Joe Ghartey, Ghana’s minister of railways development, says he has cancelled the MoU with the China Railway Construction Corporation Corporation (International) Nigeria Limited (CRCC-Nigeria) “for breach of confidentiality”.

Ghana had entered into CRCC- Nigeria for the construction and rehabilitation of a 560-kilometre standard gauge railway line.

However, after a report in TheCable comparing railway contract costs in Ghana with Nigeria’s, the minister came under pressure to do “damage control”.

In a statement sent to TheCable on Monday, Ghartey acknowledged that the ministry signed an MoU with CRCC-Nigeria.

TheCable had reported that CRCC offered to rehabilitate and construct a 560-kilometre standard gauge railway line for Ghana at $2 billion, with terminals at Aflao and Elubo.

“Messrs CRCC-Nigeria expressed interest in supporting the Ministry to develop and modernise Ghana’s railway network, particularly the Trans-ECOWAS line, which runs along the coast between Aflao, on the border with Togo, and Elubo, on the border with Cote d’Ivoire,” the statement read.

“The purpose of the MoU is for CRCC-Nigeria to undertake feasibility studies through the use of independent consultants.

“CRCC-Nigeria is responsible for verifying the project cost as estimated by the feasibility studies and also raise capital to finance the project.”

However, the minister said his ministry was yet to respond to a proposal by CRCC-Nigeria to establish assembly plants for building locomotive coaches and wagons.

The ministry was, however, silent on the 340-kilometre Eastern line project that is estimated to cost $2.2 billion which will link Accra, Tema and Kumasi,

In March, Rotimi Amaechi, Nigeria’s former minister of transportation, had told reporters that the $1.5 billion allocated for the 146-kilometer Lagos-Ibadan project has been altered due to additional construction work on the project but refused to disclose the new sum.

TheCable understands that the new cost is $2 billion — which is exactly the amount CRCC-Nigeria is offering to construct and rehabilitate the 560-kilometre standard gauge railway line in Ghana.

 

Source: TheCable

Ghana obtained a provisional Effective Implementation (EI) rate of 89.89 per cent, the highest by an African country, after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) concluded its Coordinated Validation Mission (ICVM) this year.

The validation, is in line with the United Nations Aviation Agency’s Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP).

The ICVM assessed Ghana’s safety oversight system on all eight ICAO Critical Elements (CEs), namely: Primary Aviation Legislation; State Operating Regulations; State Civil Aviation System and Safety Oversight Functions; and Technical Personnel Qualification and Training.

The other CEs that were validated included; Technical Guidance, Tools and the Provision of Safety-Critical Information; Licensing, Certification, Authorization and Approval Obligations; Surveillance Obligations; and Resolution of Safety Concerns.

Ghana, recorded a substantial improvement across all eight CEs, and the team from the UN specialised aviation agency identified no significant safety concerns (SSCs).

It comes after a nine-day follow-up onsite activity by a four-member team of experts from ICAO to validate corrective measures undertaken by Ghana following a USOAP audit in November 2006.

Mr Joseph Kofi Adda, Minister of Aviation, Who announced this at a press briefing in Accra, urged the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to immediately develop an action plan towards the implementation of corrective measures that have been recommended by the ICAO team.

“Ghana’s air transport industry enjoys strong government support, which is a crucial determinant for the aviation sector’s ability to maintain an ICAO compliant regulatory framework and to achieve accelerated sustainable growth of the sector in the years ahead,” he said.

The Minister stated that in line with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s vision of re-positioning the country as the sub-region’s Aviation hub, Parliament recently passed the Ghana Civil Aviation (Amendment) Act, 2019 (Act 985) together with the Legislative Instrument on Aircraft Accident and Serious Incident Regulations,2019 (LI 2375) to ensure enhanced compliance with ICAO’s Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS).

Mr Simon Allotey, the Director-General of GCAA, said the new achievement was an enviable milestone and was a true reflection of the robustness of the country’s safety oversight system, which ultimately translates into improved safety of airline operations.

“By adhering to ICAO’s SARPS related to safety oversight, GCAA effectively ensures that aviation service providers and airline operators maintain an acceptable level of operational safety,” he said.

“Our performance of 89.89 per cent is world-class and places Ghana at the top spot in Africa in terms of safety oversight, considering that the average EI rate on the continent stands at 52 percent, which is lower than the global average of 66.5 percent and below ICAO’s current minimum target of 60 percent,” Mr Allotey added.

