Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Nigeria Needs A Change Of Leadership

It appears that power is fast slipping from the grasp of President Goodluck Jonathan.

If he does actually lose the election, perhaps he can redeem himself in the eyes of the vast majority of ordinary Nigerians - who clearly feel that he has failed their country - by gracefully conceding defeat: so as to avoid widespread post-election violence.

If he does so, he will be remembered by posterity, for sparing Nigerians the ordeal of experiencing post-election violence, after a closely-contested national election for the federal presidency.

That millions across Nigeria's 36 states defied Boko Haram's threats, and queued patiently for hours to vote, is evidence of the determination of ordinary Nigerians to change the destiny of their country, at what is a defining moment in its history.

And, for the west African sub-region as a whole, a peaceful transfer of power from one party to another, in the sub-region's most populous nation, and its biggest economy, will bring a huge sigh of relief to many. It will be a much-welcomed development.

A stable and prosperous Nigeria, contributes significantly to the growth of cross-border trade in the sub-regional grouping, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

It has been obvious for some time now - as the extremist Islamist terror group, Boko Haram, has spread its terror-footprint both inside Nigeria, and across Nigeria's borders to its immediate neighbours, Niger and Cameroon - that President Goodluck Jonathan lacks the leadership qualities needed to stop Nigeria from being destabilised by Boko Haram's terrorism and ruined financially by high-level corruption.

As events unfold in Nigeria, it is vital that ECOWAS leaders are proactive in preventing hardliners in the ruling party, the People's Democratic Party (PDP), from rejecting the results of what many observers feel has been a mostly free and fair election.

They should counsel President Goodluck Jonathan and the leadership of the PDP to act like statesmen  - and remind them of the judgement of history awaiting them, and the need for them to think of the welfare of the long-suffering citizens of  Nigeria: instead of scheming to hang on to power.

Whiles the world  awaits the final results of the presidential election,  ECOWAS must move swiftly, and send a high-powered delegation led by Ghana's President Mahama, to Nigeria - to engage with the leadership of the PDP, and stress the importance of their accepting defeat for the greater good of both Nigeria and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.

Victory for the incorruptible Muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressives Congress (APC) party's presidential candidate, will be good for a nation that is black Africa's only potential global power - which needs to tackle high-level corruption and defeat Boko Haram's terrorism simultaneously.

Nigeria definitely needs a change of leadership - and Muhammadu Buhari is the most suitable politician  amongst the country's current crop of politicians to provide the incorruptible and disciplined leadership that that sister nation so desperately needs.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

The NPP Must Rid Itself Of The Small Number Of Akan Tribal-Supremacists In Its Midst

From comments he is reported to have made recently, it would appear that the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) member of Parliament for Nhyiaeso, Dr. Richard Anane, loses very little sleep over the tagging of the NPP as an Akan party, by some of its political opponents.

He is right not to be bothered by that accusation - as the NPP is definitely not an Akan party: regardless of what some of its opponents might say.

The NPP is in fact a Ghanaian political party - with a large following and a nationwide footprint. If it was an Akan party, it would have been proscribed a long time ago - as under our current system political parties are national in character: not tribal organisations.

However, such is the importance of clearing up that misconception, that we must always speak plainly when discussing it, in the interest  of our nation - and to promote the welfare of all its people.

Being what he is - a duplicitous man who broke his marriage vows to impregnate another woman whiles attending an international AIDS conference, who speaks with a forked-tongue: as philanderers are wont to - what Dr. Richard Anane, and politicians of his ilk, will not admit, is that a powerful and influential group, made up of a cabal of  Akan tribal-supremacist politicians within it, see the NPP as a perfect vehicle for realising a dream long held by some of the progeny of the pre-colonial ruling elites.

For such tribal bigots - many clever enough to successfully hide their real intentions in public behind good-natured banter when not with their own - the NPP is a political-tool-of-choice to enable them achieve their ultimate goal: dominating our nation till the very end of time. Pure nonsense on bamboo stilts in a nation of diverse ethnicity - which  is a unitary republic, not a federation of tribal entities.

Alas, fate let Yaw Osafo-Marfo down, terribly, when he revealed their secret: which was finally let out of the proverbial bag, not too long ago, when he was secretly recorded during a meeting he held with senior party figures, in the Eastern Region.

