Friday, 26 December 2014

Wish-List For Mother Ghana's Benefit In 2015


On top of my wish-list for Mother Ghana's benefit in the year 2015, is that those who now rule our nation, will co-opt some of their administration's critics - and appoint them to public-sector positions that will enable them contribute positively to the nation-building effort.

It will be a clear demonstration of the new approach by an administration determined to make available opportunities for world-class  individuals in our country to participate in developing our homeland Ghana - regardless of their political affiliation and ethnic background.

No individual in this country, who has seen all the facts-on-the-ground that constitute the legacies of high-profile Ghanaians like Pastor Mensah Otabil, Bishop Douglas Heward-Mills and Archbishop Duncan  Williams, in terms of buildings and sundry structures, for example, will fail to come to the conclusion that they are indeed men of substance and true nation-builders.

Putting aside their religious background, what each of those gentlemen has been able to achieve thus far, is impressive by any standard. Globally.

It is natural for such achievers to feel some amount of frustration when confronted with the most negative aspects of our national life - for like all patriotic citizens they are anxious that the enterprise Ghana thrives and that its people prosper.

Pastor Mensah Otabil, for example, has established a reputable university - Central University College - and provided the students and faculty with a purpose-built modern main campus. How many people in the world can  lay claim to such an achievement? Is it surprising that such a man will feel frustrated by the incompetence he sees around him on a daily basis?

President Mahama's regime would be wise to appoint all three  gentlemen mentioned above, to a reconstituted board of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC),  in 2015.

It will prevent the predators who count on our rumoured inability to properly monitor the quantity of barrels of oil actually produced daily from the Jubilee oilfield, from stealing what properly  belongs to all the Ghanaian people. Their presence on the GNPC's board of directors will also prevent wasteful expenditure by the GNPC.


One's second wish for 2015 is that the Ghanaian football star Asamoah Gyan can help bring closure for the affected families of the victims of the tragic 6th July, 2014 drowning at Ada of  his hiplife musician friend, Theophiles Tagoe (aka Castro),  and the young lady with whom he drowned, Ms. Janet Badu.

My prayer is that Asamoah Gyan's professional advisors will have the presence of mind in the new year, to ask him to pay for health and safety experts from either Germany or the UK, to take a look at the operations of the  Aqua Safari riverfront resort's water sports equipment rental business, from which Asamoah Gyan and his friends hired their water scooters on that fateful day, and also report on the suitability or otherwise of any  business offering water scooters to the paying  public, being allowed to operate near the mouth of  a river estuary with powerful and fast-flowing currents.

It is a moot point as to whether or not from a safety standpoint, those who Castro hired the water scooter from, should have been operating where they were on the day in question, in the first place, in my humble opinion. If it is indeed the case that the service they offer to the public is inherently unsafe, then surely they must be compelled by the law courts to compensate the families of Castro and the young lady, Ms. Badu, for the painful and tragic loss of their loved ones?

Consumers in Ghana need to be protected in such circumstances. It is unethical for resort owners to put up signage absolving themselves from responsibility for accidents, when those they serve should not,  in good conscience,  be allowed to venture into what are waters too dangerous to either swim or ride personal water craft (PWC) in.


Zoomlion Ghana Limited is currently collaborating with the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) at Kumasi, to conduct research relevant to the waste management industry.

My third wish for Mother Ghana in 2015, is that Zoomlion will invite the Indian Centre for Plastics in the Environmnet (ICPE) to collaborate with its sponsored KNUST research facility - and that it will also set up a joint-venture with the Indian infrastructure company, Jusco, to build plastic roads in Ghana.

Plastic roads, which are built from a mixture of waste plastic and bitumen, last twice as long as ordinary roads, are pothole-free, can easily carry heavy loads and  are not washed away by flash floods because they are impermeable to water. It is an inexpensive and cost-effective way to climate-change-proof Ghana's road network over time.


My final wish is that in the new year, Ghana's media will help make the public more aware of the many interesting places in our country that Ghanaians can visit. Ghana ought to focus on developing domestic tourism.

Speaking personally, a quest to find examples of outbound European companies in the tourism sector,  whose business had been affected by the Ebola fever virus outbreak in West Africa (as I gathered facts for an article about the need for Ghana to focus on domestic tourism, in order to insulate Ghana's tourism sector from negative outside events over which we have no control), led to an interesting email conversation with one of the two co-founders of the Dutch overseas volunteer organisation, Amaidi, Mr. Camille van Neer.

When I mentioned a rural bamboo bicycle project to alleviate poverty in rural Ghana, he suggested that a photo-opportunity in which Ghana's ambassador to the Netherlands rode one of the bamboo bicycles,  might spur interest in them in Europe. Sound advice. One hopes H.E. Dr. Tony Aidoo will take that idea up in 2015.

Rural bamboo bicycle projects in the forest belt could draw many small businesspeople from across Ghana - wanting to export them to other nations in Africa, Europe and elsewhere - to the areas in rural Ghana (such as Apaah and Yonso, in the Ashanti Region), where they are made.

The money they spend there could boost the local economy considerably. It could also draw children from financially well-endowed private urban schools to visit those areas on school field trips to study micro-entrepreneurs at work in rural Ghana.

Ghana's tourism and creative arts minister is right to focus on developing domestic tourism in 2015. Ghana's prosperous middle classes should be encouraged to spend some of their family holidays visiting places like the Mole National Park at Damango, to watch elephants in the wild, for example.

In 2015 one hopes that tour companies in Ghana will offer inexpensive weekend trips to the other national parks dotted across the country, to Ghanaian families. The key thing is to make such weekend tour packages value-for-money adventure trips for families with children.

Birding enthusiasts and extreme hikers can contact M &J Travel and Tours , which has CSR  community projects at Akyem Juaso, if they want to visit one of the most beautiful upland evergreen rainforests in the world, where the P. E. Thompson Estate's private nature resource reserve is located.

It is in an area of the Atewa Range designated a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA). There is a pillar with the letters GSBA etched on it in the property, which was erected by researchers from Conservation International in 2006, who carried out a rapid assessment survey in the Atewa Forest Reserve and some of the slopes around it. Their online report is available by googling "RAP Bulletin No. 47."

One also hopes that in 2015, the ministry of tourism and creative arts will partner with reputable organisations like  the Colorado-based Sustainable Travel International, and the world's leading forest canopy walkway builders and zipline installers, Greenheart Conservation, to bring many of Ghana's  tourism destinations up to the best global eco-tourism destination standards - with creative ideas that will attract Ghana's burgeoning middle-class to holiday in Ghana: instead of travelling overseas to Europe and north America.

Above all, in 2015, may our leaders have the wisdom to rehabilitate all the roads leading to tourist destinations in Ghana.  And may 2015 be a good year for all of humankind.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The Type Of Leader Who Will End The Power & Influence Of Vested Interests In Ghana

The latest corruption allegation to do with the organisation of Ghana's participation in the 2014 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil,  if proven to be actually true, will be a perfect illustration of the immense power and baleful influence of the vested interests that operate from the shadows, in our national life.

To end high-level corruption, we must rid our nation of the influence of vested interests. They will continue to compromise our ruling elites to the detriment of our country - whichever of the current two major political parties governs Ghana - if their activities are not brought to  a halt permanently.

As regards the alleged curruption in the organisation of the 2014 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil, let me hasten to add that one doubts very much that a highly-intelligent politician like the Hon. Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, would involve himself in a corrupt deal with a commercial entity, which any ministry headed by him had a contract with - particularly when he is fully aware that in the #OccupyGhana-era it would end his political career if it came to light.

And one also doubts that a brilliant young man like Mr. Richard Darko would risk the reputation of a solid PR business, Evolution International, which he has worked hard to build over the years, by paying kickbacks to politicians that left a paper trail. That is why it would come as a surprise to me if forensic tests by the police did not establish conclusively that the documents in question were  indeed forgeries.

Having said that, however, the fact still remains  that when major government contracts are awarded in many poor developing countries, the political party in power invariably recieves  kickbacks secretly. It is one of the ways that many political parties fund themselves when in power. And it is a practise that corrupts the system in the poor nations in which it occurs.

Ghana's 4th Republic's massive corruption - under both National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP) administrations - results from the vise-like grip on our country exercised by the ruthless and powerful vested interests that profit mightily from our corrupt system: and are thus prepared to pay handsomely to buy dishonest public officials, sundry crooked politicians and our nation's cynical political parties.

Some of that cash obtained from vested interests, is used to lessen the never-ending pressure that party foot-soldiers - the vast majority of whom incredibly expect to be rewarded financially by party bigwigs - exert on government ministers, district chief exacutives, and many of the heads of public-sector entities appointed to their positions because of their loyalty to the ruling party.

And that is one of the ways in which some ordinary people - who really ought to volunteer to help the political parties that they support in the nation-building effort when they are in power, but choose instead  to demand payment for the work they do for political parties - also contribute to the corruption that is slowly destroying our nation.

