Friday, December 23, 2011


Anthony Fofie – CEO, Ghana Cocobod

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By William Yaw Owusu

Friday December 23, 2011.
As part of efforts to get the public to fully appreciate the immense contribution of the cocoa sector to the country’s economic growth, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has organized a two-day training for journalists to enable them to report appropriately on the sector.

Heads of the various units of COCOBOD took turns to explain exhaustibly to journalists activities and workings of their departments with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Anthony Fofie, capping the training with an advice to the media to help to sustain the cocoa industry as the backbone of the economy.

He said the cocoa sector has benefitted from an improved communication, allowing them to effectively disperse advanced agronomic massages about cultivating practices to cocoa farmers.

“Ghana prides itself as the benchmark quality of its cocoa, so it is tantamount for us to protect it from foreign, lower quality supplies.”

Mr. Fofie said one of the principal challenges facing the cocoa sector is ageing tree stock, saying “some trees have been producing for well over 30 years, and it is crucial that these are removed and replanted immediately.”

He said the ageing farmer population must also be tackled by introducing programmes that would attract the younger generation to the sector.

He also mentioned the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus (CSSV) as a particular challenge to the sector as there is presently no serious cure available leaving them with no option than to remove and replant the infected trees.

Mr. Fofie promised Cocobod’s commitment towards ensuring that farmers are rewarded for their effort and also said Ghana will continue to maintain the enviable quality cocoa beans it has been producing over the years.

Bishop Kabutey, Principal Cocoa Research Officer at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) took journalists through research methods in the sector and said apart from cocoa, serious efforts are going on in the coffee, cashew, cola and shea areas.

He revealed that because the mechanical means of drying cocoa affect the quality of the beans, COCOBOD has been applying strict rules to ensure that the quality standards are not compromised.

Gifty Sosu from the Seed Production Unit (SPU) told journalists that about 16 million seedlings were distributed to farmers this year at highly subsidized rates and hoped to increase it in the coming years to enable more people have unhindered access to seedlings.

Thomas K. Osei, Deputy Managing Director (Operations) at the Quality Control Company Limited (QCCL), said they had harmonized their standards with all international bodies and were working to ensure that Ghana produces only good quality cocoa beans.

Antwi Adjei of the CSSVD Control Unit said preventing diseases in the cocoa sector has been an arduous task but added “with careful planning we are able to at least contain the diseases.”

“We have started restocking because about 23 per cent of cocoa trees are over 30 years and economically unproductive. We want to re-develop lands and get rid of all unproductive trees by replacing them with improved varieties.”

Taking journalists through the application of fertilizer, Dr. Solomon Acquaye, Deputy Manager (Cocoa Hi-Tech) said Ghana currently has about 1.6 million hectors of cocoa land but only 18 per cent has been captured under the fertilization programme.

“We are spreading and farmers are fast embracing the fertilization programme. With time we will cover most parts to boost cocoa production.”

The Director of Cocoa Disease and Pest Control Unit (CODAPEC), Obeng Adjinah said the re-introduction of the mass spraying exercise in 2001 has boost cocoa production significantly.

Vincent Akomea, Senior Manager at the Research Department of COCOBOD, said the board was dealing with the issue of child labour in a holistic manner.

C.K. Agyente Badu, speaking on the health benefits of the cocoa product, noted that cocoa has been the most useful plant for the health needs of the people and encouraged Ghanaians to use cocoa products, particularly the bitter cocoa.

Noah K. Amenyah, Public Affairs Manager, urged the media to help consolidate the image carved for Ghana’s cocoa.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

STX Thrown Out

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By Samuel Boadi & William Yaw Owusu

Thursday December 22, 2011.
IT IS yet to be established whether STX Engineering & Construction Ghana Limited has relocated its offices from the plush Airport residential area in Accra or not but DAILY GUIDE can confidently say that the troubled company has been thrown out of the building housing it even as the company suffered another setback in court yesterday.

The attempt by beleaguered Chief Executive Officer of the company, Bernard Kwabena Asamoah to sack the Korean counterparts from the construction of 200,000 housing units in the country failed.
This is because the Commercial Court C in Accra handling the case dismissed Mr. Asamoah’s action asking the court to kick out the Koreans to pave way for the construction of the housing units in the country, starting with 30,000 houses for the security services at the cost of $10 billion.

Ever since President John Evans Atta Mills cut the sod on Thursday January 27, 2011for the commencement of the project board room wrangling between the Ghanaian and their Korean partners has ensured that not a single block has been laid.

The court presided over by Justice Gertrude Torkornoo dismissed BK Asamoah’s application on ‘procedural grounds’ and awarded GH¢ 3,000 as cost against the applicant.

The judge had held that Mr Asamoah could only sue under the Company Code 217 if the partner had been involved in illegal conduct but the plaintiff had failed to prove the Koreans did.

Mr Asamoah had indicated he was ready to bay out his Korean counterparts and the court allowed the parties time to settle the terms and report to it.

However, both parties came back to court announcing that the settlement had broken down.

