Ministry to acquire land for Korle Lagoon ecological project

The Government has approved 10.4 million euros to finance part of the Korle Lagoon ecological project to start infrastructural development in the Old Fadama area.
The project marks the commencement of the relocation of commercial activities at Old Fadama to Adgin-kotoku in the Ga-West district of the Greater Accra region which was meant, to decongest the central business areas of vehicular and human traffic. Dr. Thomas Fokuo Agyapong, Director for the Modernization of the Capital City said this on Friday when he interacted with owners' of the land to seek their consent to enable the Ministry to acquire 800 acres of land for the first phase of the project.
In all, over 1200 acres of land were required to complete the four phases of the projects across a ten-year life span. He said the first phase of the projects would have amenities such as a link road from the town to Midea, schools, Police post, health centres, electrification works and a warehouse.
He said the projects were being undertaken in collaboration with the Ministries of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment and Water Resource, Works and Housing, Accra Metropolitan Assembly, among others formed part of the Ministry's plan to beautify Accra. Dr. Agyapong noted that the projects, which would begin in September this year, would also have housing and hostel facilities to accommodate both traders and businessmen.
He said the rest of the phases would involve private entrepreneurs who would complement the efforts of government in the overall development of the area. Dr. Agyapong mentioned that the old Fadama area, which comprise Agbobloshie, Sodom and Gomorrah and Timber market would all be relocated after the completion of the projects and the site developed into an ultra modern entertainment center with other low cost apartment for rent.
Mr. Abeiku Dickson, Special Assistance to the sector Minister said the Ministry would continue to use dialogue as opposed to compulsory acquisition to acquire the land for the projects. He called on the landowners to regard the project as a feather in their cup and support government to develop the area into an urban one.GNA


Nigeria death fails to halt poll

The sudden death of an opposition candidate will not delay a presidential poll due to take place on April 21, Nigeria's electoral commission says.
"It will not affect the elections," Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) spokesman Segun Adeogun told Reuters news agency.

Mr Adeogun says the Alliance for Democracy will be allowed to replace Adebayo Adefarati, who died Thursday.
Mr Adefarati, 79, seen as an outsider in the race, died in a hospital.
According to Nigeria's electoral act, elections are to be delayed until "convenient date" if a candidate dies after nomination papers are delivered.

"Unless someone is up to some mischief, the death of Adefarati should not affect the polls," Hamisu Shira, chair of Nigeria's House of Representatives committee on electoral matters told the BBC News website.
"All the Alliance for Democracy is required to do is simply present another presidential candidate to INEC."

President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is stepping down after two terms, paid tribute to Mr Adeferati at a campaign rally, saying: "He would have been a worthy opponent."
Mr Adeferati was governor of south-west Ondo State from 1999 to 2003, but lost a re-election bid in the April 2003 elections.
He was then nominated by his party as presidential candidate for Nigeria's forthcoming elections.

80-megawatt barge arrives to support Akosombo

An emergency 80-megawatt barge procured by a consortium of mining companies has arrived at the Tema Port as part of efforts to beef up energy requirements due to depleting water levels in the Akosombo Dam.It would be providing power in three months during which Newmont engineers would install and test the facility to meet expected capacities.
The consortium led by Newmont Ghana Gold Limited includes Gold Fields Ghana, AngloGold Ashanti and Gold Star Resources. The barge would be located at the New Tema VRA Sub-Station near the Tema Oil Refinery.Briefing journalists at the Tema Port, Mr Joshua Mutoti, Newmont's Energy Manager, said the 45 million-dollar barge is the consortium's contribution to stabilizing the power rationing programme.
The Volta River Authority (VRA) embarked on a power-rationing programme last August following depleting water resources of the Akosombo Dam, which is currently at 237.60 feet, far below the minimum operating level of 240 feet.The Akosombo Dam started commercial production of electricity in 1965.


