Saturday, 26 September 2009

WHEN WILL THE NEGATIVE-TYPES STOP CARPING AT THE MILLS REGIME?




It appears that our nation abounds with negative types. A prime example being the “Civvy-Street-Carpers” – who were carping recently at the current regime: for planning to purchase some US$680 millions worth of military hardware for the Ghana Armed Forces. What those complaining-types forget, when they question why “a nation that is not at war” and “which has no intention of going to war” (to paraphrase one such group of super-clever Ghanaians in the Ghanaian media) is planning to spend so much equipping its military, is that many peaceful nations around the globe, such as Switzerland, Sweden, and Austria, arm themselves to the teeth, for a simple reason: They understand perfectly, the importance of being in a position to deter and repulse attacks, from belligerent regimes: which might suddenly appear at their doorstep, and decide to wage war on them, someday – in order to divert the attention of their citizens from problems at home.



Perhaps such Ghanaians do not realize that we live in a largely-hostile sub-region – full of malevolent regimes that whiles professing friendship with our country, secretly wish us ill: simply because we are a successful democracy whose citizens enjoy personal liberties unheard of, in much of West Africa. As far as some of us are concerned, the US $680 millions is rather too small – and we ought to be spending close to some US$2 billions: and adding unmanned drones with cameras and missiles on board, to enable us have 24/7 capability to deal effectively with intruders on our continental shelf (with evil-intent), keen to sabotage our oil and natural gas industries. We must never allow any group, or warlords with greedy ambitions, to harm our nascent oil and gas industries, ever – and to make sure that that never happens, the current regime ought to provide our navy with at least one submarine, enough fast patrol boats, and an appropriate number of oil tankers. It must also pass a law that will make it mandatory for all oil from Ghana to be exported in the holds of oil tankers, belonging to the Ghana Navy.



We must also ensure that a law is also passed that will make it mandatory for helicopters of the Ghana Air Force to be the only aircraft allowed to ferry men and equipment for all oil rigs operating off our coastline, that are sited on our continental shelf (and at international industry rates for such services). Above all, a law must also be passed that makes it mandatory for all foreign companies in the Ghanaian oil industry supply-services sub-sector, to have Ghanaian partners: before they can operate legally in our country – and make sure that our country benefits as much as is possible from the oil and natural gas industries, that way, too. We must stop merely admonishing Ghanaian businesspeople to prepare for the coming oil boom – and act positively by passing the necessary legislation to empower them to take the “commanding heights” of the industry (to use General Kutu Acheampong’s, famous phrase of economic empowerment!).



Well, dear reader, after hearing so many inanities this week, about how to grow our tourism industry, I guess that even an ignoramus and a buffoon like me, is allowed to humbly make a few suggestions, to the current regime – as my “widow’s mite” contribution to growing Ghana’s tourism industry: To begin with, may I suggest that we must ensure that in addition to “Zoil Ghana Limited” cleaning up our beaches, all the roads leading to tourism sites in Ghana, are turned into first class roads: as soon as it is practicable to do so? A dear friend from Scranton-Pennsylvania, USA, who will not be returning to Ghana anytime soon, because of the atrocious infrastructure (lack of potable water nationwide, and the erratic electric power supply across the country, that she encountered whiles here last February and March!), was indeed appalled by the poor state of the roads in our country.



Hopefully, when our political class finally cottons on to the fact that the more roads Ghana builds, the quicker will those roads fill up with smoke-belching and gas-guzzling vehicles (mostly imported scraped vehicles from the various developed world “cash-for-clunkers” programmes, designed to get their citizens to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles), they will begin to see the logic of borrowing billions from China (and issuing them with our sovereign bonds as insurance of payment), and setting up joint-ventures between the Ghana Railways Company and the best-resourced state-owned Chinese railway construction companies: to enable Ghana build (and operate rail passenger and freight services on ) railways to all the regional and district capitals throughout Ghana.



As we shall soon be celebrating World Tourism Day here, I do hope that the ministry for tourism will consider inviting Mr. Brain Mullis, of the renowned US responsible travel entity, Sustainable Travel International (STI), to help them “green” Ghana’s tourism industry (as well as corporate Ghana, generally!). Ditto inviting Mr. Peter Richards, of the Community-based Eco-tourism Institute of Changmai University in Thailand, to help universities in Ghana to set up similar institutes to provide our tourism industry with professionals who really understand what the responsible travel industry, actually is. For what its worth, I also do think that if we got our military (and other military forces in West Africa) to design a route for an annual West African safari rally, in which there will be separate competitions (running at the same time!) for both civilian and military teams (made up of competing vehicles from military forces around the world!), which will start and finish in Ghana, we can get Ghana tourism on the world map, that way (as well as promote West Africa as a multi-nation destination, too!) .



