16 million cedis to be spent on each prisoner

It is estimated that the Government of Ghana would spend an mount of 16 million cedis on each prisoner in Ghana this year, having already spent 10.4 million on each prisoner last year. Mr. Kwamena Bartels, Minister for the Interior, said the calculation was based on the total expenditure of the Prisons Service to care for prisoners.Answering questions in Parliament, on Wednesday in Accra, on issues for which the Ministry is responsible, Mr. Bartels said there were 13,800 prisoners in Ghana.
Out of the number, 713 were prisoners who were foreign nationals from 25 countries from Africa, Europe, the Far East and North and South Africa.There were 4,218 prisoners on remand trial. The question stood in the name of Mr Charles Hodogbey (NDC-North Tongu).Mr Albert Kwasi Zigah (NDC-Ketu South) asked when accommodation facilities at the Aflao Police Station would be upgraded. The Station was said to have been established in the 1950's, but without any major rehabilitation.
Mr Bartels said Government was tackling the problem of accommodation of the Security Agencies, including the Police holistically.The Minister said the Ministry had come out with proposals to handle the situation, adding that attempts were being made to source the requisite resources both locally and internationally. He said more than $120 million would be needed for the housing and office accommodation project for the security agencies. Mr Bartels said the funding would be part of the 2008 supplementary budget proposals to be submitted to Parliament, and that the Security Services, including the Police had been asked to submit a list of all uncompleted projects with cost implications.
"A committee has been set up to assess the total budgetary implications for the completion of projects to enable the Ministry source funds to complete them", Mr Bartels said.The Minister accepted a suggestion from Mr Francis Aggrey Agbotse (NDC-Ho West) to establish an enquiry into reported cases of foreign registered motorcycles from the Republic of Togo, who operate along communities of the Ghana Togo border.Mr. Agbotse had asked why the Police allowed them to operate in such towns as Kpedze, Aflao, Shia, Kpetoe, Nyive and Dzodze, all in the Volta Region.Minister Bartels said the Volta Region had never identified any of such perpetrators and left them off the hook as alleged.
He said information gathered from the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service and the Ghana Immigration Service indicated that such motorcycle owners drop their "passengers" on the side of their border and return to Togo but do not return to Ghana for commercial purposes. The Interior Minister announced that the Ministry had entered into negotiation with the ECOWAS Bank for Development for a loan of $24.7million to procure new fire tenders for distribution to Fire Stations throughout the country.
The response, which was to answer a question by Mr Gershon Gbediame (NDC-Nkwanta South), which sought to know when a fire tender would be supplied to the Nkwanta District Fire Station. Mr Bartels said the Nkwanta Service Station would be considered under that programme.


It's Not Been Easy

The President, Mr. J.A. Kufour has acknowledged that his leadership as the Chief Executive of the Republic of Ghana has been tough and challenging.He said for the past seven years, he has led a government that has ensured a holistic national development, thus making his experience as the President fulfilling as well as sobering.
President Kufuor was speaking at the inaugural lecture of the Association of Black Rhodes Scholars at the Oxford University in UK, last Monday.The Black Rhodes Scholars Association was formed primarily to encourage brilliant but Black needy students who are not privilege to be enrolled in universities and also to ensure effective representation of black student at Rhodes.Members of the association are drawn from the US and Canada as well as from all former British colonies.
Oxford University enrolled its first black student 900 years after its establishment and even today, as the oldest English University and in deed one of the oldest in the world, has only one percent of its entire student population as black.The inaugural address by President Kufour also marked this year’s black history month as well as Ghana’s 50 independence anniversary at the university.The Rhodes House, the venue of the lecture which is the first in the series of lectures planned by the association, was filled to capacity long before the schedule time but the blacks were very few.
President Kufour noted that in a month’s time he will be entering the final year of his rule and the legacy he will want to leave behind for the youth of Ghana and Africa in general will for them to seize the opportunities of global system to secure a dignified position for the continent.He said, as he left the walls of Oxford University some fifty years ago “there was no certainty of becoming the President of Ghana”, but by dint of hard work and unwavering focus he today finds himself as the President of Ghana, The Chairman of the African Union and two-term Chair of the ECOWAS.
In a very motivational disposition, President Kufour remarked “I have been careful with the choices I make and how I make them. I was also aware of the potentials of what I can do for my country” He noted that it has not been easy for the past forty years. “What has made the difference though has been the constant vision to make myself relevant to the development of my society and therefore I have sustained the spirit of perseverance in spite of the heavy odds.”
He said he has used a blended values of his family background, the culture of Ghana as well as the faithful application of educational precepts and influences of the various institutions he attended especially Oxford university. He also mentioned the traditions of the New Patriotic Party as very useful to him.He mentioned some of his government’s achievements as the turning around of the nation’s stagnant economy by attaining a record and steady GDP growth rate of 6.5 percent currently as against 3.2 per cent in the year 2002.
President Kufour predicted that all being equal Ghana’s GDP growth rate will be at 10 percent within the next four years especially at a time Ghana has discovered off-shore oil.He also touched on the improvement and expansion in the health, educational and agricultural sectors adding that production of the country’s main cash crop, cocoa, hit 700 thousand tones and expressed the optimism that cocoa production in Ghana will hit one million tones by 2010.
Source:Nana Sifa Twum & Isaac Amo-Kyereme

