Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Ghana's local rice gets quality certification logo

The Ghana Rice Inter-Professional Body (GRIB) says it has developed a certification logo, a mark of quality rice that will be on all Ghana Rice brands to promote locally produced rice. 

This certification which is an initiative aimed to promoting the consumption of Ghana Rice among rice consumers in the country is being developed in collaboration with Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and Brands Ghana which is driving the campaign for consumption of made in Ghana products. 

Mr. Imoro Amoro -- GRIB President speaking to B&FT after the media launch of the 3rd Rice Festival in Accra explained that the certification will only be awarded to processors and marketers of Ghana rice brands after going through the required GSA and FDA training and successfully passing all product test which meets both the paddy standards and milled rice standards.

He explained that GRIB in collaboration with Ghana Grains Council, GIZ-CARI and USAID-ADVANCE has successfully developed rice paddy standards and reviewed the milled rice standards for training and use by the rice value chain which has led to the quality rice brands currently selling on the market.

He explained that GRIB has charged farmers to produce good quality paddy-rice in line with efforts to promote locally produced rice.

He bemoaned missed opportunities in the rice sector due to inaccurate consumer perceptions about local rice, adding that farmers can do more to dismiss such thoughts from the minds of consumers.

“We should disabuse our minds from the perception that the rice produced in Ghana is of inferior quality. The most important thing that farmers can do is produce quality paddy-rice. We are producing for the market, and because of globalisation we can never close our eyes to the impact of the external world on our market. So, to be able to compete with others in the market and eliminate the idea local rice is inferior, we need to produce good quality rice that meets the expectation of consumers,” he said.

He further stated that his outfit is engaged in training farmers on how to use modern tools and methods of production to boost output in the sector.

“We are training the farmers with a system known as rice intensification -- a system based on transplanting instead of the traditional broadcasting method, whereby one seed can grow so much rice and the paddy also comes out clean and of very high quality. So this is what we are doing to improve the quality of the local rice,” Mr. Amoro said.

Harold Ntorinkansah – Chairman Ghana Rice Advocay Council, said access to funds must be eased for farmers to enable them tap the full potential that exists in the rice sector.

He explained that the industry continues to face limited access to mechanization equipment and service to rice farmers and processors, limited access to concessionary financing by rice value chain actors, limited access to quality rice seeds to rice farmers as well as limited commitment by government to use its purchasing power to boost demand for local rice procurement by public institutions, government events to promote  the consumption of local rice.

Statistics show that rice consumption in the country is estimated at 770,000 metric tonnes per year, with an estimated US$500million spent on imports yearly. Anecdotal evidence suggests Ghanaian urban consumers are willing to pay 113 percent premium for imported rice.

Alhassan Imoro, Rice Liaison Officer at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in collaboration with Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) of France is implementing the Rice Sector Support Programme (RSSP) aimed at improving livelihood of poor farmers in the targeted regions through the development of a sustainable economic activity based on the natural potential of the region.

The project will support lowland rice production in the Northern, Upper East, Upper West Regions and northern parts of the Volta Region of Ghana.

Mr. Imoro explained that the RSSP is in line with MOFA’s strategy to facilitate the production of food crops to attain food self-sufficiency, output processing and marketing systems adding that rice has been expressly identified in the Food and Agricultural Sector Development Policy (FASDEP) as an important food crop that should be given special attention for food self-sufficiency.

PBC hopeful of resolving Shea factory challenges

Maxwell Kojo Atta-Krah, Chief Executive Officer of the Produce Buying Company (PBC) Limited is hopeful that the technical challenges facing the company’s Shea factory will be resolved in the not too distant period for the subsidiary to contribute meaningfully to the total group effort.

“The PBC Shea factory is unfortunately not fully completed for operations at full capacity as reported on last year. Efforts to get the Solvent Extraction component of the plant to become functional are being expedited,” he said.

Mr. Atta-Krah, speaking at the company’s 15th Annual General Meeting in Accra explained that in order to resolve the difficulties facing the company, the Board on the advice of technical; experts have approved the complete replacement of the solvent extraction component, while dealing with the collateral issues arising out of the non-functioning of the original plant with the suppliers.

He indicated that the Shea factory is potentially a rich foreign exchange earner for PBC Ltd and has great potential as a revenue generating outlet as well. No effort is being spared to get the factory to full working order as quickly as possible.

The Board, he said, expects better operation from the two subsidiaries, especially PBC Shea when the retrofitting is completed in the course of the year. There should therefore be better contribution from the subsidiary to justify their establishment.

The total revenue earned of GHC1.471 billion arose out of the  three main core activities of the Company, namely, cocoa operations with revenue of GH1.413billion, sheanut activities GHC35.660 million and haulage service GHC7.986.00 million.