The judge then asked the plaintiff to move the motion after which the defendants responded.

The judge delivered her ruling describing the application as “incompetent.”

On Tuesday, close to lunchtime, when DAILY GUIDE passed by the offices of the company, about four men were busily seen pasting a bold inscription which read “House For Rent” in red ink on its gates.

In the process, the security personnel manning the two gates of the company looked on sheepishly without any attempt to intercept the unfolding action.

Efforts to reach Mr. Asamoah, via phone, did not succeed as his phone was inaccessible.

Mr. Asamoah is alleged to have been chased out of his private residence on the Spintex road by his landlady recently over the non-payment of rent.

Additionally, he is said to have issued dud cheques to Rana Motors for payment of vehicles purchased for the company’s use.

The foregoing developments appear to be giving a clue as to what the financial situation of the company currently is.

The five-member board of STX in November pasted an unsigned notice which claimed that the Ghanaian head of STX Ghana, BK Asamoah had been relieved of his duties.

But Mr. Asamoah sharply rebutted media reports and argued that he was still at post.

This took place a few weeks after the Korean partners dragged B.K. Asamoah to court and accused him of falsifying certain corporate documents and also unlawfully reconstituting the board.

In the suit of the Koreans, they noted that on May 16, 2011, Mr. Asamoah, who is also owner of G.K. Airports Company Limited, and J. B. Asafo-Boakye filed a special resolution claiming to surrender all the stated shares of STX Construction Company Limited to G.K. Airports Company Limited.

However, the plaintiffs argued that such an action could not stand in law because the Koreans were still part of the company.

The GK Airports suit was against STX Engineering and Construction Ghana Limited and STX Construction Company Limited in Seoul, which was thrown out yesterday.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday December 21, 2011
John Tia Akologu, the Minister for Information yesterday said that anybody who cannot ‘feel money in his/her pocket’ or experience the ruling National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) ‘Better Ghana Agenda’ is “either sleeping or pretending to be sleeping”.

“A lot has been done by the Mills led administration and it is only those who are pretending to be sleeping who are not seeing it. They are refusing to see.”

Taking his turn at the Meet-the-press series, Mr. Tia flanked by his two deputies - Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and Baba Jamal- outlined what can be described as a lopsided achievement of the NDC government, deferring the details until “the first quarter of next year.”

The Minister said the action year promised by President John Evans Atta Mills has been fulfilled in spite of claims by some Ghanaians particularly the opposition that nothing meaningful was done.

“This year was indeed an action-packed year. It is obvious many historical strides have been made in 2011” he said, adding that President Mills has kept his promise and everybody knows that there has been significant improvement in the scheme of affairs.

“The Ghanaian worker seems to be feeling the action year in their pockets”, he said but his comment generated murmurings from in the conference room.

He said “nurses are now jubilating because they have been migrated unto the single spine. Money is in people’s pockets but those who are pretending are refusing to acknowledge this fact.”

Mr. Tia could not outline the country’s debts stock except to say that the about 38 per cent rate was normal since the country was nowhere near the 60 per cent that would run down the economy.

He justified the high school fees being charged currently by rather shifting the blame on the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS) who he said “fix school fees in consultation with the Ghana Education Service.”

On the dying textile industry, the Minister said the government was putting interventions in the cotton sector to make it thrive and also insisted that the government was supporting the poultry industry to stand on their feet despite agitation from poultry farmers that they have been neglected by the government.

He said the government the government has been able to stabilize the economy, bringing inflation to single digit and reducing interest rates to 9.1 per cent.

Mr. Tia said the IMF has given the green light for the government to access 3 billion CBN Chinese loan to facilitate the bridging of the infrastructural gap while all four convergent criteria of the West Africa Monetary Zone (WAMZ) have been met for the first time.

He said 97 per cent of public and civil servants have been migrated unto the Single Spine salary Structure (SSSS) and this has increased the government’s wage bill from GHC 1million to GHC 4million.

He said the NDC government had been able to remove about 1,200 schools under trees and executed other social intervention programmes and also said the extension of the 3-year SSS was “ill advised.”

He said “the action year is abundantly on display in the agricultural and other sectors,” and added that the government should be commended for the way it is handling the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) instead of condemning them.

Okudzeto Ablakwa who preferred to talk about the corruption perception index said the New Patriotic Party (NPP) cannot match the NDC in the area of fighting the menace of corruption.

“The 4.1 score is the highest ever. In the time of the NPP their highest score was 3.9 and it is clear we only slipped to their best performance.”

Before questions and answers, Baba Jamal warned journalists to focus on what his boss had presented and not introduce any ‘extraneous’ issues into the programme.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Zap Changes To Airtel Money

Ernest Attuquaye Armah, Deputy Minister of Communications launching Airtel Money on Wednesday

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By William Yaw Owusu

Friday December 16, 2011.
Zap from Airtel, the e-commerce service that allowed customers to use their mobile phones as ‘mobile wallets,’ has been re-lunched as Airtel Money.