In many developing nations that are also emerging economies with power generating deficits, the nuclear lobby is active and influential. And so are independent power producers that build and operate coal-fired power plants.

Naturally, lobbyists for companies that build and operate nuclear power plants and coal-fired power plants, are active in Ghana.

And the results of their efforts are there for all to see -  in the strange decision to permit a nuclear power plant and a coal-fired power plant to be built here, although our leaders know perfectly well that radioactive waste from that nuclear power plant will be dangerous for thousands of years,  and that no one can guarantee that that waste will be safely and securely stored, in a corrupt nation that has a poor maintenance culture, and is unable to deal effectively with even the relatively simple task of the disposal of household and industrial waste safely.

Our leaders are also aware of the fact that health-damaging pollution from the emissions of coal-fired power plants in China and South Africa damages the health of tens of millions of Chinese and South African citizens.

One hopes that instead of permitting coal-fired power plants to be built in Ghana, those who now rule our country will follow the example of Myanmar - which is reported by BBC News to be using 60 pop-up gas-fired generators fitted into recycled shipping  containers to provide power for as many as 8 million people. That is a value-for-money and easily-scaleable approach to ending Ghana's power-generating  deficit.

Another example of the baleful influence wielded by vested interests in Ghana, is the power of the lobbyists working for foreign oil companies operating here.

The oddity in that sector of our national econony, is that  - in an era of terrorism by extremist groups in the west African sub-region, such as Boko Haram - vital national security and environmental concerns are often ingnored by our ruling elites: if that will help foreign oil companies to maximise their profits even at society's expense.

When BP spilled oil into the Gulf of Mexico years ago, the U.S. government and law courts made sure that the company bore all the clean-up costs,  and fairly compensated all those whose livelihoods were destroyed by the spillage. The question then is: Should Ghana not take a leaf from America's book?

And, unlike Ghana, one doubts very much if the U.S. Navy - itself a victim of global terrorism - would ever share any of  its vital onshore facilities with any U.S. oil company, let alone a foreign one.

Given the power of vested interests in our country, it is not surprising that we are yet to see any legislation in Ghana, putting all oil agreements in the public domain. Ditto passing laws making oil companies responsible financially for all oil spillage clean-up costs, and making it mandatory that victims  are fairly compensated when their livelihoods are destroyed by oil spills.

 Clearly, Ghana will never prosper if we do not curb the power and influence of vested interests.

The good news, is that Ghana's dynamic young generation can end the power wielded by vested interests in our country -  and thus lessen, if not end, the incidence of high-level corruption in Ghana.

They can do so by  voting for Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom - and, during the 2016 election campaign, volunteer  to help spread news across the country, about the many achievements of a politician who is Ghana's best option in that presidential election.

 A self-made man, Nduom is a wealthy and highly successful businessman,  who has created thousands of jobs through his Groupe Nduom conglomerate. His vast fortune will insulate him from Ghana's vested interests.

It is instructive that the Nkrumahist political party he founded, the Progressive Peoples' Party (PPP), was the only party that was transparent about its sources of funding for the campaign for the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections.

He was also the only presidential candidate who publicly published the results of his medical check-up to prove that he was healthy enough  and physically fit to stand the rigours of  being Ghana's president.

Nduom was the only candidate for the presidency in that election year, who publicly published his filed tax returns.

It is not for nothing that the 2016 presidential candidates of the NDC and NPP never talk about either publicly publishing the sources of their respective party's funding, or publicly publishing their assets and those of their spouses.

The reason is simple - the reality is that the two major parties are steeped in the corrupt old-style politics underpinned by kickbacks from vested interests operating from the shadows: which prosper from maintaining our present corrupt and dysfunctional system.

Apparently, Nduom is said to be willing to publicly publish the assets of both himself and his wife, just before the start of his tenure as president in January 2017, and immediately at its end in January 2021. Marvellous news, indeed - as it will be the first time since Ghana gained its independence in 1957 that a leader of our country would have done so: if he actually does so when he becomes president.

That is precisely the type of honest and world-class leader who will end the baleful influence of vested interests in Ghana when elected in December 2016 - and finally bring an end to rampant high-level corruption in Ghana.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Ghana's Cocoa Industry Needs Niche All-Terrain Specialist Logistics Companies

As somone who grows organic cocoa, and whose family has farmed cocoa in Ghana's Eastern Region since  the early 1900s - from the days when British colonialists occupied our country - I am always on the lookout for innovative ideas that will redound to the benefit of smallholder cocoa farmers.

A major hurdle to getting bags of cocoa beans out of many cocoa growing areas is the poor state of the road network in those areas. Many of those roads are virtually impassable during the rainy season. The Western Region is a case in point.

It was for that reason that when I heard that a Ghanaian-American couple were investing in all-terrain ex-US military truck-trailers designed to literally deliver loads (including the Abrams tank - the US military's heaviest tank) to battlefields anywhere on the surface of the planet Earth, I encouraged them to focus on the cocoa industry - as their all-terrain truck-trailers would be a godsend for cocoa buying companies servicing smallholder farmers in areas with impassable roads.

Perhaps if there is one new year resolution that cocoa farmers who farm in hard-to-access areas with impassable roads would like Dr. Opuni, the Ghana Cocoa Board's (COCOBOD) hardworking CEO, to make and keep,  in 2015,  it would be that in the new year the  COCOBOD will work with niche logistics service providers like Roudofa Ghana Limited, and encourage them to build up their all-terrain truck-trailer fleet strength quickly, as well as roll out modern workshop facilities and warehouses.

Ghana's cocoa industry could do with niche all-terrain logistics companies that can haul bags of cocoa beans from cocoa-growing areas that ordinary truck-trailers cannot venture into because the roads there are in such a poor state. It will help increase smallholder cocoa farmers' income in many areas of the Western Region.

That is why the COCOBOD must encourage companies like Roudofa Ghana Limited to build up their fleet of specialist all-terrain truck-trailers, by working with them.

Working with the COCOBOD could enable such companies leverage low-interest credit facilities in the U.S. to enable them rapidly build up their fleet strength sufficiently to make a real difference for Ghana's cocoa industry.

To increase the tonnage of cocoa beans it processes locally and exports,  Ghana's cocoa industry definitely needs niche all-terrain specialist logistic companies, to enable all the bags of cocoa  beans locked up in hard-to-access areas, to be evacuated. So,  as we say in local parlance: "Dr. Opuni, over to you, Joe Lartey."

 Finally, happy holidays, to all those whose dedication and hard work, sustains Ghana's cocoa industry - which still remains the backbone of our national economy.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Let Us Extend A Hand Of Friendship To All Those We Come Across Daily

Recent news that a pastor at Kasoa Amanfro, in Ghana's Greater Accra Region, had taken his own life following the death of his wife, must have come as a rude shock to the members of his church - who must have been distraught upon hearing the tragic news. May his soul rest in peace.

 What drives some to the depths of despair, to the extent that they are unable to see a way out of their troubles - and feel that ending their lives would provide them relief from the intense and unbearable pain darkening their lives?

It is often the case that the male of the species seldom opens up to others about their own personal  difficulties - probably because of fear that they might be seen as weaklings and failures.

However, pastors are supposed to find refuge in Jesus Christ and  God  Almighty at such times - hence the shock that many Christians in Ghana might probably feel when they hear of a rare case of a pastor committing suicide.

Often, such is the fear of others finding out the emotional turmoil and mental torture  being experienced at moments of despair that so many individuals in that frame of mind put on a mask - and give the world the false impression that all is well with them when it  actually isn't.

Alas, the world unfortunately finds  out the true situation when it is too late to offer any help,  to a troubled and despairing soul. Humankind could do with a kinder and  gentler world. Perhaps if that were the case, many of those who need help might be less reluctant to ask for help from others.

 Whatever the nature of the source of despair felt by others, at the very least, we can all reach out to those in distress by empathising with them - the chances of being able to do so being greater if we make a conscious effort daily to be more caring and kinder to others.

Personally, if I live to see in the new year and survive till this time next year, I shall be less acerbic with my pen.  I will try to be more considerate when criticising members of our ruling elites in my writing - they are human too, after all. And none of us is perfect.

This holiday season, let us all  remember our shared humanity wherever in the world we are located - and extend a hand of friendship to all those we come across daily. Being thoughtful and kind to someone could help them pull through a particularly difficult period in their life.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Ghana Desperately Needs A New Kind Of Politics

Ghana desperately needs a new kind of politics. A convention ought to be established that when a new president is sworn into office, all the political parties will rally behind him or her, and contribute positively to the nation-building effort - by contributing innovative ideas, and, when the occassion calls for it,  criticise government policies constructively: with alternative policies offered in each instance.

The time has come for the corrupt, old-style politics that has polarised Ghanaian society to end. Ghana will never progress if its people are not disciplined and united.

Why, for example, should the prayer of a major opposition party and some of its supporters be that the government of the day fails - when that opposition party claims to seek the betterment of ordinary people: by the transformation of Ghana into a prosperous society?

