30.9.06

Let us persuade all defectors to return to NDC – Bagbin

Mr Alban S. K. Bagbin, Minority Leader in Parliament on Saturday called on activists, supporters and sympathisers of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to persuade those who had defected from the party to return. "We need everybody back in the NDC. It is our home," he stated. Mr Bagbin made the call at the inauguration of the Volta Regional branch of the Youth and Women's Wing Working Committees of the party in Ho. He said “Although people with conscience would not leave the NDC for any political party, it is important that people who did not know their fate and were thinking of leaving or had left were spoken to about how suicidal it is to leave a ‘matured’ party.” Mr Bagbin noted that integrity and good leadership kept the PNDC/NDC in power for 19 years therefore; the NDC remained the only party that would put nation first than any political party. He alleged that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government would not leave any better legacy for the youth as it tended to disrupt democratic principles and lacked respect for human rights and rule of law. "All they do is to use indigenous tactics to make Parliament ineffective, they dismissed experienced technocrats and employed untrained party activists," he added. Mr Bagbin called on civil society organisations to wake up and support institutions of governance to hold government accountable. Mr Haruna Iddrisu, NDC National Youth Organiser, who inaugurated the committees, advised the members not to be complacent but work hard to enable the party win the 2008 elections. He advised them to share vital information that would bring the party back to power rather than act as agents of any presidential aspirant of the party. Mr Iddrisu noted that the 2008 elections would not be contested on events of the past but on the present and future prosperity of the country. He said Dr Richard Winfred Anane, Minister of Transportation, remained a "litmus test" to President John Agyekum Kuffuor’s declaration of zero tolerance on corruption. Mr Iddrisu said the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) should have been bold to recommend the prosecution of Dr Anane.

28.9.06

Access to Agric Information for Developing countries expanded by UN

Over 100 of the world’s poorest countries will now be able to access leading food and agriculture journals for little or no cost with the launch today of the second phase of a joint United Nations-private sector initiative to provide yet one more tool in the fight against poverty and under-development. The Global Online Research in Agriculture (AGORA) project responds to the needs of thousands of students, researchers and academics in poorer countries, who continue to face challenges in accessing up-to-date information which is vital to their work. A UN statement issued in Accra on Thursday said AGORA was launched in 2003 by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 37 leading science publishers and other key partners including the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and Cornell University, providing access to 69 low-income countries. Under today’s expansion it will now include universities, colleges, research institutes and government ministries as well as non-governmental organizations in an additional 37 lower-middle-income countries.
The statement said: “We have seen from the first phase of this initiative that there is increasing demand for access to vital information by poorer countries.”
FAO Library and Documentation Systems Division Director Anton Mangstl said: “In less than three years, AGORA has already helped to bridge the knowledge gap by providing 850 institutions access to over 900 journals in agriculture and related subjects.” Under the second phase, 37 countries with a per capita GNP of between 1,000 dollars and 3,000 dollars would be eligible. It said institutions wishing to register would have a three-month free trial period before they would be asked to pay an annual subscription of 1,000 dollars. FAO will invest all subscription income into local training initiatives to help to increase awareness and usage of AGORA amongst librarians and scientists. “AGORA is making an important contribution to the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by providing essential information to improve the livelihoods of those who need it most,” FAO said, referring to the targets of slashing a host of ills, such as extreme hunger and poverty, high infant and maternal mortality and lack of access to education and health care, all by 2015.
GNA

Danish research expedition team arrives next week

A Danish research expedition, Galathea, arrives in Tema on board a ship Vaedderen on 0ctober 3 to meet with Ghanaians researchers and visit a variety of historical sites around Accra. The research team is circumnavigating the globe, carrying more than 60 research projects initiated by Danish and international research environments. A statement from the Danish Embassy in Accra on Thursday said the expedition ship would cover all climatic regions of the world during her eight-month voyage. “This will provide a unique platform for especially natural science research, which have a rare opportunity for carrying out coordinated studies of life and processes in the oceans, from Greenland in the north to Antarctica in the south and from the Solomon Islands in the east to the Galapagos in the west.” It said the expedition also included historic and land-based projects. It said the expedition was also to reinforce the idea of modern science of being of present-day relevance, especially among the coming generations that in a few years would contribute to shaping the future.
GNA

