Saturday, 25 April 2015

Why Paa Kwesi Nduom Will Be The Best Candidate To Elect As President Of Ghana In 2016

There are moments in the histories of all peoples, when the critical interventions of particular individuals,  in their nations' affairs, changes the destinies of those countries.

This truism is something that today's younger generation of Ghanaians need to reflect on as the 2016 presidential  election approaches.

They must make a choice that will ensure a better future for all Ghanaians - in that all-important election that will be a defining moment in our history.

It is time younger generation Ghanaians embraced a new kind of politics, based on what will improve the well-being of our nation, and promote the welfare of all its people.

Young Ghanaians must reject the old-fashioned Kokofu-football-politricks - the sole aim of which is the  enrichment of a powerful, selfish and greedy few.

Perhaps they ought to take their inspiration from a similar moment in the history of the  Gold Coast - when prominent businessman George Alfred Grant felt that the country was going downhill and needed rescuing.

The history of the Gold Coast would have been totally different, if George Alfred Grant had not been born when he was, and if he had not become an incredibly wealthy and successful timber merchant.

Grant had the money - and was prepared to use it to help free his people from colonial bondage.

Indeed, so successful was the timber export business of Paa Grant, as he was popularly known, that his company, George Grant and Company Limited,  opened offices in London, Liverpool and Hamburg, between 1920 and 1922.

He bought a German minesweeper that he had converted into a freighter that traded along the coast of the Gold Coast - its itinerary included stops at Half-Assini, Axim, Sekondi and Cape Coast . It was crewed by German and English sailors.

He chartered ships to export his logs to timber companies that he dealt with in the UK, Europe and the US.

So, more than most, amongst his contemporaries, he clearly understood how the Gold Coast was being literally drained of its wealth - as timber, gold, bauxite, manganese, diamonds etc, etc. were exported from the Gold Coast by the shipload to the UK, Europe and America, by British and European companies.

Paa Grant knew that in order to prosper the people of the Gold Coast had to rid themselves of the yoke of colonialism - so that the wealth that was being shipped out of the country would remain here: and be used instead  to develop the country for the benefit of all its people.

To achieve that end, he decided to use his considerable wealth to fund the fight for independence for the Gold Coast, from the British occupiers of our country. The idea for establishing the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) was his - and all its funding came from him.

 The £100 sent to Kwame Nkrumah to pay for his passage from the UK back to the Gold Coast to become the UGCC's general secretary was from Paa Grant - and for the first few months after his arrival home it was in Grant's Sekondi house that Nkrumah stayed.

Today, we have also reached a point in our post-independence history, when in order to prosper as a people, we must rid our nation of the baleful influence of the vested interests, which corrupt Ghanaian politicians and public officials.

For the vested interests that dominate our country from the shadows, it is important that Ghana continues to remain a Byzantine developing nation,  in which corruption is endemic - because they prosper mightily from the maintenance of our corrupt and opaque system.

Alas, as currently structured, both of the two main political parties in Ghana that dominate our nation's politics, the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), and the largest opposition party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), are beholden to those selfsame vested interests that prosper from our corrupt system - and want it kept in place by hook or by crook for that reason.

An egregious example is the ferociousness and tenacity of the destination inspection companies - which are siphoning off billions of Ghana cedis in taxes annually that could be used to develop Ghana: and all of which maintain close links with bigwigs in both major  parties.

Yet, the work they are paid obscene amounts to do at Ghana's ports and other entry points, could easily be transferred to the Customs, Excise and Preventative Service (CEPS) of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) - and done efficiently by  CEPS officials.

Unless and until the NDC and NPP undergo reforms that will make them transparent political parties that publicly publish all their sources of funding, and whose constitutions make it mandatory for all their elected officials  to publicly publish their  assets, and those of their spouses, when their parties win power and form  governments,  Ghanaians must reject both of them at the polls in 2016.

We cannot have the leaders of political parties, which are in bed with the very vested interests whose unparalleled greed is ruining our nation, ruling our homeland Ghana at this stage of our history.

Measured by that yardstick, the Progressive People's Party's (PPP) founder,  Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, would be the most suitable leader for Ghanaians to elect as president in 2016.

It will be a national tragedy for the younger generation if that does not happen - for their country would have missed the only opportunity open to it thus far, since Nkrumah's overthrow in 1966, to free itself from the iron-grip of the vested interests holding it back, and be in a position to move forward once again.

Nduom is the only politician in Ghana today, who has the moral authority to stand up to the powerful few, whose greedy ambitions is slowly destroying the moral fabric of Ghanaian society - by the example he set (by being transparent about his personal finances and that of his party) during the campaign for the 2012 presidential election.

As things currently stand, it is only Nduom who can rid Ghana of the malevolence of the vested interests, which are sucking the very lifeblood out of our nation - because he and his  party  do not depend on the ill-gotten wealth of vested interests in Ghana to survive.

Like Paa Grant of blessed memory, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom is using his considerable wealth to pursue a radical agenda, which will make Ghanaian businesses really benefit from our expanding national economy.

