Sunday, 24 March 2013

Yaw Osafo-Maafo's Fair-minded Politics Needed In Ghana

The Hon. Yaw Osafo-Maafo,  the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) MP for Akim Oda, is one of the most positive-minded politicians in Ghana.

He almost never criticises policies of his political opponents, without offering a policy alternative  or solution to a particular challenge Ghana faces,   of his own.

That is the hallmark of a mature and highly-intelligent politician offering nation-building leadership, in a nation as sharply divided as ours.

The Hon. Yaw Osafo-Maafo's maturity and love of country, which   shows so clearly in his politics,  is in sharp contrast to the path chosen by so many of his short-sighted party colleagues.

Some of the NPP's critics accuse many of the Hon. Yaw Osafo-Maafo's party colleagues  of  choosing to make a cynical grab for power come what may - after losing an election they ought to  have won if they had ran a better and more intelligent election campaign - by deliberately destroying investor confidence in Ghana and making ordinary people feel that somehow the situation of their  nation had become hopeless.

However, if truth be told, most of our nation's present difficulties - which are not insurmountable if we work hard and constantly think creatively as a people - are a result of years of the  self-serving cynicism of the dominant cliques that have controlled both the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP) regimes that have ruled Ghana since the 1992 constitution was promulgated.

What will move Ghana forward,  is for our nation to focus on innovative nation-building ideas that will better the lot of the vast majority of ordinary people in Ghana -  by unleashing their full potential.

Ghana's hard-working and expanding middle classes, for example,   could make Ghana prosperous if those aspirational and well-focused individuals could borrow money at rates of interest as low as those  in  the U.S., the UK, the EU and Japan.

If corporate tax in Ghana was the lowest in the world, for example, would it not attract many international  companies to move their African corporate headquarters here - and encourage many more Ghanaian businesses in both the formal and informal sectors to pay their fair share of the taxes needed to develop Ghana?

A low-tax regime is  paradoxically the most effective way to widen a nation's  tax-net. So why don't our "book-long" ruling elites lower taxes in Ghana, one wonders?

It is obvious to the objective observer that many ordinary people have become  thoroughly fed up with the perfidy and endless negativity of Ghana's political class.

Ordinary people  want to hear intelligent and practical solutions to Ghana's hydra-headed problems from politicians -  not their negative point-scoring inane "equalisation-arguments".

For example, just how  do Ghanaian  politicians intend to end the monstrosity  of board members and the top management of loss-making state-owned entities,  in a nation struggling to survive hard times, paying themselves astronomical sums and enjoying Arabian-oil-Sheik-style perks -  that would end them in jail elsewhere, for milking dry the organisations  they are in charge of and have fiduciary responsibility for,  I ask?

How do politicians in Ghana - from across the spectrum -  intend to ensure that private-sector businesses in our country,    see the competitive advantage of ensuring that their businesses are underpinned by corporate good governance principles,  and guided by an ethos of sustainability - in a nation whose natural environment is being thrashed in apocalyptic fashion,   while apathetic but well-paid  officialdom looks  on helplessly?

Those in the NPP who think it is clever politics to constantly run Ghana down,  and infect ordinary people psychologically with a feeling of hopelessness about their prospects,  because they think that somehow it is a clever political strategy that will eventually hand them the power they failed to win in the December elections 2012, must understand that they are engaged in a zero-sum game.

Their  endless doom-and-gloom point-scoring that changes absolutely nothing on the ground,  will not win them power through the back-door,   courtesy  of the Supreme Court, any more than it did in the campaign for the  December 2012 parliamentary and presidential  elections.

The small band of ruthless  hardliners who wield such a   baleful influence over the present leadership of the NPP, would be wise to emulate the Hon. Yaw Osafo-Maafo.

Their chosen tactic  of infecting the  national mood with despair, with their endless negativity,  does not inspire confidence in their party   amongst the fair  and independent-minded patriotic Ghanaians, whose crucial swing-votes now decide who wins presidential elections in Ghana.

The mendacity and endless desembling of the  party's loquacious general secretary, Kojo Owusu-Afriyie, is a classic example. And what a contrast his provincial outlook is to his polished  and erudite predecessor Nana Ohene Ntow's  more cosmopolitan  outlook.

Even the millions of "My-party-my-tribe-right-or-wrong" blinkered myrmidon-types that both the NDC and NPP can rely on regardless, are gradually getting fed up with the way the nation is becoming polarised -   and resent the increase in political  tension: which they lay squarely at the doorstep of our political class.

Both the NDC and the NPP must clean up their cynical and uninspiring double-act. It is time they  focused on what will benefit ordinary Ghanaians -   not what will win them short-lived  propaganda victories.

The Yaw Osafo-Maafo style of fair  and nation-building  politics,  is what Ghana desperately needs today. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Fashioning The Building Blocks For Tomorrow's Tyranny, Today

Since the advent of constitutional rule in 1992, there have always been  dark forces at work seeking to stop Ghana from becoming a truly liberal society.

A prime target of those dark forces is the Ghanaian media - which they now seek control over, not through fear, but  by literally buying individual journalists and media houses.

Unfortunately for our nation, those who would rather the Ghanaian media was under their control,  have found unwitting allies - the many good and decent members of our educated urban elites,  whose reflex reaction to excesses by journalists,  is to call for legislation to give yet more powers to state institutions such as the National Media Commission (NMC).

What escapes many such individuals,  is that although those who constitute today's NMC might  be committed to protecting constitutional democracy in Ghana, it is possible that a future NMC might  be made up of individuals happy to aid a government subtly seeking to limit freedom of expression in Ghana - and actively doing so by stealth:  using public dismay at excesses by journalists and media houses at a particular point in time, as a cloak for railroading legislation through Parliament muzzling the Ghanaian media,  under the guise of preventing excesses by the media.

As our nation becomes ever more polarised politically, one finds that for reasons of political expediency,  many good and decent men and women are unwittingly allying themselves to those dark forces that  would rather society's fiercest watchdogs in the fourth branch of government became toothless and sleepy bulldogs.

How can we fight corruption in our state institutions and wrong-doing by the powerful in society,  if an unintended consequence of  legislation passed by Parliament to control excesses by journalists and media houses, meant in practice, for example,  that corrupt public officials could  neither be questioned nor  named and shamed by investigative broadcast journalists -  because they had sought to hide behind the skirt of the NMC of the day: which somehow had the power to stop  the media from publishing  the results of such investigations?

Yes, let us by all means give those who work at the NMC more pay; more air-conditoners; more luxury cross-country vehicles; and more of whatever else they crave, but for heaven's sake let us not give any state institution  the power to interfere in the work of journalists.

In a corrupt society such as ours, the likelihood of institutions such as Parliament and the NMC  being manipulated to hound those in the media  who expose wrong-doing by the powerful, must never be discounted.

It is said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Far better to put up with the excesses of the few bad nuts in the media, than  give  the powerful in society the means to control the media via state institutions like the NMC and Parliament.

The law courts are always there for those who feel libeled or  slandered unjustly by the media,  to seek justice from.

We will never be a society that constantly produces innovative ideas if we do not allow Ghana to become  a truly liberal society.

A free press is a sine qua non for a free and progressive society - by providing the platform for an interchange of ideas that brings the best ideas to the fore: to propel the society forward.

Let us not encourage those who seek to control the media in any shape or form - no matter how benign their stated objectives might appear to be.

Let us not forget that this  a nation in which anonymous wealthy donors  always step forward  to pay their own money to save face for blundering governments embarrassed by negative publicity for either  attempting to lavish hapless taxpayers' money on renovating the private residences of our leaders,  or   sponsoring   pastors to travel to Israel to pray for Mother Ghana.

Should the media not be free to question the motives
of such anonymous do-gooders - and the sources of their wealth: and demand to know what the quid pro qou is, if any?

To those in a hurry to see passage of  new  laws to interfere  with the work of the  media, one's humble advice is: Let us not hurry to fashion the  building blocks  for tomorrow's tyranny,  today.

Transfer Ghana Water Company To 48 Engineers Regiment?

Author's note: This was written on 17/3/2013. It is being posted today because I was unable to do so on the day. Please read on:

Current events clearly show that the time has come for a radical approach to the business of providing treated water for both domestic usage and industrial purposes in Ghana.

It is totally unacceptable that in 21st century Africa, a nation such as Ghana is still unable to provide something as basic as treated water, for distribution through underground networks of pipelines to its citizens countrywide, on a sustained basis.

