Thursday, 29 December 2011


It is often said, that perception is everything, in the fractious and byzantine world, of Ghanaian politics. Perhaps that is why, sadly, despite the fact that President Mills has done a yeoman's job as president thus far, so many ordinary people in Ghana continue to feel that precious little has been achieved, since he came to power.

Yet, the reality is that not only has President Mills led a regime that has successfully stabilised the national economy - which was literally near-collapse when his regime assumed power in January 2009: with a huge and burdensome deficit - indeed, it has also actually been very successful in inducing some growth in the non-oil sectors of the Ghanaian economy.

Then there are the many projects executed in all the districts of Ghana, since the Mills regime came to power - but again, it would appear that even those don't seem to count for much too, as far as most ordinary Ghanaians are concerned: and that is evident when one listens to our nation's many radio stations.

On top of all those achievements mentioned above, luckily for Ghana, this is also a regime that is led by the most honest individual to lead our nation, since the overthrow of President Nkrumah, in February 1966 - in what has unfortunately become one of the most corrupt societies anywhere in Africa.

Surely, that ought to count for something in the minds of discerning, patriotic and independent-minded individuals, who actually care about Mother Ghana - especially as President Kufuor's New Patriotic Party (NPP) regime was so incredibly corrupt: with kickbacks being marshalled and distributed at the Osu Castle, with Kufuor himself acting as the kingpin of that egregious crime-against-Ghanaians?

Furthermore, during the campaign for the December 2008 presidential election, the NPP's propaganda machine claimed that if elected, a President Mills would be a mere puppet of Flt Lt Rawlings. As we are all aware, it simply hasn't happened: because Mills is very much his own man. Yet, even that important fact doesn't seem to count for much too - as far as most ordinary people are concerned, it would appear.

Clearly, the many positive stories that make up the narrative of the Mills presidency, don't seem to have made much of an impact on the ordinary people of Ghana. So, obviously, this regime has not been very successful in connecting with the masses of the Ghanaian people - and making them identify with it.

It has also become obvious that in order to win the all-important 2012 presidential election, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) will have to find the political equivalent of a mobile smartphone's 'killer-application' - and pretty fast too.

In that regard, they need not look too far, luckily for their party - for it can be found in the contents of the very sensible and restrained speech, delivered by ex-President Rawlings, in a public lecture organised to commemorate his 31st December 1981 military coup, at the National Theatre on 28 December, 2011.

If President Mills and the more honest individuals in his administration, are guided throughout the year 2012, by the contents of that politically important Rawlings speech, it will enable them put clear blue water between their NDC regime and the opposition NPP.

Like many Progressives who don't want the NPP to return to power again, any time soon, I have often been very critical, of what I consider to be unwarranted public criticism of President Mills, by President Rawlings. Indeed, I have even gone as far as accusing him of being disloyal to the commander-in-chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, and undermining him unjustly - and suggested that that is totally uncalled for: especially coming from a retired officer and gentleman who has also been Ghana's president before.

However, even I, have to admit, that few can fault this particular Rawlings speech. It gives the Mills administration very useful guidelines, which if followed to the letter, will enable the NDC win back the trust of ordinary people in Ghana, again.

Above all, it is important, if he wants to leave behind a good legacy as president, that President Mills does not make the same mistake President Kufuor made, when he first came into office.

For, alas, unlike the perfidious, sly and utterly ruthless President Kufuor, Mills will not survive, if he fails to seize the historic opportunity Providence has now given him (amounting to a second chance for him, more or less), to make a real difference, in the fight against corruption in Ghana. Rawlings' latest speech, will help him do so, if he has the wisdom to follow the advice it gives him and his hard-of-hearing regime.

As Rawlings reiterated in that speech, it is still not too late for President Mills to put the negatives of the past behind him - but he must accept the former president's very useful guidelines, and move quickly to take all the necessary steps, which will enable our nation to finally begin dealing effectively with ending endemic corruption amongst public officials, in our country.

As a first step, and to establish a convention in Ghanaian politics, which will be followed by all successor-presidents who follow him, President Mills must now publicly publish the assets of both himself and those of the First Lady, Naadu Mills, as soon as it is practical to do so. It may not be a constitutional requirement, but it has now become a moral obligation, for our elected leaders to do so, in what after all is now an oil-producing African nation.

After that, he must make doing same a precondition for anyone wanting to continue serving in his administration, in 2012. Ditto any new appointments he makes, going forward. There are far too many doubtful characters in his administration, riding on his coattails.

The time has now come for him to rid his regime of all those dubious individuals. Closing down the so-called Brand Ghana Office, must be a priority in that regard, in what one hopes will be a new era of positive action.

This really is President Mills' last chance to save his legacy as president - and win re-election to a second term in office, in the December 2012 presidential election.

In the past, the rogues who lurk in the shadows in his administration, have invariably deployed faint-heartedness and procrastination, as weapons of mass destruction (WMD), to kill off anti-corruption measures. Alas, time is not on his side - so he must be bold and decisive in this instance. 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, 28 December 2011

Protecting Ghanaian Smartphone Users From Ghana's Large Army Of Online Fraudsters - Who Have Made Ghana A Global Power In Online Fraud!

As the use of smartphones become more popular in our country - thanks to the efforts of companies like Techno and RLG, which assemble them locally - and the number of social media users in Ghana increases, so does the number of victims of online fraudsters.

An excellent article, by Rosie Murray-West, which appeared in today's edition of the online version of the UK newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, gives smartphone users useful tips on how to avoid being victimised by online fraudsters.

I am reproducing her culled article, in today's blog, in the hope that it will save some Ghanaian smartphone and social media users, from ending up as victims of Ghana's many online fraudsters - who, sadly, have turned our nation into a global power in online fraud.

Unfortunately, many Ghanaians are in denial about it - and don't want to believe that Ghana is actually now one of the world's superpowers in online fraud: known locally as Saakawa. Rosie Murray-West's article is entitled, "Smartphone and social media users: beware a new type of fraudster". Please read on:

"Smartphone and social media users: beware a new type of fraudster

New technology such as iPhones means there are new ways of swindling you.

By Rosie Murray-West

1:04PM GMT 27 Dec 2011

This will be the year of the hi-tech fraudster, experts have said, and households are warned to be on their guard against new tricks aimed at parting them with their cash. "When times are tough, fraud increases," warns the anti-fraud group Cifas. "Individuals in desperate straits sometimes turn to desperate measures in order to make ends meet."

Cifas says that targets will include Government services, as more and more are delivered online, and ATMs. The Olympics are also likely to be a focus for scams, so sports fans should be wary. Here are some fraud trends to look out for in 2012, and tips on how to avoid them.

Facebook fraud

With more of us using Facebook, Twitter and other networking media, fraudsters are using "social engineering" to extort money. Once a virus infects a user's computer, it will, when they next visit a site such as Facebook, raid the user's "friends" list. The virus then sends an email to each friend asking them to click on a link to view a photo or video. The friends trust the name of the sender, click on the link, and in doing so their computer becomes infected.

"[The emails] might look like they come from a friend," Neil Fisher, head of global security systems at Unisys, says. "But click on them and they contain a hidden 'package'. This could contain keystroke-logging software that will find your passwords and other details.

Alternatively, you may end up with a man-in-the-browser virus. When a user logs on to specific online banking sites, the virus, or Trojan, is activated and intercepts banking data.

What can you do to stop it?

Make sure your Facebook is ''locked down'', and do not allow random people to view your list of friends or other personal details, even if these seem fairly innocuous to you. Remember that information such as your birthday could be valuable to a fraudster – your date of birth, for example, is a routine security question.

Do not click on strange attachments in your email – even if they purport to come from friends. If the text of the email sounds wrong in tone for a friend of yours, then think before you click.

iPads and Smartphones

Many people will have got shiny new media items for Christmas, including iPads and smartphones. For those who are new to the world of mobile internet browsing and apps, the devices could represent a gateway for attacks.

Neil Fisher warns about text message scams and "too good to be true" apps. People with Android phones have been particularly vulnerable to this in recent weeks. The Android Market store, operated by Google, had a number of seemingly legitimate ''free'' versions of premium titles. However, the downloads contained malware that sent premium-rate text messages to users. The apps were downloaded more than 10,000 times.

What can you do about it?

Check any apps you download onto new devices carefully for legitimacy and check your mobile phone bill regularly

Don't respond to texts that are not from people you know.

Card not present fraud

With more and more of us shopping online, so-called ''card not present'' fraud is a big risk. You'll realise that you've been a victim of this type of fraud either when you receive a huge credit card bill, or large debit card purchases that you don't recognise push you into overdraft.

This type of fraud can be perpetrated over the internet, by mail or on the phone – and in the majority of cases all the fraudster needs is your card number and sometimes the three digits on the back.

The number of people affected by this type of fraud is falling, but it is important to be on your guard. Martin Warwick, fraud expert at analytics provider Fico, says that Verified by Visa and Mastercard Securecode – whereby customers enter a password when shopping online – are meant to protect consumers. However, he added that these systems were "static rather than dynamic", meaning that fraudsters could easily gain access to them.

What can you do to stop it?

Keep your card data safe and do not give out Pin numbers on the phone. Legitimate inquiries from your bank will not ask you for your entire Pin – only for selected digits.

Make sure your secure codes are truly secure: don't give them out, and make them as complex as possible.

ATM issues

Martin Warwick points out that the increase in security online means that traditional methods of illegally obtaining money, for example from customers at cashpoints, are on the rise.

The ''Lebanese loop'', for instance, is a scam which makes it appear as if your card has been swallowed, but the fraudster will be able to retrieve it later. He or she will have been standing behind you, watching as you enter your Pin number. They will then retrieve your card using the "loop", and start using it themselves.

What can you do about it?

Make sure no one can see you typing in your Pin, and do not interact with seemingly well-meaning Good Samaritans who offer to help you if your card does get swallowed.