Two more judges dead

Two more justices of the superior courts of Ghana are reported dead.Justice Essilfie Bondzie, a retired Appeal Court judge died at the weekend while Justice Asamoah of the Court of Appeal died on Wednesday morning.
Their deaths come immediately after the death of Justice George Kingsley Acquah, the Chief Justice who passed away on Sunday.


Brazil struggles to hold on to lead

Reuters) - Brazil were heavily indebted to goalkeeper Julio Cesar in their 1-0 win over Ghana in a friendly international on Tuesday.Vagner Love scored the winner in a rematch of the 2006 World Cup second-round tie which Brazil won 3-0 but Julio Cesar was their most important player.He made his first notable save in the 15th minute when he tipped away Eric Addo's close-range header.
Two minutes later, Brazil won a corner, Kaka headed on at the near post and Vagner Love, unmarked at the far post, drilled the ball home for his second international goal.Julio Cesar was in action again in the 20th minute as he blocked a dangerous run by Alex Tachie Mensah.Despite missing captain Stephen Appiah and midfielder Michael Essien, Ghana continued to threaten the South Americans in a surprisingly slow-paced game.
Julio Cesar made his best save to turn away Laryea Kingston's fierce drive from the edge of the area in the 50th minute and tipped over Sulley Muntari's 30-metre free kick shortly afterwards.Muntari's effort scraped the crossbar before going out to safety.Brazil, who thrashed Chile 4-0 in Gothenburg on Saturday, were happy to threaten on the break and created a clear opening in the 65th minute which was wasted by Kaka, who toe-poked the ball wide.Ghana had midfielder Haminu Dramani sent off for a second bookable offence in the 77th minute, after which the game fizzled out with Brazil happy to sit back on their lead.


ECOWAS Ministerial conference on Biotechnology opens in Accra

The third ECOWAS Ministerial Conference on Biotechnology opens in Accra on Tuesday to deliberate on issues pertaining to biotechnology in the sub-region. The four-day conference, to be attended by about 200 agricultural and environmental ministers, biotechnology experts, international agricultural scientists, farmer groups and civil society would be under the theme: "Adoption of 2006-2010 Action Plan for Meeting of the Challenges of Biotechnology and Bio safety".
A statement signed by Mr Edward B. Karkari, Chief Technical Adviser for the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment, said the Ministerial session, which takes place on the last day of the conference will examine and adopt the 2006-2010 Action Plan for the development of biotechnology and bio safety within the ECOWAS region. The first three days would have the experts discussing critical issues pertaining to the theme.
It said the Action Plan was focused on measures deemed as necessary by the Ministers for the development of a regional approach to biosafety, biotechnology application and a biotechnology information, communication strategy and policy. The Plan of Action was prepared by the ECOWAS Commission in line with the decision taken by the ministers at their second meeting held in Bamako, Mali in June 2005.
ECOWAS Ministers at various meetings had resolved to develop the capacity for the safe use of modern biotechnology in agriculture as sub-Saharan Africa continues to face drastic food shortages, it said. It attributed the problem to pests, diseases, declining soil fertility and drought, input and market constraints, poor policy development for agriculture and low research support.
The resulting food security problems are associated with the decline in socio-economic well-being. The first ministerial conference on biotechnology was held in June 2004 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.GNA


Ghana's Chief Justice Dies at 65

The Chief Justice of Ghana, Justice George Kingsley Acquah is dead. He was 65 years.
He died at the 37th Military Hospital early Sunday morning from cancer, hospital sources told the Ghana News Agency in Accra. Justice Acquah had been receiving treatment in India and the United States for the ailment.

Justice Acquah, who was appointed as Chief Justice in June 20, 2003, would be remembered for attempting to reconcile Ghana's traditional adjudication laws with the imposed colonial ones.
He was born in Sekondi in the Western Region on March 6, 1942. He attended the Adisadel College, Cape Coast from 1957 to 1963, where he obtained both the Ordinary and Advanced level Certificates of the West African Examinations Council.