When a government fails, it is the ordinary people that suffer, not the relatively prosperous politicians constantly praying that a government of the day fails - so that they will be voted into power again in the next presidential and parliamentary elections.

If a government fails, it makes the work of the successor-regime that replaces it extremely difficult, if not well-nigh impossible.

The divisive old-style politics, in which "equalisation" and the "endless-blame-game" underpin each party's propaganda war strategy, has led to the cynicism we see and hear daily on the airwaves of television and  FM  radio stations.

Yet, for the good of the nation, opposition parties ought to be more responsible - and take advantage of such media platforms to provide a steady stream of cutting-edge ideas: as alternative policies that will move Ghana forward. Alas, unfortunately for Ghana, the opposite has been the case. And that has been the bane of our national life since the 4th Republic came into being in 1992.

It is up to Ghana's younger generation to take their destiny into their own hands - by actively seeking to end the dominance of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the largest opposition party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), in Ghanaian politics.

 In that regard, #OccupyGhana's unalloyed patriotism and nationalistic-activism are in the right direction. To avoid violence and chaos in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections, young Ghanaians must ensure that they do not cast their votes for candidates standing for either the NDC or the NPP.

No political party whose game-plan for returning to power again, after each period in the political wilderness is sabotaging the nation-building effort, deserves to govern the Republic of Ghana.

To end the NDC/NPP duopoly's vise-like grip on our national life, Ghana's younger generation would be wise to rally behind a new grand coalition of the various Nkrumaist parties - to enable the ideas that Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah had about the type of egalitarian society Ghana ought to be to prevail once again in our nation's politics.

It is that African equivalent of the egalitarian societies of Scandinavia that will secure their individual futures in a fair society in which all young Ghanaians have the opportunity to advance regardless of individual family background.

As things currently stand, in a nation with such huge disparities in wealth, only a relatively few  privileged young people will eventually be successful, in the selfish dog-eat-dog society created by the corrupt system that suits the NDC/NPP duopoly's old-style politics so well.

Yet, to become a prosperous nation, Ghanaian society must harness the talents of all the young people in our country. It is for that reason that Ghana so desperately needs a new kind of politics.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Choosing The Best Candidate As Ghana's President In 2016 To Fight High-Level Corruption

The voracious appetite for cash that most large political political parties have is one of the leading causes of high-level corruption in Ghana.
It corrupts the system - and puts such political parties firmly in the grip of vested interests in our country. If society throws the spotlight on the murky world of party financing, it will diminish the power and influence of vested interests.

Both the ruling National Democratic  Congress (NDC), and Ghana's largest opposition party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), for instance, more or less receive money from virtually the same funding sources.

The individuals and business entities that fund both political parties, seek a continuation of the corrupt and dysfunctional system, which enables them to increase their wealth in such spectacular fashion. And that is the source of most of our nation's woes.

It is for that reason that the younger generation must look for an alternative to both the NDC and the NPP - as the corrupt and dysfunctional system on which the two parties depend can never be reformed if either of them holds power in Ghana. Yet Ghana's system needs reforming.

The only way for Ghana to progress in such fashion that every strata of society prospers, is for Ghana to become a meritocracy that is underpinned by an efficient, transparent and accountable system - which encourages competition and discourages cronyism: at both grassroots level (by electing district chief executives) and at the national level.

As presently structured, and led, neither the NDC nor the NPP can deliver such a reformed system. Alas, they are both beholden to the very vested interests holding back our nation from prospering, as a result of their corrupt nature. Ghana is in need of real change. Urgently.

Only political parties that are transparent about their sources of funding, which are led by world-class politicians prepared to publicly publish their assets and those of their spouses - before and after their tenure - can deliver a reformed system that is virtually impossible to corrupt because it is transparent: not opaque and Byzantine as is presently the case.

In searching for an alternative to the NDC/NPP duopoly, what must be the guiding principle that informs the choices younger generation Ghanaians make? They must learn lessons from the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections.

"Deeds, not words",  ought to be the operative phrase that points young Ghanaians in the direction of a good home for their political loyalties. They must look to the followers of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah - an honest, dynamic and visionary leader whose legacy we can see all around us across the nation.

In that regard, if the most transparent political party and the most transparent presidential candidate in the 2012  presidential and parliamentary elections - the Progressive People's Party (PPP) and its presidential candidate, Dr. Nduom - had been elected to power in 2012,  Ghana would definitely be a better place today.

What are some of the key factors that they must take into account, when Ghana's young generation decide which parties and candidates to vote for, in the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections? As a people we will always progress if we are led by transparent politicians and political parties.

To begin with, Ghana's young generation must make sure that they do not vote for any presidential candidate, whose party fails to publicly publish the sources of all the funds used in its election campaign. To fight high-level corruption, the right choice for Ghana, is a presidential candidate whose party is transparent about its sources of funding.

Young Ghanaians must also not vote for any presidential candidate who either fails to publicly publish  his or her assets, and that of his or her spouse, or who when compliant does not do so in time for verification by the Auditor General and  the Commissioner General of the Ghana Revenue Authority, before  the day of the 2016 presidential election.

From what we have witnessed thus far since 1993, clearly, the right choice for the nation in 2016, will be the selection of a presidential candidate who is a world-class individual with a track record of creating thousands of jobs - and has achieved great success in business and thus knows how to create wealth - who will willingly publicly publish his or her assets as well as those of his or her spouse, well before the day of the election.

That is the kind of leader who will be immune to the blandishments of the vested interests eroding society's moral fabric with never-ending corruption.

In electing such a presidential  candidate as president in 2016 Ghanaians will be choosing the right leader to help reform our opaque and Byzantine system and lead the fight against high-level corruption - prerequisites if we are to become a prosperous nation and an African equivalent of the egalitarian societies of Scandinavia.

Monday, 8 December 2014

An Old Man Muses - Before Taking An End Of Year Break

Not being tech-savvy, one can only presume - in one's ignorance - that it might be technically feasible to create a database containing the bio-data of all registered voters, and use it to network the Electoral Commission's (EC) biometric machines to expose multiple voters.

The alarm will be raised the moment they attempt to vote more than once.

The question then is: would it not be wise for the nation to  focus its attention now on making possible what will be a useful innovation in the electoral process - and use it to underpin the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections?

If that is done, it will help keep the men and women of violence at bay - and stop them from tipping the nation over the precipice when the EC announces the results of the 2016 presidential election.

For at no point on voting day, will they have an election-disrupting-excuse to latch on to - by falsely claiming that their supporters were being prevented from voting: when what they were actually attempting to do, was to vote a second time.

When one listens to the words and watches the actions of ruthless, power-hungry politicians like the so-called "Chairman Wuntumi",  the Ashanti regional chairperson of the New Patriotic Party (NPP),  one can see the writing on the wall.

His shouting match with the chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Dr. Kwadjo Afari-Djan, at a recent EC/IPAC meeting in Kumasi, is a harbinger of things to come.

Perhaps the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) could work with the EC and Ghanaian software companies to develop the process suggested above for the 2016 elections. It will certainly help make the results of the 2016 presidential election more acceptable to all the candidates who take part in it.


Ghanaians are a mostly-tolerant people. That is why it is such an unfortunate development that our political class has succeeded in  polarising Ghanaian society to the extent it has.

Yet, Ghana has enough space in it to accommodate diverse opinions. Wherever in the world there is competition of ideas in the public sphere, in a nation's public discourse, the best ideas usually come to the fore - and propel such societies forward.

Candidates competing for national executive positions in political parties in Ghana, ought to focus on contributing creative and innovative ideas, which will help their party to improve the lot of ordinary Ghanaians, when in power.

Negative campaigning in which the media is used by some candidates, to mount personal attacks on rival candidates vying for regional and national executive positions,  is counter productive. Democracy is not just about constitutions, state institutions and concepts such as countervailing powers, etc., etc. - it is also a way of life based on tolerance. Ghanaian politicians must never forget that.


Ghanaian politicians must understand clearly that the only way to successfully widen the tax net in sustainable fashion, is by lowering taxes substantially.

If taxes are low, most businesses will feel that it is their moral duty to contribute their quota to the nation-building effort - and therefore meet their tax obligations. Why don't we put Ghana on the world map as the nation with the world's lowest corporate tax rates?

SMEs with a turnover below a certain threshold should not have to pay any corporate taxes at all. That will enable them to survive even in  the most difficult of economic conditions.

That will also enable them to retain more of their workforce in tough times. Working individuals regularly spend money on purchases for their households - and that is good for the national  economy.

Above all, personal income tax must be abolished. That will literally put more money into the pockets of hardworking people - instead of making it available to be siphoned off by white-collar criminals in the system who steal taxpayers' money regularly, employing different schemes for the purpose.

If the payment of personal income tax  were to be abolished in Ghana, many foreign companies would immediately move their African headquarters  here.

And many high net worth  individuals from around the world would flock to Ghana and become resident here - living here part of the year for the minimum period required to qualfy for the privilege.

And they will all need office and personal accommodation to rent or purchase. Ditto employ professional advisors, recruit staff for their companies as well as hire domestic staff.

