The Board of Directors of Ecobank Nigeria Limited has announced, the appointment of Patrick Akinwuntan as the Managing Director designate of Ecobank Nigeria, subject to the approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
 
Prior to this appointment, Akinwuntan was the Group Executive, Consumer Banking responsible for leading the Consumer Banking business across Ecobank’s global network of 40 countries, 36 of which are in Africa.
 
As a seasoned banker with over 20 years of senior and executive management experience, Akinwuntan has held several strategic positions for the Ecobank Group in Ghana, Togo, and Nigeria.
 
He had previously been a Group Executive Director on the Board of ETI and earlier, Executive Director in Ecobank Nigeria.
 
Akinwuntan started his career with Ecobank in 1996 as Head of Commercial Bank and Regional Head in Ecobank Nigeria and since then he has held various senior and executive positions in Nigeria and within the Ecobank Group, including Executive Director, Retail Bank, Ecobank Nigeria, Group Chief Finance Officer, ETI, Group Executive Director, Operations & Technology, amongst others.
 
Prior to joining Ecobank, Akinwuntan was a General Manager, Springfountain Management Consultants, Lagos from 1993 – 1996; Deputy Manager – Corporate Finance, Credit and Marketing, Manufacturers Merchant Bank Plc, Lagos from 1991 – 1993, and; was a Supervisor in Ernst & Young International (Chartered Accountants), Lagos from 1987 – 1991.
 
A fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (FCA), Patrick also holds a Masters in Business Administration from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife. He is an alumnus of the senior executive program (SEP) of the Harvard Business School, an honorary senior member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria and an associate of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria.
 
In line with our leadership and business continuity procedures, the outgoing Managing Director, Charles Kie, will continue to manage Ecobank Nigeria throughout the transition period and ensure a smooth handover to Akinwuntan.
 
Meanwhile, Chairman, Board of Ecobank Nigeria, John Aboh, has congratulated Patrick on his new appointment.
 
He said: “We warmly welcome Patrick back to Ecobank Nigeria and look forward to providing him with full support from the Board. I must, once again, extend our most sincere gratitude to Charles for his tremendous contributions to Ecobank Nigeria’s development and wish him every success in his future endeavors.”
 
Source: The Guardian
 
Google has announced that it will open an artificial intelligence (AI) research center in Africa, its first on the continent.
 
The Silicon Valley giant said that the new research hub will open in Accra, Ghana, later this year, announcing the move in a blog post published on Wednesday. “We’re committed to collaborating with local universities and research centers, as well as working with policy makers on the potential uses of AI in Africa,” Google’s blog post said.
 
Accra, located in the west of Africa, joins cities including Paris, New York and Tokyo, as well as Google’s Mountain View headquarters, in hosting an AI research center.
 
While the decision is the first of its kind for Google in Africa, the company has had offices on the continent for the past decade. It already operates a digital skills training program that it believes can ultimately benefit 10 million Africans. In addition, Google runs a separate initiative called Launchpad Accelerator Africa that it says supports 100,000 developers and over 60 technology startups in Africa.
 
But, Accra isn’t the only city in Africa positing itself as a tech hub. Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and Rwandan capital Kigali are both known for their credentials in tech development, for example. Meanwhile, Kenya has been singled out by Microsoft founder Bill Gates for its “pioneering” innovation of digital payments platform M-Pesa.
 
Ghana likely appealed to Google because of the quality of its education system and other feeder institutions, Lucy James, associate consultant with Control Risks’ Africa team, told CNBC via telephone on Thursday. The search company is focussed on “drawing in local talent and there’s no shortage of that in Ghana,” she said. Ghana also enjoys relative political stability, James explained. Meanwhile, it’s neighbor Nigeria — the continent’s largest economy which also promotes business center Lagos as a burgeoning tech hub – is more prone to civil unrest.
 
Nonetheless, the choice may seem unusual given that Ghana ranks 12th for Sub-Saharan Africa in the World Bank’s latest Ease of Doing Business index. Rwanda, Kenya and South Africa – another of the continent’s big economies – all come in the top five by comparison.
 
