Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Posterity Only Acknowledges Achievements, Not Mere Plans And Propaganda

''We implement what we plan and pursue actions not theories. The rapidly changing world requires us to accelerate our pace of development as history does not recognise plans but achievements."
                             - His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al  Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Emir of Dubai.

Some of us have questioned the wisdom in our nation devoting so much time, and spending it's energies and money, on fashioning out a 40-year national development plan - when long-term plans can be made nonsense of by the new technologies that  are rapidly evolving and impacting the world, in so many diverse and fundamental ways.

Yes, plan we must - but we must also focus on implementing those plans. And we must also encourage innovators and focus on implementing their bleeding-edge ideas - if we are to prosper.

That is what has made President Nkrumah's legacy such a long-lasting one. Nkrumah was a man of action who also believed in innovation and the power of science and technology to transform Ghana.

There is a lot that the present leaders of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have in common with President Nkrumah, Ghana's first post-independence leader. It is extraordinary how the leaders of the UAE, have turned their country into one of the most prosperous and advanced societies in the contemporary world.

Yet, theirs is a territory that is mostly desert, and which a few decades ago, was inhabited by nomads, who kept livestock consisting of camels, goats and sheep in the interior, whiles their sedantary-living kinsmen, who were cross-border traders and fisherfolk, lived in communities along its thin-sliced narrow coastline.

Today, this blog is reproducing a culled report from Green Building Elements, which highlights remarks made by the Emir of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, when he opened the world's first 3-D printed office building in Dubai. It was written by Glenn Meyers, who also contributes to CleanTechnica. He is the founder of Green Streets MediaTrain.

It illustrates perfectly, the point that new technologies can alter societies, in many unforeseen and diverse ways.

We hope it will inspire our nation's educated urban elites - who should always be optimistic about our potentially great nation's future. Despite the many challenges our nation faces, it has a very bright future. Our nation's political class must always remember that posterity only acknowledges achievements - not propaganda.

Please read on:

World’s First 3D-Printed Building Completed In Dubai
May 28th, 2016 by

3D-printed construction is occurring far more quickly than many first imagined. Take a look at Dubai, which now features the world’s first 3D-printed office building.

Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has stated the UAE stands as one of the major incubators of innovation and future technology in the world today.

“We announce today the opening of the first 3D-printed office in the world, after less than one month of launching Dubai 3D printing strategy which showcases a modern model of construction. This is an experience we present to the world on utilizing future technology in people lives,” Sheikh Mohammed said in a press announcement.


Putting theory into practice with 3D printing

Let’s start with the printer: a construction giant, measuring 20ft x 120ft by 40ft. As Sheikh Mohammed put it, “We implement what we plan and we pursue actions not theories. The rapidly changing world requires us to accelerate our pace of development as history does not recognize plans but achievements,” Sheikh Mohammed said during the opening of the ‘Office of the Future’, the first 3D-printed office in the world. The building on the Emirates Towers premises will house the temporary office of the Dubai Future Foundation.

“The 3D-printed office was constructed using a special mixture of cement and a set of building material designed and made in the UAE and the United States. These materials have undergone a range of tests in both China and the United Kingdom to ensure their reliability. An arc shape was adopted for the building for safety purposes and to ensure the stability of the building.”

In total, the completed building covers up to 250 square meters. The design has been conceived to provide opportunities to stimulate innovation and communication between work place teams. The design also offers space for exhibitions and workshops, while offering  key services within the building, such as electricity, water, telecommunications and air-conditioning.

A large 3D-printer measuring 20 x 120 x 40 ft (6 x 36 x 12 m) printed the structure with a cement mixture layer by layer.

Features have been adopted in the office building to reduce energy consumption such as window shades which offer protection from direct sunlight and keep the building cool.

Multiple printers were deployed

According to the UAE press announcement, in order to manage the execution of the project, additional mobile printers were located at the construction site, in addition to computers to ensure quality control, facilitate the printing processes, and management of different project requirements.

The full model took only 17 days to print, after which the internal and external designs were adopted. The office was installed on site within two days, considered significantly faster than traditional construction methods involving A category office buildings.

As Adam Williams has written for gizmag, “3D printing technology promises to revolutionize architecture in the near-future, allowing designers to literally click-and-print complex buildings at a lower cost and faster speed than traditional construction methods allow.”

Providing a construction case study

Sheikh Mohammed concluded: “We see this project as a case study that will benefit regulators as well as research and development centers at the regional and international levels on real application of 3D printing technology. We are documenting this experience and building on it to take advantage of the most important lessons, which will serve as reference points to take this technology to new levels.”
Expect to see this technology on many new sites.
Images via Government of Dubai  

About the Author

Writer, documentary producer, and director. Meyers is a contributor to CleanTechnica, and founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.

End of Glenn Meyers' culled piece from Green Building Elements.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Ghanaians Will Never Allow Their Nation To Become A Police State

Those "big-men" in Ghana, who want the principle to be established that ordinary people's access to online social media platforms, can be blocked at their whim, simply don't get it: Ghanaians will never allow their nation to become a police state. Ever.

Our commitment to the democratic system of government - with all its faults - is never-ending and unshakeable.

That is why the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. John Kudalor, and the heads of all the other security agencies,  need to clearly understand that it is important that at all material times, they  personally remain committed, to ensuring that Ghana remains a liberal and democratic society - whose leaders serve their people: not lord it over the citizenry.

The IGP, a true professional, and a good and decent gentleman, must reject any advice to block access to online social media platforms on polling day.

That will be a retrogressive step. We must not follow the bad examples set by African leaders with despotic tendencies like Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, and the leader of the Republic of Congo, President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

Whatever else he might be, President Mahama, is not a leader with despotic tendencies - which is why he must make it absolutely clear to the IGP,  and all the other heads of the security agencies in Ghana, that though he suffers personal abuse, and is slandered daily on online social media platforms, he will not allow access to them to be blocked during his tenure as President: and be lumbered with that as a dubious legacy of sorts.

Ours is a free society - in every sense of the word. We must therefore not allow anyone in our country to let the genie of repression out of the bottle - lest it destroys Ghanaian democracy, yet again. Any policy by the security agencies to block access to online social media platforms, provides a building-block enabling criticism-averse "big-men" to successfully create tomorrow's tyranny.

If access to social media is blocked on polling day, what is there to prevent that happening again, on yet some other occassion? And who is to say that it will not  become a means for crooked politicians to use to stop news of  major scandals exposing high-level corruption in Ghana, from spreading?

Ghana's Constitution guarantees Ghanaians the fundamental right to freely express themselves. It also guarantees a free media in Ghanaian society - and by implication full and open  access to the media for all Ghanaians. Today, that media access,  includes access to online social media platforms.

In an age in which social media platforms play an important role in the daily lives of hundreds of millions, and is an important global commercial platform for businesses, what Ghana's security agencies need to focus on, is to develop the capacity to pinpoint digital devices from which all kinds of online abuse and illegalities, such as hateful speech and internet fraud, emanate from - and use the latest technologies (as well as leverage international law enforcement networks) to locate, track down, apprehend and prosecute their owners, in the law courts. Nothing more, nothing less.

If they currently lack the capacity to do so, the Ghana Police Service can learn how to track down and  apprehend perpetrators of hateful speech online,  internet fraud and egregious falsehoods on social media platforms that slander others, from their German colleagues.

They could also replicate Germany's arrangements with Facebook, Google and Twitter to check such unspeakable abuses on their platforms. The Ghana Police Service ought to begin that conversation with Facebook, Google and Twitter now. Not tomorrow.

And if the IGP and the heads of the other security agencies want to stop troublemakers from ruining this year's presidential and parliamentary elections, on polling day, they must have a plan in place to monitor, and if need be, arrest, verbally-aggressive politicians of the ilk of the National Democratic Congress' (NDC) Robert Owusus and Solomon Nkansahs, and the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) Kennedy Ohene Adjapongs,  Maxwell Kofi Jumahs,  Bernard Antwi-Boasiakos and Nana Kofi Boakyes.

That will be a far more useful strategy than blocking access to online social media platforms.

What kind of message will we be sending to the international community if access to social media is blocked in Ghana on election day? Will it not destroy our global reputation as a stable and thriving African democracy? Our nation's ruling elites must not be so blinkered and shortsighted. Haaba.

Instead of blocking access to online social media platforms, the security agencies must rather monitor the leaders of highly-politicised civil society groups like the Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA), who, rather than  using the law courts to achieve their objectives, seek instead to impose their will on society, through street demonstrations, and the use of aggressive and uncompromising language.