The money such companies and wealthy individuals would spend here annually, would boost the national economy considerably.

By utilising the internet of things, it should be easy to monitor bonded warehouses, to eliminate the massive fraud pepertrated by the importers who abuse the system and evade taxes.

The money saved by remote electronic monitoring of bonded warehouses across the nation, by utilising the internet of things, will more than make up for the tax lost by abolishing personal income tax in Ghana.

Finally, eliminating wasteful government spending could also cut down government expenditure.

The so-called Brand Ghana Office is an example. It does not make sense one bit, spending taxpayers' money branding Ghana. A good quality of life and high living standards for ordinary Ghanaians, is the most eloquent 'narrative' about Ghana for a global audience. The Brand Ghana office must be closed down immediately.

The President must also dismiss the small army of  nonperforming presidential 'aides' and 'special assistants' at the presidency.  If they did their work well, this administration wouldn't have such a negative image, amongst ordinary Ghanaians. They are a drain on the public purse. Is it not time they went?


Some of  the plastic products a waste management company like Zoomlion could use recycled plastic waste to manufacture,  include composite plastic bridges and plastic rail sleepers.

Zoomlion's ever-busy executives could look up - and connect with Axion International for that purpose. A joint-venture here would benefit both companies, and the nation generally.

Axion International makes composite plastic bridges for the US military that are strong enough to carry even heavy military tanks.

The Ghana Cocoa Marketing Board could pay for deteriorating bridges in the cocoa-growing areas in the Ghanaian countryside to be replaced with Axion International's composite plastic bridges - which will last for decades and still remain as sturdy as when newly installed, all that time. Literally. Food for thought for Zoomlion's executives.


To deal with a sudden personal emergency, to do with my accommodation, this blog will take a break, and  perhaps return either before or at some point in the new year.

If I am unable to return before the new year, I will take advantage of this opportunity,  to wish all the Ghanapolitics blog's readers a Merry Christmas, and a happy and prosperous 2015, in advance.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Some Of The Reasons Why Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Is Still Relevant In 21st Century Ghana

Yesterday, I was asked by a young acquaintance who wondered, "why  some Ghanaians feel that Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah is still relevant in 21st century Ghana - when he had been a dictator who wanted all economic activities to be in the hands of the state exclusively?"

I told him that many of President Nkrumah's political opponents - including some of those who still condemn his government today - had a deliberate policy of spreading half-truths and outright lies about his person and his legacy.

I asked him if he had read any of the anti-terrorism legislation passed by the US Congress and the British Parliament, in the wake of terrorist attacks against US and UK targets, by Al Qaeda and its affiliates.

Those US and UK anti-terrorism laws are even more draconian than those passed by Nkrumah's regime - yet were swiftly passed by the elected representatives of the citizens of the world's two leading democracies to deal with the scourge of terrorism.

President Nkrumah had to deal with political opponents who planted bombs that killed and maimed hundreds. They deliberately targeted his person to try and eliminate him physically - in order to overthrow his freely elected government.

Nkrumah's Convention People's Party (CPP) government simply adopted anti-terrorism laws used by the British colonial regime to deal with terrorism in India that were retained by the post-independence government of India - to fight those planting bombs across Ghana at the time.

No responsible government anywhere in the world at that time would have sat unconcerned and watched the nation it governed descend into chaos and violence instigated by its political opponents. And so it was with the CPP government of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

As to the falsehood that Nkrumah wanted all economic activities to be in the hands of  the state exclusively, the actual policy pursued by Nkrumah's CPP government was to have a mixed economy.

Both the public sector and the private sector played a part in what was a planned economy - the objective of which was improving the quality of life of all the Ghanaian people: by providing them with jobs and business opportunities that the private sector could exploit.

 As far as Nkrumah was concerned, we had to be masters in our own house - and run the national economy for the benefit of all the Ghanaian people. For that reason he wanted us to guard against neocolonialist exploiters manipulating the national economy from afar for their own benefit, using quislings in the system. That should be the attitude of today's leaders too.

Another reason why Nkrumah is still relevant today, is because he understood the importance of harnessing science and technology in developing Ghana. That still remains true today. For instance,  e-commerce and the internet of things will transform our economy and shape our future.

As a people, to advance, we must harness cutting-edge technologies including information and communications technology, and nano-technology, for example - and aim to benefit from the commercialisation of the results of other areas of ongoing scientific research, both in Ghana and elsewhere in the world.

Nkrumah  is still relevant today, because he was a leader who saw clearly that for Ghana to prosper, it had to be a united nation of diverse ethnicity in which no tribe was inferior or superior to another -  and the best qualified individuals could rise to the top in every field of human endeavour: regardless of their ethnic background. That still holds true.

Nkrumah is still relevant today, because he understood that education offered the quickest way out of poverty for the poor - and therefore made free education a cardinal policy of his government. We must have free education from kindergarten to tertiary level, for all those with the aptitude to study, but whose families cannot afford to pay for their education.

Above all, Nkrumah, who placed his faith in the younger generation to secure Ghana's future, understood that as a people we must be patriotic, disciplined, treasure honesty, work hard,  be self-reliant and have self-belief in abundance, to prosper. As Africans, we also had to take pride in our cultural heritage, in his view.

That was his reason for setting up the Ghana Young Pioneer Movement - which would help produce leaders who would be in the vanguard of a new generation which would replace the older generation responsible for eroding society's moral fabric.

Unfortunately, his political opponents spread the falsehood  that the Ghana Young Pioneer Movement was set up to brainwash young people to spy on their parents.

No government consisting of honest and patriotic individuals endowed with abundant self-belief, will ever sign any agreement with a foreign or local investor, other than a 50-50 win-win type  of agreement - such as that which Botswana has with De Beers to exploit Botswana's diamonds.

If all our oil agreements with foreign oil companies were 50-50 win-win agreements, Ghana would earn far more from the oil deposits it sits atop of, than is presently the case. Today's Ghanaian leaders, must seek inspiration from the Nkrumah-era, in their dealings with foreign oil companies. They would do well to read the speech Nkrumah gave at the official opening of the Tema Oil Refinery in 1963.

There are many more reasons why Nkrumah's ideas are still relevant today. The above are just the few ones I enumerated to my young acquaintance who wanted to know why some feel Nkrumah is still relevant in 21st century Ghana - in the short time-frame one could accommodate in a mobile telephone conversation, without breaking the bank.

An incorruptible African leader,  whose regime provided:  free healthcare in modern hospitals and clinics;  built many new schools to provide free education for the young generation; built new housing estates to provide affordable accommodation for families; as well as expanded and modernised our nation's infrastructure;  and whose regime stood up for Africans still under colonial bondage during his tenure, will be relevant in the affairs of our homeland Ghana till the very end of time - for Nkrumah's shinning example of selfless and honest leadership,  will continue to inspire other honest and selfless individuals seeking to serve their nation, for generations to come.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Ghanaian Officialdom Must Not Gloss Over Inherent Dangers Of Nuclear Power Plants In A Dysfunctional System

The fact that those who have the power to implement it, are still determined to go ahead with plans to build a nuclear power plant in Ghana, is profoundly depressing. Even at this stage, it is alarming that officials are already resorting to secrecy.

A senior public official, Professor Thomas Akabsaa, apparently refused to divulge the exact locations of the three possible sites out of which one would be earmarked for the construction of the proposed nuclear power plant, for "security" reasons. Could the real reason be fear of public demonstrations by concerned groups?

Yet it is crucial that there is transparency in all aspects of this controversial subject - as a Nuclear Energy Planning and Implementation Organisation has been established and a Nuclear Regulatory Authority Bill put before Parliament. The public needs to know about the activities of public officials in the nuclear sector - and hold them to account.

With the kind of maintenance culture that results in even relatively simple infrastructure like bridges and roads seldom being inspected, for instance, how can we be sure that radioactive waste from the nuclear power plant, which will remain dangerous for thousands of years, will be securely and safely stored?

And if radioactive waste from the proposed nuclear power plant will remain dangerous for thousands of years, don't those who will live in the area the nuclear waste will be stored have a right be told of the implications of living near a radioactive nuclear waste storage facility, and to decide whether or not to accept its construction in their area? Does their welfare not matter?

What moral right do public officials have to disregard public opinion and embark on a project from which it will be near-impossible to reverse if its inherent dangers become apparent to ordinary people for some reason,  and society then decides that it was a bad decision to embark on the project in the first place, and that the nuclear power plant ought to be shut down permanently? Where will the hundreds of billions of Ghana cedis come from to decommission it?

 Above all, in a nation in which theft of public money is so widespread that there is always a shortage of money to keep the system functioning efficiently, where will the money come from to deal with accidents at the nuclear power plant - particularly one on the scale of the Fukushima nuclear disaster?

 Surely, no public official in Ghana thinks we will be able to borrow money to fix an apocalyptic disaster that will have to be dealt with immediately? Who will lend Ghana the billions of dollars required to ameliorate such a situation - were disaster to strike as a result of an earthquake, for example?