If one stops for a while to do some lateral thinking, it soon becomes obvious that the current structure of the ponderous behemoth that is the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), though a commercial failure, makes it a perfect fit and takeover candidate, for the military in Ghana to absorb into its fold - and run efficiently for the benefit of all Ghanaians.

Any transfer of the GWCL to the 48 Engineers Regiment to run as one of the entities in the Ghana Armed Forces' Defence Industries wing, must be done in tandem with a complete ban of the production and sale of sachet water countrywide.

The GWCL could derive substantial revenues from a monopoly given it by law, to produce bottled (biodegradable, naturally!) filtered water for the companies currently producing sachet water.

Those companies could be made distributors of their own-label bottled filtered water produced for them in hygienic conditions by the GWCL - to distribute as a business to replace the lost revenue from the production of sachet water: an enterprise that really ought to be banned completely in Ghana for public health reasons.

The plastic used to store the bagged water for sale to the public not being impermeable, it freely admits outside pollutants through minute pores too small for the naked eye to see - making the water potentially harmful to human health.

The production of sachet water of the type that goes on in Ghana, would never be permitted in any nation where consumer protection is taken seriously, and hygiene regulations governing the production of water for sale to the public to drink, strictly enforced.

Above all, Ghanaians would no longer be held to ransom and be denied water by disgruntled employees of a GWCL - out to take revenge on a government of the day against which they had a grievance and wanted to make unpopular politically - were it transferred to the 48 Engineers Regiment to run as a business.

Water is life - and its production and distribution must not be allowed to become political football under any circumstances.

The production of treated water for distribution to homes offices, schools factories and other building structures nationwide, must not be allowed to become infected by the divisive politics currently practised in Ghana.

There are those who say that the current dry-taps-phenomenon in homes and businesses in urban Ghana, might be part of the pattern of shortages of the essentials of modern life (the disappearance of LPG gas cited to me as an example), deliberately engineered for political reasons, as part of a regime-change strategic plan by some of the most determined opponents of the present regime. If true, that would certainly be intolerable.

One hopes that that is not the case, but to forestall that ever happening, the GWCL must be taken out of the hands of the hapless civilian managers who have failed so miserably to run it efficiently over the decades, and handed over to the 48 Engineers Regiment to manage going forward.

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Hon. Alhaji Inusah Fuseini: Stop Akyem Abuakwa Juaso's Illegal Gold Miners

Author's note: This was written on 17/3/2013. It is being posted  today because I was unable to o so on the day. Please read on:

It is a positive development that today there is increased public concern in Ghana, about the disastrous effect on the natural environment, of the activities of illegal gold miners and loggers, across a vast swathe of the Ghanaian countryside.

Against that backdrop, an illegal gold mining entity's boldness in stationing a heavy earth-moving machine in a valley along one of the banks of the higher reaches of the Akoosu stream, in what must be one of the most beautiful forests in the world, illustrates perfectly, the utter contempt the wealthy and well-connected individuals behind much of the illegal gold mining in Akyem Abuakwa have, for the authorities charged with stopping illegal gold mining in Ghana.

If the new Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, the Hon. Alhaji Inusah Fuseini wants to make any headway in the fight against illegal gold mining and logging in Ghana, he has the perfect opportunity to make a good start - by making an example of those behind that latest outrage in the Akyem Abuakwa fringe-forest village of Juaso.

Let him ask the military to move to the area immediately to stop the operators of that heavy earth-moving machine from using it.

Its presence there is the thin end of the wedge, in the grand lay-all-to-waste strategy in the quest for gold, of the ruthless individuals driven by unfathomable greed, who brought it there.

Stopping its usage swiftly would prevent those bold illegal gold miners operating it from causing irreparable damage to what is part of an important eco-systems services provider - in an area designated a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA).

At a time when global climate change is impacting our country negatively, we must not wait for the sources of the drinking-water supply of a large part of southern Ghana to dry up, before the threat posed by the illegal gold miners and loggers operating in Akyem Juaso and elsewhere in Akyem Abuakwa is taken seriously. Alas, it will be too late then.

It is inconceivable that officials of the EPA; the Minerals Commission; and the Fanteakwa District Assembly would permit any gold mining company to operate in that ecologically sensitive area - if they had carried out on-site visits there, prior to the issuance of any statutory permits.

Those who brought that heavy earth-moving machine to the edge of one of the banks of the Akoosu stream, must be asked to produce their EPA permits; as well as those of the Minerals Commission; the Water Resources Commission, and that of the Fanteakwa District Assembly.

Knowing how those behind most of the illegal mining that goes on in Akyem Abuakwa operate, all the regulatory bodies mentioned above, and the Fanteakwa District Assembly, must be asked to explain to the minister how those illegal gold miners came by the various permits - if they have any - authorising them to mine in that ecologically sensitive area.

One doubts very much that any environmental impact assessment document used in obtaining any permits they produce would have conveyed a true picture of the sensitivity and vital nature of the area's ecology - and its importance as an eco-systems services provider vital for the drinking-water supply of Accra, Sekondi, Takoradi and many other urban areas in the Eastern; Central; Ashanti; and Western regions.

The time has come for all the members of Ghana's political class, and the entirety of the Ghanaian population to lend their full support to public officials in such situations, but to also demand that those officials actually do the important work they are paid so handsomely to do for the nation, by hard-pressed taxpayers.

If over 60 percent of government revenue is now earmarked for salaries, to ensure that public-sector employees are well-motivated, surely, officialdom ought to justify that by ending the impunity of the powerful and wealthy individuals behind most of the illegal gold mining that goes on in Akyem Abuakwa and other areas in Ghana?

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, the Hon. Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, is an indefatigable workaholic who leads by example.

For the sake of present and future generations, he must insist that those given the important task of stopping illegal gold mining and logging in Ghana, move to Akyem Juaso with dispatch.

They must stop those using heavy earth-moving machinery on the banks of the Akoosu stream and elsewhere in the area, from destroying what is part of a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area - containing trillions of US dollars in potential carbon-offsetting funds; eco-tourism cash receipts for local communities, and yet-to-be discovered medicinal plants.

Tel: 027 745 3109.


Friday, 15 March 2013

Social Entrepreneur Secures Future of Ghana's Organic Cocoa Industry

Those who worry about the future of Ghana's cocoa industry,  need no longer do so.

After a recent article I wrote about the need to secure the future of Ghana's cocoa industry by switching to growing cocoa organically (entitled: Exporting Organic Cocoa & Mangoes Can Create Wealth In Rural Ghana -, it was brought to my attention that indeed the Ghana Cocoa Board is actually taking active steps to secure the industry's future - by collaborating with private-sector players  to lay the foundation for eventually transforming Ghana into a producer of certified organic cocoa beans.

The importance of the cocoa industry to  the Ghanaian economy cannot be gainsaid.

Cocoa has sustained Ghana since Tetteh Quarshie first brought it from Fernando Po in Equatorial Guinea at around  1879.

Indeed,  cocoa secured Ghana's future after it became an independent nation in 1957 - by providing the bulk of the funds needed for its development.

The cultivation of cocoa  still provides a living for millions in rural Ghana - and those employed in the provision of ancillary services that support the industry, such as warehousing and the transport sector.

As consumers in the wealthy nations that purchase Ghana's cocoa beans in countries such as:  Switzerland; Germany; the UK; Scandinavia; Japan; China; Malaysia and elsewhere switch to eating organically produced food for health reasons,  to have a future,  Ghana must switch to producing organic cocoa beans -  to maintain its position as a producer of some of the highest quality cocoa beans in the world.

It is gratifying to note that the business model to secure the future of Ghana's cocoa industry is being provided by a unique private-sector collaboration between a Ghanaian social entrepreneur Mr. Yayra Glover and his Swiss partners Max Felchlin AG.

Through close  collaboration   with the Ghana Cocoa Board, Yayra Glover and his Swiss partners Max Felchlin AG, have made it possible to produce certified and traceable organic   cocoa beans in Ghana for export - just what buyers in export markets overseas for cocoa beans now seek.

Working in the Suhum-Craboar-Coaltar district in Ghana's Eastern Region, the cocoa beans they purchase,   which are  even above  fair-trade standards in their production by 4000-plus smallholder farmers, can be traced to the particular farm it was produced in. Fantastic.

I have no doubt that future generations of Ghanaians  will credit the  unsung hero, social entrepreneur Yayra Glover, with providing the business model that ensured a continued future for Ghana as a source of high quality cocoa beans.

It is by supporting innovative businesspeople such as the Yayra Glovers of our nation  that our leaders can ensure Ghana's prosperity.

