Monday, 24 January 2011

We Must Not Allow Ghana To Be Shortchanged In Selling Its Oil!

When it was announced on the 6th of December 2010, that Vitol had been appointed exclusive marketer of Tullow Oil’s share of the Jubilee fields oil production, the Vitol Group’s president and chief executive, Ian Taylor, was quoted as saying: “We are very pleased to have been awarded this contract to market Tullow’s share. Our global network, knowledge of the West African crude oil market and close relationships with the refining sector gives us a strong base from which to market this crude and maximise its value”.

Little wonder then, that many ordinary Ghanaians are asking, why, when the price of oil on the international market is certainly above US$67 per barrel, this giant energy trading company (which together with Glencore and Trafigura are the biggest three in the world), is said to have sold Tullow Oil’s oil at US$67 per barrel (if Ghanaian media reports are to be believed, that is!).

For such Ghanaians, the question simply is: if Ian Taylor said his company would “maximize” Tullow Oils’s jubilee light sweet crude’s “value”, why did the Vitol Group not look for oil elsewhere, in its vast network of suppliers and extensive storage facilities worldwide, for oil to meet its contractual obligations to third parties (which it had agreed to sell oil at US$67 per barrel for), if that is why the oil was sold at that price?

Or is it the case that Tullow Oil had hedged its share of the jubilee fields’ oil at that price – and the Vitol Group was only delivering to the party concerned on Tullow Oil’s behalf?

On the other hand, one wonders whether we are to believe the conspiracy theorists in our midst, who say that it is a classic example of the usual get-rich-quick tricks of the clever-folk-in-high-places, who never fail to seize every opportunity that comes their way, to rip Mother Ghana off - cleverly calculating that since the government had based its expected oil revenues from the jubilee fields on the US$67 per barrel figure, ordinary folk would assume that that was the price it was to be sold for: and accept the situation quietly and meekly?

Either way, dear reader, surely, the good people of Ghana need to be told why, when their government has to buy oil at the prevailing market rates (after the expiry of its own oil hedging contracts!), for the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) to produce fuel for motorists and other fuel users in Ghana, jubilee light sweet crude, which is of such quality that it is said to be of a grade highly sought after by refineries as far apart as North America and Asia, should be allowed to be sold for anything less than prevailing market rates on the spot markets for oil, so that any windfall profits will be taxed appropriately to yield maximum value, for funding development projects in Ghana?

Those who are in charge of the energy sector must understand clearly that Ghanaians will not tolerate Kweku-Ananse-accounting in the oil and natural gas industries of Nkrumah's Ghana – so that politically well-connected individuals can end up becoming super-rich from such smoke-and-mirrors shenanigans: at the expense of the rest of Ghanaians and their homeland Ghana.

As it is, many Ghanaians are already very upset that the president did not order the arrest of the foreign oil company chief who attempted to bribe him – but chose instead to complain about that insult to US Embassy officials here.

Did it not strike President Mills that he would have made history if that had happened? Did it not occur to him that he would have been impossible to beat in the 2012 presidential elections if that had happened?

Would it not have been headline news on every radio and TV station on the planet Earth had that happened - and would he not have been immortalised by that singular act?

He may very well come to rue the day he allowed that insolent and corrupt individual to walk free from his office - as his oil company will fund the opposition New Patriotic Party's (NPP) election campaign in 2012, through backdoor channels: as sure as day follows night.

Then there is the foolish and irresponsible decision by some of his appointees to let Kosmos Oil get away scot-free after initially being fined for spilling toxic material into the Atlantic Ocean – in exchange for helping the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “build capacity”. God give us patience.

Have you heard of anything more cynical and asinine, dear reader? The EPA has some of the best scientific minds in the world, amongst those it employs. What it needs is cash not Kosmos Oil's 'capacity-building' – and can you imagine what the US$17 millions or so that Kosmos Oil was reported to have been fined (although yours truly has no idea what the actual figure was – since the mostly-spineless individuals who run our nation chose to keep it secret!), could have done for the EPA; resource-wise?

In any case, is that how the U.S. administration dealt with BP during the Gulf of Mexico spillage disaster? Or are Ghanaian lives and the economies of our coastal communities not worth giving similar protection to, from reckless, arrogant and disrespectful oil companies?

Perhaps, if need be, Parliament must quickly pass a law, which will insist that when Ghana’s jubilee light sweet crude is sold below the prevailing spot market price for oil, the government will tax the company concerned, as if its share of the Jubilee field oil had been sold at the spot market price for oil, on the day that oil was sold.

We must definitely not allow our nation to be shortchanged when it comes to selling its oil – as Ghanaians want the revenues to be used to help transform their nation into an African equivalent of the egalitarian societies of Scandinavia.

The question is: Are those mostly-hard-of-hearing individuals currently in charge of our nation listening? One certainly hopes they are. Ghana's educated elite must not attempt to copy Nigeria's kleptocratic elite's stewardship of that nation's oil and natural gas revenues - for opaque transactions in Ghana's oil and natural gas industry could lead to social unrest. Ghana will not be immune to a Hugo Chavez-style revolution, in such circumstances. A word to the wise... Hmmm, Ghana - eyeasem oo: asem ebeba debi ankasa!

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

Monday, 17 January 2011


Recently, dear reader, a team led by the Executive Director of the Minerals Commission of Ghana, Mr. Aryee, visited part of the P. E. Thompson Estate's (PETE) Akim Abuakwa Juaso freehold nature-resource reserve (AANRR), in the Atewa Range (on 21/12/2010,i.e.). This was as a result of objections raised by the PETE, to the size of the Kibi Goldfields concession, and the continuing illegal activities in the area of Solar Mining Limited, designated as a "co-operator" by the concession owner, the insolvent (for over a decade!) Kibi Goldfields.