With respect, a society that cannot even manage the collection and disposal of household and industrial waste efficiently, must not rush into building a nuclear power plant, which will generate radioactive waste for thousands of years.

There must not be any secrecy where this subject is concerned - and public opinion against the building of a nuclear power plant in a nation with such a dysfunctional system must not be ignored by officialdom.

In the end, this project could very well turn out to be a road to a hell-on-earth in Ghana, which was paved with the good intentions of overeager officials, who only saw the positive side of an idea and glossed over its inherent dangers.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Could Ghana's Forests Be Saved By Plastic Lumber Manufacturers?

It has been reported that Ghana's ministry of lands and natural resources intends to upgrade the status of the Atewa forest reserve to that of a national park. It is a decision that will be applauded by all nature lovers in Ghana and around the world.

A Rocha Ghana must also be commended for its new initiative to protect the watershed of the three major river systems that most of southern urban Ghana depends on for its drinking water supply: the Densu, Ayensu and Birim rivers.

The idea to extend A Rocha Ghana's "Living water from the mountain - Protecting Atewa Water Resources" initiative to cover the other forest reserves in Ghana is laudable and must be encouraged.

The Atewa Forest Reserve is one of only two upland evergreen rainforests in Ghana - and is a designated Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA). Readers can access an online report of a rapid assessment survey carried out by Conservation International in 2006, by googling: RAP Bulletin No. 47.

As someone whose family has owned a total of some 14 square miles of freehold forestland in the Atewa Range since 1921 from the colonial era, it is an area we are actually very familiar with - and the conservation of which we are committed to. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places on the surface of the planet Earth.

A concrete pillar with the letters GSBA etched on it was erected by the Conservation International researchers on our land. Extreme hikers wanting to see it are welcome to do so.  They can contact M&J Travel and Tours for a trip to the fringe forest cocoa-farming village of Akyem Juaso to hike up to the top of the P. E. Thompson Estate's forest property to see the GSBA pillar.

Readers must note that it is extreme hiking that is recommended only for physically fit individuals. It is not for the fainthearted - but offers perfect hiking for national endurance competitions between teams of regional keep-fit clubs. Ditto competitions between interservice  teams from the military and the other security agencies, to test their endurance and map-reading skills hiking to the top of our forestland.

They will be breathing pure mountain air into their lungs. A change from the pollution of urban Ghana. They can also purchase pure mountain honey and natural soap made from cocoa husks, from the female farmers in the community. Akyem Juaso is ten minutes by car off the Accra-Kumasi highway at Osino junction

Luckily for Ghana, if the Dutch government is willing to provide funds,  the leading global forest canopy builders and installers of ziplines, the Canadian company, Greenheart Conservation, is happy and willing to partner the ministries of lands and natural resources and local government and rural development, to renew the Kakum National Park's canopy walkway.

Greenheart Conservation is also willing to build new canopy walkways for the proposed Atewa National Park and the Achimota forest eco-park. Ditto install ziplines and build canopy walkways in all our other national parks, if the various stakeholders request that - and the Dutch government is willing to provide funds.

To remove an existential threat to  the Atewa Forest Reserve, we must get our political class to look to a partnership with Guinea, in which Guinea supplies Ghana with  the bauxite needed for a west African integrated aluminium industry. All forms of mining must be banned from the Atewa Range.

We must also be creative in solving the menace of illegal chainsaw operators cutting trees for chainsaw lumber in forest reserves countrywide once and for all - by empowering Ghanaian waste management companies like Zoomlion to recycle plastic waste by manufacturing plastic lumber from it.

For that  purpose, Zoomlion and the other waste management companies can collaborate with overseas plastic lumber companies like:  the Rochester, Minnesota plastic lumber manufacturer, Envirolastech; the Nairobi, Kenyan plastic lumber manufacturer, EcoPost; and the Leicester, UK company Eco Plastic Wood.

By flooding the market with plastic lumber, which in many ways is a far superior product than lumber from trees,  companies like Zoomlion will help stop illegal logging  by chainsaw operators - who collectively pose one of the biggest threats to  the remainder of Ghana's forests.

Would it not be ironic, if it turned out that plastic lumber manufactured from the plastic waste that is slowly engulfing urban Ghana, helped to save the remainder of Ghana's forests? Now that would really be "cool and green" - as Ghana's younger generation would put it.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

In The #OccupyGhana Era Is Dr. Nduom The Perfect Leader For Ghana?

A sleeping giant, middle-class Ghana, has finally awoken.  #OcuppyGhana's activism is a manifestation of that new reality in our national life, today.

 A fence-sitting demographic has finally decided to get off the fence and take a stand against the mediocre who are slowly destroying the nation with their incompetence.

Fed up with having to  live in a nation in which even the  basic requirements of modern life - such as the provision of treated water on a daily basis, reliable electricty supply and a network of good roads - are lacking, a mostly apolitical and traditionally conservative demographic, has simply had enough.
#OccupyGhana's determination to exert a positive influence on the course of events in our country, is an attempt by middle-class Ghana to rid the nation of incompetent, self-serving and corrupt leadership, at all levels in the public sector.

In a sense, it is a demand for a new type of politics, in today's Ghana. They want their homeland Ghana to be governed competently by honest leaders who are world-class individuals.

They want to be led by wise leaders who, like Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah,  understand the importance of unifying the nation - by appointing the best-qualified individuals to fill positions in the public sector regardless of their political background: because they know that that is the only way we can make progress as a people.

That yearning for a united, well-run and disciplined nation, results from the decades of broken promises and ever-increasing levels of corruption that have characterised the periods in power of both Ghana's two biggest political parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) - pastmasters of the old-style politics of divisiveness and the dark arts of endless corruption.

The natural leader that will satisfy the yearnings of middle-class Ghana will be a principled, world-class individual who has successfully created thousands of jobs and considerable wealth,  in a personal capacity - and can demonstrate that he or she, and the political party or grouping that they lead, will not be bought by the vested interests that prosper from the continuation of a Byzantine system underpinned by massive corruption.

That yearning is particularly strong amongst the younger generation that has grown up with broadband internet access and mobile devices that connect them to global networks of personal contacts.

That well-educated demographic  wants the enterprise Ghana to work well  and to excel. They want Ghana to be led by a leader who understands the need for zero red-tape, is an advocate of a regime of low taxes and is passionate about the creation of an entrepreneurial culture in Ghana.

For nearly two decades now, I have been an advocate of the principle that Ghanaian politicians ought to publicly publish their assets, as well as that of their spouses, and for political parties to openly publish their funding-sources. It is the only way we will create an ecosystem of honest  politics in our country.

Dr. Nduom has shown that commitment to openess - and demonstrated it in practical fashion by publishing his filed tax returns and revealing the source of funding for the Progressive People's Party (PPP) he founded before the 2012 elections.

That is a first in Ghanaian politics. For that reason, in my view, Nduom is the perfect leader to begin the era of the new politics Ghanaians now seek.

That is why  I have humbly called on Nkrumaists to form an alliance of all the Nkrumaist parties in Ghana, each keeping its identity, and, putting aside personal ambition and animosity, select Dr. Nduom to lead it - and ask him to fund all the Nkrumaists parties and select him as their presidential candidate for the 2016 presidential elections: with Samia Nkrumah as his running mate.

If Nduom - who, incidentally, began his political career at the grassroots level, by opting to stand for election as an Assembly member in the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem (KEAA) Municipal Assembly - serves just one term as president, he can hand over the baton of leadership to Ms. Samia Nkrumah - and begin the much-needed  generational shift in Ghanaian politics.

Unlike his main opponents for the 2016 presidential election, President Mahama and Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom was not born with a golden spoon in his mouth. A self-made man, who knows what it is like to struggle in order to succeed in life, Nduom is the perfect leader for the #OccupyGhana era.

For the sake of Mother Ghana, it is time Ghanaians saw him - and each of the other patriotic and nationalistic leaders of today's followers of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, from the midst of whom he emerged - in that light: a good and honest leader who seeks the common good, not elite enrichment at Mother Ghana's expense.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Protect Ghana's Food Sovereignty - By Placing A 10-Year Ban On GMO Foods & Seeds

It is said that health is wealth. On that basis it is vital that nothing is done by officialdom to compromise the health of present and future generations of the Ghanaian people.

That is how Parliament must tackle the issue of GMO foods - against which there have been widespread agitation across the country. It is important that Parliament listens to those who raise objections to the passage of laws to permit GMO foods and seeds in Ghana.

Food  containing GMO ingredients, and the sale of GMO seeds, have been banned in a number of countries around the world. The question then is: if  nations like Russia, China and France have all banned GMO foods and seeds, why does Ghana not follow suit - and place a 10-year ban on the sale of  GMO foods and seeds in our nation?

If mice fed on GMO corn in a number of research labs, are said to have developed malignant tumours, surely a 10-year ban on GMO foods and seeds will give us sufficient time, to evaluate research results from around the world, of the effect on humans who ingest GMO foods?