GHANA 08: 18 Players Already Known

Claude Le Roy, Coach of Ghana's Black Stars has only five places left to make up for his 23-man squad for the Africa Cup of Nations next January.

The Frenchman is certain about his first 18 and intends to channel his focus on searching for the additional five to make up the mandated 23 for the biennial party with the January 20 commencement date rolling closer.
He told GNA Sports "It will be stupid if I didn't have an idea about a bulk of my team at this moment."I know who the first 18 are and my vision is to get the five as soon as possible to enable us to begin full scale preparations."
The Trainer told GNA Sports that a fair representation of experienced and young players with regard to selection have been taken into consideration ahead of the three-week tourney, which his employers have mandated him to win."I have plans of including some young players into the team for the sake of the maturity and exposure they need beyond Ghana 2008. "One cannot win a major competition with young players but one can always win if they are part of the team."What is always required is a good balance - experience, hunger to win and the maturity to keep going on big stage like the Nations Cup."
Le Roy told GNA Sports that it will be ensured that the team make great sacrifices aimed at winning the trophy on home soil to equal Egypt's fifth record."There will be no compromise with regards to making sacrifices to become champions on February 10."We will ensure that the boys do not feel caged but they must also appreciate that without sacrifices, one cannot triumph and be successful."Coach Le Roy envisages no challenge in assembling his team for the planned two weeks camping before the Stars tournament opener with Guinea on Sunday, January 20, in Accra.

NPP Grills Aspirants Today

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) today, Tuesday October, 2007 begins the vetting of its aspiring presidential candidates to ensure that the aspirants qualify to contest the position of President of Ghana.
The nine-member vetting committee consists of five chairpersons of the standing committees of the National Council and three persons appointed by the council, one of whom shall be designated chairperson of the committee.Briefing the Daily Graphic in an inter¬view, the National Chairman of the NPP, Mr Peter Mac Manu, said the national council shall also ensure that at least two of the nine members were women.Although he did not give any specific date for the submission of its report, he said the committee would finish its job before the congress in December 22 to give room for the filing of appeals, if any.
The members of the committee include Major Courage Quashigah; the Minister of Health, who is also the Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee; Brigadier Obeng, the Chairman of the Organising Committee; Mr Samuel Odoi-Sykes, the Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee; Mr Peter Ala Adjetey, a former Speaker of Parliament and Chairman of the Constitutional Committee.It is chaired by Prof Daniel Adzei-Bekoe, the Chairman of the Council of State. The two women include Madam Ama Busia.Article 9 (C) (f) (iii) of the NPP constitution says, "The vetting committee shall disallow the candidature of any aspirant when it finds that such an aspirant does not qualify to be a presidential candidate.
It shall submit such a finding in writing to the National Executive Committee, with a copy to the aspirant."Sub-section (iv) also states, "An aspirant who is dissatisfied with such a finding, may appeal against it to the National Executive Committee within 48 hours of receipt of notice of the finding by filing an appeal in writing with the General Secretary.The National Executive Committee shall give its decision within seven days of receipt of the appeal. The decision of the National, Executive Committee on the appeal shall be final."
Source:Daily Graphic


