Tuesday, March 31, 2015

GHEITI Bill to be laid before parliament this year

A bill to institutionalize the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GHEITI) is expected to be laid before parliament this year.

The Initiative is a global coalition of governments, extractive companies and civil society working together to improve accountability in the management of natural resources.

Data collection for the Ghana EITI is currently voluntary for interest parties, including government agencies and firms operating in the extractive industry.

The Natural Resource Sector Transparency and Accountability Bill, 2014 seeks to provide the legal framework to enhance transparency and accountability in relation to governance of the natural resource sector of the economy.

National Coordinator of the Ghana EITI, Franklin Ashiadey, observed the Initiative has been instrumental in most reforms in the extractives sector - including the review of the minerals royalty from three to five percent, review of the corporate tax and capital allowances.

"For the fact that companies are now willing to disclose information to the general public, for Ghanaians to know how much companies are paying to government alone is enough to ensure some transparency in their operations," he stated.

The GHEITI was introduced over a decade ago with a narrow focus on revenue transparency. This has been broadened to provide accountability and transparency along the entire extractive value chain - from the award of licenses and contracts through to regulation, collection of taxes, distribution and use of revenues to support sustainable development.

Legal Consultant on the Bill, Tuinese Amuzu, describes the legal instrument as a good governance and accountability tool. He explains the general context is to ensure natural resource extraction benefits the people.

The Bill also provide platform for the effective implementation of the EITI Standards and other measures aimed at good natural resource governance, whilst empowering the general public to demand accountability and transparency in the development outcomes from benefits from payments made by mining firms to government.

Mr. Ashiadey says giving legal backing to the Ghana EITI process will help address some of the challenges faced by the Initiative.

He is hopeful Bill, currently going through stages of consultation with interest groups, should go through parliament before end of year.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

The Luxurious Life of Sakawa (Fraud) Boys - 411 on All You Need to Know

It is 7 p.m.,loud music is booming from a house a stone throw away. Young men and women dressed in tight fitting jeans or multi-coloured robes twist and turn to the rhythms of Shatta wale’s hit song “Megye wo girl”, which literally means “I will take your woman”.

Not far away, a group of Christians have pitched their camp in another house, preaching, dancing and singing.

It is Saturday night at Kasoa Galilea, a sprawling community in the Awutu Senya District in the Central Region, and the noise from the two camps is a weekly routine.

But between the two, the faithful in the church end their worship by 9 p.m., leaving behind the rather loud party that travels deep into the night.

Usually characterised by the popping of expensive champagnes, it is a party whose attendants may not be more than 30 years but many of them come with expensive automobiles such as the  Range Rover, Lexus, Honda Crosstour, Venza and Infiniti.

Don’t rack your brains; this is not the gathering of young business executives. It is the congregation of young men and women with expertise in cyber fraud, known in local parlance as ‘sakawa’—the fusion of Internet fraud with “voodooism.”

Being in their midst will overwhelm you, especially with respect to their lifestyle.

As young as these men are, they live in houses which the salary of an average worker cannot afford and drive posh cars one wonders how they manage to fuel daily.

The lifestyle of these young men can only be compared to that of business tycoons.

They use the latest electronic gadgets and wear fashionable designer clothes and shoes. The amount some of these young men spend on clothes, perfumes and electronic gadgets such as phones and laptops can be used to purchase a three-bedroom flat without a sweat.

Genesis of Sakawa

‘Sakawa’ is a terminology derived from Hausa, a widely spoken language in West Africa, which literally means “putting inside”.

It emerged in the late 90s  as some youngsters who were regarded as highly intelligent and smart started spending time on the Internet. These young men resided mainly in the Zongo communities of Nima, Mamobi and Newtown in the Greater Accra Region.

At that time,  it involved the use of credit cards to do online shopping which were shipped directly into the country and sometimes through partners overseas.

The ‘sakawa’ trend  seemed to have gained more grounds following the involvement of Nigerians in the country. New ideas and modus operandi originated from the trend, which is now termed simply as “browse”.

Men pose as women and chat with unsuspecting male victims online under  the pretence of being  in love with them. They go ahead to demand huge sums of money and gifts from their “client”.

Others also resort to business transactions in gold dust, timber, securities and oil in which they use forged documents from government agencies to lure their victims.

These activities have sprung to major areas, especially in the southern sector of the country. Most of the youth see it as a lucrative business which does not require any hard work.

New trend

Another modus operandi, which is voodooism, has been added to the phenomenon. The youth engage in occultism and seek other spiritual assistance to facilitate their activities while others resort to blood money.

Those who engage in occultism are said to  perform certain rituals, including sacrificing a family member and offering parts of their body for sacrifices.

Some of the human parts allegedly offered for sacrifices include left fingers and the right toe.

With the left finger, the Sakawa boy or girl  is instructed to wear a ring and never to take it off. If the person takes the ring off without the necessary rituals, he or she will go mad or in the extreme case, die.

Those who opt for the right toe can never wear shoes again till they die. Most of them, I gathered, preferred their left finger to their right toe.

These sacrifices are in stages, with the majority instructed to sleep in coffins every day at  midnight for a month. Others chew live insects such as cockroaches and reptiles like lizards.

A person’s level of sacrifices determines how rich and wealthy he or she  becomes.

Waiting Period

One would think that after performing all these sacrifices, the money would begin to flow for these young people, but that is not the case.

Most of them have to endure seasons of waiting to see their sacrifices bearing fruit. This, however, depends on one’s luck and level of sacrifices.

Some of them, unfortunately, have to wait for more than a year. This means that they have to depend on friends and family for assistance.

Others receive support and assistance from their mentor “Sakawa men” who have already made it.

In an interview with one of the  Sakawa boys (name withheld), he narrated how hard  it was for him to wait for eight months before his rainy days began.

“After I performed my rituals, which involved chewing live maggots for three nights, I was instructed not to bath for a week. I also slept in a dark room for a month,” he said.

Although he did not disclose to this reporter how the money started coming, he mentioned $53,000 as the first amount he received from his “client”.

That, he said, opened the floodgates to his wealth, which  now  include two  three bedroom houses and four cars.

Let it rain

This is the part where pain is quickly forgotten and sudden joy takes over. Most of these young people, after they make their first hit, which usually falls within $50,000 to S100,000, purchase their first car.

Some of them also, as a good sign of showing appreciation, buy laptops for friends who helped them during their “broke days”.

One would also know when a Sakawa boy makes a hit. They paint the whole town red by organising parties.

As usual, most of them spend massively on acquiring new properties, buying expensive cars and chasing women.

The type of car a Sakawa boy drives usually tells how rich he is. Most of them own about three cars.

One unique attribute about Sakawa boys is that they would never turn their back on their own, especially when the person is hit by either sickness or death.

Security concerns

The practice has become so intensive that the security services, especially the Ghana Police Service (GPS), over the past years, have launched attacks against the operations of the Sakawa boys.

According to the Greater Accra Regional Police Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP) Christian Tettey Yohonu, the operations of the Sakawa boys continue to tarnish the country’s image.

He said the police had decided to make the activities of the Sakawa boys unattractive by putting down intelligence at the various places to clamp down on their operations.

DCOP Yohonu said a lot of the Internet fraudsters had been arrested and prosecuted over the past years, adding that efforts were being made to root out their operations.

+Ghana Leaks

Sarkodie’s Email Hacked, See The Content

Hackers have found their way into Sarkodie’s email and you cant imagine what they requested from DJ Abrantie inside UK. Sarkodie made this known n a tweet. He said “Ma email got hacked …. Dude sending people emails asking ma contacts for money smh!!”

If you have received a massage from Sarkodie’s mail requesting for cash, then its from the hackers. Sarkodie will hardly do that.

See the mail below:

No Hope? Dumsor To Be Worsened Temporarily

The current load shedding exercise is expected to be aggravated in a couple of days as the country’s major thermal plants shut down, sources close to the producers have told Citi News.

The gas pressure through the West African Gas Pipeline at 7pm Monday was 14 Bars, way below the standard pressure needed to keep the plants in production.

However, the situation improved around 10:30am Monday when the gas pressure at Tema increased to 29 Bars, according to figures from the Ghana Grid Company.

Ghana is currently shedding about 500 megawatts of power daily and the situation could leave Ghana clinging to less than 800 megawatts of power to drive domestic, commercial and industrial activities.

It has also emerged that the Volta River Authority owes the Ghana Gas Company for gas supplied to the various plants in Takoradi.

The Ghana Gas Company is expected to help Ghana improve power production by about 540MW when its Atuabo Gas Project is fully commissioned.

+Ghana Leaks

Ghana Health Service Receives 1 Million Condoms

Northern Regional Health Directorate of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has received one million condoms from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) in support of an awareness creation programme to sensitise selected communities on the prevention and control HIV/AIDS.