One doubts very much if any foreign company will be able to win a contract in Ghana without a Ghanaian partner under an Nduom presidency. It is such investment policies that have empowered China's private sector - and will help grow Ghana's private-sector too.

And it is Ghanaian businesses, large and small, which will create the wealth that will enable our country to be transformed, into an African equivalent, of the egalitarian societies of Scandinavia.

In the situation we currently find ourselves, as a people, Ghana actually needs a leader who knows how to create wealth and jobs - and understands clearly how the governance architecture of  an enabling environment (low-taxes, low interest rates, business-friendly policies and pro-business initiatives, etc., etc.) for wealth-creation should be structured: practically and theoretically.

Younger generation Ghanaians must not gamble with their collective future - by listening to the beguiling promises of those political parties and politicians who are in bed with the very vested interests draining our nation of its wealth.

With the best will in the world - and decent individuals though they both are - neither the ruling NDC's President John Dramani Mahama, nor the opposition NPP's Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, can rid Ghana of the vested interests destroying Ghana. Not when their two parties are beholden to those selfsame vested interests.

For that reason, in the 2016 presidential election, Ghana's future will be best served, if Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom is elected president of the Republic of Ghana. He has a radical agenda to transform Ghana.

A vote for Nduom, for example, is a vote to make grassroots people control their own destinies at the district level - by electing their own district chief executives (DCE).

Having began his career in politics at the district level,  by becoming an assemblyman, Nduom knows why electing DCEs is so important for development at the grassroots level, from a practical standpoint.

That is why he is committed to the passage of legislation to make the election of DCEs possible when he becomes president -  a move that will deepen the roots of Ghanaian democracy yet further.

Ghana definitely needs an honest leader who is totally open about his own health status at all material times, is transparent about his private fortune, and is also transparent about the sources of his party's funding. Only such a Ghanaian political  leader can remain incorruptible whiles in office.

Above all, amongst all the leading politicians vying for the presidency in 2016, it is only an Nduom presidency that will secure the future of Ghanaian business - which will provide the wealth to transform Ghana into a prosperous society: for the benefit of all its people.

As a self-made man, who built a fortune from clever strategising and hard work, he knows exactly what policies will benefit Ghanaian businesses: and intends to use the power of the Ghanaian nation-state for precisely that purpose.

In a nation with unacceptably high levels of youth unemployment (and the attendant dangers to society that that  entails), and in which the ignorance of politicians is resulting in policies that are killing businesses in droves, his business acumen and ability to create meaningful jobs, above all, are two justifiable reasons why Ghanaians will be better off electing Paa Kwesi Nduom as president in 2016.

Finally, unlike his two main opponents, President Mahama and Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo,  Nduom does not come from a privileged background - and knows what it is actually  like to have to struggle in life. That will enable him to empathise with the plight of the disadvantaged in Ghanaian society -  and motivate him to create opportunities for them to lift themselves out of poverty:  by their own bootstraps. Perfect.

Clued-on younger generation Ghanaians would be wise to volunteer to help elect Paa Kwesi Nduom as president of Ghana in 2016. He will secure Ghana's future - and their own individual futures too: both good enough reasons to vote for Nduom in the 2016 presidential election.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Could Ghana Present A Special Gift To Humankind On Earth Day, 22nd April, 2016?

Yesterday, 22 April, 2015, was Earth Day. It is instructive that the day's significance was mostly ignored by the Ghanaian media - and lost on society generally. In the main, as a people, we have looked on as our natural heritage has been trashed,  and steadily eroded.

This lack of interest in protecting the natural environment - particularly from the greed of ruthless individuals, and rapacious businesses engaged in destructive and unsustainable activities such as illegal logging, illegal gold mining and sand-winning - has led to vast swathes of the Ghanaian countryside being degraded and polluted, some on an apocalyptic scale.

Yet, before the advent of the first Europeans in what eventually became known as the Gold Coast, we lived in harmony with Mother Nature - and took active steps at all material times to ensure that the natural environment was kept in a pristine state.

Alas, what the human race seems to forget, is that it is humankind's existence that is actually threatened - not the biosphere we inhabit with other living things and whose features are shaped by the passage of time  in periods that are measured in millions of years.

The planet Earth will always recover from whatever calamities befall it, as a result of the activities of human beings, over time.

Having failed the younger generation in so many ways, perhaps the older generation in Ghana can make amends, by strictly enforcing the many laws passed to protect the natural environment - particularly those laws that deal with illegal logging, illegal gold mining and illegal sand-winning - so that at the very least, coming generations of our people, can enjoy the same quality of life that we enjoy today: if not better.

Additionally, now, more than ever, as the number of vehicle owners in Ghana grows at a rapid pace, we have a duty to ensure that air quality in urban Ghana, does not deteriorate to the point where it poses a risk to public health.

Worldwide vehicular emissions contribute greatly to global warming.

