Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Addressing Cocoa Processing Companies' U.S.$250 Million Indebtedness To COCOBOD

To ensure the  repayment of the U.S.$250 millions owed the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD),  by a number of cocoa processing companies in Ghana,  the COCOBOD needs to be proactive - and take active steps to help those cocoa processing companies find new markets for their products.

In a conversation with H.E. Victor Smith, before he left Ghana to take up his new appointment as Ghana's high commissioner to the United Kingdom, I recall him  promising to contact the leading supermarkets in the UK, with a view to encouraging them source their own-brand cocoa products from Ghana, when I mooted the idea to him.

Perhaps the COCOBOD's head of marketing, Mr. Edem Amegashie, could work with H.E. Victor Smith, to  organise a trip to Ghana, for the leading UK  supermarkets' buyers of cocoa products  - to enable them  inspect the modern and hygenic factories of the processing companies that are said to be indebted to the COCOBOD: to the tune of some U.S.$250 millions.

The COCOBOD's senior management should also work with the ministry of foreign affairs and regional integration,  to get the heads of Ghana's diplomatic missions, to talk to the CEO's of leading supermarkets  in other wealthy nations, in which cocoa products are popular - and encourage them to source their own-brand cocoa products from the cocoa processing companies indebted to it.

Nations like the U.S., the UK, Holland, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Italy, Japan, China, India and Iran readily come to mind.

 The production in Ghana of own-brand cocoa products for leading supermarkets in those nations, will save the over 6,000 jobs that are threatened,  if those cocoa processing companies indebted to the COCOBOD,   are forced to close down - meaning that they can be sold to consumers there  as fairtrade cocoa products: the production of which saves existing jobs, creates new jobs, and thus  alleviates poverty  in Ghana.

That will be a win-win outcome for the COCOBOD and the  processing companies indebted to it - all of which which will finally be in a position to resume earning the needed revenues to start paying  back what they owe the COCOBOD.

Hopefully, COCOBOD will take this up, and by so doing, prevent  the processing companies from folding up. Amongst the local processors said to be indebted to COCOBOD are: Plot Enterprises Limited; Afro Tropical Limited; Real Commodities Limited; West African Mills Limited; and Cocoa Processing Company Limited.

Doubtless the rest of society will also take note of the fact that  in seeking to address the thorny issue of the processing companies indebtedness to it, rather than acting in peremptory fashion,  COCOBOD chose instead to be bold and creative  - in bringing closure to a difficult situation that threatened its finances and put  the future of a number of  local  cocoa processors in doubt (ditto thousands of hard-to-find jobs). A word to the wise...

Monday, 26 May 2014

Resolving Ghana's Scrap Metal Export Ban's Associated Problems Creatively

A creative solution needs to be found to resolve the problems now faced by scrap metal merchants,  as a result of  the ban on the export from Ghana, of  types of scrap metal used by local steel manufacturing companies. The ban has apparently negatively impacted the businesses of many scrap metal merchants in the country.

A nation with a weak currency that is constantly depreciating, needs to export as many goods and services as it possibly can, in order to improve  its balance of payments,  and,  ultimately, help strengthen and  stabilise its currency, in so doing.

There are Ghanaians in the diaspora,  who could be persuaded to supply the steel manufacturing companies in Ghana, with the type of scrap metal they require - if they could be guaranteed payment in Ghana cedis, for deliveries of scrap metal they make  to the steel manufacturing companies here.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Return Tema To Its Nkrumah-Era Glory

Whilst being driven around Tema yesterday, I could not help but notice some of the factory buildings from the Nkrumah-era.  The  scale of Nkrumah's work for our nation is truly impressive  - and astounding: even by 21st century standards.

 No wonder the imperialists and neo-colonialists would stop at nothing in their quest to remove Nkrumah from power - and finally succeeded in doing so in February 1966.

They believed that such a visionary and  transformative African leader would end up making Africans politically aware - and eventually make it impossible for outsiders  to  exploit the continent's natural resources.