Justice Acquah then gained admission to the University of Ghana, Legon, in 1964 where he obtained LL.B Honours in Law. In 1970 he entered the Ghana Law School where he obtained the professional certificate in Law. He was called to the Bar in 1972.

His employment record includes private legal practitioner from 1972 to 1989, High Court Judge from 1989 to 1994, Appeal Court Judge from 1994 to 1995 and Supreme Court Judge from 1995 to date. He held national and international positions such as Patron, Commonwealth legal Education Association, London.Justice Acquah left behind a wife and six children.


Ghana's Black Stars shows character against Austria

Ghana’s senior national side The Black Stars this evening kept her uneaten run intact after holding Austria 1-1 at the UPC-Arena in Graz, Austria. After 90 minutes of regular fast paced quality soccer from both sides, it was the Stars who had an uphill task to neutralize the lead clinched by the Austrians in the opening moments of the second half.
The Black stars were without thier regular captain, and midfields general, Steven Appiah and Michael Essian respectively. This game undoubtedly has tested the strength and impregnability of Ghana’s national team. It is worth noting that they proved their might. With this international friendly over, the Stars face the world’s number one soccer side, Brazil, in another friendly, next Tuesday.



2007 is a test of Ghana's democratic diplomacy - Nana Akufo-Addo

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Minister of Foreign Affairs on Friday observed that this year, 2007 would be a test of the strength of Ghana's democratic diplomacy because of a number of Ghana's involvement in African continental and global events.
He mentioned particularly Ghana's hosting of the forthcoming Summit of the African Union to be held in Accra from 25th June to 3rd July 2007. Nana Akufo-Addo made the observation in a statement on the floor of Parliament to give a background to the Summit, and a report on the President's recent trip to United Kingdom, Portugal and Algiers.
He said the main theme of the Summit would be the direction of the Union on the sort of governmental system to regulate its affairs and lead it to a greater unity of purpose. The Accra Summit would also discuss the composition of the commission of the Union on who constitutes its executive arm and the African Peer Review Mechanism process, which would culminate in the peer review of Algeria, Nigeria and South Africa. Other issues on the agenda of the Summit are the unresolved conflicts in Somalia, the Darfur Region of Sudan and the renew tension in Cote d'Ivoire. "The killings in Darfur, which appeared to have escalated are a great blot on the conscience of Africa, which the continent cannot afford."
The Foreign Affairs Minister used the occasion to inform the nation of the Africa-Europe Summit scheduled for Lisbon in December under the joint sponsorship of the Portuguese presidency of the European Union (EU) and Ghana's chairmanship of the African Union. Nana Akufo-Addo said the Summit promises to seek to elaborate the basis of a new transformed relationship between Europe and Africa.
"The President took the opportunity of his presence in Portugal to engage the Portuguese leadership on the need to develop and expand the bilateral relations between the two countries," the Minister said, underlining the mutual advantage in terms of cultural exchanges that would be heightened between the two countries.


Ensuring water availability to the populace is a strategic priority- Owusu-Agyeman