The point always needs to be made, when discussing the issue of  tribal bigotry in Ghanaian politics, that tribal bigots exist in all the tribes in Ghana - and in virtually all the other political parties too. Luckily for our homeland Ghana, they are few in number wherever they are to be found, in the country.

Like the white-supremacist politicians of the West - who incredibly consider people of colour inferior beings in the 21st century information age - tribal-supremacist politicians in Ghana regard other tribes as  inferior: for which reason their  indigenes  must never be allowed to rule Ghana.

That confounded arrogance is what is driving the super-charged campaign of vilification being conducted by those who demonise President Mahama - who is the most abused Ghanaian leader since independence in 1957. His crime, is simply that he is a northerner.

Yet, scientific research results show clearly that all Ghanaians, wherever in the country they hail from, basically share the same DNA: and are thus one and the same people.

All the ethnic groups in our country have an equal stake in the enterprise Ghana - and no tribe is inferior or superior to another in this nation.

Furthermore, there is virtually not a single extended family clan in Ghana, which is not multi-ethnic in composition - as a result of ties of consanguinity and marriage.

Those relatively few bigoted Akan politicians, who seek to exploit the justifiable sense of pride that ordinary Akans have in their rich cultural heritage - and take advantage of the collective sense of identity that many ordinary Ghanaians of Akan extraction share -  to enable them achieve the dubious ends they seek, will never succeed in their aim.

Tribal bigotry is underpinned by an atavastic mentality and a Dark Ages worldview. It has no place in Ghanaian politics - as it endangers national cohesion. Above all, it poses an existential threat, to the Ghanaian nation-state.

And, lest we forget,  tribal bigotry nearly destroyed a number of sister African nations. Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya and the Ivory Coast, all descended into violence and chaos, in which nearly a million people lost their lives - as a result of the  bigotry of the tribal-supremacists amongst their ruling elites.

The time has now come for the NPP to rid itself of the baleful influence of the party's  small number of Akan tribal-supremacists.  They have become a liability for the party. -  and are damaging its image amongst fair-minded and apolitical Ghanaians: who are just the type of independent-minded voters that the party needs to attract in the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Would Ghana Be A Better Place If Its Leaders Were Genuinely Honourable Men And Women?

All the established democracies in the West place a high premium on personal honour and ethical behaviour amongst those at the top strata of society. Honourable conduct is therefore expected from all Establishment figures.

That is why high-ranking public officials in the West, including politicians, usually resign from their positions, when they become embroiled in scandal. An example is  former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon - who had to resign from office, on August 9, 1974, as a  result of the Watergate scandal.

Now that an increasing number of individuals and civil society organisations, regularly demand accountability from public officials in Ghana, Ghanaian democracy seems to be finally entering  its own age of accountability.

It is the reason why Mr. Martin Amidu has become a folk hero today - and civil society organisations like #Occupy Ghana have gained the trust of many Ghanaians. Ghanaians now find high-level corruption intolerable - and understand that it actually harms ordinary people in diverse ways.

Perhaps one of the ways we can halt the erosion of society's moral fabric, is to ensure that when exposed, amoral individuals involved in corruption (including sexual misconduct), do not continue to hold leadership positions in society.

The question then is: should those involved in white collar  crime,  as well as philandering males and women guilty of cuckolding their husbands, who hold important positions in the public-sector, be required to resign from their positions - once such conduct becomes public knowledge?

Those who take that stand, make the point that  if by definition those involved in various forms of corruption (including white collar crime and sexual misconduct -  cheating on partners: whether married or cohabiting),  are duplicitous, amoral and irresponsible, then Ghana should never be  left in the hands of such individuals -  since their actions clearly prove that they are unreliable.

The probability of individuals with such character traits engaging in high-level c!orruption, is quite high,  in their view.

But, are those who say that Ghana would be a far better place than it is today, if its leaders were genuinely honourable men and women, actually right in what they say? Possibly.

Obviously, sundry scoundrels,  would not have the  ability to successfully engage in create-loot-and-share scams, by taking the government to court, to obtain judgement debt orders, if honourable conduct actually mattered to many in the top strata of Ghanaian society.

Mr. Woyome, for one, would never have collected the Ghc51 millions or so that he was paid, if that was indeed the case. Food for thought.