The PETE, together with some members of the communities in the area, intend to take Solar Mining to court - and they are being helped in that direction by the anti-mining NGO, WACAM, which has solicited the help of the Centre for Public Interest Law (CPIL), on their behalf.

Incidentally, a little under 5 square miles of the PETE's unencumbered total landholding of some 14 square miles, lies inside the official government reserve. The PETE's off-reserve forestland, according to a source with direct knowledge of the state of the Kakum National Park immediately before the construction of the forest canopy footbridges, is in far better condition and more beautiful today, than the Kakum rain forest was then.

At this juncture, I would like to acknowledge the support we have been receiving from Ghana's leading green tour company, M&J Travel and Tours Limited - which has been meeting the costs of consultants it has secured for the PETE, to prepare a project proposal, for a change in land-use: from agriculture to community-based eco-tourism. It has also promised to market the destination when the project is implemented successfully. This is corporate social responsibility at its best.

The implementation of the project will enable the PETE to build a series of forest canopy footbridges similar to that found at the Kakum National Park, and ten tree-house eco-lodges, as the centrepiece of a community-based eco-tourism destination. It is seeking funding for the project - which is intended to use community-based eco-tourism as a tool for conservation: to guarantee a sustainable future for it's landholding in the area: and by leveraging the carbon markets as a community carbon sequestration project, ensure a properous future for the people of Akim Abuakwa Juaso, as well as that of Saamang and Osino (long after the greedy rogues from Solar Mining have departed!).

Solar Mining has paid compensation to the PETE's immediate neighbours, whom it shares boundaries with, to mine gold. Yet those wealthy rogues do not have an EPA mining permit - and have publicly admitted to operating without official sanction. How can that be tolerated at a time of global climate change - and in an area that has been designated a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA), and which performs such important eco-system services for Mother Ghana, I ask, dear reader?

For the elucidation of readers who have been following the PETE's efforts at halting the continuing defiance of the authorities by Solar Mining Limited, this blog is posting part of the recommendations contained in the Executive Summary of Conservation International's Rapid Assessment Survey 47. Hopefully the relevant sector ministers under whose brief the Minerals Commission and the Mining Department of the Environmental Protection Agency fall, will take a detailed look at Conservation International's RAP 47, and ask that both institutions take note of the recommendation that all mining and logging is banned in the area. Please read on.

"Conservation Recommendations

With an area of 23,663 ha, Atewa represents one of the largest
remaining forest blocks in Ghana and one of the largest
GSBAs. In Ghana there is no other place like Atewa. The
only other Upland Evergreen forest, in the Tano Ofin Forest
Reserve, is smaller and significantly more disturbed, and
the mountains near the border with Togo have a much drier
climate. Outside Ghana there are no upland forests with a
similar combination of species.

It is clear from the results of the RAP survey and previous
studies that the Atewa Range Forest Reserve is an
extremely important site for global biodiversity conservation
and should be protected to the fullest extent possible. However,
at the same time, the livelihood of the communities
around Atewa must be considered in order to ensure longterm
protection of the forest.
In order to protect the integrity of Atewa and its biodiversity,
we propose two principal recommendations:

I. Within Atewa, the Government of Ghana should delimit
and establish an integrally protected area with
high protection status, such as a National Park, that
includes all remaining intact Upland Evergreen forest,
especially on the plateaus. A buffer zone covering
the more disturbed slopes and valleys of the reserve
should be established surrounding the core protected

II. To ensure the sustainable protection of Atewa, alternative
incomes for the local communities, particularly
in Kibi, must be developed to reduce or eliminate
their dependence on extractive industries and forest
products from Atewa.
To elaborate:

I. We recommend that the entire Atewa Range Forest
Reserve be protected to the fullest extent possible due to

1) High levels of biodiversity (documented during this
RAP survey and previous studies), 2) Significant tract of
rare Upland Evergreen forest, and 3) Importance as a clean
water source for local communities and many of Ghana’s
metropolitan areas. We recommend that the legal status of
the reserve be upgraded to prohibit all exploitative activities,
including mining, logging, and agriculture in the reserve.

The entire extent of Atewa’s Upland Evergreen forest
must be protected because focusing conservation effort on
only a part of the range (such as only the northern part)
would lead to greater fragmentation of this unique forest
habitat, loss of its function as a biodiversity corridor, and,
ultimately, the likely loss of many of its species due to microclimatic
changes caused by diminishing forest coverage
and invasion of savanna elements into the reserve. The value
of Atewa lies not only in the presence of rare or threatened
species within its borders and the multiple ecosystem services
provided by this biotic community (including, but not
limited to, being a significant source of water to surrounding
areas), but also in being a unique and a very complex ecosystem,
one with a combination of species found nowhere else
on the planet.

Any alterations to its present, largely undisturbed state
will likely lead to a more depauperate and homogenous
biological community with a lesser value to global biodiversity
and, on a local scale, the area will become a less effective
provider of ecosystem services such as pollination of
surrounding agricultures or provision of freshwater. Even
selective clearing of the plateaus would undeniably affect
headwaters of major rivers and could have long-term destructive
consequences on the environment, principally by
increasing soil erosion on surrounding slopes and disturbing
the hydrographical net of the entire sub-region. Habitat loss
would put a number of species under serious threat of local

Specific recommendations:

1. Delimit and establish an integrally protected area
with high protection status, such as a National Park,
that includes all the remaining intact Upland Evergreen
forest within Atewa, especially on the plateaus.

We agree with previous recommendations for Atewa
(Hawthorne 1998) that many parts of the lower slopes
are heavily over-used and degraded and that priority
areas for protection should be the forests on the higher
altitude plateaus, slopes, and ravines as well as the forest
remaining on the steep slopes. All forests on the plateaus
merit strict protection, including the 17,400 ha covered
with Upland Evergreen forest.