Finally, yet another simple but effective idea, would be for the president of Ghana to invite the two gentlemen (the policeman and the professor – who joined US President Barack Obama, in the White House gardens for a “beer summit”) at the centre of the infamous Harvard University “wrongful arrest” case: in which an African-American Harvard professor was arrested for breaking into his home, when he misplaced the keys to his own house, to Ghana – as our contribution to improving race-relations in the US? Will the global electronic media camera-teams that will follow their trip to Ghana to visit the slave-dungeons in Cape Coast and Elmina castles, as well as travel along the ancient slave-route from the north (taking in a safari at Mole National Park to see the magnificent heard of elephants there, whiles up north!), not put Ghana on the world map for zilch, dear reader? One certainly hopes that those put in charge of the tourism ministry will listen to such commonsense advice – and above all invite Mr. John Mason (the brilliant Canadian-Ghanaian head of the Nature Conservation Research Centre - NCRC) and Mrs. Gifty Kwansa, of the Ghana Tourist Board (GTB), to become their special advisers on responsible tourism in Ghana: as they are amongst the most knowledgeable on the subject, in Ghana? A word to the wise…



Tel (powered by Tigo – the one mobile phone network in Ghana that actually works!): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109 & the not-so-hot and clueless Vodafone wireless smartphone: + 233 (0) 21 976238.


SHOULD EX-PRESIDENT KUFUOR BE GIVEN THE MO IBRAHIM PRIZE?


I am quite sure that Mr. Mo Ibrahim, the Sudanese billionaire businessman, was being altruistic, when he set up the prize that in effect is a generous pension fund, designed to encourage African leaders to strive to run open and accountable regimes, whiles in power. However, there are also cynics who will say that there is no better strategy for an African billionaire businessperson with diverse business interests, looking for easy access to the corridors of power across the continent (to ensure the success of projects in which he or she has an interest in), to adopt, than instituting a prize of the nature of Mo Ibrahim’s prize for ex-African leaders. It is interesting that Ghana’s former leader, ex-President Kufuor is on the shortlist of ex-African leaders being considered for the prize this year.


Those in Ghana who believe that the former Ghanaian leader is deserving of the prize, cite what they say is his main legacy: keeping Ghana stable for the eight years he led the country, and his regime’s commitment to the rule of law, as the main reasons why he deserves to be given the prize. For those who think that ex-President Kufuor is undeserving of the prize, the idea that a man who led a regime, which actively used the whole machinery of state, of a modern African nation of diverse-ethnicity, to actively promote the overweening ambitions of his tribal Chief, to enable that tribal-supremacist effectively carve out a de facto state within a state, in Nkrumah’s Ghana, rules him out of contention for such a prize. They give the example of Uganda’s sudden descent into chaos (because President Museveni let out the genie of tribalism to enable him consolidate his hold on power, when he first took over Uganda, by reinstating the pre-colonial kingdoms of Uganda), as the end-game for President Kufuor’s unholy alliance with his tribal-supremacist traditional rulers, had his party succeeded in retaining power in the December 2009 presidential and parliamentary elections.


It is the reason why such Ghanaians demand that the law be changed to make the winner of a majority of the ten regions of Ghana, the winner of the presidential election – so that no Ghanaian leader will take Ghana down the dangerous path President Kufuor took our country whiles in power. They believe that when that becomes the law, no leader will have an incentive to play Kokofu-footbal (ethnic-politricks) to enable him or her build a large enough power-base, sufficient to ensure his or her re-election to the presidency. They also say that he had the historic opportunity to change the face of Ghanaian politics forever, by keeping his vow to have zero tolerance for corruption – and add that his broken promise to publicly publish his own assets, as well as that of his wife, as the mark of an insincere man who lied to gain and hold on to power. For such Ghanaians, the idea that a man, who they say made it possible for members of his family clan, his cronies, and favourite female friends, to enjoy a golden age of business: by exploiting our national economy to enable them send their individual net worth into the stratosphere, should be given a prize designed to encourage good governance in Africa is an outrage. They give the example of one of his sons winning a contract to supply electricity meters to the Energy Commission of Ghana, which enabled him to make over US$2millions in profits, as typical of the crony-capitalism that they say was our equivalent of the “Robber Baron” era of 19th century American capitalism, during the Kufuor era. Speaking personally, one simply hopes that the eminent persons who will choose the eventual winner of the Mo Ibrahim prize for African leaders, will choose someone who truly served his people whiles in power – and set a standard of leadership worth emulating throughout Africa. A word to the wise…


Tel (powered by Tigo – the one mobile phone network in Ghana that actually works!): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109 & the not-so-hot and clueless Vodafone wireless smartphone: + 233 (0) 21 976238.



Tuesday, 22 September 2009

An Open Letter To Mr. George Opesika Aggudey!


Opanin, I do not know exactly why you have opened a Convention Peoples Party (CPP) office of your own at Adabraka - near City FM. 

