Friday, 31 March 2017

The NPP's Kennedy Adjapongs Must Find Creative Ways To Get Private-Sector Jobs For Their Party's Militia Members

Is the Hon Kennedy Adjapong, the New Patriotic Party (NPP)   member of Parliament  for Assin Central,  someone who does any creative thinking, ever,  at all, one wonders

One is forced  to ask that question simply because at a time when terrorist organisations are active in our sub-region, and Ghana thefore requires well-trained and professional personnel for its security agencies, no creative thinker would ever dream of demanding that members of the NPP 's private militias, the so-called Invincible Forces and Delta Force, should be recruited into any of the entities in the national security apparatus, merely as a job-creation excercise.

On the contrary, today, would the mind of a wealthy and  responsible man, who thinks creatively, not rather be exercised by  how he could help turn all of those mostly thuggish semi-literates into successful entrepreneurs - or security contractors for big private-sector companies?

Since his party is now in power the question is: Why does the verbose and uncouth Hon Kennedy Adjapong simply not ask the managements of all the big gold mining companies in Ghana to outsource the task of protecting their concessions to the Invincible Forces and Delta Force?

Our gallant men and  women of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) would then not have to prostitute the honour of the GAF - by being exploited by gold mining companies: to help them get away with with ripping  Mother Ghana off so ruthlessly over the years.

One doubts very much whether those soldiers detailed to guard the concessions of perfidious gold mining companies don't actually even resent being forced to supress and  oppress rural communities  - who are right to feel outraged that  their natural heritage is being destroyed for private profit by ruthless gold mining companies: to enrich their already wealthy shareholders yet further.

Could that project not  begin with AngloGoldAshanti - which apparently wants  Ghana's military to protect its  Obuasi concession from illegal gold miners: but might  be happy to outsource that task to (and pay) those two NPP private militias to do so for them, for all we know?

And could those Invincible Forces and Delta Force members who would rather prefer to establish their own small-scale businesses not be trained to grow mushrooms, for example,  by the Food Research Institute (FRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) - and contracts found for them to supply  leading supermarket chains, such as Shoprite, with  fresh mushrooms regularly, I ask? Hmm, Ghana - eyeasem o.

Would that not help resolve a huge problem now confronting the governing party:  finding gainful employment for the ruthless thugs it caused to be  recruited and had hoped to rely on, were  the results of the 2106 presidential election to have ever been disputed?

Is the creative private-sector approach to tackling the problem, outlined above, not a simple and neat solution to what should never have become a problem - if the NPP's verbally-aggressive and boorish Kennedy Adjapongs had put their sodden thinking caps on after winning power, in the first place? Haaba.

Finally, as our widow's might contribution to the training and conversion of those myrmidon-types, from lawless and brutish thugs  into productive citizens, all contributing their fair share of taxes for the nation-building effort, this blog is posting a culled article by's Nina Zipkin, which gives good advice for entrepreneurs that we believe would be extremely useful for such Invincible Forces and Delta Force members keen to become businesspeople and make money by their own sweat and through honest means.

Please read on:

"Nina Zipkin

Staff Writer. Covers media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

March 29, 2017

The life of an entrepreneur is often beset with obstacles. Every founder, no matter how successful they are now had a moment when they weren’t sure that they were heading in the right direction. During these times, they focus on the well-intentioned pieces of advice from people they look up to, have found success or are just a supportive figure in their life.

We asked 10 entrepreneurs to share with us the advice they have received that means the most to them. Read on for the words that helped them pursue their goals and focus on what is important to them.

1. Don’t give in to the doubts of others.
Image credit: Brit + Co

Name: Brit Morin
Company: Brit + Co

Advice: Make your passion into a career and don’t let anyone bring you down for trying to do something good for the world.
Read more about Morin: This Founder Shares the Secret to How to Make Your Business Last

2. Focus your time on the activities that energize you.
Image credit: Duolingo

Name: Luis von Ahn
Company: Duolingo

Advice: I was complaining that I didn't want to give a talk that I had promised to do. They said to me, with things like talks, you usually get asked to do them a year in advance. The advice was, if you are ever invited to do something six months or more in advance, ask yourself if you would want to do this if it was next week. If it’s no, you should just decline.

Read more about von Ahn: Why This Founder Says the Worst Advice He Ever Got Was to Listen to His Users

3. Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams.
Image credit: Food52

Name: Merrill Stubbs
Company: Food52

Advice: I was in a job with horrible boss, and one of my best friends sat me down and said, “You don't want to be doing this, you need to go to cooking school, that's what you want to do, you just need to do it.” Once she said that, I made the decision to do it.

Read more about Stubbs: The Life-Changing Book That Helps This Entrepreneur Think Big

4. It’s okay to be uncomfortable.
Image credit: ThirdLove

Name: Heidi Zak
Company: ThirdLove

Advice: Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. When you start your own company you have to get used to learning how to do things that you don't know how to do. You also need to learn how to take risks and be okay with not knowing what the next stage is going to bring.

Read more about Zak: This Founder's Best Advice for Entrepreneurs: To Succeed, Entrepreneurs Need to Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

5. Own your accomplishments.
Image credit: Nerdwallet

Name: Tim Chen
Company: Nerdwallet

Influence: One CEO told me that your opportunity is set up like a graph. On one axis, it's what you do, and the other axis who you tell.  If I think about some of the career mistakes I made at my last company, it was really not doing enough telling about my accomplishments.

Read more about Chen: Nerdwallet's Founder Shares the Worst Advice He Ever Got

6. Don’t waste time on people who don’t support you.
Image credit: Harper Reed

Name: Harper Reed
Company: Modest (now PayPal)

Advice: Manage politics by your outbox. Look at your outbox and see who you are emailing. Usually who you are emailing is related to who is supporting you. If you're not emailing people, then they are probably not supporting you.

Read more about Reed: This Entrepreneur Shares the Most Important Factor of His Success

7. Find a mentor who will help you question everything.
Image credit: Nicole Franzen

Name: Jennie Ripps
Company: Owl’s Brew

Advice: Seek out mentors and advisors. I found in building a business that relationships are so important. By having mentors and advisors, you have the ability to ask questions of people who know more than you. By asking questions you can avoid time-consuming and expensive errors. And sometimes mentors and advisors surprise you by opening your mind up to things that are completely unexpected.

Read more about Ripps: The One Thing This Entrepreneur Does Each Day to Stay Productive

8. Put your mission and values first.
Image credit: Charity: Water

Name: Scott Harrison
Company: Charity: Water

Advice: Put integrity at the core of everything you do. So much more important than what you do is how you do it. For Charity: Water, that means sticking to our promise of radical transparency and using 100 percent of public donations to directly fund water projects in the field.

Read more about Harrison: Everyone Can Adopt This Founder's One-Step Productivity Advice

9. Make sure everyone has the same goal in mind
Image credit: GitHub

Name: Chris Wanstrath
Company: GitHub

Advice: Someone once told me that usually when people are arguing, they argue about the what and the why.

For example, if there is a team that wants to make a website blue and a team that wants to make it green, they might argue forever about which one is better, but they are never going to agree on the color if they don’t agree on the goal.

Read more about Wanstrath: This Founder Believes He Found the Answer for Burnout

10. You’re in control when you’re accountable for your actions
Image credit: BloomThat

Name: David Bladow
Company: BloomThat

Advice: There was a period of time where I didn’t have control over things, and I felt bad about the things that were happening. I was talking to one of our investors, and she said “when you stop acting like an asshole, you’ll stop feeling like an asshole.” Basically when you are ready to take full accountability of things that are going on, you’re going to stop feeling like you’re in a position to feel like an asshole all the time. It stuck with me because it was basically control the things that you can control.

Read more about Bladow: This Founder Has 3 Simple Tips to Achieve Maximum Productivity

End of culled article by Nina Zipkin.

Copyright © 2017 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

Uber and Old Mutual help drivers to earn, learn and save

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, March 31, 2017/ --
In celebration of Global Money Week, Uber ( and Old Mutual ( have announced that they will be extending its free money management course that took place in South Africa to its driver-partners in Accra, (Ghana), Lagos (Nigeria) and Nairobi, (Kenya).

The course reflects Global Money Week’s theme - Learn. Save. Earn. Driver-partners attending the workshops will be empowered with the skills to manage their finances in order to grow their income and save for the future. Workshops begin this week and drivers will receive an invitation via email to reserve their seat.

Driver-partners across Africa are extremely important to Uber and their own financial wellbeing is an ongoing priority. The technology and flexibility of the Uber app enables driver-partners to start, run and grow a small business on their own terms. By offering skills development in financial management, Uber can assist entrepreneurs in building sustainable businesses.

Recent statistics illustrate the contribution small and medium enterprises (SMEs) make to high growth economies on the African continent. The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics notes that there are over 17 million SMEs registered in Kenya, with these businesses employing half of the Kenyan workforce. In Ghana, 92 per cent of companies registered are micro, small and medium enterprises and contribute 70 percent to the country’s GDP, while Nigeria has seen a 100% increase in small businesses in recent years.

However, this boom in entrepreneurship is not without its challenges. The findings of a study conducted by Invest In Africa (IIA) and Strathmore Business School illustrate that 70% of Kenyan SME’s fail within the first three years of operation owing to a failure to scale up. Nigeria’s national MSMEs survey conducted by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN) in partnership with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) notes that only 69% of SMEs have business plans and 95% have no form of insurance. This lack of planning and financial savvy can cause the business to fail in their early stages. Through targeted education and skills development, entrepreneurs have a much stronger chance of ongoing success.

The Old Mutual On the Money workshops are free to Uber driver-partners in Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana. By attending, they’ll learn to understand basic money principles, develop healthy savings habits and plan a path to financial well-being. The workshops were previously run in partnership with Uber in South Africa with great results and positive feedback from the driver-partners who attended.