But, Ghana’s pro-business government and entrepreneurial society may have contributed to its selection. People in Ghana share the “sense that you can disrupt something and make a difference,” James said.
 
 
Source: CNBC

Ghana sold $2 billion worth of dual-tranche Eurobonds with 10- and 30-year maturities on Thursday and it will pay issuer-desired yields, government and transaction sources said.

The West African sovereign sold $1 billion each of the 10-year notes maturing in 2029 and a 30-year with 2049 maturity at 7.625 percent and 8.625 percent, respectively.

It set guidance for the May 2029 bond at 7.75 percent to 7.875 percent while the May 2049 was in the 8.75 percent to 8.875 percent range. The notes were first marketed in the low 8 percent area yield and low 9 percent mark.

Total books passed $5.5 billion, evenly split between the two tranches, lead advisers said.

“It’s a marked success for Accra because they got a low yield and a bigger size,” a sovereign debt market watcher told Reuters. “The pricing revision may have aided the deal and left investors unhappy.”

It was Ghana’s sixth sale since a 2007 debut. Lead advisers for the sale were Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, JP Morgan and Standard Chartered. Ghana is rated B3/B-/B

The government plans to use some of the proceeds to refinance debt and up to $750 million as revenue for its 2018 budget. Ghana, which exports cocoa, gold and oil, is in its final year of a $918 million IMF credit deal to narrow fiscal deficit, inflation and public debt which hit 69 percent of gross domestic product in December.

The Thursday sale by Ghana followed similar big transactions by continental peers Angola, Kenya and Nigeria.

 

(Reuters)

Marriott Hotels has announced its debut in west Africa, with the opening of Accra Marriott Hotel.

Owned by African Hospitality, the hotel is strategically located opposite the Kotoka International Airport. Set in the heart of Airport City, a burgeoning urban development, the Accra Marriott Hotel is just a few kilometres outside of the central business district providing easy access to major corporate businesses, government entities and well-known city landmarks.

“We are thrilled to open the Accra Marriott Hotel, a highly anticipated addition to our Africa portfolio and a significant milestone in our journey,” said Alex Kyriakidis, president, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International.

“Accra is the heartbeat of Ghana, a dynamic city bustling with energy.

“A commercial, manufacturing, and communications centre with great shopping and excellent nightlife, it makes an interesting travel destination both for business and for leisure.

“The Accra Marriott Hotel will add to the city’s maturing hospitality scene, inspiring guests with more forward-thinking experiences and aesthetically inspiring spaces that speak to their inventive nature.”

With 208 well-appointed rooms, three = dining venues, 800 square meters of meeting space, a pool and a fully equipped fitness centre, Accra Marriott Hotel offers state-of-the-art business facilities.

By John P. Frinjuah and Josephine Appiah-Nyamekye

Corruption is a wicked problem that permeates every fabric of Ghanaian society, especially the public sector. Over the years, Ghana has fared dismally in its fight against corruption. In fact, the country has dropped consistently in recent years in rankings by anti-corruption and transparency bodies, including Transparency International and the Ibrahim Index of African Governance. If we do not see a renewed commitment to the fight against corruption – especially political corruption – the country risks reversing the gains made over the years in democracy, good governance, and development.

What do Ghanaians say about corruption?

The latest Afrobarometer findings on popular perceptions of corruption in Ghana mirror those of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 and the Ibrahim Index of African Governance 2017. Overwhelming majorities of Ghanaians see “some,” “most,” or “all” public – and private – sector officials as corrupt. The perception is worst for officials in the public sector, with the police seen as the most corrupt group: 92% of citizens say at least “some” police officials are corrupt, including 59% who say “most” or “all” are corrupt. The president and his office do better than other public officials, but still, more than three-fourths of citizens perceive at least some corruption there (see Figure 1).

This leadership morass is not limited to state officials. Even traditional and religious leaders are seen as corrupt by substantial numbers of Ghanaians – a surprise given the trust society places in them and the moral high ground on which they are expected to stand.

