Items filtered by date: Monday, 27 November 2017
Monday, 27 November 2017 14:51

Accra City Hotel picks 2017 HR Focus Award

Accra City Hotel is leading the way in the hospitality industry in Ghana. The 4-Star brand has won another award – this time, the “Best HR Management in Hospitality” in Ghana conferred at the 2017 HR Focus Awards in Accra.

The locally managed hotel was identified and recognised for demonstrating commitment and excellence in implementing international best practices in human resource management.

In a year full of accolades, the hotel is poised to consolidate its gains and maintain its reputable position in the hospitality industry in Ghana, in the coming year.

The Executive Director of the Hotel and Group Chief Executive of CDH Financial Holdings Limited, Emmanuel Adu-Sarkodee, in a news release, congratulated the management team of the Hotel and charged them to continue to excel and be recognised beyond the shores of Ghana.

“Clearly, we are ahead of the Ghanaian hospitality industry. We always, and will continue to explore and implement global standards in everything we do. This award shows that we have built a well-motivated team, who in turn deliver to the delight of our clients,” Mr. Adu-Sarkodee stated.

The General Manager of the Hotel, Roman Krabel, said the award was a reflection of teamwork and commitment to standards.

“We are certainly proud of being the only 4-star hotel outside of Greater Accra to win this prestigious national award. I believe it reflects the high standards at which all of our team members operate at the hotel, and it is a reflection of everyone’s effort. We are delighted about the positive feedback from the jury.

“This is a befitting recognition of the long-standing commitment displayed by the Accra City Management Team,” - Roman Krabel.

The HR Manager of the Hotel, Emelia Narh said: “To be judged by our peers in the industry and recognised by them for our dedication, hard work and innovative initiatives is truly an honour and as a team we really appreciate this.”

Within the space of two years, Accra City Hotel has won six prestigious awards from recognised and reputable institutions.

Published in Travel & Tourism

Burundi’s inflation accelerated to 17.6 percent year-on-year in October from 15.2 percent in September due to rising food costs on local markets, official figures showed on Monday.

Food inflation jumped to 28.0 percent in the year to October from 23.9 percent in September, the Institute of Economic Studies and Statistics (ISTEEBU) said in its monthly report.

The tiny East African nation whose economy relies mostly on coffee and tea exports has been hurt by a political crisis for more than two years.

Aid-dependent Burundi is under economic pressure after some of its key donors such as the European Union suspended direct financial support to the government, over accusations of human rights violations, which Burundi denies.

The International Monetary Fund predicts that the coffee producing country will have zero economic growth this year after the economy shrank in 2016.

More than 700 people have been killed and 400,000 have fled to neighbouring countries during the crisis, triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term.

Editing by George Obulutsa and Peter Graff - (Reuters)

Published in Economy

South Africa has joined only a handful of countries in the world close to imposing a sugary drinks tax. A new bill that imposes a tax on sugary drinks has cleared the first of three hurdles in South Africa’s law-making process. One of two houses of parliament has approved what is being called a health promotion levy. The bill is expected to be passed by the other, The National Council of Provinces, and then signed in by the President. Implementation is expected in April 2018, but industry interference may still have an impact. The Conversation Africa’s Health and Medicine Editor Candice Bailey spoke to Karen Hofman and Aviva Tugendhaft about the tax.

How important is the sugary drinks tax and why?

The decision by South Africa’s Parliament is a very far sighted decision. It shows that the country’s parliamentarians fully understand the health implications of a product that is excessively high in sugar and has no nutritional value.

The sugary drinks tax – or health promotion levy – is expected to prevent a wide-range of obesity related non-communicable diseases. These include diabetes, cancer, stroke and heart disease. This is important because South Africa’s public health sector is severely overburdened. Public hospitals are seeing on average of 25 000 new hypertensive cases a month as well as 10 000 new diabetic patients each month. These are estimated to be only half of the real numbers because both are silent conditions.

The effect of the reduction in the prevalence of non-communicable diseases will be twofold: it will help the country to implement National Health Insurance (NHI) as an overwhelmed health system will be a barrier to NHI. And it will reduce the negative effect that chronic non-communicable diseases have on economic growth because of the impact on the workforce due to increased absenteeism and decreased productivity.