 The modern port city of Tema was a well-planned industrial city built from scratch. The filthy, kiosk-filled partial-slum that is the Tema of today, contrasts sharply with the clean, well-maintained built-environment, of the  Nkrumah-era industrial city.

It illustrates perfectly, the difference between President Nkrumah,  and  his successors in office. Nkrumah was a polymath who wrote books, and whose dream for Ghana, was encapsulated in the five and seven-year development plans of his government.

The many sly, selfish and callous pygmies-with-provincial-minds,  who stepped into the cosmopolitan Nkrumah's giant-sized shoes after his overthrow in 1966, often failed to build on his legacy.

That failure shows in the steady deterioration of many public buildings, and the nation's infrastructure, soon after they have been built -  invariably because of poor project execution and lack of  maintenance. Pity.

Sadly, self-interest, as opposed to serving the people of Ghana, and protecting the national interest at all material times, appears to be the motivating factor that has driven many of Nkrumah's successors.

That is why since the discovery of large deposits of oil off our shores, our leaders have  deliberately opted for  the worst types of oil agreements.

 Ghana sits atop of oil and gas deposits worth some U.S.$160 billions, but over a 30-year period,  will only earn some U.S.$20 billions - whiles foreign oil companies investing less than U.S.$15 billions will walk away with a U.S.$140 billions jackpot.

And this is a lower middle-income nation desperate to self-finance its transformation into a prosperous society for all its people. Amazing.

 The selfishhness of most of our post-Nkrumah leaders also shows itself  in the shoddy infrastructure projects undertaken by so many of his successors - who in exchange for kickbacks have allowed project specifications to be varied to the nation's disadvantage.

The plethora of roads across the country that cost the earth, and which deteriorate after heavy rains,  is yet more evidence of their greed and failure as leaders.

It is unforvigable and intolerable that not too long ago, it was reported that raw sewerage  had apparently been leaking from Tema's underground sewerage pipeline network.

President Nkrumah must be turning in his grave. All those who over the years have allowed standards to slip to such levels in Tema, must bow their heads in shame.

Those in charge of today's Tema must wake up - and ensure that the port city is cleaned up. They must ensure that Tema's  built-environment is kept clean at all material times. Tema must be restored to its Nkrumah-era glory. A word to the wise...

Sunday, 18 May 2014

P. V. Obeng Served Ghana Well

Mr. Paul Victor Obeng, who passed away yesterday (17/05/2014),  died in harness. He served Ghana deligently till the very end of his life. Indeed, he participated in the recent national economic forum held at Akosombo -  which ended only a few days ago.

 A pragmatist, and an unfailingly courteous gentleman, he was a wise advisor who helped keep Ghana stable,  during the turbulent early years of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), the military regime that came to power after the overthrow of the People's National Party (PNP) administration of President Hilla Limman,  in December 1981.

 He was also a key member of President Rawlings' National Democratic Congress (NDC) regime, which held power for two consecutive four-year  terms, from 7th  January 1993 to 7th January 2001.

At the time of his death, he was the chairperson of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC). He was also on the boards of a number of private and public-sector entities.

He was a member of the board of Guinness Ghana Limited and chaired the board of Ghana Agro Food Company Limited (GAFCO). And he was also the chairperson of the university council of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

P. V. Obeng's pragmatism and sense of humour enabled him to work well with all manner of persons, regardless of their political background. His calming influence  will be sorely missed by the Mahama administration. He was a steady and safe pair of hands.

The torch of leadership is passing from the generation of leaders whom he served with to the next generation of leaders in the NDC. For the sake of our nation, one hopes that there will be pragmatic and wise ones, in the  P. V. Obeng-mould, within that generation too.

We must all be grateful for the stewardship of wise and able political leaders like Mr. P. V. Obeng.

