President of Ghana‎, Nana Akufo-Addo‎ has stressed that Nigeria needs to get it’s policy formulation and implementation right, by necessitating value addition, particularly in the oil sector.
 
Akufo-Addo, who was guest speaker at the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN 46th annual general meeting and lecture in Lagos, with the theme; “Mainstreaming Policies To Catalyze Industrial Renaissance”, was represented by Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Senior minister of Ghana, noted that Nigeria as a big brother to other African countries, need to lead in the area of policies that would make Africa economically sufficient and self-sustaining.
 
‎”Our lazy approach of always rushing to the international market to sell our resources in their raw state which fetch us peanuts must stop. It is far better to leave our resources untapped till our future generations rise up to the challenge and conscientiously develop the best policy-mix that prioritises industrialization as the most convenient cause to drive the much needed effects in our socio-economic development”.
 
‎”Why should Nigeria find it difficult to maximize the fruit of their oil industry for the benefit of her people? Our policies must of necessity move in the direction of value addition – i.e. processing of our raw materials.‎ It is all a function of how defective we have developed the appropriate policy framework to support institutionalization of mechanisms that effectively trigger a more holistic and functional industrialization policy and drive”.
 
Akufo-Addo also added that beyond policies, Africa needs to have the right economic pilots and advisory council and end an era where weak‎ boards are appointed to run strategic economic positions.
 
‎”One other challenge we face in our industrial thinking is our inability to forge and institute a strong and relevant corporate governance culture, systems and processes to drive the purpose, strategy and the vision of our business models. This often lead to the creation of weak, irrelevant boards of governors who are active and rubber stamping of what has been so determined rather than giving a strong and effective responses to counter decisions that are not in the interest of the organizational development”.
 
“Having effective policy alone is not enough. We should have men and women of substance who are resolute and driven by results and understand the policy framework guiding the business environment to play their effective advisory roles for our investment. Let us therefore begin to be circumspect with those we put at the helm of affairs as board members to advise us on the productive application of our investment”.
 
The Ghanaian ‎President did not fail to address the trade issues affecting Africa in general, while mentioning models that could propel the African continent to economic viability.
 
‎”Africa has a population of about 1.3 billion people. Yet our combined GDP is about $2.2 trillion. When we compare to USA with a population of about 328 million people with a GDP of about $18.3 trillion. Same with Europe with a population of about 743 million and a GDP of about $17.3 trillion. By population, Africa is about 4 times that of the USA. Yet, USA’s GDP is about 8times that of Africa. Yet, we are the most endowed continent on earth.
 
“This means that Africa must begin to trade among ourselves concentrating on areas of comparative advantage. We must begin to break the trade barriers among ourselves and form alliances with the various countries Associations of Industries and Chambers of Commerce of the various countries. Through these associations, we may get to know the needs of the various countries and where they are opportunities of trade”.
 
On the ‎Africa Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Akufo-Addo maintained that, the agreement is “critical to our economic development especially its ability to boost private sector multinational businesses within the framework of Public-Private Partnerships in a free movement of goods, services and people”. But, “it is important that we do not rush into taking decisions that will not have the buy-in from all critical stakeholders who drive business growth in Africa”.
 
‎”I welcome the organizers of the AfCFTA to adopt the bold strategy to undertake a wider consultation with all stakeholders in the massive sensitization and road show programme across Africa, and I am happy that this activity is done in consultation with and within the framework of the African Union Commission of Trade and Industry”, he maintained.
 
“Once we get both inter- and intra-Africa trade, investment and industrialization policy mix on the right tangent, we stand the chance of leading the new frontier to affect global industrial decisions for the interest of our people”.
 
 
Source: The Ripples
The Chinese Government has expressed readiness to invest N2.16 trillion ($60 billion) in Africa in the next three years.
 
The Consul-General of the People’s Republic of China in Lagos, Mr Chao Xiaoliang disclosed this in a post-summit article entitled, “FOCAC Beijing Summit: A New Milestone in China-Africa Relations”.
 
Chao said the new investment drive was one of the outcomes of the just concluded summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation(FOCAC).
 
He said China would also in the next three collaborate with African countries in industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, healthcare, people-to-people, peace and security.
 
“President Xi Jinping has announced that China will launch eight major initiatives in close collaboration with African countries in the next three years.
 
“The eight initiatives are in areas of industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, health care, people-to-people, peace and security.
 
“To make sure these eight initiatives are implemented, China will extend 60 billion U.S. dollars (N2.16 trillion) financing to Africa in different forms which includes 15 billion U.S. dollars (N5.4 trillion) grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans.
 
“China will also encourage Chinese companies to invest more than 10 billion U.S. dollars (N3.6 trillion) in Africa in the coming three years,’’ he said.
 