Already, there are signs that obesity related diseases are affecting the country’s economic growth rate.

The sugary drinks tax will also help people make healthier choices. In Mexico, after a sugary drinks tax was implemented soda consumption decreased by between 7% and 10% and water consumption increased.

Lastly, tackling chronic noncommunicable diseases will ensure that South Africa doesn’t lose the gains it has made in life expectancy after the introduction of antiretrovirals to treat HIV infections. Life expectancy has improved to 62.5 years of age after falling as low as 52.1 at the height of the AIDS pandemic in 2003. Without further policies to promote health, the country’s life expectancy is likely to reverse. This has been seen in countries like Brazil.

The initial lobby was for a 20% sugar tax. But in the end it was only 11%. Is it good enough?

It’s a start. The sugar tax is similar to the one introduced in Mexico which contributed to a 17% reduction in the consumption of sugary beverages among poor people.

Once the tax is implemented in South Africa it will be monitored and an evaluation will be done to establish if it has helped.

What will this levy mean for consumers?

The industry is clearly against the tax. This was illustrated by the fact that the chairperson of the finance committee in parliament, Yunus Carrim, spoke out about industry interference in the process.

The beverage industry sees South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa as their growth market This means that they will continue to find a way to increase profits. We’re expecting to see the industry change their products in an effort to ensure their bottom line is not affected. The tax will be levied on sugar content, which will hopefully encourage industry to lower the sugar content in its drinks and create healthier alternatives.

The sugar tax has been criticised because it deals with only one factor among a myriad that lead to obesity. What’s your response?

This is true. But that criticism only stands if you view it as a single event. The levy is the first step in a very long journey of a range of different interventions that will need to happen.

This was also the case with tobacco. The first step was a tobacco tax. This halved smoking rates over two decades. It was followed by the banning of advertisements and very clear labelling about the dangers of tobacco.

The health promotion levy – which research shows is by far the most effective mechanism – will need to be followed by clear and transparent labelling. We need to move away from just having sugar levels listed in grams on the back of cans. There should be labels in large letters on the front of cans informing consumers about the number of teaspoons of sugar they’re drinking.

The second intervention should be marketing and advertising regulations of these drinks, particularly to children.

 

Karen Hofman, Program Director, PRICELESS SA ( Priority Cost Effective Lessons in Systems Stregthening South Africa), University of the Witwatersrand and Aviva Tugendhaft, Deputy Director, PRICELESS, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Published in Economy

Long in coming but swift and relatively painless when it happened, the downfall of Robert Mugabe offers Zimbabwe a once-in-a-generation opportunity to recalibrate its hitherto dire trajectory. The transition comes with myriad challenges and opportunities, the handling of which will ultimately determine what direction the country takes. Here are four key ways that the new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, can get it right.

1. Strike a new political settlement

The lesson of Zimbabwe’s past 20 years is that a toxic political environment is a severe impediment to the economic development. Political risks create uncertainty and keep sorely needed investment away. A key priority must therefore be the creation of a more inclusive political settlement. When the time came, Zimbabweans from all walks of life were ready to come out and clamour for a fresh start – their “ideals” clearly unified them and need to be harnessed to something concrete out of them.

Some of the provisions needed to do this are already in the constitution, and simply unimplemented. Others, however, need to be negotiated within and among all political actors. Equally, it’s important Zimbabwe doesn’t rush into new elections, but instead creates the conditions necessary for free, credible and fair ones in the future. Properly managed elections are not a magic wand, but they will go a long way in reducing the socio-economic costs of political risks associated with instability.

2. Reduce poverty and promote inclusive growth

Zimbabwe has never fully recovered from the economic crisis that peaked in 2008. GDP growth rebounded to 11.9% in 2011, but declined to an estimated -2.5% by 2017. Formal sector jobs have shrunk significantly over the last two decades. A 2015 report showed that of the 6.3m people defined as employed, 94.5% were working in the informal economy, 4.16m of them as smallholder farmers. The formal sector, meanwhile, accounts for just 350,000 people.

This means a majority of Zimbabweans can be classified as “working poor”, doing precarious work with irregular incomes in agriculture and the informal sector. Poverty levels remain high: around 72% of Zimbabweans now living in chronic poverty. The challenge is to generate national and individual wealth, while also making sure a lot more people benefit from growth than have done over the past two decades.