The Director-General expressed gratitude to the Ministry of Aviation, Board of Directors, Management and staff of GCAA for the successful outcome of the ICVM, and to the members of the ICAO team for the professionalism, objectivity and cooperation exhibited throughout the process.

The final rating will be communicated to Ghana within six-weeks after validation of the provisional score by ICAO.

GNA

An e-commerce platform, Jiji has announced the acquisition of OLX in Ghana and four other counties in Africa.

The details of the deal was made available via a statement by Naspers on Wednesday.

Consequently, OLX users in Ghana would be directed to Jiji marketplace in a transaction backed by one of Jiji’s cornerstone investors, Digital Spring Ventures.

According to the statement, both companies have also reached an agreement to acquire the other OLX businesses in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, subject to regulatory approvals.

The statement noted that all users of the sell-and-buy classifieds websites of OLX Nigeria, OLX Ghana, OLX Kenya, OLX Tanzania, and OLX Uganda would be redirected to Jiji.

The Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Jiji, Anton Volyansky, while making comment on the deal, said, “Users will always come first for us. We warmly welcome OLX’s customers to the Jiji family and we look forward to our new customers joining Jiji on its …online shopping experience.”

OLX shut down business in Nigeria last year February while it maintained its online marketplace as workers were laid off.

The US has announced it is ready to support Ghana to deal with the issue of political vigilantism – a growing threat to peace and security in the country.

The Conversation Africa’s Moina Spooner spoke to Justice Tankebe about the phenomenon and what can be done to address it.

What’s meant by political vigilantism and how long has it been an issue in Ghana?

Vigilantism is when people “take the law into their own hands” in order to protect or advance their interests. In this way, all vigilantism is political because it always involves the use of (illegal) power against others who are perceived to be a threat to those interests. However, when we speak of “political vigilantism” we mean specifically the use of vigilantes in the name of partisan politics.

In Ghana, political parties – whether in government or the opposition – are known to form and use vigilante groups who then act on their behalf. This has been highlighted in various reports, such as one put together by the Institute for Security Studies as well as academic research papers. These vigilante groups are often violent, target opposition groups and public officials, and seize property or assets.

But vigilantes aren’t just thugs who operate at the street level. Based on my research of over ten years into vigilantism in Ghana, I have started to focus on what I call “vigilantes-in-suits”. I use the term to refer to people in positions of authority – for example, policy makers, lawmakers and various political appointees – who will pursue their party’s interests by any means.

Political vigilantism isn’t a new feature of Ghanaian politics. Some researchers say that it has its roots in the country’s independence movement from British colonial rule. The Convention People’s Party, led by Kwame Nkrumah – Ghana’s independence leader and first president – and the National Liberation Movement were engaged in fierce political struggles over whether Ghana should be a federal or unitary state. The struggle involved violent vigilante activity by elements on both sides.

Today, Ghana’s two main political parties – the National Democratic Congress and the New Patriotic Party – have vigilante groups who wear T-shirts branded with their group’s logo. These include the “Azorka Boys” and the “Hawks” for the National Democratic Congress and the “Invincible Forces” and “Delta Forces” for the New Patriotic Party.

How does it manifest itself?

Political vigilantism often involves violence, both physical and psychological.

Vigilantes engage in riots, violent protests and property destruction. They’re also known to target elections, intimidating voters or mounting roadblocks to prevent “outsiders” from observing polls.

Vigilantes have also been known to harass, threaten, assault, and assassinate opponents.

Who perpetuates it?

Ghana’s two main political parties recruit, train and fund vigilantes.

These are young people who feel that the state doesn’t represent their interests. They also feel powerless because they don’t have many opportunities to improve their situation or are poor. These frustrations make them vulnerable to indoctrination by older generations – largely politicians – who give the young recruits ideological direction and justification for their actions.

Vigilantism has also flourished because of a lack of deterrence. Criminal justice agencies – particularly the police – are highly ineffective against vigilantes. Based on the insights I’ve gained from my research, I believe this is because of significant partisan interference in police work which has left them powerless. They either don’t make arrests or, if arrests are made, suspects are released because a politician intervened through the back door.

What can be done to put a stop to it?

Tackling political vigilantism won’t be easy because young people may feel that being a member of a vigilante group defines and gives meaning to their life. It might give them power, esteem, prestige and a sense of belonging.

It, therefore, won’t be enough to just disband the groups and give them moral lessons on the perils of vigilantism. They must be given enough support to find alternative livelihoods. Ghana could draw lessons from Sierra Leone who successfully demobilised and re-settled ex-combatants after conflict.