It is time all the illiberal individuals in our midst got the message: Ghanaians will never allow their nation to become a police state. Period.

Finally, for all those in our country who are attracted to the notion of "Buga-buga leadership" this blog is reproducing a culled article from Aeon magazine, which was written by Oxford University Emeritus Professor of Politics, Archie Brown, entitled: "We must stop worshipping the false god of the strong leader." It was edited by Aeon magazine's managing editor (Ideas), Sam Dresser.

It is our hope that most of Ghana's hard-of-hearing politicians,  the IGP, Mr. John  Kudalor, and all the heads of Ghana's other security agencies, and their advisors, will read it too.

Archie Brown is a political scientist and historian. In addition to being an Emeritus Professor of Politics at the University of Oxford,  he is also an Emeritus Fellow of St Antony’s College, at the same university. His most recent book is The Myth of the Strong Leader: Political Leadership in the Modern Age (2014).

Please read on:

"We must stop worshipping the false god of the strong leader

Politicians spend a lot of time trying to portray the leader they oppose as weak. They believe this resonates with a broader public. It’s not only in authoritarian regimes but in democracies, too, that the notion prevails that we need a strong leader. What is usually meant by that is a leader who concentrates a great deal of power in his (or her) hands, dominates public policy, calls the shots in the political party, and makes all the big decisions in government.

It is a recurring theme of Republicans in the United States that President Barack Obama is a weak leader. In Obama’s case, this is often linked to his failure to deploy US military force in distant trouble spots, even though the calamitous US experience from Vietnam to Iraq hardly suggests his caution is misplaced. The appeal of someone who very consciously projects an image of the strong leader is apparent in the support for the Republican frontrunner Donald Trump. The fact that his policies are a hodge-podge of wildly unrealistic aspirations – such as building a wall to keep Mexicans out of the US, and getting Mexico to pay for it – counts for less than Trump’s ability to persuade disillusioned conservative voters that his strong personality and mobilisation of their anger will somehow, in the words of his campaign, ‘Make America Great Again!’

Yet, whether we are talking about authoritarian regimes or democracies, the idea that the most admirable and successful leader is one who maximises his or her individual power is deeply suspect. In the case of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, it is especially clear that a more collective leadership is a lesser evil than personal dictatorship. The Soviet Union, prior to the liberalisation and pluralisation of the system during Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika, was never less than highly authoritarian. But the USSR in the 1920s and in the period after Stalin’s death in 1953 was a less murderous place than it was during the years of Stalin’s personal dictatorship, which became absolute in the early 1930s. Similarly, China in the first half of the 1950s or in the years since Mao Zedong’s death in 1976 was and remains authoritarian, but the tens of millions who died in the Great Leap Forward and the hundreds of thousands who were killed in the Cultural Revolution were victims of Mao’s personal obsessions and of his power at its most untrammelled.

Overweening leaders within a well-established democratic system can, of course, do less harm than a Stalin or a Mao. Yet why should we heed calls to strengthen the hand of the prime minister and of 10 Downing Street rather than to strengthen collective leadership within the Cabinet and the political party? The mass media are constantly urging prime ministers and party leaders to do this, that and the other, bolstering the odd assumption that the leader is entitled to have the last word on everything.

It is puzzling why the idea persists that the more power is placed in a prime minister’s or president’s hands in a democracy, the better. It is high time to rebut the idea that the leader we should most look up to is one of unshakeable convictions, able utterly to dominate the political party, the Cabinet and the policy process. One-person domination is undesirable in principle in a democracy and it is fortunate that it is only rarely achieved in practice, whatever the leader’s pretensions.

Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair – in contrast with the more collective post-war British governments headed by Clement Attlee, Winston Churchill, Harold Macmillan, Harold Wilson and James Callaghan – sought to dominate the policy process. Their attempts to do so came unstuck in different ways.

A major contributory factor in Thatcher’s downfall was her overruling of the Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson’s objections to the poll tax. To her own ultimate cost, she persuaded a majority of the Cabinet to endorse this extremely unpopular tax. Blair, in contrast, failed in his efforts to take the United Kingdom into the euro. He announced in the year 2000: ‘I will decide the issue of monetary union.’ Blair’s former trade and industry secretary Alistair Darling noted that Blair involved the Cabinet in the policy process more than was his custom in order to achieve that goal. In this case, however, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown prevailed. Brown, who was opposed to the UK entering into the common currency, easily outwitted Blair.

Politicians who like to think of themselves as strong leaders, or who are anxious to be perceived as strong, might be especially tempted by foreign adventures. The two most counterproductive British foreign policy decisions since the Second World War were the military intervention in Egypt in 1956, when Britain colluded with France and Israel, and the invasion of Iraq in 2003, with the UK as the junior partner of George W Bush’s US. In both cases – with Anthony Eden in charge in the first, and Blair in the second – the prime minister was the dominant player in committing UK troops to these wars of choice. In each case, they were less than fully frank with their Cabinet colleagues and paid scant attention to those in the Foreign Office and outside government who knew most about the Middle East.

Prime ministers and party leaders – unless they are as well grounded as a Stanley Baldwin or an Attlee – acquire an unrealistic belief in the exceptional quality of their judgment and corresponding right to pull rank and determine policy, sustained as these convictions are by their entourage and the ambitions of some of those around them. It is not altogether surprising that leaders should fall prey to arrogance and to seeing themselves as being above the party that elevated them to its leadership. What is more astonishing is that so many of the rest of us should undervalue collegial and collective decision-making. Party leaders and prime ministers were not chosen because they were deemed to have a monopoly of wisdom. It is time we stopped worshipping the false god of the strong individual leader."

End of culled Aeon magazine article, by Oxford University Emeritus Professor of Politics,  Archie Brown.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Why Ghana Must Not Be Rushed Into Building A Nuclear Power Plant

Mr. Kwesi Pratt, the managing editor of the The Insight newspaper, is unquestionably one of the most influential journalists in Ghana today.

Indeed, both Kwesi Pratt and Mr. Abdul Malik Kweku Baako, the editor-in-chief of The Crusading Guide newspaper, are considered national  heroes who fought to end tyranny in Ghana, by many Ghanaians (myself included).

I have the highest regard for both gentlemen.They were in the trenches with courageous and patriotic individuals such as: the late Tommy Thompson; the late professors P. A. V. Ansah and Adu Boahen; as well as Kabral Blay-Amihere; amongst other brave men and women, in the fight to end the culture of silence during the period that the ruthless military dictatorship that overthrew the administration of the late President Hilla Limman, ruled Ghana with an iron-fist.

And they are still defending individual liberty and constitutional rule in the Ghana of today. So, the fact that both Pratt and Baako love Mother Ghana passionately, is beyond doubt.

That is why it came as a bit of a surprise to some of us, when it was reported that Mr. Pratt had recently stated that he supports the plan to build a nuclear power plant in Ghana - no doubt because the relatively low-priced electricity it will produce will benefit ordinary Ghanaians and businesses alike.

Unlike some of those who have a personal interest in such a venture, because of the financial rewards from lobbying for a nuclear power project in Ghana, Mr Pratt no doubt believes it will be in the long-term interest of our nation, to build one here. His advocacy is thus for patriotic reasons only.

However, in my humble view, we must thank Providence that Nkrumah did not fully implement his plans for a nuclear power sector in Ghana before he was overthrown. The question is: Have Mr. Pratt and Co been to the area which President Nkrumah's administration designated as a security zone for Ghana's nuclear power plant at Kwabenya recently?

The encroachment there sums up the lawlessness that replaced Nkrumah's disciplined and methodical approach to nation-building. The painful truth, is that nuclear waste storage facilities will never be safe and secure in this lawless and corrupt nation of ours. Ever.

The reason why many of those who oppose nuclear power plants do so, is mainly  because of the apocalyptic impact of accidents at nuclear power plants - such as those that occured at Three Mile Island in the U.S., the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, when today's Ukraine was a republic in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), and the one at Japan's Fukushima Da Ichi  nuclear power plant.

Then there is also the fact that radioactive waste from nuclear power plants remain dangerous for thousands of years. And, apart from ensuring that storage facilities neither fracture nor leak,  there is also the need for storage sites to be secured well-enough, and round-the-clock, to prevent terrorists from stealing radioactive waste material for a "dirty bomb."

The question is: How can a society in which corruption is endemic,  and which is unable to handle even the relatively simple challenge of efficiently and safely disposing of household and industrial waste, on a daily basis, be trusted to dispose of and store nuclear waste safely and securely, for thousands of years?