Zweli Ngwenya, a driver-partner who attended the Old Mutual On the Money workshops in South Africa says, “This course has helped me a lot in learning how to plan my budget.”

Alon Lits, General Manager for Uber Sub-Saharan Africa says, “Uber is a passionate champion of innovation, both in the transport sector and in the development of entrepreneurs. With this partnership we can foster the skills of emerging entrepreneurs, empower driver-partners using our app to grow their small business, support their families and begin saving.”

John Manyike, Head of Financial Education at Old Mutual, says, “Global Money Week highlights the importance of money management skills and we are excited to be able to play a role in helping entrepreneurs make the most of their hard-earned money. Small businesses are key to driving inclusive economic growth in Africa – and their success will ultimately benefit us all. By extending this partnership with Uber across Africa, we are able to further promote financial fitness across the continent.”

Driver-partners can book the workshop directly via an email invitation.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Uber.

View multimedia content

For more information:
Uber: Samantha Allenberg - Uber Communications Africa
Tel: +27 82 453 7495

Monique Thompson - Jenni Newman Public Relations (Uber South Africa - PR Agency)
Tel: + 27 (0) 72 015 6761

Uber Social Media
South Africa
Twitter: @Uber_RSA | Facebook: /Uber_RSA | Instagram: @Uber_RSA
Twitter: @UberNigeria | Facebook: /UberNigeria | Instagram: @UberNigeria
Twitter: @Uber_Kenya| Facebook: /UberKenya | Instagram: @Uber_Kenya

Old Mutual Social Media
South Africa
Twitter: @OM_OnTheMoney

About Uber:
Uber’s mission is to help people get a ride at the push of a button - everywhere and for everyone. We started in 2009 to solve a simple problem - how do you get a ride at the touch of a button? Six years and over two billion trips later, we’ve started tackling an even greater challenge: reducing congestion and pollution in our cities by getting more people into fewer cars.
The Uber network is now available in over 475 cities in over 75 countries spanning 6 continents. To request a ride, users must download the free application for Android, iPhone, Blackberry 7, or register for Uber at For questions visit

About Old Mutual:
Old Mutual ( provides long-term savings, protection, investment and lending solutions to a broad range of customers – from individuals, businesses and corporates to institutions. Old Mutual Emerging Markets operates in 18 countries across Africa, Latin America and Asia.

We strive to be our customers’ most trusted financial partner, passionate about helping them to achieve their lifetime goals.


An Open Letter to Ghana's Vice-President Dr. Mahammadu Bawumia

Dear Mr Vice President,

I shall go straigjt to the point: You have spoken recently about your administration's determination to deal with the existential problems caused by illegal good miners polluting soils, streams, rivers and other water bodies, across vast swathes of the Ghanaian countryside.

Sir, clearly, in this matter,  a president in a hurry, most certainly does not have to waste precious time trying to reinvent the wheel - in order to deal effectively with a problem that can have apocalyptic consequences if not dealt with quickly and resolutely by the system.

In a world that abounds with excellent ideas that could be replicated here in our homeland Ghana - to help transform a country that without a shadow of doubt has the potential to become one of the world's wealthiest nations - we must look elsewhere for the solution of what thus far has been an intractable societal problem.

That precisely is the approach your government ought to adopt in dealing with  the problem of the egregious environmental degradation now threatening our nation's sources of drinking water supply - all of which are threatened by the horrendous environmental degradation being caused by irresponsible and lawless elements in the  gold mining sector.

Sir, as it happens, the Arizona University's College of Engineering (AUCE) has actually invented toxin-free mining (and associated energy harvesting) methods that will help us resolve this problem swiftly. Today. Not tomorrow.

All your administration has to do is to invite the CEO of MetOxs Electrochemical, the vehicle set up by the AUCE to commercialise those inventions, Dr. Abraham Jalbout, to Ghana, to meet with officials of your administration.
I do know for a fact that Dr. Jalbout is keen to help Ghana rid itself of this curse and abomination.

For the  sake of both present and future generations of our people, please get your dynamic  minister for lands and natural resources, Hon John Peter Amewu,  to invite Dr. Jalbout to Ghana as soon as practicable, to hold discussions on introducing toxin-free mining methods to Ghana, with your regime.

The successful introduction of toxin-free mining methods (and the associated energy harvesting methods that will provide free electricity), to Ghana's mining-sector at this critical juncture in our history, will be a legacy Ghanaians will always remember your adminstration for, till the very end of time.  Literally.

So go for it, Sir. For all our sake.

Yours in the service of Mother Ghana,


NASA has released its popular app for a new platform, Amazon Fire TV

March 28, 2017
RELEASE 17-032

NASA has released its popular app for a new platform, Amazon Fire TV. This version joins previous releases of the app for iOS, Android and Apple TV devices.

“With the NASA app, the public can browse NASA’s amazing discoveries directly from their personal devices,” said Bob Jacobs, the deputy associate administrator for Communications at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington. “Today, users with Amazon Fire TV and other services can explore NASA’s wealth of images, videos and more on their home televisions.”

The NASA app for Amazon Fire TV offers several features for users, including:

   • Watch live-streaming NASA Television
  •  Get a real-time view of Earth from the International Space Station
  •  View more than 16,000 images, either individually or as a slideshow
  •  Play more than 14,000 on-demand NASA videos
    Learn more about NASA’s current missions

"We are always looking for new and exciting ways to bring NASA to the public," said Eugene Tu, center director at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, where NASA apps are developed.

The NASA app is available for free in the app store on the Amazon Fire TV.

For more information about the NASA app, visit:

Learn more about NASA’s missions and activities at:


Thursday, 30 March 2017

Behrendt, Müller, Odenwälder, and Schmitz: "Industry 4.0 demystified — lean’s next level"

Industry 4.0 demystified — lean’s next level
By Andreas Behrendt, Nicolai Müller, Peter Odenwälder, and Christoph Schmitz

Amid digital disruption, five principles can help companies find tangible value in Industry 4.0 solutions.

For years, companies have pursued lean manufacturing principles and the productivity improvements they promise. Yet now that lean methods are truly ingrained in the DNA of many businesses, classical lean tools are losing some of their edge. The very success of these approaches means that further improvements are increasingly marginal and tougher to achieve. At the same time, staying profitable and competitive in today’s global business environment requires continuous improvement in productivity, quality, agility, and service levels—and this pressure will never go away.

Companies in this bind may find comfort in the ubiquitous promise that “Industry 4.0” will soon bring sweeping change to industries worldwide—but may also be encouraged to simply wait and see. We believe, however, that Industry 4.0 will be less a revolution than a valuable (and welcome) evolution, making next-horizon productivity gains possible and mirroring developments that have unfolded in the manufacturing environment for more than a century.

Proven principles of lean—such as reducing waste in the form of machine breakdowns or non-value-adding activities—will remain fundamental. At the same time, advancements in data collection, sensors, robotics and automation, new technologies (including 3-D printing), and increased computing power will enable advanced analytics and give established methods a new edge.

Organizations will use these reinvigorated lean methods to implement a new way of working for three dimensions that have long been recognized as pivotal: technical systems (processes and tools), management systems (organization and performance management), and people systems (capabilities, mind-sets, and behavior). In addition, a new dimension concerned with data, IT, and connectivity will emerge as another core value driver.

In other words, Industry 4.0 can be understood as digitally enabled lean. For example, companies have long optimized yield, energy, and throughput by improving process steering. Now new sensors, more data, and advanced analytics can boost the ability to solve problems and identify sophisticated improvement measures, resulting in smarter solutions and new productivity gains. These advances can be complemented with digitally enabled transparency regarding performance. Take the case of performance management on the shop floor. At a typical plant today, performance management happens more or less after the fact, when performance is checked at the end of the shift. In a digital world, performance deviations can be monitored in real time and addressed immediately. However, implementing the newly identified measures requires organizational transformation—new ways of working, new approaches to performance management, and new capabilities. All of these changes will bolster the pathway to the real revolution: creating self-optimizing assets that do not require operator interventions.

Beyond Industry 4.0 hype: Five core principles for creating value at lean’s next level

Based on our experience working with clients on digital and Industry 4.0 transformations, we have identified five principles that can help companies successfully convert Industry 4.0 solutions into real value and bottom-line impact.

Industry 4.0 is the source of the next horizon of productivity gains

As cost pressure across all industries continually increases, companies face the need to improve productivity by two to four percentage points every year. Our estimates, based on numerous studies, show that digitally enabled advancements are unleashing the potential to create value equivalent to efficiency improvements of 15 to 20 percent. This productivity leap will not come from the application of a single solution. To generate meaningful impact, companies will have to address all elements of profit and loss while also applying a broad range of solutions at scale. For example, a reduction of total machine downtime by 30 to 50 percent—a feat possible with predictive maintenance or remote monitoring—will greatly increase asset utilization. Labor efficiency is another area with high potential. Digital performance management combined with advanced robotics and automated guided vehicles can further automate manual work (for example, in picking and in-plant transportation) and has the potential to improve labor productivity by an additional 40 to 50 percent. Advanced analysis of granular data on machining processes, generated in real time, will be fundamental to identifying and addressing the underlying causes of process inefficiencies and problems with quality—faster and more effectively. Furthermore, forecasting processes that draw heavily on big data already can drastically reduce inventories and improve service levels today.

Industry 4.0 is a topic for the business, not just the IT department

IT enables Industry 4.0 but should not drive implementation. Companies tend to start by considering how to apply the new approaches to their IT systems. They should focus instead on how they will conduct their business in the future, thinking through changes from a value-chain and business-case standpoint. For example, one global sportswear company is working to bring its shoe manufacturing closer to the customer. This move changes the traditional long cycle of production in low-cost countries and subsequent shipping to stores. As inexpensive, faster, and more flexible robots become available, manufacturing of products such as shoes and clothing can be located near customers—even in high-cost locations such as Germany. In short, time to market, delivery time, freight costs, and customer focus (based on personalization) dramatically improve when taking advantage of the new opportunities provided by digitization.