Look at the machine carefully before you use it – if you see anything that looks odd, do not use it.

Money mule cons

Money mule cons begin with a job being advertised, often involving "working from home". Once recruited, "money mules" receive cash into their bank accounts which will have been stolen from another compromised account. The mule is then asked to wire these funds overseas (minus a commission payment). In reality, this is money laundering. This process may continue smoothly for some time, until your bank account becomes compromised because you have clicked on infected emails from the fraudsters. Your bank account might then be emptied.

When the money laundering is discovered by police, often the ''mule'' is the only identifiable link in the chain, and you might face prosecution, with your bank account frozen.

Other versions of this include the often badly spelt emails from foreign ''dignitaries'' who ask you to send or receive money from them in exchange for a fee.

What can you do about it?

Do not respond to attractive-looking ''Work from home'' opportunities unless you are sure they are legitimate.

Read emails carefully and do not offer to use your account to send and receive money for other people.

Olympic cons

The Olympics will be a particular target for fraudsters, experts have warned. While there will be attempts to hack the main Olympic ticketing systems, they are unlikely to be successful, so watch out instead for activity around the edges. Neil Fisher at Unisys warns that ''packages'' offering tickets plus extras will be a particular focus for fraud.

What can you do about it?

Make sure that you are particularly careful with all Olympics-based transactions and check that the people you buy from are listed as legitimate."

End of culled Daily Telegraph article written by Rosie Murray-West.

Well, dear reader, I do hope that someone somewhere in Ghana, will learn something positive that will help protect them, when they venture online with their mobile device, after reading the Daily Telegraph's Rosie Murray-West's very useful article about fraud. Not being tech-savvy myself, I find such articles immensely useful.

To the many who interact with me daily by email, let me say that I am a rather-starve-than-beg type of person, so if any of you ever receives a begging email, or Facebook message that purports to be from me, appealing for financial help to save me from some calamity that has befallen me, please ignore it. I am a firm believer in the tough-love doctrine of friendship and parenting - and begging others simply isn't written into my DNA.

In any case, a phone call to my Tigo mobile number (+ 233 (0) 27 745 3109) will always quickly establish the fact that one isn't stranded in some distant and obscure corner of the planet Earth - having given up the globe-trotting of my youthful days, years ago.

A phone call to me, will also establish the fact that one is most definitely not in dire need of cash, either - having learnt to live a more or less cashless existence for decades now: after mastering the art and science of meeting most of one's basic material needs, by leveraging the green barter-economy (and long before it became fashionable, incidentally).

I shall end today's blog posting, by wishing all who read my ghanapolitics blog, a Happy New Year. One hopes that the year 2012 will bring peace to all nations in desperate need of it - and may the new year also see many more oppressed people around the world throwing off the shackles of tyranny: by overthrowing their cruel and brutish tyrants!

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

Sunday, 25 December 2011


Not too long ago, the Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, the leader of the Minority in Parliament, made a statement, during a press conference, claiming that the judgement-debt payment, which a legally constituted court of law had ordered be paid to Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome, was the single biggest loss of money, suffered by the Ghanaian nation-state, since independence.

Actually, that is not factual, dear reader. It needs to be pointed out - to each one of those hypocrites, who occupy most of the seats on the side of the Minority in Parliament, and all of whom, incidentally, knew exactly how dishonest and crooked Kufuor & Co., were, during the tenure of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) regime, from January 2001 to Junuary 2009 - that as a matter of fact, the cause of the single biggest loss of money to the national treasury, since Ghana gained its independence in March 1957, is not the relatively paltry sums a properly constituted court of law ordered be paid to Woyome, as judgement-debt.

If truth be told, the single biggest instance of loss of money, suffered by the Ghanaian nation-state, since independence, are the billions of dollars of revenues that should rightly be coming the way of our nation and all its people, but are not - as a result of high-level sleight-of-hand manoeuvring, which gave a stake in oilfields off our nation's shores, to two well-connected Ghanaians, who did not even pay a pesewa upfront for same.

Does the US$350 million-plus, for example, which should have been paid into the national kitty, but was not, and went instead to that opaque "front" (to use a word from the erstwhile crook-in-chief's own lips, once upon a time, in a Freudian-slip on national television!) for Kufuor & Co., the E. O. Group, when Tullow Oil acquired some of that nebulous entity's interest in the Jubilee oilfield, not too long ago, not make Woyome's GHc 52-plus millions, pale into insignificance, I ask, dear reader?

Did we hear a whimper from those hypocrites-in-Parliament, expressing disquiet, that private individuals from our country, should get away with such obscene sums - which rightly should have come to all Ghanaians: if Nkrumah's vision of a caring and sharing society guided our leaders and informed government policy today, instead of the rip-off culture and ethos of private greed at public expense, which, alas, now underpin virtually everything our ruling elites do?

How Kwame Nkrumah must be turning in his grave - that what he abhorred most: that a powerful few with greedy ambitions, could succeed in hijacking Ghana's natural resources, at the expense of the rest of us, with complete impunity, is now the reality of our times. O, how one weeps for Mother Ghana - now dominated mostly by super-ruthless blackguards. Pity.

If the Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu - who now appears so solicitous about Ghana's well-being - will continue being so quick to act to protect the interests of our country and all its people, should his party win power in the December 2012 elections (God forbid!), then there's hope yet, for Mother Ghana.

One certainly hopes he has now turned over a new leaf, and that if the NPP were to return to power again (God forbid!), he will never aid and abet the asset-stripping of Ghana's accumulated wealth, by those who will then be running Ghana.

Going forward, he must never compromise himself again, by repeating the pivotal role he played, in the speedy passage, by Parliament, during the Kufuor-era, of that fraudulent sale and purchase agreement for the purchase of the Volta Aluminium Company Limited (VALCO), by a non-existent company, grandly named International Aluminium Partners (IAP).

Now, that, dear reader, definitely was fraud specifically designed to rip-off the Ghanaian nation-state - as both the Norwegian headquartered Norske Hydro, and the Brazilian-domiciled VALE, who it was purported were partners in IAP, strenuously denied ever agreeing either to purchasing VALCO or being in partnership as IAP.

That outrageous example, of the sanctioning, by Parliament, of gargantuan fraud, the sale and purchase agreement for VALCO, by a non-existent entity, is a classic example of how during the golden age of business for Kufuor & Co., Ghana was constantly short-changed - by those in the tribal-supremacist cabal, which dominated and controlled a regime elected by Ghanaians, ostensibly to protect the national interest.

Naturally, the many oh-so-arrogant NPP self-seekers, who now have the gall to engage in endless criticism of the honest and selfless President Mills, 24/7, on the airwaves and in the print media, and virtually all of whom took part in the brutal and repeated gang-rape of Mother Ghana, when the NPP was in power, and prospered so mightily individually - but no longer have access to easy money, because the era of pork-barrel politics is finally over: consigned to history by the principled and incorruptible President Mills - have all now conveniently forgotten what an actual threat, the unfathomable greed that underpinned the Kufuor-era, posed to the stability and well-being of our nation.

(The confounded Gabby Asare Otchere-Darkos; the perfidious John Boadus; the dissimulating Samuel Awukus; the supine Ken Kuranchies and the many mercenary-hacks of his ilk in the Ghanaian media landscape - jam-packed with third-rate individuals who have failed to master even the basic tool of their profession, the English language - all come readily to mind.)

No one who actually cares about Mother Ghana, must forget those dark days of high-level corruption, in Ghana - when the African sun used to shine only on: the favourites amongst members of the family clans of Kufuor & Co.; ditto the many regime-golden-princes of the era - that super-arrogant high-net-worth-brat, the verbally-aggressive and uncouth Kennedy Adjapong, being a prime example, incidentally; sundry bottom-power girlfriends of the confounded Big-men-with-big-bellies of the time, and above all, on the crony-capitalists of the Kufuor regime - a majority of whom were experts at dodging taxes and, in the end, succeeded in turning our second city, Kumasi, into the smuggling capital of West Africa, no less.

Let no one who truly loves Ghana, forget those forlorn days of infamy - when a fortunate few, ruthlessly exploited our national economy, for private gain, at public expense. So rotten were the Kufuor-era rogues, that they make even the crooks who lurk in the shadows, in the Mills administration, look like veritable saints.

That is why the Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, must let us all know, whether he has now suddenly experienced a road-to-Damascus moment - just like St. Paul did in the Holy Bible: and is thus a changed man and now happens to be a politician who will never allow the Ghanaian nation-state (and all its citizens, without exception!), to be ripped-off, by the powerful and crooked elements, who, though small in number, still dominate his party so completely.

Still, despite our political differences, and in the spirit of the season, I do wish him, all his colleagues in Parliament - on both sides of the chamber - and the aforementioned oh-so-arrogant NPP self-seekers above, as well as all the readers of my Ghanapolitics blog, a happy holiday season. May 2012 be a peaceful and joyous year for all of us, and for Mother Ghana, above all!

Finally, and at the risk of sounding presumptuous, my humble advice to the Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, is that he must weigh his words carefully, whenever speaking to the good people of Nkrumah's Ghana - for they are not fools, at all. 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, 22 December 2011


It will not be far fetched, dear reader, to say that the whole of Ghana, literally awaits the denouement of the Woyome judgment-debt payment saga. Naturally, because of its impact on the nation, the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) propagandists see it as a golden opportunity to maul the Mills administration mortally - and have been quick to make political capital out of it, using the electronic media, mostly.

In so doing, the NPP is plumbing new depths of hypocrisy, as it is a fact that it was the arrogance and irresponsibility of Kufuor & Co., in the first place - in abrogating a legally binding contract - which has resulted in Ghanaian taxpayers losing such huge sums: through a judgment-debt payment to Alfred Agbesi Woyome and as a result of an arbitration award, paid out to Waterville BVI.