To show the   significance of Yayra Glover in securing the future of Ghana's position as a leading source of high quality cocoa beans in overseas export markets, I shall end this piece by quoting the words of a leading Swiss importer of superior quality cocoa beans, his partners Max Felchlin AG:

"We have been processing cocoa from West Africa for many years now, exclusively from
Ghana. Up to now, it has been impossible to obtain the raw material directly in the country.

However, we are now closing this last gap in transparency through the Yayra Glover Project
and are now able to precisely specify and guarantee the origin of our cocoa.

Max Felchlin AG defines traceable origin as follows:

- We know who grows the cocoa beans that we buy.

- We maintain contacts with the cocoa farmers and local partners and visit them regularly.

- We are fully aware of the local working and production conditions.

- We pay prices for the high quality of the raw material that are always above the Fairtrade

- We are committed to ensure that the cocoa can be produced in a way that is socially accept-
able for the farmers and their families but that is also in harmony with nature.

- Our commitment is long-term and should also ensure a part of the income for future
generations of cocoa farmers." End of quotation.

The late Hon. Baah-Wiredu (may the  soul of that decent and principled gentleman rest in peace), then serving as President Kufuor's finance minister,   was the one who lured Yayra Glover back to Ghana from Switzerland -  when President Kufuor met with the Ghanaian community in Switzerland,  during a state visit to that nation in 2007.

One hopes that President Mahama will take an interest in his work too - and ensure that only Ghanaians (using Yayra Glover's fairtrade business model)  are allowed to buy and export organic cocoa beans: so that the wealth they create stays here.

In providing it with the business model to ensure its survival, Yayra Glover  is indeed a saviour of Ghana's cocoa industry no less -  whose unique role in Ghana's cocoa industry is just  as significant  as that of Tetteh Quarshie: the industry's innovative initiator.

Tel: 027 745 3109.

President Mahama: Death Will Come When It Will

It is important that those who rule our nation do not mix religion with matters of state.

In extreme circumstances, it can lead to situations like northern Nigeria's Boko Haram's never-ending acts of  terrorism and the sad plight of Coptics in Egypt.

It is extraordinary that in the 21st century information age it is possible for a cunning semi-literate,  who claims   God told him President Mahama will apparently  die this year -  and who is  also said to claim  that if he had been allowed to see the late President Mills, whose death he had also 'prophesied',   he could have prevented Mills' death through prayers - to influence the actions of our rulers: who then proceed to sponsor many more of individuals of that ilk to go to Israel,  apparently to pray to God to stop President Mahama from dying this year. Incredible.

Will we all not die eventually? And if God is going to contact   any mortal being in Ghana or anywhere else, surely it would be  someone who has never had anything but pure thoughts since childhood, has never once sinned and has  had the character of a saint since birth?

Using that criteria, how many of Ghana's  small army of prophetic holy men and women, who  run thriving commercial empires of Christian organisations, and mostly live like Arabian oil Sheiks - all  with churches with  fancy names that  always end with the magical  word "international" - would get a phone call from God to tell them President Mahama would  die this year? Zilch.

With respect, those who run our nation must not allow themselves to be influenced by such pure nonsense on bamboo stilts.

Cowards, it is said, die many times before their death. We will each die at a point in time, once we are born into this world.

It would be tragic if our rulers became  paralysed by fear as a result of such superstitious rubbish.

If it is of any comfort to them, since I am blessed in abundance, I direct their 'death'  this year to myself - and the curses of that cunning crank too: and reverse both in the direction of  that sly agent of the devil.

If we were immortal, allowing ourselves  to be influenced by such superstitious clap-trap would be understandable. But we are not.

Death will come to each of us,  when it will. Our task on this earth is to live life to the full whiles alive - using our God-given talents to make the world a better place for ourselves,  our fellow humans as well as the entirety of the earth's flora and fauna.

We must not waste time fearing death or  wishing it away. Come it will, to all of us. Period.

There is no justification for those who lead our nation to allow religious cranks  making money fleecing the gullible and the troubled  to influence state policy under any circumstances.

God has no reason to contact any  human being to inform him or her about the time of death of President Mahama - or any other citizen of Ghana for that matter. What would be the point, I ask?

And with respect,  it is nonsensical for anyone to say that he or she  can pray to prevent another person from dying.

We were all born to eventually die at some point  - that is the nature of human existence. Nothing unusual or tragic  about that.

In any case, the best way for politicians wanting God's favour to  live to a ripe old age, is simply to: publicly publish their assets,  as well as that of their spouses; eschew corruption,  and fight it with all their might; work hard to improve the lives of ordinary people; fight the powerful vested interests that milk Ghana no matter which political party is in power;  and above all keep cranks claiming to be in contact with God at arms length when in office.

Death will come when it will - and no religious crank can  either foresee  or prevent it.  A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Firm Leadership Will Guarantee President Mahama's Legacy

Author's note: This was written on 14/3/2013. It is being posted today because I was unable to do so on the day.

It is in the national interest  that  a serving President  constantly reaches out to  the opposition parties, in a nation as polarised as the Ghana of today is.

However, there is a world of difference between proactive and tolerant  leadership that recognises the important role played in a democracy   by   opposition parties,  in preventing the abuse of power and exposing corruption;  and the appeasement that  forever bending over backwards to please  implacable foes represents - foes that in 21st century Africa, incredibly  feel scandalised that a northerner should be ruling Ghana.

The time has come for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) regime of President Mahama to face  the unpleasant truth   that although a majority of those in leadership positions in  the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and amongst its membership are decent individuals who are broad-minded and modern enough in their outlook to accept that in 21st century Africa no tribe in the continent is superior or inferior to another,  there is a powerful  minority of ruthless and tribalistic hypocrites in the NPP,  who in private say it is an abomination for a northerner to rule Ghana. He can never please that blinkered lot.

According to some of their critics, it is at the doorstep of this backward minority of tribal-supremacist individuals   determined to end President Mahama's tenure,  come what may, that ought to be laid the series of coordinated negative events (some clearly sabotage),  designed to convince ordinary Ghanaians that Ghana is in crisis,  and  retrogressing "because it is ruled by incompetent leaders".

And they it is  whose endless negativity put off the discerning and independent-minded Ghanaians whose swing-votes now determine which candidate wins presidential elections in Ghana.

Not for  those independent-minded Ghanaians the gullibility of the "My-party-my-tribe-right-or-
wrong" myrmidon-types  -  whose blinkered support for Ghana's two biggest political parties is slowly destroying Ghanaian democracy.

Alas, today, the NPP's extremists  are making the same mistake they made before and during the campaign for the December 2012 elections,  in their quest to remove President Mahama from power.

For them the election campaign for the presidency has not ended, and their blunderbuss-negativity still continues unabated and in relentless fashion - in the print-media as well as   on the airwaves of FM radio stations and television stations across the country.

And again it  is putting off many fair-minded and  discerning Ghanaians - just as it did in the December 2012 election campaign.

(The question is: Why do the vast majority of decent and fair-minded NPP members not speak out against the tunnel-visioned extremists now dominating their party? But I digress.)

President Mahama's administration must ignore the negativity of the  narrow-minded and tribalistic minority now controlling the NPP,  and focus instead on the hard work of making sure Ghanaians get treated water supplied to their homes on a regular basis and have  uninterrupted electricity 24/7,  as soon as practicable - whiles at the same time making sure their regime  will be able to deliver most of the NDC's  manifesto promises before  the December 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections.

Above all, to neutralise the tribalistic hypocrites harrying him,  President Mahama must ignore his advisers and listen to those  who call on him to publicly publish his assets and those of his wife. It is still not too late to make a real difference for him politically, were he to do so.

He will find that if it is done in tandem with a sustained  crackdown on corrupt public officials, it will change the dynamics of the sabotage-a-week politricks now being used to destroy his regime even before it has began its work.

He knows perfectly well that he did not steal the presidential election and that the outrageous falsehoods slandering the honest and principled Dr. K. Afari-Djan will be exposed for what they are and thrown out by the Supreme Court.

That is why he must  focus on doing what will enable him leave a  legacy he can be proud of when he leaves office: giving Ghana firm leadership. He must never forget that it is him history will judge,  not his advisors.  A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Electing DCE's: Good For Ghanaian Democracy's Future

Author's note: This was written on 12/3/2013. It is being posted today because I was unable to do so on the day.

 Knowing the hostility of some Ghanaian politicians (from across the spectrum) to the idea of bringing democracy to the grassroots level, by electing District Chief Executives, President Mahama's National Democratic Congress administration must be commended for helping to bring about  a positive new development in Ghanaian politics.

The constitutional amendment that now makes possible  the   election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District chief executives will deepen Ghanaian democracy - because it will make the concerns of local people the focal point of the work of politicians at the grassroots level.

