Friday, October 23, 2015

PPP law to address infrastructure gap

The draft Public Private Partnership (PPP) law, currently before Cabinet, will make room for accountability and transparency so as to ensure projects are executed by leveraging public and private sector resources in order to close the infrastructure gap and deliver efficient public infrastructure and services.

The Director of the Public Investment Division at the Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Magdalene Apenteng, speaking at a sensitisation forum for Civil Society Organisatiosns (CSOs) in Accra said: “The law will hopefully come very soon, and it will take care of accountability and bribery if it is fully passed.

“Within the draft PPP law, the guidelines and regulations make room for accountability and access to documentation, disclosure and so on.

“The law will support implementation of the national PPP policy that was launched by government in 2011. It is expected to give confidence to both local and international investors that would want to participate in PPPs with government.”

Under the law, Parliament will be the final approving authority for PPP projects -- subject to provisions of the policy -- to ensure protection of the public interest.

The PPP law, when passed, will ensure that gaps in the Public Procurement Act relating to PPP procurement practices and processes are addressed, and provide a clear definition of PPP projects and structures in such a way as to distinguish them.

The National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) has been mandated to prepare a national infrastructure plan for Ghana, and every PPP project initiated by contracting authorities will emanate from this plan.

The Attorney-General’s Department, with assistance and advice from the Legal Division of the Ministry of Finance, will ensure the conformity of all project agreements with the law.

The country’s development partners, including the World Bank and DFID, are supporting a project to move the PPP process forward with a total of US$30million over a five-year period. This is to assist in improving the legislative, institutional, financial, fiduciary and technical frameworks for PPPs, and develop bankable projects.

The focus of the project is to build capacity in the various government agencies and assist them in developing and delivering PPP projects in the various sectors, making them bankable and sustainable.

Ghana is presently faced with a huge infrastructure gap, and needs an average US$1.5billion per annum for the next decade to address it. This is required to bring the nation’s infrastructure to the recommended status for a middle-income country.

Studies on the country’s infrastructure requirements indicate that for the next decade government requirements for the transport sector alone average US$307 million annually to provide the needed infrastructure.

The power sector also requires on average an amount of US$1.255billion annually for the provision of the needed energy for accelerated development.

 Water supply and sanitation are key vital social amenities, requiring an annual average funding of about US$435million. On the housing deficit, it is estimated that a minimum of 170,000 housing units will have to be built annually, spread over the next 10-year period, to reduce and curtail the current housing deficit.

Mrs. Apenteng said government is committed to ensuring the affordability of PPPs in infrastructure projects, and that it has structures in place to mitigate the potential for high cost of PPP projects in order to ensure affordability for the common man.

She added: “Affordability is one of the key issues for all of our policy directives in terms of getting PPPs in Ghana. We want to ensure that projects or services that are provided out of these projects are affordable to the young man or anybody on the street.

“In our analysis -- the technical analysis that we undertake -- we look at the affordability criteria, and that is when government decides to either come in or not come in. If we realise the amounts that have to be charged to the man on the street are very expensive, government has a way of coming in.”

She explained that PPPs have been used extensively in both developed and developing countries; such as the United Kingdom, India, South Africa, Brazil, and Cote D’Ivoire among others.

She mentioned that serious shortfalls in the provision of infrastructure still remain, as government continues borrowing to provide for them: including roads, hospitals, and schools among others.

Mr. Joseph Chognuru, Director, Financial Sector Division at the Ministry of Finance, told 
participants from CSOs that the PPP phenomenom is a new area and therefore requires more attention in order to make it a reality. “It is our duty to embrace it and provide the necessary coordination to support government in implementing PPPs for the benefit of our country.

“The Finance Minority will continue to build the capacity of all stakeholders involved to ensure a clear understanding of the PPP concept.”

He emphasised that developing countries in Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Middle-East do not need to re-invent the wheel.

“We should rather endeavour to learn from countries that have successfully implemented PPPs.
“We could achieve our ends by adopting and adapting the models, methods and best practices of leading countries with PPP skills and expertise, in a manner that suits our unique national characteristics.

“This way we are likely to optimise the PPP potential for the country, and also avoid the common pit-falls of PPP implementation which others have had to deal with,” he remarked. 

The author is the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana

China’s Development: Opportunities for Africa and Ghana

As the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, I always at my leisure flip through some books on Ghana to seek wisdom and inspiration from the Ghanaian culture. Recently I read a book titled Bu Me Bε: Proverbs of the Akans, in which a proverb left me with a deep impression: that is, “If things are getting easier, maybe you’re headed downhill”.