The capacity for self-delusion amongst members of our political class is breathtaking: Let the NPP continue to think that this is a perfect big-stick to beat the National Democratic Congress (NDC) regime with.

What they seem to forget, is that President Mills is the most honest (and humblest!) individual to lead Ghana, thus far, since the overthrow of President Nkrumah, in February 1966. It is not as if he and his regime and are involved in some fraud with Woyome - to rip-off the Ghanaian nation-state and the people of Ghana. Far from it!

When those notorious dream-killers and illusion-shatterers-supreme, the infamous gang-of-brutal-facts, and their hard-nosed side-kicks, the plain-truth-posse, eventually ambush them, and reality finally hits them in the face, perhaps they will then realise just what a grave error of judgement, latching on to the Woyome judgement-debt saga, so quickly, was. Hmm, Ghana - eyeasem oo: asem kesie ebeba debi ankasa!

To those discerning, independent-minded and patriotic individuals, who always put Mother Ghana first, and whose crucial swing-votes now determine the outcome of presidential elections in Ghana (thank goodness - as opposed to the teeming millions of "My-party-my-tribe-right-or-wrong" myrmidon-types, many of whom put party and tribe before loyalty to Mother Ghana, and whose blinkered support for the NPP and NDC, is slowly destroying those two parties, alas), who may be wondering who to believe, in this most extraordinary of murky-affairs, let me simply say this: let them ponder why the Hon. Yaw Osafo Marfo, the Minister for Education, Youth and Sports at the material time now under scrutiny, cautioned his colleagues in the Kufuor administration - in a cabinet memo, dated 27th July 2005, about the implications of abrogating a legally-binding contract.

Furthermore, they must also ask themselves, why none of the NPP's handsomely-paid mercenary-apologists in the Ghanaian media, happens to be addressing the issue of why a foreign legal firm would take it upon itself, to write to threaten a government of Ghana with future legal action, if contracts duly awarded to their clients were illegally terminated - which is precisely what Colin Russell, lawyers for Waterville BVI/Vamed Engineering did, on August 27, 2005.

Now, whiles we may all be entitled to our opinions, facts, however, are sacrosanct - and there can only be one set of facts in this shabby affair. The question is: is it factual, that the Hon. Yaw Osafo Marfo and the legal firm, Collin Russel, did write to caution the NPP regime of President Kufuor about the implication of abrogating the Waterville BVI/Vamed Engineering contract, on the said two dates stated above: 27th July 2005 and August 27, 2005 - and if so, why?

Doubtless we will all soon know what bearing those letters have on the truth about who is really responsible for the hapless taxpayers of Ghana losing so much money, through the payment of a judgement-debt of such magnitude, to Woyome, and as a result of an arbitration award, paid out to Waterville BVI.

At that juncture, perhaps instead of focusing exclusively on Alfred Agbesi Woyome, we will all be wondering who exactly in the Kufuor regime at the time, will be charged, prosecuted and jailed, for wilfully causing financial loss to the Ghanaian nation-state.

I must confess, dear reader, that it is exactly that deeply-satisfying prospect, of finally seeing the swindlers and thieves in that profligate and perfidious regime, finally being charged, prosecuted and jailed, for the brutal and repeated gang-rape of Mother Ghana, which makes this whole affair so riveting for me. The chickens may finally be coming home to roost for Kufuor & Co., who always thought that somehow they led charmed lives - and were beyond the reach of the laws of Ghana.

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

POST SCRIPT: Let me point it out, dear reader, to each one of those ace-hypocrites, who fill most of the seats on the side of the Minority in Parliament - and all of whom knew exactly how dishonest and crooked Kufuor & Co. were - that as a matter of fact, the cause of the single biggest loss of money to the national treasury, since Ghana gained its independence, is not the relatively paltry sums a court ordered be paid to Woyome as judgement-debt, but are the billions of dollars of revenues that should rightly be coming the way of our nation and all its people, but are not, as a result of high-level sleight-of-hand manoeuvring, which gave a stake in oilfields off our nation's shores, to two well-connected Ghanaians, who did not even pay a pesewa upfront for same.

Does the US$350 million-plus, for example, which should have been paid into the national kitty, but was not, and went instead to that opaque "front" (to use a word from the erstwhile crook-in-chief's own lips, once upon a time, in a Freudian-slip, on national television!) for Kufuor & Co., the E. O. Group, when Tullow Oil acquired some of that nebulous entity's interest in the Jubilee oilfield, not too long ago, not make Woyome's GHc 52-plus millions, pale into insignificance, I ask, dear reader?

Did we hear a whimper from those ace-hypocrites from the Minority in Parliament - expressing disquiet that private individuals from our country should get away with such obscene sums, which rightly should have come to all Ghanaians: if Nkrumah's vision of a caring and sharing society guided our leaders and informed policy today, instead of the rip-off culture and ethos of private greed at public expense, which, alas, now underpin virtually everything our ruling elites do?

Kwame Nkrumah must be turning in his grave - that what he abhored most: that a powerful few with greedy ambitions, could succeed in hijacking Ghana's natural resources, at the expense of the rest of us, with complete impunity, is now the reality of our times. O, how one weeps for Mother Ghana - now dominated mostly by super-ruthless blackguards. Pity.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Statement by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde - at the Conclusion of her Visit to Nigeria

Lagos, December 20, 2011 - International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, made the following statement today in Lagos, at the conclusion of her visit to Nigeria:

“It has been a pleasure to visit Nigeria on my first trip to Africa as Managing Director. I came here primarily to listen to our African members, and to find out how we can better tailor support to countries in this region in the current difficult global environment.

“I have had very productive discussions with President Goodluck Jonathan, Federal Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for Economy Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. They, along with their colleagues, play a key role in economic transformation here in Nigeria — a country of abundant resources, wealth of people, and vast potential. I also had the privilege of meeting representatives of civil society organizations and the private sector, including many women business leaders. All in all, this visit has been a wonderful chance for me to witness first-hand the spirit of opportunity and leadership that befits Africa’s most populous country.

“Nigeria recognizes the need to maintain the reforms and policy implementation that helped it weather the crisis of 2008-09. Nigeria’s own Transformation Agenda presents a worthy platform to guard against risks and promote shared growth. Most importantly, it is an agenda for Nigeria, driven by Nigerians.

“Three aspects of the government’s agenda strike me as crucial. First, it is vital that natural resource revenues be channeled more effectively toward the infrastructure investment needed for growth and jobs. Second, promoting a more diversified economy will help Nigeria better withstand shocks and provide for more broad-based growth, again with opportunities and jobs for the entire population being the priority. Thirdly, continued financial sector reform should build on the impressive progress in resolving the recent banking crisis by further strengthening regulation and supervisory practices, and increasing access to credit. The IMF will do all it can to help support Nigeria in achieving its objectives.

“I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Nigerian authorities for their warm welcome and generous hospitality.”

End of statement by Ms. Christine Largarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund.

Africa's Future: Responding to Today's Global Economic Challenges - By Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund

Today, dear reader, I am posting a speech delivered to participants at a roundtable discussion, with stakeholders, by the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ms. Christine Largade, at the Eko Hotel, Lagos, Nigeria, on December 20, 2011. Please read on:

"Good morning. It is a privilege to be here with you today. My thanks goes to the Nigerian Government for arranging this event, and to you all for taking the time to join us.

I would also like to express my gratitude to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, and Central Bank Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. Both have been instrumental in pursuing Nigeria’s economic transformation.

This is my first official visit to Nigeria — indeed my first visit to Africa — as IMF Managing Director. I can think of no better place to begin my discussions with the region and to work toward a stronger partnership.

To borrow some words from Ngozi:

This is the Africa of opportunity... the Africa where people take charge of their own futures... the Africa where people are looking for partnerships…

Nigeria — with its abundant resources, its wealth of people, and its vast potential — embodies this spirit of opportunity and Africa leadership.

Yet, these are challenging times for the global economy. The dark clouds of risk are gathering, and Nigeria and others in Africa will need to watch them carefully.

So, let me talk about four things today:

• First, the state of the global economy and the policies needed by countries at the heart of the crisis.
• Second, the growing risks for Nigeria and the region.
• Third, the importance of pursuing Nigeria’s Transformation Agenda both to guard against these risks and to promote shared growth for all Nigerians.
• And, fourth, how the IMF can help Nigeria and Africa face these challenges.

1.  Global Outlook and Policies

As I have said many times, the world economy has been poised in a dangerous phase. In our last forecast, we still saw global growth at 4 percent for this year and next. But, today, the growth outlook is much dimmer. And, worse, there are severe downside risks.

A collective crisis of confidence is at the heart of the problem.

Adverse developments in the real economy and the financial sector keep feeding off each other, propelling each other down. And, as we have seen in Europe, there has been a loss of market confidence in both governments and banks.

Governments have been adjusting — in some cases with the help of IMF programs — but some not convincingly enough to regain market confidence. On top of this, unemployment remains unacceptably high in too many countries.

What does this mean for the policy path forward?

The advanced countries, especially those in the Euro Area, are at the center of the crisis. And they must be at the center of any solution.

In recent months, eurozone leaders have started to outline the key pillars of a solution. But, what is needed now is implementation.

Policies also need to focus on the bigger picture — the need to restore stability and growth, lasting growth.

The advanced economies need to strike an appropriate balance between fiscal and monetary policy to promote growth and stability. It means forging ahead with structural policies that focus squarely on boosting competitiveness, growth, and jobs. And, it means strengthening financial sector regulation to ensure a safer and more stable financial sector that is better able to support growth.

While these problems might seem a world away, without action, the world economy could be swept into a downward spiral of collapsing confidence, weaker growth, and fewer jobs.

And in today’s interconnected global economy, no country and no region is immune to these risks.

2.  Implications for Nigeria and the Region

This brings me to my second point: how might these escalating global risks affect Africa and Nigeria?