However, it does not go far enough. To make  Ghanaian democracy truly benefit ordinary people,  the  election of DCE's ought to be on a party basis.

As a leadership training ground, serving ordinary people at the local level will endow  our nation with a pool of experienced elected politicians with proven track records -  from which some of those who  serve at the national level can be selected.

If done on a party basis, it will also end the negativity that the  winner-takes-all politics practised here represents -  an unsatisfactory state of affairs responsible for the  never-ending political tension that has  unfortunately ended up  polarising  Ghanaian society.

And if candidates of  opposition  parties could be  elected as chief executives to run some of the areas administered by Ghana's Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, those parties would  feel that they also had a stake in the running of Ghana.

Above all, there would  be competition amongst the political parties at the grassroots level - which would  ensure that local leaders respond to the needs of local people.

Local communities would  also feel empowered politically - and finally feel  able to take their destiny into their own hands every four years: and obtain their share of the democracy-dividend.

And far from sabotaging the government of the day, as critics of the idea of electing DCE's on a party basis maintain,  opposition political parties   would   rather work hard to improve the quality of life of local people in the areas administered by their winning candidates in elections for the position of chief executive of  Metropolitan, Municipal and  District Assemblies.

That would   bring about    sustainable development in the areas under their jurisdiction  -   to which they could  point to,  during campaigns for parliamentary and presidential  elections, as examples of what they would  achieve at the national level  for Ghanaians. That can only be good for the long-term future of  Ghanaian democracy.

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Public Procurement Contracts: Let Common-Good Considerations Prevail

Author's note: This was written on 10/3/2013. It is being posted today because I was unable to do so at the time.

Since the case between Global Fluids International and the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) is sub judice, I will not discuss it - safe to say in passing that President Mahama's administration must learn valuable lessons from it, when judgement is finally pronounced in the matter.

Far too many public entities and the public servants who work in them, are ignoring the common-good considerations that underpin the National Procurement Act, in choosing companies to award contracts to, under  the Public Procurement Act 663,  of 2003.

In a  hypothetical case, assuming that a fuel-marking  product could  prevent widespread adulteration of fuel in filling stations in Ghana, why would public officials reject a bid from its manufacturer in favour of a lower-priced one that would  permit the unhelpful status quo of fuel adulteration in some filling stations to persist?

Is  a more or less fool-proof means of detecting and preventing the adulteration of fuel,  by marking the fuel in a manner that makes possible on-site testing and  delivery of  test results of the quality of fuel sold at the forecourt of filling stations across the country,  not a boon to motorists?

Furthermore, could  one not argue that the ability to test  fuel quality and show the results of such tests at the forecourt of filling stations -  right in front of those working there -  will   encourage and ensure the maintenance of set industry quality standards nationwide?

Would it also not be  in the interest of vehicle owners that the quality of fuel in  both tanker trucks delivering fuel to filling stations,  and the fuel in the underground fuel storage tanks of those selfsame  petrol filling stations was  of acceptable standard?

And would  that also  not ultimately redound to the benefit of the Ghanaian economy -   by  lessening the phenomenon of damaged  vehicle engines  (and the expense involved in replacing them)  caused by adulterated fuel  purchased  in petrol filling stations across the country?

Public officials in Ghana  must ensure that common-good considerations - not lowest-price false economy that benefits  a well-connected few,  secretly receiving kickbacks  - ultimately decide winning bids,  when public procurement contracts  are put out to tender. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Is Ghana Capable Of Storing Dangerous Radioactive Waste Safely?

Author's note: This was written on 6/3/2013. It is being posted today because I was unable to do so on the day.

Many thanks for your email, Mr. Robert Nunoo. Yes, nuclear research makes sense - but the risks entailed in storing radioactive waste from nuclear power stations are the reasons why we must never consider that option.

Just think of the number of abandoned underground fuel tanks in defunct petrol filling-stations leaking fuel and contaminating the underground water-table nationwide - as a result of the inability of an inadequately-resourced regulatory body like the EPA to police the industry and enforce compliance of (on-the-ground) regulations.

A nation in which such things occur must never contemplate building nuclear power plants.

How will we deal with the uber-expensive business of decommissioning nuclear power plants in future - when we are always broke because public officials perpetually get away with siphoning off zillions from the state?

Have you also noticed how even well-educated people have 'purchased' the GAEC's land in Kwabenya? The question is: Are they not aware of the potential risks to them - in case of some serious accident at even that relatively tiny nuclear research facility?

A society with such a mentality must never be allowed to be talked into building nuclear power plants by clever people (some with a hidden agenda of their own) - not until ordinary people can be guaranteed that the radioactive waste from Ghanaian nuclear power stations will be safely and securely stored.

You and I both know that any such guarantee by officialdom here won't be worth the paper it is written on.

Twenty years ago, I started risking my life fighting to get the Forestry Commission (FC) to do what it was set up to do: protect the remainder of our forests.

No one lifted a finger - and from what I was seeing on the ground, it was obvious to me that we would have to import timber for the local market eventually, because of the inability of the poorly-resourced FC to act against illegal chainsaw operators. Has that not come to pass?

(Ditto illegal surface gold mining in Akyem Abuakwa funded by super-wealthy and uber-respectable criminals. Today once-beautiful Akyem Abuakwa has a pork-marked face, because lethargic officialdom failed to take our warnings seriously. But I digress.)

Massa, this is Ghana, not Japan or Germany. And even they with their well-organised and efficient systems have radioactive waste storage problems. Who are we kidding, Opanin?

Let's rather focus on empowering ordinary Ghanaians to be able to afford solar power systems for their properties; encourage the private sector to partner government to build PPP wind-farms and also harness the power of the Atlantic Ocean's waves.

No one in this country can convince me that public officials in Ghana will be able to supervise the storage of radioactive waste effectively - so as to ensure the safety of present and future generations of Ghanaians. Ever.

That is why we must not allow nuclear power stations in Ghana, Opanin. Its that simple.

The nuclear research plant in Kwabenya can serve academia perfectly in their air-conditioned Ivory Tower, can it not - so what more do our well-educated community of well-paid nuclear research scientists want?

What right do the 'book-long' middle class Ghanaians advocating taking up this potential apocalyptic nightmare have, to risk the lives of present and future generations of ordinary people in Ghana, who if they understood the fact that radioactive waste from nuclear power stations will remain dangerous for thousands of years, will never agree to allowing them to be built anywhere in Ghana?

Despite the small army of well-trained technocrats who run our utilities, our nation is still unable to even provide ordinary Ghanaians across the nation with treated water and electricity on a regular basis. Something so basic. Incredible, but true.

Why must ordinary people trust any public official in charge of storing dangerous radioactive waste from nuclear power stations in Ghana to do any better in the performance of their duties, I ask? Peace and blessings to you, Opanin.

Yours in the service of Mother Ghana,


Tel: 027 745 3109.

Do Not Allow Any Nuclear Power Plants In Ghana

Author's note: This piece was written on 6/3/2013. It is being posted today because I was unable to do so on the day.

On what is Ghana's 56th Independence Day anniversary, the point needs to be made that no  nation that lacks a maintenance culture,  and  whose people are unable to manage even the relatively simple task of  the disposal of household and industrial waste, should ever  contemplate  building nuclear power plants.

The question is: Where  exactly do  the well-meaning individuals in Ghana who are advocating nuclear power as the answer  to our power-generating  needs,  propose to store  the radioactive waste produced by nuclear power plants - waste     that will remain a danger to generations of our people for thousands of years to come: and will have to be closely-guarded on a  round-the-clock basis  all that while?

Yet,  anecdotal evidence suggests that unfortunately some unpatriotic public-sector employees in our politically polarised society,  have no  qualms about sabotaging the nation-building efforts  of governments of the day to which they are politically opposed.

How can we be sure, for example,  that none  of the  engineers manning nuclear power plants in Ghana,  will not  be driven to sabotage them  because they are opposed to a government of the day?

And what will be the apocalyptic  outcome resulting from such deliberate acts of sabotage - in terms of evacuating millions at risk from contamination and where it will be environmentally suitable to move them?

Why do the well-meaning individuals promoting nuclear power plants in Ghana,  not rather choose to play an advocacy role for the creation of a favourable business climate  in which renewable energy harnessed from the sun and the strong winds off our coastline by private-sector players,   supplement energy provided by thermal power plants in Ghana?

And in a society in which corruption is rife,  and in which whistle-blowers are treated like common criminals, who will expose corrupt procurement deals resulting in shoddy work  carried out in building nuclear power plants and routine maintenance contracts at those nuclear power plants, for example?