27.9.06

Ghana hit its tele-density target

Ghana hit its tele-density target of 20 per cent ahead of time at the end of June instead of December 2006, Communications Minister Professor Mike Ocquaye said on Wednesday. The Government had forecast to record a tele-density (the penetration of telephones throughout the country) to hit 20 per cent by the end of 2006 and 30 per cent by 2010 in accordance with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).Ghana is likely to exceed the MDG target at the rate of penetration.Professor Ocquaye, who was speaking at a function organized by the Ministry in Accra to create a platform for telecommunications operators to interact with Journalists, commended the efforts of the operators in helping the Government to achieve the target. "Some of the innovativeness that exists in the industry has given employment to especially people in the hinterland," Prof. Ocquaye said, and added that there was the need to take stock and look ahead to confront the challenges.He, therefore, called for regular dialogue between stakeholders in the telecommunications industry to promote understanding of issues concerning their operations between them and the public. The Minister said telecommunications were essential parts of development and required a constant review of work done but the media mostly speculated about the issues.This, he said, did not allow the public to appreciate the issues that confronted the industry.Prof. Ocquaye said the Government would not relent on efforts to push the agenda for developing the sector forward.He said a 40 million-dollar loan from the World Bank would help the Government to bridge the telecommunications gap between the urban and the rural areas through the hastening of the fibre optic project. Mr Bernard Forson, Deputy Director-General of the National Communications Authority (NCA), said tele-density could reach 25 per cent by the end of the year.He expressed optimism that the industry could also hit the tele-density target of 10 per cent in the rural areas by 2010, although he noted that the growth in the industry had also brought about challenges.He said there was the need to consider the area of Internet penetration as part of efforts to address the needs of the rural communities.Mr Forson said the NCA would ensure that the obligations to customers by the operators were met and that there existed a level playing field.Mr Kofi Asante, Administrator of the Ghana Investment Fund for Telecommunications (GHIFTEL), said his outfit was granting initial partial funding to entrepreneurs to help to provide universal access to telecommunications facilities to the rural communities.He explained that the work of the GHIFTEL was to promote socio-economic development and this would be done equitably. Mr Asante said GHIFTEL had done upfront assessment of the needs of the industry and had initiated projects to cover selected areas of the country.GHIFTEL expects to implement 22 such projects by the early part of 2007.

Ghana hit its tele-density target

Ghana hit its tele-density target of 20 per cent ahead of time at the end of June instead of December 2006, Communications Minister Professor Mike Ocquaye said on Wednesday. The Government had forecast to record a tele-density (the penetration of telephones throughout the country) to hit 20 per cent by the end of 2006 and 30 per cent by 2010 in accordance with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).Ghana is likely to exceed the MDG target at the rate of penetration.Professor Ocquaye, who was speaking at a function organized by the Ministry in Accra to create a platform for telecommunications operators to interact with Journalists, commended the efforts of the operators in helping the Government to achieve the target. "Some of the innovativeness that exists in the industry has given employment to especially people in the hinterland," Prof. Ocquaye said, and added that there was the need to take stock and look ahead to confront the challenges.He, therefore, called for regular dialogue between stakeholders in the telecommunications industry to promote understanding of issues concerning their operations between them and the public. The Minister said telecommunications were essential parts of development and required a constant review of work done but the media mostly speculated about the issues.This, he said, did not allow the public to appreciate the issues that confronted the industry.Prof. Ocquaye said the Government would not relent on efforts to push the agenda for developing the sector forward.He said a 40 million-dollar loan from the World Bank would help the Government to bridge the telecommunications gap between the urban and the rural areas through the hastening of the fibre optic project. Mr Bernard Forson, Deputy Director-General of the National Communications Authority (NCA), said tele-density could reach 25 per cent by the end of the year.He expressed optimism that the industry could also hit the tele-density target of 10 per cent in the rural areas by 2010, although he noted that the growth in the industry had also brought about challenges.He said there was the need to consider the area of Internet penetration as part of efforts to address the needs of the rural communities.Mr Forson said the NCA would ensure that the obligations to customers by the operators were met and that there existed a level playing field.Mr Kofi Asante, Administrator of the Ghana Investment Fund for Telecommunications (GHIFTEL), said his outfit was granting initial partial funding to entrepreneurs to help to provide universal access to telecommunications facilities to the rural communities.He explained that the work of the GHIFTEL was to promote socio-economic development and this would be done equitably. Mr Asante said GHIFTEL had done upfront assessment of the needs of the industry and had initiated projects to cover selected areas of the country.GHIFTEL expects to implement 22 such projects by the early part of 2007.

Forty billion cedis to finance School feeding project

Forty billion cedis is to be spent on the school feeding project from now until the end of the year. About 198,000 pupils in 500 first cycle schools throughout the country are expected to benefit from the programme, which was piloted last year.Mr Kwame Nuako, Director in charge of monitoring and evaluation at the School Feeding Programme, told the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Wednesday,He said an amount of three thousand cedis had been budgeted to provide one hot meal for each pupil on the programme.Mr Nuako said by the end of the last academic year, about 69,000 pupils from 200 schools nationwide had been fed by the programme. "That number has been increased to 141, 800 pupils from 380 schools at the beginning of the academic year, which started last week. "The number would hit 198, 000 pupils from 500 schools by end of the year and the Government would make available 40 billion cedis to cater for the programme from now till the end of the year"Mr Nuako explained that evaluation of the school-feeding programme for last academic year when it started indicated that it was responsible for an average of 25 per cent increase in school enrolment.He stated that the evaluation also revealed that retention and attendance rates were higher in schools on the feeding programme.Mr Nuako explained that as an added impetus, the programme was offering employment to more than 2,500 caterers engaged to cook for the 500 schools.He said the Programme Directors were working closely with beneficiary district assemblies and communities to sustain it."We are planning to expand the programme to meet Government's objective of making every school child happy and also there is a huge cry for the programme in areas where it has not reached yet." 27 Sept. 06