Let me first acknowledge the progress in Sub-Saharan Africa, and here in Nigeria, over the past decade. Naturally, challenges remain. But the starting point for our discussion has shifted — shifted for the better.

Good economic policies have provided a platform: for higher growth, for more investment, for less poverty. Growth across the region averaged 5-6 percent or more over the past decade and, although it varies from country to country, this is significant. And the poverty rate declined from nearly 60 percent to just over 50 percent in the 10 years up to 2005.

That’s not to say the crisis didn’t hurt. The food and fuel crisis of 2008, and the global financial crisis that followed, took a toll on efforts to reduce poverty.

But, when the crisis hit, policymakers responded effectively. Most countries were able to maintain critical spending on health, education and infrastructure. And we saw countries in the region recover quickly, with growth rates now returning to levels enjoyed in the mid-2000s.

This is a testament to the hard work and dedication of policymakers and people across the region. Before the crisis, they reduced budget deficits and public debt; they brought down inflation, and built up foreign exchange reserves. In short, they put their economies on a fundamentally stronger footing.

Nigeria is no exception. Reforms initiated 6-7 years ago helped mitigate the impact of the global crisis. Nigeria’s economy continued to grow by 6 percent despite the crisis — and above the current regional average.

Growth looks set to continue at a healthy pace into next year. But, spillovers from the advanced economies threaten that outlook. Nigeria’s resilience is being tested again.

The trade and financial links, so critical to moving the economy forward in good times — ironically — become the interconnections that carry today’s escalating economic risks.

A sustained slowdown in advanced countries will dampen demand for Africa’s exports. And, together with continued financial market uncertainty, this will likely inhibit private financing flows, remittances, and concessional financing.

The potential for greater volatility in commodity markets could cause further disruptions, with winners and losers within the region. The risk of a drop in world oil prices if global demand weakens is the key watch point for Nigeria.

Faced with these risks, my main worry is that many countries do not have as much capacity to absorb shocks as they did three years ago. Added to that, the global slowdown could be more pronounced this time around.

Policies need to tread a fine line between defending against the global slowdown in the near-term, while also preserving fiscal resources for investment in much-needed infrastructure that will help promote employment and growth.

But, for the main part, policymakers need to focus on restoring the fiscal buffers that served the continent and Nigeria so well during the last downturn. It will be important to be prepared.

As Ben Okri, the Booker Prize-winning Nigerian novelist and poet, once said: “Life throws stones at you, but your love and your dream change those stones into the flowers of discovery.”

With the right vision, the right actions, today’s global risks need not become Nigeria’s reality.

3.  Nigeria’s Transformation Agenda

Which brings me to my third point: how reforms underway in Nigeria are the key to guarding against risks, and securing more inclusive and lasting economic growth. At the outset, let me say that I am confident that Nigeria is on the right track.

Earlier this year, President Goodluck Jonathan described the goals of the government’s Transformation Agenda: “Nigeria needs to build a more inclusive society where every Nigerian would have equal access to economic and developmental opportunities.”

These echo the goals for many other countries in the region.

Yet this is not an easy task. In addition to growing global risks, the reform agenda also must contend with some serious local challenges.

Infrastructure gaps, particularly in the power sector, are also holding Nigeria back from its full growth potential. Nigeria’s electricity generation capacity, for example, is just 10 percent that of South Africa’s, while Nigeria’s population is more than 3 times greater.

And high unemployment is also a critical economic and social issue. This is especially true for Nigeria’s young people for whom the rate of unemployment is over 35 percent.

So, economic growth alone will not suffice. Job creation will be critical to ensuring that growth is both economically and socially sustainable.

There are three aspects of the government’s agenda that I see as crucial to this endeavor.
One, better managing Nigeria’s vast natural resource wealth.

Establishing the Sovereign Wealth Fund and emphasizing the use of oil revenues for stabilization and investment are important advancements. Pressing ahead with these reforms is particularly important given the external environment — namely, the need to rebuild fiscal buffers.

It will also help ensure that natural resource revenues are channeled more effectively toward the infrastructure investment needed for growth and jobs.

But, prudent management of natural resource revenues will also create room for other critical public spending. Given the distance still to go to reach the Millennium Development Goals, increasing the resources available to build stronger social safety nets is particularly important, including in areas such as maternal and child care.
Two, structural transformation.

Promoting a more diversified economy will help Nigeria better withstand shocks. It will also provide for more broad-based growth, with opportunities and jobs for the entire population.

There is huge, untapped potential here. Nigeria is an enormous market for investors. A market where telecommunications grew, with the explosion of mobile phone subscribers, from 60,000 in 2000 to 125 million today.

But much could still be done to improve Nigeria’s business environment. This will require investment to address infrastructure bottlenecks, to raise education levels, and to help development the agricultural sector.

It also means more reliable policies that can help promote macroeconomic stability and investor confidence.
Three, financial sector reform.

Nigeria’s banking system experienced a severe crisis in 2009, as over one third of banks became insolvent or seriously undercapitalized. But there has been an impressive record of reform. And actions to resolve the banking crisis are nearly complete.

Looking ahead, continued refinements in regulatory and supervisory practices should focus on preserving financial stability and improving access to credit.

This is a broad and challenging agenda. And, perhaps, what is most impressive is that it is an agenda for Nigeria, driven by Nigerians.

4.  Role of the Fund

The IMF is here to support you and be a better partner for you. This is my final point.

I am committed to a deeper, more fruitful dialogue, with the IMF listening even more carefully to your needs. This will help us serve you even more effectively.

Nigeria is a thought leader in the region. And I am here to listen.

We have also been working hard to reform the IMF’s governance structure so that emerging market and developing countries have a greater voice in the institution. And, so we can be truly representative of our membership.

For those countries that need it, we have boosted our concessional lending capacity and made our lending instruments more flexible, with greater protections for social spending.

We are also redoubling our efforts to provide quality technical advice. The IMF has technical expertise to offer, expertise that can help African countries achieve their social and economic objectives; we have an active program of technical assistance with Nigerian public institutions. We can also play an important role, through our four, and soon to be five, regional technical assistance centers in Africa, of facilitating a sharing of expertise between countries.


Let me conclude with a thought from renowned Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe. In Things Fall Apart, he wrote: “The sun will shine on those who stand, before it shines on those who kneel under them.”

There are challenges ahead. And this is the time for policymakers to stand up. To turn away from the global economic storm clouds and turn to the sun.

It is a time for action; a time for African leadership, Nigerian leadership. With continued action, Nigeria can be a source of growth, for itself, for the continent, and for the world.

Thank you."

End of Ms. Christine Largarde's speech - delivered to participants at a roundtable discussion at the Eko Hotel, Lagos, Nigeria, on December 20, 2011.

Monday, 19 December 2011


If actually true, the gripping story of the chronology of events, which eventually led up to the GHc 52 millions judgement debt, paid to Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome, and the twenty five million Euros (€25m) awarded after arbitration, and paid to Waterville (BVI), as a result of the abrogation, by the Kufuor regime, on August 22, 2005, of a contract awarded to Waterville (BVI) and Vamed Engineering, both companies he was apparently associated with, is a truly fascinating one.

The said contract was apparently awarded to Waterville/Vamed Engineering on August 5, 2005, in accordance with the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663), by the Central Tender Review Board.

If the Kufuor regime indeed acted in arbitrary fashion, in abrogating the said contract, then, alas, it would appear that the chickens have finally come home to roost, for those who became so power-drunk, during the New Patriotic Party's tenure in office.

The Alfred Woyome story, if true, illustrates perfectly, how some of the most powerful individuals in the Kufuor regime, forgot that they did not actually own the Ghanaian nation-state - and consequently made them fall into the trap, of thinking, that somehow they were invincible: and beyond the long arm of the law.

It was therefore easy for them to make the grave error of judgment, of ignoring the fact that all governments in power at any given point in time, in Ghana's history, are mere tenants of the Ghanaian people at the Osu Castle - with a full-repair lease, subject to renewal once every four years: with a maximum occupation period of eight years.

Why else, dear reader, would such highly intelligent individuals, some with legal backgrounds, apparently choose to ignore perfectly sound advice, from not only one, but from a number of sources, not to proceed along the dangerous path they had decided to trod on - including that allegedly of Mr. Yaw Osafo-Marfo, who warned his cabinet colleagues, of the dire legal consequences, of abrogating a contract duly awarded by the Central Tender Review Board: in a cabinet memo said to have been dated 27th July 2005?

The question is: Did they unilaterally decide to abrogate the Waterville/Vamed Engineering contract, and allegedly give the job to the Shanghai Construction Group, because they stood to personally benefit, either directly, or indirectly, through third parties, from so doing?

Furthermore, who was the well-connected and wealthy Ghanaian "connection man/woman" (or group of individuals) who allegedly brought the Shanghai Construction Group into the picture - who doubtless used clout available to them at the Osu Castle, to obtain the contract through back-door channels?

The financial package said to have been outlined in the Waterville/Vamed Engineering bid offer, was said to be far better value for Ghana, and was clearly superior to that which the Shangai Construction Group eventually leveraged, and was said to have apparently financed the construction of the stadia with.

If so, did Ghana end up having to pay substantially more than it needed to, simply because some powerful and influential individuals, would benefit from that relatively more expensive loan - which in the end the Chinese company is alleged to have utilised, to finance the construction of the stadia?

It is such a pity that those power-drunk individuals ignored those of us, who kept on reminding them, that since no condition is permanent, a time would come when they would finally be turfed out of power - when they would eventually end up having to pay for their crimes against the Ghanaian people.

If they are really guilty of wilfully causing such huge losses to the Ghanaian nation-state, then despite the propaganda of their handsomely-paid hirelings-without-conscience, in the Ghanaian media (who conveniently forget, that Mother Ghana was indeed a gang-rape victim - brutally assaulted many times over, by Kufuor & Co.), this is one case of abuse of office, which the perfidious Kufuor & Co., must not be allowed to wriggle out of, under any circumstances.