Since it is a world leader in the building of giant wind-power plants, what stops us from doing a deal with the best-resourced state-owned wind-power plant builders in China,  to build the world's biggest wind-power farm off our coastline to provide say  10,000 megawatts of electricity?

Could we not pay for such a world-beating wind-power farm by doing a batter deal -  exchanging the cost of their construction with  access for China to blocs in oilfields off our shores: which in any case will only end up being  given to multinational oil companies for a pittance in royalty payments to Ghana,  because signing the far more lucrative production-sharing  agreements do not serve  the interests of  the  few powerful individuals with greedy ambitions who dominate Ghanaian society?

Could a  similar deal not  be structured with Scottish companies that lead the world in harnessing the power of ocean waves, to generate renewable energy from the powerful Atlantic Ocean waves off our coastline?

We are also blessed with abundant sunshine. Instead of opting for expensive and potentially dangerous nuclear power plants, why not make it possible for the owners of buildings  in Ghana to be in a position financially (through dedicated interest-free loans from the banking system and tax exemptions for example)  to afford the initial outlay enabling them purchase   solar power systems for those buildings -   to supplement power  supplied  them from the national grid?

Will that not help cut down electricity bills for millions in Ghana - and ensure that they are not inconvenienced when national grid power outages  occur,  too?

And will all the above not  enable ours to become an  energy-efficient economy -  a prerequisite for becoming truly competitive globally?

With such renewable energy alternatives available to Ghana and its people,  we must never allow  nuclear power plants to be built in Ghana - just because it will benefit the privileged few  fronting for overseas nuclear plant builders and those  state officials who will approve and sign contracts for their construction.

That will be a grave error of judgment on the part of civil society - the  consequences of which could turn out to be too dire for one to even contemplate. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Exporting Organic Cocoa & Mangoes Can Create Wealth In Rural Ghana

Author's note: This was written on 3/3/2013. It is being posted today because I was unable to do so at the time.

If the bulk of Ghana's agricultural  produce
 was organically produced, we would be a far healthier people - as we would ingest less of the  cancer-causing synthetic fertilisers and pesticides applied by smallholder  farmers who grow the bulk of the  food we eat.

Our agricultural sector would also earn more from export markets -  helping  to improve our balance of trade and contributing to an increase in  Ghana's GDP in the process.

Ghanaian farmers, such as those producing cocoa and mangoes for export,  would also be better off - as the global demand for organically produced cocoa and mangoes - which command a premium price -  far outstrips supply.

Currently, there are many organic agricultural inputs such as  natural pesticides made from neem seed oil  and organic soil-improving agents that lessen or obviate the need for synthetic  fertilisers,  available on the world market.

Yet, vested interests work hard to keep them from entering Ghana. They also work extremely hard to  ensure  that organic farming never takes hold here.

That is the main reason why those  who succeed in bringing organic agricultural inputs  into Ghana, face such an uphill task persuading  organisations like the Ghana Cocoa Marketing Board (COCOBOD)  to have them tested by state research institutions including  the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG).

Yet, consumers in the nations that are the main buyers of Ghana's cocoa beans are switching to eating organic food for health reasons.

We  cannot ignore that trend forever without Ghana's cocoa beans losing market share in the export markets for cocoa beans eventually.

Put simply, if we don't switch to growing cocoa organically, Ghana   will no longer be considered to be  producers of high quality cocoa beans - the unique selling point of  Ghanaian cocoa beans for decades.

Tiny Cape Verde's private-sector  is taking advantage of this new trend for healthy eating - and some players in the industry there have  carved a niche for themselves as  producers of organic chocolate: exporting their products to the UK and Europe.

Kenyan coffee growers are also exploiting an export  market niche as producers of organic coffee - and gaining extra income from the premium organically produced coffee commands.

An organic fertiliser manufactured in Latvia, has played an important  part in Kenya's coffee industry's switch to organic coffee production. Its effect has to be seen to be believed.

President Mahama can see his dream of mango farming transforming the lives of marginalised young people in the regions covered by SADA becoming a reality if this miraculous organic fertiliser is made available to them by SADA.

The president's National Democratic Congress (NDC) regime can easily achieve its goal of Ghana producing over 1 million tonnes of cocoa beans, if the COCOBOD also makes it available to cocoa farmers in Ghana - and use it in  the so-called high-tech mass-spraying programme.

The present  administration  can transform Ghana's agricultural sector by providing funding for research work to enable the Latvian organic fertiliser to be tested and approved for use in Ghanaian agriculture,
by the  relevant state  research institutions under  the Council for Industrial and Scientific Research; the research departments of the state universities and CRIG.

It will increase yields for farmers, and lessen post-harvest losses -  because it strengthens crops it is applied to when growing and gives them long shelf-life when harvested.

The time has come to break the stranglehold of the companies that supply  synthetic fertilisers and pesticides as well as  other synthetic  agricultural inputs  in Ghana, once and for all.

If they want to continue in business, let them switch to selling organic agricultural inputs - for that is what has a future in a nation whose citizens are now waking up to the dangers of eating food grown with  synthetic fertilisers and pesticides.

President Mahama can also see his dream of wealth being created in rural Ghana on a sustainable basis realised within his tenure, if his administration takes the necessary measures to enable Ghana to  switch to exporting organic cocoa and  mangoes. SADA and COCOBOD hold the key to that.  A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.

To Save Remainder Of Ghana's Natural Heritage: Halt Illegal Logging & Gold Mining

Author's note: This was written on 1/3/2013. It is being posted today because I was unable to do so at the time.

Today,   many   mainstream media outlets in Ghana,  such as Peace FM,  carry news reports from time to time, which  focus on  the long-term dangers  posed by surface gold mining and illegal logging - particularly the destruction of eco-systems that affect the  headwaters  of the major river systems  that are the sources  of treated drinking-water for cities and towns  in our country.

That   really is a heartening development for those of us who for nearly two decades  have fought against illegal logging and surface gold mining in the Ghanaian countryside - because of the detrimental effect it has on the natural environment.

Realising its effect on our quality of life, many Ghanaians are now showing concern that soils,  rivers and streams across  vast swathes of the Ghanaian countryside are  being contaminated and poisoned by  dangerous chemicals and heavy metals used by illegal gold miners, such as cyanide and mercury.

They  are alarmed by the fact that the problem has become so dangerous that it has evolved to a point where well-armed men prepared to kill even soldiers of the Ghana Armed Forces, now guard land being mined for gold and logged illegally.

Yet,  years ago some of us - then risking our lives fighting to halt the illegal activities of Solar Mining Limited,  which was using a bankrupt Kibi Goldfields,  into which it was trying to reverse, as legal cover -  made the point that the phenomenon of warlords could occur in Ghana too,  because of the lack of political will to deal with the wealthy and well-connected criminal syndicates operating in places such as Akyem Abuakwa, who were  behind most of the illegal gold mining and logging in the area.

Warlords came into being in Liberia and Sierra Leone, mainly  because lawlessness was the perfect cover for  greedy and powerful individuals intent on grabbing resource-rich areas in those two nations, and exploiting the timber, diamonds  and gold found in them unhindered.

Environmental organisations such as A Rocha,  the Ghana Wildlife  Society and Friends of Rivers and Water-bodies must seize the moment.

Together with  anti-mining organisations such as Wassa Communities Against Mining (WACAM),  let them collaborate with the  Ghanaian media, to protect ecologically sensitive areas like the Atewa Range upland evergreen rain forest from the madness of the idea of mining bauxite there for manufacturing aluminium that will never be competitive globally.

At a time of global climate change, the Republic of Guinea, not the Atewa Range,  should be the source of bauxite for an integrated sub-regional aluminium industry for  West Africa, not just Ghana.

If we want to protect our quality of life, at all costs we must protect the Atewa Range upland evergreen rain forest.

We must prevent  what is an essential building-block for our long-term well-being and survival,  at a time of global warming,  being sacrificed for the  dubious short-term benefit that mining bauxite for aluminium represents, from being  destroyed.

It is  one of the most important eco-systems services providers in Ghana and a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA).

We must save what is the source of the Densu, the Pra and the Birim -  the three major river  systems that provide drinking-water for cities  like Accra,  Cape Coast,  Sekondi,  Takoradi and a host  of towns across the Eastern Region; the Ashanti Region; the Central Region and the Western Region,  for our children and their children's children.

We are faced with what in effect is an existential threat.

To prevent irreversible long-term damage,  President Mahama's administration  must declare war on the illegal gold miners and loggers who are gang-raping Mother Nature and destroying what is left of our natural heritage.