My thoughts drift to China’s economy, which is now under the spotlight of the global community. China, once a closed and backward agricultural economy, has gradually established a comprehensive industrial system; become a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and deeply merged into the world economy; and then grown to be the second-largest economy and largest trading partner for nearly 130 nations.
It is by no means smooth sailing, but rather an uphill, thorny and struggling journey.  The current moderation of China’s economic growth, as well as the recent fluctuations of China’s stock market and currency exchange rate, have aroused wide concerns -- with some forces degrading China’s economic prospects and preaching the collapse of China’s economy, or deeming China as a source of risk for the world economy.
Actually, judging from statistics of the first half of 2015, China’s economy despite the slowdown is within a proper range. The growth rate of 7 percent is still at the top of major economies in the world. More importantly, China’s economic structure has chalked up significant improvements. Today the services sector already accounts for half of China's GDP, and consumption contributes 60% to its growth.
 The growth rate of per capita disposable income outruns that of GDP. New growth impetus, especially the Internet-based economy, is in full swing. The assertions that China’s economy is in decline or on the brink of collapse are unconvincing. In the same period China contributed around 30 percent of the world economy’s growth, making the claims that China is a source of risk for the world economy neither objective nor reasonable.
The concerns of the global community over the slowdown of China’s economy lend credence to China’s critical role in maintaining the steady development of the world economy. During the global financial crisis that erupted in 2008, China contributed 50 percent of world economic growth, making it a key engine for global growth and earning itself a laurel as “the stabilising anchor”. In 2014, China contributed 25 percent of the world’s economic growth.
The Chinese government, in dealing with the complex domestic and international situation, resolutely made a scientific conclusion that China’s economy has entered a stage called “new normal”; assiduously turning the adversities into opportunities and striving for more balanced, inclusive and sustainable development.
Domestically, we vigorously promote reforms on economic structure; ensure that the market plays a decisive role in allocating resources, unleashing the internal impetus and vigour of the market; and advance mass entrepreneurship and innovation to foster new engines for economic growth. We also accelerate the transformation of governmental functions to build a service-based government that provides more public goods and services, and to establish a market system featuring equality, fairness and openness.
On the international stage China will open wider to the rest of the world, forge a more balanced and inclusive global industrial chain through global cooperation to pool the comparative strengths of all countries; and foster a global community of common interests and development. Now China’s economic structural reform is bearing fruit and delivering benefits. We are confident and capable of continuing our glorious track-record and further contributing positive energy to global development.
Africa always holds an important and special position in the architecture of China’s external cooperation. Now, China and Africa -- Ghana included -- have enjoyed unprecedentedly close relations with China-Africa cooperation contributing to 20 percent of Africa’s growth. However, concerns arise that China’s demand for Africa’s raw materials and primary products will decline; its trade with Africa, investment and aid to Africa will shrink.
As a diplomat engaged in African affairs for around 20 years, I always insist on assessing Africa’s development and China-Africa cooperation from a developmental and long-term view. It is my belief that China-Africa cooperation, despite minor adjustments, still maintains good momentum and will embrace bright prospects
First, we have sound principles and policies to guide China-Africa cooperation. During his visit to Africa in 2013, H.E. Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the guidelines on China’s relations with Africa featuring sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith; and advocated a more balanced approach in upholding justice and pursuing interests, indicating that China in carrying out cooperation with Africa will never take the colonial path or damage the environment and sacrifice long-term interests of Africa, but rather seek mutually-beneficial cooperation.
China, taking into account the most extensive and urgent demand of African countries and the new stage and features of China-Africa cooperation, has identified industry, finance, poverty reduction, ecological and environmental protection, cultural and people-to-people exchanges as well as peace and security, as the six key areas for carrying out cooperation projects, and proposed to build with African countries high-speed railway networks, highway networks and regional aviation networks in Africa to facilitate the industrialisation of Africa.
With the guidance of these principles and policies that are welcomed by African countries, China-Africa relations are developing on the right track; the bilateral cooperation upgrading and concept of a China-Africa community of common destiny taking deep root in the hearts of our people.
Secondly, we have strong institutions to safeguard China-Africa cooperation. The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), as an effective platform for collective dialogue and pragmatic cooperation, has brought about surmounting development in our cooperation.  

The China-Africa trade volume has surged from some US$10billion in 2000 to US$221.9billion in 2014. Meanwhile, the China-Ghana trade volume has increased from less than US$100million to US$5.6billion. China, while making great contributions to bridging the infrastructure deficits, creating job opportunities and reducing poverty in Africa through follow-up actions of FOCAC, also generates demonstrable effects and thereby catalyses the “rediscovery” of Africa and increases resources-inputs into Africa by the international community.

At the 2006 FOCAC Beijing Summit, China and Africa established a new type of strategic partnership featuring political equality and mutual trust, win-win economic cooperation and cultural exchanges -- thus turning a new page in China-Africa friendly cooperation. In December this year, the FOCAC Summit will take place in South Africa. It is the first-ever on the African continent.
China will use this opportunity to put forward a series of new proposals to strengthen win-win cooperation with Africa in the five priority areas of industrialisation, agricultural modernisation, public health, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, as well as peace and security. Moreover, China will support Africa to establish an independent and sustainable industrial system, a food security and guarantee system, as well as a public health prevention and control system, thereby fuelling Africa’s development.