Industry 4.0 efforts need to be led by top management—they cannot be delegated

Few companies are taking a structured approach to implementing Industry 4.0 levers. According to McKinsey research, only 16 percent have a clear strategy in place, and only 24 percent have assigned clear responsibilities regarding Industry 4.0 efforts. Even companies in this select group tend to make one of two missteps: either they assign Industry 4.0 responsibility to a staff function with no direct execution power, or they place the required responsibility far too low in the management hierarchy.

In either case, realizing full impact potential is jeopardized. Ultimately, embarking on the Industry 4.0 journey means taking a risk—and risk taking cannot be delegated. Top management must therefore take ownership and apply a programmatic approach in order to drive value quickly and effectively. This high level of prioritization helps determine the success of an Industry 4.0 transformation, just as it did for lean.
Both technology and people are critical, as they were for classic lean approaches

Technological solutions, such as those including robots or advanced-analytics algorithms, are easy to access and install; in fact, such tools are already commodities in many situations. However, it takes a combination of technology and the corresponding domain knowledge (in value chains, maintenance, or process modeling, for example) to produce actions that deliver value. What’s more, implementing these actions typically requires redesigned work processes and new capabilities, both of which necessitate organizational transformation. Company leaders must lay out a strategy in advance to build or buy the capabilities they will need or to partner with organizations that can provide the capabilities.

Industry 4.0 requires transformational and holistic thinking

Three steps to get started

Companies that are just setting out can begin with a few steps:

•    Assess the opportunity with an Industry 4.0 diagnostic, identify the capabilities required, and develop a “build, partner, buy” strategy for gaining them.
•    Launch flagship pilots and learn while doing; don’t spend time analyzing everything in advance.
•    Support efforts through the creation of new mind-sets and behaviors—for example, by explaining why change is needed and generating excitement instead of fear.

Successful lean transformations do not focus on improving the maintenance process alone but consider the production site as a whole. Work toward Industry 4.0 requires a similarly broad approach. In this case, companies will need to address the entire value chain, apply a full set of levers or solutions, and have a clear plan for scaling up new approaches across their entire network.
Prerequisites for success at lean’s next level: Priorities, capabilities, and mind-sets

In addition to the five principles just described, companies looking to achieve the next level of lean should keep in mind several guidelines:

•    Clear priorities, small steps. Instead of spending time on extensive analysis and planning, start with the digital steps that deliver the most impact in your situation, and learn as you go.
 •   Capabilities. Most companies are eager to fast-track their development by implementing digital technologies on the shop floor but feel unprepared for the change. This concern is certainly justified, since digital—like lean before it—requires new capabilities. Companies can, however, turn to specialized capability centers or join forces with software or solution providers.
•    Mind-sets and behaviors. Experience over the past several decades has shown that a transformation fails or succeeds due to the mind-sets and behaviors of leaders and employees. For this reason, a digital mind-set needs to permeate the entire organization, with people embracing digital lean approaches and tools, just as they did with their analog predecessors.

A successful digital evolution requires a thorough understanding of the specific starting point at each individual company, manufacturing site, or even department in order to identify and prioritize digital opportunities that add value. Companies can conduct on-the-spot diagnostics by asking themselves how well they utilize digitally enabled lean levers, and what specific improvement potential they might target. Assessing this starting point provides organizations with the basis for laying out a path to digitally enabled lean—the next level in value creation.

About the author(s)

Andreas Behrendt is a partner in McKinsey’s Cologne office, where Nicolai Müller is a senior partner; Peter Odenwälder is an associate partner in the Hamburg office; and Christoph Schmitz is a senior partner in the Frankfurt office.

The authors wish to thank Simeon Mußler for his contributions to this article.

© 1996-2017 McKinsey & Company

NASA's MAVEN Reveals Most of Mars' Atmosphere Was Lost to Space

March 30, 2017
RELEASE 17-033

Solar wind and radiation are responsible for  stripping the Martian atmosphere, transforming Mars from a planet that could have supported life billions of years ago into a frigid desert world, according to new results from NASA's MAVEN spacecraft.

"We've determined that most of the gas ever present in the Mars atmosphere has been lost to space," said Bruce Jakosky, principal investigator for the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN), University of Colorado in Boulder. The team made this determination from the latest results, which reveal that about 65 percent of the argon that was ever in the atmosphere has been lost to space. Jakosky is lead author of a paper on this research to be published in Science on Friday, March 31.

In 2015, MAVEN team members previously announced results that showed atmospheric gas is being lost to space today and described how atmosphere is stripped away. The present analysis uses measurements of today’s atmosphere for the first estimate of how much gas was lost through time.

Liquid water, essential for life, is not stable on Mars' surface today because the atmosphere is too cold and thin to support it. However, evidence such as features resembling dry riverbeds and minerals that only form in the presence of liquid water indicates the ancient Martian climate was much different – warm enough for water to flow on the surface for extended periods.

“This discovery is a significant step toward unraveling the mystery of Mars' past environments,“ said Elsayed Talaat, MAVEN Program Scientist, at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “In a broader context, this information teaches us about the processes that can change a planet’s habitability over time.”

There are many ways a planet can lose some of its atmosphere. For example, chemical reactions can lock gas away in surface rocks, or an atmosphere can be eroded by radiation and a stellar wind from a planet's parent star. The new result reveals that solar wind and radiation were responsible for most of the atmospheric loss on Mars, and the depletion was enough to transform the Martian climate. The solar wind is a thin stream of electrically conducting gas constantly blowing out from the surface of the sun.

The early Sun had far more intense ultraviolet radiation and solar wind, so atmospheric loss by these processes was likely much greater in Mars' history. According to the team, these processes may have been the dominant ones controlling the planet's climate and habitability. It's possible microbial life could have existed at the surface early in Mars’ history. As the planet cooled off and dried up, any life could have been driven underground or forced into rare surface oases.

Jakosky and his team got the new result by measuring the atmospheric abundance of two different isotopes of argon gas. Isotopes are atoms of the same element with different masses. Since the lighter of the two isotopes escapes to space more readily, it will leave the gas remaining behind enriched in the heavier isotope. The team used the relative abundance of the two isotopes measured in the upper atmosphere and at the surface to estimate the fraction of the atmospheric gas that has been lost to space.

As a "noble gas" argon cannot react chemically, so it cannot be sequestered in rocks; the only process that can remove noble gases into space is a physical process called "sputtering" by the solar wind. In sputtering, ions picked up by the solar wind can impact Mars at high speeds and physically knock atmospheric gas into space. The team tracked argon because it can be removed only by sputtering. Once they determined the amount of argon lost by sputtering, they could use this information to determine the sputtering loss of other atoms and molecules, including carbon dioxide (CO2). 

CO2 is of interest because it is the major constituent of Mars' atmosphere and because it's an efficient greenhouse gas that can retain heat and warm the planet. "We determined that the majority of the planet's CO2 was also lost to space by sputtering," said Jakosky. "There are other processes that can remove CO2, so this gives the minimum amount of CO2 that's been lost to space."

The team made its estimate using data from the Martian upper atmosphere, which was collected by MAVEN's Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS). This analysis included measurements from the Martian surface made by NASA's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument on board the Curiosity rover.

"The combined measurements enable a better determination of how much Martian argon has been lost to space over billions of years," said Paul Mahaffy of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "Using measurements from both platforms points to the value of having multiple missions that make complementary measurements." Mahaffy, a co-author of the paper, is principal investigator on the SAM instrument and lead on the NGIMS instrument, both of which were developed at NASA Goddard.

The research was funded by the MAVEN mission. MAVEN's principal investigator is based at the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, Boulder, and NASA Goddard manages the MAVEN project. MSL/Curiosity is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

For more information on MAVEN, visit:


California Students to Speak to NASA Astronauts on International Space Station

March 29, 2017

Students from Betsy Ross Elementary School in Anaheim, California, will speak with NASA astronauts living and working aboard the International Space Station at 11:40 a.m. EDT Monday, April 3. The 20-minute, Earth-to-space call will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson, both of NASA, will answer questions from students in several grades. Students at Betsy Ross Elementary School have been hard at work exploring the space program, NASA and the space station leading up to the downlink. They have conducted research through virtual field trips while also designing realistic models of the space station. With each engaging activity, the students’ knowledge of NASA and the space program has been greatly enhanced.

Kimbrough launched to the space station Oct. 19, 2016, and will return April 10. Whitson launched to the space station Nov. 17, 2016, and is scheduled to return to Earth later this spring.

Media interested in covering the event should contact Keith Sterling, director of communications & public information, Anaheim Elementary School District, at 714-600-0952 or Ross Elementary is at 535 S. Walnut Street in Anaheim.

Linking students directly to astronauts aboard the space station provides unique, authentic experiences designed to enhance student learning, performance and interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This in-flight education downlink is an integral component of NASA Education’s STEM on Station activity, which provides a variety of space station resources and opportunities to students and educators. 

Get NASA TV streaming video, schedules and downlink information at:

Learn about videos and lesson plans highlighting research on the International Space Station at:


Affordable Electricity In Ghana Only Possible With 100 Percent Renewable Power Plus Storage

This blog is a firm believer in the wisdom of aiming to power Ghana with 100 percent renewable energy as soon as practicable - if we are to ever have affordable electricity tariffs in this country.

As an old wag I know said me to recently: "Kofi, perhaps we will attain the goal of powering Ghana with 100 percent renewable energy,  one day, when we  have leaders with the foresight and dynamism of those who now govern the Gulf Emirate of Dubai."  Indeed.

On a more serious note, with the advances made in storage technologies thus far, it is actually feasible to power Ghana entirely with renewable energy - by creating a nationwide network of off-grid mini-grids powered by independently-generated renewable power plants with utilty-scale storage systems.