As Ghana's gift to humankind, to commemorate Earth Day, 2016, why does President Mahama's administration not ask the South African-born US electric carmaker, Elon Musk, of Tesla Motors, to negotiate with the world's global automobile manufacturing giants, to club together, to pay Colonel Kofi Abaka Jackson US$10 billions, to obtain the rights to his invention that enables electric cars to maintain the power of their batteries whiles in motion - obviating the need for expensive recharging-station-infrastructure: and speed up the switch to electric vehicles globally?

Ghana would immediately be put on the world map as having made a significant contribution to slowing down global warming by the lowering of the total  amount of worldwide vehicular emissions - resulting  from the increase in the use of electric vehicles globally made possible by the adoption of Colonel Kofi Abaka Jackson's invention by the global car industry.

And it would do absolutely no harm to anyone, if Ghana shared the US$10 billions with Colonel Jackson on a 50-50 basis - and uses its share to improve the country's off-grid roof-top solar power generating capacity: in partnership with SolarCity, a US solar company that Elon Musk chairs, and which is owned by his cousins, Peter and Lyndon Rive.

Would that not be a fitting bonus for households and businesses countrywide - were Ghana to present such a special and rare gift to humankind, on Earth Day, 22 April, 2016?

Monday, 20 April 2015

We Must Create Opportunities For Young People In Ghana - So They Don't End Up Being Murdered in Killing Fields Abroad

The gruesome and abominable murders of foreigners, including some Ghanaians, in South Africa,  recently, highlights the urgent need for members of Ghana's political class to stop bickering amongst themselves, and work hard and diligently to create opportunities for young people in Ghana.

Many young people travel abroad to places like South Africa, simply because they feel there are no opportunities for them to improve their lives in Ghana - and that to make something of their lives, they must therefore leave our shores.

The regular sinking of boats carrying African migrants who drown in their hundreds in the Mediterranean Sea off the Italian island of  Lampedusa, shows the terrible risks young migrants from Africa face, when they attempt to enter Europe to live and work, without first obtaining visas.

Yet, tens of thousands still make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean in unseaworthy boats.

If things don't change in Ghana soon, and many young people continue to feel alienated from society, because there are no opportunities for them to work in Ghana, we could end up having to deal with the consequences of a huge social explosion, one day.

When government infrastructure projects, such as the contract for the construction of the Kwame Nkrumah interchange being executed by the Brazilian company, M/S Queiroz Galvao Constucao,  are mooted, it is important that our leaders see them as opportunities to lift young unemployed people out of poverty - instead of avenues for wealthy regime-cronies running unethical employment agencies to win lucrative contracts to exploit young people by paying slave-wages: and grow even richer off their backs, by pocketing most of their pay and denying them other benefits paid them by contractors.

There are many simple measures that our leaders can take to create opportunities for young people in Ghana.

Could the ministry of food and agriculture not arrange for the University of Ghana to collaborate with the Bangladesh Agricultural University - and get it to transfer its aquaponics technology here to teach young entrepreneurs how to grow vegetables and farm catfish in greenhouses for domestic and export markets, for example?

And could young people who form cooperatives not grow teak and other tree species in agro-forestry plantations on land degraded by illegal gold miners, which could qualify as REDD+ projects funded by private companies - such as the UK non-profit Profoco and Wildlife Works from the US - seeking developing world clean development mechanism projects to invest in?

Furthermore, now that wooden skyscrapers are becoming fashionable in Europe, could Chiefs in the Western, Central and Volta regions, not collaborate with Dr Jan van Dam's Ecoboard project team at the Wageningen University of Holland, to grow coconuts to process into ecoboards in factories set up for the purpose in those regions, for domestic and export markets?

That could create wealth and jobs in those areas, could it not?

And could that selfsame ministry of food and agriculture not urge Chiefs in the Western Region to invite the biggest supermarket chains in the US, China, Japan and Iran to come to Ghana to establish cocoa processing factories in  joint-venture partnerships (with their land as equity) to produce own-brand organic  chocolate and other organic cocoa products for their supermarket chains  back home?

 Would the US supermarket giant Walmart, not give serious consideration to such an invitation, from Chiefs in the nation that produces the world's best organic cocoa beans, I ask?

Surely, such a development would create jobs for some young unemployed people in Ghana, would it not?

And if those Chiefs from the Western Region also invited  Japanese power companies to come to Ghana to establish joint-venture partnerships  with them to build power plants (again with their land as equity) could that also not help boost our electricity generating capacity too, in addition to creating jobs for sundry engineers, technicians and other skilled workers?

And would such power sector investment not enable factories across the country to be supplied with electricity round the clock - and keep young workers in employment: instead of being laid off because of never-ending power outages?

And if we encourage musicians and film producers in Ghana to  collaborate with their Diasporan counterparts in the US, the UK and Europe, by giving such collaborative efforts tax holidays, would that not create opportunities for many creative types here? The UK's Abeamma Productions' recent collaboration with Ghanaian actors comes to mind.

Finally, in a nation that abounds in young people with amazing raw talent that could be developed to make them globally competitive, if Ghanaian football was not dominated by selfish and sly hypocrites, running the game  for personal gain - who hide behind Sepp Blatter's Soviet-era-politburo-style Fifa to escape scrutiny by the media and football lovers - could many young people in Ghana not find fame and fortune through soccer? Ditto through other sports such as boxing,  tennis, basketball, swimming, etc., etc - if they were also allowed to flourish in Ghana: instead of being dominated by visa-racketeering mafioso?