COCOBOD is ready for 2006/7 cocoa season – Chief Executive

The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) on Wednesday said it had made adequate preparations to eliminate bottlenecks that might affect the smooth running of the 2006/7 major cocoa season, which opens in October 2006. Speaking at a press conference ahead of the celebration of Cocoa Producers Alliance (COPAL) Cocoa Day, Mr Isaac Osei, Chief Executive of COCOBOD, said 14 bales of jute sacks and twines, enough to allow Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs) to purchase and bag about 300,000 tonnes of beans had been released. Last week, COCOBOD announced the signing of a trade finance facility agreement involving 810 million dollars to be used to finance cocoa purchases for the 2006/7 crop year. The money would be made available to LBCs as seed money for them to purchase cocoa during the new season. Mr Osei said the loan agreement would provide buyers "adequate cash flow" to make prompt payment for the produce from farmers. He said a 50,000 tonne-capacity warehouse at Tema would be inaugurated as part of measures to minimize congestion of cocoa beans at the country's ports. Similar facilities are being constructed at Takoradi. "In addition, we're using private warehouses to fill the gap. We're also going to manage the scheduling of truck arrivals to limit the pile-up," he said but quickly added “but that is not to say we’ll eliminate the problem completely”. Mr Osei said a significant portion of Ghana's cocoa trees were infected with swollen shoot disease. He said in pursuit of the policy to increase local processing of cocoa, COCOBOD had finalized negotiations with some major firms to grind the beans into semi-finished and finished products. One such company that would soon come on board is Afro Tropic with an installed processing capacity of 10,000 tonnes, according to Mr Osei. Others which are also expanding their processing capacity include Swiss confectionery giant, Barry Callebaut and the Cocoa Processing Company, both in Tema. Mr Osei put the current total domestic processing capacity at 285,000 tonnes. He said increased domestic consumption of cocoa products was being encouraged through celebrations such as the COPAL Cocoa Day as a means to sustain the industry. The day, which falls on October 1 every year, was instituted by the Cocoa Producers Alliance to promote the local processing and consumption of cocoa to boost consumption in member countries. This year's COPAL celebration would be marked at Sunyani on October 1 and would include activities such as a health walk, recognition of some farmers, fair and exhibition.

Lukewarm attitude of civil servants dampens good intentions

New Patriotic Party (NPP) youth activist has observed that the lukewarm attitude of some Civil Servants towards the implementation of government policies had militated against the good intentions of the programmes to improve the living conditions of the people. Mr Samuel Jinapor Abdulai mentioned for instance, the National Health Insurance Scheme, as one among a dozen of policies that the government had initiated to improve the health of the people. He lamented however that, bureaucratic tendencies at the implementation stages had become a source of concern to the government. Mr Abdulai, who is in the Northern Region to explain government policies and programmes to the people and find out issues affecting the party, made the observation at a media encounter in Tamale on Wednesday. He said the country needed a civil service, whose leaders were disciplined and visionary to move the country forward, even in spite of the harsh and unpleasant conditions under which they worked. He, therefore, called on the government to meet all challenges confronting the service by providing the needed logistics and improving the working conditions of the service to enhance productivity.
On the question of a Northern politician to bear the flag of the NPP in the 2004 general election, Mr Abdulai said, "The NPP has a democratic tradition". "It is for congress to determine who leads the party and the decision is devoid of any ethnic considerations. "The wisdom of congress would prevail and we must all be prepared to follow the choice of congress," he said. On the Millennium Change Account (MCA), the youth activist said the criteria used in selecting the beneficiary districts were not discriminatory. He explained that even though the Upper East and Upper West regions had been identified as poor and had potential in agricultural production, other regions might have comparative advantage over them. "It is government intention to support all regions in the country to harness its potentials to enhance national growth," he said. Mr Abdulai said the government would therefore, not shun its responsibility of ensuring that the two regions got their fair share of the national cake to exploit their potentials for the rapid development of the people.