Thirdly, we are enjoying unprecedented opportunities in conducting China-Africa cooperation. African countries are eager to strive for economic transformation, replace the low-value-added development mode characterised by over-reliance on exports of raw materials and primary products, speed up industrialisation and enhance capacities to fend off economic and financial risks.
China has stepped into a more mature stage of industrialisation. It is the world’s largest producer of over 220 categories of industrial products, with abundant surplus capacity that is competitive, advanced and green -- which speak to the very needs of Africa. The international cooperation on industrial capacity and equipment manufacturing promoted by China, which is conducive to the transformation of Africa’s development and upgrading of China-Africa cooperation, has brought unprecedented opportunities for Africa’s efforts in realising its dream of industrialiation.
Ghana is an important partner of China in carrying out industrial capacity cooperation. Ghana is endowed with a highly open market, well-educated workforce, geographical advantage and a relatively good foundation for development. Ghana is pursuing industrialisation and an export-oriented strategy. Introducing competitive industry capacity from China can complement Ghana’s inner-growth approach, diversify its development, and buttress the backbone and risk-resistant capacity of Ghana’s economy. We will, abiding by the principles of balancing interests and principles, win-win cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, and market-oriented operation, push more projects conforming to Ghana’s need to be implemented in the country.

Similar to the Ghanaian culture, the Chinese culture asserts that “Difficulty and hardship is the nurse of greatness”. Now, China, Africa and Ghana are all at a critical stage of development, and going through profound economic and social transformation. As reliable friends and sincere partners, we should tackle various challenges in the process of the global economy’s recovery with concerted efforts, and make new contributions to the development of Africa and the world.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

ZEN Petroleum receives ISO 9001 certification

ZEN Petroleum, a local owned Oil Marketing Company (OMC) has attained ISO certification following months of rigorous assessment. 
ZEN was awarded the certification after meeting the requirements of the internationally respected Quality Management System (QMS) standards-measuring instrument ISO 9001:2008.
“Quality is a central component of our mission and our culture, and we are committed to the on-going development and delivery of superior products that align with our vision of creating a truly pollution free world,” said Paul Twum-Barimah, ZEN’s Corporate Affairs Manager. “The ISO 9001 Certification is a significant milestone for all of us at ZEN as a local company.
"As a West African company with a global outlook, international standards and quality products, we pioneer innovative solutions. We were the first oil company to introduce low sulphur (500 ppm) to mining companies in Ghana. Our goal is to be the most cost effective   supplier of quality fuel and lubricants and related services to our customers."
Mr Twum-Barimah stated that this is another indication that indigenous Ghanaian OMC’s are ready to take back control of the downstream petroleum sector and called on government to speed up implementation of a local content and participation policy to stop the sector from falling into predatory OMC’s, owned and controlled by oil trading conglomerates, who are well positioned to manipulate the market to the long term detriment of a sector that currently contributes around 10% of the country's gross domestic product
The certification is an industry standard that verifies the integrity of an organization’s quality management systems and recognizes its ability to meet customers’ quality requirements while continually improving operational processes. 
The recognition supports ZEN’s idea of becoming a leader within the downstream and is a testament to the company’s ability to deliver quality products to customers across a wide spectrum of vertical markets.
ISO is the International Organization for Standardization, an independent, non-governmental membership organization and the world’s largest developer of voluntary international standards. It develops and promulgates a standard which seeks to ensure desirable characteristics of products and services such as quality, environmental friendliness, safety, reliability, efficiency and interchange ability — all at an economical cost. 
The establishment of ZEN’s QMS made it possible to articulate the company’s vision and mission to innovate within the downstream industry while effectively and consistently meeting the needs and expectations of its customers and partners.

ZEN Petroleum is the largest supplier of Gasoil to mines in Ghana with offices in Mali, Burkina Faso and Liberia. 

Newmont Akyem to expand exploration activities

Newmont Golden Ridge-Akyem Mine says it is confident of expanding its exploration activities beyond its main active pit in the near future to ensure operational sustainability. The mine expects to produce about 420,000 ounces of gold by year-end.

The Akyem Mine produced approximately 420,000 ounces of gold last year, currently operates a main pit and hopes to explore the adjoining east satellite pit -- for which its mining lease expires in 2025.

“We hope to start mining the Akyem East Satellite Pit this year or early next year. With our main pit we have covered about 100 metres since we started. We have the intention to go almost 200 more metres because our ore-body dips from north to south,” Kwame Ntiri, Mine General Foreman, told Journalists for Business Advocacy who were on a tour of the mines to acquaint themselves with various operational activities.

The Communications and External Relations Manager of Newmont Akyem Mine, Mr. Oduro- Kwarteng Marfo, explained that the mine is currently planning to source more than US$7million of its supplies from local businesses within its operational area, and this is aimed at ensuring that the company acquires more than half of its supplies locally by 2015.

The mining firm had by the end of August this year spent about US$5.2million on local supply business chains, which mostly provide transport services, sanitation and contractors in the value chain.

He said: “About 70% of mining expenditure goes into the supply-chain area, hence the need to support growth of local businesses to increase the provision of basic materials for mining companies. We need to develop a national vision on local content in the mining industry if we want to derive full benefit from mining”.