This time around Airtel Money is offering improved services to customers as Airtel, a telecommunication giant seeks to introduce its customers to unique banking services for the first time in the country.

Under Airtel Money, customers are at liberty to transfer or receive funds from their accounts, access services only previously available in banks as well as pay bills and transfer airtime on and across networks.

“The enhanced Airtel Money service will provide millions of people with access to banking and has the potential to transform banking in Africa and drastically increase access to financial services,” Philip Sowah, Managing Director of Airtel Ghana said at the re-launch of Airtel Money in Accra on Wednesday.

He said Airtel is partnering other service institutions including banks, supermarkets and utility service providers to “bring convenience to the people through Airtel Money.”
“Airtel Money offers a complete one-stop shop experience so customers can purchase and send airtime to other numbers and even access bank accounts and send money,” he said.

Mr. Sowah said “the service is convenient, easy-to-use, secure and affordable, the aim of Airtel is to deliver relevant and innovative mobile solutions to help customers overcome their daily challenges.”

“Our goal is to make communications banking, payments, retail and infotainment affordable and accessible to all in Africa.”

Kola Sonola, M-Commerce Director of Airtel Ghana, explaining the capabilities of Airtel Money, said Airtel Money, then Zap which was solely a mobile money platform, has evolved into mobile commerce platform offering mobile money mobile top ups, money transfer, mobile banking and financial services.

“Airtel Money provides customers with a ‘mobile wallet’ which allows them to use their mobile phones in much the same way as a bank debit card. It provides customers with increased security and flexibility, reducing the need to carry cash and ensuring prompt payment of bills, goods and services,” he added.

Ernest Attuquaye Armah, Deputy Minister of Communications, who launched Airtel money, said the government was inspired by the manner in which mobile telecommunication services are being deployed in the country.

He said even though the mobile penetration rate is currently 67 per cent, the telecommunications companies could still do more to ensure improved living standards of the people saying “let us all work together to ensure that it is accessible for all.”

The deputy minister also urged the telecommunications companies to support government’s effort to clamp down on people, who are using ICT, particularly the internet and mobile phones to perpetrate fraud.

He commended Airtel for re-launching the product and said “the product has far reaching advantages and you must make it very effective.”

Thursday, December 15, 2011


B.K. Asamoah is the plaintiff in the case.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday December 15, 2011.
The much talk about STX out-of-court settlement between the company’s partners is still in quandary.

The Commercial Court C in Accra presided over by Justice Gertrude Torkornoo, had granted permission to the partners to settle the matter out-of-court and report to her yesterday but it was still stalemate according to sources at the court.

A week before the court gave the order for an out-of-court settlement, the beleaguered Chief Executive Officer of STX Engineering and Construction Ghana Limited, Bernard Kwabena Asamoah who is seeking to remove the Korean partners from the project had given indications he was going to pay off the Koreans so the project could finally take off.

GKA Airports Company Limited owned by B.K. Asamoah went to court in effect seeking a declaration that the Korean partners are no longer owners of the project, a move the Koreans have vowed to resist.

The Koreans were the first to go to court over who owns the company when they sued B.K. Asamoah, Registrar-General and others for allegedly diluting the company’s shares to GKA Airport’s advantage but the Fast Track High Court presided over by Justice NMC Abodakpi adjourned proceedings sine die because the processes to get the case heard were not completed.

The GKA Airports suit is citing STX Engineering and Construction Ghana Limited and STX Construction Company Limited in Seoul as the 1st and 2nd defendants with Kook Hyun Kim, Su Jou Kim, Daniel Jung, Seong Hoon Kang, Yong Chan Kim, Im-Dong Park, Ji Hoon Hwang and Man Kang as 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th respondents respectively.

The plaintiff is seeking reliefs including a “declaration that by terminating the Joint Venture Agreement and Heads of Agreement, 2nd respondent renounced its membership of 1st respondent.”

However, the defendants (Koreans) fired back disputing the claims of the plaintiff and made counter-claims against the plaintiffs.

In their affidavit in opposition filed October 17 and deposed to by Daniel Jung, the defendants say they have not executed any transfer of its shares neither has the shares been affected by any law or statute.

He said STX Engineering and Construction Ghana Limited was incorporated on November 17, 2009 and the subscribers to its regulation were both STX Construction Company Ltd and GKA Airports Company Ltd adding “the 2nd respondent subscribed to 15,000 shares whilst the applicant subscribed to 7,400 shares.”

“The right of the 2nd respondent as a subscriber to the regulations of the 1st respondent are guaranteed and or prescribed by statute”, the defendants averred.

When the case was called yesterday, Osafo Buaben, counsel for 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 8th defendants - including STX Engineering and Construction Ghana Limited and STX Construction Company Limited in Seoul – told the court that Carl Adongo who is representing B.K. Asamoah was in the Court of Appeal for another case and wanted a short adjournment.

The judge then enquired from Mr. Osafo Buaben what had happened to the out-of-court settlement before considering counsel’s request but Mr. Buaben impressed on the judge to hear the ‘latest development’ in chambers.