However, whatever it is that is your real motivation for this new project of yours, I do think it presents our great party with a unique opportunity. It is time we took a leaf from the charitable-works-page of religiously-oriented political organisations such as Hamas and Hezbollah - which help the poor by giving them practical help.

As we all know, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who was a pragmatist and was definitely not an ideologue,  believed in a mixed-economy with space in it for private entities - but only those private business entities that were underpinned by an ethos of corporate good governance principles: and which were socially and environmentally responsible as well as good corporate citizens that paid their full share of taxes.

Opanin, why do we not help dispel the widely-believed falsehood that Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkruamh was a communist: who did not approve of private enterprise - by setting up an Nkrumah Centre for Market-based Policy Initiative Alternatives (NCMPIA) in your new CPP office? 

Such a think-tank will enable the CPP to formulate creative proposals that will result in the creation of an army of young micro-entrepreneurs nationwide - by giving them the tools and resources to help them change their personal circumstances.

During the campaign for the December 2008 elections, for example, I gave the website address of a DIY solar charity in the UK, which helps poor people in the developing world to make solar products, such as: solar mobile phone battery chargers; convert lanterns into solar lanterns, make solar LED light panels, etc. etc., to the crowd who represented the CPP in that election - and lost so miserably unfortunately.

Alas, they were not successful in those elections because the people of Ghana did not believe thst they had what it took to change their lives - for, in their view, they were more or less a mere carbon-copy of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), and the National Democratic Congress (NDC). 

Sadly, the CPP's leadership did not do anything with the online sources of practical help for the poor practical that this blog gave them - and a golden opportunity to get our party to help scores of disadvantaged youth to become micro-solar entrepreneurs was lost.

Opanin, can our great party not work with organisations such as "Mini-Farms" - which teaches farmers no-till farming methods with drip irrigation: a real boon at a time of global climate change when we are experiencing prolonged drought periods, nationwide? 

Ditto Sustainable Villages Africa (SVA), and Mohammed Yunis' Graemen organisation - both of which would have made a real difference in the lives of grassroots people, countrywide: and turn them into loyal CPP party-faithful, who will gladly and willingly spread the Nkrumahist message of the creation of a caring and sharing society in our country throughout our homeland Ghana? 

I would be happy to let you have a detailed list of many such organisations - as well as volunteer my time freely, and help in the setting up of the NCMPIA. 

Unlike most people who you deal with, I do not want any of your money - as I am content with my lot. I am beholden to no one - being a man, who though cash poor, is asset-rich (something I say humbly, merely as a matter of fact, not boastfully - and only to make a point, do please note!). 

Well, as we say in local parlance: "Over to you, Joe Lartey!"


Wednesday, 16 September 2009

WHY WASTE TAXPAYERS' MONEY "BRANDING GHANA" WHEN FIXING THE REAL ECONOMY WILL DO THE TRICK?

So the Mills administration too, wants to spend our nation's scarce resources, “branding Ghana"? Typical. What other wheeze will our leaders come up with to waste taxpayers’ money, I ask, dear reader? Surely, it is not rocket science – as even a buffoon and an ignoramus like me has cottoned on to the fact that the first building block to achieving a favourable national image worldwide, is to get rid of corruption in officialdom, to begin with, by trying corrupt officials and shooting them: just as they do in China to rogues on the state’s payroll?

We can follow that up with fixing the real economy – by bringing down Ghana’s interest rate to less than 2 per cent. Then we can go on to abolish personal income tax for all Ghanaian residents, and lower our corporate tax rate to make it the lowest in the whole of the planet Earth.

Let us then dramatically increase the size of the police to about 100,000 men and women – and train them to become as effective and efficient as the best in the developed world. We can then provide each one of them with personal communication equipment – which enables them to talk to each other whiles on the move (on foot and in vehicle patrols), as well as with their stations.

After that let us provide them with four drones with cameras on board to cover the whole of Ghana 24/7, 365 days a year – so they can keep track of criminals easily from the air.
Then instead of the financial equivalent of pouring money down a black-hole, by spending zillions of hapless taxpayers’ money, paying sundry consultants to “brand Ghana” we can rather get free advertising worldwide – on countless information-providing websites about doing business around the globe: as the safest nation in Africa to live in, and the nation with the lowest corporate tax rate, in the whole wide world: and boost our national image, perpetually, that way!

What is it about politicians that makes them want to spin their way out of problems – instead of finding practical and sensible real-world solutions to our country’s many problems? Hmmm, Ghana – eyeasem oo! Asem ebaba debi ankasa!


Tel (powered by Tigo – the one mobile phone network in Ghana that actually works!): +233 (0) 27 745 3109 7 the not-so-hot and clueless Vodafone wireless smartphone: + 233 (0) 21 976238.