Osafo Maafo--NPP not about blood relationship

Former Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo has stated that the contest for the leadership of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is not about blood relationship and family issues, but basically about the future of the country and who is most suitable for the job.
The former minister, who is the MP for Akim Oda, said these when he formally launched his campaign to contest the flagbearership race of the party last Friday at Kumasi, in the Ashanti Region.He told the cheering crowd in Twi: ?Moma yenhwe no yie. Party asem na yeka no, enye anuasem, enye abusua asem. Eye oman neyie ho asem na yeka. Eye oman ne mpuntuo ho asem na yeka?. ("Let us be very careful.
This is a party matter and has nothing to do with family or blood relationship. It is about the country and its development").He claimed that amongst the 19 presidential aspirants of the ruling NPP, he was best placed and prepared to lead the party in the 2008 elections."I am not running for the presidency for the sake of being president. I want to move the nation to the next level, and that can only be done by a man of vision," he said.Describing the forthcoming general elections as a super final match between the two major political parties in the country, the ruling NPP and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Osafo-Maafo said in a contest like that only skilled and proven players were selected to play.
He therefore urged the delegates not to view the flagbearership race through family or ethnic lenses.The Electoral College of the party, he said, ought to be quick in listening to what the rest of the country was saying about the aspirants before making any ultimate choice at the party's National Delegates? Congress scheduled for December 22 at the University of Ghana, Legon.The former Finance Minister further told the delegates to bear in mind that the candidate they would elect on December 22 would not only serve the interest of the NPP but also that of the whole nation, adding that NPP supporters alone could not vote for the party's candidate to win the 2008 elections.
Hon. Osafo Maafo told delegates that the party?s flagbearer should be a person who would be accepted by a vast majority of the population so they should scrutinize the backgrounds and achievements of each of the 19 aspirants to establish who was best placed to lead the party to victory.To him, the eventual candidate must be able to attract the votes of the floating or undecided voters, whom he said usually voted based on the candidate's track record and capabilities.Mr. Osafo-Maafo recalled his achievements in the Finance Ministry, and how he took the nation to the completion point of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative within a record time of two and a half years.
He said through his efficient handling of the economy, some $4billion of the country?s foreign debt was cancelled by her creditors, saying funds ploughed back as a result of the HIPC initiative were going into the provision of schools, hospitals and feeder roads."It is about time Ghanaians began to think outside the box and develop a new economic paradigm for this country". He said Ghana at her present state should graduate from production of raw materials to provider of services in West Africa, stressing that but for his hardwork, the country would not have benefited from the Millennium Challenge Account.
The official launching of Hon. Osafo Maafo's campaign attracted hundreds of party activists, constituency executives and sympathizers from various parts of the country, with traditional rulers also in attendance. An unprecedented crowd of nearly half a kilometer long of human traffic greeted and escorted him on a march through the principal streets of the Ashanti Regional capital, amidst drumming and dancing. The retinue moved from Adum, through Kejetia, Central Market to the Prempeh Assembly Hall at Fante New Town.
Riding in an open Toyota Land Cruiser, the MP for Oda and his convoy responded to cheers from the thick crowd that thronged the streets, some of them climbing on rooftops.
Source:Daily Guide


995 million cedis down the drain...