Let us be imaginative and create opportunities in Ghana for young people to stay at home - so that they do not have to travel abroad to look for greener pastures: and end up being murdered in killing fields abroad.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo Must Reassure Ghanaians That No Part Of Ghana And Its Indigenes Will Face Discrimination If He Becomes President

I listened to the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) candidate for the 2016 presidential election, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, attempting to use humour to lessen the impact of the controversy caused by the phrase "All die be die" contained in a campaign speech he delivered at Atewa, years ago, during a recent radio interview on Starr FM (if I remember correctly), which was replayed on Peace FM's mid-day news, today.

Unfortunately, having effectively dealt with the issue of the  controversial phrase from his Atewa campaign speech, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo then went on to try and also use humour to make light of Yaw Osafo Marfo's lament that southerners,  whose part of the country contains most of Ghana's natural resources, did not dominate Ghana politically, when it was proper and fit that they should do so, in his opinion.

Yaw Osafo Marfo's outrageous comments should never be made light of by his party colleagues - as this is a nation of diverse ethnicity in which all Ghanaians have an equal stake. His remarks were deeply offensive and unpardonable.

The NPP's leading lights need to understand that  there are many fair-minded Akans who felt uncomfortable with the "Yen Akan fuo" phrase uttered by Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, in that selfsame Atewa campaign speech, in which he used the "All die be die" phrase.

No ethnic group in this country has a divine right to dominate Ghana politically. Osafo Marfo's foolish remarks betray an attitude of mind that evokes resentment in independent-minded Ghanaians who are nationalistic and patriotic - who have no time for the atavism of  tribal bigots: who in their view pose an existential threat to Ghana as we know it.

 It is precisely such backward and tribalistic attitudes of entitlement that led to the civil wars in the DR Congo and the Ivory Coast, and to the genocide in Rwanda and the pogrom in Darfur in western Sudan. This is the 21st century - no tribe is superior or inferior to another in Nkrumah's Ghana. No politician in today's Ghana must ignore that reality.

The natural resources of Ghana do not belong to the indigenes of the areas they are located in. They belong to the state - which holds them in trust for the benefit of all Ghanaians. That right to benefit from Ghana's natural resources, no matter which part of the country Ghanaians hail from,  is non-negotiable. The Yaw Osafo Marfos had better revise their notes accordingly.

What Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo ought to do - instead of making light of Osafo Marfo's tribal-supremacist worldview - is to focus on reassuring all Ghanaians that any government formed by the NPP, should he become president after the 2016 presidential election, will provide the needed resources to develop all the ten regions of Ghana, and that he will personally ensure that no region in Ghana and its indigenes, will be discriminated against, during his tenure.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Why Dismember The Electricity Company Of Ghana's Distribution Network?

Recently, President Mahama opened a new electricity sub-station, belonging to a privately-owned Ghanaian company, Enclave Power Company - which supplies power to the free-zone enclave.

In our present predicament, any new power-sector investment - be it from a public-sector or private-sector source - is to be welcomed.

Presumably, the Electricty Company of Ghana (ECG), must have previously been the supplier of electricity to the free-zone enclave. The question is: why did it lose out to a newcomer?

Perhaps the ECG did not have the required funds to enable it put up a modern sub-station of its own to serve the area, when it supplied the free-zone enclave with electricity - which might have informed the decision to let a private-sector company take over the supply of electricity to the free-zone enclave.

But what is wrong with giving companies in the enclave the opportunity to choose their preferred electricity supplier,  I ask? Why not allow the ECG and the Enclave Power Company to compete for customers?

And should that selfsame competition yardstick not be applied to any other company that might want to enter the power industry's  distribution sector?

Elsewhere, such as the UK, as a matter of principle, regulators always insist on competition not being negatively impacted,  when new companies enter markets - but in Ghana the geniuses who rule us rather choose to replace government monopolies with private monopolies, which then go on to manipulate their markets: and engage in egregious profiteering.

What is the point of a belief in the efficacy of market forces, and the benefits of private-sector led growth, if we molly-coddle investors - and allow them to operate in protected markets here?

How does that ultimately benefit consumers and the national economy? What electricity consumers in Ghana actually need is the opportunity to select their preferred electricity suppliers.

With respect, if the most profitable parts of the ECG's distribution network are going to be hived off for private entities to operate, then what is the point of government officials insisting that the ECG will remain 100% government-owned?

Why do our leaders never consider floating part of the government's shares in the companies it owns on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) - to raise interest-free capital for those companies: in an economy hobbled by high interest rates?

Surely, the government could part-fund the modernisation of the ECG's infrastructure, by selling some of its shares in the company, on the GSE?

The success of the Ghana Oil Company Limited (GOIL), part of whose shares the government sold on the GSE years ago, ought to be an example to the government, in the case of the ECG.

