Monday, November 30, 2015

One dead, 37 hurt as Kenya university security drill sparks panic


Nairobi (AFP) - One member of staff died and 37 people were injured Monday after a security drill at a Nairobi university was mistaken for a real attack, sparking scenes of panic, the university said.

A 33-year-old female employee "has died from severe head injuries", said Strathmore University's communications director Betty Ngala.

Police said they were merely carrying out a security exercise, but images showed terrified students standing on window ledges at the university, which is close to the centre of the Kenyan capital.

Ngala said "around 15" people needed hospital treatment after the incident, while 22 others were hurt less seriously.

She said most of those injured suffered broken bones after "jumping from high floors".

Students later said the rush to escape to safety came as they were startled by the sound of gunfire.

In a statement, the university said the exercise on campus was "aimed at testing the preparedness of the university community and emergency team in the event of an attack".

"Unfortunately some students and staff panicked," it added.

Nairobi police chief Japheth Koome said all the proper procedures were followed for Monday's drill.

The students' fearful response comes with the country still reeling from a number of high-profile attacks claimed by Somali-led, Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents.

They include an April massacre at Garissa university in which 148 people were killed, and a 2013 assault on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall that killed 67.

"After what we saw in Garissa and Westgate I couldn't waste a minute, I jumped down and the next thing, I just realised, I can't move because I broke my leg," an unnamed student told Capital FM.

Another student, Joseph, was quoted as saying by the radio station: "It is very wrong that they didn't tell us. After hearing gunshots I had to run out because there were guys who were dressed like Al-Shebab, like those people we saw in Westgate and we had to run away."

Dr Evans Mwendwa at Nairobi West Hospital told Capital FM radio that at least two people were seriously injured in the panic.



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Political watchers applaud High Court ruling


Some political watchers are basking in the glory of a new court ruling prohibiting the police and the Attorney General from using the Circuit Court to stifle demonstrations.

The High Court presided over by Justice Dominic Dennis Adjei on Monday ruled in favour of the Let My Vote Count Alliance in a case in which the Alliance challenged the legality of the Circuit Court to prohibit them from embarking on a demonstration.

Members of the Alliance, for the second time, were seeking to embark on a demonstration to protest claims of a bloated voters' register for the 2016 elections.

But the police hurried to the Circuit Court, ex-parte (without the notice of the Let My Vote Count Alliance) and sought an injunction against the group from proceeding with the demonstration.

This is not the first time the police have acted in that manner but the Alliance wanted it to be the last and therefore challenged the authority of the police to have the circuit court, rule on an ex-parte motion.

On Monday Justice Dominic Dennis ruled in favour of the Alliance saying the Circuit Court cannot be the right platform to prohibit Ghanaians from embarking on a demonstration.

Lawyer to the Let My Vote Count Alliance Nana Asante Bediatuo told Joy News the ruling is a vindication for all human right advocates.

He argued demonstrations are part of the fundamental human rights of Ghanaians which must be respected at all times.

He said the attempts by the police to trample on the rights of the citizenry by using the circuit court is unacceptable.

Nana Asante Bediatuo said if the police were minded to stop any demonstration, at all the right platform to go is the High Court and not the Circuit Court.

More importantly, Nana Bediatuo quoted the ruling as saying the police cannot go to the court ex-parte and that at all times they must inform the party against whom they are seeking to prohibit from proceeding on a demonstration.

He said the Public Order Act only allows the police to be notified as to when, where the demonstration will take place and not necessarily to seek the police permission before embarking on a demonstration.

He said if the police want to restrict time and venue for the demonstration the best place to go is the High Court.



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EOCO must investigate Tsikata, Esther Cobbah for 'criminal' ex-gratia payments


Former deputy Energy Minister KT Hammond wants Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) to chase after former GNPC Chief Executive, former Corporate Affairs Head Esther Cobbah and two others after they were paid monies explained as ex-gratia.

Kobina Tahir Hammond believes GNPC engaged in a “criminal enterprise” when it authorized the payments.

The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) confirmed it had approved the payment of ex-gratia to four former employees comprising of two former Chief Executives and two Managers.

They are Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata (Chief Executive); Nana Boakye Asafu-Adjaye (Ag. Chief Executive); Mr. Benjamin Dagadu (Field Evaluation and Development Manager); and Ms. Esther Cobbah (Public Affairs Manager).

KT Hammond claimed Tsatsu Tsikata was paid one million cedis while Esther Cobbah received about 600,000 cedis.

Esther Cobbah and Tsatsu Tsikata
The four served the Corporation for periods ranging between 12 and 21 years and made “invaluable contributions” before they were all removed from office in 2000 and 2001.

About 15 years later, the GNPC says it had met a “valid obligation” in effecting the payments no matter how belated.

But KT Hammond who first revealed the payments to the media, said he is incensed by the confirmation. But he was at pains to explain whether the two were sacked or completed their tenure.

He maintained that the four persons never made any claim for ex-gratia after they exited under the previous government and questioned why they would be receving the monies under the NDC government.

The Adansi Asokwa MP was however convinced that payment to then Field Evaluation and Development Manager Mr. Benjamin Dagadu is worse of the four ‘criminal’payments.

He said Dagadu “couldn’t have been removed because he still worked at Energy ministry and retired under me at GNPC”.

KT Hammond has been insisting that the public documents clearly show that GNPC was “run down” under Tsatsu Tsikata.

He said the former CEO operated the company as “a personal property” and a “one-man show”.

He said GNPC was saddled with about many debts to different entities under the leadership of Tsatsu Tsikata.

“What was accomplished was the bankruptcy of GNPC” he said adding there was no money to pay the exiting top officials any monies even if they were entitled to it.

“I am convinced in my mind that they were not entitled to a [dime]”, he told Joy News Monday.

He also accused the Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon Doe Adjaho of frustrating his efforts to raise the matter on the floor of parliament.

KT Hammond has said EOCO should be investigating the payments to Tsikata and others instead of chasing after him for his role in the sale of a GNPC Drill Ship.



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Togo's 'Tino' sets example for HIV/AIDS


Lome (AFP) - Augustin Dokla is arguably Togo's most famous person with HIV, having lived with the virus -- against the odds â€"- since 1999. Sixteen years later, he's still fighting for the rights of those infected.

"I will not succumb to this infection but rather I will die with it. I am resolved to bear the heavy burden," he told AFP.

Among friends at Espoir-Vie, the West African nation's largest non-governmental association for people living with HIV, Dokla exudes optimism.

He's still unsure how he contracted the the virus. But, he says, none of that matters in a region where people with HIV are often shunned and access to the right drugs is limited, through supply and cost.

"The important thing now is to live positively with this infection," said the 44-year-old.

- Shock diagnosis -

Dokla tested positive for HIV in 1999 after a bout of serious pneumonia, which saw him spend three months in hospital.

"I had only flesh and bone left after losing close to half of my normal weight of 75 kilograms (165 pounds, 11 stone 8 pounds)," he said.

"One day, I decided to go for an HIV test. When the nurse told me of my status, I let out a long sigh and we stared at each other for some seconds because at that time AIDS was synonymous to a death sentence, with drugs being scarce and very expensive.

"My mother cried her heart out when I broke the bad news to her. But it was a big relief for me that I knew what was going to make life difficult for me."

For two months in 2000, Dokla was treated in a Paris hospital. He was discharged -- and determined to survive.

"It was this treatment that saved me. I refused to die to enable me commit myself the fight against this damned virus," he added.

Since then, he has become a powerful speaker at seminars and awareness campaigns and also heads an agency supporting people living with HIV/AIDS.

- Changing attitudes -

Togo once had the third-highest rate of HIV/AIDS infection in West Africa. A transient population and low spending on healthcare was blamed.

In 2014, 2.5 percent or 110,000 of Togo's 7.5 million people had HIV, according to UNAIDS and Togo's national committee on the virus.

AIDS-related deaths have declined in recent years from 10,330 in 2009 to 6,641 last year, in part due to vigorous campaigning from charities such as Dokla's.

At the same time, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS taking anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs seen as key to suppressing the virus and preventing new infections has gone from 16,225 to 37,511 in the same period.

Dokla, or "Tino" to his friends, however, knows that overcoming social attitudes is also part of the battle.

"I do not undergo special treatment apart from my tablets, which I take every day before I go to bed," he explained.

"I travelled a lot for big conferences in the United States, France, Mexico, Belgium, Italy, Spain, etc. In Africa, I have been to some 30 countries and in my native Togo, I have travelled to all the provinces."

- 'The only battle in my life' -

Eight years ago, Dokla mobilised more than 500 people with HIV for a protest march to denounce a lack of ARV drugs and is a regular feature on the public speaking circuit.

"It is the only battle in my life -- to assist other people not to catch this infection. I give a meaning to my existence each time I give testimony and sensitise ignorant youths on the virus," he said.

"Others living with HIV/AIDS do not have the courage and are hiding for fear of being stigmatised."

"Tino plays a major role in taking care of people living with AIDS in Togo. He knows our problems and he does not hesitate to defend our interests at major events," said Amoussou, who has been undergoing anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment in the past nine years.



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Boko Haram raids in Nigeria, Niger kill eight


Kano (Nigeria) (AFP) - Boko Haram fighters killed eight people at the weekend in northeast Nigeria and southeastern Niger, in deadly raids that saw houses burnt and villagers kidnapped.

The attacks in Bam-Buratai, in Nigeria's Borno state, and in the Diffa region of Niger, happened on Saturday while there was another raid in Gulak, in Nigeria's Adamawa on Sunday.

Boko Haram hit-and-run raids -- once a trademark of the Islamic State group affiliate -- have declined in recent months in the face of a sustained Nigerian army counter-offensive in rural areas.

Instead, the group has increasingly favoured suicide and bomb attacks against civilians in towns and cities to secure maximum casualties and publicity.