Figure 1: Perceived corruption in the public and private sectors | Ghana | 2017

Ghana Corruption Graph1

 

Although popular perceptions of the overall level of corruption in the country have increased since 2014, a majority (60%) of Ghanaians now express approval of the new government’s efforts to combat corruption, a significant improvement compared to the 25% recorded in 2014 (see Figure 2). This approval could be explained as a combination of people’s hope that the new NPP government – which came to power on a ticket of anti-corruption and economic resuscitation – checks the menace of corruption and honours its electoral promise to the people.

Figure 2: Government’s performance in fighting corruption | Ghana | 2002-2017

Ghana Corruption Graph2

Media reports and personal conversations suggest that the Ghanaian electorate and burgeoning middle class are increasingly unhappy about the high level of corruption, lack of accountability, and economic mismanagement that have bedeviled the country. Afrobarometer data confirm that they are eager to see stiff punishment meted out to perpetrators of such acts. Almost two-thirds (64%) of Ghanaians want corrupt officials prosecuted and, if found guilty, forced to return stolen funds, jailed, and publicly named and shamed. About one-fifth (22%) favour government retrieval of stolen funds without prosecution, while one in 10 (9%) would opt for prosecution without retrieval of stolen funds (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Appropriate punishment for corrupt officials | Ghana | 2017

Ghana Corruption Graph3

In its one year in office, the NPP government has taken some steps in that direction, including the setting up of the Special Prosecutor’s office. Ghanaians want more than just lip service. With alleged fraud cases[ii] such as the BOST premix scandal, arson of the Central Medical Stores in an attempt to cover evidence of fraud, and the Ministry of Special Development Initiative’s 800,000 cedi website saga, government will need to live up to its pledges to crack the whip of justice against corrupt officials, irrespective of their political inclination.

 

John P. Frinjuah is a volunteer researcher at the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana).  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Josephine Appiah-Nyamekye is Afrobarometer regional communications coordinator for anglophone West Africa, based at CDD-Ghana. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

[i] Links to corruption perceptions rankings:

https://tradingeconomics.com/ghana/corruption-index

https://www.transparency.org/news/feature/corruption_perceptions_index_2016

http://s.mo.ibrahim.foundation/u/2017/11/21165610/2017-IIAG-Report.pdf?_ga=2.118043465.1579953400.1514448441-301351533.1511449520

[ii] Links to stories on corruption cases:

https://www.myjoyonline.com/politics/2017/November-30th/premix-fuel-saga-ndc-mp-calls-for-bipartisan-probe.php

http://www.moh.gov.gh/report-identifies-operational-lapses-at-central-medical-stores/

https://www.myjoyonline.com/news/2017/December-21st/ministry-budgets-800000-for-website-which-costs-more-than-car.php

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is the world’s largest radio telescope project, which will collect data over one million square kilometres from radio astronomy telescopes on the African and Australian continents. In the long run the two-phased SKA could possibly help scientists answer questions in astrophysics, cosmology and fundamental physics.

Phase one of the project entailed setting radio telescopes in South Africa and Australia. Phase two will include more telescopes being added by partner countries, New Zealand and the eight African countries namely: Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia. The full array should be up and running by 2030, but the first phase is expected to be operational by 2023. The launch of Ghana’s radio telescope is a critical part of this process. Dr Bernard Duah Asabere explained its significance.

How did Ghana get involved in the project and how does it fit in?

Ghana has had a redundant satellite communication antenna in Kutunse – a suburb 25 kilometres north-west of the capital, Accra.

Between 2011 and 2017 this antenna has been undergoing refurbishment for use as a radio astronomy telescope. At the end of the first engineering phase, the refurbished telescope is capable of participating in global network observations using a technique known as Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI). It also be used in single dish or standalone operational mode.

Interferometry is a technique in which collections of telescopes scattered over a large area function as a single radio telescope. The Very Long Baseline Interferometry technique is most well-known for:

  • imaging distant cosmic radio sources,

  • tracking spacecraft, and

  • for applications in astrometry.