Government is moving towards making water available to 85 percent of Ghana's population by 2015, as a strategic priority. This is because access to water was crucial to "the successful achievement of most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)" and the Growth and Poverty Reduction (GPRS) 11.
Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyeman, Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing made these points in his keynote address to mark "World Water Day" in Ho on Thursday under the theme, "Coping with water scarcity". "Fortunately we have set our priorities towards ensuring the provision of good drinking water and sanitation related services for our increasing population in the rural and urban areas", he said.
Mr Owusu-Agyeman said the task would require that the citizenry seriously explore simple but important technologically sound alternative sources of water supply such as rainwater harvesting. He therefore, tasked the District Assemblies to introduce mechanisms, including building codes and byelaws and their enforcement to promote rainwater harvesting. Mr Owusu-Agyeman said attention should also be focused on water management that addresses water conservation and pollution and creation of buffers along water bodies.
He said preliminary studies have therefore been initiated which aim at developing an appropriate buffer zone policy for the protection of the country's water bodies and vital eco-systems while providing economic benefits for the populace. Mr Owusu-Agyeman said in response to the sub-regional dimension of water resource management, the country played a lead role towards establishing the Volta Basin Authority, involving other countries such as Burkina Faso, Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Togo and Mali.
In a statement the Chairman of the Water Resources Commission (WRC), Professor Clement Dorm-Adzobu said the Commission has initiated substantial programmes to develop appropriate management instruments, accelerating institutional co-ordination and creating enabling environment towards the effective implementation of Integrated Water Resource Management, which resulted in the establishment of decentralized basin management boards. One of such boards was the Densu Basin Board comprising representatives of District Assemblies, local authorities, non-governmental organizations, women and government institutions leading to the improvement in water quality of the Densu.
A statement from the United Nations Secretary General Mr Ban Ki -moon said the way forward in coping with water scarcity require strengthening institutional capacity and governance at all levels, promoting more technology transfer, mobilizing more financial resources and scaling up good practices and lessons learnt. He called on the "UN system and all stakeholders to forge stronger partnerships and take more concerted action throughout the entire International Decade for Action: Water for Life 2005-2015".GNA

US Ambassador on familiarisation visit to Upper East

The United States Ambassador to Ghana, Ms Pomela Bridgewater on Thursday undertook a familiarisation visit to the Upper East Region to inspect some Community Self-Help Projects funded by the Embassy in the area. Areas she visited included the Basket Weavers Cooperative Association at Gambibgo; Sherigu Women's Organisation for Poultry and Art (SWOPA) and Hivilak Gift World Finest, a basket marketing company in Bolgatanga.
Mr Ayamga John Awuyanaba, Coordinator of the Gambibgo Basket Weavers Cooperative Association, on behalf of the Association, thanked the United States Embassy for its assistance. He explained that through the support of the Embassy, the Association had been able to build the capacity of its members and provided them with loans to undertake straw weaving, which has improved the quality of their products and their living standards.
"Many of our people, especially women, have been empowered economically and can now fend for themselves and their families." Mr Francis Danso, Managing Director of Havilak Gift World Finest Basket Company, said the Company had employed a good number of people in the area, especially the youth, thereby reducing the unemployment problem. The Ambassador, who was visibly impressed about the operation of the Embassy's Self-Help Projects, pledged the Embassy's further support and urged members of the group to work harder to empower themselves.
"Bolgatanga Basket is the best among all the baskets on the world market," Ms. Bridgewater indicated, after having bought many of the products herself. Accompanying the Ambassador was Mr Larry Dolan of USAID – Ghana; Ms. Amelia Brodrick, of the Public Affairs Section of the Embassy and Ms. Peace Adwoah Nunu, Coordinator of the Embassy's Self-Help Projects. The Upper East Regional Minister, Mr. Boniface Gambila and some officials from the Regional Coordinating Council accompanied the Ambassador on her rounds.


Parliament okays 5.633 trillion cedis as Supplementary Appropriation for 2006

Parliament on Wednesday gave the government the green light to issue from the consolidated fund and other public funds an amount of 5.633 trillion cedis to supplement the finance of government operations during the financial ending 31st December 2006.
This followed the passage of the Supplementary Appropriation Bill by the House for the financial year, in pursuance to Article 179 (8) and (9) of the 1992 Constitution and the Standing Orders of the House. Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Finance and Economic Planning Minister moved the motion for the approval of the House.
A report by the Finance Committee of the House observed that as a result of a non-establishment of the modalities for the Multi-lateral Debt Relief Initiative and other loan facilities that the country received during the year, they were not captured in the 2006 Budget Statement and Government Policy presented in November. "For the country to take advantage of these additional resources to enable the realization of the resource requirement to meet the Millennium Development Goals, it became necessary for the government to request for approval of a Supplementary Estimate, which was laid before the House on 13th July 2006 pursuance to 179 (8) and (9) of the Constitution," the report said.
The Committee noted the approval of US$20 million under Investment Activity for the Ghana@50 Celebrations, which was captured under the Office of the Chief of Staff and Minister for Presidential Affairs, adding that a total of 805 billion cedis was used for the payment of Tema Oil Refinery under recovery and a total of 577 billion was spent on discretionary payments.