Currently, the service sector contributes the most to GDP. While mining and the service sector have earned the country much-needed foreign currency and contributed significantly to GDP growth, they can only do so much alleviate poverty in a country where a majority of people still live off the land.

3. Make agriculture work

To start reducing poverty as soon as possible, the government needs to get the agricultural sector working again.

When agriculture does well in Zimbabwe, the knock-on effect is remarkable. It not only raises rural incomes (thereby reducing poverty) but also creates more manufacturing jobs in the cities and small towns as the “agriculture-induced” demand for goods and services rises. It also expands the tax base and enables Zimbabweans sitting on productive assets to contribute to building the economy.

The good news is that, while other sectors of the economy will take more time to develop, this is one area that can provide some quick returns. Productivity needs to keep rising and support must be provided for people who have access to farmland, but are currently too poor to use it effectively.

Getting agriculture to work ought to be a core priority. Given the nature of structural changes (particularly the emergence of opportunities through global value chains) a key starting point must be an agricultural review commission to investigate current conditions for smallholder agriculture and recommend new policies required to transform in the sector.

4. Unlock investment

With abundant natural resources and a relatively literate population, Zimbabwe is well-placed to attract a large share of the investment being funnelled through South Africa into the rest of the continent.

The country’s mining industry, for one, has already proven its capacity to attract investment, provided global commodity prices recover as expected. But even then, that will depend upon cleaning up Zimbabwe’s toxic political environment and confused policymaking, both of which increase costs for investors.

The country could also benefit from opportunities in the emerging digital economy, but again, this will mean prioritising and maintaining investment in bureaucracy and infrastructure.

All this will require huge sums of money, which the government may not have at the moment. Still, perhaps this new beginning is at least an opportunity for constructive dialogue with the donor community, something Zimbabwe struggled to manage while Mugabe was at the helm. If Zimbabwe gets the politics right, there is every reason to be optimistic that this promising country will flourish at last.

 

Admos Chimhowu, Senior Lecturer, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Published in Opinion & Analysis
Monday, 27 November 2017 08:14

Dangote Cement Commissions Congo Plant

Africa’s largest cement Company, Dangote Cement Plc has added fillip to the on-going efforts at economic emancipation of Africa when it formally opened its 1.5mtpa capacity cement plant in Mfila, Congo Brazzaville, amid ecstasy by the government and the indigenes of the country.

The new plant estimated at $300 million has potentials for about 1000 direct employment and thousands of several other indirect jobs.

Undoubtedly the biggest plant in Congo, its President, Mr. Denis Sassou Nguesso while inaugurating the plant said the investment was an industrial revolution, sort of, within the Economic Community of the Central African States (CEMAC), saying his country was happy to host the investment.

According to him, his government has observed the operations of Dangote cement in other African countries and it has helped buoy their economies by sparking off other allied industries expressing the hope that Congo situation would not be an exception.

The Congolese President described the coming on stream of the Dangote cement as timely and encouraging because it is starting operations at a time the total government revenues have plummeted by 31.3 percent and revenues from the oil sector have fallen 65.1 percent since 2015 due to a slide in global crude prices.

President Mohammadu Buhari who was represented at the event by a powerful delegation led by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi commended Alhaji Aliko Dangote and his Cement Company for championing economic renaissance of Africa with the construction of cement plants across several African countries saying the sterling accomplishment makes the Dangote Cement brand, and indeed Aliko Dangote himself, worthy ambassadors of Nigeria.

President Buhari said his government has consistently supported and encouraged the Dangote Group in its quest to contribute its quota to the economic emancipation of the African continent, which is blessed with a plethora of natural resources.

“I believe that it is only home-grown practical solutions that can address the myriad issues plaguing Africa today and one of such challenges that Africa has been grappling with for decades is the infrastructure deficit. I am confident that massive investments in cement production, which is a key driver of infrastructural development, will contribute in no small measure, to addressing this perennial problem.”

President Buhari recalled with satisfaction that local cement manufacturers such as Dangote Cement, Lafarge and BUA, have exploited one of the solid minerals, limestone which is a basic input for cement production and which Nigeria has in abundance, in different parts of the country to achieve self-sufficiency in local cement production in 2015, and is now a net exporter of the product.