“We will prefer meeting you in chambers for that aspect”, Mr. Buaben told the judge.

“I will only grant you the adjournment when you update me on the progress of the out-of-court settlement,” the judge replied.

Kizito Beyou another counsel then announced himself as an ‘intervener’ in the case and added his voice to the call on the judge hear that piece of information in chambers.

Messrs Buaben, Beyou, the judge, B.K. Asamoah and Daniel Jung representing the Korean partners all went into the judge’s chamber and after about five minutes they came out but nobody told the media anything.

As a result, the media was left in limbo as to the next adjourned date.

Even though President John Evans Atta Mills cut the sod in January 2011 for the commencement of the project, boardroom wrangling between the Koreans and their Ghanaian partners has stalled the construction of 200,000 housing units in the country, starting with 30,000 houses for the security services at the cost of $10 billion.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Alex Mould is the Chief Executive of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA).

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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday December 14, 2011.
Fear and panic has set in the ranks of government officials in charge of petroleum following an order by an Accra High Court, compelling the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) to reduce fuel prices.

A source close to Daily Guide says the Ministry of Energy and the NPA are having torrid time deciding on what to do after the court ordered them to remove illegal margins disguised as “ex-refinery differential”.

The court presided over by Justice Patrick Baayeh on November 28 gave the order after Kwaku Kwarteng the New Patriotic Party (NPP) parliamentary candidate for Obuasi, Abdul Ganiyu of Tamale and Development Data, a date analysis group had filed a writ in September 2009 praying the court to abolish an illegal margin smuggled into the price build-up of petroleum prices by the NPA.

According to the court, the illegal margins imposed on June 5, 2009 were as follows: Fuel Illegal Price Additions: Diesel 95 GHp per gallon; Petrol 29 GHp per gallon; Kerosene 42 GHp per gallon; LPG gas 08 GHp per kilogram; and MGO local 69 GHp per gallon.

The High Court further ordered the NPA to publish the total amount accrued from the imposition of the illegal margins in the Daily Graphic and Ghanaian Times within four months from the date of the judgement and pay the amount into the Consolidated Fund.

To add insult to injury, sources say instead of operating an account at the Bank of Ghana (BoG) for ex-refinery differentials as required by law, the government rather operated the account at Ecobank in clear contravention of the law.

Development Data estimates showed that the amount accrued from the ex-refinery differential from 5th June 2009 and to November 28, 2011, the day of the order had come to GH¢690 million.

Although the government indicated its intention to file for stay of execution pending appeal of the order, they have failed to do so but are still charging the illegal fee which is clearly in contempt of court.

Per the ruling, the NPA was required to announce new fuel prices minus these margins but they have ignored the court’s order.

A source said the government contemplates increasing fuel prices if it is unable to overturn the ruling.

However, some political and economic observers are of the view that if the government has any explanation to give it needed to go to court to demonstrate why it is reluctant to reduce the fuel prices and not play in the ‘media gallery’.

In an attempt to justify the illegal fees, the Ministry of Energy through one of its deputy ministers, Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah issued a release saying “government agrees with the NPA that the ex-refinery differential is not a tax – that is, the differential does not accrue to government; it is a stabilizing mechanism put in place by the NPA Board in 2006 to ensure the stability of petroleum product prices.”

The release titled: - Government reacts to court ruling on the national petroleum authority (NPA) pricing formula – said “all funds that have been collected into the ex-refinery differential margin account have been used by the NPA in stabilizing prices over the period.”

“This arrangement notwithstanding, government subsidized petroleum products to the tune of about GH¢459 million in 2011, which subsidy is projected to be almost GH¢600 million in 2012 if the situation remains unchanged.”

According to the deputy Minister the court ruling, if allowed to stand, means the removal of the stabilizing effect that the ex-refinery margin account sought to achieve.

“If the court ruling were implemented, the prices of various petroleum products would have gone up by the following percentages: Premium (3.89%), Kerosene (77.57%), Gas Oil (13.36%), LPG (57.26%) and Premix (114.46%)”.

“By every account the government will be irresponsible and insensitive to allow such drastic and dramatic skyrocketing of prices of petroleum products- a situation which will heap untold hardship on the people and end up worsening the economic conditions of Ghanaians.”

“One of the big mistakes the government is determined not to repeat is to allow the accumulation of unpaid petroleum subsidies, which in 2008 largely caused The Tema Oil Refinery’s (TOR’s) debt to reach an astronomical GH¢1.5 billion (15 trillion cedis) - a debt that largely brought the operations of TOR to a halt for about two years and nearly crippled the Ghana Commercial Bank.”

Mr. Buah said over the last three years, the government has had to raise over 1 billion cedis to restore the financial health of both TOR and GCB saying “the painful lesson learned through this recent history is that no matter how long we postpone the inevitable, a time comes when we have no option but to confront the harsh reality and deal with it, and most often at a much greater cost.”