Gold Fields Ghana Ltd. outsmarts Mischievous developers

The management of Gold Fields Ghana Limited (GFGL), Tarkwa Mine has suspended a 20 million-dollar oil palm project to be undertaken at Tarkwa. Dr Toni Aubynn, Community Affairs and Public Relations Manager of the company disclosed this at a Consultative Committee Meeting at Tarkwa.
He said management decided to undertake a project that would be viable and sustainable, although it had undertaken social development programmes and the oil palm project was to be a market driven and commercially viable project. Dr Aubynn said the chiefs provided 1,000 hectares for the project and management undertook feasibility studies to identify the land, suitability of the soil and properties on it.
Unfortunately, he said, when the people heard about the project on the land, they hurriedly put up buildings, constructed fishponds and made farms that would attract payment of compensation. Dr Aubynn said the cost of properties on the land was estimated at about 19 million dollars, adding "If the value of properties on the land was so much then it was potentially rich and needs no new activity because it would not be viable". However, he said the project had not been abandoned because management would initiate other viable projects and information available indicated that the soil was good for oil palm, the most suitable crop in the area.GNA


Hawa Yakubu----My Memories.

Ghana has lost yet another political giant. Love her or hate her. There is something you cannot do to her. You can’t ignore her. She was vibrant, loud, unstoppable and sometimes annoying. But you can’t, but give thumbs up to this illustrious daughter of Ghana. She entered the political game with all her guards held up and ready for combat. She served as a role model for many and the Npp’s victory in elections 2000 cannot go without the mention of Hawa’s input.

My personal encounter with Hawa Yajubu is one I will always cherish. Yes she was a politician, philanthropist, advocate and all, but above that, she was a mother. I remember, with fondness, the day I hosted her on Radio Gold’s flagship programme, “Platform Africa”. I have always thought of her as abrasive, high sounding and arrogant.

Even my telephone interviews with her on other occasions confirmed this view I have of her. But I was to be pleasantly surprised on the programme. She was a Mother; caring, tender and compassionate. Believe this; she offered me a bottled soft drink off-air.

As I write this piece, I doff my hat to a woman who became hope for many when, strong women Idols were lost on the national scene. I salute her work and mourn with the family, the NPP and indeed all Ghanaians. The challenge however will be ‘who to fill the void Hawa is leaving”.
May her soul rest in perfect peace. God Bless Ghana!


Hawa Yakubu is Dead

London -- Hawa "Iron lady" Yakubu is reported to have died here on Tuesday after a short illness.Until her death she was the second Vice Chairman of the ruling New Patriotic Party(NPP).
Yakubu was the Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, a seat she lost to the NDC’s Mahama Ayariga in the 2004 elections.

There are laid down criteria for the creation of district assemblies - Minister

Mr Stephen Asamoah-Boateng, Minster of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment, on Tuesday said a request would have to be made and the circumstances looked into for Ashaiman to be upgraded into a district assembly. He, however, said Tema was a municipality and Ashaiman, was being well served by Tema.
The Minister was responding to a question in Parliament on factors that qualified an area to be made a district assembly. He said beside the element of population, the Local Government Act, 1993, (Act 462) takes into account geographical considerations and economic viability with the ability of an area to provide the basic infrastructural and other developmental needs from the monetary and other resources generated in the area.
Mr Asamoah-Boateng, in response to another question on the construction of the Jema market in the Brong Ahafo Region to enhance revenue generation, said the market would be considered as one of the new markets to be constructed. "Ideally, it is the district assembly which initiates projects and contacts relevant agencies for assistance to implement these projects."
"Kintampo South District assembly, therefore, has the mandate to identify projects that are urgent." He said records indicated that the District Assembly has not submitted a request to the Ministry for assistance to establish a market.GNA