Clever and farsighted Ghanaian entrepreneurs, and those who now govern our country, ought to keep an eye on developments in Australia's power sector constantly - and take inspiration from what is going on in that lucky  nation's power industry's  renewables sector.

For the benefit of Ghana's brightest young  entrepreneurs, and our current leaders, as well as that of this blog's young readers, we are posting a culled RenewEconomy article by Giles Parkinson entitled: "Hazelwood exits, taking with it myth of cheap fossil fuels".

In a sense, Giles Parkinson's  article is about the symbolism involved in the closure of Australia's famed Hazelwood coal-fired power plant - and how it clearly demonstrates that the future of that nation's  power sector lies in independent renewable power generation plus storage.

If we want affordable electricity in our country, we ought to make powering Ghana with 100 percent renewable power as soon as practicable a national goal - and start planning for it now. It is the only way we can have electricity tariffs we can all pay with ease and peace of mind.  Let no one doubt that. Electricity from power plants fired with oil and gas will always be expensive. Full stop.

Please read on:

"Hazelwood exits, taking with it myth of cheap fossil fuels

By Giles Parkinson on 30 March 2017

The giant Hazelwood brown coal generator shut down the last of its 8 units at 4pm yesterday, the latest and the most powerful symbol of the vast and rapid change in our energy system.

Conservatives and the fossil fuel lobby might have wanted to describe the closure of the western world’s most polluting power plant as a futile act, given the attempts by the Trump government to jump back into last century’s technology and ignore climate science.

But just one day after Hazelwood closed, a new $1 billion solar PV and battery storage plant was being unveiled for South Australia, with its proponents insisting that construction would begin later this year.

hazelwood zero

On top of that, the former boss of Hazelwood, Tony Concannon, had announced that the combination of solar and storage was already cheaper than baseload gas plants, and would therefore be cheaper than any new coal generators too.

And if that wasn’t enough, the owner of the South Australia electricity network was predicting that the cost to households of solar and storage would fall to just 15c/kWh within 5 to 10 years, less than half the cost of grid-based electricity.

This is where the myth of “cheap coal” finally unravels. Coal dominates Australia’s electricity generation, still accounting for around 70 per cent of total generation, yet consumers pay a ridiculously high price for their electricity, because if they are not being screwed by generators and retail margins, they are paying huge “transport” costs to the networks.

It was ironic to note that the last price earned by Hazelwood on Wednesday was $148/MWh in its last 30 minute period. At the same time, in wind-dominated South Australia, the price was minus $45/MWh.

To be sure, these prices are deceptive. In reality, the price of electricity in Australia is set by neither coal nor by wind or solar, but by gas.

And right now gas is expensive, and the oligopoly that runs the fossil fuel generators are free to massage, or manipulate, prices as they see fit – although that power diminishes when there is more wind and solar, and will be vastly reduced with the advent of large-scale storage.

The whole concept of our energy systems, as chief scientist Alan Finkel points out, is in the midst of change. Where once the perfect grid was seen as centralised and dominated by huge generators – and the Coalition and The Australian might still believe this to be so – the future is entirely different.

Audrey Zibelman, the progressive new CEO of the Australian Energy Market Operator, says the future will be “decentralised”, based around local generation, and it will be quicker, smarter, cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable than the current set-up.

Hazelwood’s owners, Engie, also see a future where half of all demand is met by electricity sourced from homes and businesses, mostly with solar and storage. And they see the future of large-scale generation will also be in solar, which is why they tendered for proposals earlier this year.


Indeed, solar projects are popping up everywhere. Concannon, the former head of Hazelwood – once a staunch critic of Australia’s renewable energy target – has switched camps, heading up a large-scale solar company and plans 300MW of solar, possibly with storage, in South Australia.

He’s not the only one, with Lyon Solar’s announcement and Zen Energy and others, including Adani and DPP Energy, all planning major solar projects in South Australia.

In Queensland, the push to solar is even more rapid. One major energy user, Sun Metals, is building its own 116MW solar plant because the cost of electricity in a grid almost entirely dependent on coal and gas is too expensive.

Meanwhile, the incumbents have got other things to think about, particularly SAPN’s prediction that the cost to households and business of solar and storage will be around 15c/kWh within a few years.

Think about what that means. That is cheaper than just the transport cost of delivering electricity down the poles and wires.

Few in the industry doubt that we are shifting rapidly to a faster, cleaner, smarter and cheaper energy system. The imponderable is that no one knows what the business model looks like.

Networks are convinced that they will remain essential, because someone has to connect the homes, business, and communities. But they, too, are worried that things will move so fast that consumers – having been badly treated by utilities in the past decade – will simply take matters into their own hands.

If SAPN’s forecast are right, they will have an overwhelming economic incentive to do so. To deal with that, it is hard to see how networks will avoid any other action than to write off the value of their networks so they can compete.

The outlook for traditional gentailers, is more bleak. The cosy oligopoly that dominated supply, and accounted for virtually all demand, is starting to unravel.

Actually, the closure of Hazelwood might reinforce their pricing power for a short term, hence the current surge in wholesale electricity prices. But as these new solar farms and wind farms come on-line, after the three year delay caused by the Abbott government, that pricing power will rapidly diminish.

And it will further diminish if new rules are introduced – as expected – that will level the playing field for battery storage. Right now, they are being resisted by the incumbents and the lawyers and economists who hold so dearly to the original design of the National Electricity Market.

But there can be no doubt that the NEM has failed. The land of abundant coal, abundant gas, abundant wind, and abundant solar has just about the highest electricity prices in the western world – a scandal that gradually unfolded as the rule makers clung grimly to their economic theories, and the regulators were either unwilling, or didn’t have the powers, to stop the predatory behaviour of the incumbents.

The events in South Australia finally brought that to a head. While the conservatives and the mainstream media have focused on software settings on a dozen wind farms – proof, they say, that renewable energy doesn’t, and won’t, work – the reality is that it’s a sign of a failed system.

The market operator was bound by process; unable, it seems, to react. Remarkably, it says that even with hindsight it probably would not have done anything different.

It didn’t know about the settings on the wind farms, and has admitted that it doesn’t know much about the settings of the country’s coal and gas plants.

Almost airbrushed from history has been the performance of the gas-fired generators in that blackout. The wind industry, and a few other independent engineers, suggest that they didn’t play their role because the settings of the deadbands on their governors were relaxed.

AEMO will only admit that the gas generators were “too slow” to respond, but its 260 page report goes no deeper than that.

The final straw was the heatwave in South Australia and the forced outages when one big gas generator sat idle. A few weeks later, the failure of two of the biggest gas generators took the state within a whisker (an extra 20MW of demand on the interconnector would have seen it trip) of another system black. In NSW, where two coal units and another two gas generators failed, the state also came close to losing power.

The Finkel Review will not, as the conservatives hope, recommend the sort of fantasy dance back into the last century that Donald Trump is trying to achieve in the US. Already, the conservatives sense this and are beginning to attack.

“What would he know,” they say, “he’s only an electrical engineer and the chief scientist.”

And the tribal politics won’t help either. The Greens appear to be the only ones who “get” what is happening, and don’t have vested interests in business and unions to protect. The final report into the Senate inquiry into the retirement of coal-fired power stations split three ways. Only the Greens seemed to understand the need for an orderly transition.

Indeed, denial is the last refuge of the incumbents and the ideologues. Technology marches on, and because it is so readily available to consumers, so will they. This is not about ideology any more. It is about simple economics. The rest is just detail, and politics."
© Copyright Renew Economy 2017. All rights reserved.

End of culled RenewEcononmy article by Giles Parkinson.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Prosecute And Jail John Dumelo For Attempting To Bribe Security Officials Retrieving State-Owned Vehicles From Him

If it is indeed true that John Dumelo,  the actor-turned-NDC-politician actually offered to pay the leader of the security task force sent to retrieve two state-owned vehicles - one of which he apparently falsely claimed to have purchased from Sivani Motors, off the Spintext Road - to abort their mission so he could keep one of the vehicles, then the Ghana Police Service must be quickly informed.

The Criminal Investigations Department (CID)  of the Ghana Police Service must then be tasked  to investigate the matter - by first interviewing the leader of the task force sent to retrieve the two  vehicles from John Dumelo: to get the full facts of the matter from him first.

If Dumelo  is found to be culpable, then they must charge him for misleading a police officer carrying out an investigation - by falsely claiming to have purchased the vehicle for which he said he had made part-payment to Sivani Motors.

He must also be charged for offering to bribe the said police officer (and by extension other members of his team)  so as to induce him to stop the investigation he was carrying out  from reaching its logical conclusion: that,  on top of the very serious crime of deliberately misleading a police officer on an important national assignment to retrieve stolen state properties, so as to hamper his task.

The CID must then process him for court to be prosecuted for attempting to bribe security afficials sent to recover two state-owned vehicles given to him by unknown persons who clearly  had some influence in the previous regime.

John Dumelo is a classic example of all that was wrong with many of  the super-ruthless spongers who hitched a ride in the first-class carriages of the Mahama-gravy-train.

Those carriages were full of third-rate individuals - greedy and selfish opportunists without moral compasses: who gravitated towards polititics just to enable them  grab as much of the nation's resources as they possibly could for themselves at Mother Ghana's expense.

The question is: Who in the Mahama administration caused two V8 Toyota Landcruisers to be allocated to John Dumelo - and why were state-owned vehicles originally allocated to the national security apparatus  given out  to him?

Perchance, was he an agent of Ghana's secret services? And if yes, what exactly was his role in the national security apparatus?

Finally, if it is wise, the Akufo-Addo administration will ensure that John Dumelo is charged and prosecuted.