Nigerian army spokesman Colonel Sani Usman confirmed the attack in Bam-Buratai, which residents who fled said started when the gunmen arrived on bicycles and on foot at about 11:00 pm (2200 GMT).

The attackers were "shooting indiscriminately and throwing explosives into homes", said one local, who asked not to be identified, from the town of Biu, 20 kilometres (13 miles) away.

"They shot dead three people and burnt another to death in his home before abducting two women and three children and driving them away in the two vehicles to they took from the village."

The remote farming village is near the home of Nigeria's chief of army staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, which was itself targeted in September 2014 and 20 people were killed.

Boko Haram has previously kidnapped women and young girls in its six-year insurgency. Its most high-profile hostages are 219 schoolgirls seized from the Borno town of Chibok in April 2014.

- Cross-border raid -

Across the border in Niger, a local official said four people were killed, two others injured and some 50 homes torched in a village near the provincial capital, Diffa, on Saturday evening.

"The Boko Haram members were armed with Kalashnikovs and came across the Komadougou Yobe" river that divides Niger and Nigeria, Fougou Boukar told state television.

State television showed hundreds of distressed villagers praying in memory of the victims. Some of them showed scores of empty cartridges they had gathered after the attack.

The attack again underlined the regional threat posed by Boko Haram, which has spread its attacks to neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

Last week, Boko Haram killed 18 people and injured 11 others during a raid in the village of Wogom located near the southeastern town of Bosso.

Three of the victims, including the local imam, had their throats slit.

The United Nations has registered around 50 attacks and clashes between Islamist fighters and Nigerien troops since February.

On Saturday, two female suicide bombers blew themselves up in northern Cameroon, killing five and seriously wounding two soldiers.

- Military base -

Boko Haram's insurgency to create a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria has left at least 17,000 people dead and made more than 2.6 million homeless.

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has given his military commanders until the end of the year to end the insurgency, although he has admitted suicide and bomb attacks may continue.

In Adamawa, police spokesman Uthman Abubakar and the former chairman of the Madagali local government area, of which Gulak is the headquarters, said the rebels sacked and razed a military base.

Maina Ularamu said a group of Islamists in two pick-up trucks carried out the attack, forcing the soldiers to flee. The rebels then seized arms and ammunition before setting the base on fire.

"A soldier and several Boko Haram gunmen were killed in the battle while one suspected member of the insurgents was arrested," he added.

The militants abandoned one of their vans in which some of the stolen arms were recovered, he said.

Gulak, some ‎200 kilometres north of the state capital Yola, has been hit by Boko Haram attacks several times.



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Oil money should be invested in two thematic areas to maximize utilization


Ghana’s annual oil revenue is shared between the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation and the Petroleum Holding Fund.

Seventy per cent of the Petroleum Holding Fund is used to support the country’s budget to fund projects in four thematic areas.

However, the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) says it will be more prudent to focus on two major areas instead of four.

The centre observes due to the many targeted areas, funds end up being used for unplanned projects at the expense of planned initiatives.

The Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA), for instance, has four priority areas â€" loans and amortization, agriculture modernization, capacity building as well as roads and other infrastructure.

Roads and other infrastructure component of the priority areas continue to draw concerns, especially, from financial experts.

What is other infrastructure?
Energy experts say ‘other infrastructure’ is vague, and therefore multiple projects are embarked upon, thus, derailing the purpose of the oil revenue.

“Because the definition is very vague many projects are roped in so the small oil money was spread over 15 areas instead of the four in 2013, for instance”, Policy Analyst at ACEP, Dr. Ishmael Ackah said.

ANALYSIS
2013 ABFA BUDGET SPENDING
According to the 2013 Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) Report, total petroleum revenues was US$ 846,767,184 (Gh¢1, 645,585,763).

The Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) for the national budget was US$273.20 million (32.26%).

ABFA allocation to the four priority areas were as follows;

  1. Agriculture modernization received Gh¢13.60 million which represents 2.5% of the total.
  2. Amortisation of Loans for energy sector Gh¢ got 372.07 million, that is, 68.40%.
  3. Capacity Building had Gh¢ 20.18 million which is 3.70% of the total
  4. Roads and other infrastructure received GH¢ 372.07 million which is also 68.40%.

The road sector benefitted the most from the funds allocated from the ABFA, with over Gh¢239.23 million disbursed on 63 roads projects and ancillary works.

It is interesting to note the share of ABFA allocated to road projects accounted for only 14.1 per cent of road sector budget for 2013.

According to the report, all road projects that have benefited from ABFA funding had been started prior to the discovery of oil and the creation of the ABFA under the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA).It is worth noting that virtually all of them were yet to be completed.

It’s, therefore, clear the remaining 85.9 per cent which amounts to Gh¢132.84 (compared to Gh¢159.73 million in 2012)of the ABFA allocations to the “Road and Other Infrastructure” priority area was spent on a range of projects---energy, education, water, housing, security and health.

This brings the total amount of ABFA funds spent on ‘other infrastructure’ projects since 2011 to GH¢293.56 million.

2014 ABFA BUDGET FUNDING
In 2014, petroleum revenue was US$978.02 million which was distributed as follows:

Revenue to the Annual Budget Funding Amount received US$409.07 million (41.82%).

The allocation to the ABFA in 2014 was distributed only to three priority areas in the following proportions:

  1. Expenditure and Amortisation of Loans â€" GH¢163.08 million (29.68%);
  2. Roads and Other Infrastructure â€" GH¢215.69 million (39.26%)
  3. Agriculture Modernization â€" GH¢170.62 million (31.06%)

No allocation was made to the ‘Capacity Building’ priority area in 2014 because planned expenditure was contingent on related Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Projects Incubation Facility which never took off.

Approximately, 60% (Gh¢128.22 million) of the total allocation to the ‘Roads and Other Infrastructure’ priority area was spent to construct, rehabilitate, upgrade and resurface 64 roads and related ancillary works.

The share of ABFA allocated to road projects represented less than 17% of the Roads and Highways sector budget in 2014.

The remaining 41% ( GH¢87.47 million ) of the allocation of the ABFA to the ‘Roads and Other Infrastructure Priority Area’ was spent on energy infrastructure in the Energy and Education sectors, with approximately 86% of the investments going to the energy sector.

2015 ABFA BUDGET SPENDING
The 2015 budget statement and economic policy read by the Finance Minister, Seth Tekper revealed a recurring trend in the spending under the ‘Road and Other Infrastructure’ priority area.

An amount of GH¢ 1, 062,948,161.49 as allocation for the national budget and distributed as follows;

  1. Expenditure and Amortisation of Loans for Oil and Gas- GH¢ 322.3 million
  2. Road and Other Infrastructure- GH¢ 492.92 million
  3. Agriculture Modernization- GH¢ 30 million
  4. Capacity Building (including Oil and Gas)- GH¢ 217.16 million

Total spending for Roads and Other Infrastructure amounted to GH¢451.59 million, against a budget of GH¢492.92 million. Of this amount, GH¢76.21 million was spent on the emergency rehabilitation, upgrading, and construction of roads infrastructure.

An amount of GH¢75.7 million was spent on energy infrastructure, that is the supply of electrical materials and equipment for the nationwide emergency power project and the Self-help Electrification program (SHEP) National Electrification Projects.

Again, an amount of GH¢29.55 million (out of the Roads and Infrastructure spending) was spent on Water Infrastructure. This was mainly for the construction of drainage facilities, sea defence and coastal protection works.

Similarly, an amount of GH¢41.8 million was spent on transport infrastructure in respect of the redevelopment and construction of railway lines, railway stations, and the supply of rolling stock.

In addition, a total amount of GH¢45.14 million was spent on education infrastructure, mainly on the construction of facilities for basic and secondary schools, and the upgrading of Science Resource Centres in 100 schools across the country.

It is interesting to note that, an amount of GH¢183.2 million (US$49.2 million) was transferred to the Global Index and Insurance Facility (GIIF) to finance infrastructure projects.

ANALYSIS CONTINUE
These figures provided in this piece indicate clearly that due to unspecific nature of ‘other infrastructure’ has resulted in derailed utilization of the revenue.

In total, spending on ‘other infrastructure’ has been GH¢754.89 million spent in more than thirteen areas , and broken down as follows;

  1. GH¢ 293.56 million from 2011 to 2013
  2. GH¢ 87.47 million in 2014
  3. GH¢ 373.86 million in 2015

In most cases, the supposed spending in the four priority areas are exceeded which questions the focus of the utilization of the oil money.

Dr. Ishmael Ackah warns Ghana will incur unnecessary cost on projects, if the practice is not stopped.

“The practice is not prudent and therefore a limitation on the law,” he said.

Most of the projects initiated are not completed as a result.

In August, 2011, a nine-man implementation committee was set up to put together a framework for the first ever fisheries college in Ghana at Anomabo in the Central Region.

The proposed college was delayed until August, 2015, when Vice-President, Paa Kwesi Amissah â€"Arthur, laid the foundation for construction to begin.

The ACEP policy analyst indicates that such a project should have been completed by now.

“We are still constructing; if the time over runs, the cost of the project also rises and Ghana will suffer”, he pointed out.

In 2014, an expenditure of Gh¢3.87 million related to the Western Corridor Gas Infrastructure Development Project (WCGIDP) was charged to the ‘Road and Other Infrastructure’ priority area instead of the ‘Expenditure and Amortization of Loans’ category.

This is besides the fact that a significant proportion of allocations to ‘Expenditure and Amortization of Loans was unused during the period under review.

RECOMMENDED SOLUTIONS
To better utilize the money, Dr. Ishmael Ackah suggests funding support should be restricted to only two areas at a time.

He believes agriculture and education be targeted for future benefit when the oil is exhausted after the 20-year life span.

“Instead of targeting so many areas, just focus on two areas and invest in them for a three- year period. After, we assess and see how far we’ve come; then we select two other areas and do same’’, he emphasized.

This, according to Dr. Ackah, will be prudent because it will enable authority to complete projects within the stipulated time.