The GOIL privatisation model, is one that makes perfect sense, for the cash-strapped government of a highly-indebted nation like ours.

If that option exists, why dismember the ECG's distribution network - and let private operators take over its most profitable parts?

Alas, 100% state-ownership of an ECG  that is deprived of access to its distribution network's most profitable parts, is neither in the long-term interest of the state, nor does it serve the best interests of electricity consumers in Ghana - who seek the most affordable tariff rates possible at all material times.

Only competition between electricity distributors can deliver that - not the dismemberment of the ECG's distribution network: and hiving off its most profitable parts to wealthy and well-connected regime-cronies.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Kudos To The National Identification Authority's Leadersdhip

The National Identification Authority's (NIA) leadership deserve to be commended for the remarkable way they  have revived its operational capacity.

The NIA's executive secretary, Dr. Josiah Cobbah, has taken bold steps to put the NIA in a position, which makes it possible for national identity cards that are cutting-edge, to be issued  - and for virtually all the other state agencies to share and tap its database.

By utilising the public private partnership (PPP) model, a vital state institution, whose work is crucial for the success of the government agencies tasked to protect our nation, and all its citizens, is on the  cusp of being able to carry out its work across  Ghana.

The NIA is working to give entities in Ghana's public-sector the same capability that state agencies in wealthy developed nations have for sharing information - and that is to be welcomed: as it will benefit both the country and ordinary people in diverse ways.

For example, at a juncture in our history, when the threat of terrorism has become a serious security concern to governments across west Africa, it is imperative that every individual residing in Ghana can be quickly identified by the authorities, whenever necessary.

To avoid a situation similar to the one in which the National Lotteries Authority (NLA) was taken advantage of by Simnet in a PPP agreement, which went sour, and eventually ended up in court, it is necessary that the NIA collaborates  with reputable international organisations such as Adam Smith International of the UK - to help it build its in-house capacity to evaluate PPP proposals from potential private-sector businesses: and ensure that all the PPP agreements it enters into are win-win ones.

Adam Smith International's advice once saved Nigeria over £100 million - in a PPP deal to build a second bridge across the River Niger, which was originally to cost £500 million. Through cost-cutting resulting from Adam Smith International's intervention the cost of the project was eventually scaled down to £400 million.

Above all, Dr. Cobbah must ensure that all PPP proposals received by the NIA, are put into the public domain - so that concerned individuals and civil society organisations can evaluate them too.

That will ensure that at all material times, concerned Ghanaians will be in a position  to see whether or not those in charge of the NIA are being transparent in carrying out its mandate.

This being Ghana, there will always be suspicion in the minds of many, that public officials are receiving kickbacks from those who win government contracts.

Transparency in all the NIA's PPP agreements will ensure that those who manage it are not tarred with that same brush too. A reputation for good project governance will be good for the NIA - which needs to be seen as a credible state institution.

Dr. Cobbah has a well-deserved reputation for being a man of integrity.

He is a fair and decent gentleman - and one  wishes  him well at the NIA: which he has revamped in such a short space of time since his appointment, by utilising the PPP model.

It is exemplary work that other public-sector entities ought to learn from. Kudos to the NIA's leadership.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Let Us Help Ghana's Forestry Commission To Find New Sources Of Funding

No one in Ghana, who is a nature lover, can remain unconcerned about the many challenges, which  the Forestry Commission has to contend with - chief amongst which is the lack of resources needed to enable it function effectively.

Over the years, through our writing, some of us have urged those in government, to negotiate a low-carbon development agreement with Norway - and obtain REDD+ forest conservation funding for the Forestry Commission that way.

Now that public private partnership (PPP) agreements are all the rage, why does the Forestry Commission not strike deals with innovative green organisations that help protect forests across the globe, such as the non-profit company, Profoco, of the UK?

Profoco's innovative greensquares CSR programme, could help partially fund both the Forestry Service, and the Wildlife Division, of the Forestry Commission.

It will be a shining example to other organisations in both the public and private sectors of our national economy - as a market-driven sustainability-path available for them to opt for in Ghana's transition to a low-carbon development model.

And a relationship between the Forestry Commission, and the UK glasshouse rainforest attraction, The Living Rainforest, could provide its officials with valuable insights into new awareness-creation methods  - which could be used in Ghana to teach the younger generation  to value forests: and get them to become life-long conservationists.

At a time when our country is being negatively impacted by global warming, the more conservationists there are in Ghana, the easier will be the task of protecting the remainder of our nation's forests: which perform vital ecosystem services crucial for ensuring a good quality of life for all our people.

Finally, a partnership between the Forestry Commission and Greenheart Conservation, for example, could help the Forestry Commission to further enhance visitor-experience at all the national parks - by providing them with canopy walkways and ziplines.

That will make them even more attractive places to visit for both nature lovers and adventure seekers. Greater visitor numbers will help the Forestry Commission to generate more funds for its operations.

Let us all help those in charge of those valuable forests - the Forestry Commission - who also protect the wildlife that inhabit them, to find new sources of funding. This has been my two-pesewas. What is yours?