At any rate, the question as to whether or not Ghana would be a better place if its   leaders were genuinely honourable men and women, is one that should exercise the minds of  Ghana's MPs,  whenever agreements that are inimical to the national interest, are brought to Parliament, for approval.

If they acted honourably, in all such instances - by passing laws that benefit society at large, and sanctioning only  agreements that benefit the generality of the Ghanaian populace, instead of enriching a powerful and greedy few - our homeland Ghana will definitely become a better place tomorrow, than it is today.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

An Old Man's Ruminations


A very shrewd young acquaintance of mine, who loves Ghana passionately, pointed out a danger that many of the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) fair-minded supporters, seem to have overlooked.

He believes that the party could lose an election many observers believe it will win handsomely, if held today, if the NPP's leadership allow the destructive activities of the small band of ruthless hardliners - the hypocritical Kwadjo Owusu-Afriyies and Bernard Antwi-Boasiakos: with their scorched-earth-warrior-complex - to continue unabated.

Those ruthless individuals seem to think that if they literally lay Ghana to waste, it will guarantee victory for the NPP, in the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections - and are therefore busy sabotaging the nation-building effort.

Yet, they couldn't be more wrong. What they forget, is that one characteristic that civilised and fair-minded people, in every part of the globe, share,  is that once they come to the realisation that gross unfairness is taking place, and that someone who is innocent is being deliberately vilified and victimised, they immediately become offended by it - and swiftly rally round the victim and offer him or her their support.

Alas, in the world of politics, it is but a small step from that sense of outrage, to going on to cast a sympathy vote, in a national election, for the perceived victim of such unfairness and vilification - as a practical demonstration of solidarity with him or her.

It will only take one particularly egregious example of such vilification of President Mahama, to turn off fair-minded ordinary Ghanaians, in droves, and prevent them from voting for the NPP in 2016.

 In that sense, Kwabena Adjei Adjapong, the NPP's general secretary, strikes the right chord, in refusing to join the rabble-rouser-types, who regularly denigrate the presidency, by referring to President Mahama as a "thief". It is instructive that he himself has come under sustained attack by hirelings of the NPP's perfidious hardliners, since that declaration.

 Incidents of unfairness meted out to innocent individuals, elicit the same response in all societies - sympathy for the victim: and outrage amongst decent people  at the conduct  of the perpetrators.

It has something to do with the indomitable nature of the human spirit. Amongst all the different  races that make up the one human race, wherever in the world one ventures, most people abhor unfairness  - and consequently adamantly refuse to bend to the will of unjust and oppressive individuals and groups that are guilty of such abominable and unspeakable behaviour.

Those rouble-rouser-types in the NPP are bound to go too far, one day, in their demonisation of President Mahama - and finally offend the sensibilities of fair-minded Ghanaians. That will end up ensuring that the NPP is painfully defeated again in 2016.

The party's members will then finally come to the realisation that the Kwadjo Owusu-Afriyies and  Bernard Antwi-Boasiakos actually belong to an era of Ghanaian politics that is past.

Ghanaians now want to put the divisiveness of the NDC/NPP duopoly's intense and destructive rivalry behind them - and embrace a new era of uniting to transform Ghana into an African equivalent of the egalitarian societies of Scandinavia: with the nation's best brains from across the political spectrum in the vanguard.


Figures from the last census conducted in Ghana, revealed that women in Ghana, make up a majority of the total population.

There are many ordinary people  who believe that one of the reasons why our homeland Ghana remains such an unfair society, is that Ghanaian women more or less are treated as second class citizens - in 21st century Africa.

Yet as mothers, wives and single parents, Ghanaian women make a huge difference to many families - and often shoulder the burden of providing for the upkeep of children in most homes in our country.

They also contribute significantly to the growth of industry and the expansion of commerce in Ghana - and have done so since time immemorial: long before the first Europeans set foot on our shores, creating jobs for many fellow citizens in the process.

Ghana will definitely be a better place for all its people, if the constitut:ion was amended to guarantee women half the seats in Parliament.

When that finally happens, they will bring their wisdom and practical nature to bear on its deliberations, and make Parliament a true bulwark against tyranny - by keeping the executive in check: through their dispassionate contributions as members of various parliamentary select committees.

If even a cantankerous old man like Kofi Thompson (who in the war of the sexes is in the camp of the female of the species, incidentally),  supports such an enlightened development in our national life, then one is sure that most young males amongst  the younger generation in Ghana will also welcome it.