He must not be allowed to get away with making the false claim that  he purchased a black-coloured V8 Toyota Landcruiser - with vehicle registration number: GE 8118–16 and chassis number: JTMHVOJ2F4159829 - from Sivani Motors off the Spintext Road, when he was interviewed by the leader of the security task force sent to retrieve two state-owned vehicles from him, when he knew perfectly well  that  that was a palpable falsehood.

Clearly, that thoroughly dishonest and cynical fellow  was attempting to hijack a state-owned vehicle. Shocking. Disgraceful. Shortsighted. And, extremely foolish. And to think such a deceitful individual was dreaming of a ministerial position in the next Mahama administration after the 2016 presidential election. Incredible. No wonder poor Mahama lost the presidential election.

Dumelo's prosecution will send a clear signal to all the clever rogues who took our nation for such a gigantic ride when Ghana was under the thumbs of genuises like the Stan Dogbes - too-clever-by-half chancers who gave the National Democratic Congress (NDC) regime that worked so hard to build a new Ghana, infrastructure-wise, a thoroughly bad name with their blockheaded impudence, arrogance and the unfathomable greed that drove everything they did for poor President Mahama.

They must all be prosecuted for partaking in the brutal gang-rape of Mother Ghana during the Mahama-era: One after the other - following  thorough investigations by the national security apparatus  into their backgrounds:  bank accounts; filed tax returns;  and audited business accounts if they own any legally registered commercial entities - to discover all wrongdoing committed by them during  the NDC era.

A man who is reported by journalists (after the  incident with the team that took back his state-owned V8 Toyota Landcruiser) to have allegedly claimed that the business model of the vehicle importing firm supplying vehicles to the national security apparatus from which his siezed SUV was purchased by the national security apparatus, was a cover to enable it evade taxes needs questioning at the very least.

None of these shameless Mahama-era rogues, must be allowed to get away with ripping-off Mother Ghana, so. Ever. Period. John Dumelo must be prosecuted and jailed. Full stop. We rest our case.


Get Unemployed Young People To Leverage Online E-Commerce Platforms To Sell Made In Ghana Products - Instead Of Sending Them Abroad To Do Menial Work

I was horrified when I read news reports - not too long ago - that some genius of a government minister, whose name escapes me, had stated that Ghana was going to export labour.

Surely, as a people we should aim higher than that in the search for job opportunities for young Ghanaians - and take a more creative approach to resolving the problem of youth unemployment in our country?

With the increasing influence abroad of populist leaders with anti-immigrant agendas - who are winning power in countless nations around the world - we must create opportunities for our young people right here in Ghana, instead of planning to send them overseas to be mistreated by callous and often racist employers.

E-commerce represents a huge opportunity for the younger generations in our homeland Ghana.

A creative way to help them leverage  online opportunities would be to get all the telcos in Ghana to commit to helping honest and  law-abiding young people who establish e-commerce start-ups - by giving them special data-packages that are truly affordable for their online businesses: as well as sponsoring  workshops and mentorship programmes for such enterprising young Ghanaians in the first year they commence their online businesses.

Many young people in  Ghana are unaware that they can actually buy locally produced goods to sell in their own shops on online e-commerce platforms such as Zulily, Etsy, Shopify and Noonday Collection, for example.

Surely,  the telcos in Ghana can come together and collaborate with those online e-commerce platforms, to find ways of making mobile money payments sent directly to smartphones in Ghana from buyers around the world more user-friendly and seamless throughout their networks?

Ditto establish swift protocols for  those e-commerce platforms to  be able to block, blacklist and report fraudsters amongst those online Ghanaian shopkeepers who swindle their customers to the Ghana Police Service?

Above all, if e-commerce is to flourish in Ghana and help to create an entrepreneurial culture amongst Ghana's younger generations, the telcos need to do more to help the security agencies to apprehend and prosecute those rogues who have made Ghana a global superpower in online fraud.

They can do so by financially supporting the operations of the cybercrime units of both the Ghana Police Service and the other security agencies - as well as paying for regular cutting-edge training courses to upgrade their cybersecurity skills.

After all,  the radio frequencies issued by the National Communications Authority (NCA) to telcos in Ghana, are a valuable public resource from which they make massive profits - once they recover their initial investments.

So society definitely has the right to demand that telcos in Ghana should contribute to the creation of an entrepreneurial culture amongst younger generation Ghanaians that way.

In the end, such help provided by the telcos to assist  young Ghanaians to leverage the global digital  economy, will enable such businesspeople  to spend even more cash purchasing bigger  data packages and making longer voice calls more frequently, will it not?

So it is definitely  in the financial self-interest of telcos here to help young people to start online digital businesses. Ultimately it will be good for their bottomlines and make their astonishing profits grow even bigger.

Finally, as a cautionary tale to our ruling elites about the perils of sending young people in Ghana abroad to work in menial jobs, we are posting a article about the tricks employed by some callous businesspeople in Saudi Arabia, to stop migrants they cheated from taking them to court.

Why put young Ghanaians at risk physically to face  such harrowing experiences in foreign killing fields,   by sending them abroad to work as "exported labourers" - because Ghana needs  more foreign remittances to bolster its economy?

Please read on:

"Saudi employer dumps workers in the desert to prevent court hearing

The alleged incident saw dozens of workers dropped off 200km from their accomodation

Staff Writer
Tuesday 28 March 2017

A company in Saudi reportedly dumped a group of Indian workers in the desert to prevent them from attending a labour court hearing.

Saudi Gazette reports that the 29 men worked for a maintenance and cleaning firm in the Eastern Province that was contracted by the Education Ministry to clean schools.

They had completed their two-year contract term with a basic monthly salary of SAR400 ($106.66) and food allowance of SAR250 ($66.66) and were wanting to return home, according to the publication.

After lodging a complaint with the labour office in Al-Ahsa, where they lived and worked, the men were told that their employer had agreed to fly them home and they boarded a bus with their luggage to fly back to India.

However, instead of being dropped off at Damman’s King Fahd International Airport they were left stranded 200km away in Safaniya in an apparent attempt to stop them from attending a scheduled court hearing.

“We have been cheated time and again. First it was in India and now here in the Kingdom. They told us to pack our luggage to fly to India, so we did the packing and boarded a bus for King Fahd International Airport in Dammam. Instead of taking us to the airport, they dumped us almost in the middle of desert,” employee Aqeelan Nagarajan was quoted as saying.

He said the men could not travel back to Al-Ahsa because they did not have their residency permits to cross the checkpoints.

The men have since been living in congested accommodation without food or drinking water but are receiving assistance from the Indian Embassy and Saudi Labour Ministry, according to the publication."

End of culled article.

Let Us Be Creative In The Fight Against High-Level Corruption In Ghana

Years ago, when it was announced that Ghana was going to have to pay as much as U.S.1.5 billion to African Automobile Limited, as a result of a judgment debt order issued by a law court, many Ghanaians were aghast.

Perhaps the outrage many felt then,  resulted unconsciously from widely-held certainty that this being Ghana that particular disputed public procurement contract must have been obtained through bribery, in the first place - and they therefore resented taxpayers being cheated twice over: paying through the nose for apparently faulty-engined cross-country vehicles and being saddled with that massive judgment debt amount to pay on top.

I remember thinking at the time why our nation's leaders did not think of creative ways to  avoid such outrageous outcomes in dealing with companies that take governments of the day to court for termination of sundry agreements.

A simple and creative (if rather ruthless and cynical) solution to protecting  the public purse in many such instances actually exists - and our nation must  explore the possibility of adopting it in the fight against public procurement corruption.

(Alas, as things currently stand, whistleblowers in Ghana invariably end up being victimised by the system - so becoming a whistleblower takes courage because it is career-destroying and suicidal. But I digress.)

The question is: Are there not always living witnesses who know of bribes being paid by some private businesses to win the government contracts for which judgment debt orders are issued in good faith by the law courts when they sue the state?

The security agencies must always be tasked to seek out such living witnesses - who will then be  offered 10 percent of the amounts involved and immunity from prosecution if they give actionable evidence of the said contracts being obtained through  bribery in court cases. Simple.

If such an unoffical understanding becomes widely know to exist, will the many public servants with intimate knowledge of the bribes paid by private-sector entities to win government contracts not always come forward to give evidence for Mother Ghana, and help avoid hapless taxpayers being lumbered with yet more judgement debts to pay to rip-off merchants? Literally?

If paying such witnesses U.S.$15 million to share amongst themselves - and be given immunity from prosecution  too - will enable Ghana to retrieve the remainder of the U.S.$150 million said to have allegedly been added to the AMERI power agreement, would it not be worth it in the end for Mother Ghana, I ask?

If the war against high-level corruption is to be won, let us be creative in fighting it particularly in the award of public procurement contracts - especially when battling private-sector crooks who pay bribes to obtain one-sided agreements inimical to Ghana:  and yet manage to get away with huge judgement debt orders being issued in their favour when they take the Republic of Ghana to court for same. Enough is enough. Haaba.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The NPP Must Avoid Ending Up Becoming A One-Term-Only Regime

As a people we must do everything possible to avoid extremists taking over political parties in our homeland Ghana.

Were that  to occur, it would have a disastrous effect on Ghanaian democracy - for it will lead to a great deal of intolerance in society.

Yet, democracy is supposed to be a way of life based on tolerance.

The point needs to be made that democracy is not only just about relationships between state institutions - including the countervailing powers of the three arms of government outlined in the 1992 Constitution.

Sadly, of late, we have all been witnesses to the divisive and unlawful actions of some of the private  militias run by powerful hardliners in the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) - some of  the members of which have been on the rampage across the country.

In many such instances, there have been brutal  and unprovoked assaults on law-abiding citizens and the unlawful destruction of government property  by members of the two private militias in question - the so-called  Invincible Forces and the Delta Force.

Those acts of indiscipline have marred the image of the administration of President Akufo-Addo, unfortunately.