Other medical  equipment and consumables consisting of  1,000,000 long lasting insecticidal nets, 1,000 mosquito larvicides, microscopes, nucleopore filters, blood collection equipment, lancets boxes, disinfectants, amongst others, were presented to the GHS.

The items, presented to the GHS authorities, formed part of the health aspect of the Northern Rural Growth Programme (NRGP).

The equipment are expected to mitigate any unintended negative health impacts of the infrastructure facilities in the beneficiary communities.
Presenting the equipment to the GHS in Tamale, the Deputy Minister of MoFA and Member of Parliament for Mion , Dr Alhassan Ahmed Yakubu, expressed the hope that the donation would strengthen the  collaboration between MoFA and GHS to enable the two state agencies to work closely to mitigate the unintended negative effects of water-borne disease and  HIV/AIDS.

Deputy National Programme, Manager of Neglected Tropical Diseases at GHS, Dr Benjamin Marfo, on behalf of the Director General,Dr Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyira, lauded MoFA's move to partner GHS to deal with  health  problems in the region.

He observed that many projects gear at alleviating sufferings normally do not factor in unintended health impact in the society.

Dr Marfo was, therefore, happy that NRGP and MoFA considered the health impact of the people, adding that GHS would conduct a base line survey on the incidence of water disease and would create awareness of the beneficiary communities on the prevention and control of water related diseases and HIV/AIDS.

From Stephen Zoure, Tamale

+Ghana Leaks

Muslim girls writing WASSCE not to take off veils - WAEC reiterates

The West African Examination Council (WAEC) has reiterated a directive barring Muslim girls taking part in the ongoing West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) from taking off their veils.

WAEC's emphasis follows a complaint by a female student of the Galaxy International School that she was asked to take of her veil before she could write the examination.

The student who reported at her examination centre, the St. Peters Mission School in Madina told Joy News' Michaela Anderson that she was asked to remove her veil when she entered the examination hall.

Her supervisor told her that she could put the veil back on after the examination adding that she was not allowed to enter the hall with her veil on.

According to the student, the supervisor explained to her that WAEC officials had ordered students to take their veils off before they sat for the examination.

But authorities of WAEC say they have given no such directive.

Head of the Ghana National Office of WAEC, Rev. Sam Nii Nmai Ollennu told Joy News that supervisors at the various examination centres have been told to allow candidates write their papers once they have been appropriately identified.

The candidate does not necessarily have to remove the veil before they can be identified, he added.

He cautioned supervisors to adhere to the directive and ensure that the examinations are conducted peacefully.

+Ghana Leaks

Trouble Brewing At Asamankese - National Security

The peaceful atmosphere of Asamankese, capital of the Lower West Akim Municipality in the Eastern Region, is likely to be disturbed today if the national security apparatus fails to intervene, DAILY GUIDE has gathered.

Reports indicate that a clan called Abrade Royal family of Asamankese has raised concerns over the enstoolment of the new Asamankese chief, Osabarima Adu Darko III, claiming that he is not from the royal family and therefore could not installed as the chief of the town.

DAILY GUIDE learned that the Abrade Royal family had petitioned the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Council, the Lower West Akim Municipal Chief Executive, George Mensah Akpalu and the area police commander to wade into the matter and stop the proposed outdooring ceremony today to prevent any bloodshed.

Barimah Poki Asomaning, the Aworasahene of the Abrade Royal family who was against the chief's installation on Sunday, told journalists at a media briefing that his outfit would create confusion if the police failed to intervene to stop the outdooring ceremony.

The Aworasahene asserted that after the death of the late Asamankese chief, Osabarima Kwaku Amoah III, the kingmakers decided to nominate a royal to replace him as it is always done.

According to him, the Asamankese queen mother Obaapanin Akosua Birikoramaa, Barima Kwame Ofori, Baffour Otibu Darko and Obutu Frimpong, without any consultations with the Abrade family and the kingmakers, went ahead to install one Kwaku Obeng – who is said to be the biological son of the queen mother – as the new chief of the area.

Barima Poki disclosed that he went to the Koforidua high court to place an injunction on the installation and the matter was sent to the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area judicial committee for settlement, but the queen mother ignored it and went ahead to install his son as the chief.

The Aworasahene hinted that the high court had begun hearing the case for committal for contempt from 25 March, this year. However, the queen mother had purportedly hanged banners and pasted posters to announce the coronation and outdooring of the chief.

Meanwhile, the Aworasahene has indicated his outfit's willingness to accept any verdict that might come from the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area's judicial council.

Before the installation of the new chief, the queen mother is said to have appeared before the high court and denied that her outfit had installed a new chief.

Attempts by DAILY GUIDE to speak to the Queen mother at press time proved futile as her phones were off.

The paper's sources hinted that the two factions had concealed some guns and other weapons for a showdown during the outdooring ceremony today.

FROM Daniel Bampoe, Asamankese

+Ghana Leaks

Fishermen 'Sack' Minister

Fishermen across the country's coast have besieged the Ministry of Fisheries and aquaculture Development in protest against the dissolution of the premix committee.

According to the fishermen, the Minister, Sherry Ayittey, had been making unilateral decisions without consulting them, and so she must resign.

They also cited for instance, the plan to dissolve the landing beach committee, saying that was an unacceptable development.

Some of the fishermen who spoke to Adom FM also questioned the abilities of the Fisheries Minister.

The group said their visit to the ministry was to question why the committee had been dissolved without their consent.

They presented a petition to the Deputy Minister of Fisheries and aquaculture Development, Benita Sena Okity-Duah.

The deputy minister promised to get the group's concerns addressed and a response conveyed to them in the shortest time possible.

Last month the central Regional branch of the national Democratic congress (NDC) accused the premix committees in the region of diversion of premix fuel and lack of accountability, which it said, was creating open confrontations.

A statement signed by the party's communications officer, consequently appealed to president John Mahama to dissolve all premix committees in the region, and empower Mr. Aquinas Tawiah Quansah, the regional minister, to reconstitute them.

+Ghana Leaks

Exposed: WASSCE Students Fight Over Boyfriend

DAILY GUIDE has gathered that two female final year students of Adiembra Senior High School near Sekondi in the Western Region, nearly missed yesterday's Integrated Science paper of the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) for fighting over a boyfriend.

The two students were said to have been in at loggerheads over the boyfriend in the farming community for some time now.

They were reportedly engaged in a serious brawl on Sunday prior to the beginning of the examination yesterday.

 According to sources, the fisticuffs involving the two female students resulted in blade wounds on one of them.

It was also gathered that the injured was stuck in her bed at her hostel as the two were being investigated by the school's authorities.

However, a source at the school told DAILY GUIDE that the injured wrote yesterday's first paper in pains.

Meanwhile, the school's authorities have claimed that they are day students and that the school knew nothing about the incident, adding 'more so it happened outside the school campus.'

'Every student is either a day or a boarder student and once it happened outside the campus, authorities have nothing to do about it', they explained.

All final year SHS students across the country began the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) yesterday with the Integrated Science subject.

The conduct of the first Paper in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in the region on Monday went on smoothly. At about 8:30am, candidates were seated awaiting instructions to start work.

Speaking to DAILY GUIDE in an interview, Patrick Wayoe, head of the Western African Examination Council (WAEC) revealed that a total of 18,555 final-year senior high school (SHS) student candidates are writing this year's WASSCE in the region.

He indicated that out of the number, 9,201 males and 9,354 females are writing the examination at different centres.

He expressed satisfaction at the manner in which the on-going WASSCE was being handled by the authorities of SHS's in the area, despite the challenges posed by the huge number of students writing the examination.

He was also impressed and satisfied with the preparations by the schools' authorities for the examinations and how supervisors and invigilators were performing their respective duties.

From Emmanuel Opoku, Takoradi

+Ghana Leaks

I am Not A Prostitute – Nana Yaa Jantuah

“I’m not a prostitute,” the director of public relations and external affairs of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) has disclaimed in an interview with Morning Starr’s Kafui Dey on Starr 103.5FM.

Ms Jantuah, who has been the face of the PURC as far as explaining issues concerning poor power supply are concerned, has been the butt of public anger in recent times after the Commission announced hikes in electricity and water tariffs despite a worsening power crisis that has necessitated a load shedding exercise.

“I heard people said that I am wicked, I am a prostitute…they say it on social media…[it makes me feel] bad,” she complained.

She said the constant abuse has made her contemplate resigning on several occasions but was stopped by her boss each time.

“Maybe when the time comes, I’ll resign,” she said. “I wish I could just pick my bag one day and say I’m gone, seriously. [I’ve given it serious thought]. Last night I was thinking about: ‘Why don’t I leave’.