Minister of Chieftaincy to launch poem

The Association of Contemporary Ghanaian Poets and Writers will next month launch a selection of poems entitled "A Weeviled Harvest". Written by Barima Adu Asamoa, the anthology of selected poems has a special poem dedicated to the Golden Jubilee celebration entitled Ghana@50, The Poem.
A statement issued in Accra on Tuesday said the launch is in support of the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture and would be performed by the Minister, Mr S.K. Boafo. The foreword written by Mr Molefe Kete Asante, an African-American scholar, said: "There is something deep and reflective on the way this poet handles the various emotions, colours, nuances and obstacles in our everyday life."
Barima Adu-Asamoa, who is a poet, writer, filmmaker and lecturer, was educated in Ghana and the UK. He is President of the Association of Contemporary Ghanaian Poets and Writers.GNA

Ghana marks Meteorological Day

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the worldwide meteorological community would celebrate World Meteorological Day which falls on March 23.
A statement signed by Z. Minia Acting Director General of the Ghana Meteorological Agency, said WMO celebrates the day by focusing on a theme of topical or current interest to humankind. The theme for the celebration dubbed " Polar Meteorology: Understanding Global Impacts" is to commemorate the entry into force, the UN Convention creating the organisation.
The statement said the fundamental concept of the International Polar Year (IPY) was an intensive burst of internationally coordinated, interdisciplinary scientific research and observations focused on the earth's Polar Regions and their far- reaching global effects.

British High Commission, Ghana, Raises Visa Application Fees

The British High Commission announced on Tuesday that UK visa fees would go up from April 1. A statement issued in Accra said the increases, the first since 2005, were because of “a substantial change in programme, which aims to improve the control and to improve further customer service”.

The statement said transit, direct airside transit visas were now 815,000 cedis, six month visa was now 1.170 million cedis, student visa was 1.835 million cedis while one-year, two-year, 10-year visit visa was 3.7 million cedis. Returning residents would also 3.7 million cedis, while settlement is 9.250 million cedis.

The statement said the new fees incorporated the handling charge previously levied separately by our commercial partner VFS. It said applicants for long-term visas would need to obtain a certificate to confirm clearance from contagious tuberculosis before lodging their applications.GNA

Accra to host workshop on business

The British West African (BWA) Forum for Trade and Business Partnership will from Wednesday hold a three-day international workshop in Ghana to promote international business networking on trade and investment opportunities between British and West African companies.
A release signed in Accra on Tuesday by Mr Justice David Basundo, a Consultant to BWA, said the workshop on the theme: "Preparing to Locate Business Partners in UK, Europe, America and Asia," would create opportunities for British supplier companies, entrepreneurs, industrialists, investors, bankers and lenders as well as their counterparts to unparalleled long-term trade and investment connections.
The release said the speakers at the workshop are a group of bankers and business intellectuals whose credentials are impeccable for accessing international trade credit and offshore funds that are applicable to various modes of business. The speakers include Dr Godwin A.T Oboh, Former Group Managing Director Union Bank of Nigeria, Dr Salima Paul of the University of West England, Dr Kola Ali, Managing Director Union Bank U.K.
Some of the topics outlined for discussion are the Impact of Globalisation in Trade Credit Payment System and the Requirements and Procedures for Accessing Offshore Funds to Finance Viable Projects.GNA


President To Visit Portugal

The President, Mr. J. A. Kufuor, begins a two-day official visit to Portugal on Monday, March 19, 2007. The visit is at the invitation of the President of Portugal, Mr. Anibal Vacaco Silva.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and NEPAD said the President would proceed to Portugal from the United Kingdom at the conclusion of his State visit to that country.It said the visit would accord the two presidents the opportunity to examine ways of strengthening bilateral relations between Ghana and Portugal.
“The two leaders will also deliberate on current African and international issues, including a European Union-African Union (EU-AU) Joint Strategy to develop practical approaches for future partnership between the EU and Africa,” the statement said. Portugal will assume the EU Presidency later this year.