“The backward integration policy of the Federal Government in the cement sector, which was launched in 2002, has contributed to this success story by successfully substituting imports with local production, we have saved over $2billion spent on cement importation into Nigeria, annually.
“We have also started using cement for road construction in the country due to its numerous advantages over the more common bituminous road. Again, in this area, Dangote Cement is leading the charge, through AG-Dangote, its joint venture with Andrade-Gutierrez, a construction giant in Brazil”, Buhari stated.

Chairman of Dangote Cement Plc, Aliko Dangote in his address said his company was delighted to have completed the plant on schedule saying the addition of Dangote Cement’s 1.5 million metric tonnes per annum plant has more than doubled the total cement production capacity of Congo-Brazzaville, which now stands at 2.550 million metric tonnes per annum, far in excess of national demand.

“It is envisaged that this will contribute substantially to the availability and affordability of cement in the country and the Republic of the Congo will no longer need to depend on imports to bridge the gap between demand and supply.

“It is our hope that the inauguration of the plant will boost Congo’s economy, conserve foreign exchange that would otherwise have been spent on imports for the country, and create employment opportunities down the value chain.”, he stated.

Dangote commended the Congolese government noting that the bold economic reform measures put in place by President Denis Sassou Nguesso administration have been quite salutary. “The construction industry, which is a major sector of the economy, is a beneficiary of his policies, and has been receiving the attention of investors. We believe that our investment will contribute to Congo-Brazzaville’s current economic renaissance under the leadership of the President Nguesso.”

The Company Chairman pointed out that his organization received tremendous support and encouragement both from the government and the people of Congo-Brazzaville, right from the conceptualisation stage of our project, to its final completion, and commissioning.

In appreciation of the good gesture of the government and the people, Dangote disclosed that without waiting to stabilise production, the Cement company had already commenced CSR projects with the construction of a road with a length of 30km around Yamba, which would have cost the local government approximately 240 million CFA to execute.

He stated further “we have also disbursed scholarships for students and we are also building a school and renovating a hospital within our host communities. Apart from these, we have repaired a dilapidated bridge on a major highway at a cost of $300,000, to enable heavy duty vehicles to cross the bridge. As a policy, we also ensure that we give priority to qualified indigenes from our local host communities in our recruitment drive.”

Dangote told the gathering that Dangote Cement total production capacity across Africa at the end of May 2017, stood at 45.8 million metric tonnes per annum, making it one of the biggest cement producers on the continent adding that the aspiration is to rank among the top 10 cement producers in the world by 2020.

Dangote cement commissioned its cement plants in four African countries namely: Ethiopia, Zambia, Cameroun and Tanzania. The Congo-Brazzaville plant, which began operations in the third quarter of 2017, will be the fifth cement plant that would be inaugurated in the last two years.

Published in Business

Ethiopia’s Water, Irrigation and Electricity Minister Sileshi Bekele said that his country will not stop constructing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) despite Egypt’s protestations, the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) reported.

During a press briefing on Saturday, the minister responded to a question on whether Ethiopia would stop building the dam due to Egypt’s current stance on its impact on downstream countries, saying, “the dam is 63 percent completed and it is being constructed around-the-clock”.

“On our part, we are constructing the dam according to the schedule, the quality and the standard that the dam of this size requires”, he added.

Egypt has criticized the construction of the dam on the basis that it would reduce its share of Nile water, which currently stands at 55.5 billion cubic meters per year in accordance with a 1959 treaty.

Ethiopia has been constructing the Rennaissance Dam since 2011 over the Blue Nile, one of Egypt’s major sources of freshwater, and is expected to be completed within the coming period. Sileshi said that Egypt and Sudan will benefit from the energy that the dam will generate and the fact that it will secure the countries’ water needs in case of future droughts.

“We have to take this dam as a real opportunity that provides lots of benefits for the three countries. We have carried out relevant and adequate studies on our side which prove that the dam does not bring any significant impact on downstream countries”, the minister further stated.

On his part, Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Meles Alem said Thursday that the construction of GERD is crucial for Ethiopia’s development, which has suffered from series of droughts over the years.

ENA quoted Meles as saying that the “zero sum game diplomacy” with respect to the dam is not useful to any country in the Nile Basin.

 

- Egypt Independent

Published in Engineering

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