We have nothing to lose in the interim - as conventional plant breeding research  that can help smallholder farmers increase their yields, can continue.

The notion that somehow large-scale agriculture will save Ghanaian agriculture is dangerous - as it leads to the marginalisation of smallholder farmers in our country, when policies are being formulated. We ignore smallholder farmers at our peril.

Smallholder farmers will continue to be the backbone of Ghanaian agriculture for a long time to come.

 Let us focus on conventional plant breeding research to improve crop varieties, instead of giving away Ghana's food soveriegnty to GMO seed multinationals, because of the mistaken belief that GMO seeds will spark a green revolution and secure the future of farming.  Advances in conventional plant breeding techniques will enable Ghanaian agriculture to survive and thrive.

Conventional plant breeding  research has led to an improvement in the nutritional status of consumers of maize, cassava, etc - and the number of such improved varieties of crops keeps growing: and will continue to do so, going forward into the future.

And high-yielding varieties of crops more suited to an era of global climate change, have also been developed through conventional plant breeding research, to help ensure food security at a time of extremes in weather, resulting from global warming.

For the sake of present and future generations of our people, let us place a 10-year ban on food containing GMO ingredients, as well as ban the sale of GMO seeds in Ghana. In so doing, we will be protecting Ghana's food sovereignty - and assuring public health in Ghana.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

The NPA & GSA Must Prevent Substandard Fuel From Being Imported Into Ghana

It is vital that the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) takes immediate steps, to ensure that the so-called Bulk Oil Distribution Companies (BODC) that import refined petroleum products, including diesel and petrol, do not unwittingly import substandard diesel and petrol into Ghana under any circumstances.

Although the BODCs will deny the allegation that they are actually importing substandard fuel into Ghana, the NPA and the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), must undertake rigorous tests on each consignment of fuel shipped into Ghana.

 Imported substandard fuel, when used regularly in vehicles, will eventually damage their engines. Life is unbearable enough financially as it is, for most vehicle owners in Ghana, without their having to deal with the effects of substandard fuel on vehicle engines, which cost the earth to replace.

 Ghana owns an oil refinery. It is unpardonable and intolerable that a few powerful individuals have succeeded in sidelining the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), and  today, we have arrived at a point where private-sector entities are apparently regularly importing substandard fuel into Ghana.

If that is indeed the case, then those greedy and callous businesspeople must be stopped from colluding with companies with a history such as that of Trafigura's, to rip-off Ghanaians, by importing substandard 'fuel' into Ghana. Enough is enough.

All fuel imported into Ghana must conform to the same standards existing in Europe and the US - to protect the motoring public and to ensure good air quality across Ghana.

 There are rumours that the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), which hobnobs with Trafigura,  is importing 'fuel' into Ghana. Is the GNPC being tricked  like Vest Tank was, one wonders?

 It would be tragic if it turned out that the GNPC is importing dangerous coker gasoline residue into Ghana, and storing them in tanks belonging to the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company (BOST).

 The government of Ghana needs to open its eyes widely in this matter. The tragedy that befell the people of Slovag and Abidjan must not be allowed to occur in the area where BOST is storing 'fuel' for the GNPC.

To protect Ghanaian motorists from the dangers of imported substandard fuel, TOR must be provided with crude oil by the GNPC to process into fuel and lubricants, etc., for sale to motorists in Ghana.

To make officials of the NPA and GSA aware of the chicanery they could be up against in this matter, and for the benefit of readers of this blog, I have culled two online articles,  for their perusal.

Today's  first culled article is from the online version of BBC News. It shows how from time to time even the UK falls prey to the activities of  criminal syndicates that sell substandard fuel.

The second culled article is from the website of NRK, the Norwegian state broadcaster. It outlines the production process once employed by major fuel trader, Trafigura, to produce substandard fuel.

The 'fuel' Trafigura produced, was apparently so bad that it could not  actually be legally sold in either the US or Europe - yet was shipped to West Africa. Incredibly, it deteriorated when exposed to sunlight.

Trafigura's  substandard 'fuel' production, and its shipment to West Africa for sale, was exposed by investigations carried out by journalists from the BBC, the Guardian newspaper and the Norwegian state broadcaster, NRK.

The BBC story is culled from their online  edition of


Please read on:

Illegal fuel: 48% rise in 'pop-up garages'

A man filling up his car with petrol Illegally-sold fuel is often substandard and can damage vehicle engines

Related Stories

There has been a 48% increase in the detection of illegal fuel sales from so called "pop-up garages" in the UK, HM Revenue and Customs figures show.
The operators sell fuel which has been smuggled or is substandard after being mixed with cheaper chemicals.
They do not pay tax and cost the Exchequer hundreds of millions of pounds a year in what petrol retailers are saying is a "crimewave".
HMRC says its detection is improving and the illegal trade is reducing.
Figures from HMRC show that in the 2012-13 period it made 6,506 visits to sites in the UK.

“Start Quote

We believe that the sales of illicit fuel are on the increase broadly linked to the increase in fuel prices and slump in the economy over the last four to five years”
Edmund King AA president

It detected illicit fuel, mostly diesel, being sold on 388 occasions, compared with 262 detections in 2009-10.

Pat Curtis, of HMRC's specialist investigations unit, believes criminal gangs are feeding off the recession.
"Criminal gangs will take advantage of any tax differential to make money on it," he says.

"They'll take advantage of customers out there who may be feeling the pinch and may be feeling they're getting value for money."

Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers' Association (PRA), describes the pop-up garages as a "crimewave" engulfing the market.

"A stagnant economy gives rise to unemployment, especially for younger people, and lowers real wages," he says.

"The inevitable result is that criminal activity becomes an alternative despite the risks."
Tax losses
The fuel being sold is often substandard and can seriously damage car engines. The chemicals used by the gangs and the waste they produce also damage the environment.

No-one knows exactly how much excise fraud costs the government.

The most recent estimates by HMRC are from 2010-11, which calculate that the loss to the Exchequer could be anything between £150m to £700m.

HMRC insist that the trend is downwards, reflecting the success of its strategy to prevent fuel fraud.

But Edmund King, president of the AA, says anecdotal evidence suggests the opposite.

"We believe that the sales of illicit fuel are on the increase broadly linked to the increase in fuel prices and slump in the economy over the last four to five years," he says.

"Geographically it has spread from Northern Ireland, to the north of England and now down to the south east."

That view appears to be backed up by HMRC's own figures.
Testing improvements
In 2009-10, officers detected illegal fuel sales on 150 occasions in Northern Ireland and 112 in the rest of the UK.

“Start Quote

The loss of this revenue affects how government works”
Pat Curtis HM Revenue and Customs

Last year, there were 128 in Northern Ireland and 260 in the rest of the UK.
Brian Madderson, from the PRA, applauds the work HMRC has done in Northern Ireland, but argues it has to change focus.

"It is now time for them to focus their efforts on Great Britain," he says.
"Independent services stations continue to close at the rate of 175 to 200 each year, mostly in challenged rural areas, with loss of jobs and local facilities."

But Mr Curtis suggests the reported rise in sales in England, Scotland and Wales may be down to better testing.

"We were under no illusions that it was happening everywhere," he says.
'Affects everybody'
So just how easy is it to buy illegal fuel?

Our contacts led us to a warehouse on a trading estate in east London.
We asked if they sold "cheap diesel" and were offered fuel for £1.15 per litre - approximately 25p less than at the pumps.

The operator pumped 40 litres into the tank, we paid in cash and were given no receipt.
HMRC says all these are indicators of illicit fuel sales.

When we had the fuel siphoned from the car and tested, it was contaminated and substandard.

Mr Curtis says the criminals who sell, and the motorists who buy, are depriving the government of much-needed funds.

"The loss of this revenue affects how government works," he says.
"It affects everybody in their pocket."

End of culled BBC News story.

Min båt er lastet med...

Vest Tank sweetened coker gasoline

In the Brennpunkt programme “Dirty Cargo”, we expose the operations of Vest Tank in Sløvåg prior to the explosion which spread toxic gases to the Gulen inhabitants.

On May 24 2007, a tank belonging to the enterprise Vest Tank in Sløvåg municipality exploded. The explosion generated an intense sulphurous stench, which has caused illness among the local population ever since.

Brennpunkt started investigating this case immediately after the explosion. We wished to find out what kind of operations led to the accident.

Tonight’s programme will provide you with an insight into the kind of shady business the west coast village found itself involved in.

Through agreements with major foreign operators, the enterprise Vest Tank’s tank facility in Sløvåg became an important link in an international production of, and trade with, extremely low quality gasoline.

The final product was of such poor quality that it was illegal to sell in Europe. Instead, this bad gasoline was shipped to West Africa.

Norwegian authorities proved to be completely unaware of these activities. In the programme, we illustrate how the controlling institutions which could have disclosed and put an end to these operations, actually do not function at all.

The agreement
In 2006, Vest Tank entered into an intention agreement with one of the world’s largest commodity traders, Trafigura.