“I was taught by my father [F A Jantuah, who served in the Nkrumah government] to do what is right and if I decide to take up a responsibility, I have to do it to the fullest at the time that I’m still there and when the time comes for me to leave then I’m gone.

“Ask my boss how many times haven’t I said I’m leaving. Because you see some of the things and [they] hit you: that somebody will say that you are a prostitute and a prostitute is somebody who solicits for sex openly and I don’t solicit for sex, I don’t do that and you find somebody you are older than just insulting you and talking to you anyhow. I’m getting to 50, but you get somebody [as young as] 24…[talking to you anyhow]. And that’s somebody I could give birth to,” she bemoaned.

“I’ll tell you a story: I was praying in church and somebody saw me and the person said he stopped praying and was looking at me to make sure it’s me. So when we finished he walked up to me and said: ‘Is that you?’ I said: ‘Why?’ He said: ‘You pray?’ I said: ‘Yes I’m a human being. I pray…I’m just doing a job and I do it to the best of my ability…some people say I’m a disgrace, some people say I’m not a good Christian, but Kafui if you’re given a job, you do it to the best of your ability.”

Source : StarrFM Ghana

+Ghana Leaks

Federal Agents Busted for Stealing Bitcoins and Extorting Silk Road Founder

Source: The Fiscal Times
March 30, 2015
Nothing like getting caught red-handed while working a government investigation.

Two former federal agents were charged Monday with stealing Bitcoin and laundering money while working at the center of last year’s massive investigation into the now-defunct Silk Road.

Justice Department officials announced the charges against former DEA officer Carl Mark Force and former Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges. The two men allegedly used Bitcoin to launder money while they were in the middle of investigating the infamous online black market, which was shut down by the government last year.

Related: U.S. Probed Mt. Gox CEO as Possible Silk Road Mastermind

At the time, the government seized about $33 million worth of Bitcoin from the marketplace and charged its founder, Ross Ulbricht – or “Dread Pirate Roberts,” as he’s known on the web – with aiding drug trafficking. He was ultimately found guilty and awaits sentencing.

Carl Force was the main investigator tasked with communicating with Ulbricht. He allegedly used his position during the investigation to extort money from Ulbricht by using a number of Internet aliases.

In one instance, Force apparently demanded $250,000 from Ulbricht in exchange for withholding information from his colleagues at the DOJ.

The government charged him with wiring fraud, stealing government property and money laundering.

Related: Porn, Drugs, Hitmen, Hackers: This is the Deep Web

Separately, Bridges, the Secret Service agent, worked with Force and allegedly diverted more than $800,000 in Bitcoin to a personal account during the investigation. The complaint accuses the two former agents of texting back and forth about the fluctuating value of Bitcoin.

The two reportedly resigned from their positions abruptly before being arrested last week.

The charges against the agents come at an embarrassing time for both of their former agencies. Just last week a report from the DOJ’s inspector general accused agents at the Drug Enforcement Agency of having “sex parties” with prostitutes bought and paid for by drug cartels in Columbia.

The Secret Service has suffered a problem-plagued year with numerous security breaches as well as a prostitution scandal in 2010.

+Ghana Leaks

Video: UCC Leaked Tape - Nana Abena Korkor Addo In Trouble With DKB On Campus

UCC SRC presidential aspirant Nana Abena Korkor Addo was at the center stage of DKB’s jokes when he stormed University of Cape Coast with DKBLive comedy show last Friday.

+Ghana Leaks

Nigeria Election: INEC Officially Declares Buhari winner

Main opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari
won Nigeria's presidential election by 2.57 million
votes, according to official results announced on
The Independent National Electoral Commission
said the 72-year-old, from the All Progressives
Congress (APC), won 15,424,921 votes or 53.95
percent of the 28,587,564 total valid votes cast.
His nearest rival, President Goodluck Jonathan,
57, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), won
12,853,162 (44.96 percent) at the election, which
was held on Saturday and Sunday.
INEC chairman Attahiru Jega said: "Muhammadu
Buhari, of the APC, having satisfied the
requirement for the law and scored the highest
number of votes is hereby declared the winner
and is returned elected."

Chief And His Driver Shot Dead

The Chief of Chinto, near Dobro, in the Adoagyiri
Nsawam municipality of the Eastern Region, and
his driver were gruesomely murdered on
Saturday night. Nana Kofi Mankata and his driver,
Richard Asante, 38, were shot dead by unknown
assailants at the chief's rented premises at
Adoagyiri, after returning from a funeral at
Fotobi, near Nsawam.
Nana Mankata was shot twice in the chest and
right shoulder, while Mensah was hit on the head
by a bullet at close range. The incident attracted a
large crowd, including relatives of the chief who
wept uncontrollably. The Nsawam District Police
Commander, Chief Superintendent Akwasi
Kankam-Boadu, who confirmed the incident to
The Ghanaian Times, said his outfit received a
distress call about the gruesome murder.
He said policemen dispatched to the crime scene,
saw the bodies of the two people in a pool of
Chief Supt. Kankam-Boadu said, the bodies were
subsequently inspected and conveyed to the
Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital mortuary in Accra. He
said the police have retrieved three pellets from
the crime scene.
He said investigations revealed that the two had
arrived from a funeral at Fotobi at about 9:30
Chief Supt. Kankam-Boadu said the driver had
parked the chief's vehicle on the road, and both
were walking to his residence when the assailants
fired at them, killing them instantly. He said no
arrest had been made so far, adding that the
police have intensified their search for the
perpetrators of the crime.
The Police Commander said investigations were

Monday, March 30, 2015

Stop charcoal burning or perish'

Sorbelle, U/WR, March 30, GNA - Alhaji Amidu Sulemana, the Upper West Regional Minister, has asked people in the Sissala West District to either stop charcoal burning or perish in the near future.

He said the livelihood of the people, depended on agriculture and expressed regret at the wanton destruction of trees for charcoal production, adding that, such acts causes climate change and desertification and affects food production.

Alhaji Sulemana said charcoal production had become a lucrative business in the district, with several individuals becoming charcoal contractors and providing a ready market for the commodity.

He said it was sad that many people in the district were involved in the business because of the guaranteed markets, and warned that if the indiscriminate felling of trees, including economic ones for charcoal production was not stopped, sooner or later, 'the onetime food basket of the region would become the hunger basket'.

Alhaji Sulemana expressed these at the 'Gandawi Naabahilime' festival of the chiefs and people of the Gandawi Traditional Area in the Sissala West District at Sorbelle, over the weekend.

The festival was on the theme: 'Promoting peace and unity for development through our shared culture'.

The Regional Minister called on stakeholders, such as the traditional rulers, the Forestry Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, District Assemblies and the District Police Command to join forces to nip the activities of persons involved in charcoal burning in the bud.

He also urged people of the communities to report those involved in the indiscriminate felling of tress to the police to save the environment.

Alhaji Sulemana urged the people to work together to ensure that there was peace in the communities to attract the much needed development they had been yearning for.

He urged them to use festivals to promote patriotism and values that could bring about unity.

Kuoro Issifu Kajia Navei, the Chief of Sorbelle appealed to the authorities to rehabilitate the roads in the area to facilitate the movement of goods and services,   as well as the provision of a small town water system and school infrastructure for the community.

Kuoro Navei, who is also the acting president of the Gandawi Traditional Council, expressed concern about issues of land and chieftaincy in the area, which he said were worrying and needed to be addressed amicably to help sustain peace.

The Sorbelle Kuoro appealed to the regional police command to consider establishing a police post at Sorbelle to deal with the incidence of armed robbery and criminal activities in the area, which is closer to neighbouring Burkina Faso.

The 'Gandawi' Festival is celebrated by the people in remembrance of the traditions and bravery of their ancestors and to rekindle in the youth, the traditional values of the Gandawi Clan.

The celebration was characterized by traditional dance performances and merry making.

Biakoye makes snail-pace progress in CLTS

Nkonya, (V/R), March 30, GNA - Much effort, time and patience would be needed to move many households in Open Defecation endemic communities in the Biakoye district in the Volta region to construct domestic toilets.

That was the impression arising from a monitoring visit to those communities as part of the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) programme.

The CLTS is a flagship strategy under the UNICEF and the Ghana Government's Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme to eradicate open defecation (OD) in some endemic districts in the Volta, Central, Northern, Upper-East and Upper-West regions of Ghana and promote hand-washing on visiting the toilet.

Under the CLTS programme, Environmental Health Officers were deployed to educate and 'trigger' OD communities to appreciate and draw their own conclusions that they were jeopardizing their health by practicing OD and for not washing their hands after visiting the toilet.