Mr. Pratt and those who support the building of nuclear power plants as the panacea for our twin challenges of grappling with a high electricity tariff regime, and having to cope with a  hard-to-bridge power generating deficit, should not let a short-term difficulty cloud their judgement, in this matter.

Perhaps instead of allowing ourselves to sleepwalk into handing over a state power distribution monopoly, to a foreign entity for as long as 25-30 years, we might get much more bearable electricity prices if all the electricity sub-stations were auctioned off to private Ghanaian entities to distribute electricity from.

Agreements could be signed with such Ghanaian companies to run them for 5-10  years each. That could give the current employees of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), the opportunity to bid to run their own businesses using the considerable experience and expertise they have acquired over the years, to run the sub-stations they win bids for efficiently and profitably.

Theft of electricity, which is an additional burden unfairly imposed on honest and law-abiding electricity consumers across Ghana, will immediately drop to insignificant levels if private companies run the ECG's sub-stations, as those who run them will make sure that a robust and reliable system preventing revenue leakages from freeloading-thieves, would be in place - with the resulting savings passed on to consumers in a lower tariff regime.

There is the shining example, of the only privately-owned power distributor in Ghana, Enclave Power Limited, a subsidiary of the Ghanaian conglomerate, LMI Holdings, to inspire and guide us: it bills and collects payments for supplied electricity from all its customers.

There are also U.S. companies such as GE, Stem, Green Charge Networks and the UK company, Highview Power Storage, which have cutting-edge energy storage technologies, which enable  small, medium and large companies to cut down on their electricity usage from national power grids.

Should the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), not be talking to the CEOs of such companies, and asking them to enter the Ghanaian market and partner Ghanaian entrepreneurs, to provide consultancy services aimed at assisting Ghanaian manufacturing companies to manage their electricity usage more efficiently?

And it will do all of us some good, if all the power generating companies in Ghana talked to the innovative UK company, Highview Power Storage, to enable them increase their peak-hours  generating-capacity using that dynamic UK company's unique liquified air storage technology.

Above all, with the advances made in energy storage technologies, focusing on renewables makes perfect sense for Ghana, in the short to medium term.

There have also been tremendous advances in wind turbine, solar panel and thermal solar energy technologies. So, today, 100% renewable electricity usage, is actually feasable for many businesses.

Surely, if the whole of Portugal could run solely on energy generated from renewable sources (hydro, wind and solar) for 107 straight hours, earlier this month, we should aim to be in a position to do so too, in the not too distant future? Will that not lead to much lower electricity tariffs?

If it is the prospect of limitless cheap energy that attracts them to nuclear power plants, for the information of Mr. Pratt and Co, a private company in Southern California, Tri Alpha Energy, has just raised U.S.$500 million in its quest to build a non-radioactive nuclear fusion power plant.

Theoretically, fusion power plants are a far safer source of limitless cheap electricity - with none of the challenges posed by the need for safe and secure storage of radioactive fissionable waste material from nuclear power plants.The private sector will deliver a working fusion power plant within the next 15 years.

And we must not forget that there is not a single nuclear plant currently operating anywhere in the world, that did not overshoot its budget by billions of dollars, and was not delivered many years after its scheduled delivery date. Food for thought for Mr. Pratt and Co?

And we are referring to advanced technological societies with well-functioning systems - not countries like Ghana with Byzantine and corrupt systems that leak torrents of cash like giant sieves: and in which design specifications for large infrastructure projects are routinely varied to enable contractors  pay kickbacks to highly-placed officials and politicians, and still make  handsome profits.

With respect, I humbly suggest that Mr. Pratt, and all those who want Ghana to build a nuclear power plant, should  read Richard Martin's online MIT Technology Review article entiltled: "Peek inside Tri Alpha Energy, a company pursuing the ideal power source" - and understand why Ghana should not  be rushed into building a nuclear power plant any time soon.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Should Ghana Not Seek Low-Carbon Development Agreements With Norway, Sweden, Denmark & Finland To Preserve Her Remaining Forest Cover?

On the 21st of May, 2016, humankind celebrated International Day of Forests. Having evolved over millions of years, forests perform vital ecosystem services for our biosphere.

In our homeland Ghana, they contain watersheds of our nation's many streams and rivers - which provide the drinking-water supply for countless villages, towns and cities across the nation.

It is said that water is life. On that basis alone, Ghanaians ought to treasure and protect the remainder of their nation's fast-dwindling forest cover, and ensure that they survive and thrive.

As our biosphere warms up, forests are crucial for our continued survival, because without them all our major river systems would dry up rapidly.

In that sense, they are key underpinnings for a reasonably good quality of life, for people in communities all over Ghana. Their preservation will ensure that future generations of our people, also enjoy a reasonably good quality of life too.

That is why from now onwards,  we must deal ruthlessly with the few  selfish and greedy individuals involved in  illegal logging, for the production of bush-cut chainsaw lumber.

In that regard, this blog salutes all those in the Forestry Commission's Forestry Division who - unlike their perfidious and corrupt colleagues who collude with the ruthless criminals destroying Ghana's forests -  daily resist the blandishments of the wealthy criminal syndicates, which are behind most of the illegal logging in Ghana.

They are indeed the unsung heroes of our time - and they all deserve to be given public recognition. Each one of them ought to be awarded the Order of the Star of Ghana - our nation's highest honour. Without such honest, patriotic and dedicated Forestry Division officials, the remainder of our forests will all disappear in less than a decade.

Perhaps the question we must all ponder over  is: How can we turn our forests - all of which contain trillions of dollars in yet-to-be-discovered medicinal plants - into key foreign exchange earners through community carbon sequestration projects, which can sustain  fringe-forest communities financially: as the world transitions to a sustainable low-carbon global economy?

It will be recalled that sections of the Ghanaian media, reported not too long ago that European Union (EU) diplomats accredited to Ghana  had announced that the EU had started a carbon credit scheme in Ghana. What is the current status of that particular initiative, one wonders - as there was a dearth of detail in those media reports?

Whatever be the case, one hopes that those in charge of implementing REDD+ Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects at the Forestry Commission, will work hard to ensure that CDM projects benefit many of Ghana's fringe-forest communities.

Hopefully, some of those projects will also benefit the Forestry Division of the Forestry Commission itself, too.

However, this being Ghana, the EU's representatives here ought to ensure that the EU initiative is monitored closely and audited regularly - and completed final audit reports issued to all civil society stakeholders.

President Mahama, who together with the Norwegian prime minister, Ms. Erna Solberg, is co-chairperson of the 16 eminent individuals appointed as U.N. Sustainable Development Goals Advocates (SDGAs), has an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy - by finding a creative solution to the intractable problem of illegal logging in Ghana once and for all.

Why does he not use his position as co-chair of the 16 SDGAs,  to hold talks with Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway, and all the other Scandinavian leaders, with the aim of drawing up and signing low-carbon development agreements - similar to the one Norway has with Guyana - with them, to protect and conserve Ghana's remaining forests in exchange for regular  annual payments from Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland?

If those funds are ring-fenced, and the GiveDirect business model is adopted, to distribute the funds directly to households in fringe-forest communities across Ghana,  will those fringe-forest communities not protect the remainder of our nation's forests - because doing so will be in their collective self-interest, financially?

Will that not eradicate the mind-numbing abject-poverty, which literally forces them to engage in illegal logging, and illegal gold mining, at the behest of the wealthy criminal types that sponsor those abominations nationwide?

Signing low-carbon development agreements with Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, to receive payments for preserving our remaining forests makes perfect sense, at this juncture of our nation's history. At a time when global climate change is impacting Ghana so negatively, it will halt the destruction of our nation's remaining forests - and dramatically improve the living standards of fringe-forest communities across Ghana.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

The Answer To Ghana's High Electricity Tariff Is Switching To Renewable Energy

The head of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), is reported to have made remarks recently, which implied that the AGI is concerned about the terrible toll that the nation's high electricity tariff is having, on the financial stability of many AGI member-companies.

A number of high profile politicians have also complained about the difficulties that many households and small businesses face in coping with the impact of Ghana's rather high electricity tariff.

The question is: Have we become a society in which people never attempt to  seek creative solutions to what appear to be intractable problems? Why are we not having a national conversation about making renewable energy systems more affordable, and their usage more widespread, in Ghana?