 Only heaven knows what pollutants are being  emitted into the air, in towns and cities across Ghana, by generators working at full tilt,  during power outages.

From my own personal experience,  whenever one of my neighbours switches on his generator, for example, depending on wind-direction, my bedroom is filled with fumes.

Being someone who is acutely aware of his state of health at any given moment  (as is often the case amongst most vegetarians and the health-conscious - who strive to lead healthy lifestyles), alas, one immediately notices the pain one feels in one's chest region, when fumes from that particular neighbour's generator fill the room.

For that reason, I'll certainly be glad, when we finally move from that rented property, in a year's time.

If the power outages continue, air-quality in towns and cities across Ghana, is bound to deteriorate - and, sadly, the incidence of respiratory ailments amongst both  the elderly and young children who are urban dwellers, is bound to increase. Pity.


How typical of the Alice-in-wonderland world of Fifa, that the cunning Sepp Blatter, decided to act to boost the re-election chances of the president of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), the sly Kwesi Nyantakyi  - by sending him to Kenya: when Blatter knows perfectly well that between the perfidious Nyantakyi, and the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF),  Issa Hayatou, it is the CAF president who has more knowledge of, and experience of  Kenyan football, and its evolution, as well as its current difficulties.

In the final analysis, the proud Kenyans, will of course ignore the advice of the smug and self-satisfied Nyantakyi  - and in the end CAF will step in to resolve the crisis in Kenyan football.

Nyantakyi is a typical Ghanaian professional - third rate, evasive and opaque: all appearance and absolutely no substance.  And always on the lookout for number one.

The dreadful state of the local soccer league in Ghana, is ample testimony to his incompetence and abject failure, as a sports administrator. Only in a nation full of incompetents, who worship at the alter of the  cult-of-the-mediocre, will someone like him parade himself as a success.

The opaqueness surrounding the details of the 'donation' of the 30 Jeep Grand Cherokees by Tanink Motors,  illustrates perfectly, the self-seeking and nest-feathering, which has characterised the tenure of Nyantakyi at the GFA.

One dares him to be completely open and honest about what many believe was a clever ruse to enable Tanink Motors successfuly offload 30 expensive SUVs - which they would otherwise never have sold in a million years in one go.

For a lawyer, his past evasiveness on the issue, is very significant.

The question is: When exactly will Kwesi Nyantakyi give Ghanaian taxpayers the full list of the 30 recipients of those SUVs - since Tanink Motors secured tax exemptions to enable Mr. Roger Klogo's generous "partners" to purchase them?

Kwesi Nyantakyi is precisely the type of bootlicker in the global game that Sepp Blatter relies on to hold on to his position in Fifa. How unfortunate that Ghanaian soccer is lumbered with people of his ilk. Why on earth do the Abedi Peles not take this incompetent on - and run against him, in the upcoming GFA election, one wonders?

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Is The Importation Of Finished Petroleum Products Ghana's Biggest Create-Loot-And-Share Scam?

Shorn of all the complexity deliberately used in explaining industry  issues, simply put, what the so-called bulk oil distributors who  import finished petroleum products into Ghana, seek, is that taxpayers bear the risks involved in their business - whiles they pocket the vast profits they make importing dodgy products from companies like Trafigura: with abominable pasts and company cultures full of criminal conduct and total disregard for their fellow human beings.

 It might very well be that as  currently structured, the business of importing  finished petroleum products in bulk shipload parcels into Ghana, is the biggest create-loot-and-share scam, in Ghana's history, thus far. And it has powerful vested interests profiting handsomely from it.

 Who ever heard of traders importing goods into Ghana to sell for a profit, demanding that the government should reimburse them for foreign exchange losses incurred in their business?

As far as we can tell, no one in government forced the so-called bulk oil distributors into the business of importing finished petroleum products into Ghana - so why should those arch-dissemblers be treated any differently?

The question is: should we not end this pure nonsense on bamboo stilts - by merging the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR): so that they produce all the petroleum products Ghana needs?

The so-called bulk oil distributors can then buy them without incurring any foreign exchange losses - and we can then all be sure that the finished petroleum products sold at the forecourts of petrol filling stations across Ghana meet the highest international standards: and won't slowly destroy the engines of millions of vehicles across the country.