DA Microfinance Opens Head Office

Charles Amonoo, Chief Executive Officer of DA Microfinance cutting the tape to commence business at Asylum Down. With him are some senior staff of the company.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday December 14, 2011.
DA Microfinance, popularly called Dwadifo Adamfo, a financial outlet providing products and services particularly for the informal sector, has opened its head office at Asylum Down, Accra as part of efforts to expand its operations.

Established in June 2009 at Kaneshie, Accra, DA Microfinance currently has five branches, including Kasoa and Swedru in the Central region apart from Accra and according to Charles Amonoo, Chief Executive Officer of the company, another branch in Techiman is in the offing.

At a short ceremony to officially open the Asylum Down Branch yesterday, Mr. Amonoo said “through our innovative savings and loans, we now serve close to 20,000 active clients and this is a testimony to delightful and business enhancing nature of our products and services.”

He said about 30 per cent of DA Microfinance clients are borrowers while the rest are saving with them, saying “since we started, we have been at the forefront of pioneering innovation in the microfinance sector through flexible, affordable and timely financial solutions.”

“DA was the first micro-financial institution to introduce ‘Electronic Susu, a system that allows customers to do real-time deposits as well as receive electronic receipts for the transaction. This ensures that customer deposits are protected from fraud.”

Mr. Amonoo said DA Microfinance will in 2012 launch a radio programme that will provide general business advice to the public, stressing that they are planning to expedite their exploratory activities to become the first to microfinance institution with nationwide coverage.

“We are working hard to establish over 30 branches and agencies over the next five years and grow our customer base to over 100,000.”

He said they are working on introducing biometric security features and electronic transaction capability into their operations to make their products more secured.

“We have also conducted studies into mobile banking technologies and other IT driven solutions that will establish DA as the institution of choice for the informal sector.”

Mr. Amonoo said since its inception, the company has been able to raise over GHC 4 million through investment products and added that they have ‘competitive’ loan rates.

He said the company has put in an application for approval by the Bank of Ghana following the release of new guidelines for licencing microfinance institutions.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Air Cdre Kwame Mamphey (Rtd), Director-General of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA)in an interview with Business Guide.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday December 13, 2011.
There is fierce scramble for airline operator’s licence as companies try to take advantage of the emerging economic potential of the country to do business.

According to Air Cdre Kwame Mamphey (Rtd), Director-General of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), apart from the four domestic airlines currently in operation, “there are a lot more applying to operate here”.

“The four carriers are working well and there are many others who have applied to operate domestically, the west coast and transcontinental flights. They are currently going through certification and hopefully, next year we will see serious activities.”

Air Cdre Mamphey, a pilot, told Business Guide exclusively on Friday that Ghana’s promising future economic potential was the driving force behind the surge in business interests.

He said, “Even though more companies are applying, not all of them can come into the domestic sector. We are going to have issues over capacity and so on. We are working it out in such a way that we have just enough to take care of the passengers because the bulk of the new ones who are coming in actually want to do west coast and also intercontinental operations.”

He added that there had been significant developments in the domestic airline operations as they contributed significantly towards economic growth of the nation and as a result, passengers now had a choice.

“The fares have gone down significantly by about 40 percent. That has increased and encouraged more people to travel by air domestically. It is now easier for people who ordinarily would have travelled by bus to now come and go by air.”

“In so doing, they avoid road hazards including accidents and armed robberies. This has been the aim of GCAA and I am glad to say that we are achieving it.”

The GCAA director-general said having succeeded in getting more people to fly, the authority, in the first quarter of 2012, would embark on a programme to encourage the local carriers to also start flying along the west coast of Africa.

“I am very hopeful that if this is done, it would bring down the fares and give the travelling public a choice. It should be possible for you to decide when you want to travel and how much you want to pay.”

On the possibility of a national carrier, Air Cdre Mamphey predicted that it might not take that long for Ghana to get back a national carrier.

“It is unfortunate we do not have a national carrier. All Ghanaians wish that Ghana Airways or Ghana International Airline was still in operation. I think we need to take our time. In an attempt to re-establish a national carrier, we should be careful not to get into those issues that grounded Ghana Airways and GIA.”

“GCAA has basically acted as a catalyst to the economic development of the country. Most of the people who come here to do business from outside, be it the Americas, Europe and the far East, have come in through Kotoka International Airport (KIA) and that is money.”

He said very soon, Ghana would get back the FAA Category 1 status which it lost in 2006, adding however that, “I cannot give you the exact date because we have to first of all go through the technical review which we are doing now and the gaps which are identified we will work on very quickly to facilitate the attainment but for certain in 2012 we should attain Category 1 status.”

He said the FAA technical experts were on a week-long assessment visit to conduct a technical review to identify the gaps in the system, noting, “We will address them and they will be back for an audit and hopefully we should pass and get the category 1 back.”

The GCAA Boss said due to the tremendous improvement of security and safety at KIA, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of the United States had decided to set up their regional offices in Accra, adding, “If they do not have confidence in our system they would not set up offices here. There is no doubt that within the sub-region we are the safest.”