THE Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday heard how 2,153 garments, worth ¢995 million, sewn to promote the “National Friday Wear Programme”, were distributed free of charge by the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Private Sector Development and Presidential Special Initiative to unknown people.
The distribution list could also not be produced for verification by the audit team, an audit report said.The PAC also heard how the Ghana Trade Fair Company Limited awarded 14 contracts worth ¢1.4 billion in 2004 through single sourcing, instead of through competitive bidding as provided by Section 43(1) of the Public Procurement Act, 2003.
“To enhance transparency, efficiency, and fair prices in the award of contracts, we recommended to management to apply competitive bidding to all contracts,” the audit report said.Other areas queried by the audit report is the double payment of ¢185.7 million the ministry made to Toyota Ghana Limited for the same repair service it offered the ministry in 2004.The payment of unlawful emolument of ¢122 million between September 2002 and May 2005 to Mr Victor Owusu, Brong-Ahafo and Ashanti Regional Co-ordinator of the Rural Enterprise Development Programme was also queried.
However, Mr Owusu, the report said also enjoyed monthly salary as a full-time employee of the Ghana Energy Commission, within the same period.The report said Mr Owusu enjoyed double salary from the Consolidated Fund, and recommended that his appointment should be terminated and the emolument paid to him recovered.An unexecuted consultancy fee of ¢221 million was paid by the ministry to five consultants it engaged between January and November 2004 to provide business plans for eight districts, within 35 days of their engagement.
The audit report, however, said no business plans had been submitted as at June, 2005 to the ministry by the consultants.The ministry was also queried for its failure to bond a sponsored employee, Mr Kojo Ofori-Safo, who was employed on April 1, 2005 as the Co-ordinator of the Ghana Investors Advisory Council on a monthly salary of 1,500 US Dollars.The audit report said, in June, 2005 barely three months after his appointment, Mr Ofori-Safo gained admission to the University of Ghana Business School.
The report said, the ministry sponsored him and paid his tuition fee of 2,000 US dollars per semester for the 2 years period of his course.It called on the ministry to bond him to serve the ministry on completion of his programme.The PAC was also told about an outstanding Business Assistant Fund Loan of ¢1.3 billion that had been outstanding in the name of five companies since 1996.The report said the ministry contracted M/S Global Consultants for the recovery of the loans but the companies could not be traced except M/S New Kool Bottling, which has since paid ¢20 million out of its outstanding debt of ¢308 million.
The Minister for Trade, Industry, Private Sector Development and Presidential Special Initiative Mr Joe Baidoo-Ansah, and his Deputy, Ms Gifty Ohene Konadu, appeared before the PAC to respond to some of the queries.The minister said he had given his accounts clerks one month to produce documents and receipts covering payment of ¢27 million as contingency to some contractors who did not issue receipts to the ministry.On all the queries raised, the minister said most of them have been resolved, and that the ministry will take steps to resolve the rest in due time.
Mr Samuel Sallas-Mensah, chairman of the PAC and most of the bi-partisan PAC members were not satisfied about almost all the explanations the minister and his technocrats gave on the queries raised.“Most of the explanations are not acceptable. By the 15th of November, your accounts officers should retrieve the money or be surcharged,” Mr Sallas-Mensah said.


Refund The Money...Police Told

Eighty-six policemen who, out of the ignorance of a judge, received a total of ¢3.1 billion as compensation from a circuit court, have been ordered to refund the money.

The directive from the Public Accounts Com¬mittee (PAC) of Parliament at its sitting in Accra Friday to consider the Auditor-General's Report, said the practice of paying such compen¬sation from fines imposed by the courts was improper.

The PAC further directed that should any portion of the amount become irrevocable, the judge and the registrar of the court concerned should be called upon to make good the shortfall.At the sitting, officials of the Judicial Service were queried over missing transcripts; cash shortage and the payment of compensation to policemen.According to the Chairman of the PAC, Mr. Sallas-Mensah, an audit of fines imposed by the Circuit Court B3 in Accra between August 2002 and August 2004 found that the court presided over by Justice Emmanuel Ankamah, had imposed a fine of ¢5.2 billion on motor traffic offenders.

He said out of the total amount of fines imposed on offenders, ¢3.1 billion or 59% was paid as compensation to 86 policemen who prosecuted the cases in the court.“Payments to individual policemen ranged between ¢200,000 and ¢1.4 million, while the Judicial Service legitimately retained 15% of the total fines for administrative expenses and the remaining 26% paid into the Consolidated Fund as revenue,” he said.