#OccupyGhana and other civil society groups that care about our nation ought to pay more attention to the scandalous demands being made on the government by the bulk oil distributors - and thoroughly scrutinise the figures involved in what now appears to be never-ending debt ballooning on a quarterly basis.

They must engage the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) on the matter.

Those demands are outrageous and totally unacceptable. For all we know, we may be dealing with what could turn out to be a create, loot and share scam far bigger than all the dubious judgements paid out so far, combined -  including the Ghc51 million that Woyome was able to collect from the national treasury.

Those who say that the importation of finished petroleum products, as currently structured, is definitely the biggest create, loot and share scam going, may be right in what they say. Whatever the case might be, we must bring it to an end swiftly - and merging the GNPC and TOR holds the key to doing so successfully.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Why does The Ghana Water Company Limited Not Partner Michael W. Pritchard's LIFESAVER Systems?

Yesterday was World Water Day. Alas, like millions of homes across Ghana, the taps in the house where I live, were dry, on the day.  Pity.

58 years after gaining our independence, the lack of regularly available treated water, is hard to accept,  in 21st century Ghana.

As a matter of fact, we have not had any water from the distribution pipeline network of the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), flowing through our taps, for three solid days now.

Yet, we are luckier where we live than most families in Accra - as we do  have treated water from the GWCL almost daily: living as we do  just a few kilometres from its main water treatment plant at Weija, in a part of McCarthy Hill just about 200 metres or so off the path of its main distribution pipeline to the centre of Accra.

Still, it is an intolerable and unacceptable situation, in this day and age.

In a nation whose diverse traditional cultures and educational system neither encourage original thinking, nor cultivate a sense of curiosity, in children and young people, it is not surprising that despite complaining about the ever-increasing cost of treating water, the GWCL's management does not actively seek new, less expensive and cost-effective ways of treating water.

Fortunately, there actually is a past example in Ghana, of  creative thinking in action in the production of potable water:  the 5-town experiment in which Coca-Cola sponsored the inventor Dean Kamen, to  produce pure and safe water by evaporation in 5 towns in Ghana, using his invention, 'Slingshot".

Slingshot produces its own electricity from biomass feedstock, as part of the process of producing potable water by evaporation - and can produce safe water from even contaminated sources. And from  sea water, too, incidentally - which would be beneficial to rural communities along our coastline.

It is perfect for producing potable water in cost-effective fashion in a cash-strapped nation experiencing a power crisis. Surely, the GWCL could take a second look at the impact made by this all-important experiment, cost-wise?

The GWCL could also adopt the use of  nano-technology filtration systems.

With illegal gold miners polluting most of the rivers and water bodies that the GWCL relies on across the country with toxic chemicals and heavy metals, it is vital, from a public health standpoint, to ensure that the water the GWCL supplies the public with, throughout the nation, is actually safe to drink and meets global standards.

Yet, if the GWCL is to lower the cost of producing water, one of the measures it needs to take, is to decrease the amount of imported chemicals it uses to purify water.

The question then is: if the chemicals it uses cannot remove heavy metals, for example, why does the GWCL not rely more on purifying water using a combination of Dean Kamen's Slingshot's evaporation method and nano-technology filtration, to enable it  remove those health-damaging heavy metals and toxic chemicals, as well as other contaminants?

The nano-tech filtration could be  deployed both in its large distribution pipelines, and at the point where water is delivered to the premises of its customers, from its distribution pipeline network.

Already familiar with Dean Kamen's Slingshot, surely, a public private partnership (PPP) with a reputable global leader in nano-tech water filtration, such as LIFESAVER Systems, of the UK, would be beneficial to the GWCL, and to water users across the country, too?

Such a partnership, could enable the GWCL to work with Michael W. Pritchard, the inventor and founder of LIFESAVER Systems, to develop in-situ replaceable large pipeline  filtration systems - and smaller ones for use  at the point just past the meter where treated water from its distribution pipeline network is piped into customers' premises.

Will that not help eliminate pipeline contamination, including that arising from damaged and newly-repaired sections of the distribution pipeline network, for instance?

Above all, a partnership with LIFESAVER Systems, would make its different water filtration products readily available in Ghana - and ensure that all water users in both rural and urban Ghana can have safe water to drink: even if it is sourced directly from contaminated water.

Naturally, it will also earn the GWCL a commission, each time one is sold here.