Revenue sheanut increased by 346 percent from GHC 7.986 million to GHC35.660million due to increase in sheanut activities and purchases in the sheanut sector.

He mentioned that the company will continue to put in place the needed strategies to improve its operational capacities and efficiency to increase its market share, increase volume of purchases to enhance its revenue and boost its profit levels in the years ahead.

“Improved farmer’s relationship through provision of incentives will continue to engage the attention of management.

“Again, the Company will put in place appropriate strategies to monitor and effectively and efficiently manage the various investments being undertaken to ensure maximum return,” Mr. Atta-Krah said.

Mining Cadastre administration system goes online

The Minerals Commission has officially launched an online repository for public access aimed at enhancing transparency, effectiveness, accountability and compliance in the management of the country’s mineral rights. 
The online repository is a web based portal where all data recorded in the Mining Cadastre pertaining to minerals rights and related revenues are published. The portal can be accessed via:

The project which has been made possible under a bilateral agreement with the Australian Government is the first time in the history of the country that a fully-fledged computerized mining cadastral system is being deployed for the minerals and mining sector.

Dr. Toni Aubynn, CEO of Minerals Commission said: “We are excited that what we set out to achieve is turning out positively with the development of a fully-fledged Mining Cadastre Administration System. 

“The system when fully completed will enhance transparency, effectiveness, accountability and compliance in the management of mineral rights”. 

Under this new system, information relating to existing concessions as well as status of new applications (payments made, concession validity, size, location etc.) can be assessed and tracked online.  It is expected that by April 2017, investors can conduct full cartographic searches and apply online for mineral rights.  

The implementation of a Mining Cadastre Administration System in Ghana will help prevent disputes over concession boundaries and significantly reduce human interventions in the mineral rights acquisition and management process.  

At the same time, it will help improve collaboration and interaction between relevant government institutions, e.g. Minerals Commission, Ghana Revenue Authority, Bank of Ghana, among others.

Accra Eco-Park to transform the city

The Accra Eco-Park, an ecotourism infrastructure development which has the potential to make the city of Accra a major tourism destination in the West Africa African sub-region is expected to be completed between the next five and seven years.
The construction of the Park which is estimated to cost US$1.2billion and to be executed in phases is being spearheaded by the Forestry Commission and a private partner, Aikan Capital Limited with the first phase to be completed within 24 months.  

In September 2013, government approved the proposal of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resource to develop the Achimota Forest Reserve into the Accra Eco-Park through a public-private partnership arrangement. 

“We are aware that due process was followed in selecting Aikan Capital Limited to develop the Accra Eco-Park,” confirmed, President John Dramani Mahama in a speech read on his behalf during an official sod-cutting ceremony of the project in Achimota-Accra.

“We have decided to convert the forest into a world class recreational facility and a major ecotourism destination in West Africa. This development will preserve the only greenbelt in the city of Accra, and allow the forest to continue to function as a carbon sink and clean the air and at the same time we create jobs and business opportunities for the private sector.

“For such a high level of investment by the private sector and because of its enormous potential for national development, my government would do everything possible to ensure that this project yields the necessary benefits for the people of this country,” he said.

The project will involves the construction of amusement parks, orchards, arboretum, wildlife safaris, museums, eco-commercial enclaves and eco-lodges but with little disruption in the natural vegetation as possible.

It will also have a spiritual enclave to cater for spiritual/worship activities that bring more than 180,000 people annually to the Achimota Forest. There are also plans for high seating capacity conference rooms to be sited outside the main forest area.

Commenting on the benefits, he said: “Apart from making the city of Accra a world class recreational area, the project will create numerous benefits and have a multiplier effect in job creation. 

It will create about 4,000 jobs during the construction phase. These will include draughtsmen, plumbers, civil engineers, welders, masons, architects, electricians, planners, surveyors and many others, who will receive more than US$200 million in income over the  10 year period.

During the operational phase, more than 2,000 direct and 10,000 indirect jobs will be created. This will include tour guides, caterers, drivers, accountants and many others.

The Forestry Commission will  also receive  about 20 percent of the revenue generated whiles government will receive revenue amounting to about US$186million as corporate tax, US$15million as PAYE and about USU$18million in social security payments.

For the private sector, numerous business opportunities will be created to enhance the contribution of the forestry sector to the national development.

The Chief Executive Officer of Aikan Capital Limited, Mr. Oheneba Otchere, said the project makes room for the planting of more trees to enhance the forest cover adding that the lease agreement allows Aikan Capital to design, build and operate the facility for 10 years.

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Nii Osah Mills said the Achimota Forest Reserve had long been recognised as having outstanding potential for tourism development, considering its location in the city.