Critical areas that must be included in the core area
are: a) The entire northern part of the Atewa Range,
which is most intact, including the Asiakwa South and
North RAP sites, which have high levels of biodiversity,
a critically endangered frog species, and the Olive
colobus primate (see Table 4), b) The central plateau
area, including Atiwiredu, which has two black star tree
species and a high diversity of amphibians and butterflies,

c) Any Upland Evergreen forest areas remaining
in the reserve, and d) All plateau swamps and wetlands,
which soak up the rainwater and provide the source of
the Ayensu, Birim, and Densu rivers.

2. Establish a buffer zone covering the more disturbed
slopes and valleys of the reserve, particularly in the
southern areas of the reserve, for use by local com
munities within the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional

We concur with recommendations by Hawthorne
(1998) that there is great pressure on the lower slopes
that will most likely result in continued land use. The
lower slopes should be incorporated into a buffer zone
surrounding the protected area, within which sustainable
land use practices should be developed that will
restore and reforest degraded land.

3. Re-evaluate then Implement and Enforce the Atewa
Management Plan created by the Forestry Commission
of Ghana. Much thought and research has
already gone into evaluating the importance of Atewa’s
biodiversity and watershed values, and in developing a
management plan for its sustainable use (Abu-Juam et
al. 2003). Based on the additional information from the
RAP survey and other recent research, we recommend
that Atewa be fully protected. If this recommendation
is accepted and implemented, the Atewa management
plan will likely need to be revised to incorporate
management of a protected area and a buffer zone. A
management plan should include the sustainable use of
forest products (chewing sticks, fuel wood, etc.) in the
buffer zone to ensure that they are not depleted. The
new management plan should then be put into practice
and enforced by the Government of Ghana in order to
ensure that the area is protected.

4. Implement a collaborative approach between public
and private institutions, including local communities,
the Government of Ghana, international funding and
aid agencies, the mining industry and environmental
and social non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to
address and halt the threats currently and potentially
facing the reserve. Include scientific organizations and
universities to improve our scientific knowledge of the
area and to use these data for management of the protected
area. The delineation and mechanism for protecting
Atewa must take into consideration the high human
population around Atewa, their relatively high level of
poverty, as well as their dependence on the forests of
Atewa for much of their livelihood.

II. Explore alternative income opportunities in and
round Atewa for local communities to reduce their dependence
on extractive industries and bushmeat hunting.

The people living around Atewa understand the need to
conserve this treasured site. They have maintained this area,
preserving its biodiversity for all these years. The government
has also promulgated all the necessary legislation to the
extent that Atewa is designated as a GSBA and the RAP survey
and other studies have demonstrated its biological and
ecological importance. The issue now at hand is the fact that
there is bauxite available for exploitation whilst the people
are impoverished. Cocoa, formerly the main economic base
of the area, has now disappeared. The main road from Accra
to Kumasi, which used to pass through the commercial
capital of the Atewa area, has been diverted to save time and
short circuit the journey from Accra to Kumasi. The economy
of the Atewa area is now in very poor condition. The
employment opportunities offered by mining and other development
of Atewa are very attractive to people who are in
dire need of jobs. Even if the current development plans are
abandoned, other development plans and groups will surface
in the future. The key to preserving Atewa lies in building
an economic base for the local communities that will be an
alternative to the exploitation of the bauxite deposits and
timber of Atewa.

Specific recommendations:
1. Ecotourism is likely the best option for bringing
income to the region, particularly to Kibi, by transforming
Atewa forest into world class ecotourism center,
which will focus on the rare and beautiful species
identified during the RAP survey and other studies.
Atewa is located just a few hours drive from Accra and
Kumasi, which makes it an ideal tourist destination
for both local Ghanaian and international visitors. The
attractions of Atewa could include birds, butterflies,
insects, amphibians, primates, bats, the headwaters of
the three rivers, the unique floral species, forest hiking,
camp sites, swimming, and a retreat center. Tours could
be run through a visitor center or Multi-Use Center
(see below) and also through independent tour agents/
NGOs operating out of Kibi and other local villages.

Local hotels, restaurants, souvenir stands, and other
shops will be needed to support a tourist industry.
To achieve this, a group of tourism and biodiversity
experts should first develop a strategic plan with innovative
experiential tourism design for the attractions,
something unique comparable to the Kakum canopy
walkway, which will attract people in great numbers
to the site. The local community must be involved in
approving and developing the plans, and eventually take
over implementation of ecotourism activities. Alliances
with international tour operators will bring additional
international adventure and nature travelers to the
area. Partnerships with NGOs, companies, and other
organizations interested in ecotourism and the conservation
of Atewa should be formed. Already, Butterfly
Conservation Ghana has been promoting ecotourism
visits to Atewa with an international partner, EcoTours
ghana00). Projects such as these should be supported
and integrated into the Ecotourism plan for Atewa.

2. To facilitate Ecotourism, establish a Multi-use
Biodiversity Center near to Atewa. The center should
be based at the edge of Atewa so that visitors have easy
access to the forest and can enjoy the cooler climate
provided by the forest. It should also be located near to
Kibi or other villages so they also benefit from tourist
visits. The center could contain lodging, kitchen and
dining facilities, an educational center, classrooms,
meeting rooms, laboratories, and a library. This center
could also provide facilities for Christian or other religious
communities to use as a spiritual retreat for prayer
and meetings. Support for the center could come from
the Christian community (both national and international),
national government, international NGOs,
private companies, and national and international
universities. Most importantly, the center can be built,
maintained, and staffed by local community members,
thus providing long-term employment opportunities.
This center could serve many functions including those
listed below:

a) Research station to facilitate research of Atewa
and surroundings by Ghanaian and international
scientists, promote collaborations, and train biology
and natural resource management students;

b) Tourist/visitor center to bring ecotourism to
Atewa and provide information about its biodiversity
to visitors and residents;

c) Education center to raise awareness of the uniqueness
and importance of Atewa: provide classes and
training for local communities, jobs for local residents
as interpreters and teachers, and opportunities
for local and national school children to spend
a night in the rainforest, Integration of a research
and education center would provide opportunities
for Ghanaian scientists and students to share their
knowledge and research with tourists and local

d) Spiritual retreat for the Christian community and/
or other local religions to have a place to get away
to meet together; both Ghanaian and international
Christian groups could use the center as a quiet and
spiritual meeting place;

e) Sustainable employment opportunity for local
community members as builders, managers, maintenance
and housekeeping, tour guides, researchers,
and research assistants.