This, he said, is to avoid the “resource curse” by giving back some of the mineral cash to the communities.

“As a responsible mining company, we want our operations to have a positive impact on the communities in which we operate. We want to engage them in the value chain so that we can stimulate other sectors of the economy.”

The suppliers of lime, grinding media, HDPE and PVC pipes, cement and cement products, tyre-retreading, general and special lubricants, explosives and caustic soda have also benefitted from the largess of mining to also create other economic actors.

The company sources about 274 of its 630 workers directly from the local communities, which constitutes 43 percent of the workforce…while 332 or 53 percent of the workers hail from other parts of the country. Expatriates constitute only four percent -- 24 -- the workforce.

Mr. Oduro-Kwarteng said: “An adoption of proper local content policy obviously holds the prospect of improving the image of mining companies; to deliver price and quality-competitive goods and services safely, and in a timely manner to meet the needs of the business on a lowest total cost basis, while providing transparent opportunities for local companies to secure contracts”.

Newmont intends to be the most respected mining company in Ghana in terms of optimising the value of in-country spend and development of sustainable local businesses, as the company is committed to addressing the immediate challenges of people in the area, Mr. Oduro-Kwarteng said.

He added: “We at Newmont have made a commitment to the people of New Abirem and the surrounding communities, to create an avenue for them to participate in operations of the company to help provide employment and a livelihood for them”.

The Senior Manager, Sustainability and External Relations at the Akyem Mine, Felix Apoh, disclosed that the mine has spent about GH₵12.8million as community investments on developmental projects within the communities during the 2014 fiscal year.

He explained that the amount went into the provision of education, health, and road infrastructure, among others in the 10 host communities.

Mr. Apoh indicated that most of these projects are at various stages of completion, while some have been completed to ease the burden of people living in those communities.

The Executive Secretary of Newmont Akyem Development Foundation (NAkDeF), Paul Apenu, revealed the company has also undertaken major infrastructural work at the New Abirem government hospital by building a maternity ward, female ward, doctors’ bungalow, nurses’ quarters, and a theatre-block among others.

The company has again installed a 275kva generator plant at the hospital to ensure services do not stop because of the frequent power outages being experienced in the country.

On education, a new vocational school with dormitories was built to provide technical and vocational education for the area’s teeming youth. Meanwhile, several other educational facilities are being upgraded at the expense of the Newmont’s Akyem Mine.

According to Mr. Apenu, the company constructed roads linking a new resettlement site to the main New Abirem Township, while other projects including water expansion, sanitation, landfill site development, and security programmes were executed.

He added that since the commercial production of gold from the mine began in 2013, the company had helped to improve the lives of people through yearly community investment programmes.    

Appolonia, City of Light open-day receives massive patronage

An Open-Day held by Appolonia, City of Light, the mixed-use urban development near Accra, attracted large crowds at the weekend to Appolonia’s fast-selling Nova Ridge residential community.

The Appolonia sales teams presented the entire project concept to clients, with buses used to provide tours around the site so buyers could experience at first-hand infrastructure already on the ground. Twenty-five visitors took advantage of the special offers available and purchased plots, with Phase-1 now being almost sold out.

Attendees of the event included a range of buyers and stakeholders from all areas of Accra, including the Chief and Elders of the Appolonia Community together with their retinues.

Mr. John Amuah, a prospective buyer attending the event, seemed delighted at the infrastructure on the ground: “Appolonia is fantastic! With the recent rains I was concerned that like much of Accra the place would be flooded, and was greatly surprised to see the land was dry”.

The event also witnessed the participation of other industry players, such as home financing companies Ghana Home Loans and HFC Realty; the landscape architect Calcos, the building architect De Arc; and building contractors Eban and New Africa Construction Company Limited. 

These companies and others are working alongside Appolonia to help Ghanaians make their dream homes a reality.

By the end of 2016, land values and demand for land at Appolonia are expected to more fully reflect the “advancing” nature of the project, according to Rendeavour -- Africa’s largest urban land developer and main partner in the project. 

By then, many areas will have started full construction, including Appolonia’s recently announced second residential development The Oxford, as well as Nova Ridge individual houses, schools and retail.

Nick Langford, Country Head for Rendeavour, remarked on the work done by the team. “This is the culmination of four years of hard work carried out by a dedicated team of real estate professionals, and the delivery of Rendeavour’s mission to create mixed-income, mixed-use developments across Africa. The first building blocks are now being laid for the creation of urban developments of high quality with superior infrastructure.”

Oil palm industralists urged to meet standards

The ongoing paradigm-shift in the global palm oil sector toward sustainable crop production calls for rapid implementaion of stringent policies with definite timelines to help ensure oil palm is produced sustainably, Fiifi Kwetey, Minister of Food and Agriculture, has said.

Producers of palm oil risk losing out on access to international markets and finance if they do not move to implement sustainability requirements which provide an opportunity to address the social and environmental impacts of the crop’s production. 