The coordinating role in the crucial task of rooting them out of rural Ghana must be given to the Ghana Armed Forces.

For the sake of present and future generations of Ghanaians, we must save what remains of our natural heritage - by rooting out illegal logging and surface gold mining nationwide. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Ghana Needs A More Positive Political Culture

Author's note; This was written on the 13th of February 2013. It is being posted today because I was unable to do so on the day.

Please read on:

There is no question that all those who stood as candidates in the December 2012 presidential election, are good and decent human beings, whose love of country cannot be questioned.

That they all care about the plight of the ordinary people of Ghana and want every corner of Ghana to prosper is also not in doubt.

There is no question too that they all want every part of Ghana to be developed sufficiently enough to enable those who live in them to enjoy  basic amenities such as access to healthcare facilities; schools; have potable water and electricity; good roads etc.

The problem they each face,   is the utter selfishness of some of those  around them - ruthless and clever self-seekers who only think  of themselves: not Mother Ghana and the plight of ordinary people.

That is why party leaders like President Mahama, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, Paa Kwesi Nduom, Dr Lartey, Dr Sankara and  Mahama Ayariga, all have a responsibility to ensure that leading lights in their parties, particularly  members of their  communication teams,  do not disparage our country ever -  but rather offer creative  alternatives to move Ghana forward, each time they criticise the government of the day.

Yes, let us criticise those at the helm of affairs, however we must offer constructive criticism when doing so -  not criticism of the destructive kind that puts potential investors off from investing here  and creates apprehension amongst  ordinary people.

Instead of the endless negativity one hears  in the electronic media and reads in the print media, let all privileged Ghanaians - especially its talkative educated urban elites -  seek to inspire confidence in ordinary people here,  and  people of goodwill worldwide,  in this fantastic and  aspirational African nation-state called the Republic of Ghana.

Ghanaian Politicians must talk up the virtues of our nation - not constantly put it down at every opportunity they get to do so:  because they seek political power at any cost and by all means necessary.

They must  ensure that the physically and verbally violent extremist-types in the midst of all the political parties are ostracised. The "My-party-my-tribe-right-or-
wrong" type of  politics will not help develop Ghana.

For example, how can anyone seeking political power in Ghana contemplate blowing up transformers belonging to the Electricity Company of Ghana - because it will create fear and panic amongst ordinary people, I ask?

How can any sane-minded individual seeking political power in our country want to make Ghana ungovernable - because he or she feels entitled to  power?

How does a descent into  violence and chaos by their country possibly benefit ordinary Ghanaians, I ask?

The time has come for the moderate and decent-minded members of our political class, to  shun extremist party colleagues guided by  that  Machiavellian mindset,  in seeking political power in Ghana.

It neither helps ordinary people nor our homeland Ghana in the long run.

To become an African equivalent of the peaceful and  egalitarian societies of Scandinavia, we need a more positive political culture in our homeland Ghana.

Benefits Of A strong Currency

Author's note: This was written on the 13th of February 2013. It is being posted today because I was unable to do so on the day.

We must think creatively as a people, if we want Ghana to become prosperous.

A gentleman called yesterday (to berate me for suggesting in a recent article (entitled: President Mahama: Promote Ghanaian Businesses Across Africa - that a strong currency can be beneficial. He thought only the contrary was true.

Well, since it is a viewpoint  that often leads to wrong policy interventions, today I am reproducing two articles for the benefit of those who seem to think a strong currency hinders exports and is ruinous for an economy.

We should never be afraid of a strong Ghana cedi. It will help keep prices down in a  nation with a large  appetite for imports. That is beneficial for the economy - and for struggling households nationwide.

When it was legal tender, the German mark was famous for its strength. Yet  it did not hinder that nation's export trade at the time it was in use.  It rather made German exporters innovative and efficient.

Because of that culture of innovation amongst German manufacturers, today, in the era of the euro, despite the price advantage China enjoys, German goods are still sought after globally.

The first of the two articles  is culled from Inve$t (

Please read on:

"Benefits Of A Strong Currency

by Roger on October 13, 2010

Since we seem to be in a global “race to the bottom” currency devaluation spiral I thought it would be worthwhile to point out the benefits of a country having a strong currency.

Naturally, all government leaders feel they need a weak currency so they can duplicate the success of China in becoming the go-to source for cheap goods – in relative terms.

But does everyone really want to be living at a lower standard of living? Oh, right, the bureaucrats wouldn’t be, just everyone else.

Here are Doug Casey’s quick recap (following the recent Casey’s Gold & Resource Summit) on the benefits of a strong, versus a weak, currency:

A strong currency only hurts exports over the short run. Nobody seems to remember that the German mark was at .25, and the Japanese yen at 300 before the Nixon devaluation of 1971. The mark afterwards quintupled, and the yen has almost quadrupled since then.

A strong currency reduces the cost of imports, helping to keep prices in check. If the price of your currency doubles, the price of imported oil, machinery, technology, and everything else is cut in half.

Strong currencies attract foreign capital and encourage domestic savings. Businesses prefer to invest in a place where values tend to rise with the currency.

A strong currency encourages producers to be as efficient as possible. When domestic costs rise with the currency, producers run a tighter ship and substitute technology for labor. That is the path to progress. Using cheap workers instead of technology is a poor alternative.

Conversely, devaluing the currency simply makes everyone poorer. Most people keep their savings in the national currency, so are directly impoverished by devaluation. The only people helped (and only over the short term) are the relatively few companies that export. In point of fact, governments have no business fixing the prices of currencies. It creates distortions, just like fixing the price of anything does. The idea of devaluing the currency to make things better is at least as stupid as the idea of printing money to stimulate the economy. And they have the same economic premises."

End of culled Inve$ article.

The second article is culled from the Dismal Operator (

Please read on:

"A Strong Currency Does not Ruin An Economy

24 April 2012 · by Steve Evets · in Economics, Markets. ·

One of my favorite myths pervading in the economics discussion is the idea that a strong currency must be avoided due to the fact it destroys exports by making them uncompetitive. You’ll hear this mantra repeated constantly in mainstream outlets, but the rationale is faulty. Focusing only on one group of actors in the economy over the short run in this manner leads to policy prescriptions that do not benefit the economy as a whole over the long run.

Switzerland released trade data earlier today, and exports declined compared with this month last year. This will give purchase to the mainstream view that a strong currency compromises export driven growth and is ruinous to the economy. This is only part of the picture however. Also released today was the UBS consumption indicator, which rose last month. Reactions to that data point present a less disastrous view of the Swiss prospects than do your standard response to the export data:

“The strength suggests that the economy may be supported by domestic demand,” said Informa Global Markets analyst Nikola Stephan. “Unemployment remains at low levels and low interest rates also fuel the spending mood.”

Prices of imported goods eased 2.2 percent in March, the trade data showed. Export prices were unchanged.

This was the UBS indicator’s strongest reading since July 2011, and the UBS economists said the real level of consumption might have been even stronger, because of high levels of immigration and an increase in consumer purchasing power due to falling prices.

Critics of strong currencies point to the fact that a stronger currency makes it more expensive for foreigners to buy the products produced by exporters. While this is true in the short term, it ignores the fact that the strong currency also serves to cheapen imports and input costs. Over the long term, exporters can alleviate the impacts of a strong domestic currency by lowering prices in nominal terms and increasing the volume of sales, something it can do given the drop in input costs that also come with a strong currency. This is the phenomenon behind the recent growth in Swiss watch exports. In short, strengthening currencies force exporters to constantly remain efficient.

The strengthening currency not only reduces costs for exporters, but for anyone holding the strong currency in question. With the Swiss, this is reflected in the higher purchasing power enjoyed by its citizens as prices have fallen. According to your standard views, the price level dropping is meant to be ruinous, leading to ‘deflationary spirals’ and what not. This simply hasn’t occurred. Rather the rising currency has enabled the Swiss to increase consumption, and increase their imported goods.

Returning to exporters, the rising Swiss Franc is not a new phenomenon. It has been a constant for years. The Swiss National Bank instituted a currency peg to the Euro, the currency of its largest trading partner, at 1.20 EUR/CHF, a level that is still higher in CHF terms than it was a year ago, roughly at 1.30. In 2007, the CHF was at its weakest point against the Euro, at roughly EUR/CHF 1.67. Against the dollar, the CHF has strengthened from a USD/CHF of 1.8 in 2001 to a level of 0.91 today. This constant strengthening since then has not prevented the Swiss export machine from functioning in any way.