The report, the Chairman pointed out, attributed the irregularity to the ignorance of the judge of the repeal of the previous legislation which sanctioned such payments.He said the report further noted that the number of traffic offences referred to the court for prosecution was an average 668 per month from August 2002 to August 2004.Mr.

Sallas-Mensah explained that when the Auditor-General’s Department started the audit in 2004, it directed that the payment of compensation be discontinued, since it was improper.“The number of motor traffic offences sent to the Circuit Court B3 reduced from 668 per month to 84 cases per month from September 2004.This suggests that the policemen could be adjudicating the traffic offences themselves. We are liaising with the Police Administration to resolve this issue,” he said.He said the report also uncovered that at the Agona Swedru High Court in the Central Region, between April and October 2005, unearned salaries totaling ¢5 million were paid to two members of staff, namely Miss Emelia Forson and Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, because of the inability of management and the Controller and Accountant General’s (CAG’s) Office to promptly delete the names of the officers from the payroll.“We drew their bankers’ attention to the irregularity but noted that only ¢1.4 million was in Miss Forson’s bank account at the Awutu Beraku Rural Bank, while the unearned salary of ¢1.7 million had been withdrawn by Mr. Iddrisu,” he said.

The PAC Chairman said the report advised the Judicial Service to ensure that the remaining amount of ¢1.4 million in Miss Forson’s account was transferred into the CAG’s Suspense Account, while steps were taken to retrieve the ¢1.7 million withdrawn by Mr. Iddrisu.Responding to some of the queries, Judicial Secretary, Madam Regina Abotsi, said the service had taken notice of the development and had, therefore, put in place a number of interventions to forestall its recurrence.

Members of the committee expressed their displeasure over the delay in the establishment of the Financial Administration Tribunal as provided for in the Financial Administration Act, 2003, and questioned why the Judiciary had not made it a priority. In response, Madam Abotsi said efforts were being made to establish the tribunal, adding that at the moment, the issue was in the domain of the Attorney General. Source: Daily Graphic


Ghana to camp in Dubai for Nations Cup

Ghana's Black Stars are expected to camp in the commercial capital of the United Arab Emirate, Dubai ahead of the 26th Africa Cup of Nations scheduled for January 2008. Black Stars manager, Claude Le Roy told GNA Sports that the choice of Dubai was deeply thought of considering the need to have the best facility to prepare the team for the competition with the aim of lifting the trophy."We need the best facility to be at our peak to win the trophy as all Ghanaians expect."Defending the choice of venue further, the coach said, "the weather condition in Dubai is 24 degrees Celsius and I do not think that should affect our acclimatization for the tourney".The Stars are housed alongside Morocco, Guinea and Namibia and are expected to camp for 14 days before the biennial party commences at the national stadium, Ohene Djan in Accra on Sunday, January 20. The Stars may however consider camping in South Africa should the unexpected happen."South Africa has great facilities and a favourable weather and it will be a perfect replacement for Dubai when the need arises". Coach Le Roy told GNA Sports that the responsibility to win the Nations Cup on home soil has got to a fever pitch after the official balloting was held at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) last Friday."I feel we are on the last line after the draw last Friday. Every minute, I think of how to deal with the opponents at the group stage because we must qualify from there to stay on course."To win the trophy, it means we must win six games and to achieve that means winning all from our group and completing it with the last three".The Frenchman said the Stars must be ready for all teams in their search for the fifth trophy that would equal Egypt's record. "We need to be ready because we cannot afford to be trapped. We must be compact because our opponents will be hoping to catch us on the break and we cannot afford that."