BRAVO, SAM JONAH - TSATSU TSIKATA DESERVES PRAISE INDEED!

Mr. Sam Jonah is right to praise Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata – but with respect, it is not enough merely for Ghanaians to praise Tsatsu: and leave it at that.

Perhaps our many brilliant economists could also tell us, whether our country's economy would collapse, if the government was visionary enough to put him in charge of a task force, to facilitate the setting up of a new state-owned oil giant – by merging the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), the state-owned oil marketing company Ghana Oil Company Limited (GOIL), and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), with a view to enabling Ghana refine all the oil it produces?

Naturally, it would also make sense to set up gas liquefaction plants too – to enable us export a broad range of petroleum products (including liquefied gas) throughout Africa: starting with West Africa.

If the new oil giant were to be structured so that the management and workers owned 20 per cent of the company, whiles the government and Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) took up 60 per cent of the shares (and converted the TOR debt to GCB into stock in the new company, that way!), and 20 per cent was floated on the Ghana Stock Exchange, for ordinary citizens wishing to invest in the new company to do so, would it not ensure maximum productivity and good management, dear reader?

By going into joint-venture partnerships with the best-resourced Chinese state-owned oil and natural gas companies, which are world class and class-leading in their individual sectors in China, could we not empower the new oil giant to build additional oil refineries, sufficient to enable Ghana refine every drop of oil it produces (ditto natural gas) – so that we can actually derive maximum benefit from that gift of nature: and use the money we make to help transform our country into an African equivalent of the egalitarian societies of Scandinavia?

Surely, Ghane could pay for all the new refinery plants by giving China our soveriegn bonds - redeemable against future oil and natural gas revenues?

Bravo Mr. Jonah - Tsatsu Tsikata does indeed deserve to be praised for his contribution to strengthening the GNPC.


Tel (powered by Tigo – the one mobile phone network in Ghana that actually works!): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

GHANA’S FINANCIAL SERVICES SECTOR – A SMOKE-AND-MIRRORLAND FULL OF CROOKS?


I couldn't help smiling, as I read an article entitled: “Ghana’s financial sector heads for crisis”, which appeared in the business section of the general news web-page of www.ghanaweb.com of Tuesday, 15 September 2009. Unfortunately, the Byzantine world of Ghana's financial services sector is said to be full of "insider-dealing" rogues - and apparently even little school children in Ghana are said to be aware of the incestuous relationships that exist between some regulators and many industry players.


As a wag once said: "There is no self-respecting ex-central bank governor in this country who does not either own a bank, or has a significant stake, in one. It is an intolerable situation, really!" Sadly, most of our financial services sector is a murky world in which ethics and corporate good governance principles are total strangers to many who work in it. In comparison to those ever-so-respectable hypocritical rogues in our financial services sector, the greedy and double-dealing moguls in Wall Street and elsewhere in the financial capitals of the Western world are veritable saints.


The Titans in the industry benefited mightily (in the zillions in fat fees that they earned as "transaction advisers") from the massive debt piled up by the Kufuor regime - as the perfidious Kufuor & Co. turned our democracy into a kleptocracy: and proceeded to milk our country dry, in order to send the personal net worth of the favoured tribal-supremacist princes and princesses of Kufuor's golden age of business (naturally, strictly for the family and friends of our then Hypocrite-in-Chief!), into the stratosphere.


Although it’s hard to believe, there are even persistent rumours that depositors’ money in some mutual funds was tapped to fund the electioneering campaign in the December 2008 election! Hmm, Ghana, eyeasem oo - esem ebaba debi ankasa! May God bless and protect our homeland Ghana, always. Long live freedom! Long live Ghana!


Tel (powered by Tigo - the one mobile phone network in Ghana that actually works!): + 233 (0)27 745 3109 & the not-so-hot Vodafone wireless smartphone: + 233 (0) 21 976238.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

CAN OUR MANY BRILLIANT ECONOMISTS EVER DARE TO THINK THE UNTHINKABLE?

I do not know who the best five economists are in Ghana, but I have often wondered just what would happen to our nation's economy if certain policies were adopted by any radical regime in our country. What calamity would befall Ghana, for example, if such a regime were to lower taxes to the level that made Ghana the nation with the lowest rate of taxation for businesses, anywhere on the planet Earth? Surely that would make our country a very attractive place to invest in to access the African market for all kinds of goods and services, would it not? Would many of those who currently evade taxes not have a conscience and start paying their taxes and contributing to our country's development positively, too, one wonders?

Would our economy grind to a halt, for example, if the interest rate in Ghana was lowered to say 1.5 per cent? Would one be wrong in assuming that it would lead to faster growth of the national economy - as small and medium-sized businesses borrowed to expand their businesses: once the present usury rates become a thing of the past? Would the jobs they created as those small and medium-sized enterprises expanded not be real jobs, dear reader? Perhaps some of our clever economists could also tell an ignoramus like me precisely what catastrophe would befall our nation if personal income tax were to be abolished - and if that would not attract many of the businesses that locate their African headquarters in places like South Africa to relocate to Nkrumah's Ghana instead.