Exports have risen throughout the period, with an understandable blip in 2008 for the financial crisis. Similarly, the resurgence of the Eurozone debt crisis has probably weighed just as much on exports as the strong franc has in the short term, but as the above graph shows, the export figures are hardly troubling in comparison to its long term trends. The benefits of the strong currency are thus shared by everyone, exporters, importers and consumers alike.

Swiss exporters are adjusting to that impending stagnation in the Eurozone by selling products to emerging economies, such as China, as shown below.

To conclude, a strong currency doesn’t destroy an economy. It merely results in various actors adjusting their spending patterns, in response to the new price levels. Contrary to popular belief, exporters do not suffer in the long run, as the relative difficulty in selling goods overseas is offset by the decrease in input costs. Any holder of the strong currency receives a benefit in the way of increased purchasing power, allowing for an increased standard of living."

End of culled article from the Dismal Operator.

If we want our nation's economy  to be transformed sufficiently to lift millions from poverty, our ruling elites must think more creatively.

To use an apt  pidgin English phrase to emphasise the point, "chew-and-pour book-long theories" will not help transform our country. Creative thinking will.

We cannot prosper if corporate tax rates remain high, for example. Why not make Ghana the nation with Africa's lowest corporate tax rate regime?

Will it not encourage many foreign companies to relocate their  African headquarters here?

And when they do, those foreign companies will buy or rent properties here;   employ Ghanaians and pay taxes - all of which will  help increase Ghana's GDP. Paradoxically lower taxes on businesses will increase government revenue - as more informal sector businesses will start paying taxes.

And what catastrophe will possibly befall Ghana, if personal income tax was abolished, for example?

Will it not rather put more money into the pockets of ordinary Ghanaians - including medical doctors and teachers? And will the consumer spending it will encourage not boost the incomes of traders and other small and medium-sized businesses?

Let us think more creatively as a people, if we want our nation to become prosperous. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.


Solar Power Systems: Remove All Taxes Now

Author's note; This was written on the 9th of February 2013. It is being posted today because I was unable to do so on the day.

As electricity rationing becomes the new norm in Ghana, perhaps President Mahama's administration ought to  come up with an innovative means  of empowering ordinary Ghanaians at this very trying time -  with a creative and sustainable solution that makes them more or less  immune to being inconvenienced by national grid power outages.

We have abundant sunshine countrywide most days in Ghana.

Why does the government not remove all taxes on solar panels and  other components for solar power systems, in the next budget to bring down the initial cost of acquiring solar power units?

And would making income from leasing and selling solar power systems  tax-free, also not make it possible for ordinary Ghanaians to purchase them for their  homes and offices (such as bank branches - and ATM's come to think of it)?

If it is technically possible,  should we also not  think of  retro-fitting  all street lights and traffic lights in Ghana? Ditto  augmenting power from the national grid with solar power systems for educational institutions, government healthcare facilities, offices,  buildings etc.,  nationwide?

Surely,  if properly explained, most Ghanaians would agree to the government using  a portion of the revenue from our oil and gas deposits, as well as accept a  small increase in value added tax for example, to pay for  solar power systems for  public  schools, healthcare facilities, the barracks of the military and  other security agencies, as well as other  public buildings and to  fund subsidies for the manufacture and sale of affordable solar power systems to the general  public?

Renewable energy, such as solar power,  is an idea whose time has come.

To encourage Ghanaians to install solar power systems in their properties,  the government ought to remove all taxes on solar panels and the components of  solar power systems. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.


Tel: 027 745 3109.


The Osu Castle: Symbol Of Our Triumph Over Imperialism

Author's note: This was written on 5th February, 2013. It is being posted today because I was unable to do so on the day.

Far from being a symbol of slavery, the Osu Castle, Ghana's seat of government, symbolises our triumph over imperialism - and the victory of our people over the foreign powers that occupied our nation during the colonial era.

It is a pity that President Mahama is said to have decided to move into the new Flagstaff House. Why move into what is a sitting duck - from a security standpoint?

That it never  occurred  to those who decided to build it and use it as a presidential palace, that the Indians they chose to build it, might install listening devices into the building, illustrates perfectly  the naivety of most of the leaders who followed President Nkrumah - who would have used Ghanaians only,   to design and build it from start to finish.

Paradoxically,  what was said to be Indian generosity to Ghanaians,   is actually a  gift to India's intelligence agencies - and a monument to the provincial outlook of those who thought they were leaving a legacy behind in building it.

President Mahama must stay put in the Osu Castle - the symbol of our triumph over imperialism: now that it is occupied by our own leaders. It is an impregnable fortress - secure for its occupants and easy to defend from attack by the ill-intended. A word to the wise...

Open Letter To Jospong Group's CEO

Author's note: This was written on the 4th of February 2013. It is being posted today because I was unable to do so on the day.

Dear Dr. Adjapong,

I shall go straight to the point. It is said that to whom much is given, much is expected of.

Ghana is slowly being engulfed by filth - despite the valiant efforts of waste management companies such as your Jospong Group subsidiary Zoomlion.

It is obvious to most discerning Ghanaians that sending waste to landfill sites is storing up trouble for tomorrow.

The recent public outcry against the dumping of waste at the   Achimota landfill site is a case in point.

Waste-to-energy represents a sustainable future for waste disposal in Ghana.

As you are aware, the Environment Centre of Lancaster University in collaboration with the UK consultancy firm  Envirofly,  are organising a waste-to-energy Executive Master Class at GIMPA towards  the end of March (28th-30th).

Why does the Jospong Group not sponsor officials from all the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDA) in Ghana,  to attend this all-important waste-to-energy course at GIMPA?

That will be  a perfect    corporate social responsibility gesture from the Jospong Group  - and could even lead eventually to waste-to-energy PPP deals between Zoomlion and  the MMDA's, which  will make Zoomlion an independent power producer too.

Finally, why do you not set an example to the rest of the Ghanaian corporate world, by floating shares in the Jospong Group on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE)?

Apart from raising millions of  Ghana cedis in interest-free   capital for the  Jospong Group, it will  also generate much excitement in Ghana and spark public interest in the GSE - and create a whole new class of small-investors in shares in listed companies in Ghana.

Surely, that will be a  fitting pioneering role,  for a creative and dynamic  tycoon, with interests in many sectors of our nation's  economy?


Yours in the service of Mother Ghana,


Ghana's Natural Heritage: Protect Remainder!

Author's note; This was written on the 4th of February 2013. It is being posted today because I was unable to do so on the day.

Recently,  one of the  Chiefs in  Akyem Abuakwa threatened to set fire to the equipment of illegal gold miners who were apparently dredging a section of the Birim River in their search for gold.

The harm being done to the fragile ecology of Akyem Abuakwa by illegal gold miners, loggers and hunters is on an almost apocalyptic scale.

It is time Ghanaian society woke up to the environmental armageddon that looms countrywide - as the wanton destruction of vast swathes of the Ghanaian countryside by  illegal surface gold miners and loggers results in habitat  loss for many species of our flora and fauna.

Of particular concern is the threat posed to the delicate ecology of the  Atewa Range upland evergreen rainforest - a designated Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA),  which provides vital eco-systems services.

The headwaters of the three major river systems on which much of southern urban Ghana depends for its drinking-water supply - the Birim, the Densu and the Pra -  take their source from there, and must be protected at all costs.

Desperate times call for desperate measures sometimes.  Private citizens driven by unfathomable greed and the lust for gold, must not be allowed to hold Ghanaian society to ransom with such impunity.

If nothing is done to halt hunting, illegal gold mining and logging in Atewa, a day will come when -like Sekondi and Takoradi today - treated water might become  a rarity in many cities, towns and villages in parts of southern Ghana, including the nation's capital of Accra.

Our educated urban elites must get off the fence - and start taking an active interest in environmental issues:  if they want their children and children's children to continue enjoying a relatively  good quality of life tomorrow.

What is left of Ghana's natural heritage needs protecting today. We must act before it becomes too late.  A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.


Reform Ghana's Utility Companies Now

Author's note: This  was written on the 30th of January 2013. It is being posted today because I was unable to do so on the day.

It is intolerable that in the 21st century  ordinary people in Ghana continue to be  inconvenienced regularly by the utilities providing water and electricity.

Surely,  it is time  the  top  management of Ghana's utility companies were held directly responsible for the unacceptable lapses in their organisations -  which result  in the inconveniencing of millions of households  across the nation?

Over the years, those utility companies have asked  - and received official approval from regulators -   for tariff increases.

And on each such occasion they have promised an improvement in  service provision to consumers in return: to justify those  requests  for tariff increases.