“Aviation security and safety are two different issues we should always tackle concurrently. In terms of safety in the skies, we know that for now we are very safe because of the equipment we have put in place. We have radar that gives us a picture of what is happening in the air to ensure that aircraft do not fly into each other.”

Air Cdre Mamphey stated that the decoupling of airport management functions had helped the GCAA to concentrate on its core regulatory functions.

“Hitherto, GCAA was responsible for the airport and air traffic management but currently we are focusing on the regulatory aspect as well as the air traffic control.”

He said it was the intention of the government, at a later date, to further decouple the air traffic management aspect of GCAA functions so that air traffic management would be taken away from the authority to enable them to remain solely as the regulators.

He reiterated the resolve of the GCAA not to compromise security and safety at KIA and other local airports which he said would receive major facelifts next year.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Hisense Products Hit Market

Diana DeGraft Quaye, Head of Corporate Communication of Sun Electronics Limited, explaining the capabilities of the products. With her is David K. Adade, Managing Director.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Friday December 9, 2011
Hisense, a global manufacturer of television, air conditioners, LCDs, refrigerators, mobile phones and other household appliances, has taken the Ghanaian market by storm with a variety of its products.

It was introduced onto the market by Sun Electronics Limited whose Managing Director David K. Adade told CITY & BUSINESS GUIDE “we want the use of Hisense products to make meaningful impact on the lives of all Ghanaian.”

Yesterday at East Legon, Accra where one of Hisense showrooms is located, Mr. Adade said there has been painstaking research and development to ensure that the products are top class and to boost consumer confidence, they are giving five years warranty for any product purchased.

“We want Ghanaians to own the products. We want them to be part of everything we do so that together we can accelerate the development of the country.”

He said they are almost completing an ultra modern showroom and service center at the North Industrial Area in Accra to make the presence of the company felt, adding “in the meantime we have set up customer and after sales service outlets in many parts of the country to assist customers.”

“We want Hisense products to be the preferred products in the country. We are placing emphasis on customer care by ensuring that there is affordability, accessibility and convenience for use of our products.”

He said they are committed to further sensitizing the public on the need to use brand new household appliances since the use of most secondhand products come with their own environmental hazards and problems.

Diana DeGraft Quaye, Head of Corporate Communication of Sun Electronics Limited, said her outfit has instituted feedback mechanisms to track how well Hisense products are doing on the market.

“We want to ensure that customers get unhindered access to us so that we can understand what they want us to do for them.”

Hisense is a multinational electronics manufacturer based in China. It is a state-owned enterprise with publicly traded subsidiaries.

The Hisense Group comprises two publicly traded companies, Hisense Electric Co Ltd, listed on the Shanghai stock exchange and Hisense Kelon Electrical Holdings Co Ltd, which is listed on the Shenzhen and Hong Kong stock exchanges and a number of other subsidiaries.

Hisense has 13 manufacturing facilities in China (located in the provinces of Guangdong, Guizhou, Huzhou, Jiangsu,Liaoning, Linyi, Shandong, Sichuan, Yangzhou, Yingkou, Xinjiang, Zibo and the municipality of Beijing) and several countries such as Hungary, South Africa, Egypt, Algeria and France.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Telecom Companies Losing Profit

Kwaku Sakyi-Addo - Chief Executive Officer, Ghana Chamber Telecommunications

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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday December 7, 2011
The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications says the profit margins of its members are persistently dwindling contrary to public perception that they are making huge profits.

Data compiled by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) indicate that the average subscriber and revenue evolution in 2008 which was GH¢14.6 declined to GH¢9.4 in 2010. It has dropped by a third between 2008 and 2010.

“We are barely surviving contrary to popular perception that we are making huge profits,” Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber told Daily Guide on Monday.

He said the average revenue of each user is dropping despite the cost of providing the service for each user rising by the day, saying the GSS figure for 2011 figures is even worse than the ones recorded in the previous years.

“I just gave you statistics…it is tough. It is not as you see it. More importantly, it is about the return on investments.”

He said the cost of mobile communications in Ghana is among the lowest in the world, saying “if you look at Africa, apart from Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia where the government determines it, the next is Ghana. Look at all the other countries including South Africa and Nigeria the rates are higher,” Mr. Sakyi-Addo explained.

“The costs of tariffs for mobile services keep dropping…is there anything or any service whose price drops in Ghana?

“Everything is costing us more. Our cost of operational expenditure is going high while our profit margin continues to fall. The cost of electricity, fuel, personnel among others are rising and yet tariffs are dropping. The cost of doing business in districts is rising. This is not sustainable.”

Mr. Sakyi-Addo said the chamber is working hard to appeal to the government to set clear rules and uniform charges that are reasonable enough to attract investors to boost infrastructure in the sector.

“In 2009 telecoms mast which cost GH¢2,000 had reached 15, 000 plus fibre optic network of GH¢7,500 totaling GH¢22,500 in 2010 for one district. Their justification was that operators have money. How is this an incentive for mobile phone operators to provide infrastructure that will improve the quality of service.”