Would the abolition of personal income tax also not immediately put money into the pockets of zillions of Ghanaians, I wonder, dear reader - and make it possible for President Mills to tell Ghanaians that he did fulfill his campaign promise to put money into the pockets of Ghanaians, in December 2012? If our many brilliant economists would also step out of the shadow of conventional economic thinking for once, and think the unthinkable, just as the leaders of the capitalist nations of the West did (by pumping trillions of dollars taxpayers' money into private entities in partial nationalizations that saved their economies from melting down), would they perhaps not make our nation's real economy actually prosper: and impact the quality of life of the ordinary citizens of Ghana, for once - and end the "Kweku-Ananse-economics" that sees politicians churning out impressive figures about our economic perfomance, whiles the quality of life and living standards of ordinary Ghanaian plummets in inverse proportion to increases in our GDP growth rate figures? The question is: Will they ever have the courage think creatively outside the box, ever, dear reader ? Hmmm, Ghana - eyeasem oo: asem ebaba debi ankasa!

Telephone (powered by Tigo - the one mobile phone network in Ghana that actually works!): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109 & the not-so-hot and clueless Vodafone wireless smartphone: + 233 (0) 21 976238.

PUBLICLY PUBLISH YOUR ASSETS NOW, MR. PRESIDENT!


So our president says he will not spare any corrupt officials? Well, to be really credible, President Mills must publicly publish the assets of himself, and that of his wife - and then order all the ministers, and district chief executives, and their spouses, to do same. That will put clear blue-water between him and the gentleman who preceded him as Ghana's president.


After that he must ensure that Parliament quickly passes a new law to make that standard practice in our nation's political life, henceforth. Then we will all know that he is really committed to fighting corruption in Ghana. Perhaps the question we should ask is: If the president is serious about not sparing corrupt officials, when precisely then does he intend to ask Ghana's Attorney General to prosecute Alhaji Muntaka, the former minister for youth and sports - who did not know the dividing line between expenses to do with the performance of his official duties and that of his personal household expenses: and also had the gall to use taxpayers' money to fund a trip to Germany by his girlfriend?


As we found out to our collective cost from our bitter experience with ex-President Kufour (who despite his many empty and hypocritical words about fighting corruption, actually superintended the transformation of our democracy into a kleptocracy - simply to enable him, the members of his family clan, his favourite traditional rulers, and his cronies to send their personal net worth into the stratosphere: by exploiting our national economy to the hilt), it is with deeds, not mere platitudes, that one wins the fight against corruption in Ghana.


That is why it so essential that President Mills makes the prosecution of Alhaji Muntaka, the former minister for youth and sports, a priority - and his prosecution must start as soon as it is practical to do so. That way, we will all be reassured that the Mills regime will not turn out to a MK11 version of the super-corrupt Kufuor era. A word to the wise...


Telephone (powered by Tigo - the one mobile phone network in Ghana that actaully works!): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109 & the not-so-hot and clueless Vodafone wireless smartphone: + 233 (0) 21 976238.

SHOULD GHANA NOT PARTNER HIM?



Below, dear reader, is an article a dear friend from Scranton, Pennsylvania, emailed to me. After reading it, I could not help wondering if Ghana would not have been better off spending some of the over US$175 millions, which the previous regime used to build that chi-chi presidential palace complex with a leaky roof, partnering this inventor to perfect his new water purification system, instead - especially as we will doubtless opt to build a spanking new green capital city, bang in the centre of Ghana, someday, when we have sufficient funds: and can afford to build one? Read on - and judge for yourself!

Culled from CNN.com:

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) -- If you listen to inventor Dean Kamen, the biggest health problem facing the world today is not AIDS, obesity or malnutrition. It's a shortage of water.

Dean Kamen hopes to tackle the world's fresh water shortage with the Slingshot, a water purifying device.

Dean Kamen hopes to tackle the world's fresh water shortage with the Slingshot, a water purifying device.

Water is the most abundant resource on the planet, yet less than one percent of the Earth's freshwater supply is readily available to drink, according to the World Health Organization. Lack of accessible or clean drinking water, exacerbated by drought, is crippling communities in many developing countries.

"In your lifetime, my lifetime, we will see water be a really scarce, valuable commodity," Kamen says.

Those are scary words from the man whose creations include the Segway personal motorized scooter and the Luke (as in Skywalker) prosthetic arm. But the forward-thinking inventor and his team at DEKA Research in Manchester, New Hampshire, aren't sitting around waiting for the world's wells to dry up.

They've been working on an invention they say can tap into 97 percent of the world's undrinkable water.