Eric Osiakwan at Berkman

From: http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/?p=1003

Eric Osiakwan at Berkman
Filed under: Africa, ICT4D, Berkman — Ethan @ 7:21 pm
Eric Osiakwan is a busy man. Near as I can tell, he’s one of the few people I know who has more job titles that I do. And since he’s been to twenty-five African nations in the past five years, he may be one of the unlucky few who spend more time on airplanes than I do. (Joking about this over coffee later, Eric acknowledges that his last girlfriend once told him, “If you like the airplane so much, why don’t you marry it?”)
I last ran into Eric in Grahamstown , South Africa , where he was speaking at the
Highway Africa conference. As the executive secretary of AfrISPA (the African ISP operators’ association) and GISPA (the Ghana ISP association), he’s been hard at work on the issues surrounding the proposed EASSy cable, which will complete a fiber-optic link around the African content and, if all goes well, radically reduce the cost of connectivity.
What’s happened with EASSy so far has been pretty fascinating - at its onset, it looked like EASSy would follow the “closed consortium” model that’s helped keep West African bandwidth so expensive. Eric shows a slide that suggests that connectivity in US universities costs roughly $0.12 per kilobit per second of connectivity, while connectivity in West Africa is $8 per kbps - more expensive than satellite connectivity, or connectivity in Central or East Africa . Ironically, the introduction of a cable in west Africa - SAT-3 - hasn’t meaningfully dropped prices in many countries.
Eric describes two approaches to making SAT-3 more affordable. In Ghana and Nigeria , pressure from competitive ISPs strengthened by ISP associations has been able to “push back” on the consortium pricing. As a result, the same E1 circuit that costs $25,000 per month in South Africa costs $1,500 in Ghana . ISPs made satellite connectivity more affordable, forcing the SAT-3 providers to cut their costs much closer to the wholesale cost.
In Mauritius , they’re taking another approach - trying to make the argument at the government level that connectivity is an “essential facility” and using regulation to open access to the cable. Ghana , Nigeria and South Africa are rumored to be exploring this model as well.
The fear has been that the proposed East Africa cable - EASSy - would fall into the same economic traps as SAT-3. But something very interesting has happened around EASSy - a great deal of momentum has developed around the idea that EASSy should be “open access”, that any entity that wants to purchase connectivity from the cable should be able to at a reasonable price without undue restriction. There are forces suggesting that what’s most important is building the cable quickly, and that an open process is bound to be more complex and involved. But Eric and others have argued that the SAT-3 clearly screwed things up and that EASSy has to use a different model, even if it slows down construction.
Eric dreams of a cable where different entities can buy in via different models. In countries where it might be profitable to have access to a fiber cable, like Kenya , the cable should allow for private investment. In countries where private investment in the cable would be at least five years off, Eric sees the possibility of “stretch” funding - public/private partnership to help make private investment in infrastructure more reasonable. In other countries - Burundi , for instance - the cable needs to be treated as a social good, paid for by donors. Eric’s most radical idea is that we could increase African ownership of the cable by floating some ownership shares on regional stock markets, allowing individuals to own a piece of the cable as well.
The conversation broadened quickly into a discussion of communications on the continent, and how communication enables entrepreneurship. Eric suggested that top-down approaches to development miss some of the most exciting innovations on the continent, and that people would be well advised to watch new communication infrastructure in Africa to see what business models develop around it.
Asked about uniquely African innovations in telecoms, I offered four areas where I thought Africans were leading the rest of the world:
- Narrowband - innovative connectivity solutions that use very little bandwidth, like the
Ghana “Javelin” project, or Fidonet nodes in Zimbabwe
- Localization - Translation of open source software into a wide variety of languages, especially through the help of organizations like
Translate.org.za. Localization of software for challenging environments in projects like Ubuntu.
- Radio - Use of community radio for information dissemination, integration of data and radio in projects like
Geekcorps Mali.
- Urban wifi, with huge wifi networks in Accra , Bamako and other African cities.
I wish Eric had an hour to work through his slides - his thinking on the topic is really strong, and I’m hoping he’ll take
this dense slide deck and turn it into an article soon for everyone interested in this important project.
Possibly related posts (automagically generated):
·
Eric Osiakwan at Berkman
·
Eric Osiakwan at Berkman
·
Berkman Center on our WSIS workshop

26.9.06

Asantehene Is Angry

The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has condemned attempts by some people to link him with the cocaine scandal.

He has therefore, cautioned journalists, politicians and social commentators to desist from hiding behind democracy and the freedom of speech to persistently use the airwaves to question why the Justice Georgina Wood Committee did not invite him over the issue.

The Asantehene made the comments at a meeting with the Asanteman Council at Manhyia here on Monday, after a 10-day visit to Libya.

He questioned the basis for people trying to drag him into a crime for which he maintained innocence. "What country are we building where there is no respect for authority and the elderly?" he asked. Otumfuo Osei Tutu said that for some time now, he had been patiently taking the vilification but "the time has come for me to bite if such comments on radio and television continue."

He described the situation as an anti-Ashanti hate campaign which must be resisted.

He questioned the silence of the various paramount chiefs and other people in his jurisdiction over the adverse comments being made against Manhyia, especially in connection with the cocaine scandal.

He deplored the tribalistic tendencies taking over the Ghanaian society, with Ashantis as the main target. Making reference to past comments that an Ashanti could never become a President in Ghana, the Asantehene urged his people to shun politicians who are bent on sowing seeds of confusion in Asanteman, regardless of their political affiliation.

of confusion in Asanteman, regardless of their political affiliation.

He told the chiefs that he is monitoring them and if it is discovered that any of them is in league with politicians to bring the name of Manhyia into disrepute, that chief would have himself to blame.

Otumfuo briefed the council on his trip to Libya, announcing that Libya had decided to support Ghana to go into the mass cultivation of yellow maize for export. He advised the chiefs to make lands available so that Ashanti Region could take full advantage of the project to bring employment to the youth.

Source:
Ghanaian Times

Australian Witch Targets Ghanaians

A 49-year-old male Australian witch who turned teenage girls into sex slaves has turned his attention to Ghana.Robin Angas Fletcher finished an eight-year jail term in June, but has been living in a unit inside the walls of Ararat prison, in western Victoria, Australia, under an extended supervision order imposed by the Adult Parole Board.Fletcher challenged the conditions of the order, imposed under the Serious Sex Offenders Monitoring Act, in the Victorian Supreme Court. A judge ruled the Board was acting unlawfully by keeping Fletcher behind prison walls after he had completed his jail term.Fletcher was due for release earlier this year, but parole was refused after authorities discovered he engaged in "disturbing" correspondence with people in Ghana, West Africa.In an advertisement on a prisoner pen-pal site, he claimed to be a real witch and an occult and bondage and discipline master.Fletcher used hypnotism and mind-altering techniques to entice two 15-year-old girls into prostitution, sadomasochism and black magic.He was jailed in 1998 after pleading guilty to prostituting a child, sexual penetration, and indecent acts against a child aged under 16.