 It is their nonpartisan and commonsense approach that help lessen tensions and enables us maintain our nation's stability, whenever it is brought to the brink by ruthless and selfish politicians - either plotting their way to power, or seeking to hang on to it, regardless of the egregious nature of the effect their machinations have on the well-being of our nation and the welfare of its people.

One's  thoughts are with his family and close friends - who must be inconsolable at this tragic time. We all share in  their sense of loss - ocassioned by the sad passing away of Mr. P. V Obeng: their reported sufferings and lamentations since that sad news broke, wrought upon our feelings, too.

 Opanin P.V.,  dua eni amanihunu - you served Mother Ghana well indeed.  Rest in peace!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

The Polarisation Of Ghana Must Not Persist Beyond 2016

 The polarised nature of present-day Ghanaian society must not be allowed to persist beyond 2016. Our nation needs to elect a new leader in 2016 - someone who is a unifying force and whose competent leadership will enable our country to prosper.

That unfortunate polarisation is a major stumbling block holding back the transformation of our country. It results from the intense rivalry between the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), and the largest opposition party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Alas, it also holds the seeds for the destruction of our homeland Ghana - if allowed to continue. For that reason,  the sooner the ordinary people of Ghana freed their country from the iron grip of those two polarising and corrupt political parties, the better it will be for them.

Ghana will never move ahead if those two parties continue to dominate our nation's politics. Until they reform themselves and become transparent entities, they must never be allowed to lead our nation again.

Hardline cliques dominate both parties. They are made up of ruthless and powerful individuals,  whose only goal is to win and hold on to power - to enable them  enjoy the spoils of office: as opposed to serving the ordinary people of Ghana and protecting the national interest at all material times.

 Those selfish politicians are the main drivers of the never-ending negativity that is slowly driving a wedge between the ordinary people who support the two parties - and is gradually destroying Ghanaian democracy.

Since the 4th Republic came into being, many independent-minded Ghanaians, have gained the impression that the main wish  of the hardliners who dominate the political parties opposed to each government of the day,  is  that the nation's economy will experience a downturn: and that there will be widespread misery in the country, to ensure that the opposition wins power at the next presidential and parliamentary elections.

Such is the intensity of the  rivalry between the two major parties, and the egregious nature of its overall effect on society that many independent-minded Ghanaians,  now accuse them of regularly resorting to sabotage on a grand scale, when not in office.

The conspiracy theorists in our midst constantly point to today's many  strikes by public-sector employees and the steady deterioration in the quality of services provided by public-sector entities,  as evidence of this destructive behaviour.

 Clearly, we need a new type of politics in Ghana - one in which individuals go into politics to serve their country and ordinary people: not to enrich themselves at the expense of our nation and its people.

 Some of  us are now thoroughly fed up with, and  tired of, the nation-wrecking antics of the greedy-asset-strippers party,  the NPP,  and the create-loot-and-share party, the NDC.

The fact of the matter is that Ghana must become a united and disciplined nation, free of high-level corrution,  if it is to succeed. We have no choice.

The Hon. Kennedy Adjapong MP, is reported to have stated recently  that we need to elect individuals of substance who have achieved success in their own  lives to lead our country. He is right - but they must also be individuals of  unquestioned integrity.

Such an individual could lead a government of national unity after the December 2016 elections - and tap the best talents in the land, irrespective of their party backgrounds, to move Ghana forward.

 Better still, such a leader ought to be a politician prepared to  publicly publish his or her assets (and that of his or her spouse), and publish his or her filed tax returns, as well as  publicly publish the sources of funding  for the party he or she leads.

And he or she must be able to demonstrate the ability to create jobs and successful  private-sector businesses - by pointing to their own existing  successful businesses.

 Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom is just such a politician. He has demonstrated an adherance to good governance principles, in the management of the party he founded a little over two years ago, the Progressive People's Party (PPP) - the only political party in Ghana that is underpinned by an ethos of transparency.