U-17 ACN: Ghana 0 Nigeria 2

GHANA'S Jubilee BLACK Starlets lost their toughest test in the on going African U-17 championship in Kegue, Togo, today. Having run amok over Eritrea in their last game, the Ghanaians were expected to throw in much to maintain the recent aura of invincibility against their Nigerian counterparts.

But two goals, from the young eaglets, one in each half of the game, dashed the hopes of all Ghanaians. Indeed, the Nigerians appeared more determined for the maximum points.
The Nigerians, like their Ghanaian compatriots, played two games earlier winning all with impressive results. The Nigerians are leading the Group B standings with 9 points ahead of their Ghanaians counterparts.

In the other Group B clash, Burkina Faso, who are yet to fetch a point in the competition would want to vent their venom on bottom-placed, Eritrea at Lome.Today at Kegue competition host, Togo, will seek to make amends in their game against Gabon, while Group leaders Tunisia, battle South Africa in the other Group A match.
Source: Isaac TETTEH


Flagbearer must have the ability to unite the party and nation-Kufuor

London, March 16, GNA - Political experience and the ability to hold together the New Patriotic Party (NPP) should influence the choice of the party's 2008 flagbearer, President Agyekum Kufuor, has counselled.He said, whoever emerged winner in the race to lead the party to the elections should not only be a uniting force to the party but must have the ability to carry along with him majority of Ghanaian voters.
"It is therefore important that even as we exercise our emotion, we should balance it with good judgement."President Kufuor was addressing an international delegates conference of the NPP attended by representatives from the United States (US), Canada and across Europe in London on Friday.The National Chairman, Mr Peter Mac Manu and other national officers, including Madam Ama Busia, a Vice Chairman, joined them. President Kufuor allayed any fears about imposition of a candidate on the party, saying, that was alien to its tradition and that the selection would be done democratically.
He told the conference that the Government has worked to the party's visions and principles of democracy, good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law and that it was this that was drawing increasing international attention to the country. "We are not a party of convenience nor are we opportunists. We believe in humanity and the common good of our people.
" President Kufuor asked them not to give in to the negative propaganda that the Government was detached from the party, describing that as untrue.He advised the diasporan party supporters to prepare and organise well to win more support for the party, especially so with the passage of the Representation of the People's Amendment Act.


Going, Going .....

...Power cuts to shut Valco from Friday
The Valco aluminium smelter will shut down indefinitely from Friday, March 16 due to chronic power shortages in the country caused by inadequate power supply from the Akosombo Dam.

"There is no electricity to run the smelter ... We just decided to shut down," Valco chief executive Charles Mensa said on Thursday..
Asked about how long the shutdown would continue, Mensa said: "We don't know really. It is indefinite -- maybe for the rest of the year." The shut down, the 11th in the history of VALCO since its establishment in 1967 will result in declaring majority of the 700 labour force redundant.

The 200,000-ton-a-year smelter is jointly owned by Ghana's government(90%) and US-based aluminium giant Alcoa Inc.(10%). It is currently operating at 30% of its capacity.
Mensa described the latest action as regrettable and a disappointment to those who looked up to VALCO to realize the late President Nkrumah’s dream of industrialization.
He explained that the decision to shut down was voluntary when the company realised the declining level of water in the Akosombo Dam.

Poor rains have led to chronic power outages in Ghana since September last year. The country relies on hydro-generation for about 60 percent of its electricity, with the balance provided by thermal power and imports from neighbouring Ivory Coast.
Mensa said a staff of about 200 will be retained to secure and maintain the plant. The skeleton staff would build an extrusion and rod-mill plants in readiness for power to provide the environment for the country’s industrialization and the creation of jobs.