 Post Script

Readers can look up the Akyem Abuakwa Juaso Nature-Resource Reserve's Facebook page to read about a private initiative by a large  landowning family and the cocoa-farming community of Akyem Juaso to preserve their section of an upland evergreen rainforest in the Atewa Range, in an area designated a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area, in a conservation-through-eco-tourism project, which  is supported by the M&J Group's subsidiaries, SYTO and M&J Travel and Tours.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Will The US Dollar As Legal Tender, A Low-Tax Regime And Business-Friendly Economic Policies Not Make Ghana Thrive?

Every four years, since the 4th Republic came into being, whenever an incumbent president has faced re-election, to enable him secure a second term in office, fiscal discipline has been abandoned - and there has been a resort to reckless and unbudgeted-for-spending by his administration.

That profligacy has resulted in huge government deficits that have often placed an unnecessary burden on individuals and families from every strata of Ghanaian society.

We must force Ghanaian politicans to be responsible fiscally and manage the macro-economy prudently - even when they face re-election.

One of the most effective ways we could do so will be to take away the power to print money from the Bank of Ghana. The question then is: how do we achieve that end?

Since most businesspeople in Ghana regard the US dollar as a better store of value than the Ghana cedi, why do we not put aside foolish national pride, and take a leaf from the stressed-economy-policy-handbook of Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe - and dump the worthless Ghana cedi: and adopt the US dollar (or euro) instead as our currency?

Loss of seigniorage from issuing coinage of the discarded Ghanaian currency can be calculated and a commensurate dollar equivalent negotiated with the US Congress and US Federal Reserve officials, and collected regularly by the Bank of Ghana.

With one stroke of the pen, we would have removed the ability of profligate politicians to destroy the results of people's hard work, and ruin the carefully-laid plans of industrious individuals and well-managed businesses - as inflation resulting from economic mismanagement steadily erodes the value of cash assets, and bouts of uncertaintity caused by the unstoppable decline in the value of our currency, makes a complete nonsense of the yearly budgetary-plans of individuals and businesses.

There is also the question of the overburdening of individuals and businesses with taxes. It is intolerable that Ghanaians are overtaxed merely to enable politicians manipulate the machinery of state for party advantage - and to feather their own nests and that of their cronies. The National Disaster Management Organisation's outrageous overspending is an egregious example.

Why provide them with the wherewithal to continue doing so, I ask?

As we all know, only a relatively few people in Ghana, who work in the formal sector of the national economy, actually pay income tax. It is an unacceptable situation - and unfair for hardworking Ghanaians.

If white-collar criminals will end up siphoning off taxpayers' cash held in the national treasury, anyway, why not abolish personal income tax in Ghana - and make this an attractive location for high net-worth individuals from across the globe, in so doing?

And instead of piling on yet more taxes on already overburdened entrepreneurs, why do we not simply lower taxes on the profits of businesses to just 5 percent - and put Ghana on the world map as the nation with the lowest corporate tax rate in Africa?

Which transnational corporation interested in Africa as a market, would not move its African headquarters here, if that were the case?

And will they not spend money locally hiring staff, renting or purchasing office accommodation, build factories, warehouses and establish new service-sector businesses, etc., etc.? Surely, that will help increase our GDP, and create more jobs for the younger generation, would it not?

And will low taxes on business profits, not encourage tens of thousands of businesses in the informal sector of the Ghanaian economy, to regularly pay their fair share of taxes - leading to a significant widening of the tax net and an increase in tax revenues?

Perhaps the Hon. Kennedy Adjapong of the New Patriotic Party is right to hold the Ivory-tower mentality of our educated urban elites in such contempt - expressed so angrily in his recent "NPP fuo eyebooklong" rant. Alas, our educated urban elites are long on theory - but pretty short on practical common-sense-solutions.

In the main, many Ghanaians seldom do any original and creative thinking - because our diverse cultures and educational system do not encourage curiosity in the young.

What will make Ghana thrive is to remove the ability of our ruling elites to print money - by making the US dollar legal tender: and turning our country into a nation with a low-tax regime and business-friendly economic policies.

Ghana's Government Must Encourage Partnerships Between Ghanaian And Foreign Construction Companies

President Mahama recently inspected work, which is being carried out by the contractor building the model community day secondary school, at Bamainkor, in the Western Region.

The president agreed with the Omanhene of Bamainkor, Nana Angama Tu-Agyan IX, that shedding tears of joy was an appropriate  response to the contractor's diligence and hard work, in executing the project - which apparently is nearing completion.

Clearly, our homeland Ghana will move ahead more rapidly,  if all contractors given government contracts were as hardworking and conscientious, as the contractor building the Bamainkor community day secondary school.

President Mahama's administration must encourage such contractors by pairing them off with reputable foreign contractors - to enable technology transfer to strengthen such responsible and productive Ghanaian construction companies.

Perhaps they should study the partnership model being employed by the UK company, NMS Infrastructure Limited, to execute the district hospital projects in Dodowa, Sekondi, Kumawu, Abetifi, Fomena, and Garu-Tempane.