Yet,  consumers continue to be inconvenienced - and Ghanaians still experience power outages and  disruptions in the supply of treated water to their properties, as we speak. Literally.

Clearly,  the business models of our utilities don't  work. Neither consumers nor those who manage and work in those entities are satisfied with the current state of affairs.

The question is: should those entities not be allowed to seek alternative forms of investment to enable them modernise their plant and equipment without being saddled with crippling debt that taxpayers will have to pay eventually?

Perhaps the time has come for Ghanaians to find a creative solution to this collective  nightmare.

If it will enable us finally have a regular supply of power and treated water, should Ghanaians  not consider  agreeing  to new tariff rates, and in addition allow the government to carry out root and branch reforms in the operations and management of all the utility companies in Ghana?

That task can be outsourced to reputable consultants - local or foreign:  or a combination of the two.

The aim of those reforms should be to make Ghana's utility companies sufficiently attractive to overseas and local private equity investors - who will risk investing  their own money in modernising them: in the hope of exiting  after five or six years with a healthy return on their investment.

A one-off tariff increase that will be attractive to investors is the key to that happening.

Mickey-mouse and smoke-and-mirrors privatisations such as the Aqua Vittens Rand type, will not solve the problems of Ghana's utility companies.

We must bring the dark days of frequent power outages and disruptions in the supply of treated water to an end in Ghana.

After nearly 56 years of independence, it is totally unacceptable that Ghanaians do not have a reliable supply of electricity and treated water.

Ghana's utility companies must be reformed now - with a view to making them truly world-class utility companies: responsive to the concerns of consumers and providing value in   regular payment of dividends to their shareholders.

Our ruling elites must understand that in 21st century Ghana,  nothing less will do.

Ghanaians deserve better than is currently the case -  in the quality of the  service they receive from the nation's utilities. The authorities  must act decisively now to improve the situation. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.


Should The Three Wise Men Be Appointed Senior Ministers?

Author's note: This piece was written on the 27th of January 2013. It is being posted today, because I was unable to do so on the day.

Far be it for a lowly person like me to suggest how the powers that be should proceed, in structuring their new regime.

However, knowing how some public servants can permanently frustrate  the implementation of policies of ruling parties they have an antipathy towards, one feels obliged to offer a humble suggestion to the president, for patriotic reasons.

 To avoid the  bureaucratic minefield they are bound to encounter sooner or later, the president would be well-advised to consider adopting  the designation "Senior Minister" for the vital roles set aside for Hon. Bagbin, the Hon. E. T. Mensah and the Hon. Cletus Avoka to perform in his administration.

The question is: Are  there  cogent  reasons that cannot be publicly divulged that make it impossible for that to happen?

If not then  giving each of the so-called "three wise men" the designation Senior Minister will be a prudent move - and an example of the kind of creative thinking patriotic Ghanaians expect from President Mahama's new  administration.

It will enable the Mahama regime  to neatly sidestep the bureaucratic minefield, which  will enable the surrogates of its political opponents in the public service  to ensure that  the bulk of the  projects earmarked for completion under the supervision of the Hon. Alban Bagbin, the Hon. E. T. Mensah and the Hon. Cletus Avoka, are not completed before the end of the president's tenure on January 7th 2017.

With respect, it is said that a stitch in time,  saves nine. Let the president ignore those who have already more or less written off his administration, and appoint  each of the "three wise men" a  Senior Minister in his administration. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.


President Mahama: Ensure That Ghana Remains Peaceful

Author's note: This piece was written on 27th January 2013. It is being posted today because I was unable to do so on the day.

 Violent protests erupted in Egypt a few days ago -  resulting in at least 22 deaths -  when a court  handed down  over 21 death sentences  in punishment for the Port Said football disaster of  2012.

It is unfortunate that violence in once-stable Egypt has today resulted in a nation with an  economy in tatters.

At all costs,  Ghana must avoid a similar fate,  when the decision of the Supreme Court judges enpanelled to hear the petition filed by the defeated presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo,   challenging the declaration by the Electoral Commissioner of President John Mahama as victor in the December 2012 presidential election,  is finally delivered in open court.

Ghanaians  do not need,  and cannot afford,   such turmoil  in what for many is still a harsh existence in a poor developing nation - despite the undoubted economic progress made since debt-forgivance by the wealthy Western nations under the Highly Indebted Poor Country initiative:  accessed during the early part of the 8-year tenure of the NPP regime of President Kufuor,  between January 2001 and January 2009.

Politics in Ghana ought to be about  ensuring the  well-being of all its people, and protecting the best interests of the Ghanaian nation-state at all material times - not the parochial designs of political parties and the greedy ambitions of the powerful and self-seeking amongst their membership. It is that negativity that invariably leads to violence.

To ensure steady economic growth that will lead to national transformation, which  uplifts millions from poverty, it is vital that Ghana remains peaceful and stable,  going forward.

The interchange of ideas about achieving that is what ought to be the focus of our politics - and engage the minds of  members of our political class.

When there is  competition of ideas about moving Ghana forward, the best ideas will come to the fore and help push Ghanaian society forward.

President John Mahama will have to show extraordinary leadership throughout his period in office.

He must ensure that there is general consensus in the country that the rapid development of Ghana ought to be  the priority of the nation.

He must adopt a creative approach to consensus-building.

To lessen tension in the country, for example, he must constantly reach out to Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo and the leaders of all the other parties whose presidential candidates he defeated  in the  December 2012 election.

They  have a vital role to play in ensuring Ghana's stability, at this critical juncture in Ghana's history.

The Mahama administration must show them maximum respect at all times for that reason -   and it is important that the said leaders of the opposition parties also  reciprocate such gestures.

(Incidentally, the pro-National Democratic Congress media   must be prodded by the president and his party,  to be decorous  when engaging  the leadership of the opposition parties in their reportage. They ought   to  be respectful whiles holding those leaders of the opposition parties to account for their actions and inaction. But I digress.)

Above all, President Mahama  and his administration must   ensure that Ghana remains peaceful in the period leading up to,  and the immediate aftermath,  of the day that the decision of the Supreme Court on  the petition by the NPP's presidential candidate challenging   the declaration by the Electoral Commissioner of the president as the winner of the December 2012 presidential election, is delivered. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.


Presidential Appointments In Ghana

Author's note: This was written on 24th January 2013. It is being posted today because I was unable to do so on the day.
24 Jan

When  asked what I made of the apparent preponderance of Ghanaians from the northern part of the country,  in ministerial and other appointments made  thus far in  President Mahama's new administration, I gave the same answer I gave,  when asked a similar question during the Kufuor-era.

During the tenure of President Kufuor's New Patriotic Party regime, I always said that it did not matter whether  the president appointed people from the particular part of the country he hailed from exclusively to serve in his administration, as long as they were the best qualified in the country in his view.

I feel exactly the same in the case of President Mahama, too. As long as the people he appoints are Ghanaians and the best qualified to work for his administration in his view, so be it.

After all, we aim to create a meritocracy in our homeland Ghana, do we not - and are we not all Ghanaians:  whichever part of Ghana we hail from?

What we should object to in our ethnically-diverse  unitary Republic  - in which no one tribe is superior or inferior to another -  is for President Mahama (or any other Ghanaian president for that matter) to  attempt  to hijack the entire machinery of state to promote his tribal Chieftain -  the Gonjawura in Mahama's case -   as a sovereign ruler of a state within a state in Ghana, and to add insult to injury,  somehow seek to impose him on Ghanaians as their de facto monarch.

No Ghanaian who qualifies to serve in any position in the public-sector should be denied the opportunity to serve Mother Ghana, simply because he or she is from a particular part of our nation - from whence many other well-qualified Ghanaians (including the president) happen to  hail from at that point in time in our history.

Some of us - who love Mother Ghana passionately - did  not complain in the past when such issues were raised. We are not about to do so now either.

President Mahama can appoint as many Ghanaians from the north of our country as he needs to, in order to enable his administration to  achieve its developmental goals for Ghana. Northerners are Ghanaians too.

The same would apply to a President Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, were he  in power today and proceeded to appoint his "yen Akanfuo" kinsmen and women into his administration. Akans are Ghanaians too, are they not, I ask?

Every president of the Republic of Ghana, including President Mahama,  should be free to appoint those he feels are best qualified to serve in particular positions in his administration. Where they hail from is immaterial.

On his or her part, a serving president of Ghana ought to be mindful of the sensibilities of fair-minded Ghanaians - who want their leaders to be fair at all material times to all Ghanaian citizens whichever  corner of Ghana they hail from:  in making appointments to his or her administration. A word to the wise...

Tel: 027 745 3109.