Vest Tank was requested to desulphurize so-called coker gasoline;
a residue product from oil refining.

Trond Emblem - Mr. Trond Emblem
Mr. Trond Emblem
The owner of Vest Tank, Mr. Trond Emblem, claims that no contract was signed.
However, during the autumn of 2006, ships started docking in Sløvåg.
Emblem states that this was no pilot project, but simply a part of the ordinary Vest Tank activities.

The sweetening

Trafigura traded with sulphurous coker gasoline with a low octane level, originating in Mexico. The purpose of the trade was to cleanse this waste product in order to render it saleable as automobile fuel.

In the course of 2006 and 2007, Trafigura dispatched a total of 150.000 tons of coker gasoline, divided into 6 shipments.

Vest Tank pumped coker gasoline into its tanks, where they added caustic soda and water to wash away the sulphur, before the cargo was once more loaded into the ship.

At Vest Tank, large quantities of sulphur encapsuled in caustic soda were left behind.

In addition, coker gasoline residues which were not sufficiently sweetened, remained with the company.

Permission not granted

The enterprise Vest Tank was obliged to apply to the Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning (DSB) for license to store these substances in their tanks. But at least for one of the tanks, they had no such license.

Seksjonssjef Bjørn Bjørnstad i SFT - Mr. Bjørn Bjørnstad, Norwegian Pollution Control Authority
Mr. Bjørn Bjørnstad, Norwegian Pollution Control Authority
The Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT) claim they have never authorized these operations. Vest Tank disputes this; they refer to the fact that they informed SFT about the project. In their opinion, SFT granted them permission by e-mail and over the telephone to carry out their activities.

The mixture

After the sweetening in Sløvåg, five of the six ships headed for the seaport town of Paldiski in Estonia.

In Paldiski, they discharged their cargoes at the terminal of the oil company Alexela, a company partly owned by Trafigura. Incidentally, Alexela bought up Vest Tank in Sløvåg after the explosion.

In Paldiski, the cargo was unloaded, and the Estonian customs service relate that a substance designed to increase the octane level is mixed into the gasoline.

The unusable residue product coker gasoline had now turned into low quality gasoline.

The Estonian customs state that the quality is so low, it renders it illegal to sell in Europe.

The gasoline is reloaded on board a ship, then dispatched to West Africa.

In Europe, the maximum approved sulphur level in gasoline is 50 ppm. In West Africa, 5000 ppm is the approved limit.

The waste

These were the main activities Vest Tank had established in Sløvåg. Consequently, the sweetening of coker gasoline generated a steady flow of hazardous waste, and in addition, the tank facility accepted waste for processing.

In the documentary “Dirty Cargo”, we bring you the story of all in all eight ships arriving in Sløvåg during the year before the facility exploded.

Two of the ships docking in Sløvåg did not sweeten gasoline. The first of these was Probo Emu. She carried the same kind of waste that her sister ship Probo Koala delivered in the Ivory Coast.

Eight ships arrived in Sløvåg

Probo Emu carries this waste in her slop tanks. Slop is wastewater with oil residue left over
after the cleaning of the oil tanks of a large ship. This waste is normally easily handled.

In Vest Tank‘s opinion, they acted in good faith when they accepted this waste. They were assured by Trafigura that this was slop; wastewater from the operation of the ship. It appears that instead this was waste from the sweetening of coker gasoline on board the ship.


The other ship was Ottavia, which loaded cargo in Sløvåg. When she arrived, she was nearly fully loaded with high quality gasoline purchased by Trafigura in England.

In Sløvåg, she collected 5400 tons of waste residue from the process of desulphurization of coker gasoline.
We have seen documents proving that this waste was mixed with the high quality gasoline on board. Subsequently, Ottavia sailed for West Africa.

Beyond control

Throughout a period of nearly a year, these companies carried out their activities right in the face of Norwegian authorities. Neither the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority, the Coastal Administration, the Customs Service, nor the Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning (DSB) inspected the operations.

On May 24, Tank 3 exploded. The reason was a Vest Tank blunder. They intended to get rid of caustic material and sulphur left at the bottom of the tank.

By pumping in hydrochloric acid, the waste was supposed to be transformed into salt and water. Instead, a carbon filter was ignited, and the tank blew up.

The sulphur contained in all the ship cargoes was released,
causing continuous illness among the local inhabitants.

End of culled NRK story.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Are International Criminal Syndicates Laundering Money By Purchasing Real Estate In Ghana?

It appears that many have forgotten that when he urged those in charge of security at the VIP lounge at Accra's international airport, to search all who went through it thoroughly - himself included - the late President Mills  said at the time that  he was apprehensive that one day, some important person with links to it, might embarrass his regime by attempting to smuggle illicit drugs abroad, using the VIP lounge.

With the benefit of hindsight, it is obvious that President Mills knew what he was contending with.  Clearly, he did not trust the crooks-in-high-places at the time - who he knew were prone to act with impunity in their tunnel-visioned pursuit of wealth, regardless of the consequences.

An old wag I know, once remarked that he had often wondered why powerful people of a certain age, "who are fond of consorting with young bimbos, simply don't marry two wives their own age, and stick to them - if they have an overly adventurous nature: where the fairer sex are concerned."

Sound advice, indeed, some might say - if they can find two women willing to share a husband in an open polygamous marriage limited to two women, that is.

Perhaps if the crooks-in-high-places in President Mahama's regime had heeded that advice, and married two wives and stuck with them, they would not have been involved with aluring, pretty-faced female criminal-types, now safe in the custody of UK law enforcement agencies - for allegedly smuggling 12.5 kilos of cocaine into the UK: and spared the Mahama administration's blushes. Such is life.

The trouble about the global illicit drugs industry, is that those involved in what is a deadly enterprise - who often operate from the shadows - are invariably incredibly wealthy and influential individuals. Their enormous wealth enables them to control politicians and highly-placed public officials, and to undermine institutions of state in many developing nations - including Ghana.

The attitude of  President Mahama in all this, should be that if those privileged enough to know him personally, abuse their friendship with him - by dealing in illicit drugs, and were the details of such drug dealing to come to light - they must not expect to be shielded by the president of a nation whose citizens now expect those at the top of society to be accountable and transparent. Always.

In any case, Ghanaians must rest assured: There cannot be a cover-up in the Ms. Nayele Ametefeh Heathrow airport cocaine smuggling case. The world will eventually get to know all the details in that particular matter. All in good time.
What is most unfortunate for Ghanaian society,  in my humble view, is  that so many  in the Ghanaian media world, seem to be completely oblivious of the many bush-telegraph  stories swirling around that international criminal syndicates, are actually laundering cash from illicit drug sales, by purchasing real estate in Ghana.

Whiles the allegations against Ms. Nayele Ametefeh are serious, and damage Ghana's image in the UK somewhat, the real menace to Ghana, comes from international drug syndicates laundering cash from their sales of illicit drugs, by purchasing real estate in Ghana -  if those bush-telegraph stories are true, that is. We must confront this menace head on, as a people, if it is truly  occuring.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Let Us Separate Waste At Source In Ghana - And Turn Plastic Waste Into A valuable Resource

The first National Sanitation Day, which saw Ghanaians from all walks of life taking part in communal cleaning of neighbourhoods across the nation, was a great success.

Making it a monthly exercise - on the first Saturday of each month - was good thinking on the part of the authorities. It was endorsed and welcomed by many - all of whom want it sustained.

To be part of a historic, new and  positve national trend, in keeping the built environment in our towns and cities clean, even a weak  old man like me participated in the Nov. 1, 2014, exercise - and weeded the whole of the space in front of the house I occupy, and picked up discarded "sachet water" plastic waste blown there by the wind, from a nearby eatery, on the fringes of the Jayee University College's carpark.

Whiles collecting the said plastic waste, it struck me that if all households in urban Ghana separated their waste at source,  we would be in a position to turn plastic waste into a valuable resource - around which thousands of jobs could be created, and from which a thriving recycling industry,  could eventually evolve.

A company like Zoomlion Ghana Limited,  could  develop an empowering value-chain for a recycling industry, which benefits thousands of micro-entrepreneurs across the country, who collect and sell plastic waste - if waste is separated at source  nationwide.

Perhaps the Ghanaian media should take it upon itself - as its contribution to the nation-building effort - to promote separating waste at source throughout the nation.
(Incidentally, waste seperation at source, is the practise in our household - with all the organic food waste we generate at home, spread underneath the clumps of plantain we grow, regularly. Doing so, produces the most marvellous plantain for "red-red" dishes, when they ripen. As it happens,  "red-red" is a favourite of this skinny old vegetarian - yours truly. But I digress.)

When separated at source, instead of ending up in landfill sites, plastic waste can be put to many uses. Jewelry made from recycled plastic is very popular amongst the environmentally-conscious in the wealthy nations of the Western world, for example.

Many young unemployed Ghanaians could be trained to make and  sell jewelry made from recycled  plastic waste on online marketplace websites, including eBay.