Though the sustainable palm oil initiative is still relatively new in Africa, many growers are beginning to adopt the best practice guidelines contained in the standard.

“Consumers worldwide are increasgly demanding assurances that the palm oil in the products they buy from the supermarket shelves -- whether it is a cake of soap, a bar of chocolate, or a packet of biscuits -- is produced in a manner that safeguards the environment, protects biodiversity and does not infringe on the right of workers and indigenous and local people,” Minister Kwetey told Africa’s sustainable palm oil forum in Accra that was spearheaded by Solidaridad West Africa.

The forum, supported by Proforest and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), brought together stakeholders including oil palm growers, civil society organisations, financial institutions, development partners, governments and key experts to share knowledge and experiences in the oil palm value chain.

The event was under the theme ‘Sustainable Palm Oil in Africa: Getting it Right from the Start’, and was aimed at offering stakeholders a common platform to share experiences and ideas to address challenges in the sector and chart a common path toward achieving sustainability.

Minister Kwetey underscored the need for implemention of sustainable sourcing policies with definite timelines for admitting only certified sustainable palm oil into production lines and certification bodies and standards such as the RSPO, which will help to ensure that oil palm is produced sustainably.

The implication, he said, is that non-certified palm oil will eventually be excluded from international palm oil trade, resulting in less of much-needed export revenue to producer countries, and less income to growers and millers if the necessary measures are not implemented. 

He observed that for Africa to remain competitive in the rapidly-changing palm oil market, there is a need for conscientious efforts by all players to mainstream sustainability into the palm oil production and supply chain; and that small growers and artisanal millers, who contribute about 80% of Africa’s total annual output, must be repositioned to play their roles in a more sustainable manner.

At the end of June 2015, Africa accounted for less than 1% of the total oil palm production area certified globally by RSPO; with plantations in Ghana accounting for 0.66% and in Madagascar 0.07% of globally certified production areas. Africa’s contribution to the certified sustainable palm oil market is even much less.

Salahudin Yaacob, RSPO’s Technical Director, speaking on ‘The RSPO in Africa’ explained that investment in the palm oil sector in Africa is growing, with the potential of improving local economies and reducing rural poverty; and that future growth in the sector is expected to help close the palm palm oil deficit and position the region to be a net exporter of the crop.

He indicated that certification for the palm oil industry is yet to catch on in Africa, as currently less 1% of the total global certified area is on the continent.

“Africa has seen significant investments in the oil palm sector over the past decade. These include new plantation establishment, rehabilitation of abandoned and derelict plantations, investments in more efficient mills and refineries, as well as innovative smallholder initiatives.

“The growing oil palm sector could contribute significantly to economic development and help alleviate rural poverty.  At the same time, the expanding sector could come with significant social and environmental impacts unless adequate safeguards are put in place to conform to international market certification standards,” Yaacob said.

Currently, Solidaridad West Africa and Proforest -- non-governmental organisations -- are providing support and creating awareness on RSPO in the oil palm sector aimed at ensuring sustainable development of farmers and production systems in West Africa, through enhancing value chains of fresh and processed agricultural commodities.

Mr. Delle Kpebessan, Regional Programme Manager Solidaridad, said governments in Africa must create the enabling environment to revive the oil palm industry -- as with best management practices, yields could increase from the average 2.5 tonnes per hectare to between 20 tonnes and 25 tonnes per hectare.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), world production of palm oil is expected to increase from 45 million tonnes to about 60 million tonnes by 2020.
Africa, which holds 30% of all oil palm agricultural lands, regrettably produces less than 10 percent of the total world production of palm oil -- with Ghana contributing a distant below-1 percent (0.8 percent).
In the West Africa sub-region, the total crude palm oil market demand stands at approximately 1.6 million m/t.

However, aggregated capacity in the region stands at approximately 800,000 m/t -- leaving an estimated growing supply-gap of well beyond 850,000 m/t.

Gov’t bets on new cocoa price to boost output

Government has increased the price at which it buys a bag of cocoa from farmers by 21.74 percent for the current crop season spanning 2015/2016.

This, it hopes, will be enough to motivate farmers of the crop to produce about 850,000 to 900,000 metric tonnes in the new crop season after the disappointing 2014/2015 crop purchases figures, which fell short of the 750,000 target.

During the last crop season, for every 64kg bag of cocoa beans, farmers earned GH¢350; but the announcement by the Producer Price Review Committee (PPRC) will see farmers make GH¢425 per bag in the new season.

Speaking at a news conference in Accra on Friday, Cassiel Ato Forson, Deputy Finance Minister, said the price of a tonne of cocoa has also been increased from GH¢5,520 to GH¢6,720 per tonne.
The Committee, which comprises of government appointees and officials from Cocobod, further approved an additional GH¢5 per bag of 64kg.

This means that a cocoa farmer will be paid GH¢420 per bag and an additional GH¢5 as bonus, making it a total of GH¢425 per bag.

This brings the price and bonus per tonne per tonne of cocoa to GH¢6,800, equivalent to about 74 percent of the net Free-On-Board (FOB) price -- meaning farmers will continue to enjoy the largest chunk of what government earns from selling the beans on the world market.