Above all, the honest and patriotic individuals in the Mills regime, must ensure that the deliberate and self-serving tactics of inertia and procrastination often employed to kill such cases, by the crooks in the administration of the honest President Mills, are not allowed to be deployed to prevent the prosecution of those in the Kufuor-era, responsible for such egregious examples of: impunity; arbitrary exercise of power; abuse of office and grand corruption, at the highest levels of government.

If the Woyome story is true, then on behalf of the hapless taxpayers of Ghana, the Mills administration must ensure that all those whose actions resulted in the alleged payment of a judgment debt of such magnitude - approximately fifty two million Ghana cedis (Ghc 52m) to Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome and over twenty five million Euros (€25m) paid to Waterville (BVI) after arbitration - are prosecuted. Simply put, they will be failing Mother Ghana, if their regime fails to do so. A word to the wise...

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

Sunday, 18 December 2011


When Britain's Queen Elizabeth11, last visited Ghana (7–9 November, 1999), the then elected leader of Ghana, President Rawlings, asked her to help Ghana fight corruption.

From what he is said to have told visitors who accompanied soccer legend, Samuel Osei Kufuor, to pay a courtesy call on him, at his Ridge office recently, he seems to be labouring under the illusion that the Establishments of the wealthy nations of the West, have kept their values intact, and haven't allowed "money" to corrode those values - unlike "present day Ghana". He may be in for a rude shock.

Whiles agreeing with most of Mr. Rawlings' concerns that corrupt elements in our country seem to be escaping from paying for their crimes against Ghana, I will also quote, for the benefit of Mr. Rawlings, the reaction of a wag I know, when he saw a photograph of Mrs. Rawlings dancing (at a K. K. Fosu concert, if I remember correctly!) with President Kufuor, not too long ago.

Former President Kufuor, as we all know, is a man, who Mr. Rawlings used to condemn President Mills strongly, for not prosecuting him - and ensuring that he ended up being jailed for corruption.

That is why, upon seeing that astonishing photograph, the wag I know, asked the rhetorical question: "Kofi, who would be Mrs. Rawlings' dancing partner today - if Mills had gone ahead and prosecuted and jailed Kufuor, as she and her husband had wanted?"

Well, dear reader, I do hope that somehow, someone will draw President Rawlings' attention, to the culled Daily Telegraph article, which I am reproducing below. It was written by the Daily Telegraph's chief political commentator, Peter Oborne.

Alas, Mr Rawlings' illusion about the moral values of Britain's politicians, may be shattered for good, after he reads that brilliant piece. As we say in local parlance in Ghana: "Massa, nowhere cool!"

Mr. Rawlings has railed against corruption in Ghana since 1979. He has also ruled our nation for a combined total of over some twenty odd years. He did not bring an end to corruption in Ghana, in all those years he was in office for.

President Mills has only been in office for a little under four years. There are those who will say, that it is totally unrealistic, and most unfair, to expect him to have succeeded in rooting out corruption in the country, within that relatively short period, he has been in office, as Ghana's president.

With respect, Mr. Rawlings must stop undermining President Mills, so - a man of undoubted integrity, respected by all decent and fair-minded Ghanaians. An officer and a gentleman must not be so publicly disloyal to the commander-in-chief of the Ghana Armed Forces - particularly at this critical juncture of our nation's history. Not when there is no real justification for it - and there isn't, if truth be told.

President Mills does not run a military dictatorship - he is an elected executive president, in a nation that, at least, on paper, is a constitutional democracy, with inbuilt checks and balances: which place limitations on his powers. It is important that Mr. Rawlings never forgets that. Period. Please read on:

"This sorry display of self-interest brings shame on the Commons

By Peter Oborne ⁠Politics ⁠Last updated: December 14th, 2011

Even after the expenses scandal, many of our MPs are still putting greed before duty

I have relatively few political heroes, but one is Elizabeth Filkin, who briefly served as parliamentary commissioner for standards a decade ago. She was appointed to her post in the wake of a wave of notorious financial scandals, mainly involving Conservative politicians. Her job was to clean up politics.

Filkin’s mistake was to take her job description literally. She exposed an appalling pattern of bullying, arrogance and greed at the heart of Westminster. MPs were appalled.

However, instead of punishing the malefactors, they turned their fire on Filkin herself, using threats, malicious gossip and a campaign of media vilification in order to rub her out. It was an all-party effort – the Labour, Tory and Lib Dem whips offices were all gleeful participants – that soon made sure she was out of a job.

In retrospect, Elizabeth Filkin was the canary in the mine – an advance signal that British politicians were bent. Years were to pass before, thanks to the vigilance of The Daily Telegraph, voters learnt the hideous truth about the lies, thievery and moral corruption of so many MPs.

Today, history is repeating itself. Shamed by the expenses scandal, Parliament was forced to create an external body, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), to regulate the payments. From the start, MPs bitterly resented having to submit their claims to it for authorisation, just as a decade ago they hated Filkin.

Their assault on Ipsa, which began within weeks of it starting operations in May last year, has taken place on a number of levels. First, in an echo of the vindictive campaign of character assassination aimed at Mrs Filkin, senior Ipsa personnel have been targeted. Both the chairman, Sir Ian Kennedy – a hard-working and decent man, committed to public service – and his admirable chief executive, Andrew McDonald, have been the subject of vicious attack.

In an especially shameful act, Labour’s Ann Clwyd took advantage of parliamentary privilege to accuse Ipsa’s spokesman of leaking details of MPs’ expenses to the press. Clwyd furnished no evidence of her assertion, which has been convincingly denied, and she must have known that a public official was in no position to answer back. Clwyd has never had the guts to repeat her inflammatory accusation outside the Commons.

Even worse than this flagrant abuse of privilege, however, have been the verbal assaults and bullying aimed at ordinary Ipsa staff. Within days of the opening of Parliament in May last year, MPs were being openly resentful when asked to provide evidence that they incurred expenses, and became verbally aggressive when they were not paid at once. At least one resorted to foul language, reducing the very junior official he was dealing with to tears. While there were teething problems – as with any organisation – this behaviour was unforgivable.

Bad though they were, these venomous assaults played a relatively small part in Parliament’s campaign to discredit Ipsa. In the short time that this tiny quango has existed, it has been obliged to endure no fewer than five external reviews and audits: two from the National Audit Office, separate reviews from the Public Accounts Committee and Office of Government Commerce, and a fifth from the Committee on Members’ Expenses. The second of the NAO examinations was a so-called “value for money” audit. I have found no precedent for such an examination taking place of an organisation that had not even presented its first-year accounts.

It is obvious that something very fishy is going on. The level of attention paid to Ipsa would be appropriate – desirable, even – if it was a major government department. It is a minute quango.

Here is the truth. MPs are deeply interested in how Ipsa works because it affects them in the pocket. They passionately resent its existence, and their real ambition is revealed in a report this week by the Committee on Members’ Expenses. It is a disreputable piece of work, full of errors and inconsistencies. It claims to support independent regulation of MPs’ expenses, but close examination reveals a completely different agenda.

The committee is urging a return to flat-rate allowances, which means effectively no accountability to the taxpayer. Worse still, it demands that administration of expenses should return to the House of Commons, recreating the old Fees Office, which allowed MPs to get away with pretty well anything. These proposals are to be discussed today in a debate that has been called with suspicious speed: normally it takes ages to arrange such an event in the Commons.

Something very sad is going on here. Many backbench MPs and ministers are indeed honest and decent people, dedicated to public service. But a sizeable minority of legislators are in politics for what they can get, as the expenses scandal proved.

Today’s debate is being called at a time of unprecedented national austerity, when the average living standards of ordinary people are being sliced away at a rate unprecedented since the Second World War. As a result, there are many more profound and urgent issues, yet today Parliament is setting aside valuable time to debate the terms and conditions of just 650 fairly well-paid and middle-class people.

The paradox is that Parliament is just beginning to regain the trust of voters after the appalling abuses of recent years, with the recent intake the most public-spirited and brilliant in living memory. So I hope that readers of The Daily Telegraph will take a close look at the Members who gather today.

I daresay they will find that the Commons chamber will be fuller than usual, as public duty takes second place to private gain. This spectacle is disastrous for our politics, and now is surely the moment for the three party leaders to show leadership by bringing this sorry display of self-interest to an end.

The trouble is that David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg are all terrified of their own backbenches. It is worth remembering that the Prime Minister’s initial instinct was to prevent the Committee on Members’ Expenses forming at all, but changed his mind after one of his periodic maulings by the 1922 Committee. Cameron was presumably told by his Whips that one way of buying off angry backbenchers was by holding out the prospect of an improvement in the rations.

It is exactly 100 years since the decision was made to award MPs an annual stipend, then worth some £400 a year. It is still interesting today to read the debate at which the sum was agreed. The dominant assumption that informed this debate (which had been spurred by the election for the first time of Labour MPs, who lacked independent means) was that there exists a firm distinction between private interest and public duty.

The chancellor of the exchequer, David Lloyd George, summed up this mood when he told the Commons the sum was simply an allowance to cover expenses and explicitly not intended to be “a recognition of the magnitude of the service”. Sadly, this sense that the job of an MP was its own reward, measured in honour, has long since vanished. Today’s Commons debate marks a reminder of the tragic abyss which divides so many members of the political class from mainstream standards of decency and restraint."

End of culled article from the Daily Telegraph.

Friday, 16 December 2011


To understand why patriotic and nationalistic Ghanaian voters, in pending elections in one of Africa's newest oil-producing nations, really ought to give President Mills a second term in office, one has to remember a few pertinent Ghanaian oil industry facts.