3. Investigate the possibility of a Payment for Ecosystem
Services (PES) scheme through which the users of the
water provided by the watershed (e.g. Accra and other
cities) pay the local communities around Atewa for protection
of the forest and watershed. This would provide
income to the surrounding communities in return for
keeping the surrounding watershed and forest biodiversity
intact. This type of PES scheme has been successfully
implemented in many countries, most notably Costa
Rica, by governments, NGOs, and private organizations.
See McNeely (2007) for more information.

4. Investigate the current status and investments of
international development/aid projects that are
reported to be working in the Atewa area, including
the GEF/World Bank/Government of Ghana Community
Investment Fund Project, the GEF/World
Bank-sponsored Promoting Partnership with Traditional
Authorities Project (PPTAP) and the Government of
Ghana sponsored Presidential Initiative on Tree Plantations
Project on the communities around Atewa to support
development of alternative incomes. Small grants
can also be applied for through Conservation International’s
Verde Ventures program (www.verdeventures.
org). There are many examples of successful ventures
in all of the areas listed below that can be studied and
consulted as models for developing such projects in the
Atewa area.

5. Other potential alternative-income industries:
a) Butterfly farming - for sale of live butterfly
pupae to the global market,

b) Beekeeping - producing honey for local consumption
and for sale,

c) Farming of native ornamental fishes for
aquarium trade,

d) Producing products for the tourist trade
such as baskets, Kente cloth weavings, wood
carvings, etc.,

e) Alternatives to bushmeat hunting, such as
raising other types of animals for meat, including
grasscutters and snails,

f ) Orchards of fruit trees and nitrogen-fixing
crops (e.g. beans) on degraded land to provide
food and also stabilize erosion and renew the

Recommendations for Management of Atewa
I. Control hunting as it poses a significant threat to the
large mammals and larger birds within the entire reserve.
Hunting pressure is strong throughout Atewa, even
in the northern areas where there are no roads. Evidence
of hunting, including spent cartridges, snares and hunting
trails was found at all three RAP sites (see Table 4).
Healthy mammal and bird communities, as well as their
associated invertebrate communities, are especially important
for maintaining primary and secondary seed dispersal
that are essential for plant regeneration and forest dynamics.
Although hunting in the reserve currently mainly targets
mammals, certain large bird species, such as Crested
Guineafowl, Great Blue Turaco and large hornbills, are
also illegally hunted.

1) Prevent access to hunters along roads and trails.
Asiakwa North showed the most hunting evidence even
though there are no roads there. There is access to the
reserve through an extensive trail system used by local
communities. Existing roads at Asiakwa South and Atiwiredu
also provide easy access throughout the southern
part of the reserve. Most of these trails and existing
roads need to be allowed to grow over and should be
patrolled to prevent illegal access to the reserve. Regular
use of trails by tourists and researchers will also deter
illegal access and activities.

2) Engage local people from communities in the area,
particularly the community of Kibi, in protecting the
reserve and reducing hunting. Increase awareness of and
pride in the biodiversity and watershed importance of
Atewa among the local people through training. Involve
local people in research (see below) and enforcement
and provide education on the importance of conserving,
rather than hunting, large mammals and on alternatives
to bushmeat. Work with community Chiefs to establish
hunting guidelines and to develop strategies based on
their animal totems.

3) Empower and fund the Wildlife Department and the
Forestry Commission of the Government of Ghana
to protect the biodiversity of Atewa through increased
monitoring and patrols, especially for illegal hunting
(and logging). Enforce penalties for any illegal activities
or trespassing.

4) Make an alliance against hunting with all who have
access to Atewa, including local communities, government
agencies, development agencies, and NGOs.
This would help to control the distribution and sale of
bushmeat from Atewa and educate local people on the
importance of protecting globally threatened species
that live in their forests.

5) Conduct research to determine which larger mammal
and bird species are targeted and most heavily
impacted. The population sizes of key species that are
most heavily hunted and most highly threatened in this
area can then be determined and used to inform more
specific recommendations on conserving key species
threatened by hunting.

II. Protect the headwaters of the Ayensu, Densu, and
Birim rivers that originate within the Atewa Range.
The steady flow of clean water off the Atewa Range is
determined by the capacity of the soil, swamps and forest
on the plateaus and in the valleys to store and filter
rainwater, and to buffer for spates and droughts. Both
human and wildlife populations around Atewa depend
on this healthy and reliable resource for their survival.
The threatened frog species found on the range and the
high diversity of dragonflies and damselflies rely on the

The RAP results indicate a healthy watershed in
Atewa and the surrounding area, with limited pollution
and streambed erosion. This is confirmed by the presence
of forest species even in more disturbed landscapes.
However, activities entailing the removal of vegetation
or mineral deposits from the range could seriously compromise
its capacity to store, buffer and filter rainwater,
jeopardizing the reliable discharge of freshwater into the
region’s rivers, an essential resource for millions of Ghanaians
and a rich biodiversity.