Plastic waste can also be mixed with bitumen to construct plastic roads, which are more durable than ordinary roads. It is a low-tech and cost-effective way to climate-change-proof roads in Ghana, and enable the nation to develop a road network able to cope with extreme weather resulting from climate change.

Plastic roads cost less to maintain, because they are pothole-free. Being water-resistant also means that they are not washed away by heavy rains - which has been the case in India, which now has an expanding network of plastic roads.

Plastic pellets could also be produced from plastic waste and sold to manufacturers of plastic products such as plastic chairs and tables. Above all, we could save the remainder of our dwindling forests, by utilising plastic waste to produce lumber substitutes.

One hopes that in the days before the next National Sanitation Day clean-up exercise takes place, the Ghanaian media will  encourage Ghanaians to separate  their waste at source, on a regular basis.

It would help the national effort to keep our environment healthy and clean, tremendously, if Media houses in Ghana could offer free advertising to help plastic recycling companies grow their plastic-waste-collection-footprint, as a CSR initiative.

If we are not to be engulfed by plastic waste, separating waste at source in Ghana, is a must.

Let us separate waste at source as a people - and turn plastic waste into a valuable resource that creates wealth and jobs: as thousands of poor people will be able to collect waste on a regular basis to sell to large recycling companies like Zoomlion.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

The Time Has Come For Nkrumaists To Lead Ghana Again

Despite the decades of propaganda, falsehood and misinformation about Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, today, there is general consensus in the country that as Ghana's first elected leader, Nkrumah provided Ghana with competent, honest and visionary leadership.

Today, many Ghanaians - from across the spectrum - acknowledge Nkrumah's many achievements.

Thus far, in our nation's post-independence history, many consider Nkrumah to be the leader who has achieved the most for ordinary Ghanaians - in terms of promoting their welfare.

Some  of the falsehoods against Nkrumah, spread by the lackeys of imperialism and neocolonialism who  opposed him, have been exposed by available declassified documents, from a number of Western governments and their intelligence agencies, detailing events from that period in world history.

Nkrumah's overthrow was engineered by Western governments, including those of the U.S. and the U.K., and their intelligence agencies - which created the dire economic situation that made Nkrumah's regime unpopular.

They were determined to remove him from power because they realised that as a result of his growing influence in the continent, many Africans were becoming politically conscious, and increasingly aware of the machinations of neocolonialism.

Nkrumah was thus seen as a threat to the West's unfettered access to the continent's valuable natural resources - and had to be eliminated: physically if possible.

 The CIA paid the traitors in Ghana's military and its police service who deposed Nkrumah in February 1966 U.S.$13 millions for his overthrow - promising more if they succeeded in killing him.

Yet, Nkrumah's government improved the living standards of ordinary Ghanaians - for whom his Convention People's Party (CPP) regime provided a far better quality of life than was previously the case under British colonial rule.

He transformed the country he took over from the colonial occupiers of our homeland, into a modern African polity, with an expanding industrial base.

He was a patriot and nationalist who protected the national interest at all material times throughout his tenure -  unlike so many of his successors in office who have constantly sold Mother Ghana short.

Our one-sided oil agreements with foreign oil companies - said to be the worst in the world - are egregious  examples of such betrayal by some of our post-Nkrumah leaders.

Nkrumah's goverment provided ordinary Ghanaians with free healthcare in modern hospitals and clinics, free education and access to affordable and well-built accommodation, in modern housing estates, spread in urban areas across the nation.  Many miles of new tarmac roads were built to link all parts of the country with Accra the nation's modern capital.

That is why  the vast majority of Ghanaians today agree that  Nkrumah was a truly great leader, who fought hard to get into power,  in order to serve his country and its people - diligently and with integrity.

The fact is not lost on many Ghanaians that although Nkrumah died a pauper - leaving neither  money nor properties to his wife, children and extended family clan - yet still, his political opponents accused him of being corrupt,  when he was deposed in February1966.

Ghana's younger generation  - who incidentally are the smartest and best-educated of their particular demographic grouping since Ghana gained its independence from Britain in 1957 - deserve to live in an efficiently-run and prosperous  nation.

That nation must be led by wise and patriotic politicians in the Nkrumah-mould, who share his vision,  and are selfless individuals who genuinely care about improving the lot of all  Ghanaians, and transforming Ghana into an African equivalent of the egaliterian societies of Scandinavia.

The followers of Nkrumah must not tarry any longer in forming an alliance of all the Nkrumaist parties - each of which ought to keep its own identity (to stop them from being bogged down by quarrels about symbols and fights about names in never-ending unity talks).

They must begin the dialogue about Ghana's future, and the need for a new type of politics in our country, with Ghana's younger generation in earnest. Now. Not tomorrow.  Ghana needs to be united in a government of national unity encompassing patriotic individuals from all the nation's political parties.

The old-style politics of ruthless-cynics seeking political  power - with covert financial backing from the very vested interests whose malevolent influence in Ghanaian society and their never-ending corrupt ways  holds back Ghana's rapid  development - must be brought to an end, asap.

It must be permanently discarded - if our nation is to prosper and spread that prosperity to benefit all those in each strata of Ghanaian society.

Unfortunately, for Mother Ghana, that nation-destroying type of politiking, has underpinned all the electoral campaigns, and the entire periods spanning their tenures in office, of  our corruption-ridden NDC/NPP duopoly.

Although it is slowly destroying  Ghanaian democracy, their never-ending divisiveness and egregious tribal politics, are tactics much-beloved of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), and the largest of the opposition parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

They are incapable of changing their ways, unfortunately - corruption being ingrained in their respective  DNA's.

 Alas, they practice a type of politics that will always produce corrupt regimes, which will excel in hiding the sources of their party's funding (for obvious reasons), and engage in kickbacks galore when in office.

And such ruthless politicians and political parties will always engage in the divvying-up of our nation's wealth amongst themselves and their regime's crony-tycoons, once in power.

Furthermore, when in office, they will eagerly sign one-sided agreement after another, with foreign investors - agreements that are clearly detrimental to our nation's well-being and the welfare of the Ghanaian people: but which are financially  beneficial to members of the political class in power.

Ghana will never progress under such selfish and corrupt politicians and mafia-type political parties.

The time has now come for a new type of politics in Ghana. Ghana needs leaders who are achievers who have openly demonstrated their ability to create jobs and wealth - and who can form and run disciplined and efficient national administrations. We do not need "professional politicians" out to feather their own nests and divide our people.

That is why Nkrumaists must take power on 7th January,  2017,  to rescue Ghana from the self-seeking hypocrites  in the present two biggest political parties in our country  -  who are forever sabotaging the nation-building effort when in opposition.

Why should  politicians who want to see the nation going downhill rapidly when they are in the political wilderness  - so that they will be quickly voted back into power again after losing elections - be allowed to rule our homeland Ghana ever again?

This is the time for Nkrumaists to step in, take power again, and resume the task of transforming our homeland Ghana - using a modern and up-to-date version of Nkrumah's transformational economic and governance blueprint. They can strike a Marshall Plan-type of developmental-assistance deal with either Japan or China - based on a win-win,  build-operate-and-transfer PPP model.

Let us begin that herculean nation-building task, by forming an alliance of Nkrumaist parties, and prepare for government. The best bet of Nkrumaists, is to select Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom as their 2016 presidential candidate - with Samia Nkrumah as his running mate.

 He has the capacity to fund all the four Nkrumaist political parties currently in existence: the Convention People's Party, the People's National Convention, the Great Consolidated People's Party and the Progressive People's Party - ensuring that they each have a transparent funding source: unlike the opaque and secretive sources of funding for the corrupt and mafia-like NDC/NPP duopoly.

Like President Mandela of the Republic of South Africa, Nduom must serve for only one term, and hand over the baton of leadership to the younger generation, led by Samia Nkrumah - who should be selected to run as their presidential candidate in the 2020 presidential election.

They must then find a younger person with a solid track record of private-sector wealth-creation and creating jobs, comparable to Nduom's stellar record in that regard, to be Samia Nkrumah's running mate, in the 2020 presidential election.

In terms of demonstrable ability to create jobs and wealth, Nduom is a towering figure in Ghanaian politics.  He will be the first truly world-class figure to assume the presidency, since the overthrow of the polymath Nkrumah - who, thank God, was the first world-class individual previleged to hold that august position in our nation's history.

 Luckily for our nation, Providence made sure that a true patriot and genuine  nationalist like Nkrumah, not one of the lackeys of imperialism and neocolonialism who opposed him, led Ghana initially.

The strategy of the Nkrumaist alliance, must simply be to point out to ordinary people in Ghana,  how detrimental to the nation's development,  the type of obsolete politics of "equalisation" and never-ending propaganda,  practiced by the NDC/NPP duopoly is, and has been, for Mother Ghana - and hammer that home at every opportunity that presents itself to them.

The time for Nkrumaists to lead Ghana again,  has finally come. Let us seize that opportunity, Comrades. Mother Ghana most definitely deserves better than has been the case, to date,  since the restoration of constitutional rule in our country, in 1992.