Fact number one: President Mills rejected a bribe from American oil company executives - not too long after he assumed office. There are few leaders anywhere in the developing world, who would do same, dear reader - and one must therefore commend Mills, for being a man of such unalloyed integrity: and a shining example to political leaders worldwide.

Fact number two: It will be recalled, that a number of American oil company executives paid courtesy calls on the sitting president, during the era of President Mills' predecessor, the perfidious President Kufour.

One wonders whether they made the same offer they made to President Mills, to President Kufuor, too, then - which perhaps is what made them so bold to repeat the offer to Mills, when they subsequently paid a courtesy call on him, at the Osu Castle, not too long after he became president.

Fact number three: Furthermore, it is also a fact that during the Kufuor-era, two private individuals, fellow Ghanaian citizens (both not previously known by either Ghanaian or U.S. tax authorities to be high net worth individuals!), who did not even pay a pesewa upfront, for such valuable assets, eventually ended up owning shares in oil blocs, in Ghanaian oilfields, off our country's shores.

Does it follow, a priori, therefore, from all the above, dear reader, that that is why thus far, under the current administration, we have not seen any private individuals from Ghana, emerging as partners of foreign oil companies, operating in any of the oilfields off our nation's shores - and owning shares in oil blocs in those selfsame oilfields: using special purpose vehicles for the purpose?

And is that why, although under President Kufuor, there was the E. O. Group, under his successor, President Mills, there has not been any such entity, in private Ghanaian hands? Is that why we have so far not heard of the existence of an equivalent of the E. O. Group - which, perhaps, during the tenure of a National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, might be known as the Eyeeh Zuu Zaa Group (the E. Z. Z. Group), for example?

Fact number four: A number of senior New Patriotic Party (NPP) figures, have made promises to wealthy mavericks within their ranks, that they will be given shares in oil blocs - to pacify them and stop them from rocking the MV NPP-boat-of-plenty 11, and possibly losing them the December 2012 elections.

An egregious example, is the offer of an oil bloc (should the NPP be returned to power again after the December 2012 elections - God forbid!), made to silence the maverick tycoon, Mr. Ayisi Boateng.

Some readers will recall, that to keep the selfsame Ayisi Boateng content and quiet, during the tenure of the NPP regime of President Kufuor, he was given a timber concession by those super-rogues, Kufuor & Co. (the tribal-supremacist cabal, which had an iron grip on the NPP, throughout the Kufuor-era), in order to stop him from rocking the MV NPP-boat-of-plenty 1 - and causing it to take in too much water: and sink.

In view of all the above, if the discerning and independent-minded individuals, whose crucial swing-votes now determine which party's candidate becomes Ghana's president, want to protect Ghana's oil revenues, and stop them from ending up in the offshore bank accounts of a few powerful and well-connected individuals, with greedy ambitions, then they must vote en masse for President Mills, in the December 2012 presidential elections.

The fact of the matter, is that an oil-producing Ghana, is far safer, in the very honest hands of President Mills, than those of any other politician, in present-day Ghana. It is therefore in the national interest, and vital for the well-being of ordinary Ghanaians, going forward, that President Mills is re-elected to power again, in December 2012. 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, 15 December 2011

Ghana's NCA Must Take A Leaf From Britain's Ofcom's Book!

The nonsensical demand for "an independent technical arbiter" made on behalf of the telecommunications companies operating in Ghana, by their well-funded lobbying body, the so-called Telecoms Chamber, is yet another example, of the disrespect shown to our institutions of state, by many foreign investors operating in Ghana.

Would Vodafone Ghana, for example - which, incidentally, did not pay even a pesewa for its valuable 3G license, because of the stupidity and greed of some of our previous rulers - have had the temerity to make such an absurd demand to Ofcom, the UK's independent regulator, and competition authority, for that nation's communications industry's players?

As a wag I know, said to me recently, in a conversation centred on how the telcos operating in Ghana, are getting away with ripping phone users off (both mobile and land-line), with complete impunity: "Kofi, it is precisely because there is no shortage of willing local lackeys (those confounded quislings and stooges for neo-colonialism and imperialism, in our midst, in Nkrumah's Ghana), always happy to do their dirty work for them, that they can behave in such arrogant and disrespectful ways - which they would never dream of doing in their countries of domicile." How very true.

To be charitable to the hapless Kweku Sakyi Addo, whose Telecoms Chamber is actually the industry's paid lobbyist - let us not forget - and in many ways is a really splendid fellow, perhaps the old cynic who made the above observation, was being a tad unfair to him, but it is important that he does not see his handsomely compensated work, simply as making endless excuses for the telcos operating here.

He must rather ask for forbearance on the part of phone users in Ghana, at every opportunity he gets to interact with them, and the Ghanaian media - whiles he gets the crafty telcos to work in assiduous fashion, to overcome their sodden challenges, whatever they are.

Phone users in Ghana just want good quality, world-class service - not endless excuses and smug passing-the-buck PR. That is insulting their intelligence. Period.

Luckily, the current head of the National Communications Authority (NCA), has shown that he is a true patriot and Ghanaian nationalist of the first order - and the result is that unlike the past, the NCA of today, is firmly on the side of consumers in Ghana, who use mobile phones and land-line phones.

Consequently, my humble advice to the NCA, in this matter that is an egregious example of sharp-practice-in-commerce, affecting the welfare of millions of Ghanaian consumers, is simply to take a good look at Ofcom's website, and replicate it (adapting it to suit local conditions where necessary) here quickly - to provide an interactive online platform, through which the general public in Ghana, can fight to get quality service from those perfidious entities: who virtually have a license, literally, to print money in Ghana.

There is nothing quite like online opprobrium, delivered at the click of a computer mouse or the pressing of a mobile device's sent-key by disaffected phone users, to shame even the most thick-skinned executive, in charge of an arrogant and hard-of-hearing telecommunications multinational, operating in an emerging market.

In the light of all the above, therefore, dear reader, an interactive NCA website, just like that of the UK's Ofcom, is precisely what is needed to keep the telco's operating here in check, in a transparent manner - which is why it is vital that the NCA takes a leaf from Ofcom's book, in that regard.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

An Open Letter To The Minister For Lands And Natural Resources

Dear Honourable Minister,

Re: Utilising "Admitted Farm" Inside Atewa Range Forest Reserve for Community-based Carbon Sequestration Project

We are writing to find out whether  your ministry could recommend approval by the Forestry Service (FS) of the Forestry Commission (FC),  of a change of land use, for our "admitted farm" inside the Atewa Forest Reserve.

We are of the considered view that at a time of global climate change, owners of "admitted farms"  inside forest reserves, ought to be permitted to use their farms for community carbon sequestration projects.

That will enable the owners of those "admitted farms" to partner the local fringe  forest communities  they are members of, in community-based  carbon sequestration  projects, for their mutual benefit.

Our family acquired a total of 14sq miles of land in the Atewa Range upland evergreen rain forest, between 1921 and 1926 - on a freehold basis.

Shortly after the landholding was consolidated with the purchase of the final parcel of  additional land,  part of the area was designated a
government forest reserve.

It so happens that part of our property was included in the area designated a government reserve.

It is what is known in Forestry Service jargon as an "admitted farm." The total acreage in question amounts to 99.6 acres.

We wish  to utilise it for a community-based  carbon sequestration project - and want to find out if that will qualify  as a suitable  "admitted farm" land-use  for the climate-change era.

It will complement a conservation-through-eco-tourism project, to preserve our off-reserve upland evergreen rain forest land - now under threat from illegal gold miners  and unlawful logging.

The idea is to turn our off-reserve upland evergreen rain forest land into a community-based eco-tourism destination -  with a number of ziplines, a forest canopy walkway and eco-lodges as its centrepiece.

It is  a variant of the public private partnership (PPP) business model.

We will be  in partnership with the local community (the fringe-forest village of Akim Abuakwa Juaso) and  a number of foreign investors - amongst them Greenheart Conservation and Carbon Trading & Trust.

We have included a map of the said  "admitted farm" in question, for your perusal.

The portion inside the reserve  is  triangular-shaped, measuring 2145ft between reserve pillar number 97 and our family's pillar PET. 1., on the western side;  and 3432ft on the northern side, between forest-reserve pillars 98 and 97,  and on the south it is bordered by the Apotosu stream,  between forest-reserve pillar number 98 and our family's pillar PET.1., for a distance of 4092 ft.

We will end here - and hope that your ministry   will recommend  carbon
sequestration projects,  as suitable climate-change era "admitted farm" land-use.

More so, when  in our case it is to enable us, as well as our local and foreign partners,  to  part-fund our community-based eco-tourism project, which is unique,  because it will be in an off-reserve upland evergreen
private freehold  nature-resource reserve that is spectacularly beautiful.

Finally, we do hope we will be  allowed  to go ahead and use our "admitted farm" as a community-based carbon sequestration project - for the benefit of our family and its partners, the fringe forest villagers of Akim Abuakwa Juaso, and our foreign partners.

Yours faithfully,

Kofi Thompson.

Cc The Chief Executive,

Forestry Commission,


Tuesday, 13 December 2011


It is so disheartening listening to politicians like the Minority Leader in Ghana's Parliament, the Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, sometimes. Why do such obviously well-educated and highly-intelligent individuals, insist on playing tribal politics - in 21st Century Africa?

Do they not realise that essentially, we are all one people? It wouldn't surprise me one bit, dear reader, if it emerged, through nationwide research some day, that we share DNA that basically makes us one people. When will these bloody tribal-supremacist clots, finally understand that this is a unitary state of diverse-ethnicity - in which no one tribe is superior or inferior to the other?

The truth of the matter, is that the Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsus of this world, don't want ordinary Ghanaians to cotton on to the fact that Ghana is a nation that is an unjust society - divided into two: the wealthy "haves" (the elite rip-off merchants who now own virtually all of our country - acquired through abuse of power and corruption!) and the struggling majority, the "have-nots", the Mmoburowaas of Nkrumah's Ghana.

The Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsus are scared stiff that the "haves" (the Atiyieas) will permanently lose their grip on power, and miss the opportunity to amass yet more wealth, which controlling the sharing of the national cake, when they are in power, gives them.

So to ensure a set number of followers, sufficient to give them victory in the next elections in 2012, they must make ordinary Akans feel that politics in Ghana, is about ensuring tribal dominance. What antediluvian rubbish.

Well, the Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsus will have a rude awakening soon, when they discover that ordinary Akans actually know and understand perfectly that we have a system underpinned by elite rip-off. They also don't care where those ordinary fellow citizens they interact with, on a daily basis, hail from.

They are smart enough to know that when the Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsus were in power, from January 2001 to January 2009, they engaged in unprecedented asset-stripping - transferring most of the Ghanaian nation-state's accumulated wealth, acquired over the years through the blood, sweat and tears of ordinary people, to: themselves; some of their family members; their friends and sundry local and foreign fronts - hiding assets for them in special purpose offshore entities.

Was the attempt to railroad the fraudulent sale and purchase agreement for VALCO, to a non-existent company (grandly called International Aluminium Partners), purported to be jointly-owned by the Norwegian-headquartered Norske Hydro - said to be the world's fourth largest integrated aluminium company - and the mining conglomerate, VALE of Brazil (something they both strenuously denied!), through Parliament, not masterminded by that selfsame tribalistic hypocrite - on behalf of those super-rogues,the tribal-supremacist and amoral Kufuor & Co., I ask, dear reader?

As we speak, how remorseful are some of those shameless individuals (outwardly respectable in appearance - but in reality many of them nothing more than swindlers and thieves), now in court, and completely ignoring the fact that the original owners of the parcel of land that the foreign ministry's International Students Hostel was built on (which was divvied up and given out to them for peanuts), really ought to have been offered the first option of purchasing that land?

Was that land not instead illegally parcelled out to themselves, some family members of the tribal-supremacist cabal, which controlled the New Patriotic Party (NPP) regime between January 2001 and January 2009, as well as the wealthy and well-connected cronies of the perfidious Kufuor & Co. - with Lady Luck smiling on all of them, as a result of the most egregious of examples, of abuse of office, patronage-gone-mad and unparalleled corruption?

The Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsus will soon discover, that far from being fools, ordinary Akans, like their compatriots from other ethnic backgrounds, are far smarter than they thought and aren't fools at all - when the next Flt. Lt. Jerry Rawlings steps in to restore order: when the party of the Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsus, dominated by a small band of ruthless tribal-supremacist swindlers and thieves, disturb the peace and destroy the stability of our homeland Ghana.

They must not think for one moment that they can toy with the destiny of our nation and its people and get away with it. They are sowing the wind with the endless dissimulation of their "Enkoyie" propaganda, and will reap the whirlwind - when the next Flt. Lt. Jerry Rawlings strikes to restore order, were the party of the Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsus, to unleash widespread violence, leading to chaos and death in Ghana, during the December 2012 elections, and its immediate aftermath. A word to the wise...

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

Friday, 9 December 2011


If widespread violence were to break out after the December 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections, I confidently predict that the next Flt. Lt. J. J. Rawlings will strike - and win the support of the Ghanaian masses to restore order: and house-clean Ghana thoroughly, following that.

Members of our political class delude themselves, if they think they have succeeded in fooling ordinary people, that what in effect is a plutocracy masquerading as a democracy, and dominated by wealthy oligarchs, ought to be supported and protected by ordinary people - regardless of the fact that the democracy dividend has consistently eluded them, since 1992.

The question is, why should ordinary people continue to support a corrupt system, in which their living standards have plummeted steadily, in inverse proportion to the stratospheric heights the net worth of a powerful, wealthy and ruthless elite, rises?

Ex-President Kufuor's scandalous retirement package, for example, is a classic example of the monkey-dey-work-baboon-dey-chop elite rip-off culture, which underpins the 4th Republic. That is why a 5th Republic must replace it.

That shameless and corrupt rogue, turned the Osu Castle into a kickback reception and distribution centre, and the nerve-centre of a massive patronage hub - slicing up the national cake to share amongst a chosen few.

From the seat of government at the Osu Castle, the award of contract upon contract - to the favourites of the tribal-supremacist cabal that dominated his regime for the 8 long and painful years they exploited our national economy for personal gain at the expense of the Ghanaian nation-state and ordinary people - was masterminded.

That period in our history, when unfathomable greed ruled OK, in Ghana, were the halcyon days of those shameless blackguards. It was an era of grand larceny, cleverly dubbed the golden age of business - by the greedy and amoral Kufuor & Co.

Those indeed were the days of plenty for a privileged few, when the African sun shone brightly on sundry nephews; cousins; crony-capitalist pals; bottom-power girlfriends and an assortment of other favourites, in the family clans of the ruthless tribal-supremacist cabal, which unfortunately dominated our country so completely, at the time.

If widespread violence breaks out, during or after the December 2012 elections, one hopes that a Flt. Lt. J. J. Rawlings (circa 1979) type of house-cleaning exercise, will be carried out by young, patriotic and nationalistic military officers.

Hopefully, that will enable those clever crooks, who once ruled Ghana, to be finally held to account. Naturally, it ought to be done in a manner that will ensure that none of them escapes justice - through the usual manipulation of the legal system.

Under no circumstances must their allies in the judiciary, be allowed to use their privileged positions to protect those swindlers and thieves by stealth - and enable them escape from paying for the brutal gang-rape of Mother Ghana.

So, I say to the next Flt. Lt. J. J. Rawlings: if the acolytes of such monsters unleash violence, which leads to widespread chaos, and loss of life in Ghana, during (or after) the December 2012 elections, do not hesitate to strike - and make all of them pay for their many crimes against the ordinary people of Ghana.

After that, take steps to replace the discredited 4th Republic with the 5th Republic - a new polity in which all will be truly equal before the law, and in which there will be equality of opportunity: a level societal playing field, as it were, which enables all who work hard - regardless of family background - to progress in life, so that Ghana becomes a nation in which honest hard work, always pays.

What ordinary Ghanaians are looking for, is a just society in which nepotism and inherited privilege - the greatest enemies of meritocracy and progress - are absent. That will be sweet revenge indeed, for ordinary people, were that to happen - so use any widespread violence that leads to chaos and death in December 2012, as an opportunity to exact that for them! 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, 8 December 2011


I couldn't help laughing, when I read an article in the 8th December 2011 general news web-page, of, entitled: "Food Minister Bites the Dust".

It wasn't quiet clear who wrote it, but it was apparently 'sourced' from a "Sacut Denis". As the humorous old cynic who brought the article to my attention said to me: "Kofi, only heaven knows just how much the rice-importation-lobby forked out for this self-serving piece."

The reason for the mirth, was that the wealthy and powerful rice-importation-lobby (on whose behalf the article was obviously penned!) seemed to think, for some extraordinary reason, that somehow, they could start counting the days to the point when the minister for food and agriculture, the Hon. Kwesi Awhoi, would finally announce his resignation. Some hope.

The fact that climate change is impacting food production in Ghana negatively, obviously having escaped that genius of a 'publicist' for the rice-importation-lobby, Sucat Dennis, I wondered if it had ever occurred to him, and others of his ilk, that the importation of rice is one of the economic activities, through which a great deal of wealth leaves the shores of Ghana, for foreign parts.

In railing against rice importation, the minister of food and agriculture, Mr. Kwesi Awhoi, shows that he clearly understands the nexus between poverty alleviation, and halting the importation of rice - something that only increases the net worth of the mostly crooked and wealthy tax-dodgers, which that particular line of business seems to attract (and in droves!).

Until Ghana becomes self-sufficient in rice production, it is important that every government of the day, at any given point in time, in our history, going forward, makes ordinary people understand clearly that local rice production, helps alleviate rural poverty - and also increases Ghana's GDP substantially.

Eating locally produced rice, must be seen by all, as a means of helping to end poverty in the rice growing areas of our country. And rice, indeed, does well in many parts of our country, luckily.

So, instead of belittling the efforts of the minister of food and agriculture, Mr. Kwesi Awhoi - by mocking him - Sucat Dennis, whoever he really is, and people of his ilk, must rather congratulate him, for being far-sighted in taking positive steps to encourage local rice production in Ghana - which helps alleviate rural poverty: particularly in the three northern regions.

Kwesi Awhoi deserves the Grand Medal, for his high-minded dedication to encouraging local rice production, in Ghana. He is to be congratulated for having the guts to actively discourage the importation of rice - something that, alas, only enables the net worth of a powerful and well-connected wealthy few - most of whom dodge taxes and corrupt customs officials routinely - to rise to stratospheric heights.

It is time discerning and independent-minded Ghanaians, started seeing eating local rice, as a contribution to poverty alleviation in rural Ghana, and the economic empowerment of smallholder farmers countrywide - as well as an act of patriotism by nationalistic individuals. Period. A word to the wise...

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


I am reproducing the said piece, said to be "sourced" from Sucat Dennis. Please read on:

"Food Minister Bites the Dust

In an interesting development Hon. Kwesi Ahwoi, the Minister of Food and Agriculture in Ghana, was made to bite the dust when he was defeated by Mrs. Queenster Pokuah Sawyer, a real estate developer in the ruling party’s parliamentary primary for the Agona East Constituency.

Although the press reported it as “a shocking moment for both media personnel, party stalwarts and political observers”, I am not surprised by the latest development.

Promises to resign Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi’s defeat must be seen in the light of his family association as well as the promises he has made and changed time and again, and his total disregard to the plight of Ghanaian consumers.

On 23 September 2009the Ahwoi brother in charge of food and agriculture in Ghana publicly vowed to resign within two years “if he fails to deliver on his set goals and targets in the next two years”.