Portugal, according to a report in CleanTechnica,  was powered by 100% renewable energy, for 107 straight hours, from 6:45 am on 7th May,  to 5:45 pm on 11th May, 2016 - using electricity generated from hydro, wind and solar sources.

Should we not aim to put Ghana in a position to do so too should the need ever arise - if for some extraordinary reason the nation is unable to pay for the fossil fuels needed for Ghana's natural gas and oil-fired thermal power plants, for example?

If  our ruling elites were half as imaginative as the dynamic ruling elites of the United Arab Emirates, we would definitely be a global renewable energy superpower, by now. Should we not make becoming a global renewable energy  superpower a national goal, I ask?

Let those with curious minds, who like to read, take a look at the Positive Money website: www.internationalmoneyreform.org - and learn about the International Movement for Monetary Reform's (IMMR)  campaign  for the creation of money by Central Banks for the common good: instead of creating money to fatten the reserves of fatcat banks with "Quantitative Easing."

This blog's hope, is that #OccupyGhana, will set up an affiliate IMMR (Tel: +44 (0) 207 253 3235) organisation in Ghana - and lead a fight to reform the Bank of Ghana and make it create money to grow the real economy.

Could our own unique version of "Helicopter Money" or "QE for the people" not enable all in Ghana who want to do so,  purchase solar power systems, and pay back the "Helicopter Money" by installments - thus enabling them to purchsse rooftop solar  systems with battery storage, and large-scale thermal solar power systems with molten salts storage (and other types of storage technologies) painlessly?

All we would have to do, would be to use blockchain technology, to enable all those who want to switch to renewable energy systems, to open accounts with the Bank of Ghana -  all of which it would credit with "Helicopter Money" based on invoices for the purchase of their renewable energy systems and storage batteries. The suppliers' commercial bank accounts' would be directly credited with payments from purchasers' accounts  with the Bank of Ghana.

Transactions involving such accounts will be fraud-proof and tamper-proof because of the blockchain technology employed. If account holders only made monthly repayments that they could afford, would they not  all eventually repay the cost of the solar power systems, which they purchased with their "Helicopter Money," over the long-term, I ask?

The beauty, in Ghana's case of "Quantitative Easing for the masses," is that all that "Helicopter Money" would eventually be paid back - at account holders' own pace and ability to make repayments with amounts they can afford to part with.

Far better for the  Bank of Ghana to create  "Helicopter Money" or "Quantitative Easing" cash  for the masses - in accounts held by Ghanaians with it, who will then leverage it, to enable them attain off-grid energy independence, by purchasing renewable energy systems, with storage - than for sundry crooks in the system, to collude with corrupt public officials to devise siphoning-off-schemes, to enable them to steal taxpayers' money and get away with it.

Ghanaian businesses, large and small, and our nation's political parties, as well as households and individuals across the country, would do well to focus on the renewables sector, instead of relying solely on the overburdened national grid for their electricity supply - as the renewables sector has the potential to provide businesses, households, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, sundry state institutions and organisations, etc., etc. with affordable electricity.

Utility-scale thermal solar power plants with molten salts storage (and other types of storage technologies), and roof-top solar panel systems with battery storage, for example, could enable many businesses (micro, small and large) across Ghana to attain off-grid energy independence, whenever necessary.

For starters, why does the AGI's leadership, not look up RE100 - and start a similar initiative in Ghana, with the help of the Climate Group and the CDP?

Anyone who looks up the Climate Group's website for recent company news, will see how as they transition to a low-carbon global economy, forward-looking businesses elsewhere, are signing power purchase agreements with renewable energy companies, to power some of their operations - including manufacturing plants - with 100% solar and wind energy, to counter the negative impact on their bottom lines, of the high cost of electricity from their conventional-fuel powered  national electricity grids.

The question is: During their periodic meetings with European Union (EU) officials, in Ghana, why, for example, do government officials and the AGI's leadership, not point out the important role that Ghanaian industries - which provide tens of thousands of jobs for young people - can play in stemming the tide of economic migrants from Ghana to EU member states: when discussing EU initiatives to limit the flow of economic migrants from Africa to member-nations of the EU?

Surely, one of the most effective ways that the EU could help Ghanaian industrial concerns, to survive and grow - if it values the role they can play in helping young people to remain in Ghana and build their lives here instead of travelling to Europe in search of greener pastures that have long dried up - is to provide deserving private-sector entities in Ghana with grants for thermal solar power plants with storage systems?

In any case, hopefully, what those Fortune 500 companies, such as Johnson & Johnson, IKEA, Unilever and Nestle, which are part of the RE100 initiative - an initiative of the Climate Group of States and Regions and the CDP - are doing to lower their carbon footprints, as the world transitions to a low carbon economy, and at the same time protect  their company bottomlines, by switching to renewable energy,  ought to inspire the AGI's leaders, and open the eyes of members of our nation's political class, and Ghanaian society generally.

The only answer to high electricity tariffs is switching to renewable energy. And, as mentioned above,  there are creative ways through which Ghanaians can eventually pay for renewable power systems to give them the ability to have a degree of off-grid energy independence, when they need it.

And we need not reinvent the wheel in our case either: The promoters of Kenya's M-Kopa, for example, could be invited here to partner Ghana's Telcos and Ghanaian micro-entrepreneurs to provide  truly affordable rooftop solar systems for the masses, countrywide.

And IBM Research's Zurich lab's partner, AirLight Energy's subsidiary, D-Solar's Sunflower highly concentrated photovoltaic thermal solar power systems, with molten salts storage, could power factories, educational institutions, whole communities, etc., etc. across the country, and give all of them off-grid energy independence.

And we haven't even mentioned wind energy farms yet. Could the Shenzan Energy Group from China, and their Ghanaian partners,  not be encouraged to look for Chinese technical collaborators, and  funding, to build the world's largest wind energy farm off our coastline to produce say 10,000 MW of electricity - instead of attempting to foist coal-fired power plants on us?

And they could also collaborate with the Chinese solar energy giant, GCL Poly, to build major solar farms here too,come to think of it.

So brainstorming to find creative ways to pay for renewable power systems, for households and businesses in Ghana, is far better than wringing our hands in despair about the high cost of electricity produced by the fossil fuel-powered power plants, which generate electricity for our national grid.

That will not take us anywhere - so crafty politicians should stop using the high-cost of electricity in Ghana as an election campaign weapon-of-choice to enable them win power. Let them rather think up creative ideas about how we can fund the purchase of renewable energy systems for ordinary people and businesses (large and small) in our homeland Ghana.

Switching to renewable energy is the only answer to the high cost of electricity in Ghana. And that is what we should focus on - if we want affordable electricity for all in Ghana. Let us all think creatively for a change when confronted with such problems.

Some of us are begining to get thoroughly fed up with politicians who always complain about Ghana's many problems without ever offering their own solutions to those problems to the nation. Let them think solar power, and let them think wind energy, and, above all, let them be creative-thinkers for once, for a change. Haaba.

Renewable energy can indeed provide affordable electricity for all in our country - and it is definitely the answer to coping with  Ghana's high electricity tariff. Period.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Do Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo And Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia Have What It Takes To Govern Ghana Well?

I had a very interesting discussion recently, with a brilliant young acquintance of mine, who attends Regents University College of Science and Technology.

He wanted to know whether I thought the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) presidential candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and his running mate, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, would make suitable leaders for Ghana: "Could they usher in a new era of honest leadership in Ghana?"

It did not escape me that had this been any other society in the world, we would not have had to have such a conversation - as the vast majority of educated young people would be plumping for Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom: a far better leader for Ghana, at this particular juncture of our nation's history, than either the National Democratic Congress' (NDC) leader, and Ghana's President, John Dramani Mahama, or the NPP's  Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, could ever hope to be.

Alas, however, this is the Republic of Ghana - a sometimes pretty hard-to-understand African nation, whose much-abused populace, still stubbornly refuse to put on their thinking-caps, when it comes to voting to select their nation's leaders: and still cast votes for the very NDC/NPP duopoly  messing Ghana up with their Kokofu-football politricks.

And all that, incredibly, despite not having received their fair share of the so-called "democracy dividend"  to date - although year after year, they have been called on to make sacrifice upon sacrifice, whiles the nation's resources are divvied up by our kleptocratic educated urban elites: superintended over by successive regimes of the NDC/NPP duopoly.

Ordinary  Ghanaians have been led up the garden path ever since the 4th Republic came into being,  by the corrupt and incompetent constituent parts of the NDC/NPP duopoly, which  unfortunately still dominate our country.