During the last crop season farmers received 76 percent of the net FOB price per tonne of cocoa.
Comparatively, Ghanaian cocoa farmers are in line to earn more than their neighbouring counterparts who are to receive US$108.8 per every 64kg bag of cocoa while local farmers receive US$114.5.

Government is confident the new price will be enough to dissuade farmers who are engaged in cross-border smuggling as they chase higher prices of the cocoa beans.

Mr. Ato Forson advised the Licenced Buying Companies (LBCs) to stick to this new adjustment in price and pay farmers accordingly.

Farmers of the crop are excited about the price increase. In an interview with B&FT, the Brong-Ahafo Regional Chief Cocoa Farmer, Nana Agyei Damoah, expressed his excitement about the new price.

“Last year we were given GH¢350 and now we have been given GH¢425, so I think it is a satisfactory price. Aside from this, there are other incentives we will receive. Our children will receive scholarships; our school buildings in poor conditions will be rehabilitated, new ones will be built if need be; we will get free fertiliser and insecticides.

“So I think all these are incentives that makes the whole package a satisfactory one. And the fact that our price is now higher than Ivory Coast, I think smuggling of cocoa to Ivory Coast for a higher price will cease,” he said.

Mr. Ato Forson further revealed that the PPRC has approved other rates for all stakeholders in the industry: “The Buyers’ margin, Hauliers’ rate, warehousing and internal marketing costs as well as fees for disinfestation, grading and sealing have been increased over last year’s levels in order to ensure that other key stakeholders operate at profitable levels to sustain the cocoa industry”.

ICC calls on gov’t to work with business to achieve SDGs

Congratulations World Leaders, on securing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But we're not going to achieve them unless we take action on climate change.

Organisations working with more than 6,000,000 companies around the world want an ambitious climate deal at COP21 in Paris this December. More leading companies and investors are taking climate action more than ever before.

We are moving because taking action is scaling-up clean energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with the climate science, creating jobs and unleashing low-carbon innovation. Simply put: climate action is good for business. And governments can help us all go further-and faster. We ask governments to commit to securing an ambitious agreement in Paris that:

Decarbonises the global economy over the course of this century; Regularly updates and improves government commitments; Ensures accountability and transparency through clear rules; Sends clear policy signals, such as carbon pricing mechanisms and incentives to shift trillions of dollars toward low-carbon, climate-resilient investment; Reduces the vulnerability and strengthens the resilience of economies and communities to climate impacts.

The transition to a low-carbon economy is inevitable, irreversible and irresistible. An ambitious global agreement at COP21 will catalyse business action to reduce emissions and build climate resilience.

 Together, we can forge a clean, predictable and transformative path toward a safe and prosperous future.

The SDGs represent, without doubt, the most ambitious development agenda ever forged at the international level. They set out an essential road map to address some of the world’s most pressing and intractable problems, from extreme poverty through to climate change.

Simply put, we all -- as global citizens -- have an interest in making the SDGs an unprecedented and unmitigated success.

The international development agenda is sometimes narrowly construed as a matter for government alone, but it is clear that effective implementation of the SDGs will require widespread business support.

To take one angle: official estimates place the annual investment gap in sustainable development in developing markets at up to US$2.5trillion annually. It is anticipated that shortfall will need to be filled by private capital. In other areas, business expertise and innovation will be key if we are to limit greenhouse gas emissions, create new jobs, and promote sustainable consumption cycles.

That is why we are calling on our governments and leaders to commit to working actively and constructively with the private sector to deliver on the promise of the new “Global Goals”.

Many businesses are already playing a leading role in promoting sustainable development, but with the right support and incentives from government we can do much more. A collaborative effort is also required to enable the transformation of business practices toward sustainability more broadly -- including within the small business sector.

With respect to the proposed set of indicators aimed at underpinning the UN SDGs and their related Targets, ICC would like to underscore the following points:

·         The UN SDGs are cross-cutting in nature and often interconnected, which means that measures on one goal will have impact on the outcome of another goal. This point should be carefully reflected in the choice and design of indicators.

·         Indicators should be chosen and designed to monitor progress made in shaping and implementing policy measures aimed at achieving the UN SDGs, rather than only considering end-results in absolute terms.

·         It should be noted that the SDGs are global in scope, and apply to broad political and macro-economic situations which require the aggregation of a number of micro indicators at the company or organisation level.

In addition, ICC would like to emphasise that the selection and design of indicators should:

·         Take into account and reflect the cross-cutting nature of innovation and the potential role that inclusive/ social innovation and innovation for sustaining growth can play to help achieve the UN SDGs and Targets.

·         Consider and adequately reflect the importance of creating and maintaining policy environments to support entrepreneurship at all levels (including SMEs and start-up companies) to contribute to sustainable growth

·         Adequately reflect that through adequate policy measures, technology developments supporting sustainable production and efficiency improvements can scale-up and allow better lives for all.