Longer-term strategies must address the issues of unemployment and Ghana’s deeply unequal society. Unless government policies create a more equal society, for example, through better employment opportunities for young people, vigilantism will remain a stable feature of Ghanaian politics.

Tackling inequality also means more decisive action against corruption, which is widespread and vicious. Corruption allows the rich to get richer and prevents people from being held accountable for their actions. This creates conditions for vigilante activity.

Lastly, the police service must be independent, well-resourced and insulated from partisan politics. To do this, there must be an overhaul. The police service must be decentralised to improve community-police relations and the current political appointment of police chiefs should be replaced by a competitive recruitment process. A new governance structure made up of people with expertise in police work, like academics and practitioners, should be created to oversee police work.The Conversation

 

Justice Tankebe, Lecturer in Criminology, University of Cambridge

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Mr Habibu Adam, an Economist, has attributed the depreciation of the cedi to the structure of the economy, allowing foreign portfolio investments into the domestic bond market and the speculative attacks by either politicians or ‘rogue traders’ in the forex market.

Mr Adam said Ghana recorded trade deficit of USD$1.69 billion in 2016 as in many other years previously “this transformed to trade surpluses of about USD$1.19 billion and USD $1.78 billion in 2017 and 2018 respectively for the first time in decades. So why should the cedi be under pressure”.

The Senior Economist said this in interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra.

Mr Adam said allowing the foreign portfolio investments (investments by non-resident Ghanaians) into our domestic bond market for which some of them are now moving their funds to their parent countries as it tapers, its rates higher as against the downward trend in the Ghanaian interest rates.

He said the other reason for the depreciation may be due to the huge interest servicing being made by government.

“Just before the IMF intervention in our economy, experts including then Vice-Presidential Candidate Dr Mahamudu Bawumia had warned of excessive borrowing which will cloud out fiscal space for government.

“Spokespersons of then government argued that as far as the debt level had not hit the unsustainable debt level of 70 per cent, they were not doing anything wrong.

“The end result was that, they left government leaving a debt level of 73 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the new government to grapple with,” Mr Adam said.

He said the resultant effect of the binge borrowing was that interest payments ten years (2008) ago was only GH¢ 679 million. This rose to GH¢10.7 billion in 2016 and is expected to hit GH¢18.6 billion by the end of 2019 (2019 Budget statement).

The Senior Economist said external debt constitutes 49.9 per cent of the public debt, therefore, “government will need to service the interest in foreign currency bringing additional burden on the cedi”.

Mr Adam said the final contributor to the depreciation of the cedi was the structure of the economy where “we export raw commodities and import almost everything in their value-added form.

“If the structure of the economy remains the same, no government will be able to halt the fall of the cedi. How can we be importing USD$2.0 billion worth of rice, USD$320 million worth of sugar and USD$ 374 million worth of poultry just to mention few and expect the cedi to be stable? All these commodities could be produced here”.

Mr Adam said in the last eight years before the current administration, the cedi had depreciated by 247 per cent giving an average annual depreciation of 30.9 per cent.

“The first two years of former President John Dramani Mahama’s administration recorded annual depreciation of 34.9 per cent.

“This compares to 6.43 per cent annual depreciation as at the end December, 2018 in the first two years of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s administration.

“Though a significant reduction; it is still not good enough. It is also important to acknowledge that the cedi has witnessed over 5 per cent depreciation in the first quarter of 2019 and it will be interesting to find out how it ends the year,” the Senior Economist said.

“In my opinion, the only way to end the cedi’s perennial depreciation is to embark on a comprehensive industrialisation policy together with improvements in infrastructure as well as modernisation of the agriculture and tourism,” he said.

GNA

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Thursday announced a stimulus package to revamp Ghana’s struggling textile industry.

“Our local textile industry has been struggling for years, and many textile companies have, indeed, gone under. We have decided to give it a major stimulus to help put it on a strong footing,” President Akufo-Addo stated in his 2019 State of the Nation Address (SONA) to Parliament.

“The local textile industry has, therefore, been granted a zero-rated VAT (Value Added Tax) on the supply of locally-made textiles for a period of three years,” he said.

“We have put in place a tax stamp regime for both locally manufactured and imported textiles to address the challenge of pirated designs and logos in the textile trade.”

President Akufo-Addo said the Tema Port had been designated as a Single-Entry Corridor for the importation of textile prints, with a textile taskforce in place to ensure effective compliance, and reduce, if not eliminate, smuggling of imported textiles.

He said a new textile import management system had been instituted, to also control imports of textiles.