Suspect's b'day bash sends Police head home

The Police Administration has directed the Police Intelligence and Professional Standard Bureau (PIPS) and Criminal Investigations Department (CID) to investigate media reports of an alleged birthday party held by Kwabena Amaning, aka Tagor, a drug suspect, while in custody at the Ministries Police Station. The Police Divisional Commander, under which the Ministries Police Station falls, has also been asked to proceed on leave with immediate effect in order to pave the way for the investigations. A statement signed by , Director in Charge of Public Affairs, Superintendent of Police Mr David S. Eklu in Accra, said the investigations were to be supervised by Mr Paul Quaye, a Commissioner of Police and the Director General in charge of Strategic Direction and Monitoring. It said investigations would be conducted to ascertain whether champagne was brought to Tagor in cells, whether a party was organized in the cells and whether the Police regulations in respect of remand suspects were followed. The Police said any Police Officer found to have acted contrary to the Police regulations would be dealt with accordingly.

GES takes steps to solve NAGRAT's strike

The Ghana Education Service (GES) said it had taken steps to address all issues raised by the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), whose members have been on strike since the beginning of the academic year to press demands for better salaries. In a statement issued in Accra yesterday, GES said it acknowledged the right of a group of workers and teachers to form associations. However, "it is of the view that at all times actions taken by any group should be in conformity with the Labour Laws of the country". GES said under the GES Act and the Labour Act, the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) and the Teachers and Educational Workers Union (TEWU) were the only recognized bodies with collective bargaining certificate with the GES. It said GES was now preparing to commence negotiations on the condition of service of teachers.

Greenpeace activists detained in Ivory Coast

Four activists from environmental pressure group Greenpeace were detained in an Estonian port Ivory Coast yesterday when the group mounted a spectacular operation to prevent a ship involved in a toxic waste scandal in west Africa from setting out to sea. Head of foreign and media relations at the Estonian Maritime Administration Tarmo Ots, told AFP that Altogether they have now detained four Greenpeace activists. Earlier, two Greenpeace activists on a motorboat heading for the Probo Koala were detained for violating port rules.

Poliomyelitis still a problem in Nigeria

Nigeria's northern state of Katsina has recorded 141 fresh cases of poliomyelitis this year. The chairman of the state's primary health care development agency, Ahmed Qabasiyu,SAYS that the polio cases were recorded between January and September, with May having the highest number of 38 cases. The number of new cases fell to 25 in June and six in July following the first and second rounds of the newly introduced Immunisation Plus Day (IPD) programme, .

Low turnout at district level elections at New Juaben

Turnout of voters in the District Assembly and Unit Committee elections in the New Juaben Municipality was low, when the Ghana News Agency visited some of the polling centres in the Municipality. According to the polling officials at the Pope John Secondary School "A" polling station as at 1345 hours, only 17 people had cast their votes out of 672 registered voters, while at the "B" polling station, only 20 voters had cast their votes out of 664. Two males were contesting at each of the polling stations. At Kantudu Temporal Boot, 89 voters had cast their voted as at 1100 hours and at the AME Zion Primary School polling station, only 37 people had cast their votes as at 1115 hours, while at the SCCE Electoral Area, 86 votes were cast as at 1130 hours. The Water West Office station at Kantudu Electoral Area recorded 98 votes as at 1140 hours. At Anlo Town Down South polling station, out of 901 registered voters, only 180 people cast their votes as at 1145 hours and at Anlo Town South B, only 150 had cast their votes as at 1150 hours, while at the Kru Town polling station, out of 780 voters, only 150 cast their votes as at 1205 hours.

Use of indigenous languages imperative for unity, development- Rev Prof Obeng

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Reverend Professor Emmanuel Adow Obeng, on Tuesday announced that the university would within the next two years, establish a school of languages at its faculty of arts, to promote the use of indigenous languages and linguistics to enhance national unity and development.
He referred to the "school of thought" that says that, as part of the educational reforms, basic school pupils should be instructed in the local language to enhance learning, and that two or three Ghanaian languages should also be selected and taught in all schools and be used alongside the English language as national languages.
Rev. Prof. Obeng, who was speaking at the opening of a three-day "Inter-University Conference on the co-existence of languages in West Africa", at the UCC, underscored the important role indigenous languages played in the socio-cultural, economic and political development of a nation.
The conference, which is being attended by about 50 deans of faculties and other members of the academia from the four of the country's five public universities and from universities in Burkina Faso, Togo, Cote d'Ivoire and Nigeria, is aimed at deliberating on linguistics issues confronting the sub-region.
He, however, expressed fears that if some languages were chosen as national languages, some Ghanaians may politicise the issue, with accusations of the marginalisation of other ethnic languages and groups.
The Vice-Chancellor also stressed the need for the nation to take the teaching and learning of French seriously, as Franco-phone countries surround the nation.
Touching on the general situation of the use of indigenous languages to forge unity and development in the sub-region, he said this was proving difficult to achieve, due to the "strong independence" of local languages.
He compared the sub-region to East Africa, where he said countries like Tanzania and Kenya, have succeeded in making Swahili their national languages, and tasked the conference to come out with "concrete proposals" that their respective national authorities, could use to influence their various national agendas, for development.
"Only then, can the time and resources we spend in organizing such meetings can be justified. Only then would we as academics, have contributed to knowledge and for that matter, the advancement of our societies", he declared.
In his address, the Central Regional Minister, Nana Ato Arthur, also underscored the importance of indigenous languages in a nation's advancement and tasked the participants not to depart from the laudable ideas mooted at the 'Inter-governmental Conference in Harare 1997, which sought to support the use of indigenous languages as a means of instruction in schools.
He said this was imperative, as the conference, resulted in a declaration, in which the various countries expressed their commitment to the vision of Africa, by among others, ensuring a continent, where scientific and technological discourse, would be conducted in the national languages as part of cognitive preparation for facing the challenges of the next millennium.
"The co-existence of languages in our part of the world is a must and this conference should enforce the need for our people to continue to live and work in peace, despite our diverse backgrounds and languages", he stressed.
Nana Arthur said Ghana had at the moment done a lot in ensuring this, while languages like Akan, Akuapem, Dagaare, Ga and Nzema, are also being studied at some of the higher institutions of learning.
He emphasized that the work done in the development of these languages, should not be allowed "to go waste, since the benefits to be derived in the use of local languages in the schools "cannot be quantified".
The dean of the Faculty of Arts, Prof. Donwin Kuupole, who presided, also tasked the conference to help formulate effective language policies in the sub-region.
Papers presented at the conference, which was jointly organized by the UCC and the University of Ouagadougou, include 'subtractive multilingualism and capital and sustaining the language development effort'.