It's called the Slingshot, and it's a portable, low energy machine that is designed to purify water in remote villages where there's not a Wal-Mart in sight. The device takes its name from a well-known story.

"We believe the world needs a slingshot to take care of its Goliath of a problem in water," Kamen says. "So we decided to build a small machine and give it to the little Davids."

Perhaps you've heard about the Slingshot, which Kamen has been working on for more than 10 years. Over that time it has turned dirty river water, ocean water and even raw sewage into pure drinking water. Kamen says it can turn anything that looks wet, or has water in it, into the "stuff of life."

The magic behind the Slingshot is a "vapor compression distiller" that stands between what looks like two empty fish tanks connected by a couple of hoses. One tank contains the contaminated liquid, the other is for the newly clean water. Video Watch Kamen demonstrate the Slingshot »

The Slingshot boils, distills and vaporizes the polluted source, in turn delivering nothing but clean water to the other side. And it does it all on less electricity than it takes to run a hair dryer.

In summer 2006, Kamen delivered two Slingshots to the small community of Lerida in Honduras. They were used for a month and Kamen says everything ran as planned.

"The machine worked very well down there, taking virtually any water that the people from that village brought to us," he says. "All the water that we got from the machine was absolutely pure water."

But there's a problem. Kamen says each Slingshot costs his company several hundred thousand dollars to build. He's looking to partner with companies and organizations to distribute Slingshots around the world, but says a little more engineering work needs to be done in order to lower the production costs.

Kamen says the company would like to get the price down to about $2,000 per machine.

"The biggest challenge right now between this being a dream and a reality is getting committed people that really care about the state of the world's health to get involved," Kamen says.

The world's population is quickly approaching 7 billion, making access to clean water that much more important. According to the World Health Organization and UNICEF, more than 3.5 million people die every year from water-related diseases and almost 900 million don't have access to a safe water supply.

Kamen says people in developing regions of the world need the Slingshot as soon as possible. He also thinks the problem with polluted water will spread beyond small villages.

He says one Slingshot machine can supply about 250 gallons of water a day, which is enough for 100 people. That's a lot of Davids.

"It is literally like turning lead into gold," he says. "But I believe it's more important, because you can't drink lead or gold."

Friday, 11 September 2009

YES, MANY AFRICAN POLITICIANS DO INDEED ENVY GHANA!


Massa, I found your article of 11th September, 2009 entitled: “Are Nigerian Ministers insecure and envious of Ghana?” that appeared in the general news web-page of www.ghanaweb.com a most interesting read. Sadly, Nigeria is not the only African nation amongst whose ruling elite one can find politicians who happen to envy Ghana. It is a widespread problem that exists in many nations all over Africa – and it exists wherever good governance is mostly absent and the ruling elite happen to be largely corrupt, brutal, and super-repressive.



Personally, I count my blessings every day that I am a Ghanaian – as I am pretty certain that an irreverent writer with trenchant views like mine would have been bumped off ages ago, if I lived elsewhere in Africa. The corrupt and repressive ones amongst the leadership of nations such as: Sudan, Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast, Togo, Niger, The Gambia, etc. etc. do indeed envy our country – and some of them are veritable sources of the many and varied powerful weaponry we see being deployed by criminals in the north of Ghana (who are largely responsible for the violence that erupts there from time to time).



Our secret services had better wake up to this latent threat to the stability of our nation – instead of constantly focusing on perceived political opponents of governments of day: as they are wont to do. One often wonders if they are even aware of the fact that the Ivorian soldiers in the northern part of the Ivory Coast, have used parts of the north of Ghana, for their rest-and-recreation for years – ever since they rebelled from the central government of that sister nation on our western border.



One certainly looks forward to the day when the Ghana Armed Forces will have at least four drones with cameras on board to monitor the borders of the landmass and territorial waters of our homeland Ghana, round the clock (and also take photographs of people rioting in all corners of our country – for the subsequent identification and prosecution of such lawless elements). A word to the wise…



Telephone (powered by Tigo – the one mobile phone network in Ghana that actually works!): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109 & the not-so-hot and clueless Vodafone wireless smartphone: + 233 (0) 21 976238.





Wednesday, 9 September 2009

AN EMAIL TO A DEAR FRIEND!

Pity, Graham - I was counting on him taking the project forward. There is something in the make-up of the average Ghanaian that makes him or her prefer to deal with lighter-hued people – and the DIY solar project idea would have been a roaring success as a result of that: as people would have bent over backwards to help him. Sadly, at the moment, the womenfolk of Akim Abuakwa Juaso are much keener on working for a surface gold mining entity – than empowering themselves with knowledge about operating a green micro-enterprise in the renewable energy sector. That is why they have not taken up the DIY solar idea, yet. However, one lives in hope.