Experts believe that many parts of the country will be brought out of under development, if this method is employed.

PIAC has on many occasions suggested an urgent need for the budget funding amount to be better-targeted and well-focused to help maximize its effectiveness and impact on the socio-economic development of Ghana.

On the sidelines of a media training programme on oil, gas and mining in Accra last October, Professor Paul Kingsley Buah Bassuah, Chairman of PIAC, in an interview with LUV BIZ, emphasized the need for a national dialogue on how best to derive maximum benefit from oil money.

The Ghana Association for Energy Economics, an affiliate of the International Association for Energy Economics, has therefore earmarked a broader stakeholder meeting for better understanding.

Joshua Sarpong Kumankumah, President of the Association, says it is imperative to de-couple politics from policy implementation.

“Politics must be dissociated from implementing policies in the oil and gas sector, especially, with the management of the revenue”, he said.

The association, earlier this month, held a poster competition on energy modeling to find best ways to address some of these challenges in the sector.

Six students took part in the modeling competition at the KNUST, and winner received 500 US dollars as prize and an attachment package with one of the oil companies.

In as much as civil society groups have held public discussions to ascertain the impact of the oil find after five years of going commercial.



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Kumasi Mayor challenges CDD-UNICEF district league rankings




The Mayor of Kumasi Kojo Bonsu is challenging the accuracy of the Centre for Democratic Development/UNICEF District League Rankings which places the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly 71st on the list of performing districts in Ghana.

The DLT described as a ranking tool of progress aimed at helping track which districts are doing well and those that are struggling. It ranks the Tema Metropolitan Assembly as the best performing assembly and Gomoa West as the worst performer out of 216 districts across the country.

But, Kumasi Mayor, Kojo Bonsu says the CDD league of districts is not an accurate assessment of the performances of districts in Ghana.

In a statement signed by his Spokesperson, Sammy Gyamfi, the Mayor posits that the six indicators used by CDD/UNICEF for the ranking - education, health, sanitation, water, governance and security - fall within the preview of other state institutions and not MMDA's per se.

He also catalogues a number of innovations and developmental projects instituted by his administration that could inure positively to any development ranking.

"The criteria and indicators used for the ranking do not practically and legally fall within the domain of district, municipal or metropolitan assemblies in Ghana," said the statement.

On education, the statement says it is clear that although MMDAs may construct schools and other educational facilities, it doesn't lie in the powers of assemblies to appoint teachers and to supervise teaching and learning in schools.

"It is the GES and the Ministry of Education that are mainly responsible for the appointment and training of teachers, as well as the supervision of teaching and learning in our schools. The roles of MMDAs are therefore at best, auxiliary and ancillary to the responsibility of the GES and the ministry as far as the issue of education is concerned," the statement said.

On the health criteria, it noted that whereas it is true that assemblies construct CHPS compounds and other health facilities, the tooling and equipping of these health facilities, the employment of competent nurses, doctors and health workers, and the delivery of health services are not the duties of MMDA's at all rather the Ghana health service and the ministry of health.

"It will therefore be extremely unfair and inappropriate, to blame an MCE/DCE for the abysmal performance of his assembly in the areas of health and education as far as the CDD ranking is concerned. This is so because most of the core issues that pertain to these sectors are controlled and managed by other institutions of state and not MMDAs," the statement noted. "The same argument can be made on issues of security and water and many others. For example, the day to day provision of security in our cities is the work of the Ghana Police service. Under the laws of Ghana, the control of MMDAs over the Ghana police service as far as the provision of security for the general populace is concerned is a very limited one."

The Kumasi Mayor however said the current position of the KMA on the list is shambolic.

The KMA has moved from its 160th position in 2014 to 71st position this year on the league of districts list.

Mr. Bonsu cited a number of developmental projects executed under his tenure to boost the local economy in the areas of trade, recreation, tourism, transparency and good governance.

"The current redevelopment of the Atonsu, Asawase and Tafo satellite markets, the Kejetia/Central Market reconstruction project, the Rattary Park completed project and many other infrastructure projects currently ongoing in the health and education sectors of Kumasi lay credence to this fact," he noted.

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Tijaniyya Muslim Ends Delegates Congress




The delegates' congress of the Tijaniyya Muslim Council of Ghana has ended in Koforidua the Eastern regional capital of Ghana.

There was Maulid celebration to climax the event which was well attended by chiefs, Ulama, politicians, some members of the council and people from other works of life.

At the two-day congress, stock on the activities of the Council which transpired in the past was taken, and new course chartered to brighten the future of the council.

Speaking on the theme "Global Peace, Religious Tolerance Responsibility of Tijaniyya Council of Ghana", Sheikh AbulFaidi Abdulai Maikano Jallo urged all to respect and tolerates one another's religion.

He reiterated the need in dispensing justice which according to him will ensure the peace everyone is calling for. Sheikh Abul-Faidi expressed his appreciation for the good work the council is embarking and urged them to do more.

The Guest of honor was the ambassador of Royal Norwegian Madam Hege HERTZBERG.

The spiritual leader further stated that, the best protection we can create is to speak well of each other, value our differences, enjoy diversity - it makes life more exiting! - and respect each other's right to practice our religion and live our life.

"I have a challenge to you. Next year, Ghana will hold the general election again. We have already seen fights and loss of lives in political parties. We see a heated debate about the voters roll, and a demonstration against it that turned more violent than Ghana has seen in years. I shall of course not involve myself in the party politics of Ghana, be it internal issues within the parties or the relationship between them, nor shall I take any side in the debate on the voters roll. But I am sincerely convinced that in Ghana, one can express one's opinion in all this cases, and will be heard and respected. One will of course not always get support for ones views, but that is democracy. The better arguments you have, the better chances you have to win the debate."

He added that, "Therefore, there is no need to use violence to promote ones' view. As religious leaders, you have an obligation to tell the people that. Violence for better democracy is a contradiction of terms.

Ghanaian people are in general very religious. I therefore believe that leaders from the various religious faiths have an important role to play in the year to come. You could create an interfaith platform to promote inclusion, transparency and harmony in Ghana before, during and after the 2016 general elections. The platform could have tasks such as deploying conflict-management intelligence for the gathering of early warning signs, and prepare for meetings and mediation to resolve imminent conflicts."

Again, he related that, "Since I took up this post, I have tried to "sell" Ghana to Norwegian companies as a Safe Haven in West Africa, as a peaceful country with a very friendly people. And I also get a lot of requests from organisations in Ghana that would like to travel to Norway and learn from the various Norwegian experiences. I think it is about time to turn that around.

"Ghana's unique experience as a country where the various religious groups can live peacefully together is something you can export. You know much more about this than the Norwegian religious organisations. I wish we could see a delegation from various faiths in Norway visiting Ghana and learning from your experience. If they could come home to Norway and start some new practices and explain that this was something they learned in Ghana, who knows - that may make companies setting their eyes on this wonderful country and look for investment opportunities here."

The Chairman of the occasion AlhajiBalaFaida congratulated participants and invited guest who graced the occasion. The national Chief Imam of the Eastern region Imam Amudani prayed for the council, the nation, Africa and the world for justice, peace and tranquility.

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Kudalor Shakes Up Police Hierarchy




Wide ranging changes have been announced in the Ghana Police Service, corroborating an earlier report in that direction by DAILY GUIDE early last week.

The changes take effect from December 5, 2015.
The first action by Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP) John Kudalor since assuming office recently, the changes will see the Director General Finance, COP Dr. George Dampare, vacating his Schedule Officer appointment at the National Headquarters and becoming the Greater Accra Regional Commander.

Without doubt, it is one movement which would have tongues wagging as to the wisdom or otherwise of it. With the reason only known to the Chief Constable, all can only conjecture in office and street-side gossips now and long after COP Dampare has moved to his new office at Accra Central.

He replaces DCOP Christian Yohunu who now takes over the office held by John Kudalor as Director of Operations at the Police Headquarters.

COP Dampare and his former boss, Mohammed Ahmed Alhassan, are credited with novel developments in the Police Service, the most tangible of which is the creation of the National Patrol Department's Visibility Unit.

DCOP Awuni Angwubutoge, the man whose media background and outspokenness had made him popular among journalists, now leaves the department created by the former IGP - Motor Transport and Traffic Department (MTTD) - at the headquarters for the Eastern Region.

Inside sources have said that this movement would doubtlessly please Awuni, who they have observed was being underutilized at his largely deskbound assignment at the Police Headquarters.

He served for many years at the Public Affairs Directorate before moving out to mainstream policing - among them heading the Motor Transport and Traffic Unit (MTTU) at Accra Central.

 He was also the Northern Regional Commander until becoming the Director General of the newly created MTTD.

It would be recalled that Awuni made the headlines when he descended upon the then Greater Accra Regional Minister, Nii Armah Ashietey, over an offence when he was Commander of the MTTU.

COP Rose Bio Atinga, Director-General, Administration, is now the Director General, Research and Planning, taking over one of the segments making up General Research and handled by COP David Asante Apeatu.

COP Asante Apeatu, who was Director General Research, is now Director General ICT -  maintenance of the status quo minus Research now being handled by COP Rose Bio Atinga.

Administration at the National Headquarters is now going to be in the hands of COP Ransford Ninson as Director General who vacates his Central Region base. DCOP Yaagy Akuribah is the new Central Regional Commander, moving from the Eastern Region.

DCOP Bright Oduro is now Director General Welfare; DCOP/Osaberima Asare Pinkro II, Director General Special Duties and DCOP Beatrice Zakpa Vib-Sanziri moves from Tema to the Headquarters as Director General Human Resource.

COP Seidu Mohamadu Zakaria, who was Director General at the Police Hospital, is now Director General, Medics, with a desk at the Police Headquarters and obviously becoming a member of the Police Headquarters Management Board.

Superintendent Cephas Arthur has received an unexpected elevation as he is made the Director of Public Affairs with his former boss, DCOP Nenyi Ampah Benin, now heading the Police Investigations and Professional Standards Bureau (PIPS).