He said the shut down would offer the management of VALCO the challenge to develop alternative sources of power. In the interim the extrusion and rod-mill would help to produce aluminum doors and windows and transmission lines for electricity.
He said the long term objective of VALCO was to develop a coal fixed power plant to take the smelter plant off the national grid.
Dr Mensa explained that it was expected that it would take VALCO a minimum of 24 months to develop the plant, adding that VALCO was working with an independent power provider to start the construction as early as possible.

He said the plant, which will cost about $400 million to construct, would generate about 500 megawatts of power.
Dr Mensa said to enable VALCO to produce full capacity; the company required about 350 megawatts of power.
He said when VALCO achieved that objective; it would be in a position to give the surplus power to the state to improve the capacity of the national grid by about 150 megawatts.
Asked whether the use of coal to power a big smelter like VALCO was outdated, Dr Mensa discounted that claim and explained that coal was readily available in Enugu, Nigeria and Southern African countries.

He said VALCO could no longer rely on electricity to run the plant, adding that an investment whose raw material was electricity could no longer be predicted.
Dr Mensa said VALCO was better off generating its own power and taking control of its operations.

Human right problems in Ghana exposed

The 2006 Report on Human Rights Practices released by the United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour has indicated that although the Government of Ghana generally respects human rights and has made significant improvements during the year, there are still problems including incidents of vigilante justice.
"Human rights problems included deaths resulting from the excessive use of force by police, vigilante justice, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, police corruption and impunity, arbitrary arrest and detention, prolonged pre-trial detention, infringement on citizens’ privacy rights, forcible dispersal of demonstrations, forced evictions and corruption in all branches of government" are some problems cited by the report which was released on March 6, 2007.
The report, which is annually released by the bureau, also mentioned violence against women and children; female genital mutilation (FGM), societal discrimination against women, persons with disabilities, homosexuals, and persons with HIV/AIDS, trafficking in women and children; ethnic discrimination and politically and ethnically motivated violence; and child labor, including forced child labour.
During the year, the report said the government took significant steps to improve the protection of human rights, including passage of separate pieces of legislation to protect the rights of whistleblowers and persons with disabilities.On respect for human rights, the report said: "there were no reports that the government or its agents committed political killings; however, the use of excessive force by security forces resulted in the deaths of several criminal suspects and other persons during the year.
"It cited the cases of the four persons who were shot and killed by police officers at Dansoman Estates in Accra and the shooting and killing of a 26-year-old man on May 19, 2006 at Kotobabi after mistaking him for one of the robbers they were seeking as some of the human rights violations.The report however noted that "unlike the previous year, there were no reports that some members of the security forces appeared to sanction violence.
"The report did not record any cases of politically motivated disappearances.Freedom of speech and of the press were generally respected by the government, according to the report but stated that opposition parties occasionally complained that state-owned media outlets minimized media coverage of opposition politicians adding that individuals criticized the government publicly without reprisal.It mentioned cases in which some journalists were manhandled in the course of their job.
It for instance mentioned the case in which policemen from Tema, Ada and Kisseih allegedly used excessive force to prevent members of the media from covering a press conference held at Kportsum, near Ada; the attack on a photographer and two journalists working for the Enquirer newspaper at the covering of CHRAJ’s ruling on Dr. Richard Anane, former Minister for Transportation, and the case of two journalists who were barred from a press conference held by the Ghana Ports and Harbors Authority (GPHA) which was allegedly done in retaliation for an article run by the journalists’ newspaper.
The GPHA later apologized to the newspaper."The state-owned media reported extensively on charges of corruption or mismanagement by both current and past government officials. During the year the state-owned media gave some coverage to opposition politicians and printed occasional editorials critical of government policies. The opposition claimed that government media denied it equal access and coverage on numerous occasions.
In practice the state controlled media gave greater exposure to government officials", the report noted.The 2006 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices is released yearly by the US State Department and describes the performance of governments in putting into practice their international commitments on human rights.The report was jointly released on March 6 by U.S Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice and Under Secretary Dobriansky with a Universal Declaration calling upon "every individual and every organ of society to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.
Source:Ghanaian Times