As it happens, my family happens to be the biggest landowners there (please note that I say that only in a matter-of-fact fashion, not boastfully) – and to counter the baleful influence, and unwelcome intrusion of the surface gold miners, into our lives, we are gearing up to use eco-tourism to preserve our part of that marvelous gift of nature to humankind. We have set up the P. E. Thompson Nature Resource Reserve (PETNRR) as a tool for conservation – by opening up our large and pristine private rain forest to the public: as a community-based eco-tourism destination for lovers of nature, birdwatchers, extreme-hikers, tree-spotters, bird-watchers, researchers, etc. etc.



The DIY solar idea will begin to make sense to the villagers when the eco-tourism starts bringing in wealth to the area – and they realize that preserving that beautiful part of our country, rather than pandering to the whims of wealthy and selfish surface gold miners, as well as engaging in the rampant illegal logging that goes on daily there, will give them a better standard of living, and a better quality of life, too. Unfortunately, as a result of the endemic poverty of the area’s cocoa farmers, the surface gold mining company, Sola Mining, has succeeded in buying a vast swathe of farmland from the inhabitants of the village, and is busy raping Mother Nature there - even though, incredibly, it does not even have a mining permit from the EPA.



Our off-reserve land is part of the Atiwa Range upland evergreen rain forest (and part of it also lies within the government's forest reserve) an internationally recognized biodiversity hotspot. The surface miners have even bought the farmland of our immediate neighbours, the traditional authorities of Akim Abuakwa Jauso – although they are currently operating in the foothills of the Atiwa Range. Amazingly, they have actually been stopped twice from continuing to operate by the EPA – but have carried on regardless. Irritatingly, that confounded company seems to be contemptuous of the laws of the Ghanaian nation-state – a common characteristic of our largely greedy, ruthless, and thoroughly corrupt elite.



The irony in all this, Graham, is that the Paramount Chief of Akim Abuakwa, Osagyefo Amoatia 11, is known widely here (and elsewhere around the planet Earth) for championing the cause of conservation and spreading environmental awareness. It has even gained him the friendship of your Prince of Wales, HRH Prince Charles, no less. Yet, the owner of Sola Mining, a Mr. S.O. Lamptey (or is it S. O. Lartey, I wonder?), actually mentioned his name once, whiles haranguing me over the phone, for being so presumptuous as to want to halt mining in Ghana’s Eastern Region – giving one the distinct impression, that somehow, they were fast friends: and that that royal personage was obviously aware of their perfidy. If that were true, it would make him a hypocrite of the very worst sort. Hopefully, if he (or any of his many cousins) reads this, that egregious example of the disregard for the natural environment displayed daily by so many of the players in the mining sector of our nation’s economy, will be swiftly halted once and for all – if for nothing, at least just to save face, for the Okyenhene and Ofori Panin Fie.



That is Ghana for you, Graham – an apparently well-run African nation-state with a world-wide reputation for good governance. Sadly, however, beneath the patina of the peaceful and stable nation peopled by a civilized African people, possessed of a vibrant emerging economy, lies the harsh reality of a country of lawlessness and indiscipline – jam-packed with moral cowards, hypocrites, and sycophants. Quite frankly, Graham, the Okyenhenes of our country, make me sick. They are the progeny of our pre-colonial feudal ruling elites – and inherited privilege, as you and I know, is the greatest enemy of any meritocracy. They are largely responsible for much of the superstitious-ridden mambo-jambo, which underpins the retrograde mindset of so many of our people – that makes them lack self-belief, and holds our country back, so.



Yet, our nation’s founder, Osagyefo Dr, Kwame Nkrumah, had that vital ingredient of success, in such abundance. Perhaps it might interest you to know that such was the fear of his influence on Africans, that the Western powers conspired to have him overthrown (by local quislings acting in consonance with our military) on the 24th of February, 1966. This little gem from the then British High Commissioner to Ghana, a Mr. Snelling, writing a dispatch to the Foreign and Commonwealth office and the British secret service on September 15, 1961, encapsulates perfectly, the concerns of the imperialist exploiters of our continent at the time: “”His, (Nkrumah’s) knack of giving expression to the feelings of so many Africans, who are all the time rapidly becoming more politically conscious, is exasperating….We are better off without him.” One hopes that young Ghanaians will be inspired by his writing to become Africans imbued with Nkrumah’s abundant self-belief and supreme confidence in the abilities of members of the black race worldwide.