Yet, ordinary people in Ghana (who make up an overwelming majority of voters but don't seem to realise the power they wield as a group), continue to vote in blinkered fashion, for the same political parties slowly ruining our homeland Ghana. How very strange - and so sad.

That notwithstanding, to answer his question, I began by pointing out to him,  just how similar to the late 19th century U.S. political machines the two largest political parties in Ghana actually are. Dispensing patronage from the presidency, has been at the root of high-level corruption in our homeland Ghana, since the 4th Republic came into being.

And, as it will no doubt be recalled by some, a former chairperson of the NPP, Haruna Esseku, once complained bitterly, that President Kufuor was receiving kickbacks at the Osu Castle - then the seat of government - but was hanging on to virtually all of it: and starving the party of funds. Classic.

U.S. political machines  dominated the politics of some of the biggest cities in the United States of America, such as New York City, Kansas City, Philadelphia and Chicago, during the late 1800s and early 1900s, and were bywords for corruption. Tammany Hall's infamous 'Boss" Tweed is a classic example of this breed of corrupt late19th century U. S. politician.

Alas, the trouble for our homeland Ghana, is that the NDC/NPP duopoly has its fair share of corrupt politicians of that ilk.

When in power, both the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), and the largest of the opposition parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), are controlled by super-ruthless and powerful cabals.

And  cynical and amoral extremists in  both parties have worked hard to sabotage the nation-building effort when in the political wilderness as the biggest opposition parties. Sadly, it is ordinary people in Ghana who have borne the brunt of that unpatriotic, nation-wrecking type of politricks - as their scorched-earth strategies take a toll on the national economy: and create hardship in local economies across the nation. Pity.

The members of those powerful cabals, use patronage as a means of control, and, like gangster-politicians the world over, leverage sleight of hand money-laundering schemes to enable them hide the sources of the secret mountains of cash,  which they recieve from the very vested interests that exploit endemic corruption in Ghana, to enable them control our leaders, and the system, from the shadows.

The two parties are ponderous creatures, tailor-made for our corrupt system, and perfectly suited for use as special-purpose vehicles enabling outwardly respectable thieves - keen to enrich themselves through high-level corruption at the expense of taxpayers - to play key roles as major stakeholders.

And those key stakeholders in the NDC/NPP duopoly, seek political power, only for the pupose of sending their net worth to stratospheric heights. Nothing more, nothing less, alas.

That is why when either of those two parties is in the political wilderness, no matter how vociferous their condemnation of the ruling party, might be - for allegedly running a corrupt and incompetent administration - they never once call for political parties to publicly publish all the sources of their funding.

Yet, such a development will be an effective anti-corruption measure, which will  encourage good governance in our homeland Ghana - and make for a more transparent and  accountable system. It is the one measure that will remove thieves from our nation's politics - and keep them away from seeking political power to rip Mother Ghana off through crony-capitalism.

Neither do we hear either of the two parties'  leaders' demanding that all government ministers and appointees, and high-level public officials, as well as their spouses, should publicly publish their assets - before assuming office and immediately after the end of their tenures - whiles in the political wilderness: and awaiting their turn to participate in the brutal gang-rape of Mother Ghana.

If Ghanaians want their country to actually grow and prosper, in inclusive fashion that sees living standards rising for all the different strata of Ghanaian society, then discerning young Ghanaians, who are well-educated and can think independently, ought to start demanding that Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, should declare their stand on this all-important matter.

The time has now come for the NPP's presidential canidate, and his running mate, to do the decent thing, and state categorically, and unambiguously, whether or not they are committed to all politicians running for office in Ghana,  publicly publishing their assets,  and those of their spouses, before elections and before assuming office - and immediately after the end of their tenures.

Ditto whether or not they are also committed to political parties publicly publishing all their sources of funding, and listing the various amounts donated by each contributor of those funds. They must no longer be allowed to remain silent on this issue.

As things currently stand, they are taking Ghanaians for granted and assuming that they can get a free-pass to power,  without ever committing to those two simple anti-corruption measures outlined above. To quote my brilliant young acquaintance: "That is an outrage - and dishonest to boot."

It is the litmus test of the suitability of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia to govern the Republic of Ghana. If Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom could meet that simple accountability test in the December 2012 elections, why can't the NPP's Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo.Addo and Dr. Bawumuia do so too before this year's elections?

If they fail that litmus test, then, clearly, they are not fit to govern our great nation. That is why the nation awaits the public declaration of their assets and those of their spouses - ditto the public publication of all the sources of their party's election campaign funds.

If Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, either fail  or refuse to commit to this simple but effective anti-corruption measure, which will prove beyond doubt that they indeed intend to usher in a new era of honest leadership in Ghana, this blog will boldly make a few predictions about Ghana under Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo's leadership.

Although he will continue to remain personally incorruptible, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo's NPP administration, will turn out to be the most corrupt and disorganised regime ever seen in Ghana.  And some of his family members will control a looting-brigade greedier than even the infamous General Sani Abacha, Nigerias's late kleptocratic military despot.

There will be great disappointment throughout the country. And fear will return to Ghana. Dr. Bawumia, will turn out to be the unhappiest and most miserable vice-president in the history of the 4th Republic - because he will be sidelined, abused and disrespected, by those who will actually control the country.

And, wonder of wonders, the then former President Mahama, will become the most loved and admired political figure in  Ghana, during the tenure of an unpopular and much-loathed President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. A President Akufo-Addo's unpopularity will result from the highhandedness of many of those around him.

Hopefully, all that can be avoided - by the simple measure of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, publicly publishing their assets, and those of their spouses. Ditto publicly publishing all the sources of the NPP's election campaign funds. Alas, it is only then that some of us will take them seriously as potential transformational leaders.

That is why this  blog certainly hopes that they will publicly publish their assets and those of their spouses soon - for the sake of Mother Ghana. Ditto publicly publish the sources of their party's campaign funds (and state the amounts donated by each contributor on that list). Hmm, Ghana - eyeasem o: asem kesie ebeba debi ankasa.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Rescind Decision To Allow The Shenzen Energy Group To Build A Coal-Fired Power Plant In Ghana

There are times, when it is pretty hard not to come to the sad conclusion that the national interest is being sacrificed, by corrupt politicians and dishonest senior public officials, in pursuit of obtaining kickbacks for themselves.

That is almost always the case, when governments of the day, take certain decisions that no government, which truly has the welfare of its people at heart, and seeks the well-being of the nation it governs, at all material times, will ever consider taking.

The extremely foolish and  short-sighted decision, to allow China's Shenzan Energy Group to build a coal-fired power plant in the Central Region, is one such perniciuos example.

This blog confidently predicts - were the said power plant to be built - that over time, as sure as day follows night,  the vast majority of Ghanaians will eventually come to realise that it was most reprehensible, for the Mahama administration to allow the building of such  a power plant, in Ghana.

Alas, just as pertains in the communities surrounding South Africa's Eskom's coal-fired power plants, tens of thousands of individuals in the area of the Central Region, where the Shenzen Energy Group's proposed coal-fired power plant will be sited, will continually suffer and die from respiratory diseases - caused by regularly breathing in particulates and other health-damaging pollutants contained in its emissions. Pity.

Incidentally, the same callous disregard for the national interest, occurred, when the New Patriotic Party (NPP) regime of President Kufuor,  opted for the bid by the then AngloGold, for the now-defunct Ashanti Goldfields, over the far better deal that Randgold Resources was offering our homeland Ghana, at the time.

That egregious one-sided transaction, was a very bad deal for Mother Ghana - and some of us predicted that it would definitely end in tears. It has. And, some. And, how. We have been proved right. It turns out we were indeed prescient at the time. Pity.

Today, as a business, the fabled Obuasi mine of AngloGold Ashanti, is in shambles and complete disarray - whiles Randgold Resources' mines across Africa, are still making profits: bucking  a global gold mining industry-wide trend, because of its cost-cutting prowess, and innovative management.

At the time of the takeover battle for Ashanti Goldfields, some of us suggested that it was far better for the NPP government to accept the rival bid from Randgold Resources, which would have meant that the nation would be able to continue holding on to the government's all-important golden share in Ashanti Goldfields, and, crucially, also meant that the newly-merged and enlarged pan-African gold mining company, would be headquartered and domiciled in Ghana. We were ignored.

All those selfish and callous individuals in the Volta River Authority (VRA), who know perfectly well, that our technically-challenged politicians depend on  them, to make such crucial decisions for the nation, should bow their heads in shame. A coal-fired power plant in this day and age? Incredible.