NMS Infrastructure Ltd has partnered the Ghanaian company Genelec Holdings Limited to execute the 6-hospital project in Ghana.

A similar partnership could be brought into being between the contractor building the Bamainkor community day secondary school, and the UK company, Precast Concrete Structures Limited, for example - to enable the government to complete many of its construction projects across Ghana on time and within budget: using world-class construction-engineering technology.

To strengthen Ghanaian construction companies, and turn the best amongst them into world-class entities, it is in the long-term interest of our nation that the government  pairs them off with the foreign construction companies, which execute government projects across the country.

No government contract must be awarded to any foreign construction company in this country if it does not have a registered Ghanaian partner. That is the only way we can effectively build the capacity of Ghanaian construction companies - and enable them to bid successfully for jobs across Africa: and help improve our nation's balance of payments.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

How #OccupyGhana Can Help Transform Ghana - Into An African Equivalent Of The Egalitarian Societies Of Scandinavia

When the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) Mr. Stephen Asamoah Boateng, was heckled and booed at an early #OccupyGhana demonstration (shortly after it was formed), when he put in an appearance at the event, it gave many apolitical Ghanaians the distinct impression that the movement was indeed genuinely non-partisan.

It is for that reason that the recent announcement that Mr. George Andah, who is a leading member of #OccupyGhana, is to stand as a candidate in the NPP primaries to select a party member to contest for the Awutu Senya constituency parliamentary seat, in the 2016 elections, raised eyebrows amongst some of those who had always believed that #OccupyGhana was a nascent Ghanaian equivalent, of Spain's Podemos and Greece's Syriza.

Some of us had gained the impression that #OccupyGhana had come onto the political scene because its founders had seen the damaging effect that the intense rivalry between the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and the NPP, has had on our national life - and therefore wanted to work to ensure that henceforth the national interest, instead of party advantage and personal-nest-feathering, would underpin governance in Ghana: and determine the fate of our nation and promote the welfare of all its people (rich and poor, alike).

It is obvious to many independent-minded Ghanaian patriots that high-level corruption in Ghana, can never be tackled effectively, as long as the NDC/NPP duopoly take turns to govern  Ghana - because when in power both have tended to rely on the very vested interests that profit so handsomely from the existence of a corrupt system, to enable them hang on to power.

Whenever they have been in power, it is to those selfsame vested interests that both parties have turned, to fund their nationwide activities - and build up a war chest large enough to enable them  successfully fight the next presidential and parliamentary elections, and return to power again.

#OccuppyGhana must not let the ordinary people of Ghana down by allowing its leading  members to abandon the noble and worthy cause they are pursuing as a collective - just to line up to take their turn in the ongoing gang-rape of Mother Ghana by the NPP/NDC duopoly.

It  would be far better for our nation if they remained with #OccupyGhana - and worked with patriotic one-nation politicians, who practice accountability and  are incorruptible, to form a broad coalition-of-the-like-minded, to fight the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections.

Those naive enough to think that Ghana will experience rule by saints, should the NPP win power, after the  2016  presidential and parliamentary elections, had better revise their notes.

They would do well to ask the Dr. Bawumias if they and their spouses - to prove that they will also not come to enrich themselves at Mother Ghana's expense when in power - will publicly publish their assets before the next presidential and parliamentary elections in 2016, and promise to do so again at the end of their tenures, should they come to power after the presidential and parliamentary elections.  Ditto publicly publish all the sources of the NPP's funding.

Ghanaians, to use local parlance, "Go then sabbe what be world-class equivocation in motion, Massa." - in the response they get from the erudite Dr. Bawumias: who give endless public lectures about what is wrong with the economic policies of the present government, but never once profer any solutions to Ghana's many challenges.

Surely, if Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, and the Progressive People's Party (PPP), were able to demonstrate accountability in practical fashion, so dramatically, in the 2012 elections, why should the NPP of the  Dr. Bawumias - a party so vociferous in condemning today's high-level corruption, and which promises Ghanaians a corruption-free administration, if elected to power again - be unable to publicly publish the sources of the party's funding,  and publicly publish the filed tax returns, as well as the medical check-up results of the party's leading lights, too, I ask? 

 It would be helpful if #OccupyGhana did not give its blessing to those of  its leading members who decamp to join opaque political parties, practising the old-style divide-and-rule-politricks, which is slowly destroying Ghanaian democracy - and many of  whose leading lights approved engineered-siphoning-off-schemes in the past, which led to Ghana losing out badly in a number of international agreements.

Egregious examples of such perfidy, are the agreement with Kosmos Energy (in which two well-connected Ghanaians who did not pay a pesewa upfront were given shares in blocs in oilfields off our shores, which they eventually sold to Tullow Oil for some US$350 millions), and the fraudulent sale and purchase agreement for the Volta Aluminium Company Limited (VALCO), to a so-called International Aluminium Partners (IAP), which was railroaded through Parliament during the Kufuor-era.