Having gained that realization, community members were encouraged and given technical advice to construct simple, well-kept household toilets and hand-washing devices using local materials; such as mud, thatch, bamboo, palm-fronds, wood and discarded household materials such as barrels and wood ash to keep away flies and foul odour from those toilets.         

Communities attained Basic OD free status when they realized the harm in open defecation and have resolved to stop the practice.

When every household constructs and uses household toilets and hand-washing devices then they were upgraded from Basic OD to Open Defecation Free (ODF) status.

If they were able to maintain the ODF status for one year then they would be further upgraded and designated as Sanitized Communities and if they maintained this level for three years then they would have achieved Sustained Sanitized community status.

There is a reward for each of the levels of attainment.

All the communities visited in the District have confirmed that officers of the District Environmental Health Office have been visiting them regularly to offer advice, encouragement and monitor progress on the construction of the household toilets.

Except for a few households which have constructed and were using their toilets, many others have only dug the pits, while others were using their neighbours' toilets.

Some opinion and natural leaders who were spearheading the initiative said the District Environmental Health office would have to consider taking those failing to construct the toilets to the sanitation court to get them to conform because they were just adamant.

Some of the reasons given by some household heads were that some aspiring assembly members had promised to provide communal toilets once they got elected.

Others also said constructing toilets close to them was unhygienic because of the stench and flies emanating from them explaining that that was the reason why from time immemorial toilets were constructed far away from the communities.

Others also said the rocky nature and high water tables were frustrating their efforts to complete the toilets, while other said they did not have the time and implements to dig the toilets.

NORSAAC reviews Young Urban Woman project

Tamale, March 30, GNA - The Northern Sector Action on Awareness Center (NORSAAC) has held a review workshop to assess emerging issues regarding ensuring decent work and enforcement of women's rights at the workplace since its implementation of 'The Young Urban Woman: Life Choices and Livelihood Project.'

The workshop was also to showcase Ghana Progressive Hairdressers and Beauticians Association (GHPABA) as a model organization that adhered to standards of working conditions and fulfillment of women's rights/decent work at the workplace as well as promote healthy competition among actors in the non-formal sector to adhere to the International Labour Organisation's standards for decent work.

NORSAAC, a Tamale-based non-governmental organization, has been implementing 'The Young Urban Woman: Life Choices and Livelihood Project' since 2013 in the Tamale Metropolis with funding from the Norwegian Development Agency.

The project aims to empower 2,000 young urban women from 15 to 25 years in Accra and Tamale to break the chain of poverty in their families and communities through more economic independence and control over their bodies, and for their voices to be heard and recognised in international fora.

Some of the suburbs where the project is being implemented in the Tamale Metro include Tuutingli, Dabokpa, Kakpagyili, Nalung, Beilpela, Kalariga, Vittin, Banvum and Kpanvo).

Speaking at the workshop in Tamale, Madam Abubakari Hawa, Vice President of GHPABA said the constitution of GHPABA had been reviewed to include a new article (article 17) on rights of apprentice to conform to standards for decent work.

Madam Abubakari said the decision to review the constitution followed the earlier training organized by NORSAAC in September last year where it was realized that there was need to adhere to standards of working conditions and fulfilment of women's rights/decent work at the workplace.

Mr Abdul Aziz Karim, Northern Regional Coordinator of the Ghana National Dressmakers and Tailors Association (GNTDA) said NORSAAC's September 2014 training had led to ensuring a more friendly-working environment amongst its (GNTDA) members.

Mr Karim said GNTDA had adopted the tenet of decent work adding its members were implementing the tenet at their various workplaces by having more defined working hours, remuneration for apprentices' overtime, sexuality education and channels for reporting sexual harassment.

Miss Abdulai Memunatu, a Young Urban Woman from Dabokpa also said that the September, 2014, training saved her from a dire situation of economic exploitation by her then master, where she was learning dressmaking.

Ms Abdulai was supposed to have passed-out three years ago but her master kept postponing the passing out ceremony but through the intervention of GNTDA after NORSAAC's September 2014, training, she recently graduated.

Ms Abubakari Kawusada, Coordinator of NORSAAC's 'The Young Urban Woman: Life Choices and Livelihood Project' said it was unfortunate that most players in the informal sector had less opportunity and skills on the Labour Act and human rights yet majority of the people including young women earned their living through the sector.

She said the project, therefore, was complementing the capacity gap

Peace Council holds forum on religious tolerance

Accra, March 30, GNA - The National Peace Council (NPC), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has organised a national stakeholders' forum on religious tolerance and freedom in Ghana.

The two-day forum brought together representatives of the Ghana Education Service (GES), the Christian Council of Ghana, the Ghana Pentecostal Council, the Catholic Secretariat, Civil Society Organizations, the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Dr Osmanu Nuhu Sharubutu, and the Chairman of the Council of State, Mrs Cecilia Johnson.

The forum sought for peace to prevail; especially, in the nation's educational institutions and for that matter the country at large.

Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, Minister of Education, in a speech read on her behalf at the opening ceremony on Monday, in Accra, by Mr Stephen Adu, the GES Deputy Director, said the recent developments, as reported by the media, in educational institutions as regards religious intolerance in some educational institutions was a cause to worry about.

'Ghana has since the arrival of the missionaries in the country to start formal education demonstrated a high sense of tolerance among faith base organizations and therefore, find it very worrying at this time that we need more tolerance to build this country,' the Minister stated.

'Time has passed when an individual could build a nation, now we need a consensus to build our dear country Ghana and cannot afford to allow individual interest to destroy our nation,' she added.

Prof Opoku-Agyemang said the forum was therefore, very critical as it provides a golden opportunity for stakeholders, to not only address the challenge confronting the nation now but also put in place measures to ensure peace in educational institutions and foster a strong collaboration and national unity.

'Education as we know is key to development and to make our lives better, as the government strives for a better Ghana where all the calamities bedeviling us as a country would be over.

'If there is no peace in our educational institutions its major role of providing opportunity for developing this country would not be realized,' she said.

'It is therefore, incumbent on all of us as individuals, religious bodies, educationists, students and school authorities to work together to make our educational institutions a peaceful place to create the conducive environment for effective teaching and learning, the key function of educational institutions.'

She said the importance of freedom of religion begins when individuals were motivated by the need to worship freely in their own way without interference from the state; declaring that, Ghana being a secular state, has no state religion and for this reason, the 1992 constitution guarantees freedom of worship, religion and belief in the country.

Prof Opoku-Agyemang said educational institutions in Ghana had been structured and designed to maintain social order and unity, despite the presence of reasonable pluralism.

She said what should guide all educational institutions are the principle of making it possible for anyone to feel accepted in the institution.

Reverend Prof Emmanuel Asante, the NPC Chairman, said the Council, which is mandated to facilitate and develop mechanism to prevent, manage, resolve and build sustainable peace in the country, views the recent incidence of alleged violations of religious freedoms, as a serious threat to the peace of the country.

He said the Council recently received a petition from the Muslim Caucus of Parliament, the Muslim Student Association and other leaders of the Muslim Community of Ghana, raising concerns about the violations of Article 21 of the 1992 Constitutions by certain heads of educational institutions.

He said it was significant to note that these agitations over alleged violations come at a time when the sub-region and indeed, the entire world is besieged by religious intolerance, fundamentalism and extremism.

He urged participants to be opened minded as they discuss the issue, respecting each other's views.

Major General Obed Akwa, the Commandant of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre expressed concern about the spate of religious intolerance that was rearing its ugly head in Ghana.

He lauded the NPC and the UNDP for taking the initiative to organize the forum, as part of efforts to help nip in the bud this ugly development.

Oshiuman, where water is gold

From a small alleyway in between the cracked mud houses at Oshiuman, little Oko races to the front of a nearby hut supported on a couple of twisted sticks.

The three-year-old boy squats by a bucket of brownish water and thrushes his face into it, drinks for a few seconds and belches noisily.

He's one of over five hundred residents of Oshiuman who are now dealing with a serious water shortage.

Oshiuman is an indigenous Ga community in the Ga West Municipality of the Greater Accra Region, now caught up in the urban sprawl - but the lack of potable water in the village seems to have reached a crisis level.

On the outskirts of the village is a pond, the size of a basketball court. The water in this pond is near brownish sludge; muddy water surrounded by the footsteps and dung of cows. It's called the Kpoyoo Dzor and it's one of the main sources of water for the people here.

"We're always getting sick when we drink this water. In fact we've made several appeals for help but none has yielded any result. Our grandparents dug this dam for us but we've had to share with cattle," Nii Asafoakye, a youth leader in the area, told JoyNews.

The other source of water for people in the community is the polluted Nsaki River, known to be the source of many water-borne diseases in the village.

