2012 results. 

Gold Fields’ Australian production accounted for 29 percent, Peru 15 percent and the company’s only remaining South African asset -- the developing South Deep Project -- 13 percent.

Even when South Deep comes into full production in 2016, the Ghanaian mines are still expected to be the largest contributor with an estimated 35 percent. 

“Ghana has always played a significant part in Gold Fields’ overall portfolio. Now that they are the largest contributor to the company, they will receive even more dedicated focus,” Peet Van Schalkwyk, Executive Vice-President and Managing Director of the Ghana operations, said.

The Ghanaian operations also account for the second-largest mineral reserve-base of Gold Fields, with 14 million ounces of gold out of a total 64 million ounces. 

Mr. Coussey said the Tarkwa mine is considering its sixth expansion phase, while the Damang Mine is in transition and will require significant recapitalisation during 2013 and 2014.

He noted, however, that the extent to which the company invests in its Ghana operations will depend on the country’s fiscal regime and a successful outcome of its negotiations with Government to reach a favourable tax-stability agreement. 

“I am hopeful that we are going to arrive at a win-win deal for everyone: more tax into the coffers for the government, potentially more jobs at our mines and a healthy return for our investors,” he said.

Gold Fields’ gold production decreased by 7 percent from 3.49 million ounces for the year ended December 2011 to 3.25 million ounces for the year ended December 2012.

However, revenue for the group decreased by 4.3 percent from US$5.8billion to US$5.55billion. Mr Coussey cautioned, though, that the revenue should not be taken in isolation but pegged against the company’s operating costs. 

Taxes in Ghana in particular, he said, have gone up significantly in the last couple of years, while power costs have also been rising.

Net operating costs for the group increased by 18 percent from US$2.88billion to US$2.99billion. Total cash cost increased by 28 percent from US$795 per ounce to US$894 per ounce due to a decrease in gold sales and the increase in net operating costs. 

Mr. Coussey indicated that Gold Fields was Ghana’s largest corporate-tax payer in 2012, paying just over US$250million in direct taxes, royalties, and dividends to the government.       

He further noted that in its efforts to provide benefits to all stakeholders, the company has made significant investments in the communities adjacent Tarkwa and Damang, spending more than US$4.5million on community projects last year. 

“While the company’s new global strategy is to focus on cash-generation, a key focus area is sustainable development -- and that means taking care of our employees by way of training, and the communities in which we operate, so we can leave a legacy of economically viable and sustainable projects that contribute to the overall GDP of Ghana,” he said.

source: B&FT

Access Bank launches “Knowing You Better”

Access Bank Ghana Limited’s first major customer campaign of the year, dubbed “Knowing You Better”, has been launched with the aim of rewarding over 10,000 loyal customers.

The campaign, which will run from now till the end of May 2013, is expected to redefine the future of retail banking business in the country’s financial sector with a number of exciting, innovative and breathtaking packages for customers, the Bank said.

It is also part of the bank’s growth strategy, which aims to make Access Bank one of the top-five banks in the country. Its main focus is to get individuals, small businesses and corporate customers to update their records with the bank.

Stephen Abban, Group Head of Retail Banking, speaking at a media briefing in Accra said: “Access Bank has identified customer information as the single-most important factor in creating a trusting relationship with customers.

“As a result, the bank is embarking on a campaign to get all of its customers to update their account records with accurate information on their bio-data and other personal information.”

He added: “As a way of life, we expect that some of our customers may have changed their names as a result of marriage. Others may have changed their email or phone numbers, and even relocated their office or place of residence.

“This four-month campaign is therefore part of the bank’s continuous efforts aimed at keeping an updated database of customers to serve them better.”

He urged customers to access the forms via the corporate website of the bank -- -- or from any of its branches across the nation, and to complete and submit them at the branches.

“Customers who update their records with the bank will continue to enjoy easy access to our range of products and services: including electronic statements, Internet banking, mobile banking and other exciting bouquets of electronic products. Customers with updated records will also receive regular updates on key financial and market information.

“It is exciting to note that Access Bank will be rewarding customers who update their account information.”

He expressed appreciation to customers for their continued confidence in the bank and assured them of a more exciting banking relationship in the months ahead.

Access Bank is one of the largest retail banks in Ghana, with over 39 branch locations and 43 ATMs.

The bank is currently leveraging its geographical network to showcase its expertise in technology-driven banking solutions and customer relationship management. Access Bank has a customer base of about 175,000.