According to him, China and African countries are destined to be good friends, good brothers and good partners.
 
Chao said that the Chinese government had also planned to set up ten Luban vocational workshops and an China-Africa innovation cooperation centres for youth innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa.
 
“There will also be a tailor-made programme to train 1000 Africans, as well as offer of 50,000 government scholarships to Africans.
 
“There will also be training opportunities for 50, 000 Africans through workshops and seminars and 2000 exchange opportunities for African youth,’’ he said.
 
Chao said the Summit was attended by President Muhammadu Buhari, 49 other Heads of State and Government, African Union (AU) Commission’s Chairperson and more than 240 Ministerial representatives from 53 African countries.
 
The consul-general said the meeting between Presidents Xi Jinping and Muhammadu Buhari at the summit, ended with the signing of more bilateral cooperation agreements between China and Nigeria.
 
He added: “We are confident that the FOCAC Beijing Summit and the meeting between the two Presidents will bring new opportunities for the comprehensive development of China-Nigeria strategic partnership.
 
“FOCAC Beijing Summit has set a new milestone for China-Africa relations. China with Nigeria and other African countries are ready to join hands to build a China-Africa community.
 
“A community with a shared future that features joint responsibility, win-win cooperation, happiness for all, common cultural prosperity,
common security, and harmonious co-existence.’’
 
 
Source: PMNEWSNIGERIA

The use of non-biomedical methods to treat mental disorders in developing countries, like Ghana, has long been acknowledged. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that about 80% of people who need mental health care in developing countries go to indigenous or faith healers for care.

Some studies have been done to explain the popular use of non-biomedical health care alternatives, and various reasons have been suggested. These include an alignment of the illness beliefs of patients and healers, easier or more flexible accessibility, and cost.

But many of these studies of non-biomedical health care systems in Africa tend to assess the healers as one homogeneous group of practitioners. In our study, we argued that different types of healers may hold different worldviews. These in turn influence how they conceptualise or think about different disorders.

We conducted interviews with 36 participants from four different categories of non-biomedical healers in Ghana’s capital Accra. The categories of healers were herbalists, Pentecostal Christian faith healers, traditional medicine men (also called shrine priests) and Muslim clerics/healers.

Using case vignettes, we examined the healers’ notions about three different types of mental disorders – schizophrenia, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We examined their ideas about the nature and perceived effects of the different disorders, as well as their thoughts on the causes.

Understanding the different beliefs about different disorders is important in efforts to improve mental health care in developing countries. In particular, with increased calls for collaboration between biomedical and non-biomedical health care systems, it’s important to understand how the different groups of healers think about different conditions.

Different views on different conditions

Our data suggest that indigenous and faith healers’ views on psychotic illness were similar to biomedical notions. But they held different views on depression and PTSD. These views were fluid, and obviously influenced the choice of treatments they offered patients.

All the healers readily identified the case vignette of schizophrenia as an example of mental disorder. This was often described as “madness” by the healers. Some local names that the healers used included “abɔdam”, “εdam” and “sεkε”. These names are often used to describe people whose behaviour is perceived as disruptive, disorganised or overtly dysfunctional.

Although the participants believed spiritual factors like witchcraft and curses could cause such a condition, they were also aware that certain physiological processes (such as traumatic brain injury) as well as abuse of drugs and alcohol could account for it. They all considered it to be a severe condition which required urgent intervention.

So for this psychotic disorder there weren’t major differences in the views of the various categories of healers, and their views were similar to biomedical understanding of psychotic disorders.

But this wasn’t the case for all the disorders.

For example, most of the healers were quite firm in their views that post-traumatic stress disorder was not a mental disorder. Rather, they considered it to be a normal reaction to a traumatic experience. The healers thus endorsed more psychosocial explanations for PTSD.

Depending on their orientation, they described different causes for the symptoms of PTSD. For example, pastors, described PTSD as being due to the presence of a “spirit of fear”. Some herbalists also believed the symptoms were physiological manifestations of “thinking too much”.

Given these different notions of cause, their recommended treatments also varied. However, all the participants emphasised the need for some form of counselling. In most cases, the healers believed that PTSD could develop into full-blown “madness” (ie disruptive/psychotic behaviours) if left untreated.

There was a great deal of difference between the healers when it came to depression. Most of the herbalists had physiological explanations for the symptoms and did not consider depression to be a mental disorder. For their part, the traditional medicine men viewed depression as a milder form of mental illness. Some pastors did identify the condition as depression, while the Muslim clerics saw it as potentially resulting from Jinn possession.

As expected, the recommended treatments were based on the identified cause. For instance, the herbalists mostly recommended treating the underlying physiological condition through herbal remedies. The pastors advocated biomedical care as well as spiritual interventions like prayer and fasting.