And at a time when most Ghanaians want their sharply divided country to be reunited, the foolish and divisive comments by the NPP's verbally-aggressive Obiri Boahens and Kennedy Adjapongs - who have been carrying on as if the Republic of Ghana has now become their party's private property since their regime came to power - does not help matters either.

Our homeland Ghana belongs to all its people - whatever their politics and whichever part of Ghana they hail from. And the vast majority of our people want their nation to be peaceful and remain stable.

It is vital that moderates in the NPP impress upon the violence-prone extremists in their party that it is important that Ghana maintains its global reputation as a haven of peace and stability in sub-Saharan Africa - if it is to continue to  attract sufficient investment into its national economy.

Surely, even those myrmidon-types  recruited into the NPP's private militias realise that it is new investment in all the sectors of the real economy, which will create the jobs and wealth that will help transform Ghana into a prosperous society - and that gaining a reputation for chaos and violence will therefore not help our nation?

Above all, the NPP's moderates must understand clearly that continued violence by those  militia members will alienate many of the fair-minded and discerning Ghanaians, whose decision  to vote for NPP candidates, won them the December 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections.

No one in the NPP should forget that it was the desire amongst  that strata of society to end the days of impunity that the egregious actions of the National Democratic Congress' (NDC) Stan Dogbes conveyed to decent folk in Ghana during the Mahama-era that finally brought the days of the NDC regime to an end in the 2016 elections.

The NPP's moderates must ensure that at all costs the impression that the government is unable to clamp down on the unlawful activities of the party's private militias  does not gain currency amongst that particular demographic.

If  care is not taken to end the lawlessness by election time in November 2020, we will wind up with a situation in which many  from that demographic conclude that helping Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom put together a winning coalition that will deliver what the NPP  now seems incapable of delivering - a united and orderly
society in a nation in which the rule of law prevails - will be in their interest.

That could be fatal - as it will eventually end up making the NPP regime  a one-term-only administration too in the 2020 elections.

Darrel Etherington: "Elon Musk’s Neuralink wants to boost the brain to keep up with AI"

We thought we'd share this little gem about Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, by TechCrunch's Darrel Etherington. 

Please read on:

''Elon Musk’s Neuralink wants to boost the brain to keep up with AI
Posted 20 hours ago by Darrell Etherington (@etherington)

Serial entrepreneur Elon Musk has a new company — yes, another one — focused on developing the capabilities of the brain through technological augmentation. Neuralink, the new venture, officially broke cover thanks to a Wall Street Journal article today, though it’s been known for some time that Musk was working on brain-computer interface tech as a means to help ensure humans can keep pace with the accelerating development of artificial intelligence.

Musk at Code Conference last year brought up the prospect of a “neural lace” that would be surgically connected to a human brain and allow a user to interact with a computer without the bandwidth challenges that come with current input methods, including keyboards, mice and trackpads. He’s since tweeted that he has made progress on his own exploration of the tech, and more recently rumors emerged that he was planning to found another company with this project as its focus.

Neuralink isn’t going to be focused on upgrading ordinary human brainpower at first, however, according to the WSJ report. Instead, it’ll explore how brain interfaces might alleviate the symptoms of dangerous and chronic medical conditions.

These could include epilepsy and severe depressive disorder, according to the report. These efforts could build on existing therapies that use electrodes in the brain to treat symptoms of Parkinson’s, giving Neuralink a starting point with established science and an easier path to approval for human use. Clearing that lower hurdle would then set up the company for its longer-term goal of human augmentation.

It may sound far-fetched, but in fact this is basically the Musk standard playbook for building new companies based on big ideas. Both SpaceX and Tesla used the same model, starting with near-term products that weren’t nearly as ambitious as later efforts in order to crest a sustainable path to grand designs, like landing on Mars or affordable, mass-produced long-range EVs.

Musk will definitely have a full plate with Neuralink on top of Tesla and SpaceX, as well as his side venture The Boring Company, which is looking into solving urban transportation issues via tunnels. But the CEO sees AI as a risk that could potentially affect humanity at large, and his decision to pursue this potential solution likely seems as imperative to him as does the necessity of expanding our intergalactic colonial footprint, or weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels."

End of culled TechCrunch article by Darrel Etherington.

McKinsey & Company: "Facing up to digital disruption: Reinventing the core with bold business strategy"

Today, we are posting a culled transcript of a McKinsey & Company podcast about digital  strategy and execution. We hope it will interest some of the brilliant young minds in corporate Ghana who read this blog.

Please read on:

''A solid, industry-specific digital strategy and cutting-edge execution can set the stage for increased revenue growth and a better return on investment.

Going digital is now a core strategy for many organizations around the world. Our new research sheds light on how digital is slicing across industries and the potential approaches companies can take to integrate digital where it makes the most sense for their business. In this episode of the McKinsey Podcast, McKinsey senior partner Paul Willmott and senior expert Laura LaBerge speak with McKinsey Publishing’s David Schwartz about ways companies can think about digitization within their sector and the potential impact of their digital strategies on the bottom line.
Podcast transcript

Facing up to digital disruption: Reinventing the core with bold business strategy

David Schwartz: Hello, and welcome to this edition of the McKinsey Podcast. I’m David Schwartz of McKinsey Publishing. Today we’re going to be talking about digital reinvention, starting with some new research that illuminates how far digital technologies have penetrated different industries and what companies can do to avoid being left behind. Joining me to discuss the issues are Laura LaBerge, a senior expert in our Stamford office, and Paul Willmott, a senior partner in our London office. Laura and Paul, thank you for joining us today.

Laura LaBerge: Thanks for having us.

Paul Willmott: You’re welcome.

David Schwartz: Paul, I’d like to start with definitions. People tend to use “digital” and “digitization” interchangeably. Do these terms mean the same thing?

Paul Willmott: For some people, the word “digital” tends to refer to a channel. So I interact with my bank digitally, meaning, I use an app or a website. We tend to use a much broader definition. And as we think about digital or digitization, we think about it in a number of different frames.

So firstly is the digitization of marketing and distribution, which is the channel but also all of the marketing around it. Secondly, products and services: so, for example, that would be taking a product and adding a digital service to it. Digitization of ecosystems—which is what we’re seeing going on with the likes of Amazon and Alibaba—aggregating many other businesses and creating ecosystems.

Digitization of processes—so replacing labor with software. There’s supply chains, which is thinking about different places to hitch your supply chain to. And in aggregate, these things lead to a complete picture of digitization. And we think it’s important to look at all of them.

David Schwartz: Laura, what other findings are people finding surprising?

Laura LaBerge: The first was just the size of the economic hit of digitization—you know, the fact that there was this tremendous overall decrease in EBIT and revenue growth. Despite the fact that digital does create a lot of pockets of high growth, on average it was going down. And that really, more than 75 percent of companies surveyed were not currently on a viable path to ride this through economically.

I think the second thing was the degree to which the winner takes all was really kind of concentrated amongst first-movers and the fact that this was concentrated—was spread, actually—across all different types of digital disruption, rather than focused more narrowly in maybe one or two that you would have thought at the outset might be harder to replicate. I think the third thing that surprised them was how much strategy actually still matters.

David Schwartz: Right, and I understand you looked at them in a number of different ways. Laura, can you describe your analysis and what’s unique about how you went about it?
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Laura LaBerge: What we really wanted to do was to get a sense across regions and industries of what are different companies experiencing in terms of digital—how are they thinking about it, and how are they reacting to it?—and to really try to tie that to their economic performance.

So we ran a survey of over 2,000 CXOs and other business leaders, asking a mix of sort of opinion and fact-based questions. We ran a bunch of economic models based on this data to really understand what the economic impact of digital is. How are companies responding? And do certain responses pay out better than others? And if so, which ones?

David Schwartz: What opportunities leap out from the research?

Laura LaBerge: I think that the first big opportunity that we see for companies is that there are a lot of companies that are really focused quite narrowly on just one of the digital elements that Paul mentioned. And I think that there’s a huge opportunity for companies to broaden the lens, because we found that there were several areas of digitization that were frequently underfocused on or that frequently performed better.

So, for example, supply chain is one that very few companies appear to be looking at. And products and services was one area a lot of organizations were looking at; it’s one that has pretty significant payout in terms of digitization and digital innovation. So this obviously varies by sector, but I think there are a lot of interesting opportunities for companies to pursue.

Paul Willmott: The headline here that I find most striking is the idea that fast following may actually not be such a viable strategy. One of the things that comes through from the research is that those companies which are bold in their response to digitization affecting their sector will outperform and, overall, do well.

Those who are slower and less effective in responding may overall suffer a downturn in their performance as a result. The commonly held strategy of wait-and-see in this instance may not be viable.

Laura LaBerge: When we looked at the research and we tried to define who the digital winners were [you know, who were a success], consistently performing well in terms of EBIT growth, revenue growth, and ROI on their digital investments—it was less than 10 percent of the 2,000 companies we surveyed.

And when you look at the economic pressures that the models showed digitization was putting on sectors, it appeared to indicate that a large percentage of companies would struggle to remain economically viable once digitization reaches its full progression.

David Schwartz: Let’s talk about those tactical takeaways, then. What should executives listening to this think about doing differently?

Paul Willmott: For me, the first and most important thing is to really understand what is going on in the environment. I think our experience is that many executives tend to wait too long before taking digital seriously. One of the things I’ve witnessed is the kind of magic 10 percent or 20 percent number—meaning, once your percentage of sales in the digital channel starts to shift up to that kind of number, then people tend to wake up and think about it as an important thing to manage.

Our view is that that’s not necessarily the only indicator. There are whole sectors or subsectors which we’re seeing under threat. For example, if you happen to be a distributor in a market where direct distribution from the manufacturer straight to the end buyer is possible, then your business model may be fundamentally threatened. And waiting to see a change in channel may mean waiting too long.