At a time of global climate change, they have shown the world that today's crop of engineers and  technocrats at the VRA, are not in the same league as their predecessors - who were definitely world-class and worked for a VRA that was a  truly world-class organisation.

Alas, the VRA was dismembered by thoughtless bean-counters, who could not see beyond their noses, and knew the price of everything under the African sun, but hadn't the faintest idea what their real values actually were.

The question is: Why are those geniuses who now run the VRA not looking to the example of those farsighted Arab leaders, in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates, who, as a result of the advances made in solar energy and battery storage technologies, are now focusing on  renewables, such as utility-scale thermal solar power plants with molten salts storage, to help secure the long-term futures of their societies?

Hmm, Ghana - enti yeweiye paa enei? Asem kesie ebeba debi ankasa. How Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's brilliant first President, must be turning in his grave. Hmm, eyeasem o.

Ghana is not a banana republic that canny Chinese businesspeople  can lead up the proverbial garden path at will. Enough is enough. Haaba. With such mind-numbing idiocy, why won't the perception that this is an incompetent and corrupt regime, gain ground, across the nation: especially when such horrendous decisions are allowed to be foisted on government ministers by self-seeking senior public officials, I ask?

With their infernal insularity, and narrow-minded professional outlook, one doubts very much whether those geniuses at the VRA, are even aware that with the closure of South Australia's last coal-fired power plant, solar and wind have now emerged as base-load power generators, in that part of Australia. Well, they have, actually - surprising though that might be to those sodden geniuses.

Since it is him, not those insufferable geniuses at the VRA, whom the people of the Central Region will forever curse, and posterity will judge harshly, if that confounded coal-fired power plant is ever allowed to be built, President Mahama - who incidentally is co-chair, together with Norwegian Prime Minister, Ms. Erna Solberg,  of the 16 UN SDGs Advocates, as it happens - must personally step in, and ask the Minister for Power to demand that the VRA immediately rescinds its odd decision, to embark on this unwise and most counter-productive of emerging market energy projects: for the sake of the well-being of Mother Ghana and the health of ordinary Ghanaians.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Politicians Instigating Violence During And After Polling Day This November Must Be Arrested And Swiftly Prosecuted

It is important that a consensus is built amongst the political parties in Ghana, and the leaderships of the security agencies, on what will be needed to be done to prevent violence at polling stations, from spiralling out of control, during the November elections. Ditto a consensus on how to deal effectively with politicians instigating violence across the nation by their supporters.

The relevant Select Committees of Parliament, will serve Mother Ghana well, by asking the government to empower the security agencies, to enable them effectively ensure  the nation's stability, by providing them with all the logistics they will need, to prevent the  country from descending into violence and chaos, during polling day, and in the immediate aftermath of this November's elections.

Such are the troubling times we live in, today, that the good people of this country,  need to make it plain to politicians (from across the spectrum) that all material times, they are prepared to use the law courts, to fight to protect our nation's democratic system, from being destroyed by politically-instigated violence and high-level corruption (to fund election campaigns).

#OccupyGhana is showing leadership in that regard. The twin scourges of high-level corruption, and violence instigated by intolerant politicians, pose real threats to the long-term stability of our country. As the November polls approach, we must make sure that both those twin evils, don't end up destroying our nation.

As democracy's many critics around the world never cease pointing out, the democratic system of government, does indeed have  many faults.

However, democracy's saving grace, is that it is underpinned by a Constitution,  which defines the roles of the three arms of government, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, and gives them countervailing powers, to prevent any one of them from dominating society.

The Constitution also guarantees the fundamental rights of the citizenry - which include the right to freedom of expression and the right to freely associate with others.

The Constitution protects Ghanaians from arbitrary action by those who act on behalf of the state - by making available to them a recourse to the law courts when their rights are abused.

Yet another pivotal right of the citizenry, is the right to select those who govern the nation, at regular set intervals, in free and fair elections. It is this that sets the democratic system of government apart from all the other systems of government, and makes it the best system of government currently known to humankind.

That is what leads some to say that the worst governments in democracies are far better than the best governments under military dictatorships - for the worst governments in democracies can be booted out of office when the citizenry feel the need for a change of government during elections: whereas that is virtually impossible under military dictatorships.

Ghanaians must treasure their nation's democracy. To prevent a descent into violence and chaos during this November's elections, it is vital that all the political parties, and the leaderships of all the security agencies, agree on a comprehensive plan, to deal with those who attempt to disrupt voting on polling day.

And the leaderships of the security agencies should draw up a strategic plan to enable Parliament to give them emergency powers, in advance, acting in concert with the government of the day, to impose curfews in parts of the country where violence breaks out after the elections, to enable them stop the spread of violence and chaos across the country.

The effective way that the Ghana Police Service (GhPS), dealt with the troublemakers amongst the Let My Vote Count Alliance's (LMVCA) membership, who deviated from the approved route the LMVCA's leaders had agreed in advance with the GhPS, should serve as an example to the leaders of all the security agencies, in dealing with lawless elements bent on causing destruction for political purposes.

Above all, they must draw up a list of all the verbally-aggressive and violence-prone politicians, who incite the myrmidon-types who follow political parties in such  blinkered fashion, and put in place a plan to arrest and swiftly prosecute them, should widespread violence breakout after the elections,

After all, do the Western democracies not monitor extremists in their midst closely, by mounting round-the-clock surveillance on them - to stop them from endangering their democratic systems? The time has come for our security agencies to do so too, to protect our democratic system.

This blog recommends that the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) Bernard Antwi-Boasiakos, and the National Democratic Congress' (NDC) Robert Owusus, and their ilk, should  be put at the very top of that all-important list.

 It says a great deal about the nature of our nation's politics that such amoral, callous, ruthless and violent-natured individuals can rise to prominent positions in political parties in Ghana.

What motives them to get into politics, and what ends do they seek, in their quest for power, one wonders? There is nothing manly about being violent.  It is barbarism, pure and simple. Real men, in politics, out-think and out-manoeuvre their opponents. They do not visit mayhem upon them.

Such politicians must not think that they can plunge our homeland Ghana into chaos and get away with it. No, they won't go scot free if they instigate violence anywhere in Ghana, during and after this November's polls. Never. Just who do these arrogant nation-wreckers think they are?

If they threaten the stability of our homeland Ghana in any way, they must all be arrested, prosecuted and jailed - especially if they instigate violence anywhere in Ghana this November. Some of us are thoroughly fed up with their arrogant disregard for the rights of others and obvious disdain for the  rule of law. Enough is enough. Haaba.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

The NCA Must Ignore Ghana's Telcos' Gripe Over OTT Providers

The Luddite attitude of telecommunications companies in Ghana, which want the industry regulator, the National Communications Authority (NCA), to regulate Over-The-Top (OTT) apps and services - such as the free messaging and internet-based voice calls, provided by Facebook, Google, Skype, WhatsApp and Viber - as a backdoor means to enable them charge customers for their usage, is not surprising in the slightest.

What the NCA ought to point out to the Telcos, is that no one can stop the march of progress - moreso, when in this particular instance, the selfsame Telcos asking to be allowed to charge for OTT apps and services, are now eating into our national economy's banking and insurance sectors'  markets, with their mobile money transfer services and insurance products: both made possible by the smartphone and mobile wireless technological revolutions. How ironical.

How would they have felt, when they first started offering mobile money services in Ghana, if the banking industry's regulator, the Bank of Ghana, had ruled that Telcos could not offer their customers mobile money services because only financial services sector entities can offer such services in Ghana?

Incidentally, yet another soon-to-be-realised benefit for the Telcos, will be the ability to use blockchain technology to enable their customers to receive remittances from abroad, directly to their smartphones, as mobile money, in what will be a fraud-free and  hard-to-hack service. The Telcos should google "Abra" for an example of the bonanza that awaits them soon - as a result of the march of progress in technological advancement.

They had better wake up from their deep greed-induced slumber and think of innovative ways that will enable them hold on to their customers - for the technology now exists to enable billions across the globe to use their smartphones to make and receive limitless, crystal-clear  satellite phone calls that never "drop," and limitless always-on internet access, regardless of where in the world they are positioned.

The Russian startup, Yaliney, is proposing to charge a fee of U.S.$10 per month, for just such a service.

They will have a constellation of 135 satellites, on a circular orbit at 600 kilometres altitude, which will cover the whole earth, including the oceans. That will mean countrywide access for their customers in Ghana, for example - be it in far-flung rural areas or in parts of towns and cities currently lumbered with poor coverage by the perfidious  Telcos in Ghana.