“The Accra Eco-Park development has, therefore, been conceived to provide a unique opportunity to demonstrate to the business community and the public that ecotourism is a viable, environmentally friendly, employment-creating, sustainable income-generating venture,” he said.

It will add to the country’s major national parks—Kakum in the Central Region and Mole in the Northern Region.

Mr. Samuel Afari Dartey, the Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, said there was the need to undertake innovative ecotourism development as a means to safeguard the ecological integrity of the forest.

He said the Eco-Park Project will target about 2 per cent of all visitors to West Africa Sub-region, attracting more than 600,000 visitors to the Accra Eco-Park annually.

“It is important that all stakeholders including government agencies and fringe communities cooperate and deliver services in a holistic manner to make this Eco-park a unique one in the sub-region,” he remarked.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Propel SMEs to become global giant

Mr. Michael Nyinaku, Managing Director, BEIGE Group, a private equity firm has challenged the country’s economic promoters to invest and propel small businesses to attain the level of real stability and maturity to become global giants.

This, he said, will happen only when governments are able to create an enabling environment for such small companies to grow into a viable global businesses which would provide livelihood and economic opportunities for individuals.  

“It’s normal to expect most of the small and medium scale enterprise (SMEs) in any country to be owned and run by natives but there’s also an emerging trend where natives are beginning to own respectable shares in Multi-National Companies (MNCs) operating in their respective countries.

“This is because MNCs are very crucial in any society and as a matter of fact most SMEs revolve around them and would not survive if these companies or corporations cease to exist,” said Mr. Nyinaku at the fifth Ghana Economic Forum (GEF) which seeks to promote a Ghanian-owned economy which can easily drive up sustainable growth across all sectors of the economy.

The forum, spearheaded by the Business & Financial Times was aimed at reshaping the future of the country and brought together business executives, policy makers, industry chieftains, stakeholders and business owners.

The GEF 2016 which was under the theme: ‘A Ghanaian owned economy- setting the agenda for achieving it,’ was an ideal platform for local experts to discuss new ideas, and  better exciting ones as the country seeks Ghanaian solutions to  the problems.

Mr. Nyinaku believes that a Ghanaian owned economy remains that economy where at least 40% of gross domestic product is derived from the economic activities of businesses of Ghanaian ownership.

“It’s not too ambitious an aim to have because really that seems to be the case with most of the countries that a small mind like mine would consider as showing signs of prosperity. I can speak of Cote d’voire, Nigeria, Egypt until recently, South Africa and advanced nations like Japan and others.”  

Mr. Nyinaku: “Isn’t it a shame that 60 years down independence we cannot count even 10 MNCs from Ghana. And by this I’m not talking companies owned by individuals who may have some skeletal branches outside Ghana, I mean companies listed on the stock exchange, employing massive numbers and who have been able to extend their dominion across our borders. That’s what I’m talking about.

He urged governments to create an enabling environment for small businesses to operate which would provide livelihood and economic opportunities for individuals.

“You don’t have to expect BEIGE Capital to organically grow into becoming Ecobank, just like that. It doesn’t happen. A company like Ecobank was created into being by forces of greater influence. Same can be said for others like Dangote, GLO, United Bank for Africa and the like.

“And for that to happen there has to be a willingness on the part of the force that has influence over the system and can make things happen - in this case, the government – and also a willingness on the part of owners of the vessel that has potential to be exploded.

“Without this, if you are waiting for such monster companies to emerge through organic transformation then we would be waiting for a long time.”

He observed that before most Ghanaian companies attain the level of real stability and maturity, their promoters would have been tired because they would have been running for well over 20 years or more and most of them would be in their late fifties and some past 60.

“Obviously these gallant men would have contributed to society by providing employment and support to the social system and all….they are tired and want to rest. Their entrepreneurial spirit would have declined somehow and they would rather like to keep it cute and safe within the family.”
He stressed the need for the states to propel small firms into global significance if indeed that means anything to the states,” that is how it happens everywhere.”

These companies, he said when they become global giants will have the mandate to give back to society bountifully, “So if I become president I’d take a keen interest in those businesses that have reached a stage where they can be propelled into global significance….and I’d blow them up. But wait, not just that I’d ensure that they are mandated to give back to society bountifully.”

Giving an instance, he indicated that the former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo propelled DANGOTE, GLO, UBA and others that have become global giants today and these huge companies in 20years ago were only domiciled in Nigeria.

“Today these huge corporations are littered all over the continent and in even in the West, taking territories and enlarging their coast. In Ghana, they dominate some of our industries with audacity, we patronize them with zeal and sometimes refer to them as though they are supermen.They are not,” he remarked.