A JoyNews documentary in 2011 which highlighted the plight of the people secured some intervention. A busload of laboratory scientists from the Ghana Biomedical Scientists Association moved in to screen and treat the residents.

The Ga West District Assembly also constructed a borehole for them. But the residents are unable to use the water because it tastes "salty". Most of them have returned to their old source of water - the pond and the Nsaki stream.

It's a situation that puts the lives of many of these residents, including 3-year-old Oko, at risk.

Under a cluster of neem trees Oko's mother turns the bulk of banku in a metal pot set on a red switch stove made of clay.

"Why do you allow your child to drink contaminated water?" "I don't know"

"You don't know?" "I know it's not good but I have no choice."

Left out in MCE's plan
The Ga West Metropolitan Assembly has plans of building boreholes for ten communities in the area but Oshiuman is clearly left out.

The assembly only hopes to distribute water filters to the community people. Chief Executive of the Ga West Municipal Assembly, Sam Atuquei Quaye, said the assembly would consider a project to help treat the "salty" water from borehole in the community by a process of reverse osmosis.

However, that's not a plan to see the light of day any time soon because "it's expensive."

Government committed to promote social enterprise

Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Minister of Trade and Industry, has said the government is committed to promoting Social Enterprises, to create jobs for the citizenry and enhance economic development, as well as address social and environmental problems.

He said in addition to government's efforts; the private sector also has the responsibility to contribute to the promotion of trade and industry.

Dr Spio-Garbrah made these remarks in Accra during a Social Enterprise Policy Dialogue, under the auspices of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) and the British Council.

He mentioned finance and skills of staff, as some of the problems facing Social Enterprises in the country, and said they must be resolved.

He announced that with the blessings of the Education Ministry and the Ghana Education Service, the African Business Center for Developing Education, an international NGO, dedicated to bridge the gap between industry expectations and education in Africa by bringing corporate knowledge and experience into classrooms, would soon organize events in schools for students to prepare them for the real world of work.

At the policy dialogue, a new report commissioned by the British Council and conducted by Overseas Development Institute dubbed "The Social Enterprises Landscape in Ghana" was unveiled.

The report provides an "aerial" view of the financial, perceptual and social climate that has so far contributed to the evolution of social entrepreneurs and their organisations.

The report indicates that the terminology "Social Enterprise" which refers to businesses that pursue social impact and profit to varying degrees, is scarcely ever used by government, donors or businesses in Ghana even though the industry exists.

According to the report, "in terms of a need to address social challenges, there is no shortage of opportunities for Social Enterprises."

The research report identifies and interviews 24 social enterprises, 29 support organisations and three United Kingdom-based stakeholders; their areas of operation were mainly in agriculture, ICT, health, education and skills training.

It identifies four main areas of focus to develop the Social Enterprise Landscape in Ghana; namely a thriving policy environment; capacity building for Social Enterprises; integrating Social Enterprises into higher education; and technical and financial support for Social Enterprises.

Dr Nii Moi Thompson, the Director-General of the NDPC, said Social Enterprises also seeks to avoid the over exploitation of works by their employers.

He announced that the Commission would soon come out with a new long term national development agenda which would be acceptable to Ghanaians.

He said the new national development agenda would be in line with the African Union Agenda 2063; which among other things seeks to link rails from Dakar in West Africa to Lusaka in East Africa.

Liliana Biglou, the Director of the British Council in Ghana said globally, the United Kingdom is one of the leading countries in the promotion of Social Enterprises and would continue to support other countries in this endeavour.

Mr William Hanna, the Head of the European Union Delegation in Ghana during panel discussion said the Union would continue to work with Ghana Government and labour to provide an efficient Social Protection and Enterprise Systems in the country.

Kantanka Automobiles Donate Vehicle To Police Service

Kantanka Automobiles, manufacturers of made-in-Ghana vehicles has donated a brand new pickup namely “Kantanka Omama” to the Ghana Police to enhance the work of the police.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Kantanka Group of Companies, Mr Kwadwo Sarfo Jnr, said the vehicle was to assist the police in combating crime.

He said the Ghana Police Service is the first public institution in the country to use a locally-made Vehicle.

The Kantanka Group of Companies, he said, would be presenting two additional cars to the police later to enable them to provide efficient services to the public.

Kwadwo Sarfo disclose that, it took three weeks to assemble the vehicle, which had the normal features of a pickup apart from the voice control system.

“It is very robust and economical with a fuel consumption of 2.7 litres. The benefit is that there is no duty components attached to the price,” he said later in an interview.

He stated that the company would launch its commercial fleet of vehicles before the end of the year but declined to give further details.

The Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Ahmed Alhassan, who receive the vehicle on behalf of the police service said, the vehicle would help the police to be more effective in their efforts to fight crime.

“We thank this ingenious Ghanaian company for choosing the Ghana Police Service as the first public institution to use its vehicle. I can see that the vehicle can stand the test of time, “he said.

He said the police in their bid to serve the public had created new divisional, district and police stations throughout the country.

“We have created an additional 28 police divisions, 65 districts and 165 police stations to complement the existing police commands in spite of our constraints with logistics. We believe stakeholders like you will support us with logistics. We will continue to take initiatives and not wait for manna to fall.”

The new commands bring the total number of police stations across the country to 882, while the district police commands have been increased to 267. There are currently 77 divisional commands.

Akufo-Addo celebrates 71st bday

The Flagbearer of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo is 71 years today. He was born on March 29, 1944.

Mr Akufo-Addo will be celebrating his birthday with his family Bodi in the Western Region where he is attending the funeral of the late Emmanuel Addai, the party's former Parliamentary candidate for the that constituency.

The former Attorney General and Minister of Justice tweeted on Saturday that 'God has been good to me' as he announced: 'I intend to celebrate my 71st birthday, on Sunday, March 29, with my family in the Western Region.'

The three-time Flagbearer of the NPP is seeking the win the 2016 polls scheduled for December after failing twice in 2008 and 2012 against John Mills (late) and President John Mahama, respectively.

He will be 72 during the elections. His opponents have always played the age card against him but Nana Akufo-Addo always rebuffs the 'propaganda' and declared himself 'fit and strong' for the task.

'Ladies and gentlemen, I am fit and ready and my appetite is as keen as ever to go into battle for the cause of the NPP,' Nana Akufo-Addo told his supporters when he launched his flagbearership bid in the country's national capital in July last year when he was 70 by then.

'I am profoundly grateful that so many people consider me worthy to lead this promising nation of ours even at the young age of 70,' the former foreign affairs minister said, adding: 'I do not know what 70-year-olds are supposed to feel like but I feel well, my body is in good shape; my mind remains as sharp as it ever was.

'I am constantly grateful to the Almighty that I have been so blessed. I have questioned and examined myself intensely to be sure that, to borrow a phrase, the competitive fire still burns in my belly.

'I wish to assure all of you gathered here that contrary to the propaganda out there, Nana Akufo-Addo is emotionally, intellectually, psychologically, physically, patriotically and spiritually strong enough to lead this party and our dear nation Ghana,' he asserted.

Sierra Leone ends anti-Ebola lockdown after three days

Freetown (AFP) - Sierra Leoneans were once again allowed to leave their homes Sunday evening after the government announced the end of a three-day nationwide lockdown aimed at preventing a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus.

During the curfew period -- which was ordered by President Ernest Bai Koroma and ran from 0600 GMT on Friday until 1800 GMT Sunday -- some 26,000 volunteers went door-to-door to check for sick people and raise awareness about the disease.

Officials at the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC) said locals had overwhelmingly complied with the lockdown, the second time in six months the country's six million residents were told to stay indoors over Ebola concerns.

The focus this time was on hotspots in the capital as well as areas in the north and west of the country.

"The campaign went well and we are pleased over the level of compliance," the head of NERC's Situation Room, Obi Sesay, told AFP.

Official figures detailing the results of the campaign will be released Tuesday, he added.

The latest lockdown was called over fears that the disease that has killed about 3,700 in Sierra Leone was making a comeback in parts of the country.

It was disquieting news after World Health Organization officials declared in January the epidemic was finally declining in west Africa after sparking a global health scare.

Witnesses and local media said the quarantine period passed off peacefully with the exception of one incident in the Kaffu Bullom chiefdom in the northern district of Port Loko, where a group of health workers came under attack.

"Yesterday (Saturday) we visited a quarantine house where we discovered a seven-year-old boy who was looking sick," medical worker Festus James said.

"We wanted to take him to the hospital for further checks when we were pelted with stones and water was thrown at us. We had to flee from the area together with our two security guides," he told reporters.

"It was all very terrifying."

In Kambia, also in the north near the border with Guinea, media reports said some people took refuge in the bush to avoid encountering the health teams.