Attorney-General orders the re-arrest of five Policemen

The Attorney-General, Mr Joe Ghartey on Tuesday ordered the re-arrest of the five Policemen believed to have knowledge of the missing cocaine on board the vessel MV Benjamin. The five were granted 300 million cedi bail each on Monday by an Accra Circuit court with one surety to be justified after the Prosecution withdrew charges of abetment and substituted it with extortion. They are Detective Sergeant Samuel Amoah; General Sergeant Daniel Nyarko; Detective Lance Corporal Dwamena Yabson; General Sergeant Isaac Asante and General Lance Corporal Peter Bondorin. They pleaded not guilty. Four of the Policemen have since been put into Police custody but the fifth, Detective Sergeant Samuel Amoah is yet to report or be arrested. Mr Ghartey, who is also the Minister of Justice, told the Ghana News Agency that his Office had countermanded the decision of the Chief State Attorney, Mr Cab-Beyuo, who withdrew the abetment charges, adding that fresh charges were to be preferred against the suspects. He said he read about what happened in court in the papers and immediately ordered the re-arrest of the suspects since he believed the Chief State Attorney erred. Mr Ghartey said: "The Prosecutor erred by not consulting his immediate superior or the Attorney-General before his action of changing the charges.” He said for the officers to have escorted Sheriff aka Limping Man, who is said to have offloaded the missing 77 parcels of cocaine at Kpone, near Tema, indicated aiding and abetting. Mr Ghartey said the Policemen in this matter were not by the roadside collecting bribe but assisted the process of the importation of the cocaine. He said it was an error of judgement on the part of Mr Cab-Beyuo since only the Attorney-General had the power to change charges preferred against accused persons. According to the Prosecution, on April 26, 2006, the accused persons stationed at Tema New Town, Community One, Tema and Kpone had information that Sheriff, now at large, was taking delivery of parcels of cocaine at Kpone Beach, near Tema. They were said to have abetted with him to offload the missing 77 parcels of cocaine. The accused persons mobilized themselves to arrest Sheriff. They went and saw the parcels but on the contrary ignored it. The Prosecution said the accused persons went on a ride in Sheriff's vehicle to his residence where they took some money and allowed him to go. The Prosecution said their acts contravened the laws of the State and would lead evidence to prove their case. The missing of the 77 parcels of cocaine had led to extensive investigation and publicity leading to the establishment of the Justice Georgina Wood Committee, which has recently submitted its report. The case has led to some senior police officers being implicated. Some suspects are appearing before an Accra High Court. The Justice Georgina Wood Committee presented its report to Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, Minister of the Interior at a well attended ceremony at the Ministry of Information and National Orientation in Accra on Friday. The Report, whose content was not disclosed, was to be passed on promptly to the Attorney-General's Department for its comments and advice. The Committee was set up July 4, 2006 to investigate the disappearance of 77 parcels of cocaine from MV Benjamin and an alleged 200,000 dollars bribe paid to Senior Police Officers by a 23-year-old woman, Ms Grace Asibi. Ms Asibi is the girlfriend of a Venezuelan drug fugitive Vasquez Geraldo Duarte David, who is at the centre of the seizure of some 588 kilograms of cocaine from a house at East Legon in Accra. Mr Ghartey said his outfit would study the Report and advise the Government accordingly. "We shall advise and prosecute not persecute without fear, favour, ill-will or hatred towards any person. "We shall do what we have to do in accordance with the law. "Let us all remember the words of the President when he reminded us recently that no one is above the law. "Let us also remember that in our legal jurisprudence everyone is innocent unless proven guilty. For those who we have grounds to believe are guilty, we shall seek to prove this in a court of law." The Committee was charged to determine the actual number of narcotic drug parcels on board the vessel immediately before it was intercepted and whether some of the parcels on board the vessel were removed before it was intercepted. The Committee was to establish when and how the removal happened and recommend the appropriate punishment. The Committee was also to investigate any other issues relating to the loss of narcotics drugs and make recommendations on how to avoid recurrence. The Committee had the additional mandate of investigating the various allegations levelled against some Police Officers with respect to the seizure of a quantity of narcotic drugs at East Legon and to advise on appropriate actions against any person or persons found culpable. In the case of the MV Benjamin, the issue, which took centre stage, was a recording of a conversation relating to the disappearance of the cocaine from the ship at a meeting between some alleged drug dealers in the house of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Kofi Boakye. The key witnesses in that tape recording, which came to be known as the "Kofi Boakye Tape", were arrested when they came to testify before the Committee. The witnesses included Alhaji Issah Abass,Kwabena Amaning also called Tagor and Kwabena Acheampong.