PIPS was headed by COP Joana Osei Poku who is currently on terminal leave - her last major performance when she spoke during the sod-cutting ceremony for the commencement of work on the PIPS headquarters at the Nima Police Station with the then IGP Mohammed Ahmed Alhassan presiding.

The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) - a very important segment of policing - has its key managers intact: COP Prosper Agbloh, Director General and his deputy or Second-In-Command, ACP Vincent Redeemer Dedjoe, remain at post.

The Regional Commanders for Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Northern, Volta, Western, Upper East and Upper West remain unchanged.

While the movements are largely attributed to the Acting IGP on paper, the reality is that some of them are beyond him - emanating from higher political offices.

By A.R. Gomda

www.GhanaLeaksBlog.com


World leaders write script for a new climate future




Over 150 heads of state and government - the largest group of leaders ever to attend a UN event in a single day - arrived in Paris today to give their public support to the climate change talks.

The nations of the world have gathered to reach a new and universal climate change agreement, in the knowledge that they have already delivered an almost universal set of national responses to meet the long-term climate challenge before the conference even begins.

"You are here today to write the script for a new future," said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. "A future of hope and promise -- of increased prosperity, security and dignity for all".

He says leaders gathering in Paris have the power to secure the well-being of this and succeeding generations.

He has set what he says are the "four criteria for success" - First, the agreement must be durable; Second, the agreement must be dynamic; The third requirement for success is an agreement that embodies solidarity with the poor and most vulnerable; and Fourth, the agreement must be credible.

"The peoples of the world are also on the move. They have taken to the streets, in cities and towns across the world, in a mass mobilization for change. I met with several key civil society groups yesterday. It is clear to me that they have come to Paris filled with energy and emotion - and that they expect each and every one of you to show leadership equal to the test" said Ban Ki-moon.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said that the eyes of millions of people around the world were on the governments meeting in Paris, not just figuratively but literally.

"You have the opportunity, in fact the responsibility, to finalize an agreement that enables the achievement of national climate change goals, that delivers the necessary support for the developing world and that catalyses continuously increasing ambition and action by all," she said.

Ms. Figueres said that the past year had been a turning point and that after many years of hard work, the world was finally seeing that the direction towards a low-carbon, resilient future was irreversible.

"This turning point is truly remarkable, but the task is not done. It is up to you to both capture this progress and chart an unequivocal path forward, with a clear destination, agreed milestones and a predictable timeline that responds to the demands of science and the urgency of the challenge."

On the eve of the COP21 conference, 184 countries covering around 95 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions had delivered their national climate action plans to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). These pledges constitute a good foundation, but are not enough to keep the world below the internationally agreed maximum global average temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius.

COP21 President, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, called on governments to step up their efforts, stating that "the stakes are too high, and the menace of climate change is too great for us to be content with a minimalistic agreement. The Heads of State and Government who have come to Paris have come to express the voice of ambition."

Ahead of the Paris meeting, thousands of companies and investors and thousands of mayors and regional governments announced their commitment to the essential economic and social transformation to low-carbon, sustainable growth and development.

Minister Fabius said the conference would serve to highlight the importance of non-state actors within the framework of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda.

During the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, the governments of France and Peru, along with the UN, are organizing a series of high-level events to demonstrate that the transition to low carbon and resilience is under way.

Throughout the eight days of the LPAA, inspirational new commitments will be announced, in action areas ranging from forests and agriculture to clean energy and private finance for climate action.

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COP21: Ghana Joins The World Under Action 2015 Campaign To Create Awareness With National Climate Rally




Scores of Civil Society Organizations championing the action 2015 campaign in Ghana have embarked on a national climate change rally aimed at creating awareness on the just beginning Conference of Party (COP21), a global UN summit on climate change in Paris.

The rally led by the Purim African Youth Development Platform Ghana (PAYDP) was staged at the Agbogbloshie market in Accra on Sunday attracting masses of youth to the scene.

Executive Director of PAYDP Ghana, Mad. Aku Xornam Kevi addressing the participants explained the United Nations climate change summit of Conference of Party 21 which commenced today in Paris is indeed a very crucial moment for the world to achieve a new international agreement on climate change, applicable to all countries with the aim of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

"If leaders deliver a bold new international climate agreement, they could set us on a path to a healthier and fairer world for everyone" she said.

She further explained governments from more than 190 nations will try to reach an agreement on how to curb carbon pollution and boost resilience to impacts at the COP21 Paris climate talks starting from today, November 30th to 11th December, 2015.

According to her the action 2015 campaign movement which is being mobilized by over 2,000 organizations, networks and coalitions from over 150 countries across the world recognizes November 29, the day before UN summit begins as the day of action which Ghana is also joining hands with thousands around the world for the global Climate Change March.

Earlier on at the Agbogbloshie market in Accra before the commencement of the actual rally, the organizers of the event demonstrated their love and care for the environment as part of efforts to ensure good health and personal hygiene for all by collaborating with the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, Zoomlion and the "Kayaye" Youth Association to vigorously clean-up some parts of the market including the main lorry station park of the market.

Various leaders addressing the rally took turns to address the participants during the rally sending useful and powerful messages on how they can protect their God-given environment by ensuring they get rid of waste materials properly from the environment and tackle the effects of the climate change that comes with it so as to save the planet from deteriorating including the significance of the COP21 to world and for that matter Ghana and the need for action on part of Ghanaian youths as long as action 2015 campaign is concerned.

Chief of Old Fadama Maligunaa advised the participants, majority of them who are youths to take sanitation work seriously since the marketplace is also filled with tons of wastes on daily basis. He commended the organizers for the initiative in staging the rally, pledging his full support for the action 2015 campaign to yield result in the area.

The rally which was climaxed with a massive clean-up exercise was laced with cultural performances amidst great music which thrilled the audience creating a marvelous sight to behold around the entire market.

In attendance were over 200 girls made up of the "Kayaye" Association, some dignitaries from the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, Chiefs and Opinion leaders of Old Fadama(area), Agbogbloshie market women and Coalition members of several Civil Service Organizations.

The rally dubbed "National Climate Rally and Music" was initiated by the PAYDP Ghana with fully supported by the Abibiman Foundation, Global Call for Action Against Poverty (GCAP), Alliance For Development (AFD), Moan Foundation, Action 2015 Ghana, Kayaye Youth Association, 350 G-ROC amongst others.

Climate change is said to be on the rise with its impact already hitting homes in all corners of the world especially the most vulnerable being the hardest hit.

Scientists however say the year 2015 will be the hottest year on record and communities are already feeling the impacts of climate change across the globe.

The United Nations believes the instability brought by the effects of the climate change will threaten peace with the climate change being considered as one of the greatest threats to world security.

It is of strong belief the crucial United Nations summit on climate change will address the world's energy issues as well as tackle the effects of the climate change in totality if taken seriously by world leaders in over 190 countries who will be in attendance in Paris to sign a robust, universal agreement which can signal the end to dirty fossil fuel , the main cause of the problem from this day till December 11.

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History is against Karpower: No guarantee it will give us power - Amin Adams




The celebrations heralding the arrival of a 225megawatt powership from Turkey, energy expert Amin Adam says, may be short lived because there is no guarantee Karpower will indeed produce power.

The Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy, Dr. Mohammed Amin Adam, says government and Ghanaians must tame their excitement because the history of power barge shows it is not a magic wand that will solve Ghana's power crisis.

He was speaking on Joy FM's Super Morning Show day after government held a ceremony to welcome the Karadeniz, which is expected to add 225megawatts to Ghana's energy mix.

There has been a constant media blitz on the Karpower barge with many media houses tracking the ship right from the day it left the shores of Turkey.

Dr. Amin Adam says the enthusiasm must tampered with given that in Lebanon for instance, nine out of the 11 turbines of the powership broke down a few months after the Lebanese government engaged Karadeniz, the barge-constructing company.

The contract was eventually terminated after persistent dissatisfactory performance, he said.

Citizens disgruntled with continues power outages, stage a sit-in blocking the road in Mar Mikhael area in Beirut. (Photo: Marwan Tahtah)

Lebanese History with Karpower
The Karadeniz Powership christened the Fatmag ¼l Sultan, had a 205 MW installed capacity and arrived to Lebanon in February 2013.

It was hailed as "the most practical and rapid solution, both technologically and economically".

The three-year contract was worth $390 million, whereby the cost of one power-generating ship is $65 million per year.

But the Fatmagul Sultan stationed off the Lebanese coast, stopped producing electricity on April 22, 2013.

Its Turkish owner, the Karadeniz company, maintained that reason behind the stoppage was low-quality fuel.

Company sources told Al-Akhbar website that the mistake regarding the fuel standards "is not the responsibility of the company, according to the contract agreement.

After more than a month of defaulting in power supply, Karpower demanded $8million in compensation for the downtime.

"The energy ministry is not of this understanding nor is the Turkish company. The ministry will not pay anything for the downtime period," the Lebanese Energy Ministry reportedly replied.

The Lebanese government set up a special tribunal with judges Ramzi Nohra and Lina Hayek investigating the case.

The special tribunal produced minutes of meetings that showed Karadeniz got exactly the fuel quality they wanted and agreed to.

Therefore, the state will have to pay the full contracted amount for the downtime period." The total owed: $8 million.

The investigating committee went to the Zouk Energy Plant, where the Fatmagul Sultan is docked, only to be refused by the company.

This angered Judge Nohra, who said, "We informed them of our arrival days ahead."

Karideniz History in Pakistan.
In late 2010, Karkey, the Turkish sister company of Karadeniz Holding won a contract to provide a 232-megawatt capacity as part of a five-year contract worth $565 million.

The power barge arrived at the Karachi Port also carrying aid containers prepared for victims of the Pakistani flood.

It was hailed as the biggest Turkish investment in Pakistan, the ships were said to be capable of supplying 30% of the energy needs of Karachi's population of 18 million when operated at full capacity.