1) Protect the plateau forests in the upper catchment
of the Ayensu, Densu and Birim rivers. Control and
restrict access to the forests and swamps, especially
with regard to small-scale miners, loggers and shifting
cultivation plots. Create a strict protected area on the
plateaus as discussed above.

2) Leave buffer zones of vegetation of at least 100 m
around water bodies (e.g., rivers, swamps and other
inundation zones) if any activities are to take place
in the reserve (including the Multi-use Station). Any
removal of forest cover from stream banks must be
rigorously controlled and monitored.

3) Prevent sedimentation and runoff from mining,
roads, and clearings, which all have negative impacts
on the water quality in the streams. Especially in the
southern part of Atewa, human activities including logging,
agriculture, hunting, and roads currently threaten
the integrity of the aquatic ecosystems. These impacts
are particularly high in the foothills.

4) Initiate a water-quality monitoring program of the
status of several key aquatic taxa (including fishes,
amphibians, plants, and selected invertebrate groups) as
well as water quality and sedimentation to create a baseline
and identify negative impacts to aquatic resources
before they become irreversible. Monitoring specific
responses to certain indicators is essential. We recommend
following standard aquatic monitoring protocols
at regular intervals (at least twice a year).

5) Educate local communities on the benefits of
preserving riparian flora and fauna so that they
understand the role that riparian vegetation plays in preserving
the quality and quantity of their water, as well as
preventing soil erosion.

III. Maintain corridors and large tracts of forest to
ensure survival of larger species and to maintain
ecosystem processes. Linking patches of forest by corridors
is important to addressing the increasing problem
of habitat fragmentation, both within and outside of
Atewa. Larger mammal species, such as the threatened
primates, and many bird species need large tracts of
forest for feeding and nesting. Threatened species have
a much higher chance of going extinct in smaller forest
patches that have no connection to additional habitat or
that lack a large enough elevation range to allow species
to adapt to changing conditions and human pressures.

1) Maintain Corridors along the length of the Atewa
Range to allow for species migrations and adaptations
to changes in habitat and human pressures. Keep the
northern part of the reserve as intact as possible to
maintain a large tract of forest and keep connections to
the southern parts of the reserve.

2) Reforest roads, trails and clearings that are no longer
in use to reduce habitat fragmentation and human
access to the forest and to discourage illegal logging,
hunting of large mammals, and agricultural production.
Trails and other access routes in all three areas should be
minimized and regulated and roads should be blocked
and reforested to prevent large-scale encroachment into
the reserve. The few roads and trails necessary to to
provide access for ecotourism and research should be
carefully maintained and patrolled to ensure the least
possible impact.

3) Link Atewa to other forest reserves and patches of
forest. Outside of Atewa, the Kwahu plateau forested
zone, about 15 km north from Atewa contains similar
upland habitat and is consequently a good candidate to
connect to Atewa. A feasibility study including assessment
of diversity in Kwahu and landscape description
should be carried out prior to such an action.

4) Promote and utilize biodiversity friendly land-use
practices in agricultural areas between forest reserves to
maximize biodiversity in the areas surrounding Atewa
and to provide a connection between Atewa and nearby
forest reserves. This could include minimizing the use
of pesticides and herbicides and other chemicals in
agriculture, promoting crop rotation and natural pest
control, and planting native tree species among crops to
harbor wildlife.

5) Prohibit logging in the core protected area on the
plateaus and upper slopes and strictly control logging in
the buffer zone on the lower slopes. Logging accelerates
habitat fragmentation and habitat degradation.

6) Monitor several key species or groups that depend
on intact forest to ensure healthy populations and to
detect changes as early as possible to prevent serious
declines. Target groups should include large and small
mammals, amphibians, and several insect groups. Since
small mammals are highly dependent on forest structure
for their survival and constitute a key component of the
diet of large animals, monitoring small mammal diversity
and abundance is a good way to track the integrity
of the forest ecosystem.

IV. Conduct in-depth studies focusing on threatened,
rare and endemic species, and during other seasons,
and expand basic species surveys to include additional
groups of organisms.

1) Conduct studies of the Critically Endangered Conraua
derooi in Atewa and other areas where it is known to
occur. While this species is historically known from a
number of sites, recent surveys have failed to record it
from some of its previously known localities. At other
sites, it is under sever pressure from habitat degradation
and consumption. Hence, Atewa could hold the last
remaining viable population of this Critically Endangered
species and we urgently recommend additional
surveys to determine if this is the case. Areas holding
95% of the remaining population of a Critically Endangered
species are eligible for consideration as Alliance
for Zero Extinction (AZE) sites, a designation which
would increase the significance of Atewa as a conservation
target and could potentially increase available funding
for conservation activities.

2) Survey during the dry season. This RAP survey was
conducted during the rainy season when the plants
Mapania bakdwinii and Leptapisi cochleata form a
carpet covering much of the forest floor making footprints,
dung and other signs of animals difficult to see.
Undertaking a similar survey during the dry season
and sampling additional areas towards the periphery of
the reserve would most likely increase the number of
mammal species directly or indirectly encountered, thus
adding to the confirmed species list for the reserve.

3) Conduct additional surveys for groups of organisms
not included in previous surveys, but having a high
probability of including rare and/or new species, such as
dung beetles, preying mantids, arachnids, or mollusks
(both freshwater and terrestrial)."

End of excerpt from the Executive Summary of the Conservation International RAP survey bulletin 47.

Well, there it is, dear reader. One can only hope that officialdom will ensure that Solar Mining's perfidy does not go unpunished. This part of the Atewa Range, like the official government reserve, is too vital a part of the area's eco-system, to be sacrificed on the alter of privileged private-greed of the most egregious kind, at the expense of the rest of society and the common good. Are those charged with preserving Ghana's natural heritage listening - and more importantly, will they pay heed? One certainly hopes they will - for the sake of this and future generations of Ghanaians. A word to the wise...