Following the outbreak in December 2013 in neighbouring Guinea, the Ebola virus spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia, which have together seen over 10,300 deaths since, according to the WHO.

Equatoguinean party-poopers hold Ivory Coast

Johannesburg (AFP) - Equatorial Guinea became party-poopers on Sunday at the ongoing celebrations of new African football champions Ivory Coast by forcing a 1-1 international friendly draw in Abidjan.

Spain-born teenage winger Ivan Salvador put the visitors ahead after 13 minutes at a vibrant, near-full Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny.

And dogged Equatoguinean resistance kept reigning African Footballer of the Year Yaya Toure, Wilfried Bony and other Ivorian stars at bay until 18 minutes from time when Max-Alain Gradel levelled.

It was the second friendly match within four days for both countries after Ivory Coast defeated Angola 2-0 in Abidjan and Equatorial Guinea lost to Egypt by the same score in Cairo.

The Abidjan fixtures were designed to celebrate Ivory Coast winning the 2015 Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea last month after a penalty shootout against Ghana.

Goalkeeper Boubacar Barry, who converted the title-winning penalty, and defender Kolo Toure retired after the African triumph.

But they were not forgotten by French coach Herve Renard, who brought them to Abidjan and the pair did a lap of honour with the trophy before the kick-off.

In another high-profile friendly, hosts South Africa failed to take advantage of poor recent form by Nigeria and needed a stoppage-time goal to snatch a 1-1 draw in north-east city Nelspruit.

Bongani Zungu spared Bafana Bafana (The Boys) blushes by prodding a rebound past goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi three minutes into additional time at Mbombela Stadium.

Akpeyi was deputising for injured Vincent Enyeama, widely regarded as the best current African shot-stopper, who won his 100th cap in a shock midweek friendly loss to visiting Uganda.

That defeat, failure to qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations and defend the title, and the lack of a permanent coach have cast deep shadows over the three-time African champions.

Former Nigeria skipper Stephen Keshi, who guided the Super Eagles to their last Cup of Nations title two years ago, has yet to react after being offered a new contract this week.

A Nigerian side under caretaker coach Daniel Amokachi silenced most of the 20,000 Nelspruit crowd by snatching the lead five minutes from time through Ahmed Musa.

The slightly-built winger from Russian club CSKA Moscow curled a shot from the edge of the box over goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune and into the corner of the net.

South Africa had squandered a great chance to take the lead midway through the second half when Akpeyi blocked a casually-taken Andile Jali penalty.

Zambia spoilt the debut of young Northern Ireland-born Rwanda coach Johnny McKinstry with a 2-0 victory at the National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka.

Rainford Kalaba put the Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets) ahead on the hour and recalled Alan Mukuka doubled the advantage 10 minutes from time.

A Mbwana Samata goal on 78 minutes rescued a 1-1 draw for Tanzania against Malawi in Mwanza on the shore of Lake Victoria after Micium Mhone put the visitors ahead.

Mozambique came from behind to score in the final minute and grab a 2-1 away victory over Botswana in Lobatse.

#NigeriaDecides: UK and United States Express Concern About Rigging In The Counting Of Votes After Nigeria’s Elections

As Nigerians await for the declaration of the winner of the 2015 presidential election, the United States and Britain have expressed concerned about rigging in the counting of the votes, reports BBC Africa.

This comes at a time some Nigerians are worried that the incumbent government would influence the results—and there is speculation of the results of certain areas having been altered.

BBC Africa wrote on its facebook:

“Britain and the United States have expressed concern about rigging in the counting of votes after Nigeria’s elections. In a joint statement, they said they had seen disturbing indications that there has been political interference with the collation process. The BBC Africa correspondent says the mood in the capital Abuja is jittery. Most observer missions had praised Saturday’s vote. The election commission says there will be a strong indication of who has won the presidential election by the end of today and that the final result should be announced on Tuesday”

+Ghana Leaks

Works and Housing Policy Lunched

The Out-going Minister of Water Resources works and housing , Alhaji Collins Dauda has launched a policy entitle “Works and Housing Policy, with a goal of providing adequate, decent and affordable housing that is accessible and meet the needs of all the people living in Ghana.

This National Housing Policy play a vital in the development of the country serve as a guideline to the all housing sector of State and Not State actors.

The Policy would also ensure that housing is designed and built to sustainable building principles, leading to the creation of green communities, ensuring full participation of all stakeholders in decision-making on housing development and allocation in their communities, and ensuring adequate and sustainable funding for the supply of diverse mix of housing in all localities.

“Housing as a social good, provided core security for families, neighborhoods, societies and communities, and had an equally economic quality to stimulating growth and development.” He said

Rapid population growth and, in particular, increasing urbanization, had made shelter one of the most critical challenges currently facing the country, he said.

However, he noted, “Ghana’s housing deficit is estimated to be in excess of 1.7 million units and to be able to clear this deficit and accommodate new households, we require a minimum annual delivery of about 170,000 units for the next 10 years”.

Alhaji Dauda said the major contribution of the private informal sector to the growth of the housing sector was greatly acknowledged, therefore, the policy sought to create an enabling environment for the private sector to continue to provide leadership in the delivery of houses.

The Policy, he said, had laudable initiatives in respect of improved access to land with good title for housing and outlined policies for increased production and usage of local building materials in construction.

According to the minister, It also recommended the establishment of a National Housing Fund, which would be used for Alhaji Collins Dauda r affordable mortgages, construction finance, slum upgrading and support for small scale local building material producers, he said.

He said the establishment of a National Housing Authority had also been recommended, to oversee to the implementation of the Policy.

He expressed the Ministry’s gratitude to all stakeholders and partners who were actively engaged in the development of the Policy and for pledging their continuous support towards the preparation of the Housing Strategy.

Ms Abena Ntori, a Representative of the UN-Habitat, said the launch of the Policy was timely at a period where sustainable housing was just yet to gain prominence in Ghana, while decent and safe housing remained a dream for the majority of the population, especially the urban poor.

She said the need to construct more housing units had become more critical because the phenomenon of climate change had come to stay, given that the housing sector alone was responsible for nearly 40 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in cities.

She said a better housing and slum upgrading would, therefore, contribute to reducing social inequalities and improving urban safety and quality of life, through their socio-economic and spatial impacts.

Postponement of the District Assembly Level Elections: Implications for Women

ABANTU for Development, a women’s rights and policy advocacy non-governmental organization wishes to express its disappointment about the failure to conduct the district level elections in 2014, the subsequent postponement to March 3, 2015 and now the indefinite cancellation following a court ruling that the planned elections was unconstitutional.

These events have left the few women who put themselves up for the election to wonder where they will obtain new resources to campaign and contest if a new election date is set. There are also huge financial implications for the nation as a whole given the initial GHC 317 million that is said to have been used for the process, and the newly requested GHC 100 million election budget needed now.

Again, the women contestants have already spent huge sums of money during their campaigns and since women do not have control over productive resources, they are most unlikely to raise such amounts again to embark on intensive campaigns which will result in their participation and representation in decision making within the local government. The few women who were supported with campaign materials such as posters and stickers will have to incur extra cost when nominations open again to republish these campaign materials. This is because the few they received are likely to be destroyed due to their exposure to the weather. In addition, there is limited time for women’s groups to raise extra funds to assist these women in their bid to actively participate in decision-making processes at the local level.

The capacity of any institutional mechanism to have the desired impact depends on the cognitive significance attached to it by the populace for whom it is established. The conduct of the Electoral Commission goes a long way to confirm that District Assembly Elections has over the years been generally given low esteem in Ghana. Comparatively, the parliamentary and presidential elections have dwarfed the significance of the local government. Citizens’ interest in the district assembly has therefore dwindled. For instance in 1989 when the decentralisation process began, the voter turnout was 59.3% but in 1998 it reduced to 41.6% and then in 2002 (32.8) % (Electoral Commission). Voter apathy is therefore likely to affect women’s chances of participating and therefore winning should a new date and new procedure be set by the EC.

We are concerned about the already low levels of women's participation and representation at the district level which is just 6.47% as at 2010 and therefore call on government and the EC to adhere to the norms of democracy by instituting measures to promote participation of all citizens in the governance process of the country. Democracy cannot be deepened without the active participation of the vulnerable groups in society especially women.

We therefore call on the government to show a keen interest in the district assembly elections because it provides opportunity for citizens especially women to participate and be represented at the local assemblies’ level.

In this connection, the government, the Electoral Commission and other relevant institutions should as a matter of urgency, work at ensuring that the District Assembly Elections are conducted. In the process, they should make sure that all the women who filed their nominations are able to contest this time round. The process should also encourage many more women to put themselves up to contest.