Google has also invested in Tesla Motors' Elon Musk's SpaceEx for exactly the same reason.

And Yahclick, a cost-effective satellite broadband service provider, set up by the Abu Dhabi government-owned satellite company, Yahsat, aims to target markets in Africa, such as Rwanda and DR Congo, too.

Perchance, will the Telcos turn to the NCA, to try and frustrate that new technological development  too - instead of leveraging what will in any case pose a latent threat to their business models, when they are eventually rolled out, one wonders? Hmm, Ghana - eyeasem o. Asem kesie ebeba debi ankasa.

The NCA should simply ignore that Luddite request from the Telcos that they should be allowed to charge customers for the use of OTT services such as WhatsApp, Viber and Skype. Talk about a greed-filled industry burying its collective head in hot sand. It just does not make sense.

The question is: To be able to make free WhatsApp, Skype and Viber voice calls, does one not need to have internet access, to begin with - which one has to pay through the nose for? So what exactly are the Telcos in Ghana complaining about? Do they expect to eat their collective cake, and still continue to have it? Surely, not?

The Telcos have taken their customers in Ghana for granted for far too long. They should be thinking of more creative ways to enable their customers enjoy world-class services from players in the industry - instead of dreaming up new shortsighted rip-off schemes to cheat mobile phone users in Ghana, who pay the earth for poor-quality voice calls and  super-expensive internet data bundles: but have to up with their dreadful services.  Enough is enough. Haaba.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Should The Voting Age In Ghana Be Lowered To 16?

The unfortunate incidents of pockets of violence, which marred the otherwise relatively peaceful just-ended limited voter registration exercise, organised by the Electoral Commission of Ghana (EC), ought to worry every Ghanaian, who actually cares about the stability of our homeland Ghana.

In light of the tensions such incidents of violence generate, as a people, would it not be wise to remove what has become  a major bone of contention between the major political parties, the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), and the largest of the opposition parties, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) - the alleged registration of minors and objection to same by party agents - by lowering the voting age to the age of consent for consensual sex in Ghana: the age 16?

Like many of my year group's peers, when I  completed my fifth form at Prempeh College, in 1970, at Kumasi, I had just turned 16 - and was quite clued on. I am pretty sure that I would have thought through which candidates to vote for, very carefully, if Ghanaians were then allowed to vote in national elections, at 16.

16-year olds are allowed to vote in some elections in Cuba, Brazil, Austria, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey. If it has not brought any catastrophe to those societies, will our country not benefit from doing so too - and enable the EC to register new voters peacefully?

What political party's leaders would have to worry about the possible registration of minors by their opponents, and expend their energies scheming to counter that, across the nation - if the voting in Ghana is lowered to 16, I ask? None.

To ensure peaceful and trouble-free voter registration exercises, in future,  should we not consider lowering the voting age to 16, for the common good - as that will  remove a major source of friction between the political parties:  and considerably lessen the burden placed on EC officials, during voter registration periods, in our homeland Ghana? Food for thought.

Monday, 9 May 2016

An Open Letter To The Hon. Dr. Omane Boamah - Ghana's Minister For Communications

Dear Hon. Omane Boamah,

Years ago, when you first joined the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of President Mills, as deputy minister for environment and science, I came to see you, to try and get the illegal gold mining and illegal logging then being carried out at Akyem Juaso, halted, by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
As you are no doubt aware, President Mahama has been appointed co-chairperson (together with Norway's Prime Minister Ms. Erna Solberg) of the sixteen eminent persons from around the globe, designated as United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Advocates, by the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon.

The rogue officials in Ghana who collude with the wealthy criminal syndicates behind most of the illegal logging and illegal gold mining around the country - by making available to them bogus documentation to enable them get away with their crimes - are directly undermining President Mahama's position as co-chairperson of the UN SDGs Advocates.

As we speak, investigations are underway at Akyem Juaso,  following petitions made by me recently, to the Director-General of the Criminal Investigations Department, at the Police Headquarters, the head of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources.

Sir, take it from me that the only way to ascertain what is actually going on in that section of the Atewa Range upland evergreen rainforest - apart from using drones and looking at  Urthecast satellite images of the area - is for the investigators to use Ghana Air Force helicopters to fly over the area, for a bird's eye view of the egregious destruction, which is now going on in what is part of a designated Globally Significant Biodiversity Area (GSBA), which is habitat to many flora and fauna, some found nowhere else in the world.

To save the honour of President Mahama, as co-chairperson of the UN SDGs Advocates, please ensure that helicopters from the Ghana Air Force are made available to the said investigators (and if the Okyehene can be invited to join them perhaps  he will finally come to see why Akyem Abuakwa is indeed the galamsey capital of Ghana) - as none of the villagers, including our own caretakers, will willingly volunteer to take those investigators to the parts of that very important upland evergreen rainforest, where scores of trees have been felled, and continue to be felled.

Naturally, they are all scared of the retribution that will follow when the investigators depart. Yet, it has been an open secret for years that truckloads of bush-cut chainsaw lumber depart from the area on a regular basis (with the recent added sophistication of abusing the system of  covering Forestry Division conveyance documents) to be sold at Muus, near Taifa junction in Accra.

If you are unable to arrange for the Ghana Air Force to take the investigators in their helicopters to fly over that section of the Atewa Range upland evergreen rainforest, to see for themselves what is actually going on - as opposed to the false reports from the selfsame Forestry Commission's Forestry Division's rogue officials who are colluding with the illegal loggers and the illegal gold miners - I shall be forced to ask the global campaign group, Avaaz.org, to organise a global email petition addressed to President Mahama, Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg and the UN Secretary General, to demand action from your regime, to bring that abomination to an end immediately.

Honourable Minister, I am now an old man who is weak and literally dying - and want to see an end to this outrage before I go to meet my Maker.

Finally - no doubt  to teach me a lesson for my persistence over the years - upon hearing that I have been quite ill, illegal gold miners have invaded part of the P. E. Thompson Estate's 14-square mile freehold upland evergreen rainforest property at Akyem Juaso.

I am also aware that some of the rogues in your administration, who hate my guts for regularly criticising your hard-of-hearing regime, are doing everything possible to stop investigations into the crime against humanity, which the illegal logging and illegal gold mining in a biodiversity hotspot of global importance, represents.

How can this happen in a nation in which the rule of law is said to prevail, I ask? What serious green impact-investor will come to a country in which such monstrous things are allowed to happen - even in designated GSBAs?

Please do something to end this abominable crime against humanity once and for all. Enough is enough.


Yours in the service of Mother Ghana,

Kofi Thompson.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Should Ghanaians Entrust Their Nation To The NPP?

Should the people of Ghana entrust their nation to the New Patriotic Party (NPP)? Should an opposition party, dominated by violence-prone and criticism-averse politicians, who resort to intimidation and violence to silence their critics, and opponents, be trusted with power in our peaceful democracy?

The short answer to that is: definitely not - not when there is a far better alternative for our homeland Ghana, than the nest of vipers that the NPP has become today. Incidentally, most Ghanaians also agree that there is a need to rid our country, of President Mahama's hard-of-hearing National Democratic Congress (NDC) regime.

Alas, both the NPP and NDC are beholden to the very vested interests, which are milking Mother Ghana dry. The plain truth, is that none of their presidential candidates - though good and decent gentlemen on a purely human level - will be good for our nation, as its leader, after this November's presidential election.

Current events show clearly, that  to entrust our nation to the NPP, as presently constituted in its leadership, would be to imperil individual liberties in our country: including the right to freely speak our minds and associate with like-minded fellow citizens.

#OccupyGhana's Sydney Casely-Hayford, was reported to have stated recently that Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, is the best president Ghana will never have. The tragedy for our homeland Ghana, is that perversely, it is a widely-held but unexpressed viewpoint, which is  shared by many middle-class Ghanaians.

Many in that key demographic, see the world-class Groupe Nduom conglomerate, built from scratch, by Nduom and his wife, as solid evidence of Nduom's leadership qualities, and his ability to execute ideas successfully, in serial fashion.

There is no question that a majority of independent-minded, middle-class professionals,  in our country, would dearly like Nduom to run the enterprise Ghana.

If only the Nkrumahist parties would unite and offer Ghanaians a viable alternative to the NDC/NPP duopoly - as Nkrumahists did to enable President Limman win power in 1979 - and select Nduom as their presidential candidate, that will enable many ordinary people to vote for him in November's presidential election. Not many voters feel inclined to vote for the presidential candidate of a small political party, alas.