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

Thursday, 13 January 2011


Recent news reports that the chairperson of the National Media Commission (NMC), Mr. Kabral Blay-Amihere, had called for state support for the Ghanaian media, has generated a fair amount of controversy. There are many ordinary Ghanaians who are dead against the idea – and feel strongly that provision of financial support by the state will give it a backdoor means of controlling the Ghanaian media. Naturally, there are also those who support such a policy – and think it will strengthen the Ghanaian media. Personally, I think that Mr. Blay-Amihere should rather encourage private newspapers (and the electronic media) to be more creative businesses. Surely it is time they gave some thought to the idea of mergers as a way of continuing to remain sustainable entities in the long-term, is it not, dear reader?

What the Ghanaian media world needs, in order to have business models that ensure robust finances, is consolidation – not handouts from the Ghanaian nation-state. Who knows when some super-clever tyrant will emerge through the ballot box one day – and proceed to manipulate the legal system to whittle away the rights of ordinary people, including their right to freedom of expression, once in power? With respect, a media world in which precious few practitioners have any personal integrity, and are happy to be the lackeys of our ruling elite, in exchange for material benefits, is bound to be a barren place, in which very little original thinking goes on. The fact of the matter is that as long as the Ghanaian media world continues to be a place in which yellow journalism thrives, it will continue to be a place full of basket-cases whose owners struggle to pay those who work for them.

Quite frankly, it ought to be the last sector of the national economy, which anyone should think of keeping afloat financially, through subsidies provided by hapless Ghanaian taxpayers. If media outlets make themselves relevant to their audience as well as their
readers, and make themselves attractive to corporate Ghana (by being entities that command the respect of society – because they are sources of reliable news and vital information; are balanced in their reportage; provide life-enhancing information to listeners, viewers, and a readership with aspirations; and above all are underpinned by ethical journalism), they will not only be able to survive, but thrive. Is that not what advertisers the world over, look for, dear reader? There is a gap in the newspaper market that any creative and nimble-footed media house can exploit. State funding for the private media is definitely not a very good idea.

Rather than spoon-feed the media, it would be far better for the Ghanaian nation-state to devote such funds to providing support, which enables young apprentices, for example, who successfully complete their training but cannot afford tools to work with, to acquire the basic tools and equipment needed to make them enter the world of the self-employed, and become micro-entrepreneurs. Dressmakers; hairdressers; carpenters; masons; plumbers; caterers; shoemakers; etc., at least contribute to the real economy and help increase Ghana’s GDP. A profession that includes many who sell their consciences to politicians, and the fruits of whose labour has such a negative impact on society, as a result of their shameful recourse to sensationalism, and the fabrication of stories, is not one that deserves any support from Ghana’s hard-pressed taxpayers.

They are private undertakings after all, are they not? Let market forces determine which of them survive. If the not-so-good ones amongst them devoted more time to developing themselves as innovative businesses, instead of doing propaganda for their political paymasters, perhaps it would make a difference in the number of copies of newspapers that they sold, and the numbers of viewers and listeners that they are able to attract. Why use taxpayers’ money, precious cash that could improve rural water supply systems, and provide school buildings in much of rural Ghana, to prop up an industry, in which over 90 percent of the professionals employed by sector-players, have even failed to master the basic tool of their profession, the English language?

In any case, what do those media houses and journalists that are in the pockets of politicians, do with the zillions of cedis that their political paymasters provide them, on a regular basis? Let the private media stay private – and make do without any state support. Period. We must not tempt fate, by turning what is the fourth arm of government in our democracy, into a bedfellow of the other three arms of government. If the Ghana media is to play the role of watchdog on society's behalf, and watch over the other three arms of government, let media houses and journalists remain independent in every aspect of their work – lest we end up being deprived of our freedoms and eventually enslaved by our rapacious ruling elite (through collusion towards that end by all four arms of government – if we accept that the media is the fourth arm of government, that is!). To safeguard our liberties, especially now that our homeland Ghana has become an oil-producing nation, we must all be eternally vigilant. A word to the wise...

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

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Is Ghana's Position On The Ivory Coast Crisis Shortsighted And Cowardly?

Apparently, the safety of Ghanaian expatriates in the Ivory Coast is what informs Ghana's "dzi wu fia asem" policy - in refusing to support any military intervention to remove former President Gbagbo from power.

How will that possibly save Ghanaian expatriates there, when a wave of xenophobia finally sweeps across the Ivory Coast, as it inevitably will, remains unclear.

Perhaps the question we must ask is whether or not the Mills regime should revise its notes quickly - as many Ghanaians will end up becoming victims, when the hotheads on both sides target foreigners, once they resort to armed conflict again: in an attempt to bring a final resolution to the current iimpasse

It is difficult to understand why Ghana did not simply opt to say that whiles nothing could be ruled in or ruled out (as regards the AU and the ECOWAS pronouncements on the Ivorian crisis, including using force to remove Gbagbo), it was of the view that military intervention ought to be a last-resort measure – and should be undertaken only in order to prevent widespread violence and the wholesale abuse of human rights.

It could then have gone on to suggest that an effective option might be to start with a naval and air blockade, so as to prevent arms from reaching the military forces of both sides.

Behind the scenes, it could have - as it tried to mediate between the two sides as an honest broker -  reminded all the Ivorian leaders that ultimately, the international community would hold them personally responsible, for any large-scale atrocities committed by the violence-prone amongst their supporters.

For good measure, perhaps the government of Ghana must also make it clear to all of them that the AU and ECOWAS could be forced, if there was overwhelming public opinion across the continent for such a measure (as a result of widespread revulsion at any atrocities and ethnic-cleansing occurring in the Ivory Coast), to deliver such Ivorian leaders to the International Criminal Court (ICC) eventually.