Curfew in Bauchi, NE Nigeria, after Boko Haram fighting

Kano (Nigeria) (AFP) - An indefinite lockdown was ordered on three areas in northeast Nigeria on Sunday after troops battled scores of Boko Haram fighters outside the Bauchi state capital, Bauchi city, the authorities said.

Soldiers supported by two fighter jets intercepted the militants who were in 20 pick-up trucks at Dungulbe village, seven kilometres (four miles) from the city, and engaged them in fierce fighting.

"The fighter jets are pounding the enemy position while ground troops are engaging them," said a military officer in the city, who asked not to be identified, in an account supported by residents.

"The operation is still ongoing but the terrorists have suffered serious losses and are in disarray," the officer added.

The fighting took place as Nigeria held a second day of voting in its general election after technology failures hampered polling on Saturday.

A spokesman for the Bauchi state governor said an indefinite, round-the-clock curfew had been imposed on three areas because of the fighting.

"The state government has put a 24-hour curfew in Bauchi, Kirfi and Alkaleri local governments as a result of the security breach by Boko Haram," Danlami Baban-Takko said.

"The curfew was imposed indefinitely... to enable security agencies to restore normalcy in the affected areas.

"By this curfew, residents of the three affected local governments are to remain in their homes until further notice."

The main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the Bauchi state governorship, Mohammed Abullahi Abubakar, however, blamed the curfew on his political opponents.

"The curfew was only an attempt by the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) to tinker with the results of the elections," he claimed.

- Series of attacks -

The Islamists arrived in Dungulbe at around 10:00 am (0900 GMT) and set up camp in preparation for an invasion of the city, said resident Mudassir Hambali, who fled to Bauchi.

"They came in 20 vehicles carrying heavy weapons. As soon as I realised what was happening I fled through the bus with my family.

"I saw a large convoy of soldiers heading towards the village while I and my family were trekking to Bauchi."

Anas Uballe, from Inkil village, two kilometres from Dungulbe, said: "I saw two military jets dropping bombs and the huge explosions terrified our village which forced us to move into the city."

The militants were believed to have come through the town of Alkaleri, 60 kilometres away, where there was a dawn raid on Saturday, according to the military source and residents who fled.

Gunmen in several vehicles attacked public buildings and security checkpoints.

A police station, the office of the paramilitary Nigeria Security and Civil Defence force and the local electoral commission premises were all burned to the ground.

"They moved to Bishi, 35 kilometres away, where they shot dead a man in his car on the highway," said Alkaleri resident Babale Shehu.

"They were no doubt the same gunmen that went to Dungulbe."

The gunmen also on Sunday attacked polling stations and destroyed ballot boxes in Bauchi, state police spokesman Haruna Mohammed said.

"Today... at about 0025 hours, unspecified numbers of unknown gunmen in a convoy of over 10 vehicles stormed many polling units in Kirfi... and destroyed many electoral materials," he said.

"(The) hoodlums further attacked Kirfi and Alkaleri Divisional Police Headquarters but were repelled and pursued towards Dindima town."

The police statement did not mention Boko Haram or the operation in Dungulbe, which comes after at least seven people were killed in suspected Boko Haram attacks in neighbouring Gombe state Saturday.

Don’t Sell Your Shares - HFC MD Counsels Shareholders

The Managing Director of HFC Bank,
Dr Asare Akuffo , has appealed to all
shareholders , particularly the
institutional ones , not to sell of their
stakes in the bank .
Dr Akuffo said the bank had reached a
high profitability growth rate so every
shareholder should consequently
expect an increase in profits .
He noted that the HFC Bank is a
Ghanaian institution every Ghanaian
should be proud of, and hoped this
pride would enable the bank to have a
significant Ghanaian holding , in spite
of the mandatory takeover offer (MTO)
by the Republic Bank Limited (RBL) of
Trinidad and Tobago.
Dr Akuffo made these comments in an
interaction with the media after the
bank formally launched its 25 th
anniversary at the La Palm Royal
Beach Hotel in Accra.
Although HFC 's existence for the past
25 years has been very good, the
future would even be better , he said .
" My advice to shareholders ,
especially institutional shareholders
– both public and private – is that
they must at this time hold on. This
is not the time to share your shares
because the hard work has brought
us this far and from now onwards it is
easy for the bank to make money, " he
emphasized .
The RBL of Trinidad and Tobago
submitted its mandatory acquisition
offer document to HFC Bank (Ghana )
Limited following approval of the offer
circular by Ghana' s Securities and
Exchange Commission (SEC ) .
This move was made possible after
RBL paid ¢1 million for breaches of
the Securities and SEC Takeover Code
in the purchase of additional
23 , 638, 340 shares of HFC Bank from
Union Bank within a 12 - month period.
Dr Akuffo believed Ghanaians have
the choice now to decide whether
they want to let go of their pride and
heritage or
to safely guard it .
" So it is for us as Ghanaians to
decide whether HFC is an institution
that we want to be part of going
forward or we want to hand it over to
others ; the choice is for us as
Ghanaians and Ghanaian investors .
The bank would go into foreign hands
if they decide to sell; if they hold
onto their shares despite this
Monetary Take Over (MTO) process ,
the bank will still remain Ghanaian -
owned, " he indicated .
Giving reasons to buttress his stance
that institutional shareholders must
not sell their shares, he said " in any
case , with the Three- Tier Pension
Scheme, there are investment funds
available so it is possible for the
ownership to go from Ghanaian to
Ghanaian ; it doesn't have to go from
Ghanaian to foreign . But it is a market
transaction ; the emphasis is on
institutions like SSNIT that is owned
by a pension fund whose decisions
should be guided by national interest ,
I believe ."
Again " there is COCOBOD . HFC is
operating in the cocoa - growing
areas . We have purchased about six
branches there . We have shown a
commitment to the cocoa industry so
I expect COCOBOD to stay in there. "
Lastly , " SIC, because of insurances
relating to mortgages and home
loans , I believe , would want to have a
longer - term relationship with HFC. "
" So yes there is an MTO, but it
doesn' t necessarily mean the bank
will become a foreign bank , " Dr Akuffo
explained .
He again urged the shareholders not
to let go of their Ghanaian pride and
heritage , since it has a great potential
to perform even better in the coming
years .
" Our 2014 results show that the
performance of the bank was very
good ; 2013 results too was good. So
we have reached that stage where
income (profits ) is going to grow in
an exponential manner and I believe
that our investors should commit to
the future of the bank because that is
what other investors have seen, and
they are really very anxious to have a
piece of the HFC cake ."
RBL has maintained its offer price at
¢1 .60 per share , the same price that
was offered last year in an attempt to
acquire HFC Bank, which was
challenged by some shareholders .
The current offer represents an 18. 5
per cent premium to the bank 's last
trading price of ¢1.35 per share .
HFC Bank will now circulate the offer
document to all shareholders in the
next two weeks.
However , by the time the offer
document is circulated to
shareholders the market valuation of
HFC Bank could have improved
significantly to reduce the offer
premium to less than 10 per cent ,
which would make the offer
unattractive to some shareholders, a
recent analysis by Ecobank on the
HFC Mandatory Acquisition stated.

Betty Mould-Iddrisu Must Be Prosecuted

The very public allegation by Attorney-General Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong that she "personally begged" former Attorney-General Betty Mould-Iddrisu to serve as a prosecution witness in the GHC 51 million Woyome Heist, and that the collusive Atta-Mills cabinet appointee who personally doled out the loot had flatly refused her collaborative request is quite telling of the damnable extent to which the most highly placed members of the Mills-Mahama government may have been involved in this humongous caper (See "Woyome Scandal: I Begged Betty But She 'Snubbed' The State - AG Suggests" MyJoyOnline.com 3/18/15).

If we have Mrs. Appiah-Oppong correctly quoted, then it clearly appears that Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu was personally trying to save her own skin, especially since Attorney-General Appiah-Oppong also notes that had the State or the Court compelled Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu to testify in the Woyome Heist, the latter would have proven to be a hostile witness. What is significant to observe here is that the verdict of the Fast-Track High Court had absolutely no effect on the fact of the patently established criminality of the accused. Not only has Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome personally admitted to this much in a letter that he fired off to the media, in the wake of the equally scandalous Ajet Nassam Verdict, Mr. Woyome's criminal culpability has already been determined by the Wood-presided Supreme Court of Ghana.