He said general utility excavation permit to lay cables is GH¢10 for every 50 meters while business operating permit for institutions including banks is between GH¢200 and GH¢1,000 but telecoms are charged GH¢9,000.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Telecoms Chamber Warns Gov’t

Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of telecommunications, Kwaku Sakyi-Addo explaining issues to Bisiness Guide Editor-in-carge William Yaw Owusu.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday December 6, 2011
The Ghana Chamber of Telecoms is not happy about the persistent threats from the regulator to withdraw licences of operators over the issues relating to the industry.

“We have to be careful about the signals we give out as a country to investors who are here and those we hope to attract. Those who want to come in will look at those who are here and how they are being treated”, the chamber’s Chief Executive Officer Kwaku Sakyi-Addo has said.

The regulatory body – National Communications Authority (NCA) - imposed a total fine of ¢1.2 million on five of the telecom operators in the country for providing poor services for subscribers.

The Minister of Communications, Haruna Iddrisu subsequently threatened to withdraw the licences of the operators if they failed to pay the fines.

However, Mr. Sakyi-Addo, an ace broadcaster, yesterday told Business Guide exclusively that there are several factors impeding the provision of quality of services and must be addressed holistically without resort to threats.

“For us the issues in the telecoms sector go beyond the immediate question of the penalties. The issues are more far reaching than the penalties because the penalties are not what will necessarily solve the problem of quality of service.”

He said there are external factors that affect the industry over which the operators have no control citing damage done to operator’s underground cables as one of the impediments.

“This year alone there have been more than 400 fibre or cable cuts. In some instances it is due to theft, bush fires but by far the biggest cause is as a result of road construction. We are hard working together with the roads agencies and departments to address it.”

He said in order to avoid what he called “multiple trenching”; operators are collaborating to share the trench but that would also come as a cost explaining “that means also that if there is a cut it affects more operators.”

Mr. Sakyi-Addo said there is no gain or advantage to an operator if a customer cannot be able to access the network. Saying “The operators have invested lots of money and the only way they can recoup their investment is if you make a call it goes through.

That if you go on the internet you are able to stay as long as possible.”

Each operator would like you to talk for as a long as possible. So that should prompt you to ask what the problem of poor service is. If something that is to my advantage is not happening it hurts the operator. It costs $ 140,000 a month on average per operator to repair the cable cuts.”

He said apart from the fibre cuts, there is also the loss of revenue to both the operator and the government when subscribers are not able to access the network.

“The worst of them all is the damage to the reputation of the operator as subscribers are not able to access the network. Subscribers are justifiably angry because they are unable to make their calls. It creates a very damaging impact on the reputation of the operators. So no operator would deliberately want to allow quality of service.”

Mr. Sakyi-Addo said the cost of doing business in the telecoms sector is skyrocketing without meaningful returns and it is about time for the government to set clear rules and uniform charges that are reasonable enough to attract investor in infrastructure in the sector.

“ In 2009 telecoms mast which cost GHC 2,000 had reached 15, 000 plus fibre optic network of GHC 7,500 totalling GHC 22,500 in 2010 for one district. Their justification was that operators have money. How is this an incentive for mobile phone operators to provide infrastructure that will improve the quality of service.”

He said general utility excavation permit to lay cables is GHC 10 for every 50 meters while business operating permit for institutions including banks is between GHC 200 and GHC 1,000 but telecoms are charged GHC 9,000.

“If you place impediments in the way of companies that are providing infrastructure that would deliver that service you are obstructing the government’s long term goal of providing affordable services to communities. You are defeating the ultimate purpose of infrastructure.”

He said it is not appropriate for anybody to measure the output of the operators without taking into consideration the cost of business adding “You cannot also compare the telecoms sector to other sectors of the economy because they operate on different wavelength. What you can do at best is to compare what pertain in the telecom sector of the country to the same sector in other countries.”

“The industry needs support. There is a reason why there are six mobile phone operators. You cannot come and take money away when you have not invested. A license for operating is now pegged at $50 million. Before you roll out infrastructure you have to have huge investment.”

Relative Calm Returns To Elmina

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By William Yaw Owusu, Back From Elmina

Tuesday December 6, 2011
There appears to be relative calm at the Elmina Beach in the Central Region where it was rumoured recently that gold had been washed ashore in abundance.

The craze for gold brought in hundreds of prospectors in search of the precious mineral who within days ravaged the beach for gold.

The speed with which people from all over Ghana especially those in mining communities devastated the beaches of Elmina shocked many including government officials and environmental activist and it further exposed the lack of employment opportunities in the country.

The government, through the Minerals Commission, had no option than to drive out these scavengers.

Residents of Elmina say scavenging for gold nuggets started about a month ago following the dredging of the Benya Lagoon some years back, but the mad rush heightened when the media finally broke the news about the presence the precious mineral at the beach.

When the directive came on Thursday ordering the scavengers to halt their illegal mining activities and leave the scene, they reacted angrily by staging massive demonstration to protest the decision.

Minerals of any kind belong to the state but individuals with vested interests in the exploitation are first supposed to seek approval from the appropriate authorities before venturing into it.