That outrage, was under the active personal supervision of the hypocritical Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsus - who, as a result of the persistent and strenuous public denials by Norske Hydro and VALE (the purported IAP joint-venture partners),  knew perfectly well that the IAP that the then NPP administration claimed had agreed to purchase VALCO,  did not actually exist: yet went ahead to manipulate Parliament towards a dubious end meant to enrich a powerful few with greedy ambitions.

The question for #OccupyGhana is: How can Ghana become a better and different place, from what it is today, if such cynical and unprincipled politicians should come to power again, after the 2016 elections?

If #OccupyGhana's members want to join established political parties to fight for parliamentary seats in the 2016 elections,  why do they not look instead to a strategic alliance with the Paa Kwesi Nduoms - who demonstrated their commitment to transparent governance in the 2012 elections - instead?

 #OccupyGhana must denounce the old-style politics of division, rancour and sham-accountability, practised by opaque and corrupt political parties - and strike a strategic alliance with those politicians who embrace the new one-nation politics of uniting to work to protect the national interest at all material times, and promote the welfare of all Ghanaians.

That is how #OccupyGhana can help transform Ghana into an African equivalent of the egalitarian societies of Scandinavia - which ought to be our national goal as a people.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A New Age Dawns For Nigeria

The people of Nigeria have just elected a new leader. President-elect Muhammadu Buhari has all the qualities that that great nation requires in a leader at this juncture in its history.

Ordinary Nigerians deserve to be congratulated for the peaceful manner in which they conducted themselves during the just-ended parliamentary and presidential elections.

They have made pan-Africanists proud of a continental giant that is black Africa's only potential world power.

Faced with the barbarism of Boko Haram, which threatened voters with death if they voted in the elections, ordinary Nigerians were defiant - and clearly demonstrated their commitment to the democratic system of government by queuing in their millions to vote.

Clearly, ordinary Nigerians regard their constitutional right to vote in elections, as a fundamental human right, which is non-negotiable.

For so graciously conceding defeat,  President Goodluck Jonathan has secured his place in history. He must be praised for his wisdom.

Posterity will remember President Goodluck Jonathan for the statesmanship he showed, when he put the interest of Nigerians above party and self, and accepted that the All Progressives Congress' candidate,  Muhammadu Buhari, had indeed won the presidential election.

President Jonathan's phone call to Buhari conceding defeat, eased the tension that had built up as the nation awaited the declaration of the winner of the presidential election, by Nigeria's Independent National Election Commission.

That noble gesture brought the election to a fitting end - and Nigerians now eagerly await the dawn of the new age that their dynamic country will be ushered into when president-elect Muhammadu Buhari is sworn into office. Nigeria will soon show the world her true potential. Brilliant.

Should Ghana's Private Sector Not Venture Into Micro & Small Hydropower Production?

Whiles we await the merging of the Volta River Authority (VRA) and the Bui Power Authority (BPA), one hopes that the minister for power, Dr. Kwabena Donkor, will revisit President Nkrumah's idea of building small hydro power plants to supplement power from the Akosombo hydro power plant.

Building small and micro hydropower plants could make a difference for many communities going forward into the future  - as they  could harness the kinetic energy from the flow of rivers across Ghana to produce electricity: obviating the need to find millions of dollars to dam rivers for power.

One's humble advice to Dr. Kwabena Donkor, is that he should consult the European Union's (EU) office in Ghana, about possible collaboration between his ministry and the European Small Hydropower Association (ESHA).

On that basis, the EU office here could  arrange for engineers from both the VRA and BPA, as well as their counterparts from the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), to visit micro and small hydro power plants across Europe. Ditto representstives of relevant sector-specific member companies of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI).

The GWCL's engineers could learn from  the example of the German water company, Veola Wasser GmbH - which has achieved energy autonomy at some of its drinking water treatment plants in Germany (Gorlitz and Gera, for instance).

Perhaps the visit will inspire the GWCL to strive to achieve a degree of energy autonomy at some of its drinking water treatment plants - and lower its production costs that way.

The visionary Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah planned to build mini hydro power plants - and would have doubtless done so had he not been overthrown in 1966. This is the perfect time to revive the idea.

Those in Ghana who are keen to take the idea a step further, who might want to contact hydropower turnkey project consultants, could write to:  Power From The Landscape, Alternative Technology Centre, Unit 7, Victoria Works, Victoria Road, Hebden Bridge, HX7 8 LN, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 1422842121.

 If the power industry's  renewable energy sector's entire value chain was given tax-exempt status, it would encourage some of the most creative entrepreneurs in our country, to explore collaborative initiatives with mini and micro hydro power producers in the EU and the US, which  could lead to the establishment of joint-venture micro and small hydro power companies in Ghana.

Food for thought for the Association of Ghana Industries, perhaps? Ditto the energy-starved big gold mining companies?

(To digress a little: Incidentally, those big gold mining companies would be wise to buy the UK company LIFESAVER Systems' water tanks, which have nanotech filtration that can provide pure water from even contaminated sources, to the communities that border their concessions. Those communities often suffer terribly when there is spillage of toxic chemicals and heavy metals from the gold mining companies' tailings ponds into the rivers that they depend on for their drinking water supply.)