A partnership with Michael W. Pritchard's LIFESAVER Systems will be a real boon for the GWCL - and for water users nationwide.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Should SIC Insurance Appeal Against Judgement Debt Order Obtained By Ivory Finance Against It?

The Business and Financial Times recently published a story containing startling revelations in a lawsuit brought against Ivory Finance by Ital Construct International Limited.

It illustrates perfectly the perfidy of the many amoral individuals and  corporate entities that pepper the landscape in Ghana's financial services sector.

It is a shabby story devoid of any uplifting examples of corporate good governance principles in action, which also lacks any inspiring displays of commendable professionalism that is evidence of  a company culture with ethical  underpinnings.

Simply put, it is a horrific tale of unparalleled greed and egregious duplicity - that even super-inventive Hollywood would have found difficult to come up with as a plot for a film.

Where in the world but Ghana, would lawyers of a financial services company get their employer's clients  to sign an agreement - regarding a court judgment debt order they had obtained in their employer's favour, which was prepared by the said financial services company - without requesting that their client first show the said agreement to their own company's lawyers before signing it?

Surely, that unethical tactic Ivory Finance's lawyers apparently adopted, if proven to be true in court, warrants their being  disbarred by the General Legal Council?

Yet, that is precisely what Ital Construct International Limited's executives are apparently accusing Ivory Finance's corporate lawyers of perpetrating.

Clearly, taking a dip in Ghana's financial services sector, appears to be akin to swimming in shark-infested waters - and one needs to have one's wits about one, when dealing with professionals and corporate entities, in the industry.

The astonishing claim has also been made in open court that a client seeking a loan, apparently informed the company  advancing the loan to it, that a possible impact of the failure by a party it had a contract with, to honour the terms of the said breached  contract, was that it would affect their ability to repay the said loan - yet, instead of refusing to advance the loan for that reason, the financial services company simply asked it to seek a bond from the insurance industry as loan insurance: after which it went ahead to  advance the loan.

Did greed blind them, to their fiduciary obligations, one wonders?

If true, did such unethical conduct, not constitute bad faith - as it meant that relevant due diligence information that would have prompted SIC Insurance to refuse the request for it to issue the bond to insure the loan was hidden from it?

Reading the Business and Financial Times story, one could not help feeling that ruthless financial services sector companies, and unethical professionals, have successfully  ganged up to destroy the partially state-owned  SIC Insurance - and perhaps get their fat-cat cronies in the insurance industry to take over its valuable share of Ghana's insurance market.

There are some who would say that SIC Insurance ought to appeal the judgment debt order obtained by Ivory Finance against it, and take it right up to the highest levels in the courts system, if need be  - as they believe that it can be successfully argued that Ivory Finance and Ital Construct International Limited in effect colluded to defraud it.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Let Us Innovate Our Way Out Of Our Present Difficulties

There are a number of reasons why our present leaders must always welcome the contributions of creative individuals and civil society organisations, such as #OccupyGhana, to the nation-building effort.

For a start, many of the ideas generated by such individuals and civil society groups,  are often innovative.

Taking the heads of public-sector organisations to court for failing to discharge their constitutionally-mandated duties, is bound to have a positive effect on public-sector productivity in the long-term, for instance.

That is why we must commend #OccupyGhana for taking the Auditor General to court - they have started a trend, which will make the top echelons of the entities that make up Ghana's public-sector, more conscious of their obligations to society.

We must innovate our way out of our present economic difficulties. Those difficulties, will make Ghanaian businesses that survive the present power crisis and the economic downturn following in its wake,  leaner and better at adapting to change, going forward.

Why, for example, do our leaders not take the innovative approach of going to the Ghana Stock Exchange to raise the money state institutions  and organisations owe the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) - and pay off the entire public-sector debt to the ECG that way?

President Mahama's administration could float 45 percent of the government's shares in the ECG in an initial public offering  (IPO), give 5 percent of its shares to the management and staff of the company, and hold on to the remaining 50 percent shares.

Will that not kill two birds with one stone: make the ECG more or less  debt-free and provide it with interest-free capital,  as well as give Ghanaian investors an opportunity to acquire a stake in a company with huge potential?

Because we have entered the age of cheap satellites deployed by companies like Urthecast, although it might sound esoteric now, we must not dismiss the possibility that in the not too distant future, the ECG could one day leverage the wires it has to millions of building across Ghana.