He said the “One-District-One-Factory” policy had taken off, and 79 factories under the scheme were at various stages of operation or construction; adding that, another 35 were going through credit appraisal.

“All told, there is a lot of activity going on under the scheme, and it has awoken the interest of young people to go into manufacturing business,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo said under the Rural Enterprises Programme, funded by the African Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, 50 small-scale processing factories would be established by the end of the year in 50 districts across the country, particularly in areas where there was evidence of significant post-harvest losses.

He said these would be owned and managed by organised youth groups, with technical support from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

GNA

The United States said on Thursday it was imposing visa restrictions on Ghana, accusing the African country of not cooperating in accepting its citizens ordered removed from the United States.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “has ordered consular officers in Ghana to implement visa restrictions on certain categories of visa applicants,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a statement.

“Without an appropriate response from Ghana, the scope of these sanctions may be expanded to a wider population,” the statement said.

“Ghana has failed to live up to its obligations under international law to accept the return of its nationals ordered removed from the United States,” said DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

“We hope the Ghanaian government will work with us to reconcile these deficiencies quickly,” she said.

Qatar Airways, the national airline of Qatar, is expected to soon complete arrangements to fly Ghana, by next year.

“We have already gone far with talks with the Aviation Authorities in Ghana and will be flying to that country by middle of 2019”, Abkar Al-Baker, the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Airline, told journalists in Doha.

He was answering questions after a press briefing on the sidelines of the 2018 Doha Forum, held at the weekend in Doha, the capital of Qatar.

The annual forum, the 18th in the series, created the platform for business executives, academia, and world leaders among other groups, to discuss policy guidelines to propel global growth and development.

“Shaping Policy in an Interconnected World”, was the theme chosen for the event, which deliberated on issues about security, peace and mediation, economic development and trends and traditions.

Akbar Al Baker said though the initial negotiations with Ghana bordered on the need for his country’s assistance to run a national airline for Ghana, Qatar planned to make Ghana one of its destinations, from next year, to begin with, while further discussions continued.

According to him, Qatar Airways had targeted to add 15 new destinations to its network, next year, and to also procure 36 new aircrafts for that purpose.

Beaming with smiles and backed by the confidence of his government, Akbar Al Baker was optimistic that the projections of the airline would be achieved, and said the “blockade on Qatar has failed to stop the growth of Qatar Airways”.

He added that the blockade did not have a toll on the airline because “We quickly developed new routes and though 18 routes were blocked, they were replaced with 24 destinations in Europe, Africa and Russia”.

The destinations, he said, had now increased to 30 and “We are still searching and networking to reach our target of 250 destinations as planned and also to send the message to the world that we will keep on marching forward and nothing will stop us”.

He said African countries including Ghana were underserved but had huge potential and therefore Qatar Airways was looking at Africa in a positive way by giving incentives to new entrants and other assistance to those who wanted to do business with Qatar.

“The world will see the rapid progression of Qatar Airways as we have lined up more than 15 destinations to be announced step by step, next year, while we wait for airport slots”, he said, adding that, the 36 new aircrafts would be received in the next 12 months.

GNA

Reductions in malaria cases have stalled after several years of decline globally, according to the new World malaria report 2018

To get the reduction in malaria deaths and disease back on track, World Health Organisation, WHO and partners are joining a new country-led response, launched today, to scale up prevention and treatment, and increased investment, to protect vulnerable people from the deadly disease.

For the second consecutive year, the annual report produced by WHO reveals a plateauing in numbers of people affected by malaria: in 2017, there were an estimated 219 million cases of malaria, compared to 217 million the year before. But in the years prior, the number of people contracting malaria globally had been steadily falling, from 239 million in 2010 to 214 million in 2015.

“Nobody should die from malaria. But the world faces a new reality: as progress stagnates, we are at risk of squandering years of toil, investment and success in reducing the number of people suffering from the disease,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

“We recognise we have to do something different – now. So today we are launching a country-focused and -led plan to take comprehensive action against malaria by making our work more effective where it counts most – at local level.”

Where malaria is hitting hardest

In 2017, approximately 70% of all malaria cases (151 million) and deaths (274 000) were concentrated in 11 countries: 10 in Africa (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania) and India. There were 3.5 million more malaria cases reported in these 10 African countries in 2017 compared to the previous year, while India, however, showed progress in reducing its disease burden.

Despite marginal increases in recent years in the distribution and use of insecticide-treated bed nets in sub-Saharan Africa – the primary tool for preventing malaria – the report highlights major coverage gaps. In 2017, an estimated half of at-risk people in Africa did not sleep under a treated net. Also, fewer homes are being protected by indoor residual spraying than before, and access to preventive therapies that protect pregnant women and children from malaria remains too low.