But the technique can also measure the time differences between the arrival of radio waves from separate antennas to the same source in the sky. This helps astronomers get a better image resolution of an object or a region in the universe.

Put simply, if different telescopes at different locations are all tuned to observe the same source in the sky at the same time, astronomers can get fine details of the specific object being observed.

The countries that make up the African SKA project are each building their own radio telescopes or converting redundant telecommunication dishes so that they function as a network known as the African VLBI Network (AVN).

Ghana now becomes the first country in the African SKA partners besides South Africa to have a telecommunication antenna converted to realise the African VLBI Network. With Ghana’s telescope now operational, it means that South Africa and Ghana will be able to do joint observations. When the other seven African SKA partner countries get theirs ready, they will join the African’s network.

Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia are contending to add the next telescope to the network.

A full view of the refurbished radio telescope in Ghana that forms part of the Square Kilometre Array project. supplied

How did we know the Ghanaian telescope was ready and what will it do?

Across the globe there are several very long base interferometry networks: Europe has one, as does Australia and America. Any telescope across the world is able to join an observation in one of these networks.

After Ghana re-engineered the antenna into a functional radio astronomy telescope, it needed to do a science commissioning of the facility to see if the refurbishment was successful and it could track and observe astronomical sources in the sky and join international observations.

When Ghana tested its telescope it was able to detect methanol masers, observe pulsars and also succeeded in participating in an observation with 15 other telescopes which form part of the European very long base interferometry network.

Until now South Africa has been the only country on the continent that had been joining in VLBI observations with other countries’ networks because it was the only country with a radio telescope on the continent.

With radio telescopes in Ghana and South Africa, an African network is now given birth to. Aside being a part of the African network, Ghana could join other telescopes on the globe to do science observations.

What is the significance of Ghana’s telescope for astronomy in Africa?

There are many celestial objects to observe in the Universe: planets, masers, galaxies, meteorites, stars and even regions in the sky. And there are global questions that astronomy community is interested in addressing. This includes questions like: is there any life outside earth? Are there other stars that are as prominent as the sun? How did the universe come into being? These are questions that the SKA will attempt to address.

If Africa has its own network, astronomers on the continent can choose what celestial objects and regions it wants to observe.

If we look at most of the existing telescopes across the world, there has been a hole in Africa. Telescopes situated in the Northern hemisphere are unable to see the region of the sky in the southern hemisphere. With an African very long base interferometry network set up, astronomers in Africa can now observe both the northern and southern hemispheres of the sky from the continent.

What is Ghana bringing to the party and what does it hope to get out of this SKA collaboration?

The facility at Kutunse will be used as a science instrument but also as a training facility. Ghana will help the other seven countries that form part of the African network refurbish their unused antennae.

Although this technology is not new and has been done in Australia, Peru, Japan and the UK, no other country in Africa has done this.

For Ghana, developing the skills, regulations and institutional capacity in the partner countries is a vital part of building the square kilometre array on the continent over the next decade. This is because it will optimise African participation in the SKA.

Ghana will build it robust research community in a field never before accessible to the country.

But there is also the prospect of improving the radio astronomy capacity in the country. Ghana’s radio astronomy development strategy forms part of the broader Ghana Science, Technology and Innovation Development Plan.

 

Dr. Bernard Duah Asabere, Manager of the Ghana Radio Telescope Observatory , Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute

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

The lack of a centralised form of data that securities industry players can connect to get information about the transaction records of clients is a great challenge to fighting systemic risk.

Mr Kwabena Boamah, Chief Investment Officer of STANLIB Ghana Limited, said the absence of such data or information among financial market players allowed individuals and institutions to undertake multiple borrowing transactions thereby over exposing lending firms when their businesses collapsed or failed.

“So when we talked about systemic risk we are looking at a situation where one small failure leads to a broader impact that can bring down a whole firm and once that whole firm goes down it has ripple effects on other institutions,” he said in an interview at the 2017 Ghana Securities Industry Association’s Capital Market Week Seminar.