The second thing is really thinking about the strategic direction. There’s a mantra around digital, which is that as long as you’re running quickly, it’s a good thing. The reality is, of course, if you’re running in the wrong direction, it’s actually worse than standing still.

So we believe that both a clear strategy which is well thought through and grounded in economic reality and in context is as important as the new, faster, more agile execution and organizational capabilities which go along with this additional territory.
Digital-reinvention_thumbnail_1536x1536_300_Standard The case for digital reinvention
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David Schwartz: There’s been a lot of discussion about execution versus strategy. Obviously, both are important. But do you have a point of view on which is more important?

Laura LaBerge: I think what our research showed was, when we actually looked at what separated the digital winners from the pack, strategy was one of the strongest factors.

So they [winners] had very big, bold strategies that were connected to the core elements of the organization. Now, they still had to be fast enough organizationally to execute on those strategies. But it turned out that actually having a good strategy that enabled you to spot the, you know, quote/unquote “where to play” places first was on the margins more important than having the most cutting-edge ability to execute agilely.

David Schwartz: What does the research tell us about the organization and culture needed to get the most out of digitization?

Laura LaBerge: We had interviewed several CEOs who’d led major transformations in the past, and one of the things that we frequently heard was that culture was something that they really felt was one of the largest barriers to achieving impact from their digital initiatives. And the research that we did in this survey actually bore that out quite strongly.

Culture, of all the organizational elements, correlated the most strongly with economic performance. And in particular, there were three elements of culture that appeared to be important actually, regardless of the flavor of digital disruption or digitization that they were focused on.

And those three were having less risk aversion, avoiding siloed mind-sets and behaviors, and being more customer-centric. And those elements are ones that sometimes large incumbents tend to struggle with, but ones that digital natives tend to be quite strong on.

Paul Willmott: The point around the organizational silos is particularly important. We’ve seen the organizations that mobilize themselves very effectively to respond to digital challenges and opportunities are those that are able to act in a cross-functional manner—so bringing together resources and capabilities from across the value chain in harmony.

For example, that might include bringing people from marketing, distribution, operations, manufacturing, and supply-chain functions all together to work out how data analytics and digitization can improve the end-to-end planning process. And for many organizations, that’s actually an unnatural act and takes quite some effort to get people to work in that truly collaborative way on an ongoing basis.

David Schwartz: Does the research suggest that companies that aren’t digitizing need to try to ape the Amazons or Googles of the world and to shoot for industry-shaking disruptions?

Laura LaBerge: I think what the research shows is that it’s important to be a first mover in the area of digital that matters to your industry.

Paul Willmott: One of the interesting things we’ve found is that in pretty much every industry, there is some potential here through digitization. So if you take a less digitizable industry, such as mining, there’s a lot that can be done—for example, using big data analytics and a census for predictive maintenance so that machine uptime increases, to give one example.

Laura LaBerge: It’s really important to have whatever your digital plays are have to be aligned with your overall business and corporate strategies. So if the main pain points in your industry are around manufacturing R&D, applying digital technologies to those elements of your business model rather than focusing exclusively on digital marketing and sales, for example, will tend to have the biggest payouts, because they’re enabling your entire business operations, rather than just a narrow slice that might be defined as purely digital.

And the converse is often true, wherein the areas where marketing and sales are customer touchpoints [and] are currently the biggest pain points, focusing on digital on those opportunities, versus cost cutting and digitization of processes, can often have bigger payouts as well.

Paul Willmott: For many companies going through a digital transformation, there seem to be a number of different phases, at least in the mind-set of the executive team. Quite often, we see a phase of denial at the beginning, which is a kind of a recognition that something is changing but a lack of willingness to really confront it and understand that perhaps some quite-challenging shifts in strategy or execution or organization may be required.

Once that’s through, you’re often in a zone of confusion where executives start to realize that there are many, many opportunities for digitization and that they could invest in many different ways. And that’s, we feel, the critical point at which winnowing down to a pointed strategy which really hits the value levers for your industry is important.
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There’s often a zone of frustration which is around “Why can’t we execute quicker?” And one of the lessons we’ve learned from that is that it’s really important to start building the right capabilities early on, either through acquisition or through hiring, because once you get into your stride with digital, having the right people with the right experience in the building tends to be the critical success factor.

David Schwartz: Laura and Paul, again, terrific. The flagship piece is called, The case for digital reinvention. It’s very exciting work, and I encourage everybody to learn more and explore the findings on

About the author(s)
Paul Willmott is a senior partner based in the London office and Laura LaBerge is a senior expert in McKinsey’s Stamford office. David Schwartz is a senior editor with McKinsey Publishing and is based in the Stamford office."

End of culled transcript of a McKinsey & Company podcast from the company's website.

 1996-2017 McKinsey & Company

Kenyans abroad are the biggest senders of mobile to mobile remittances

As M-PESA turns 10, data shows 93% of WorldRemit’s money transfers to Kenya go to mobile money accounts

NAIROBI, Kenya, March 28, 2017/ -- To mark the 10th anniversary of ground-breaking mobile money service M-PESA, WorldRemit ( has released new data showing that the Kenyan diaspora is the biggest sender of digital remittances to mobile accounts.

Transfers to mobile money accounts make up 93% of WorldRemit transactions to Kenya now - showing that Kenyans continue to be early adopters of innovative technology, even when abroad.

Mobile money has played a key role in the growth of WorldRemit’s Kenyan customer base, attracted by the low price, speed and convenience of sending instant remittances from the app or website directly to a mobile phone in Kenya.

    •  In January 2017, WorldRemit customers transferred more than $140m (at annualised rate) to Kenya, making WorldRemit one of the largest remittance companies serving the Kenyan diaspora.
   • Top remittance-sending countries are the UK, Australia, US, Germany, Canada and Nordic countries.
   • Around three million Kenyans live abroad, with large communities in North America, Europe and Australia.
   • Remittances play an important role in Kenya’s economy – inward remittances reached a record value of just under $161m in November 2016, according to the Central Bank of Kenya, making it one of the nation’s top earners.
   • WorldRemit is now connected to over a fifth of all mobile money accounts - 112 million of 500 million mobile money accounts around the world.
   • 74% of all international remittances to mobile money accounts coming from money transfer operators are sent via WorldRemit.

The company has pioneered mobile to mobile remittances, sending to 32 mobile money services in 24 countries - more than any other money transfer service.

Globally, WorldRemit customers send more than 580,000 transfers every month to over 140 destinations. WorldRemit makes sending money as easy as sending an instant message.

Ismail Ahmed, Founder and CEO at WorldRemit, comments: “Kenya is famed for leading Africa’s digital transformation, and today it’s Kenyans abroad who are at the forefront of digitising international money transfers. Most of our Kenyan customers use our mobile app, demonstrating the strong demand for convenience when sending to friends and family.

“With half a billion registered accounts worldwide, mobile money continues to transform lives by allowing people to access financial services for the first time. WorldRemit customers now send more than 65,000 transfers to the country every month from the WorldRemit app and website with over 90% going to M-PESA”.

Distributed by APO on behalf of WorldRemit.

More information:

●    WorldRemit - Lucas Germanos, PR Manager - and +44 7951940671 (also WhatsApp)
●    RedHouse PR - Wangui Maina, Account Manager - and +254 722 761 217

Ghana Should Negotiate An End To The Fighting In South Sudan

Surely, the terrible situation faced by the people of South Sudan ought to be of concern to all  Africans?

The deafening silence of Africa's leaders as that nation's selfish elites fight to control their nation's wealth is most unfortunate. And it is shameful.

According to the BBC as many as 100,000 South Sudanese face starvation.
A further one million are said to be on the brink of famine and as many as 4.9 million (42% of the total population apparently) are severely food insecure.

207,000 children are said to be suffering severe acute malnutrition and year on year inflation stands at a staggering  800%.

That sounds like a hell-on-earth existence for most  ordinary South Sudanese.
The question is: Despite our many problems here at home in Ghana, for the sake of the suffering masses of South Sudan,  should the government Ghana not try to end the fighting between President Salva Kiir's South Sudanese government soldiers and forces loyal to the former vice president Riek Machar?

It is totally unacceptable that in 21st century Africa, so much suffering can be caused to virtually the entire population of an independent African nation because their leaders fail to understand that they have a responsibility to improve the living standards of their people by ensuring that there is peace and stability to enable South Sudan's economy to grow.

The question is: Why does President Akufo-Addo not ask former President Mahama to mediate in the fighting between the forces of President  Salva Kiir and  those of former vice president Riek Machar to give the South Sudanese people some respite?

As a result of the dire situation facing them, Ghana  must do all it can to help the people of South Sudan, in their hour of extreme need - by helping to bring an end to the armed conflict there.

Monday, 27 March 2017

AMERI Power Agreement: Why Not Look To Anti-corruption Legislation In The United Arab Emirates For Resolution?

Why do our educated urban elites seldom explore unorthodox solutions to resolve apparently intractable challenges?

The question is: Why are  well-educated Ghanaian professionals - including some of the most handsomely compensated 'experts' in our country - talking of potential judgement debt against Ghana if the Ameri power agreement is abrogated by the government because it is fraudulent?

Are all those genuises who cost taxpayers zillions in salaries and sundry perks unaware that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - led by some of the world's most honest and visionary leaders - frowns upon corruption by companies domiciled there: and have therefore put in place tough anti-bribery laws for that reason?
If it is true that as much as U.S.$150 million of taxpayers' money has been siphoned off into private pockets, why not announce a handsome reward (of say U.S.$15 million) to anyone with solid evidence of bribes being paid to public officials here by agents/lobbyists for AMERI?

And if immunity from prosecutiin is offered to all such whistleblowers would they not come forward to spill the beans and take their share of the reward money - safe in the knowledge that even if they took some of the bribe cash themselves they will not end in jail: becausethey helped Ghana recover its money from the promoters of AMERI?