Collaborating

In many African countries traditional and faith healers are viewed as community leaders and their views are likely to reflect those of their patients. Consequently, biomedical professionals who treat patients who are also seeking help from indigenous and faith healers, would benefit from understanding the different beliefs about different disorders. This can then form an important part of clinical training and practice.

In addition to this, the healers’ positions of influence within their communities is a unique opportunity to enhance the reintegration and monitoring of patients once they return to their communities. Their influence can also play a key role in fostering patient behaviour change and treatment compliance, as well as eliminating stigma.

But this can be done only through appropriate collaboration with community-based healers. It can only work effectively if there’s an appreciation of the different views of different healers. Understanding this diversity of approach may be crucial in developing a framework for collaboration amongst different types of healers (including biomedical practitioners) to improve mental health care.The Conversation

Lily Kpobi, PhD Student, Department of Psychology, Stellenbosch University and Leslie Swartz, Distinguished Professor, Stellenbosch University

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

During the visit of the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel to Nigeria, Volkswagen took the opportunity to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the presence of both the Chancellor and His Excellency, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja to develop a joint vision for an automotive hub in that country. The Head of Volkswagen Sub-Saharan Region, Thomas Schaefer signed the agreement on behalf of Volkswagen with the Nigeria’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okey Enelamah.
 
The Volkswagen Brand thus took the next step in expanding its influence and presence in Sub-Saharan Africa. This comes a day after the signing of the MoU in Ghana in the presence of Chancellor Merkel and Vice President of Ghana, Mahamudu Bawumia whereby Volkswagen committed to set up a vehicle assembly and conduct a detailed feasibility study for the development of an integrated Mobility Solution in Ghana.
 
In the MoU, Volkswagen undertakes to implement a phased approach in relation to the assembly of vehicles, initially from assembly kits with the long term view of establishing Nigeria as an automotive hub on the West Coast of Africa. This will include establishing a training academy in conjunction with the German Government, which will train the initial employees. The academy will also provide broader technical training in automotive skills. It is also intended that a comprehensive Volkswagen vehicle and service network is developed in the country subject to commercial viability.
 
In turn the Nigerian Government undertakes to accelerate the approval of the Nigerian Automotive Policy, currently under consideration. This includes the gradual transition from the importation of used cars to the manufacture and distribution of new passenger vehicles.
 
The Government has committed to providing a conducive legislative environment that will encourage the manufacturing of motor vehicles in Nigeria.
 
Nigeria’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okey Enelamah, who signed on behalf of his government, said: “The MoU is a major step in our walk towards the development of the automotive industry to achieve its potential contribution to the continuous economic development of the country.”
 
“We believe in the strategic and catalytic role of the automotive industry in the diversification of the Nigerian economy and we remain committed to encouraging and partnering with relevant stakeholders, especially investors and friends of Nigeria. Our overall objective is to restore assembly and develop local content, thereby creating employment, acquiring technology and reducing pressure on the country’s balance of payment, ” added Dr. Enelamah
 
Thomas Schaefer commented: “This week Volkswagen has been able to demonstrate with conviction that it is serious about its intentions in Sub-Saharan Africa. We are well placed to become a dominant player in Africa, as the continent continues to stabilise and develop economically, as the last frontier for the automotive industry.”
 
Volkswagen has a fully-fledged manufacturing facility in South Africa, and assembles vehicles in Kenya, Algeria as well as in Rwanda, in conjunction with an Integrated Mobility Solution offering Community Car Sharing and shortly to be launched Ride Hailing.
 
Under its TRANSFORM 2025+ brand strategy, Volkswagen is strengthening the regions and focusing on new up-and-coming markets. Alongside North and South America as well as China, the Sub-Sahara region plays an increasingly important role. Although the African automotive market is comparatively small today, the region could develop into an automotive growth market of the future.
 
Volkswagen will continue to grow its importer network in Sub-Saharan Africa and explore other opportunities for growth and development. As a next step, exploratory talks are being held with the Government of Ethiopia.
 
“We are only starting with our initiatives in Africa and will continue to develop sales and service networks where applicable. We are also looking at future assembly locations to determine if the markets have the potential and the necessary policy frameworks to be developed, to accommodate vehicle assembly,” added Schaefer.
 
Thomas Schaefer is also the President of the Association of African Automobile Manufacturers and stated in his capacity as the President that he believed that it was important that a Pan African Auto pact be developed to promote and grow a connected Auto Industry in Africa.
 
“Africa’s time is now and with good alignment between the African countries with automotive aspirations we can create intra African trade and a Win-Win situation for all,” concluded Schaefer.
 
 
Source: Vanguard
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.

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