In the first place that deadline has expired, he has not achieved “his set goals and targets” yet no offer to resign has come forward.

In the second place, as representative of the people of Ghana steering such an important sector as food and agriculture - and thus food security - has nothing to do with “his set goals and targets”, but rather about what is required in the best interest of the people of Ghana.

In 2009 his promise was to make Ghana self-sufficient in terms of rice production within two years. The fact is that the self-sufficiency figure might even have decreased further.

In 2009 the Ahwoi brother also promised to engage in fraudulent activities to achieve “his set goals and targets” by stating, “I will bag ‘Made in Ghana Rice’ with ‘Imported from Thailand’ embossed on them for Ghanaians to procure if that is what they want”.

This year Kwesi Ahwoi made yet another promise having realised that he is at risk for being taken up on his 2009 promise. On 26 October 2011 “Minister of agriculture, Kwesi Ahwoi, says he would resign in a year, if he is unable to halve rice importation into the country.”, as reported by TV3.

Anybody and everybody who know what they are talking about in this area know that he will not be able to deliver on his promise, and the question is why he does not do the honourable thing and resign now.

Obsession with rice The “rice wars” in Ghana since Kwesi Ahwoi was appointed as Minister of Food and Agriculture has shown one thing, and one thing only - an obsession by him to destroy rice importers.

In 2010 industry analysts and consumers alike criticised the NDC government for reintroducing a 20 percent import tariff on certain basic foodstuff such as cooking oil and rice. This created a huge tariff differential between Ghana (37%) and the Ivory Coast (12.5%) and led to massive smuggling on Ghana’s Western borders, huge losses in revenue collection by the state and undue hardship for 70 percent of Ghana’s rice consumers.

Kwesi Ahwoi at that stage bluntly said that if rice importers does not accept the situation, they can pack up and leave. At a time when Ghana was only able to produce 30 percent of local demand, such a statement was tantamount to threatening security in Ghana.

Although I have not come to grips with the Minister’s obsession with self-sufficiency of rice production, some anonymous sources claims that there are personal differences between him and some of the rice importing companies.

Even though everybody agrees that a medium to long-term strategy to move towards self-sufficiency is important, all agrees that the short term refusal by the government in general and Mr. Ahwoi specifically to assist Ghanaian consumers to reduce the cost of living is beyond their understanding.

Grabbing at straws In a recent (September 2011) feature published in Ghanaian media Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D. made the following statement:

Then there is, of course, Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi, described largely as self-effacing and personable. As Minister of Agriculture under the Mills-Mahama government, Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi once confided to a friend of mine, who is also a good friend of our “Dining-Hall Prefect”, about a year, or so, ago that he was literally grabbing at straws at his new post, and that he could do with just about any kind of managerial assistance that he could get.

I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of this statement in the light of more and more revelations that the performance by MOFA under Kwesi Ahwoi’s leadership is more than questionable.

The food policies adopted by the NDC government, FASDP I (2003) and II (2007), dates back to the times of the NPP, and little or no added value has been provided by MOFA since then.

What has become apparent - as has in fact been acknowledged by the Minister - is that the government has not been able to implement the food and agricultural policies.

Almost every aspect of the policies from promises of mechanisation, fertilisers, credit, youth employment, irrigation systems and you name it has been plagued with problem upon problem.

The fact that the Honourable Minister has suffered a blowing defeat by his own party members is indeed telling. Is this a sign that Ghanaians who are suffering and struggling through a food crisis that is worse than 2007 / 08 with little empathy from the government is starting to say, “Enough is enough!”?

Source: sacut denis"

End of article culled from

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


It is most unfortunate that at a time when the price of gold has reached unprecedented levels (and at a time when the government of Ghana, like most governments in the wealthy West, is struggling to reduce its deficit - and conjure some economic growth at the same time, in the non-oil sectors), rather than share its good fortune with Mother Ghana, when asked to contribute more to the national treasury - from whence the bulk of the wherewithal to fund Ghana's development flows - Gold Fields Limited, whose PR people like to say is a good corporate citizen of Ghana, appears rather reluctant to do so.

Instead, it is making not so subtle threats that the increase in taxation by the Ghana government, may necessitate the abandonment of planned expansion projects, said to be worth some US$1billion. Yet, the metal has seen 11 months of back-to-back increases - which have boosted the price 22 percent this year. Yesterday, the metal was down 2.01 percent, closing at US$1709 in London.

Indeed, it wouldn't be far from the truth, if some patriotic citizen were to insist that that statement, is a deliberate attempt to influence Ghanaian voters to vote in a certain direction, in the December 2012 elections.

If the ethical investors, in the nations they are domiciled, whose fund managers invest their cash in companies like Gold Fields Limited, were to become aware of the outrageous one-sided existing agreements between gold mining companies operating here, and the Ghanaian government (the so-called stability agreements), they would immediately demand that those fund managers divest their portfolio of the company's stock.

(Incidentally, at around the same time, Kosmos Energy too, has been doing its bit to stab the Mills administration in the back - claiming that it is worried that Ivorian territorial claims will affect its stake in a number of blocks in the Jubilee oil field.

That statement too, is a calculated attempt to influence voters - and is akin to the military's use of psychological warfare operations.

The Ivory Coast is negotiating with Ghana, and border demarcation is on the cards to define their maritime boundary - and the two sister nations are not about to go to war over it, in any case. Yet we are hearing those ugly noises from Kosmos Energy. Why, I ask? But I digress.)

Obviously, at the end of the day, what Gold Fields Limited does with its Ghanaian operation, is its own business. However, when such attempts are deliberately made to influence the outcome of national elections in Ghana, that is totally unacceptable.

The government must act swiftly to neutralise such indirect interference in our nation's politics - by working with pressure groups like Avaaz, Earthworks and Care2, to mount online campaigns against companies like Gold Fields and Kosmos Energy - in their own backyard: targeting their shareholders with million-plus-signature email petitions. In the internet age, that is the only effective way to deal with these arrogant carpetbaggers.

Finally, whiles what Gold Fields does with its business, is its own business, it must, however, stay out of our nation's politics - if it wants to continue operating here in future. A word to the wise...

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

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

When I’m 67: Renaissance Capital Sees Public Pension Burdens At the Heart of Eurozone Debt Crisis 

Moscow, 6 December 2011 - Renaissance Capital, the leading emerging markets investment bank, has issued a groundbreaking report analysing the eurozone crisis and the reasons that prompted it.

When I’m 67, authored by Charles Robertson, Renaissance Capital’s Global Chief Economist, and the Firm’s award-winning global research team, argues that excessive public pension spending (accounting for nearly one-third of tax revenues in Italy, Greece and Japan), worsening demographics and a lack of private pension provision have served as key causes of the present eurozone fiscal crisis.

Three of the governments in most trouble today spend over 10% of GDP on pension provision, notes the report, which also highlights that to bring Italian pension spending down to German spending levels would require pension payments to be cut by one-third. Given the 12mn Italian pensioners (roughly one-quarter of voters), it is little wonder that former-premier Silvio Berlusconi and his allies were so reluctant to address the pension issue, the report says.Since Lennon and McCartney wrote When I’m Sixty-Four, the effective retirement age in France has fallen by nine years, to 59, and by five years in Italy and Greece. Renaissance Capital believes the eurozone crisis has been brought about by a combination of these falls.

Higher retirement ages of at least 67 or higher and less pension provision seem inevitable, Renaissance notes. The Firm expects inter-generational political conflict to replace class conflict in the eurozone; in Italy, analysts believe the large, voting population of pensioners may yet resist southern European reforms, and notes that Germany and Ireland had better demographics when they advanced reforms.

“Emerging market experience tells us that just two years of harsh reforms can make a big difference,” says Charles Robertson. “We need those two years. In the short term, we believe the eurozone has no choice but to try reform in southern Europe, backed by IMF/European Central Bank support.”

Renaissance’s favoured markets today are Russia, Nigeria and South Africa. Anglo-Saxon and Nordic countries are pension (and bond) safe havens in the developed market world, but it will surprise few that Renaissance sees emerging markets as the safest haven of all.

There are exceptions, such as Hungary and Argentina, which have taken significant steps backwards; but, the report notes, there are many more positive examples, such as South Africa and Chile, with private pension funds above 60% of GDP.

Zimbabwe has better private pension provision than Japan, Poland is stronger than Brazil and Nigeria is better than South Korea. Renaissance expects Nigerian pension funds to grow by $13bn by 2015, enough to buy the entire stock market outright at 2011 prices.

Sub-Saharan African pension funds are not only larger than we expected, but with 10-15 workers per pensioner, demographics suggest African GDP growth rates will power past Asia in the coming decades, offering the current generation a better retirement than that offered by low Asian public or private pension provision.

The report sees the best Emerging European story in Kazakhstan, where pension funds could own all the country’s debt and equity assets, and where demographics are excellent. Turkey is also in a strong position, but would do better still if it encouraged more cash into local pension funds.

Russia is in a good position today, as pension spending has only recently risen above that of Japan and Belgium, but is on course to follow the Italian model if more savings are not channelled into local pension funds.

Most emerging market countries are, fortunately, following the Anglo-Saxon/Nordic-private-pension model, rather than the bankrupt Southern European public-pension-provision model, concludes the report.

“When I’m 67 may be a statement of optimism in emerging markets, as it could be for all of us if our pension funds shift assets from 2% US treasuries to higher-growth EM economics,” adds Charles Robertson.


About Renaissance Capital ( Capital is a leading investment bank focused on the emerging markets of Russia, the CIS, Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa.

The Firm also offers its clients access to these markets through financial centres such as London, New York and Hong Kong. Renaissance Capital has market-leading positions in each of its core businesses - M&A, equity and debt capital markets, securities sales and trading, research, and derivatives.

The Firm is building market-leading practices across emerging markets globally in metals & mining, oil & gas and agriculture. Renaissance Capital is part of Renaissance Group.