What is interesting here, however, is the imperious insistence of then-Attorney-General Mould-Iddrisu that she was within the legal ambit when she so criminally and unconscionably authorized the sum of GHC 51 million to be paid to Mr. Woyome under the already judicially determined false pretense of having legitimately and successfully fulfilled a contractual compact that Mr. Woyome had with the State. As I vividly recall, prior to Mr. Woyome's maiden court appearance, both former President John Agyekum-Kufuor and Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo, the Finance Minister at the time that Mr. Woyome claims to have been awarded his stadia-construction contract, vehemently denied that any such contractual agreement had ever been forged or existed between the extant Government of Ghana and the accused.

What the preceding clearly means is that Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu needs to be invited by the relevant branch of the judiciary to explain the justification for her decision to facilitate Mr. Woyome's clearly wilfull attempt to bilk the Ghanaian taxpayer. In other words, had she been as professionally savvy as she would have Ghanaians and the rest of the world believe, the former Attorney-General would have cut a deal with her current successor which would have protected Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu from incriminating herself or being prosecuted in the offing. As matters stand, the former Education Minister has rendered herself more vulnerable and culpable for criminal prosecution. But, of course, as we have just been told, Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu is not alone in her looming predicament. Her Deputy Attorney-General at the time, Mr. Ebo Barton-Odro, stands equally criminally culpable for having facilitated the Woyome Heist.

What is definitely not kosher or is clearly lame here, is Attorney-General Appiah-Oppong's allegation that the decision by the government of the National Democratic Congress not to prosecute Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu was taken at the highest levels of government and well before she was named to the office of Attorney-General and Minister of Justice. The fact of the matter is that if Mrs. Appiah-Oppong were as conscientious as she would have the public believe, and she also firmly believes that Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu egregiously erred in paying out the people's hard-earned money to a criminally scheming Mr. Woyome, then absolutely nothing prevents her from revisiting the Mould-Iddrisu part of the Woyome scam, in a bid to setting things aright.

Bawumia donates copies of ‘Data Entry for Dummies’ - lol

Dr . Mahamudu Bawumia has donated
hundreds of copies of Data Entry for
Dummies to the management and
staff of African Development Bank
Group (AfDB ) and the Ghana
Statistical Service ( GSS) in an effort to
help improve data entry skills within
the two institutions.
The donation comes just a day after
both institutions admitted to posting
inaccurate data on their respective
websites . AfDB blamed the blunder on
an " administrative error " after
information on its website listed
Ghana as one of several other nations
facing suspension for defaulting on
debts repayments. GSS on their part
said " an error during the transmission
of the data onto its website" was to
blame for the inaccurate non - oil GDP
growth figure for 2009 .
In a related development , an
individual who describes himself as a
Data Entry expert has also offered to
provide free training for the staff and
management of GSS . As part of his
training programme to help GSS
reduce data entry errors, staff and
management of the statistical service
will be required to re - type unfamiliar
material such as phrases like " We
cooked figures to deceive public" and
" Bawumia is right ."

‘Sexting’: Naive and illegal

Taking a sexually revealing picture of
yourself typically from a cell phone
and sending it to someone might be
exciting , but where children are
concerned , it ' s illegal as well as
outrageously stupid.
" Sexting " is the practice of taking a
sexually revealing picture of yourself ,
typically from a cell phone, and
sending it to someone . Legal
consequences aside , it ' s a dumb
thing to do , especially for younger
age groups in which it has become
something of a fad .
Even if you are comfortable with the
person receiving the image , you
never know for sure where else it
might land . Digital images are easy to
copy and forward, and even if you
trust your friend' s discretion, it can
be accidentally forwarded or seen by
others with access to your friend' s
phone or computer. It' s not
uncommon for such images to find
their way to other people ' s cell
phones and even Web pages where
they can be seen by anyone, copied ,
searched for and redistributed ,
perhaps forever .
For minors, there' s another risk ;
serious legal consequences. Creating,
transmitting and even possessing a
nude, seminude or sexually explicit
image of a minor can be considered
child pornography. You can be
prosecuted as an alleged criminal .
Legal consequences
There was a case in Florida, United
States of America (USA ), where as
crazy as it seems, some prosecutors
had gone after children for taking and
sending pictures of themselves . There
was also another case in Florida a
couple of years ago in which a
teenage boy and girl photographed
themselves nude and engaged in
" unspecified sexual behaviour" .
One child sent the picture to the
other , and somehow , the police got
involved . They were tried and
convicted for production and
distribution of child porn, and the
teen who received the image had the
additional charge of possession . An
appeal court upheld the convictions .
In January this year , three teenage
girls were charged for creating child
porn , and the three boys who
received the images were charged for
possessing it. It' s sadly ironic that
the very child porn laws that were
written to protect children from being
exploited by adults could wind up
having a devastating impact on the
lives of children who , while acting
stupid , have no criminal intent .
It ' s hard to know how prevalent the
practice is . But if you believe the
results of an online survey
commissioned by the National
Campaign to Prevent Teen and
Unplanned Pregnancy, USA , about 22
per cent of teenage girls and 18 per
cent of boys admit to having
" electronically sent or posted online,
nude or seminude pictures or video of
themselves ."
I ' m not completely confident about
the results of this study which was
carried out by a market research firm
and not subject to academic peer
review . But I think that it' s fair to
assume that a significant number of
children are doing this .
Perhaps more interesting than the
survey' s overall number is the
breakdown of why teens take and
send these pictures . Of those who
reportedly sent such pictures , 71 per
cent of girls and 67 per cent of boys
said they sent or posted content to a
boyfriend or girlfriend, while 21 per
cent of the girls and 39 per cent of
the boys said they sent it to someone
they wanted to date .
Peer pressure
As you might expect, peer pressure
plays a role . Of those who sent such
content , 51 per cent of teen girls
cited "pressure from a guy , " while 18
per cent of teen boys blamed
pressure from girls.
In Ghana , this practice is gaining
grounds with all forms of leaked sex
tapes , revenge pornography becoming
a "funtime " activity. It needs to be
curtailed . Like sex education,
' sexting' must be tackled with
intensive approach .
While 'sexting' is troubling , I think
it ' s important for us all to take a deep
breath and to ensure there are
adequate laws and policies to tackle
this .
I suspect that sexting will diminish
over time . Children aren ' t stupid and
faced with the facts , most will wise
up . It is also known that children who
get in trouble online are the same
children who get in trouble offline, so
when teens repeatedly do 'sexting ',
or other stupid or risky things online ,
it ' s important to intervene early and
often .
The best thing for a parent to do is to
have a non - confrontational
conversation - - perhaps over dinner - -
to ask your children if they ' ve heard
about sexting and what they think
about it .
You might not get a straight answer ,
but you' ll open up a dialogue that can
go a long way towards helping your
children to understand how to
minimise legal , social and reputation
risks . Boy , am I glad the Internet and
camera phones weren ' t around when I
was a child.
The writer is Co - Founder and Chief
Executive Officer , Ghana Internet
Safety Foundation

Cedi Falls Rapidly Crosses GH ¢4.00

A dollar was selling at GH¢4.01 and
buying at GH¢3 .77 at the
forex bureaux as at Friday, 27 March,
2015 .
One British Pound was selling at GH
¢5 .97 and buying at GH¢5. 61.
The Euro was also selling at GH ¢4.40
and buying at GH¢ 4.13.
The cedi maintained a GH
¢0 .006 buying rate to the CFA and
sold at GH ¢0.006 .
At the interbank exchange level ,
a dollar was buying at GH ¢3.7133
and selling at GH¢3. 7171.
The British Pound was selling at GH
¢5 .5232 and buying at GH
¢5 .5157 while the Euro was buying
at GH ¢4.0587 and selling at GH
¢4 .0618.
The CFA was selling at GH¢0.0058 and
buying at GH¢0 .0058.
Some analysts have indicated that the
local currency has periodically
suffered such fate especially in the
first quarter of every year .
But the situation normalizes after the
Ghana Cocoa Board
( COCOBOD ) secures its foreign loans
for the purchase of cocoa from the
second quarter .
Government has repeatedly said that
several hundreds of millions of donor
funding have not been delivered .
About a week ago , records from
the market rate ( forex bureaux )
showed that a dollar was selling at
GH ¢3.86 and buying at GH ¢3.62, while
a pound was selling at GH ¢5.69 and
buying at GH¢5 .32.
Importers have argued that owing to
development , they would be
compelled to increase the prices of
their goods, adding that the cedi
might reach GH ¢5 to a dollar soon if
the authorities fail to address the
problem .
Bulk Oil Distributors (BDCs ) say they
are unable to access new credits from
banks to facilitate the importation of
crude due to the situation.
Senyo Hosi, Chief Executive of
the Chamber of Bulk Oil
Distributors , recently told journalists
in Accra that the development could
result in severe shortage of petroleum
products in the coming weeks as
credit lines have been shut to
importers .
Mr Hosi said most banks were
not satisfied with the dollar rate at
which government buys the products
from distributors.


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