The Turkish ships that had guaranteed to provide 232 megawatts of power had provided 60 megawatts of power two years into the agreement.

A Karpower company executive explained that although the fuel used for energy generation was to be supplied by the Pakistani government, the supplies were either late or inadequate hence they were incapable of producing the guaranteed amount.

In March 2012, the Supreme Court in Pakistan ruled in favor of terminating the contract signed with Karpower and other power-generating companies.

The court also asked the auditor general to investigate and take the necessary legal measures against those responsible for this issue, after it became clear that the company does not respect the signed agreement.

Story by Ghana|myjoyonline.com|Edwin Appiah|[email  protected]

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Akim Oda Old Town Ascension Presbyterian Church elevated


Akim Oda (E/R), Nov. 29, GNA - The Akim Oda Old Town Ascension Presbyterian Church, has been elevated from local level to North sub-district under the West Akyem Presbytery.

Reverend Dr Kwame Amoah Kuma, the Chairman of the West Akyem

Presbytery congratulated the members for their contributions towards the church's achievement.

He admonished Christians to show the essence of unadulterated love by portraying its fruits and avoid compromise with sins.

Rev Alexander Nyantakyi, the Head Pastor of the Akim Oda Old Town Ascension Presbyterian Church in a brief history said that the church which has 700 members currently was established in 1891with 15 members.

He said on his transfer to the place in 2010, the members were 300 and has worked assiduously with them to attain elevation.

Rev Nyantakyi urged the members to work harder than before to 'push the wheel of development together', whilst assuring them of God's unfailing support when the need arises physically and spiritually.



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Queenmothers Foundation launches package to recognise midwives


Accra, Nov. 29 GNA - The Queenmothers Foundation of Ghana, an advocacy group formed to ensure the total development of women has launched a special package to award hardworking and dedicated midwives in the country.

The award is to appreciate the selfless and dedicated efforts of the midwives who as women have similar aspiration in terms of maternal health and infant mortality.

Nana Serwaa Bonsu I, Queenmother of Ofinso Kayera in the Ashanti Region, and President of the foundation, at the launch in Accra expressed happiness at the significant reduction of maternal death and infant mortality due to efforts of the Ghana Health Services and the hardworking midwives in the country.

She said the foundation seeks to ensure effective advocacy on women and children right, consensus and peace building, good governance and grassroots participation of women.

''The mission of the foundation is also to establish a society in which the women and children will be motivated to achieve their maximum potentials for their development, 'she said.

She said: 'It is important to remind ourselves as queenmothers that our duty for protection consists of not only taking care of our children but also preventing all acts of abuse violence against children.

Nana Bonsu enumerated a number of initiatives the foundation had undertaken such as, donations to the aged, orphans, widows, persons with disabilities and advocacy on good sanitation.

She appealed to other non- governmental organisations to support the foundation, identify and award the hardworking midwives, adding: ''It is our prayer that no woman will die while giving birth.''



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Neskeal Fashion show slated for November 29


Accra, Nov. 29, GNA - The Management of Neskael Travel and Tours under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts on Sunday, organised the Neskeal Fashion Show at the La-Palm Royal Beach Hotel, in Accra.

The event, the second edition, was designed to promote made in Ghana goods and also to showcase the African culture through fashion.

Mr Nkebolo Sita Kuos Louanges, the organiser of the Show, said the event sought to break local and international boundaries and elevate fashion design and creativity from creative minds to give an exclusive fashion experience without disrespecting the western fashion.

He said the Neskeal Fashion Show was preoccupied to patronise and popularize the 'Friday Wear' tag.

'By this, the event is designed to entertain and educate on the need to promote African culture, and showcase our rich and indigenous cultural heritage and values,' he added.

The show supported creative ideas and education, solicit skills for advancement and development in tourism and also engaged with fashion stakeholders on their fashion activities.

He said served as breeding avenues for dynamic business partnerships in view of encouraging investment opportunities for this creative industry.

In addition, the need for Ethical fashion and sustainability created the platform for engagement and more awareness from dedicated and contemporary ethical fashion designers for creative business practices that regarded the social mission.

The event also experienced models on the runway exuding confidence, beauty and elegance in their expression of African culture through fashion from the industry's best players.

Fashion models adorned in elegantly designed fabrics and accessories from Nallem Clothing, Esperer modele l'agencie, No lable, Selina Beb, Tribe (Kwesi Nti) and NKBK would be showcased.

He expressed the hope that the public would embrace revolution in patronising, documenting and preserving the rich African culture and heritage.



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Afoko Boy Suspended Over Accra Demo


LAWYER NANA Yaw Osei, spokesperson for suspended New Patriotic Party (NPP) National Chairman, Paul Afoko, has been suspended indefinitely by the party in the Ashanti Region for allegedly sponsoring some people to demonstrate against the NPP's decision to suspend his boss.

Scores of NPP members who were summoned before the party's Disciplinary Committee (DC) in the Ashanti Region over the Accra demonstration, alleged that Nana Yaw Osei sponsored their trip.

Based on their confessions, the Regional Executive Committee of the NPP during a meeting in Kumasi on Saturday, evoked Article (3FI) of the party's Constitution to suspend Nana Yaw Osei indefinitely, pending further decision by the National Disciplinary Committee.

Sam Pyne, the Ashanti Regional Scribe of the NPP, told DAILY GUIDE that other members in the region, including Isaac Brenya and Okai Kwanin, Constituency Chairmen for Asawase and Ejisu respectively, had also been suspended indefinitely for being found guilty over the Accra demonstration.

He disclosed that the DC also found other party members such as Awal Mohammed, Osman and Wasila Gariba, Constituency Assistant Secretary, Youth Organizer and Deputy Women Organizer at Asawase respectively, guilty of the same offence and had been suspended indefinitely.

Likewise, the NPP Constituency Organizer at Atwima Nwabiagya North, Asabre Yeboah and his deputy, Boateng Marfo; Peter Asamoah, Organizer of Atwima Nwabiagya South and Sasu Apaa, Youth Organizer at Fomena, had followed suit.

Mr Sam Pyne said Kwasi Nti Asamoah and Joseph Agyeman Dapaah, Constituency Chairmen for Fomena and Ahafo Ano South-East Constituencies respectively, had been suspended for three months, effective November 7, this year, adding that the duo were made to sign a bond to be of good behaviour for one year.

It would be recalled that scores of NPP faithful in Kumasi some few weeks ago, boarded buses to the party's head office in Accra to demonstrate against the party's decision to suspend Paul Afoko.



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Global Cinemas, Nilani Media sign deal to boost movie industry


Accra, Nov. 29, GNA - Global Cinemas, Ghana's top luxury cinema complex has partnered Nilani Media, a local media production company to premiere Ghana's blockbuster action thriller, 'Interception' in Accra.

Written by Nina Lalwani, and directed by Pascal Aka, with executive production by Nina and Prakash Lalwani, the 'Interception' would be the first Ghanaian produced action thriller to be premiered at the Global Cinemas at Weija.

Addressing a news conference in Accra, Mr Kweku Cobbina, Business Manager for Global Cinemas, expressed the company's excitement for its first major partnership to promote made-in-Ghana movies.

'Global Cinemas is a wholly Ghanaian owned cinema complex that aims to give world class entertainment to Ghanaians while promoting local talent and movie production.

'We want to stir more interest in Ghanaian movies and this action packed thriller, with all the big names and its high production quality, is comparable to world standards,' he said.

Mr Cobbina commended Nilani for the outstanding production of 'Interception', saying that it over exceeded expectations from the cast to storyline and even the special effects for the stunts.

'Interception is an amazing job well done and I believe Ghanaians are going to enjoy watching this movie exclusively during the Christmas period at Global Cinemas,' he said.

Prakash Lalwani, Executive Producer of Nilani, said partnering with Global Cinemas would help bring better entertainment to Ghanaians.

'We are excited to partner with Global Cinemas to debut Interception this December and we are very impressed with the movie halls and the 3D screens with surround sound.

'This is a perfect partnership; a Ghanaian movie production house, premiering a Ghanaian blockbuster, in a Ghanaian cinema complex with a state-of-the-art facilities and we look forward to a successful premiere, come December 11, 12 and 13, and to greater partnerships in the near future,' he said.

Starring some of Ghana's top cast including Adjetey Anang, Chris Attoh, John Dumelo, Ama K. Abebrese, Jasmine Baroudi, Benny Blanco and Pascal Aka, Interception is a law enforcement movie about a tactical team of highly trained ex-military men (Special Ops Team) who have been handpicked by the Vice President of Ghana for special assignments.

The two partners, Global Cinemas is a new state-of-the-art luxury cinema complex at Weija positioned to offer premium entertainment options to Ghanaians at an affordable price and Nilani Media Productions is a Media Productions and Events Company based in Accra.



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Mahama Blames High Tariff On Power Theft


President Mahama (2nd right) inspecting the smart meters

President John Dramani Mahama has attributed the increase in electricity tariff to illegal connections in the country.

According to him, Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) accounts and pays for power that is lost through theft.

This, according to him, forces ECG to increase the tariff in order to recover money to pay Volta River Authority (VRA) and other power producers in the country.

President Mahama, who made this known at the inauguration of IMES, a Ghanaian-owed meter assembling company said, 'One of the problems that the ECG faces is the issue of loss of power through power theft. This account for the bulk of the power losses and ECG has to pay for them because they are not producing the power.

'So for every person who steals power makes it more expensive for those of us paying and that is why our tariffs are high,' he added.

The president said electricity tariff would go down if everyone pays for the power used, urging Ghanaians to report the perpetrators to curb the menace.

He noted that the introduction of the intelligent meters by IMES Ghana was critical to sustaining power generation and addressing the issue of power losses through theft which is a major challenge for the ECG.

This, he said, would be done by preventing the tampering of meters, as well as making the use of meters easier for consumers of power.