Above all, the time has come for it to be made absolutely clear to all Africa's politicians that no tribe on our continent can be said to be inferior or superior to another African tribe. All African life is of equal value – and fellow Africans regarded as "foreign settlers" in AU member-nations, are only continuing an ancient African tradition.

We are all descended from Africans who migrated from one part of the continent or the other in ancient times, to the nations we hail from today.

The northerners of the Ivory Coast are full and equal citizens of that nation, wherever their forebears originated from - and have as much a right to lead that nation, as do the southerners, who have dominated that nation since it gained independence from France.

The southern elite must stop thinking that they are superior to the northerners. That is backward and absurd in 21st century Africa - and Nkrumah's Ghana must make that point strongly to Gbagbo & Co. Surely, ten consecutive years is long enough a period, for any one set of leaders to be in power continuously, for, in any nation on the planet Earth, dear reader?

The fact of the matter, is that the verdict of a majority of Ivorian voters, is that Gbagbo & Co must depart from office – and outsiders saying so are not, by any stretch of the imagination, choosing a leader for the Ivory Coast.

We must not think that appeasing undemocratic leaders amounts to pragmatism. Such leaders make very dangerous neighbours – and must never be humoured: lest they mistake that for cowardice.

Ghana must be polite but firm with Gbagbo, in all her closed-door meetings with him – and make it absolutely clear to him that ultimately his position is quite simply untenable.

For those who say Quatterah is a stooge for the West, and count that against him, the answer is simple: he will be found out soon enough if that indeed is the case - and turfed out of office in the next presidential election, if his regime serves foreign interests during its tenure, instead of ensuring the well-being of all Ivorians and their nation.

With respect, Ghana's position on the Ivory Coast crisis is short-sighted and cowardly. We must not close our eyes to such glaring injustice, and blatant stealing of an election, and say that it is none of our business.

The crisis in the Ivory Coast ought to be of concern to all Ghanaians - for the two countries are sister African nations who share a common border: and have ethnic groups that straddle that common border.

Injustice and suffering in any nation in Africa, is very much Ghana's business. A policy of appeasement, when confronted with belligerent and undemocratic leaders on your doorstep, is dangerous and shortsighted – particularly if the objective is to foster long-lasting peace between neighbouring states.

Friday, 7 January 2011


Happy New Year to you, minister! This blog, which in the war of the sexes - in a nation full of philandering males - is firmly on the side of women, wishes you every success in your new job. Hopefully, the misogynists who undermined your work in your previous portfolio, will now leave you alone to do your important work for Mother Ghana, at the tourism ministry. Luckily for you, there is no incentive there for those unprincipled and ace-freeloaders, who constantly seek to exploit political power, for their own selfish ends: and amass tainted-wealth quickly in the process. We all saw the disgraceful way that some of them carried on during the 2010 World Cup tournament in South Africa – with a number of them engaging in what amounted to profiteering at the expense of our homeland Ghana, in the provision of flights and accommodation, for those Ghanaians who were sponsored by the government, to support the Black Stars.

At the risk of sounding presumptuous, may I humbly make a few suggestions, minister? I suggest that you use our embassies in the US; the EU; and the UK, to get some of the travel writers who write for leading newspapers in those nations, to visit Ghana – and write about their experiences here. I worked together with Ghana’s leading green tour company, M&J Travel and Tours Limited and Hands Up Holidays of the UK, in helping to organize the in-country aspects of The Independent on Sunday's Ian Burrel's trip to Ghana, during the 2008 CAF football tournament. He wrote a wonderful piece in the travel-page of the Independent on Sunday about Ghana – and not a few tourists from the UK have visited Ghana since as a result. Such travelogues in overseas newspapers help create awareness about our nation. They could be read, for example, by some of those in the outbound tourism markets of the US, the UK, and the EU and elsewhere, who still have jobs and feel that going abroad on holidays, is an important factor in helping them maintain a good work-life balance.

It is a relatively cheap way of advertising our marvelous country overseas. Above all, do not allow those with vested interests in selling tickets to those foreigners, who are brought here at hapless Ghanaian taxpayers’ expense, to ostensibly demonstrate and teach para-gliding to ordinary Ghanaians in the Kwawu Mountains, during the Easter break, to continue having their way. Rather than follow that daft path, it would be far more beneficial to the national economy, to get the cash-rich telecoms companies in Ghana to put up substantial prize-money, for two major competitions: an African para-gliding championship (for civilians!) and a world military para-gliding championship, to be held in tandem – in the Kwawu Mountains during the Easter holidays. Obviously that cannot be done this year – but make that a goal, minister. It is outrageous that our country has to sponsor people from nations much wealthier than ours, to come to Ghana, and in effect, have fun para-gliding here, at taxpayers’ expense.

I also suggest that you google Sustainable Travel International (STI). Minister, it might make a great deal of sense to strike an alliance with them, to help Ghana break into the outbound US responsible travel market. Do talk to STI’s Brain Mullis and get him to visit Ghana to that end. A lasting legacy for you in the tourism ministry, would be to get the Thailand Community-based Tourism Institute (CBT-I) of Chiangmai University, to collaborate with the Okyenehene’s Environmental University and the University of Cape Coast, to set up similar institutes here, in the two institutions, to help improve the quality of Ghana’s tourism professionals. Finally, I also suggest that you talk to Mr. John Mason of the Nature Research and Conservation Centre (NCRC). He is a Canadian who has adopted Ghana as his home-country and taken up citizenship here. He has contributed a great deal to Ghana’s community-based eco-tourism industry. Talking to him, and getting a key private-sector viewpoint that way, will be very insightful for you, in my humble opinion. Good luck in your new portfolio, Minister.