It was however clear that majority of the scavengers were ignorant about the law.

The news about the presence of gold had forced people particularly residents to abandon all other economic and social activities, including fishing, in search of instant fortune but their hopes were dashed when they were ordered to stop.

When DAILY GUIDE visited Elmina last Friday, the directive to halt mining appeared to be in full force as no mining activities had taken place at least in the last 12 hours.

The scavengers had been evicted from the beach and it was obvious that some sort of mining activities had taken place leaving in its trail unnecessary destruction of the beach.

There were pockets of soldiers, police and other security agencies in town but not at the beach.

People, particularly the youth, were seen loitering at the beach and appeared to be ready to resume mining at the least chance.

Kwamena Bentil, a 29-year-old taxi driver, said he had stopped driving and joined the search for gold.

“The gold is real,” he said confidently “We spent five days at the beach in search of gold and we were able to find something. We sold it for GH¢1,400.”

“The whole thing started about one month ago but the residents did not know how to mine it properly until ‘galamsey’ operators from Tarkwa, Obuasi and other mining areas started trooping in. They showed us how to do it.”

Pockets of wells and hole were beginning to form around the Elmina Castle – one of Ghana’s leading tourism and heritage sites, but the strong tidal waves coming on shore make it look like there are no mining activities.

The rocks along the beach however exposed the illegal activities of the miners.

Apart from the gold mining activities, the widespread abuse of the environment surrounding the Castle leaves much to be desired. There is unbearable stench in the area as residents including women were seen openly defecating there.

As a result of these and other activities including the recent illegal mining, the Elmina Castle, now sits on time bomb.

Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, Executive Director of Wacam, a leading NGO fighting against irresponsible mining told DAILY GUIDE that mining along the beaches should never be permitted in any form by the government.

“It is a serious issue,” he said “if we allow it to go ahead, people will begin to look for gold and other precious mineral everywhere and it will spell environmental disaster for the country.”

He said the sea provides ready water for the mining activities and as a result, all sorts of waste including dangerous chemicals would be dumped into the sea to spark environmental disasters and carnage.

“Our beaches are going to be under severe attack if we do not come together to raise the alarm. What is happening in Elmina shows clearly that we are losing control over regulation of our natural resources and actors in the extractive sector whether legal or illegal.”

According to Mr. Owusu-Koranteng, “They are placing premium on revenues generated from mining without considering the negative environmental impact. If the state can allow mining in restricted areas and other forest reserves it sends wrong signals.”

“If the state thinks that wherever we find gold or other precious minerals we should mine it then it will send wrong signals to citizens to behave the same way.”

“We are the same country crying about the depletion of our forest cover yet according to International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) Ghana comes third after Togo and Nigeria as countries that are fast depleting their forest cover.”

The WACAM boss said the report showed that any country that has a rate of depletion of its forest cover more than one per cent is in danger, stressing that Ghana’s rate of 2.19 per cent, is far above what is required.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

LESDEP Making Inroads

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo and his deputy Elvis Afriyie Ankrah inspecting some of the equipment on display

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By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday December 1, 2011.
About 1,000 people, mostly youth yesterday graduated under the Local Enterprise and Skill Development Program (LESDEP), a social intervention programme introduced by the government to make people employable.

The initiative, which was launched in April, 2011 by President John Evans Atta Mills, is expected to target about 20,000 youth with employable skills by the end of the year.

Similar graduations coupled with business set-ups have been planned for all beneficiaries in the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).

LESDEP is a private initiative registered under the auspices of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development with the MMDAs as implementing agencies.

Under the programme interested beneficiaries receive training in areas such as mobile phone repairs, hair dressing, fashion designing, barbering beauty care, cargo transport services, catering and a host of other employable skills.

At the graduation ceremony at the LESDEP center at Abelemkpe in Accra yesterday for beneficiaries in the Metropolis, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development said LESDEP is impacting positively on the lives of the youth.

He said the government earmarked GHC 84 million in the 2012 budget to ensure that LESDEP becomes sustainable.

“We have demonstrated that we can make the youth active partners of development by helping them to acquire employable skills,” he said.

The Minister announced that the government has decided to retain for another year national service personnel who excel at the various MMDAs, adding “the government is committed to giving equal opportunity to the people to explore their talents.”

Clement Kofi Humado, Minister of Youth and Sports underscored the need for the government to do more to get majority of the youth into employable ventures.

He said the government, realizing the need to create employment avenues, has moved away from the internship module under the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) introduced by the previous government towards institutionalizing programmes that would make the youth to become self-sustaining without necessarily over burdening the government’s wage bill.

“Over the years we have been accumulating youth unemployment. Our energies particularly those of the youth must not be allowed to go waste.”

The Chief Director of the 6Ministry of Finance who represented the sector minister, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, said the LESDEP initiative is on course to reduce the unemployment burden of the country.

Gariba Adaimu, National Coordinator of LESDEP, said the initiative is having “direct and indirect positive impact” on people, particularly the youth, adding “it is going to enhance the people’s socio-economic status.”