“That is what leads to systemic risk because we don’t have information that will help industry players make good investment decisions,” he added.

Mr Boamah said data and disclosure were so critical to help institutions to manage the risk because it would allow them to be able to cap the limit to the individuals and institutions to avoid a ripple effect when they blew up or one person failed them.

“Lack of data and lack of disclosure make it difficult to manage systemic risk and that is what actually leads to it because the institutions are not able to cap the limit to the financial institution and when they blow up or one person fails then it begins to have a ripple effect on any other person,” he said.

Aside the lack of data and disclosure, one thing about systemic risk was also the credit due diligence process, saying that the kind of robust or skills that the people in the institutions had to be able to access risk appropriately was important to manage the risk. He said the ability to access the risk was important to managing the risk, adding that if the ‘credit due process or the skills set was not strong it became difficult for an institution to be able to access the level of risk and to plan for it.’ Mr Boamah said in some instances institutions failed to do detail analysis because of the over confidence about the performance of the company.

“Another thing about systemic risk is when we begin to have that notion that an institution is too big to fail and probably to a large extent in the country it would be more of too trusting, that a financial institution is doing everything right and that they are not going to fail and instead of undertaking proper due diligence on them we rather renege on those due processes,” he said.

He stressed the need for capacity building of persons who handle the credit and evaluation processes to enable them develop the appropriate skill sets and the knowhow to end risk in the bud.

There is also the need to strengthen corporate governance since adherence to proper procedures by firms and institutions would in itself diversify systemic risk and bring about some soundness in the financial markets.

“Beyond the corporate risk and corporate governance we have the individuals themselves. It is time for strong ethical professionals who can put their work on the line because they believe in certain values and would not do certain things no matter what the board is saying they would hold on to those restrictions,” he added.

 

GNA

The Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) has upped it effort at making sure that operators in the hospitality industry meet set standards as the nation aggressively pushes towards raising more revenue from tourism.

Nana Twum Barima, its Director of Research, Statistics and Information, said they were determined to go the extra mile to ensure that the operations of industry players were consistent with globally acceptable standards.

This, he said, was vital as the Authority worked hard to boost tourism arrivals – positioned Ghana as preferred tourist destination. He was addressing a meeting held with hoteliers, restaurant operators and car rental services in Kumasi on the “Tourism Single Window Project” and “Information Technology Compliance Survey”.

The goal, he said, was to closely monitor their activities, so that the right things were done.

Nana Twum Barima indicated that tourism development could bring enormous benefits to the economy – create job opportunities and wealth for the people. That was why everything should be done to keep the sector on the path of growth, he added.

Mr. Alex Boakye, Director, Quality Assurance, said the introduction of the ‘service charter’ was meant to assure clients of efficient service delivery. He added that it was the way forward to make Ghana the leading tourist destination in West Africa.

The GTA, he said, was eager to see substantial increase in domestic tourism and was working towards that.

 

GNA

A ruling by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea will keep Tullow Oil Plc’s offshore fields under Ghana’s jurisdiction following the end of a boundary dispute with Ivory Coast.

The Tweneboa, Enyenra and Ntomme fields, which hold an estimated 2 billion barrels of oil and 1.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, will remain with the West African nation after a decision by the Hamburg-based tribunal on Saturday, Tullow said in an emailed statement. The new boundary deviates little from Ghana’s claim for its border with Ivory Coast, according to three people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak in public.

The ruling will remove “doubt anyone had about the boundary, because that is clear now,” Tullow Oil Ghana Managing Director Charles Darku told reporters in the capital, Accra. “Anyone that wants to work around investing in that area should see their way clear.”

TEN’s output will be maintained at 50,000 barrels a day until the end of the year, Darku said. The London-based explorer owns 47.2 percent of the fields, while Kosmos Energy Ltd. and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. each own 17 percent. Ghana National Petroleum Corp. holds 15 percent and PetroSA the rest.