Local Content
Dr Kwabena Donkor, Minister of Power said, 'The local content policy does not end at just the utilization of Ghanaian human capital but goes further to include local participation in equity holding.

'Ghana will not just become an assembling nation, but it will become a country where citizens fully participate in equity ownership of enterprises,' he stated.

By Cephas Larbi
[email protected][1]

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PSI launches Tax Justice campaign


Accra, Nov. 29, GNA - The Public Service International (PSI) has launched a global campaign, dubbed: 'Tax Justice Project'.

It is to ensure that African Government's get the required revenue to improve the public sector services.

Under the project, efforts at enhancing the public sector should include unions working with revenue agencies in promoting tax efficiency to generate more money for development.

The project is being funded by the Netherland Trade Union and FNV Mondial and supported by PSI affiliates in Ghana namely, Local Government Workers Union, Health Services Workers Union, Public Utility Workers Union, Public Service Workers Union, Teachers and Educational Workers Union, Civil and Local Government Workers Union and Ghana Registered Nurses Association.

Mr Bernard Adjei, Deputy General Secretary of the PSWU, addressing the participants of the affiliate unions, urged them to show interest in government's tax policies and advocate against excessive tax incentives and exemptions.

He said government's concern over public sector wage bill had resulted in restraint on employment through the implementation of policy of net hiring freeze.

'This had contributed to some public service delivery shortfalls and real wage of public sector workers had also declined in 'recent times,' he said.

He expressed regret that government through the International Monetary Fund programme seeks a further decline in real wages of public sector workers, adding that, 'public sector wages are not the cause of the macroeconomic challenges that the wage restriction efforts government seeks to achieve'.

He said one of the challenges with pay levels and social security for public sector workers is their effects on fiscal space for other economic and social investments by government.

Mr Adjei said the analysis suggests that if government could improve revenue generational through improved of tax efficiency, eliminate tax avoidance and excessive tax concessions, there would be enough fiscal space for improve tax revenue for both further improvement in public workers compensation and social protection.

He said on basis of the analysis public sector unions need to reverse the trend by resisting government's intention to further reduce real wages of public sector workers and 'this can be achieved by ensuring that wage increase are at least equivalent to inflation rate'.

'In order to forestall the widening of the wage gap between the top and bottom, unions need to consider alternatives to the current across the board increase of pay on the Single Spine Salary Structure,' he stressed.

He expressed regret about the way tax exemptions are granted adding that 'the people do not benefit at all from those exemptions because of loopholes and advised African governments to strengthen their revenue authorities and the audit services'.



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Veep calls for the training of students to be critical thinkers


Accra, Nov. 29, GNA - Vice-President Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah Arthur has called on university authorities to train students to be equipped with the knowledge, skills and leadership qualities that are relevant for the constantly changing needs of the modern global economy.

'It is the responsibility of universities to graduate students who can match their counterparts from other parts of the world. It is not enough for our students to be just knowledgeable but they must be trained to be able to apply their knowledge to solve the pressing needs of our societies, 'he stated.

Speaking at the Inauguration of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) Diamond Club in Accra, he said, the challenge requires not just government support but also the mobilisation of resources from different sources to develop the human capital requirements.

Vice President Amissah Arthur said one way of making the university's relevant to the society is through partnership with industry in training students and build capacity of its faculty to deliver timely solutions to challenges through research.

He said government would continue to invest in the sector and support universities by developing key facilities to produce high quality manpower.

Professor D.D Kuupole, Vice Chancellor of UCC noted that the University as a corporate entity is focused on having a strong body that is worldwide acclaimed to produce good graduate that could be accepted worldwide.

He said here is a good environment to learn and the University has produced finest graduates in business, politics, finance and entrepreneurship.

He said five colleges have been established to enhance learning which are: College of Humanities, College of Agricultural, College of Health, College of Education Studies and College of Distance Education.

Prof Kuupole says the University has established partnership with industries and individuals.

The club members were inaugurated and notable among them include: Dr Sir Sam Essuon Jonah - Chancellor UCC, Nana Sam Brew - Butler - Chairman of Council - UCC, Prof. D.D Kuupole - Vice Chancellor - UCC, Mr Ebo Barton - Oduro - MP Cape Coast North, Mr. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah - CEO Brownstone Capital, and Abraham Amaliba, Esq. - Legal Practitioner,

The University launched the Advancement Support Campaign which targets a 10- year agenda for the University to achieve specific projects in three main areas: campus enhancement, innovation and public services.

The campaign sought to create an environment to improve student life, foster student-focused learning and students with strong ethics and commitment to the society.

The campaign is also to develop and strengthen integrated ICT infrastructure and facilities that support teaching and learning, research and outreach.

The target of the campaign is to raise an amount of GH¢ 10 million every appeal year for the next 10 years to realise the campaign objective.



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ECOWAS regulators endorse key documents for regional electricity market


Accra, Nov. 29, GNA - Members of the Consultative Committees of Regulators and operators of the ECOWAS Regional Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERERA) have endorsed key documents towards the first phase of the regional electricity market.

The templates for the bilateral contracts would serve as a reference for revised or new contracts by Member States when the first phase of the West African electricity market begins in 2016.

The endorsement was made after ERERA held their sixth meeting in Accra from November 17 to November 18. The two-day conference was to specifically consider the status of the implementation of the ECOWAS ministerial Directive on the organization of the regional electricity market issued in 2013.

The various types of bilateral contracts - in the short, medium and long term, as well as those for connection and use of the regional transmission network - are currently being developed by the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP) and will be presented to ERERA for adoption.

The adoption would be preceded by consultations with stakeholders in the regional electricity market, including operators and national regulators.

It was also agreed at the meeting, that contracts on cross-border electricity trade already in place will remain valid according to their originally agreed terms, in accordance with the provisions of the 2013 ECOWAS ministerial Directive on the organization of the regional electricity market.

The Directive, which provides the general framework for governing the regional electricity market within the framework of the ECOWAS Energy Protocol, also relates to the operations of the electricity market principles.

These include the market design and phases, open access to the regional transmission network and access by eligible customers, as well as the harmonization of cross-border contractual arrangements.

Members of the Committees of Regulators and Operators took note of the status of implementation of the Directive by Member States and the challenges faced in its implementation.

The updates wouldl form part of a report to be presented to the ECOWAS Council of Ministers at their next meeting in December.

Participants who reviewed the draft regional dispute resolution procedures and enforcement rules agreed to further review the regulations so as to clarify the deadlines for settlement of disputes, among other issues, before their adoption by ERERA.

In addition, they endorsed the proposal by ERERA for a rebranding of the institution's annual flagship Forum of regional regulators.

The Forum seeks to promote cooperation and exchange of information amongst practitioners in the electricity sector in West Africa, including regulatory authorities of ECOWAS Member States.

The meeting, was attended by representatives of the Ministries of Energy, National Regulatory Authorities, operators in the production, transmission and distribution of electricity in ECOWAS Member States as well as the General Secretariat of the Cotonou-based WAPP.



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Ghana cocoa gets global boost with Olam acquisition of ADM


Olam International, one of Ghana’s largest agro-commodity companies, has completed its acquisition of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Company’s worldwide cocoa business.

All former ADM employees in Ghana, including the major processing plant at Kumasi, now come under Olam Cocoa which, following the acquisition, has become a top 3 global processor of cocoa products as well as one of the world’s leading buyers of cocoa beans.

Mr. Amit Agrawal, Olam’s country head for Ghana, comments: “Ghana is strategically significant to the future success of Olam Cocoa. Through this acquisition we have not only increased our farmer buying networks but we now have our first processing facility in Ghana which, thanks to the skill of the Kumasi team, produces cocoa liquor to exceptionally high standards.”

Mr. John Scott Donkoh, Plant Manager of the Kumasi facility added, “Everyone here is very happy to be part of the Olam Cocoa family. We have heard about the success they have had in cocoa and we are therefore excited to be part of a team that, with the support of the authorities, will advance the processing business here in Ghana.”

Olam has pledged that it will continue to put farmer livelihoods at the heart of its sourcing efforts. This year alone, 10,500 cocoa farmers in Ghana have benefited from the Olam Livelihood Charter programme, collectively receiving US$10,446,477 in short-term, interest-free micro-finance; US$588,000 in premiums on top of the government price for certified product; and 145,000 cocoa seedlings. All 10,500 farmers, including over 4,088 women, received training in Good Agricultural Practices, and 1,000 farmers have received training in Business Skills.

In partnership with Rainforest Alliance, Olam Cocoa has also established the world’s first verified climate-smart cocoa programme in the Bia / Juabeso regions. The programme helps farmers to mitigate and adapt to rising temperatures, in particular highlighting that cutting down forest illegally to grow more cocoa will only make the issues worse as there are fewer trees to help absorb the carbon dioxide. Instead farmers learn how to increase their yields through better agricultural practices. To date, the programme has also planted 286 hectares of trees to reconstitute the forest.

Mr. Kennedy Ntoso, Olam Cocoa Sustainability Manager in Ghana, commented that the programmes, “are positively impacting 151 communities and 10,500 farmers. The adoption of sustainable farming practices has improved farmer incomes and enhanced community resilience to climate change.”

The acquisition of ADM Cocoa is just another example of how Olam is continuing to invest in Ghana. Olam began operations in 1994, supporting cashew and cocoa farmers and investing in infrastructure for the manufacture and distribution of low-cost essentials including tomato paste, biscuits and wheat flour.



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Pope to visit mosque in conflict-ridden Central Africa


Bangui (Central African Republic) (AFP) - Pope Francis is set to visit a mosque in a flashpoint area of the Central African Republic's capital on Monday, as he wraps up his first visit to the continent.

The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics will meet members of the Muslim community and visit the Koudoukou mosque in the PK5 district, a maze of red dirt roads and flimsy shacks at the heart of recent sectarian violence.

A little after 08:00 am (0700 GMT) Francis will meet with five imams at the mosque, then hold a ceremony nearby intended to promote religious reconciliation.