We cannot continue to allow our nation to be held back by polarising and Machiavellian politicians, like those who dominate the NDC and NPP.  A divided nation can never grow and prosper.  That is why we must have a government of national unity after the 2016 elections.

It is time we elected a competent and successful businessperson to lead our nation and ensure that the transformation of the national economy begins. Ghana PLC must succeed - and thrive.

 In terms of personal achievement, few politicians in the Ghana of today, can equal the achievements of Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom. He has demonstrated that he can create tens of thousands of meaningful jobs and create substantial wealth that actually remains in Ghana.

 A politician who publishes his or her personal net worth, as well as  the source of funding for the party he or she  leads, is the perfect leader to reform our corrupt and byzantine system - especially when that politician's motto is: "Biakoye. Mpuntudjuma. Oman nnokodo". 

 As president, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom could very well end the polarisation of Ghanaian society. Let us try him in 2016. It is a view I have now come round to after much introspection - and for patriotic reasons.

 For the sake of present and future generations,  the polarisation of Ghanaian society must not be allowed to continue beyond 2016. Let us rid Ghana of the baleful influence of the NDC-NPP mafioso slowly destroying Ghana with their selfishness and corrupt ways.

Above all, before all our nation's oil wealth is dissipated by those corrupt and polarising NDC-NPP politicians,  let us elect Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom as President,  in 2016,  for real change -  and for the transformation of Ghana into a prosperous society in which important decisions are arrived at by consensus to begin in earnest. A word to the wise...

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Why Alleviating Poverty In The North of Ghana Is Important

It is said that the devil finds work for idle hands. The lack of employment opportunities in the three northern regions of Ghana is at the heart of the frequent acts of violence there.

Every single case in which gunmen attack a rural community,  in any of the three northern regions, which is reported in the Ghanaian media, ought to be a matter of grave  concern to all Ghanaians.

 A recent example,  was a murderous raid on smallholder farmers in Babimsurugu, a village near Nakapanduri, in the Northern Region. They were attacked by gunmen - who dismembered the body of  one of the farmers, Mr. Sagark Danaaba, shortly after shooting him.

 What should be of concern to all Ghanaians,  is that it is  but a small step from the barbarity of attacking defenceless smallholder farmers with impunity, in the north of our country, to participating in random acts of terrorism across Ghana, at the behest of a Boko Haram-style terrorist organisation out to destabalise our country  for its own ends.

The virus-of-madness driving Boko Haram's senseless killings in Nigeria must be prevented from infecting desperate people in Ghana at all costs. That is why something must be done about alleviating poverty in the three northern regions.

Perhaps reputable NGO's with a track record of working hard  to alleviate poverty in the three northern regions,  could partner the Savanna Accelerated Development Authourity (SADA), which could  fund some of their ongoing community-based poverty alleviation projects.

Each time those who participate in the senseless killings in the north get away with their crimes, it emboldens others elsewhere to settle disputes in similar fashion. We must rethink the gun licensing laws in Ghana. It is obvious that there are far too many people with access to firearms in the north.  Stiffer sentences for the illegal possession of guns need to be enacted into law.

Above all, something concrete needs to be done to relieve the sense of hopelessness felt by so many young people in the three northern regions, as a result of the endemic poverty there. It is in the interest of society generally that that is done quickly.

 Perhaps instead of relying solely on SADA to fight poverty in the north,  private-sector entities too could  use innovative schemes to help alleviate poverty in the three northern regions.

Ghana's banking industry, for example, could come together and contribute their quota - through the  creation of annual CSR funding opportunities for the brightest  entrepreneurial types in communities across the three northern regions, by holding business proposal writing competitions with prize-money that can be invested in start-ups, and mentoring by successful entrepreneurs made available to the winners for a specified period.

 We have the terrible example  of how Boko Haram has exploited the poverty in northern Nigeria to gain a foothold there to learn from. We owe it to ourselves as a people to prevent that from happening here too - by alleviating the shocking poverty in the three northern regions of our homeland Ghana.  A word to the wise...