High impact response needed

In line with WHO’s strategic vision to scale up activities to protect people’s health, the new country-driven “High burden to high impact” response plan has been launched to support nations with most malaria cases and deaths. The response follows a call made by Dr Tedros at the World Health Assembly in May 2018 for an aggressive new approach to jump-start progress against malaria. It is based on four pillars:

  • Galvanizing national and global political attention to reduce malaria deaths;
  • Driving impact through the strategic use of information;
  • Establishing best global guidance, policies and strategies suitable for all malaria endemic countries; and
  • Implementing a coordinated country response.

Catalyzed by WHO and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, “High burden to high impact” builds on the principle that no one should die from a disease that can be easily prevented and diagnosed, and that is entirely curable with available treatments.

“There is no standing still with malaria. The latest World malaria report shows that further progress is not inevitable and that business as usual is no longer an option,” said Dr Kesete Admasu, CEO of the RBM Partnership. “The new country-led response will jumpstart aggressive new malaria control efforts in the highest burden countries and will be crucial to get back on track with fighting one of the most pressing health challenges we face.”

Targets set by the WHO Global technical strategy for malaria 2016–2030 to reduce malaria case incidence and death rates by at least 40% by 2020 are not on track to being met.

Pockets of progress

The report highlights some positive progress. The number of countries nearing elimination continues to grow (46 in 2017 compared to 37 in 2010). Meanwhile in China and El Salvador, where malaria had long been endemic, no local transmission of malaria was reported in 2017, proof that intensive, country-led control efforts can succeed in reducing the risk people face from the disease.

In 2018, WHO certified Paraguay as malaria free, the first country in the Americas to receive this status in 45 years. Three other countries – Algeria, Argentina and Uzbekistan – have requested official malaria-free certification from WHO.

India – a country that represents 4% of the global malaria burden – recorded a 24% reduction in cases in 2017 compared to 2016. Also in Rwanda, 436 000 fewer cases were recorded in 2017 compared to 2016. Ethiopia and Pakistan both reported marked decreases of more than
240 000 in the same period.

“When countries prioritize action on malaria, we see the results in lives saved and cases reduced,” says Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “WHO and global malaria control partners will continue striving to help governments, especially those with the highest burden, scale up the response to malaria.”

Domestic financing is key

As reductions in malaria cases and deaths slow, funding for the global response has also shown a levelling off, with US$ 3.1 billion made available for control and elimination programmes in 2017 including US$ 900 million (28%) from governments of malaria endemic countries.  The United States of America remains the largest single international donor, contributing US$ 1.2 billion (39%) in 2017.

To meet the 2030 targets of the global malaria strategy, malaria investments should reach at least US$6.6 billion annually by 2020 – more than double the amount available today.

 

Source: NAN

Ghanaian entrepreneurs are making fortunes, selling sachet soup, known as “Shito’’ at the ongoing Lagos International Trade Fair.

A News correspondent at the fair reports that many women were seen on Wednesday besieging the Ghana stand at the fair, to buy Shito, packaged in 500 grammes and selling for N1, 000 per sachet.

Queuing to buy the soup, a banker, Mrs Tessy Imagoro, said the already made soup had saved her from having to be making soup after her daily office work on the Lagos Island.

“The soup in sachet saves time for me from going to the kitchen to make soup after my busy schedule daily. I like this innovation,’’ she said.

Her colleague, Mrs Taiye Odu, described the soup as creative, saying that she had never seen that kind of innovation before.

“I am buying the soup because I see others buying it. Since it can be kept in freezer and microwaved later, I think it can save a lot time.

A business woman, Mrs Nneka Williams, said she bought the soup out of curiosity and that she planned to start making a similar delicacy to deliver to Nigerians, who might be interested in such delicacies.

“The idea looks good. I want to look at the possibility of introducing it to a larger segment of the Nigerian consumer market,’’ she said.

The Ghanaian maker of the soup, Mr David Amoah, said that the soup was patronized mostly by corporate women, whom she said, hardly found time to go to the kitchen after their daily chores.

“The sachet soup is moving more than I anticipated. I never knew that Nigerian women would be so interested in Ghana soup.

“The soup is already cooked with ingredients and there is no need to cook it any longer. It can be eaten hot or cold,’’ Amoah said.

The soup is packaged in red sachets with description of its contents as pepper, tomato, onion, fish, crayfish and sauce.

 

Source: Premium Times

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