Wrapping up his three-country African tour, Francis will then celebrate a huge mass at the capital's 20,000-seat Barthelemy Boganda Stadium before heading back to the Vatican.

The pontiff has hammered home the message of peace during his visit to the Central African Republic, which has been wracked by tit-for-tat violence between Muslim rebels and Christian vigilante groups.

"We are all brothers," the pope said on Sunday as he visited a camp housing some 3,000 internally displaced people in the heart of Bangui.

Francis also called for unity, urging people to avoid "the temptation of fear of others, of the unfamiliar, of what is not part of our ethnic group, our political views or our religious denomination".

His message -- and the fact that he actually visited the country, despite significant security concerns -- struck a chord with locals and drew pledges of peace and forgiveness.

- 'Ready to forget' -

"We should eat together, we should live together with Muslims," said Clarisse Mbai, a mother who lost all her worldly possessions in inter-religious violence.

"They looted everything, they burnt my house and I have nothing but I am ready to forget," she said.

Nicole Ouabangue, whose husband was hacked to death with an axe, said she had heard many speeches before but the pope's words were "different".

"Pope Francis has more influence. If there is anybody who can resolve our problems on Earth, it is him," she said.

The landlocked Central African Republic descended into bloodshed after longtime Christian leader Francois Bozize was ousted by rebels from the mainly Muslim Seleka force in March 2013.

The coup triggered a wave of violence between ex-Seleka members and Christian "anti-balaka" (anti-machete) militias, plunging the former French colony into its worst crisis since independence in 1960.

On Sunday, the 78-year-old pontiff opened a "holy door" during a mass at Bangui Cathedral, marking the beginning of a Jubilee Year dedicated to forgiveness and reconciliation.

Although the year will formally be inaugurated on December 8, opening the door marked its symbolic start. Until now, such a gesture has only ever taken place in the Church's headquarters in the Vatican or in Rome.

"Bangui has become the spiritual capital of the world," the pontiff said.



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'Power Barge Won't End Dumsor'


GOVERNMENT DELEGATION on Sunday held a short ceremony to welcome the Karpower barge which had docked at the Tema Fishing Harbour.

However, contrary to claims by National Democratic Congress (NDC) government propagandists, the Minister of Power, Dr Kwabena Donkor, has emphasised that the arrival of the barge would not end the dumsor or erratic power supply.

The power barge docked at the Tema Harbour Saturday evening, and at a welcoming ceremony on Sunday, Dr Donkor said the ship, which is about the size of a football pitch and the height of a three-storey building, would ease the load shedding.

'Let me say that the arrival of this barge will not solve all our problems,' Dr Donkor, who has promised to end what has now become known as dumsor by the close of 2015, failing which he would resign his post, underscored.

'It will make a contribution. As we speak the 250MW power project at Aboadze is also proceeding and indeed that is even bigger than the Karpowership… the KTPP Plant's 220 MW is also at completion stage and TICO's 120MW steam expansion has been completed. TAPCO has gone through the full combine cycle and a lot is happening in the sector. We do ourselves and Ghana a disservice when we focus only on the power barge,' he added.

The ceremony was to give government officials the opportunity to have firsthand information about the 235 MW power generation ship on its arrival.

President John Dramani Mahama is expected to commission the barge when all the connections are completed in a couple of weeks' time.

Speaking at the ceremony, Deputy Minister of Power, John Jinapor, was positive that with the arrival of the two power barges, coupled with arrangements being put in place to get some thermal plants in the country to generate power into the national grid, Ghanaians would have nothing to worry about.

Orhan Remzi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Koradeniz Holding, manufacturers of the power ship, said its (barge's) cost of operation is lower than that of thermal power generation in the world.

The CEO added that the ship would be using heavy fuel to generate electricity but would also have the ability to revert to natural gas as soon as gas is made available, which would help Ghana save some money.

Earlier, Director for Public Affairs at the Public Utilities Regulation Commission (PURC), Nana Yaa Jantuah, and accredited journalists who were billed to cover the arrival of the barge were locked outside the yard, as security officers demanded that they dress in reflectors before being allowed into the premises.

It took the intervention of some officials of Karpower for some selected journalists and officials to have access into the yard to witness the inspection ceremony by the sector minister.

Although the power barge was scheduled to dock at the Tema Port in the first quarter of this year, it was rescheduled to September, with government not being able to meet the initial timelines.

On November 6, 2015, the power barge sailed out of Turkish waters towed by a speed deck cargo ship (Black Marine) in order to ensure a faster cruise to Ghana.

On November 22, 2015 the Black Marine docked at the Ivory Coast port where it was offloaded and handed over to other speed boats from the Ghana Navy after some documentation.

The power purchase agreement (PPA) was signed between the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and Karpowership Ghana Company to generate 450 MW for 10 years into the national grid.



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Amissah Arthur Fears Bawumia -Says Ga-Adangme NDC


Vice President Amissah-Arthur(left) and Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia(right)

The Ga-Adangme youth of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC)   have called on Vice President Amissah-Arthur to rise up and defend the government against attacks by Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, vice presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

According to the group, he had remained consistent in attacking the government's economic policies.

'We find it very unspeakable the vice president has so far found no response to Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, leaving the president with no other choice than to respond himself. This we feel is a strong indictment on the capability of the vice president to inspire any confidence in our electioneering campaigns, let alone lead the party in 2020.

'As an economist on the same level or even higher than Dr. Bawumia, is Amissah-Arthur not in a better position to respond to the serial attacks on the presidency? Why has he remained voiceless for three years and rather made Dr. Bawumia a perceived demigod of economics in Ghana?' the group wondered in a statement issued in Accra over the weekend.

The statement was ostensibly issued as a protest to the apparent attempt by some big shots in the NDC to impose a running mate on John Mahama for the 2016 polls. The president appears to be settling on Amissah-Arthur, but the  Ga-Adangme youth think he should drop the vice president because of his abysmal performance in office as exemplified by the bad economic management, though he (vice) is the chairman of the economic management team.

They claimed they agreed to the school of thought that retaining Mr Amissah-Arthur as President Mahama's running mate for the 2016 general elections would be politically suicidal, adding that President Mahama should be given enough time to do a broader consultation with the key stakeholders for the greater interest of the NDC to be considered in the selection of a fitting running-mate.

Explaining why the group was not in support of Amissah-Arthur, the statement said the NDC ought to strategically get a vice president who could possibly lead the party into 2020.

 'It is even common knowledge within the NDC that the current vice president, Mr. Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, is not an appealing candidate and doesn't come near leading the party in the foreseeable future. This assertion is also reportedly confirmed by the vice president himself who on several occasions has confided in friends that he is frustrated in his job and may need to give a bow out of mainstream politics,' the statement added.

 It explained further that 'If, some NDC party executives are opinionating the happenings in the NPP as a blessing in disguise for the NDC as we enter 2016, and therefore the party could take a risk with the current vice president, then the NDC will surely pay for complacency as happened in the 2000 elections.

'The NPP may come even stronger and wounded for power when the storm is calmed and peace is returned to the party. The NDC must not underestimate that the NPP may come into elections 2016 as wounded lions when they get back united.

'History has it that the NDC has never maintained a running mate which has brought us to where we are now. Rawlings changed Nkensen Arkaah for John Evans Atta-Mills, who later changed Martin Amidu for Mohammed Mumuni before finally settling on John Mahama. Why then could someone not still be sacrificed for results if we are to win the 2016 and future elections?'



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Local VAS players welcome ICH amid concerns over revenue reconciliation


Wireless applications service providers in Ghana say they are glad about the one-stop-shop opportunity the interconnect clearinghouse (ICH) will provide for them to connect to all telcos.

The Wireless Applications Service Providers Association of Ghana (WASPAG) is however, worried there may be a gap in the revenue reconciliation process at the ICH.

WASPAG is a group of licensed Ghanaian mobile value added service providers (VASPs) with the expertise and technology to distribute content such as bulk and other special SMS, ringtones and caller ring-back tones, short audios and videos and others through short codes on the mobile networks.

To do this, they obtain licensed short codes from the industry regulator, National Communications Authority (NCA) and then make direct contacts with each of the telcos for activation of the licensed short codes before they can use it.

According to the Regulatory and Corporate Affairs Director of WASPAG, Conrad Nyuur, often, the telcos refuse to activate some licensed short codes with the excuse that it does not make business sense for the respective telcos.

Nyuur is outraged as to why a telco would blatantly refuse to activate a licensed short code and the regulator would sit by and do absolutely nothing to enforce the regulations regarding licensed short codes.

He is however glad that to the extent that the ICH will be a one-stop-shop for connecting to telcos and activating short codes for VAS, "we think the ICH is a good idea."

But he told Adom News WASPAG is still worried that the role of the ICH as a middle man might rather injure the VAS players by causing significant financial losses.

He explained that "for instance if we send one million messages to the ICH and pay for that and the ICH sends those messages to the respective telco but the telco shows proof that it was only able to deliver 200,000 out of the one million so they pay for only that, we would have then paid ICH for an extra 800,000 messages which were not delivered and that will be our loss."

NCA
But the NCA has explained that under the new ICH regime, payment would not be made until after the final reconciliation. So if the telco makes payment for 200,000 messages, as in Nyuur's analogy, that is exactly what the VAS player will pay the ICH for and not the original one million messages sent.

The NCA is also surprised that WASPAG is complaining about telcos not activating licensed short codes.

According to the NCA, it deals with individual licensed VAS players and not an association like WASPAG; and till date, no VAS player has reported any such non-competitive behavior by any telco to the NCA.

"We therefore admonish the VAS players to use the appropriate channels of report these issues to the NCA and they will be dealt with in accordance to laid down regulations," the NCA said in a response to Adom News.

Afriwave
Meanwhile, the CEO of the licensed ICH operator, Afriwave Telecoms Ghana Limited, Philip Sowah recently announced that the aspect where ICH will mediate between VAS players and telcos is in the second phase of its operations.