·         Adopt a holistic approach in the choice of indicators to tackle the SDGs goals and avoid one-size fits-all approaches, to help ensure there are no unintended consequences from one set of indicators on other areas
·         Facilitate easy, transparent and affordable reporting
·         Enable coordinated and aligned monitoring of policy measures aimed at engaging all actors in the economy in actions tackling the challenges mirrored in the UN SDGs

·         Reflect that UN SDGs relate to challenges that can only be met through the combined efforts of all relevant actors in the economy
·         Underscore the key role that public-private stakeholder cooperation can play in support of the SDGs, especially with respect to Goal 17 (and its Targets 17.16 and 17.17) and the importance of non-financial support mechanisms, both in intra-business and multi-stakeholder efforts.

While the SDGs address many complex issues, our message is simple: let us work together to seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver a brighter and more prosperous future for all.

International Chamber of Commerce, ICC, is the world business organisation whose mission is to promote open trade and investment and help business meet the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly integrated economy.

With interest spanning every sector of private enterprise, ICC’s global network comprises over 6 million companies and business associations in more than 130 countries. ICC members work through national committees in their countries, such as ICC Ghana, to address business concerns and convey ICC views to their respective governments.

ICC conveys international business views and priorities through active engagements with the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation, the G20 and other intergovernmental forums.

Close to 3,000 experts drawn from ICC member-companies feed their knowledge and experience into crafting the ICC stance on specific business issues.

Emmanuel Doni-Kwame                                                                                                                                                           MD, WTC Accra & Secretary-General, ICC Ghana

Ghana adopting sustainable development goals

After more than two-years of negotiation and deliberation, the post-2015 UN agenda -- covering 17 sustainable development goals and 169 individual indicators -- will be adopted at this week’s UN General Assembly in New York by world leaders to end poverty, achieve gender equality, and ensure food security in every corner of the globe by 2030. Ekow Essabra-Mensah looks at Ghana’s preparations toward its adoption.

After 15 years of nations pursuing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) established by the United Nations, representatives of the member-states -- along with experts and private citizens -- have defined Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to help set the course for the next 15 years.

On August 2nd the United Nations concluded its negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda, and member-states agreed a framework for 17 universal sustainable development goals which are yet to be adopted by Heads of State at a summit being held today, the 25th September, 2015.

Delegates are gathered at the UN Headquarters aiming to finalise and adopt the post-2015 development agenda “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

The Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It also seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom. Eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.

All countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan from January 2016.

All 17 SDGs and 169 targets demonstrate the scale and ambition of this new universal agenda. They seek to build on the Millennium Development Goals and complete what those did not achieve.

They also seek to realise the human rights of all, and achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls. They are integrated and indivisible, and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental.

The MDGs faced criticism for not sufficiently covering the environmental dimension of sustainable development, and for not addressing inter-linkages between its three dimensions.

“This is a top priority now as we have successfully agreed on a sustainable development agenda with a set of 17 sustainable development goals. This is hugely ambitious and encouraging news.

“On all these matters, we really count on strong support. This is the people’s agenda, a plan of action for ending poverty in all its dimensions irreversibly, everywhere, and leaving no one behind,” said Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, after the targets were agreed.

President John Dramani Mahama has confirmed that the country will be signing up with the SDGs document: “We need to make economic growth more inclusive; that is why we will be signing up to the SDGs this year.  The country needs to broaden its participation.  We need to broaden participation and make good use of technology”.

This will pave the way for the country to join forces with other countries to adopt the new UN sustainable development agenda to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

If fully implemented, a new set of U.N. development goals could end the social exclusion and poverty of marginalised groups in the country. At the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is the mantra “leave no one behind”.

Preparation toward adoption of the 2015 agenda

As one of the first of 50 countries selected by the UN for national consultations on the post-2015 development agenda, two rounds of national consultations were organised in the country.

Led by the UN Country Team in partnership with the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), the first round of consultations were launched in November 2012 at Tamale.

Two key objectives of the consultations were to: stimulate broad-based debate on the priorities that should constitute the post-2015 development agenda; and provide opportunities for marginalised sections of society to participate in the global debate and policy processes connected with the post-2015 development agenda.

Head, United Nations Systems Unit, Gladys Ghartey-Ministry of Finance, confirming to B&FT Ghana’s preparedness toward implementation of these SDGs -- which starts from January 2016 -- explained that “Ghana is fully prepared, as the country is an integral part of the global body”.

She said Ghana’s team has been in New York looking to finalise the SDGs document “So we are fully involved and fully prepared for its adoption”, adding that most of the items in the SDGs are already being implemented.

She praised Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), especially SEND-GHANA, for their contributions to discussions on Financing for Development as the major means of the implementation aspect of SDGs, describing the organisation as “wonderful.”

Mrs. Ghartey said: “Some of the specific wordings CSOs have suggested have found their way into the Financing for Development document. I would therefore entreat that we encourage such collaborations”.

Mr. George Osei-Bimpeh, SEND-Ghana’s Country Director speaking with the B&FT in Accra, urged government to find innovative and domestic-driven ways of financing SDGs within the framework of the post-2015 development agenda.