Electorate shows little interest in elections

Mr. John Henry Mensah, Chairman of National Development Planning Committee on Tuesday joined voters at the workers canteen polling station in Boahenkokor electoral area in Sunyani municipality to exercise his franchise in the municipal assembly elections.
Mr. Mensah, accompanied by Mr. Kwame Twumasi-Awuah, Municipal Chief Executive, went to the centre around 1000 hours after the municipality had experienced two short downpours early in the morning.
A total of 173 out of 879 voters had exercised their franchise as at 10:30 am at the polling centre.
Mr. Mensah before casting his vote had earlier visited some polling stations and interacted with the electorate.
At the Presbyterian JSS, Presbyterian Primary Lower and Presbyterian Office polling centres at Boahenkorkor electoral area 68, 110 and 60 voters out of 560, 765 and 681 voters respectively had cast their votes as at 0900 hours.
A total of 68 valid votes out of 539 eligible voters at Twene Amanfo 1A polling centre, 44 out of 445 at Twene Amanfo IB and 47 out of 458 at Twene Amanfo 2A and 42 out of 462 at Twene Amanfo 2B polling centre at Atoase electoral area had been cast at the time.
At the rural development store 1A centre 80 voters out of 838 had cast their votes while 65 out of 972 registered voters at rural development store 1B had voted and 85 out of 1,072 voters had exercised their franchise at the Bakers Cooperative office.
Many of the Presiding officers attributed the low turnout at the centres to the rainfall and expressed the hope that more of the electorate would turn up during the day to vote.

Electorate shows little interest in elections

There was no Unit Committee election at some polling stations in Savelugu when the District level elections took off on Tuesday morning as people did not register to contest.
A former Unit Committee member who did not disclose his name told the GNA that during the last Unit Committee election, those elected were not inaugurated to allow them to carry out their mandate.
This, he said, made them non-functional in the communities, as the people who elected them did not recognise their authority.
These among other factors, he explained, had discouraged the people from registering to contest this year's Unit Committee election.
Turn out at the District Assembly Election was encouraging in the morning but there was a lull in late afternoon.
Some of the Presiding Officers attributed the situation to the fact that it was harvesting time and the Ramadan, as well as inadequate publicity on the elections.
Some voters also told the GNA that they did not attach importance to the District level elections because they had not impacted positively on their lives.
At the Yoo Roman Catholic Primary School Polling Station, 165 out of 658 registered voters had cast their votes as at midday while at the Adabiya English Arabic Primary School, out of the 778 registered voters only 193 had voted.
Two hundred and thirty-two out of the 698 registered voters had exercised their franchise at Alhaji Iddris Bila's House Polling Station as at 12:05 P.M. while 260 voters out of the 729 registered voters had cast their votes at the Canteen Polling Station, by 12:20 P.M.
At 12:30 P.M., 224 voters had cast their ballot at the Savelugu Junior Secondary School Polling Station out of the 670 registered voters.

25.9.06

Senegal ruled out on Monday mass deportations of its nationals currently living illegally in France following a pact signed between the two countries requiring clandestine immigrants to be repatriated."There will be no charter (fli2ghts) for clandestine migrants. The return of migrants to their countries of origin will be organised jointly by the two countries," Senegalese Interior Minister Ousmane Ngom told a news conference.Ngom and his French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy, signed the accord at the weekend making it easier for Senegalese students and entrepreneurs to enter France and for Paris to repatriate illegal immigrants.Sarkozy described the accord as "historic and without precedent".Ngom was reacting to newspaper reports here criticising the weekend deal as opening flood-gates of deportation charter flights from Paris to Dakar.

Liberian Police Officers in Ghana for training

Thirty Liberian Police Officers arrived in Accra on Monday to undergo a three-week training course at the Ghana Police College in Accra. Deputy Superintendent of Police, Mr Paul Kissi Frimpong, a Ghanaian Police Officer working with the United Nations Police Force in Liberia led the group to Ghana. Mr Frimpong, who is the Deputy Senior Advisor on Law Enforcement, Reform and Restructuring in Liberia, said the training would add a professional touch to policing in the war ravaged country. He said over the years policing in Liberia was politicized to the extent that non-professionals were given charge of the Service paving way for certain lapses unacceptable to the practice of the profession. He said the Ghana Police under the United Nations had so far trained more than 2,000 Police personnel with more training programmes in the pipeline. He said that the 30 officers have undergone a nine months basic training in the Liberia Police Academy. Welcoming the Officers to Ghana at the Kotoka International Airport, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Kwesi Ofori of the Police Public Relations Directorate, said the Service was determined to ensure the maintenance of regional security by sharing its knowledge with similar agencies in the Sub Region.