Incidentally, yet another example of just how worried the imperialist powers were about Nkrumah’s influence on the mind’s of Africans, can be gleaned from a declassified CIA memo (from a Johnson Library National Security File, Vol. 21, 3/3/66-3/20/66) to President L. B J. Johnson, written by Robert R. Kromer, Acting National Security Adviser at the time, who stated, inter alia: “The coup in Ghana is another example of a fortuitous windfall. Nkrumah was doing more to undermine or interests than any other black African. In reaction to his strongly pro-communist leanings, the new military regime is almost pathetically pro-Western.” Do note their derision for those stooges for neocolonialism who overthrew Nkrumah – in sharp contrast to their fear of Nkrumah’s intellect and influence in Africa. Lastly, let me point out that contrary to the West’s propaganda, Nkrumah was never actually a communist. Sadly for our country, most of Ghana’s post-Nkrumah leaders have been mostly of the ilk of those traitors to the black race (who run our country for the benefit of foreign exploiters after his overthrow) – who colluded with the enemies of Africa to remove that great pan-African leader from power in 1966. He will remain in the Pantheon of the greatest leaders of the world till the very end of time long after his detractors have sunk into oblivion and been forgotten. His equal has not yet been born; I am afraid. Hmmm, life…


Google: “ghanapolitics”.


Telephone (powered by Tigo - the mobile phon network in Ghana, that actually works): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109 & the not-so-hot and clueless Vodafone wireless smartfone: + 233 (0) 21 976238.


Monday, 7 September 2009

AN OPEN LETTER TO GHANA’S INSPECTOR-GENERAL OF POLICE!

Sir,


My recent interaction with some members of the Odokor Police Criminal Investigations Department (CID), has left me wondering if the Ghana Police Service as an institution, ever learnt any lessons from the many shocking revelations about the unlawful conduct of some members of the security agencies, that came to light, during the sittings of the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC), years ago – and if it did, whether those lessons have been incorporated in the training of your officers, nationwide.


Whatever be the case, Sir, you must move quickly to ensure that the members of the Odorkor Police CID are given a crash course in modern-day policing in a multi-party democracy, as soon as it is practicable to do so – if some of them are also not to appear before a similar body, years hence: going forward into the future. I was shocked by the breathtaking arrogance of a number of the officers, that I personally interacted with. One got the distinct impression that they had little regard for the poor – who as you know, constitute the bulk of those in society, who end up having to interact with those little Nazis: who appear to routinely manipulate the criminal justice system with such impunity, and seem to think are a law unto themselves. Their rudeness is simply beyond belief.


Listening to some members of the public (who were waiting to see the Odorkor Police CID and were sitting under a tree directly opposite the charge-office), I heard the story of a suspect in a rape case detained there, who I gather had been locked up in the cells of the Gbawe Police and the Odokor Police, for more than the statutory 72 hours clearly spelt out in our constitution. Apparently, he is a lad of 18 who defiled a girl of 14 – and the victim’s parent is said to be demanding GHC1000 to drop the case: and he is presumably being kept in there until his poor family cough up the GHC 1000. The question is: How come that that can be countenanced in what is supposed to be a constitutional democracy? Even I, who is neither senile nor a complete ignoramus about the law, was threatened by a lady detective – who had the gall to tell me that she did not want to "have a bad day" and would charge me for insulting all of them, if I persisted in insisting that my driver was seen to. It appears that, somehow, they feel they are above civilians – who should be like whimpering dogs: crouching with their tails between their tails, when in their presence.


Naturally, outraged by such disrespect and power-drunkenness, I was not having any of their arrogant impudence, in assuming that this was some kind of police state – in which civilians had to cower before police officers. Sir, at the very least, you must demand that all your officers treat the public with the utmost respect at all material times – and be tolerant of people, who after all, more often than not are under severe stress, when they appear before them in police stations countrywide. The idea that even I, who knows his rights, could be locked up by some power-drunk detective: who could perhaps suddenly decide to frame me up for some spurious reason, on one false charge or the other, simply because she was incensed at being “challenged” (to use local parlance) by me, has prompted me to write to you – so that such monstrous abuse of power is halted in police stations nationwide: and the many innocent Ghanaians who are not from privileged backgrounds that go to police stations in Ghana, are spared from experiencing the unspeakable horrors I experienced at the Odokor Police Station.


I do hope you will send out a strong message to all your officers – demanding that they show the public some respect, and be courteous to all Ghanaians: rich and poor alike, whenever, and wherever they encounter them. Above all, Sir, you should arrange to have officers in disguise appearing as suspects in as many police stations as possible throughout Ghana, to see how widespread is the abuse of power and manipulation of the the criminal justice system, by the some of the Ghana Police Service's CID officers. Naturally, I shall not give any names and will not cooperate with your men, if they invite me to assist them to enable the service discipline any of the officers of the Odokor Police CID – as frankly, I have no confidence in most of them. The entire system appears to have been corrupted – and it must be a nationwide disease, I guess. Sir, make the cleaning up of the CID one of your top priorities – if you want to leave a good legacy. A word to the wise...


Telephone (powered by Tigo – the Ghanaian mobile phone network that actually works!): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109 & the not-so-hot and clueless Vodafone wireless smartphone: + 233 (0) 21 976238.