As a results-oriented leader, he dwarfs both the NDC's President Mahama and the NPP's Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo - and towers far above both in adherence to leadership underpinned by ethics and demonstrable good governance principles.

Alas, however, too many ordinary Ghanaians are unfortunately still stuck in the "My party, my tribe, right or wrong" mode of thinking, which makes them vote consistently, either for the NDC, or the NPP.

Yet, over the years, those two opaque and vested-interests-besotted-and-controlled political parties,  have been taking turns to ruin Mother Ghana and impoverish ordinary people - the hapless  millions that the two perfidious political parties have demanded sacrifice after sacrifice from, whiles in power.

Has the time not now come for ordinary people in Ghana to enjoy their share of the democracy dividend, too?

The question for #OccupyGhana's founders and membership is: What creative ideas do they have, to enable them convince ordinary Ghanaians to stop supporting the NDC/NPP duopoly, blindly, and plump instead for Nduom in the 2016 presidential election?

Hardliners in both the NDC and NPP will never readily accept the election results,  if either party's presidential candidate  loses to their rival party's candidate. And as sure as day follows night, widespread violence will be instigated by them, after the elections, for that reason.

It is said that coming events cast their shadows. The writing on the proverbial wall is bold enough  for those who have eyes to see clearly - in the "boot-for-boot" uncompromising posture adopted by the NDC/NPP duopoly's respective violence-prone hardliners.

It is obvious that for the NDC/NPP duopoly's ruthless, violent and verbally-aggressive dimwits, candidates of the parties in the NDC/NPP duopoly emerging victorious in the November presidential and parliamentary elections, is clearly a do-or-die affair. That is why the good people of Ghana must not allow them to push our country over the precipice, for that reason, under any circumstances.

A vote for Nduom will neatly avert the possibility of any post-election violence. One hopes that patriotic and independent-minded individuals, and non-partisan pro-Ghana civil society organisations, such as #OccupyGhana, realise that potential threat posed by the NDC/NPP duopoly's violence-prone hardliners, to peace and stability in Ghana, after the November elections.

The irritating thing, about the arrogance of the NDC/NPP duopoly,  is that it has become abundantly clear to the world at large, that at a point in time in our nation's history, when Ghanaians want politicians and their spouses to publicly publish their assets, and for political parties to publicly publish the sources of their campaign funds, as effective anti-corruption measures, both those corrupt and opaque political parties - which are not enthused by such a development - are no longer fit-for-purpose political organisations, in the 21st century Ghana, of today.

Today,  our peaceful and democratic  nation's aspirational and resourceful younger generation, who are educated, want their nation to be led by a disciplined and dynamic president, who can transform Ghana into an African equivalent of the egalitarian societies of Scandinavia - and has a stellar track record to prove his or her ability to do so.

Ghana cannot continue to mark time. Not when it has the potential to become a prosperous society. And there is no time to waste.

To avoid having their country destroyed by the intense rivalry between the NDC and NPP, educated young Ghanaians would be wise to reject both President Mahama, and Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo - and vote for Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom instead.

What Ghana needs is a transformational leader with moral authority that commands the respect of all Ghanaians - someone who is honest,  decisive, capable and effective, who has a moral compass and is not beholden to the vested interests now controlling Ghana from the shadows. That is the kind of leader Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom  has proven to be. He will lead the transformation of Ghana if elected president this November.

Luckily, the vast majority of ordinary Ghanaians are convinced beyond doubt, that the nation needs a change of leadership - and should  elect new leaders that can bring an end to our discredited system that has been exploited so ruthlessly by the NDC/NPP duopoly. A government led by Nduom will bring about that much needed transformation.

An NPP, the acting national chairperson of which has made plain, will not commit to a policy that will make it mandatory for government appointees, and their spouses, to publicly publish their assets immediately before assuming office, and immediately after the end of their tenures, cannot possibly bring about a paradigm shift in our homeland Ghana.

The plain truth, is that Ghanaians  will only end up  getting more of the same create-loot-and-share politricks, if the NPP takes charge of the executive branch of government, after this November's presidential election.

As we speak, true to form, the NPP's leadership has not committed to a policy that will make it mandatory for political parties in Ghana to publicly publish all the sources of their campaign funds, and the amounts donated by each of  those sources. How can such a political party bring about radical change in Ghana, I ask?

Furthermore, most Ghanaians also want those in the current regime who have enriched themselves illegally, at the expense of the ordinary people of Ghana, to be investigated, prosecuted and jailed for causing financial loss to Ghanaians and their country, as well as for illegally amassing wealth. Ditto those who served in the two Kufuor administrations.

Is it not instructive that Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom is the only politician thus far, who has promised to probe all the regimes that have held power, since the 4th Republic came into being? Neither President Mahama nor Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo will ever have the courage do so - for obvious reasons: the self-preservation of the corrupt and powerful crooks in the midst of their parties.

Yet it is vital that that accountability exercise is carried out to restore faith in our institutions of state amongst ordinary people - who will then be reassured that the rule of law indeed prevails in  Ghana.

Finally, if even before they win power - and despite the endless accusations of corruption that they have levelled against President Mahama and his regime - the Freddie Blays, the Bernard Antwi-Boasiakos, and the rest of the leading lights of the NPP, arrogantly refuse to commit to publicly publishing their assets and those of their spouses,  and also refuse to publicly publish all the sources of their party's campaign funds, before the November elections, why should Ghanaians entrust Mother Ghana to the NPP?

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

It Is Reprehensible For Ghanaian Politicians To Use Religion As A Political Campaign Tool

It is such a pity that Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the running mate of the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) presidential candidate, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo,  seems to have been infected by the virus of cynicism that is slowly destroying Ghanaian democracy.

The question is: How can such a decent and highly-intelligent gentleman - knowing fully well, the incendiary nature of religious extremism - insinuate that somehow Muslims are being discriminated against in the allocation of appointments at the presidency: in what after all is a secular state?

Religious extremism can turn even the mildest individuals, and the gentliest of souls, into callous and murderous terrorists. For that reason, we must not allow politicians in Ghana to use religion as a political tool, in their politicking. Ever.

Recently, two kind-hearted and very religious "born-again" Christians, who came to pray for me when they heard that I was quite ill, shocked me terribly, when they dismissed all those who haven't accepted Jesus Christ as their personal saviour, more or less as persona non grata, all bound for hell.

That kind of hardline religious fundamentalism is not the most helpful of positions for the religious in society to adopt in an age of global terrorism. The need for tolerance  in all aspects of our national life, has never been greater, at any given point in time in our history, thus far, than today.

Given the recent spate of terrorist attacks in West Africa, by Islamic extremists,  it is important for all Christians in Ghana, to see those with different faiths from theirs, as God's children too - who are to be embraced and welcomed as members of God's global interfaith community. It is called religious tolerance.

In a sense, are all the major religions of the world, not travelling on different paths to get to the same destination, metaphorically?

We must also not forget that Boko Haram started off as a radical religious movement to enforce Sharia law and demand the rejection of Western education, by a few Islamic fundamentalists in Nigeria's northern states.

Alas, initially, some saw them as pious but backward Islamists, who could not possibly pose a threat to Nigeria's stability.

Yet, today, despite the fact that it is still only a minority Islamist group, we are all bearing witness to the fact that Boko Haram has ended up becoming a Frankenstein monster - maiming and murdering tens of thousands in terrorist attacks on innocent people across Nigeria.

The ordinary people of Ghana do not want a similar tragedy to occur in their homeland Ghana too. Most ordinary people in Ghana want their country to remain one in which Muslims and Christians live in harmony with each other, across the nation.

That is why all the members of Ghana's political class must remember, at all material times, that Ghana is a secular state, whose constitution guarantees religious freedom for the entire citizenry.

There is no religious discrimination in Ghana. To claim otherwise is to be disingenuous and mischievous. One doubts very much, whether there are any Muslims anywhere in Ghana, who can truthfully say that they feel discriminated against, on account of their religion.

Above all, it is important to make the point that  religious faith has absolutely no bearing whatsoever, on appointments made to fill vacant public-sector positions, in our nation. We should keep it that way if we want our country to remain stable and peaceful.

It is important, for that reason, that the cynical Dr. Bawumias - yes, we must call a spade a spade, at such times - in our midst, do not resort to  using religion as a political tool to campaign for power, in this November's presidential and parliamentary elections. To do so would really be reprehensible, unpardonable and abominable, on their part. Period.