According to him, sustainable development financing is the only panacea for consolidating gains made through implementation of the MDGs.

Speaking at a recent media interaction organised by SEND-GHANA on the Open Budget Tracker Survey and Post-2015 Development Agenda, Osei-Bimpeh opined that increasing inequality and the fact that about seven million Ghanaians live on just a dollar a day makes a case for social protection programmes, which implementation requires guaranteed financing.

This comes with the hindsight of lessons gleaned from formulation and implementation of the MDGs.

Among other things, there was little discussion and no concrete agreement and/or strategies to finance implementation of the MDGs; issues of governance were not prioritised, for which reason fiscal or budget transparency and accountability were completely out of the picture.

He drew government’s attention to these lessons to serve as a guide as the country is preparing to join the inter-governmental negotiation on the SDGs, and as government explores financing mechanisms for implementation of the post-2015 Agenda.

“Budget transparency and accountability should be the core priority of government in the context of SDGs/Post-2015,” he advised.

Incorporating SDGs with NDPC’s 40-year Development Plan

Government officials have agreed to boldly take the strategic step to incorporate the post-2015 Development Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations General Assembly into the country’s 40-year Development Plan.

The 40-year National Development Plan being spearheaded by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) has received a favourable endorsement from various business Associations, stakeholders and eminent personalities in the country.

Planning has indeed been the country’s weakest point. The country has often discarded previous development plans simply because they did not fit a particular political party’s vision or manifesto, and has come to the realisation that as a nation such developments are often lopsided and haphazard.

To borrow a phrase from a notable Ghanaian -- His Eminence, Cardinal Peter Turkson said: “Some politicians are shortsighted by nature; that is why we need a national vision to direct this shortsightedness. The 40-year National Development Plan is a step in the right direction for carving a national vision.

At least the crafters of that elaborate document envision where they expect Ghana to be in forty years -- all things being equal, as economists like to say! It is a broad framework in-coming political administrations will have to work with to build the sort of future that sees us moving from our current level of a lower middle-income economy to full-blown middle-level status and beyond.

The above development indicates the country’s readiness to incorporate its developmental agenda to the SDGs goals.

Government officials have confirmed that the country will strategically incorporate the newly proclaimed national development plan.

One of such government official, Ms. Hanna Tetteh-Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, announcing this at a press briefing on Ghana’s participation in the UN General Assembly’s 70th Session, said like the SDGs Ghana will ensure it is collectively developed to engender universal ownership and acceptability.

She said government will also promote its wider dissemination, application and implementation at the national, regional and community levels, and establish internal mechanisms to monitor performance and reporting.

Ms Tetteh said the SDGs, though global in perspective, are also adaptable to the conditions of member-states and are of universal application with flexibility for different national realities, capacities, priorities and levels of development.

“For African countries and peoples, the agenda expresses our aspirations and hope for building viable and sustainable economies that can transform our societies, and we have been very active in the process of deliberations on these new goals through the development of a common African position before the debate started -- which helped us to influence the final outcome.”

Ms Tetteh said the UN could not have chosen a more appropriate theme in the current international environment plagued by threats to peace “but which have implications for all of us, no matter where we are or where we live.”

She therefore thanked the technocrats, civil society organisations and all who worked tirelessly on Ghana’s contributions to crafting the post-2015 Development Agenda, and assured Ghanaians of government’s commitment to the UN’s ideals.

Ms. Christine Evans-Klock, United Nations Resident Coordinator, called on the media to play its advocacy role once the SDGs are launched, to enhance their adoption in the country so as to better living conditions for all citizens.

Tasking the media to monitor SDGs

The media has been asked to monitor the progress and implementation of the SDGs when they take effect from next year.

The media will need to be steadfast in its watchdog role to ensure speedy implementation of goals by government and other stakeholders.

“See yourselves as partners in implementation of the SDGs, by going beyond reporting on development and implementation of the goals to investigating challenges confronted in the implementation process,” said Ms. Evans-Klock.

Going forward, Professor Kwame Karikari -- a Board Member of Media Foundation for West Africa and SDG Ambassador in Ghana -- called on political parties to incorporate the SDGs into their manifestoes to make implementation easier.

With firm media monitoring, the goals of the SDGs will be implemented by various government agencies including ministries, the National Development Planning Commission, and local government authorities without leaving any citizen behind.

Media involvement will ensure transparency, and without participation of the media there will be insufficient accountability.

This article therefore advises that opportunities should be created for public participation; and also there should be full transparency on government revenues and government spending on each of the goals, as part of major means for monitoring successful implementation of the SDGs.

Beyond media monitoring, campaigners have hoped that the SDGs will encourage governments and donors to focus on the most vulnerable, hard-to-reach groups -- such as poor women in rural areas. 

But a lack of official data on these groups is a major stumbling block, even as experts welcome the SDGs’ commitment to review progress based on data broken down by income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, migration status, disability and other factors.

In theory, disaggregated data should help governments design tailored policies to help the poorest of the poor.