He told Adom News they will engage the VAS players extensively prior to the implementation of that phase, to ensure mutual understanding of how things will work.

Story by Ghana | Samuel Dowuona | [email protected][1]

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Climate change threatens Tunisia olive farming


Mornag (Tunisie) (AFP) - Tunisia's 3,000-year history of olive farming is under threat with warnings that production is at risk of halving by 2030 because of the extremes of climate change, from floods to droughts.

"Before it used to rain regularly and the harvest was good. Today, everything is different," said 65-year-old olive farmer Amor Slama.

This year at least, his country's battered economy can count on record olive oil exports.

But climate change can wreak havoc in the North African state, where only a few hundred kilometres (miles) separate the fertile lands on the shore from the first dunes of the Sahara desert.

The Slama family has for generations cultivated tens of thousands of olive trees on 230 hectares (570 acres) in Mornag, south of Tunis, where the fields are parched in the summer and turn green in the springtime.

"When I started olive farming 30 years ago, I never thought that one day I would have to water the trees," Slama said.

Extreme weather can add to the perils, with heavy rains inundating the land, sweeping away the earth and damaging trees.

In the short term, Tunisia's olive oil sector, which accounts for more than 40 percent of revenues from agricultural exports and five percent of total exports, has cause to celebrate.

Official figures project a record output of 340,000 tonnes in 2015, with 312,000 tonnes for export, making Tunisia -- for the first time -- the world's leading exporter of the prized product.

In a rare spot of good news for an economy rattled by jihadist violence and political instability since Tunisia's 2011 revolution, the sector has brought in almost one billion euros ($1.07 billion) this year, said Anis Rayani, an adviser at the agriculture ministry.

- Frequent droughts -

But farmer Slama remains pessimistic.

"It's been more than 20 years now that I've been noticing the impact of climate change, especially rising temperatures, on the crop," he said.

"From one year to the next, olive oil production can go from 300 tonnes to 30 tonnes."

Chokri Bayoudh of the agriculture ministry said olive crops have always been at the mercy of the elements.

"But before we used to have severe drought one year out of five. Now it's an average of two in five."

Climate change affects the entire olive oil sector that employs 390,000 of the country's 560,000 agricultural workers and provides a source of revenue for one million Tunisians.

As things stand, out of Tunisia's 80 million olive trees, 80 percent are not irrigated and depend entirely on rainwater.

Moreover, a high percentage of them are to be found in central and southern Tunisia which has the most arid soil.

A joint study by the agriculture ministry and the German cooperation agency warns production could be cut in half by 2030, leaving many farmers in ruin.

"To water the trees we've had to spend a lot of money: digging a deep well and constructing basins to retain rainwater," Slama said.

"But with the drought the well water turned salty and then dried up," said the farmer, whose basins on a land of cracked earth today stand empty.

The ministry's Bayoudh said Tunisia has been taking action to face the challenge of climate change.

"We've started to implement a plan to stabilise production within the next few years," he said.

Tunisian authorities are encouraging farmers to plant local species of olive trees that are more resistant to drought and plan themselves to plant up to five million in the north of the country where average rainfall is the highest.

The 18-million-euro ($19-million) project has been officially launched and runs until 2020.

"We have to adapt," said Bayoudh.

Source: http://www.huhuonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=841:climate-change-mass-tree-planting-is-the-answer-worldwide&catid=89:finance&Itemid=283[1]

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Is Dr Zanetor Rawlings Eligible to Contest Parliamentary Elections in 2016?


By Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK November 29, 2015
According to media reports in Ghana, a private citizen is heading to court to annul the results of the NDC’s Klottey Korle parliamentary primary, which was won by Dr Zanetor Agyemang Rawlings, the first child of Ex-President Rawlings and his wife, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings. It is also reported that a law firm has filed a search at the EC to ascertain whether Zanetor’s name is on the Electoral Register. Safo & Marfo @ Law wants to know the following: whether or not Dr Zanetor Rawlings is a register voter within the meaning of Article 94(1)(a) of the 1992 Constitution and if so, when was her name entered onto the electoral register? The law firm also wants a certified true copy of the Zanetor’s register (see, “Private Citizen seeks to nullify Zanetor's election in court”, Ghanaweb/Myjoyonline, November 28, 2015). This is analysis of the citizens’ action and its potential implications for Zenator, the Rawlings family and NDC.

The intended action of the private citizen and the search request by Safo & Narfo @Law I believe are aimed at upholding the 1992 Ghanaian Constitution. In a country where lawlessness and indiscipline are gradually eating the country alive, these actions to uphold the Constitution must be applauded. The actions could potentially disqualify Dr Zanetor Rawlings from contesting the Klottey Korle Constituency, which she won on behalf of NDC just a week ago despite her name not on NDC’s voters register for the primary. However, this matter is not as clear cut as appears to the naked eye.

Prior to the NDC primaries on November 21, 2015 and when it became public knowledge that Zanetor was contesting the Klottey Korle Constituency primary, there were reports that she was not a registered voter in Ghana. No one in Ghana or within the NDC followed up the reports. In effect, the reports suffered sudden death, so she filled her nomination forms, was vetted and approved as a candidate by NDC only for the allegation to resurface after her victory.

If it's true that Dr Zenetor Rawlings is not a registered voter in Ghana but she managed to contest and won, then there are lots of questions to be answered by her, NDC and her parents. Has Zanetor breached Ghana’s Constitution? Did she do so deliberately and if so, did she believed or assumed that her father’s position as former president and founder of the NDC absolved her from complying with the laws of Ghana? What sort of a legislator would she be, if, even before she got elected as MP she is breaching the very document that will guide her work as a legislature? Could she be prosecuted for her total disregard for the law? Finally, could she be disqualified from contesting the Korley Klotte Constituency for NDC in 2016?

Let me attempt to answer the last question. Article 94(1)(a) of the Constitution states, “subject to the provisions of this article, a person shall not be qualified to be a Member of Parliament unless (a) s/he is a citizen of Ghana, has attained the age of twenty-one years and is a registered voter”. The last condition, (is a registered voter) though unambiguous is subject interpretation. In my view, the words “is a registered voter” raise question of when (date) does one qualifies to be a registered voter to be eligible to stand for election as M. Is it at the time of filling nomination with the EC as parliamentary candidate or at the time of filling nomination forms to contest a party’s parliamentary primary (if one is contesting on behalf of a political party)? This is not clarified by the Constitution. I believe it will at the time of filling nomination forms with the EC to contest for the parliamentary election. I say so because if one is contesting as an independent, then this constitutional requirement must be met at the point of filling nomination forms with the EC and must equally apply to all other parliamentary candidates. There cannot be different rules for different candidates.

If my understanding is accurate, then it is possible that despite Zanetor not being a registered voter at the time of the NDC parliamentary primaries, it is possible for her to register when the EC opens the Voters’ Register during the limited exercise as it does just before national elections. In that case, Zanetor could still contest the 2016 parliamentary elections on behalf of NDC. On the other, if my interpretation is wrong but one should be a registered voter at the time of filling nominations to contest the party parliamentary primary, then she will be ineligible to contest in 2016 despite her victory.

Why did Greater Accra NDC Executive not conduct due diligence on whether Zanetor was a registered voter before vetting and approving her candidacy when allegation about her not being a registered voter first surfaced? Do they believe that because of her family connection in Ghana and within the NDC she does not need to comply with the Constitution of Ghana? Were they scared of disqualifying the daughter of former president and the founder of NDC? What is intriguing is the fact that when the Regional Chairman, Mr Ade Coker was asked why Zanetor’s name was not on the NDC voters’ register for Korley Klotte Constituency on the day of elections, he replied that it was probably because her name was not on Ghana’s Electoral Register. I was shocked by his response and public admission that one of their candidates and a potential MP was not a registered voter in Ghana.

Though shocking, it’s no strange to me because in Ghana anything and everything is acceptable, whether constitutional or unconstitutional, legal or illegal. Party activists openly boast of breaking electoral laws, yet, they are not interviewed by the police, let alone prosecuted. The NDC MP for Gomoa Central publicly admitted to using money to influence the outcome of the party’s presidential primary, an electoral offence, yet no action has been taken by either the EC or the police. Again, someone who claims to be a card holding member of the opposition party, NPP publicly admitted to securing military uniforms for people to invade NPP Headquarters, a very serious criminal offence and a threat to national security, yet he is being treated with kid gloves. Ghana is slowly descending into abyss.

For NDC its failure to ensure that Zanetor is a registered voter before approving her candidacy could cause them the Korley Klotte seat because some of her supported could see the court action to disqualify her as coming from the side of the defeated candidate and should it lead to her disqualification, her supporters may refuse to vote for the 2016 NDC candidate, particularly if it’s the defeated candidate.

For the parents, did they also know that Zanetor was not a registered voter, yet they encourage and supported her to contest? Do they believe that their position should enable her to contest irrespective of the fact that she may not be eligible under the 1992 Constitution? Do they think their family should be above the law or what?

It appears the Rawlingses have had everything done for them when they were in power to the extent that they are now incapable of managing some aspects of their public affairs. In 2012 Zanetor’s mother, (Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings) was disqualified by the EC as presidential candidate of her party, NDP because her nomination forms were not properly completed by her. If she could not ensure that her nomination forms were correctly completed, how on earth was she expecting to be president of Ghana? Now her daughter could also be disqualified for not being a registered voter before contesting for elected office. Perhaps, because of their past, they wrongly believe that they are above the law and that the constitution does not apply to them. For the Rawlingses, Zanetor’s disqualification will be a big blow to their political machination to take control over the NDC and may have to wait another four years, when she can contest again if disqualified in 2016.

No one in Ghana should be above the law and all must be made to comply with the laws, rules and regulations of the state, irrespective of one’s position, wealth, gender, race, religion, age, socio-economic or political status and the Rawlingses should be no exception.



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