There is indeed no reason why someday the ECG could not  become a market leader harnessing the data generated by the internet of things and also deliver super-fast internet packages into those selfsame buildings - perhaps using its own optic-fibre network to deliver connectivity to the "last mile" to empower rural Ghana.

Instead of wasting its energies chasing hawkers from Accra, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (as well other metropolitan and district assemblies across Ghana), ought to see them as a potential source of revenue.

They can be sold uniforms that will make them easy to identify and to monitor,  and be encouraged to pay taxes regularly - either to revenue collectors with the type of point of sale devices used by the banks, or with their smartphones to mobile money accounts the metropolitan and district assemblies hold with the telcos. Will that not help cut down youth unemployment numbers dramatically across the nation?

There is an energy in the activities of those hawkers that makes our towns and cities pulsate with life - so why not harness that energy and generate additional revenues for metropolitan and district assemblies countrywide?

With the astronomical prices that redwood logs command in India and China,  instead of continuing to remain cash-strapped because of the paucity of funds it receives from the government,  why does the Forestry Service of the Forestry Commission not  sell the hundreds of redwood logs in containers it has seized from illegal loggers attempting to ship them out of Ghana, directly to reputable and well-resourced importers in China and India - who can come here to ship them from Tema port at their own expense: after paying the Forestry Commission the prevailing market prices in U.S. dollars for the logs in their home markets?

The Forestry Service of the Forestry Commission must resist the maneuverings of the criminal syndicates involved in the unlawful felling of redwood trees, who are desperately trying to get the logs released to them, by claiming that the redwood logs in the seized containers predate the export ban.

It is a moot point as to whether or not any of the logs would meet the strict-proof burden of being legally felled in a court of law. At any rate, technically, not a single one of those seized containers predates the export ban. And that is a verifiable fact.
Finally, if invited here by the government, between them, the U.S. company SolarCity and the Kenyan company, M-Kopa, have free-market business models that will make solar power systems affordable for all income brackets in Ghana. They could partner the ECG to roll out their respective financing plans for accessing power from rooftop solar power systems across Ghana.

One hopes the powers that be will talk to them asap.

Let us  innovate our way out of our present economic difficulties - instead of surrendering to the nation-wrecking negativism of the doomsayers in our midst: who lack the imagination to see the very bright future this wonderful African nation (blessed with such a talented, mostly well-educated and dynamic young generation), has awaiting it.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Ceding Tax Revenues To Destination Inspection Companies No Longer Makes Sense

If we are to realise the full potential of our homeland Ghana - at a time when we need to raise sufficient revenues to develop Ghana with - we must make it impossible for any individual to put his or her personal interest above the national interest,  in negotiating and signing agreements, on our nation's behalf.

Agreements that are inimical to Ghana, but which redound to the benefit of some of our ruling elites, can cause endless problems for society at large, in the long run.

The agreement with destination inspection companies is an example. An agreement that is the financial equivalent of a bleeding wound hemorrhaging tax revenues is intolerable at this point in time in our national life.

Today, importers and exporters, overburdened with taxes and sundry levies,  are up in arms against the authorities. Key amongst targets of their ire, are the destination inspection companies - which they believe are trying to create new business opportunities to enable them continue milking Mother Ghana dry: at their expense.

The question is: instead of crippling the businesses of individuals and companies, exporting and importing goods in and out of the country, with additional taxes and charges, why do the authorities not end the foolish policy of giving a percentage of the total amount collected in taxes from our ports, to destination inspection companies - to which work that can be efficiently and easily done by the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), has been outsourced?

The only Ghanaians who benefit from this unconscionable drain on the public purse, are the fat-cats whose well-rewarded influence-peddling, ensures the protection of the destination inspection companies in Ghana - and guarantees that what is an arrangement that is of no real value to our national economy, continues to remain in place.

Apparently, a key factor in their winning business here, was their ability to  install X-ray scanners at the ports. Yet, those in the import-export trade, who are against the continued presence of destination inspection companies in Ghana, say that the scanners are unable to distinguish between new and secondhand goods, for example.

Neither can they tell the true invoice values of goods in the containers they scan - nor can they reveal whether or not those goods pose a danger to consumers.