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

Monday, 3 January 2011


On the 15th of November 2010, I paid for The National Review newspaper, which I intend to publish in the first half of this year, to be registered with the National Media Commission (NMC). As part of the paper’s mission of ensuring that readers always get first-hand knowledge, of the nation-building efforts of those entrusted with the task of leading Ghana into prosperity, we will be interviewing leading players in different spheres of our national life, including government ministers and district chief executives, on a regular basis. The Hon. Alban Bagbin was the first to agree to grant us an interview. To usher in President Mills’ “year of action”. I am posting my interview with him here. It serves as an example of what readers of the paper can expect in The National Review's columns.

Incidentally, I met the Hon. Bagbin, at 6.30 am on a working day. There was already a queue of people waiting to see him even at that hour of the morning. Apparently the flow of visitors never ceases. If President Mills wants his “year of action” to be a successful one, his National Democratic Congress (NDC) must strengthen its capacity to help the party’s supporters who troop to the ministries to seek help from his ministers. The question is: should it not be the case that when a serving minister’s constituent needs, say a passport, or requires help of some sort, in interfacing with officialdom (which necessitates that individual coming to Accra if they live in any of the other regions of Ghana), that person can simply speak to those in charge of the minister’s constituency office, in the region they hail from: who in turn would then arrange with the party’s national headquarters staff, to render the assistance that enables the said constituent, to get the help he or she requires in Accra?

Instead of the endless bickering, let the NDC’s big-wigs devote their considerable energies to strengthening their party to such a degree that it can carry some of the unnecessary load now being shouldered by government ministers and the NDC’s members of Parliament. It is simply not possible to get Ghana’s elected leaders to do the work they are supposed to do, if Ghanaians continue to flock to their offices in such large numbers, on a daily basis, in order to seek direct assistance from them. Surely, the NDC ought to be able to render such assistance to their own members? The same thing applies to all the other political parties in Ghana during their tenure as governing parties. But I digress. My interview, towards the end of last year, with the Hon. Alban Bagbin, on aspects of the STX deal follows below. Do please read on, dear reader!

KT: Minister, many of those who root for you in your party, say that your leadership has made a huge difference, to the final outcome of the STX security services housing project. In what way would you say your coming to the ministry has made a difference to the project?

Hon. Bagbin: Well, naturally, to begin with, I must give credit to all those who worked on it, before my appointment to the ministry, as minister. To answer your question directly, my arrival at the ministry was in a sense timely. It was around the time that H.E. President Mills had directed Vice President John Mahama to proceed to South Korea to seal the agreement. I joined that delegation (which incidentally included the Minority Leader, Hon. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, and Hon. Dr Akoto Osei, who was once a minister at the ministry of finance, as you know).

On arrival at the hotel we were to lodge in, the Koreans attempted to rush us to a press conference that they had organized – for us to sign an MOU on the STX housing project in Ghana. I advised against our delegation attending such a press conference without first getting the opportunity to go through the MOU to approve its contents. H.E. Vice President Mahama accepted that advice and turned the invitation to the press conference down. I then requested to be given a copy of the MOU to go through it. The Koreans obliged and together with Hon. Seth Tekpeh we made substantial amendments to the document.

The Koreans wanted the vice president to be a signatory, but I advised against it: for the simple reason that this was not in the nature of a treaty or convention for it to be signed by the presidency. An MOU is not an agreement but a recording of the initial general understanding of the parties at a stage of negotiations on a subject matter. I was then mandated to sign it on behalf of Ghana.

KT: What exactly necessitated the audit that was conducted by the South Koreans –- and at whose behest was it done: the government of Ghana or that of South Korea?

Hon. Bagbin: Well, on my second trip to South Korea to attend a conference on Africa (following the one during which I signed the MOU), I decided to kill two birds with one stone, by meeting the STX Group to clarify some issues on the project. For that reason, I had arranged for a team from the ministry of justice and that of finance to accompany us, to give us technical support. I insisted at that meeting that there must be a value-for-money audit by an accredited agent of Ghana and a performance-audit by the Auditor-General of Ghana. The Koreans finally accepted that suggestion – and the EPC document we signed recently captures the two issues.
KT: Is it true that your ministry will be in overall charge of the implementation of the security services housing component of the STX project - and "drive it" as well?

Hon. Bagbin: The 30,000 housing units for the security service personnel will be under the purview of my ministry. I've insisted that being the beneficiary Ghana ought to be in the driving seat. The Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing will perform that duty on behalf of Ghana. That is why I got them to agree that Architectural and Engineering Services Limited (AESL), a government–owned organization, should be the project’s consultants. AESL, as you know, is under my ministry.

KT: Sources with direct knowledge of the negotiations in South Korea, say that you insisted on STX signing a performance-bond, and that they were surprised by that demand. Is it true that to make your point, you asked them if they did not intend to ask their Ghanaian sub-contractors to sign same, and went on to ask them the reason why?

Hon. Bagbin: That is very true. I actually had to even debate an expert they brought in from Singapore on that matter. I made references to the writings of Mr. Lee Kwan Yu, his former prime minister and the founding father of his country, to buttress my point!

KT: Does your ministry have any plans to get the South Korean government (and other governments such as that of China), to support private or (state-owned) South Korean construction firms, to construct infrastructure, own and operate them to derive revenues from them for a period, and then transfer them to the ownership of the government of Ghana?

Hon. Bagbin: We are already rolling out similar projects. So any such companies are very welcome to invest here with the support of their governments.

KT: Minister, it appears that the time you allotted for this interview is over! Thank you very much for sparing the time from your rather busy schedule for this morning’s interview. We do hope that your doors will continue to remain open to The National Review (and other Ghanaian media houses) in future.

Hon. Alban Bagbin: Many thanks too, Kofi. I do wish your new paper The National Review well. As you know, my doors have always been open to the Ghanaian media – and they will continue to be open in future as well. Do have a good day.