Ghana didn’t violate Ivory Coast’s sovereign rights by using the field, Judge Boualem Bouguetaia said as he read the tribunal’s ruling ion the courtroom.

Tullow will work with the Ghana government to get the necessary permits to allow the restart of drilling at the fields by the end of the year, Darku said. The floating production storage and offloading vessel at TEN has a design capacity of 80,000 barrels a day.

Economic Relief

Boakye Agyarko, Ghana’s energy minister, confirmed by text that the country will retain control over the fields. The ruling is a relief for Ghana, which is relying on oil revenue to boost economic growth and ease its budget deficit.

 

- Bloomberg

Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia said the trade and industrialisation programme of Government forms part of a Free Continental Trade Agreement agenda with the objective of creating a single market for goods and services.

He said Ghana would soon enjoy the privileges under the Trade Agreement that would ensure free movement of business persons to enhance investment. In addition, it would promote intra African trade through better harmonisation, coordination and facilitation regimes.

Vice President Bawumia said this at the closing ceremony of the Second Edition of the National Policy Summit organised by the Ministry of Information in Accra on Tuesday.

The two-day Summit, which featured the Ministry of Trade and Industry, was on the theme: “The Industrial Transformation of Ghana”. It brought together captains of industry, members of Parliament, the diplomatic community, policy think tanks, entrepreneurs and youth groups to deliberate on government policies and solicit inputs to ensure sustained growth and economic development.

The Vice President said the Free Continental Trade Agreement would resolve the challenges of multiple and overlapping memberships in regional economic groups and enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise levels.

He said businesses and governments in Africa were supposed to take advantage of the Agreement by exploiting opportunities of the economics of scale, access to continental market and better re-allocation of resources across the Continent.

The Trade Agreement, the Vice President said, would bring to fruition a resolution passed by the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of States and Governments of the African Union held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2012, which enjoined African countries to facilitate trade with each other.

He expressed satisfaction about the level of participation by the private sector since that demonstrates confidence in the Government’s industrial transformational agenda. Vice President Bawumia said the Summit was in line with the Government’s agenda of opening up spaces for dialogue and being a listening facilitator by using bottom-up approaches for policy formulation and decision-making.

“We know that we don’t have all the ideas and solutions that is why we have to constantly dialogue and interact,” he said.

“Even with the level of the Economic Management Team and with its powerful members, we regularly called on the private sector to dialogue on policies to get their views before we take certain decisions since this is the best way we can pursue our 10-point industrial development agenda,” he said. The Vice President said the Ministry of Trade and Industry, in the coming months, would start engaging stakeholders and sensitise the business community on the Continental Free Trade Agreement.

“We need your inputs; we want to encourage you to expand your perspectives on the emerging Africa. We, as government, will continue to engage in dialogue. In the end, it is your bold and entrepreneurial skills and your competitiveness that would determine how far and how much Ghana can take advantage of opportunities of Continental Free Trade,” he noted.

Ghana fully participated in the 16th Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) Forum held in Lome, Togo, from August 7-10, 2017 under the theme: “United States and Africa, Partnering for Prosperity through Trade”.

AGOA is a strategic framework through which Ghana seeks to expand bilateral trade and investment with the United States and it provides a duty free and quota free access to the US market. The Scheme was renewed in 2015 for another 10 years till 2025.

Vice President Bawumia said Government must take advantage of that preferential market and effectively utilise the Scheme by working together with the private sector and providing the needed interventions as stipulated under the AGOA.

On the Ghana International Trade Commission (GITC) Act, the Vice President said the Commission would help to regularise international trade in conformity with the rules and regulations of the world trade system.

He said the Commission would look into complaints by the private sector in matters of subsidies of imported products by foreign governments, dumping of such products onto the domestic market, tariff adjustment, settlement of disputes between importers and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority and any measure that affected fair trade.

Government, in the coming days, would inaugurate the Commission in order to deal with fair trade issues and enhance the competitiveness of the private sector in contributing to the industrial transformation agenda of the country.

 

- GNA

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