In the view of critics of the destination inspection companies, if the scanners have any value at all, it lies not in revenue generation and protection, but perhaps in detecting (when they work) contraband that could compromise national security.

In any case, the scanners have been paid for many times over, from the revenues ceded to the destination inspection companies, over the years they have been in business here, And, apparently, under-invoicing and other fraudulent practices, still exist in the importation of goods into the country, despite their presence here.

The destination inspection companies must must leave our shores and find business elsewhere in other jurisdictions. Ghana no longer needs their services.

Ceding tax revenues to destination inspection companies - and overburdening small and medium scale businesses instead, to make up for the lost revenue - no longer makes sense.

They are an egregious example of the baleful influence of vested interests in our homeland Ghana, and a massive drain on the public purse. Under no circumstances should the government of President Mahama renew the contracts of the destination inspection companies in Ghana, when they finally expire this year. Enough is enough.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Ghanaian Soccer Should Not Be Run Like A Sicilian Mafia Family's Fraudulent Scheme - Designed To Enrich Its members

According to an old wag I know,  organising the soccer league in Ghana, is akin to a conspiracy by greedy and corrupt individuals, to further their own interests. One wonders what the Ghana Football Association's (GFA) response to that would be.

Critics often point to the many curious decisions, made by disciplinary committees of the GFA, over the years, as evidence of the corrupt nature of officialdom in the Ghanaian soccer world.

It is often alleged in sections of the media, for example, that corrupt individuals amongst Ghanaian soccer's governing body's officials, achieve their nest-feathering-aims, by overseeing a league in which some club officials engage in match-fixing, and the bribing of soccer referees officiating football league matches, across the country.

In light of that, the idea that at all material times, those who supervise what elsewhere are regarded as crimes, think that by sheltering behind  an international soccer governing body, Fifa - which  is itself opaque in many ways and is run more or less like a Soviet-era Politburo - they can avoid being held to account in Ghana, is quite frankly ludicrous.

No one - individual or corporate entity - in Ghana, including even the President of the Republic, is above the law.

Naturally, since they do not take place in the open, claims of match-fixing and the bribing of soccer referees, are hard to prove.

Nonetheless, if those allegations are true, then it must be pointed out to Ghanaian soccer's governing body's officials, that match-fixing, and the bribing of soccer referees officiating soccer league matches in Ghana,  are indeed serious crimes.

Investigating such crimes cannot possibly be regarded as "interference" in their association's affairs, by the Ghanaian nation-state. With respect, any viewpoint to the contrary, is nonsensical.

And neither do demands that football officials account for all cash transfers sent to them by Fifa amount to "interference" in the GFA's affairs, by the Ghanaian nation-state. Soccer enthusiasts in Ghana have a right to know how cash transfers to the GFA from Fifa are actually disbursed. That is what audits of their finances are for.

Misappropriation of funds belonging to even private associations willy nilly constitute criminal conduct. Individuals guilty of it can be, and are routinely prosecuted, and jailed, in Ghana.

Ideally, those who run the GFA ought to be selfless individuals with a passion for the game, who work hard to unearth and nurture talented young people, who are then groomed into world-class soccer stars. Alas, sadly, that is not the situation prevailing in the Ghanaian soccer world of today.

Match-fixing and the bribing of referees officiating soccer matches, will never make for a competitive and widely-followed soccer league in our country. We are all witnesses to the situation that prevails today in the Ghanaian soccer world.

We are lumbered with a league of mediocre quality, supervised by individuals who lack the nous and gumption,  to create a super league with a crop of quality players that is competitive, and has a large and passionate following.

Yet, it is the quality of the local league, not the dazzling conquests in international soccer tournaments by foreign-based players for the  Black Stars, that ought to be the yardstick by which we measure the achievements (or lack thereof) of those who run the governing body of soccer in Ghana.

If we are to be ever successful in creating a world-class super leaque for the local game, Ghanaian soccer  ought not to be run like a Sicilian mafia family's fraudulent scheme designed to enrich its members.

(Finally, a simple test of their sincerity and commitment to transparency and accountability: Can the GFA give Ghanaians a full list of the names of all the recipients of the 30 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs recently 'donated' to the Black Stars by Tanink Motors? One asks because it involves the waiver of import duty on those vehicles - taxes that at the very least, could have been used to build a few classroom buildings,  in areas in rural Ghana currently lacking them.)