GES Declares holiday for Assembly Elections

The Ghana Education Service (GES) has declared Tuesday, September 26 a holiday for all basic schools throughout the country.A statement issued to the Ghana News Agency in Accra, and signed by Mr Michael Kenneth Nsowah, Acting Director-General of the GES, asked all heads of basic schools to observe the day as such due to the District Assembly Elections scheduled for the day.
A four-member delegation of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) led by the General-Secretary, Mr Johnson Aseidu Nketiah is in the United Kingdom (UK) to attend the Labour Party Annual Conference 2006 in Manchester.A statement in Accra on Monday by Mr Fifi Kwetey, National Propaganda Secretary, said the trip was at the invitation of the British Labour Party. The delegation includes Mrs Ama Benyiwa-Doe, National Women Organiser; Mr Baba Jamal Ahmed, Deputy General Secretary and Mr Kofi Attor, Director of International Relations. They would be away for nine days. The statement said in their absence, Mr Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, Deputy General Secretary (Operations), would act as General Secretary.

13.9.06

President John Agyekum Kufuor leaves Accra on Tuesday for Cuba, Havana, to attend the 14th Summit of the Heads of State of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
The Summit, scheduled for September 11 to September 16, is expected to focus the minds of member countries on enhancing the role of the NAM in the prevailing international system.

A statement signed by Mr Andrew Awuni, Press Secretary to the President and Presidential Spokesman, said the Summit would review the international situation, examine NAM's own roles and methods of work and follow up on the outcomes of major UN Summits and conferences as well as the Millennium Declaration.

"The Heads of State are expected to reaffirm and underscore the Movement's abiding faith and commitment to its founding principles, ideals and purposes, particularly in establishing a peaceful and prosperous world as well as a just and equitable world order." The statement said President Kufuor would continue to the US to attend the 61st General Assembly of the UN, which would among other things, consider the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the US against Cuba.

It said the Assembly would also consider the UN Secretary-General's report on the situation in the Middle East, the question of Palestine, the UN Security Council reforms, disarmament and international security, among otherthings.

The President is expected back home on September 25.


14th NAM Summit kicks off in Cuba
A meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) begins on Monday amid uncertainty about the role Cuba's ailing leader Fidel Castro will play, if any, in hosting leaders of developing countries from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.
Representatives of most of the 116 members of the Non-Aligned Movement are expected at the meeting in Havana, which culminates on Friday and Saturday in a summit of more than 50 heads of state and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Among the well-known leaders attending are Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh of India and Thaksin Shinawatra of Thailand as well as Presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, and Bashar Assad of Syria.

12.9.06

A Professor of Sociology at the Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa, on Monday said the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) must not be dependent on aid.

Speaking at a pre-conference workshop dialogue of the 10th edition of the Highway Africa Conference, Professor Jimi Adesina, said aid assistance in development goals always gave false account of efforts made by countries.

"No country can develop on the basis of aid," he said, and urged African countries to develop their own agenda with their own resources for programmes at their own pace.

Highway Africa is the largest annual gathering of African journalists to interact and discuss the uses, access and application of ICT tools for development, good governance and democracy. About 500 journalists are attending this year's conference on the theme: "Celebrations, Reflections and Future Directions." Prof. Adesina, who was speaking on: "Setting the Context: MDGs and Implications for Journalism and Media in Africa", said the original objectives of the MDGs by the United Nations General Assembly contained over 28 paragraphs, which, among other things, sought to cancel debts of developing countries and to help maintain peace in war-torn countries. However, the state of global power relations, especially between the UN and the Breton Wood institutions, had resulted in reducing the goals to only eight points.

Prof. Adesina observed that the UN made the effort to intervene because it realised that after more than 20 years of specific macroeconomic policies, such as the structural adjustment programme, poverty had rather deepened.

The only things it achieved, he said, were some aspects of stabilisation in some economies, establishment of shopping malls and financing of the middle class, who at the time had little education but strived to be considered petty bourgeois class with proletarian aspirations across the Continent.

"What happened in the 1980s as a result of the implementation of these policies can therefore be described as a fundamental change of aspirations of the middle class."

But at the same time, over 126 million people fell below the poverty line in the over 20 years of structural adjustment with education and public health care plunging into a mess while macroeconomic imbalance became endemic.

Prof. Adesina said resorting to aid flows for the financing of government budgets also had its implications of recording continued deficits in countries such as Ghana and Uganda.

The Professor said the latest attempts at halving poverty by 2015 was, therefore, nowhere near being achieved because earning a dollar a day was nothing to write home about. "Instead, we can say that the target should be for the destitute." He said for countries, which opted for the highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative; "by the time they go through the whole process to reach the exit point, they may have sold their countries out to foreigners". This, he said, was because such countries were pushed into opening up their economies to private capital. Prof. Adesina said there had been some improvements but at the time when Africa should be moving ahead, the Continent's new priority was focused on primary and basic education, which was not enough qualification for development.

The Professor cited Ghana as an example of such countries, which after almost 50 years of independence had to focus attention on basic education instead of building capacities.

He also said that the Continent had become "consumers of what we do not produce and producers of what we do not consume.

"We should ask ourselves why we could not achieve health for all, water for all and education for all by the year 2000."

Prof. Adesina said going by current assessments, Africa should have achieved about 40 per cent of the MDGs targets by now. Instead, available figures indicated achievements of between six per cent to 20 per cent in various indices including child mortality; education; maternal health; environment and improvements in HIV/AIDS and malaria. He cited Tanzania as an example of an African country that had achieved a lot with all sections of the public feeling a sense of belonging despite the multiplicity of ethnic grouping.

He said to move in the right direction countries must have strategic objectives to follow.Source:
GNA