Could we then not alert the UAE's leaders and get them to investigate this outrage and subsequently prosecute Ameri in the law courts there for bribing officials here to enable them defraud our country - after which we could abrogate that abominable rip-off of a power agreement?

To encourage those who now govern our nation in that direction, we have culled and posted an  article that we hope will inspire Ghanaian officialdom to do some lateral thinking in this vexing matter and resolve it for the benefit of our nation and all its people, once and for all.

Please read on:

''Anti-corruption legislation in the United Arab Emirates

Faizal Latheef


Kochhar & Co Inc.

 Dubai, UAE

Anti-corruption legislation in the UAE

Anti-corruption legislation in the UAE0
Anti-corruption laws in the United Arab Emirates

The UAE is one of the most resilient economies in the world. Its visionary rulers foresaw the dangers of over reliance on oil years back, and made determined efforts to diversify the economy. This created a myriad of opportunities in the market and businesses from across the world rushed to the UAE. However, it appears that many international companies, although clearly enjoying the market growth, are oblivious to the implications of such growth on compliance. In terms of anti-corruption, their attention is confined to the US Federal Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) or the UK Bribery Act and they are unaware of the anti-corruption laws in the UAE.
Legislation on Corruption

It is true that the UAE does not have specific anti-corruption legislation. However, the UAE has taken many steps towards tackling corruption. There are comprehensive legislative provisions on the subject, though they are scattered throughout many pieces of legislation, from the UAE Penal Code (Federal Law No. 3 of 1987) to various codes of conduct. Many corporates are unaware of the existence of these provisions and end up violating them. It is important to note that any such violation by a company or its employees may result in serious consequences, including substantial fines and imprisonment.

Applicability of the Penal Code

The Penal Code imposes criminal liability on an individual who offers to a public official or any other person assigned with a public office, a gift or an advantage of any kind or a promise of anything of the like, in order to commit or omit an act in breach of such official’s duties. The Penal Code extends the liability to any individual who mediates the bribe.

The Penal Code provides a broad meaning to the term ‘public official’ and includes ‘any individual employed by a government ministry or a department and any individual who performs a job relating to public service by virtue of a mandate given to him by a duly authorized public official’. There is one exception however and this occurs when a briber or a mediator informs the judicial or administrative authority of a crime before it is discovered. In this case, the briber or mediator may avoid liability and be exempt from sanctions.

The anti-corruption provisions of the Penal Code also covers ‘non-public officials’ (members of a company board of directors or of a private institution, or the manager or employee of such an entity). The Penal Code prohibits any non-public official from asking for himself or for third parties, or accepting, or taking a promise or gift, to do or abstain from doing an act included in his job or in breach of his duties. It is important to note that it is assumed that the criminal act has been committed even if the non-public official does not intend to do the task or breach his duties. Further, the same punishment will apply if a non-public official solicits or accepts a gift or a promise, after he performs an act or refrains from performing it in breach of his duties with the intention of being rewarded without any prior agreement.

The provisions of the Penal Code apply to all crimes committed in the UAE, including the free zones. More importantly, the Penal Code does not make any distinction between a domestic entity and a foreign entity. This may mean that a company or an individual involved in corrupt practices in the UAE may be held liable under the Penal Code even if they are not resident in the UAE.

Some argue that the UAE authorities have not yet taken firm steps to address corruption in the private sector. There is no provision to prosecute a person paying, or offering to pay a bribe to a non-public official (in case of public officials, the person offering the bribe is criminally liable, whereas the legislative provisions are silent on the guilt of a person offering bribes to a non-public official). However, many recent measures adopted by the authorities against corruption clearly indicate that they are proceeding in the right direction. Accordingly, in all likelihood, the scope of the anti-bribery legislation will be widened to cover the private sector comprehensively.

Human Resources Laws

Another important piece of legislation that includes provisions on anti-corruption is the Federal Human Resources Law (Federal Law No. 11 of 2008). The law is extensive in its scope, and not only prohibits an employee from accepting, offering or requesting bribes, but also prohibits him from accepting any gifts from third parties unless they are symbolic advertising or promotional gifts bearing the name and emblem of the third party. The relevant ministry is required to nominate the organisational units which are allowed to accept such gifts on its behalf for distributing them as per the regulations and standards adopted by the ministry. Further, a public official is prohibited from making or distributing gifts except in the name of the ministry and the organisational unit approved by the ministry. Similar restrictions are included in the Dubai Human Resources Law (Dubai Law No. 27 of 2006).

Codes of Conduct

Various ministries and government departments have published several Codes of Conduct to ensure probity in their organizations. For example, the Ministry of Health has published a number of codes, which include codes for pharmacists, medical practitioners, other healthcare professionals and administrative staff. There are strict provisions in these codes to tackle corruption, which include, prohibition of promotion, or supply of specific medicines or devices; prohibition of receiving financial benefits, gifts or hospitality; prohibition of offering unethical rebates to vendors; and restrictions on having direct or indirect commercial interests in organisations providing pharma or healthcare services.

Definition of ‘bribe’ and facilitation payments

It is interesting to note that the above-mentioned legislation does not provide a uniform definition for the term ‘bribe’. The Penal Code does not mention ‘bribe’ anywhere in it, and refers to ‘any gift or benefit, or a promise for the same’. On the other hand, the Federal Human Resources Law defines ‘bribe’ as ‘any amount of money or a particular service, or anything of material or moral value offered to a government employee that a) accelerates any work that the employee is required to do in the normal course of his duties, or ii) leads to the employee’s failure to do an assigned work, or iii) leads the employee to mediate with another employee to finish an application or take any procedure in violation of the existing legislations’.

An important aspect to consider here is the inclusion of the wording – accelerates any work that the employee is required to do in the normal course of his duties – under the definition. This makes it amply clear the intention of the authorities to alleviate the practice of ‘facilitation payments’ (or ‘grease payments’) from the market. This is of particular significance to those multinational companies coming under the purview of the FCPA. The FCPA provides for certain exceptions where facilitation payments are considered legal, whereas the UAE law does not consider any such exceptions.

Employer’s liability for an employee’s action

It is possible that a company could be held liable for its ‘inaction’ irrespective of whether it was aware of the corrupt act in question. A typical scenario is where an employee pays, or offers to pay a bribe to a public official without the company’s knowledge. It may not be possible for the company to escape from liability in view of the principle of ‘vicarious liability’ enshrined under the Commercial Companies Law (Federal Law No. 2 of 2015) and the Civil Transactions Law (Federal Law No. 5 of 1985).

In accordance with the Commercial Companies Law, a company shall be held liable for the actions of its senior employees, if such employees commit a violation of any laws in the course of their duties. The company shall also be liable to indemnify third parties for any damages caused by such employees. Likewise, the senior management shall be liable to the company, its shareholders and third parties for any damages caused, resulting from fraud, misuse of power, violation of laws, or an error in management. Further, a company shall have civil liability under the Civil Transactions Law for the actions of its employees.

Restrictions on business courtesies

In addition to the legislative provisions and codes mentioned above, the authorities have issued various circulars including a myriad of restrictions aimed at alleviating corrupt practices. These include restrictions on inviting public officials for meals, sponsorship of public officials for events, organising educational events etc.

Interestingly, none of the above legislation or codes prescribe the ‘benchmark’ for business courtesies extended by a company to a public official or a third party. Therefore, it is advisable that the company exercises due caution in such circumstances. Certain key factors, including value of the courtesies offered, purpose of the offers, frequency of such offers and intended beneficiaries should be carefully considered prior to taking any decision in this regard. In all senses, it is better to avoid extending business courtesies benefiting an individual employee exclusively (for e.g. personal unbranded gifts or entertainment vouchers).

Recovery of Illegal Money

Dubai, one of the prominent emirates in the UAE and the region’s commercial hub, is taking stringent measures to tackle corruption. The Dubai government has passed Law No. 37 of 2009 providing for a longer term of imprisonment, up to 20 years, if a person who has obtained ‘Illegal Money’ or ‘Public Funds’ fails to pay thereof. As per the law, if a final court order establishes that a person has obtained ‘Illegal Money’ or ‘Public Money’, he shall be imprisoned for a period varying from 5 to 20 years, the period of imprisonment being proportional to the money obtained. The law has given a broad definition to ‘Illegal Money’ and ‘Public Money’ and define them as “any money obtained by a person directly or indirectly as a result of a deed that is a crime punishable under the law” and “funds that are owned by, or due to, the government or governmental authorities, or corporations or companies owned or related to the government or governmental authorities” respectively. One of the few exceptions provided by the law to escape punishment is, paying off the money.


The UAE is a signatory to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2003 and the Arab Anti-corruption Convention, adopted by the League of Arab States in 2010. It ranks 25 out of the 175 countries included in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2014 published by Transparency International (first among Arab countries). The authorities have realised the importance of tackling corruption to attain sustained economic growth and are taking comprehensive steps in this direction. Therefore, it is highly important that all the stakeholders in the business community take necessary safeguards to ensure compliance.

Faizal Latheef
Kochhar & Co Inc.
Suites 1406 – 1410, The Citadel,
Business Bay
Dubai, UAE

Tel: +971 4 277 6075

Faizal is a Partner in the Dubai office of Kochhar & Co. He has over 17 years of professional experience  and has been practising corporate and commercial law  in the Middle East for a decade. His areas of expertise include foreign investment, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, compliance, corporate restructuring and employment laws.

Faizal has vast experience representing some of the world’s largest multinational corporations in the Middle East, which includes working as a corporate in-house lawyer with a Fortune 500 corporation. Faizal Latheef

The ETHIC Intelligence Expert’s Corner is an opportunity for specialists in the field of anti-corruption compliance to express their views on approaches to and developments in the sector. The views expressed in these articles are those of the authors."

End of culled article by Faisal Latheef.

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