Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Protect The Source Of Accra's Drinking Water Supply Before It Is Too Late

Not many of the residents of Ghana's capital city,  Accra,  are aware of the  tenuousness of their drinking water supply. The unfathomable greed of gold miners (both legally registered ones and  illegal operators) is slowly destroying the delicate  ecology of the area that provides the headwaters of the three  major river systems that a large part of urban southern Ghana, including Accra, relies on for its drinking water supply: the Densu,  Birim and Ayensu rivers - and threatening its long-term sustainability.

To prevent an apocalyptic future, when no treated water runs through taps  in homes, schools, offices and factories in Accra,  from occurring, all mining must be banned immediately from the whole of the Atewa Range,  in Akyem Abuakwa -  so as to protect what is a designated Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA): and save it from from super-ruthless predators, who don't care one jot about the effect of their actions on others,  and on  the natural environment,  in their selfish  quest for gold.

Active steps must be taken as soon as practicable,  to preserve what remains of the upland evergreen rainforest in the Atewa Range - gazetted as a forest reserve in the early 1920's. One doubts very much whether severe shortages of treated water will not become a permanent feature of life in Accra,  in the not too distant future, if that extreme measure is not taken now. The situation on the ground is actually that bad.

 To prevent what will be misery in Accra on a scale that is hard to imagine, from occurring,  it is crucial that all the District Assemblies in Akyem Abuakwa are encouraged to embrace the low-carbon development model - by ensuring that they and the residents of the area  benefit financially from the preservation of the remainder of the Atewa Range upland evergreen  rainforest.

 The  ecosystem services that that  important rainforest provides Accra's population are priceless - and devoting a small percentage of the amount paid by consumers  in Accra to benefit the area financially,  will guarantee the continued provision of those ecosystem services. It is indeed   a small price for water consumers in Accra  to pay,  for a precious gift of nature, without which life on the planet Earth  cannot be sustained.

The decision to turn the Atewa Forest Reserve - and the land bordering it - into a national park is in the right direction. The revenues derived from ecotourism will provide a sustainable future for the area's economy -  and ensure a better quality of life for all who live there

Above all, it will  help protect the source of Accra's drinking water supply: an important national security consideration that ought to attract the immediate  attention of the powers that be. They must act now  before it becomes too late to prevent a future catastrophe from occurring.  A word to the wise...

Friday, 27 December 2013

Why All State-Owned Entities Must Insure With SIC And Bank With GCB

A major source of corruption amongst the upper echelons of the public sector,  has apparently been lobbyists working for financial services sector entities, such as banks and insurance companies.

It is therefore not surprising that the industry-wide  body, the Ghana Insurers Association, is up in arms over the edict by President Mahama that ministries, departments and agencies of the government of Ghana, insure only with wholly-owned or partially state-owned insurance companies, such as SIC.

According to bush-telegraph sources,  senior public servants able to make it possible for state institutions and organisations to open accounts with private-sector  banks, and insure with privately-owned insurance companies, get the public-private-partnership-equivalent of a golden handshake, for doing so.

President Mahama is closing a significant loophole that has made it possible for taxpayers' money to end up in  the already-deep-pockets of crooked senior public servants, for years now,  in taking this bold step.

He must resist any pressure that those greedy banks and insurance companies that have fed fat on taxpayers for so many years now, will put on his regime, to rescind his decision. The banks and insurance companies that the state has a stake in, pay dividends to the government - so why should they not be given the opportunity to improve their bottom-line by being given business by public-sector entities, I ask?

Any measure that lessens the propensity of the state to impose taxes on individuals and businesses is to be welcomed. Dividends from entities such as SIC and GCB, in which the state has a stake, lessen the burden on taxpayers - which is why we must all  support the decision taken by the President that public-sector establishments must insure with SIC (and hopefully bank only with GCB too). At the very least it will lessen high-level corruption amongst senior public servants  - a positive development that ought to  be welcomed by every patriotic Ghanaian.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Let Us Resolve To Create A Truly Better Ghana In 2014

Being in the inside track of a regime trapped in a perfect storm of negativity,  must be pretty challenging - if you are a politician who  genuinely wants to see a truly better Ghana emerging unto the world stage.

 One's prayer, therefore, is that the decent people in the current regime who want to make our nation a better place for all its people,  will triumph over the crooks-in-high-places, in the new year.

As the year 2013 rolls to an end, many ordinary people in Ghana  will  doubtless take stock of their activities from the  beginning of this year, and hope that the new year will be a better one for  them - and their country.

 Let all the members of our political class resolve to put the national interest - whatever benefits a majority of Ghanaians at any given point in time - ahead of personal ambition and party advantage. They must work closely together to help alleviate poverty in Ghana.

 And,  hopefully, the National Media Commission (NMC) will come to see, in the new year, why it must do all it can to prevent the consolidation of the media into the hands of a wealthy and powerful few.

 Media consolidation today, might appear innocuous to many, but it provides tomorrow's tyranny with perfect working tools to undermine Ghanaian democracy with. The more responsible sections of the Ghanaian media, ought to wake up to this latent and insidious  danger.

 Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it, and a happy and prosperous new year to all the good people of this marvelous but challenging place called Ghana. Let us all resolve to help create a truly better Ghana for all its people in 2014.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Use Google's Smartphone Policing Application To Fight Corruption At Ghana's Ports

Author's note: This piece was written on 21/11/2013. It is being posted today, because I was unable to do so on the day. Please read on:

An experiment by Google Ideas and the Rio de Janeiro-based think thank, the  Igarape Institute, in which a smartphone policing application uploads encrypted video footage, of police on foot patrol in the farvellas of Rio de Janeiro interacting with residents, to a cloud server, ought to be studied by the Ghanaian authorities.

It could help eliminate most of the corruption in Ghana's ports and other entry points.  As it improves oversight over customs officers (and members of the other security agencies) on the ground,  who interact with the general public, by their commanders at headquarters, it would also help protect those officers from false allegations of unlawful conduct made against them by the public.

The Google smartphone policing application could also be a perfect tool for tackling indiscipline amongst members of the  various security agencies in our country - and prevent the abominable and unspeakable  horrors we heard being recounted by brutalised victims of  prison officers, police officers and soldiers, who appeared before the Kufuor-era National Reconciliation Commission (NRC). And it could also deter officers of the Motor Traffic and Transport Unit (MTTU) of the Ghana Police Service from engaging in acts of corruption.

The fact that customs, police and immigration officers posted to even the remotest entry points along Ghana's borders, could be monitored in real time by their commanders at headquarters, could make the Google smartphone policing application a powerful and relatively inexpensive tool,  to fight corruption at Ghana's ports and other entry points,  along our country's  borders. One hopes the powers that be will take this up with Google Ideas as soon as practicable. A word to the wise...