... CJA calls for prosecution of official ... failure of the nation's accountability system .. Churches, professional bodies and academia silent
The Committee for Joint Action (CJA), a political pressure group, on Thursday called on government to immediately prosecute and punish officials identified in the Auditor General's report to have mismanaged or misappropriated funds. The group said the trial of officials was possible even without resort to the controversial rules regarding "wilfully causing financial loss to the state".
Mr Kwasi Pratt, a leading member of the group, speaking at a press conference in Accra, said the objective of the meeting was to dwell on the implications of the recent exposures of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
Members of the group present at the meeting included, Dr Nii Lante Percy, National Reform Party (NRP), Mr Ato Ahwoi, National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Alhaji Ahmed Ramadan of the Peoples National Convention (PNC).
The rest are Mr Okudzeto Ablakwah, former NUGS President, Mr Bernard Monah, PNC and Madam Ama Benyiwa Doe, NDC.
Mr Pratt demanded institutional reforms at the various public sectors coupled with better funding and empowerment of the accountability institutions established under the laws of the country including the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and Serious Fraud Office (SFO). He also called for measures to protect these agencies from executive interference.
He called for urgent action on the Financial Administration Tribunal, saying it was not enough for official to state, "work is ongoing".
"We have a crisis and we demand action. We also demand that the prosecution authority be given greater independence from the Attorney General's Department," he added.
Mr Pratt called for a code of conduct for all political appointees with real sanctions for those who failed to meet the minimum standards of accountability.
Mr Pratt, who is a member of the Convention People's Party (CPP), also expressed concern about "the failure of the nation's accountability system" to expose, punish and correct criminal misapplication of public resources over the last five years.
"Of course, not every public servant is incompetent or grossly dishonest. However the level of failure exhibited suggests that many in the senior echelons of the public service are indeed corrupt or incompetent," he argued.The CPP firebrand also questioned the silence from the pillars of social establishment such as the churches, professional bodies and academia, which he said, had remained deafening for sometime now. "Our so-called social leadership continues to delude itself that it is being politically mature as it tolerates this rape," he stressed.


Rate of drug shipment to Ghana becoming worse

Mr. Kwamena Bartels, Minister of the Interior on Wednesday bemoaned the rate at which massive quantities of drugs were being shipped into the country and said government would make the necessary amendments to PNDCL 236 to deal with the current trends. He said the situation was as a result of the increased efforts of Drug Enforcement Agencies in Europe and Latin America to rid their countries of the trade forcing drug cartels to seek alternative routes in Africa.
Mr. Bartels said the government was collaborating with the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to assist to implement the global container control project at the main harbour in Ghana for profiling.The Minister was speaking at the launch of the Hibiscus anti-drug trafficking campaign in Accra which is being supported by the United Kingdom in collaboration with the Government of Ghana."I wish to assure you that we have the political will to implement the provisions of the International Conventions we are signatory to," he said and commended their partners for their support in training and provision of equipment.Mr Bartels appealed to government's partners to support the Narcotics Control Board with the establishment of Treatment Centres for the treatment and rehabilitation of addicts as a way of rescuing them from the destruction of drugs.He noted that currently the Psychiatric Hospitals provided treatment for addicts but the stigma attached to them prevented many from seeking early help.He urged all stakeholders to increase the awareness through education and campaigns since it was only though that, that the country could make progress in the fight against drug abuse and trafficking. Dr. Kim Howells, UK Foreign Office Minister said the United Nations spent about 300 billion dollars a year on drug related cases and that the UK sought to work with countries affected by the drug trade. He said the rate at which West Africa was being used as trans-shipment point was worrying and urged Ghana to combine her efforts with the European Union, the UK, UN, Interpol and other agencies to curb the menace.

CPP congress is a turning point for the party - Akosa

Professor Agyemang Badu Akosa, a Convention Peoples Party (CPP) flag bearer aspirant on Tuesday said the party's congress next month was a turning point in its history not only to determine its fate in the 2008 elections but its future and image. He said the congress was crucial and urged the delegates to elect the person with the right leadership qualities acceptable by the electorate.Professor Akosa made the observation at a meeting with delegates of the party from Essikado-Kettan, Shama, Sekondi, Takoradi and Effia-Kwesimintsim constituencies and students from Takoradi Polytechnic at Sekondi.He was accompanied by Alhaji Iddi Imoro Egala who is contesting the party's National Chairmanship, Madam Imoro Ayarna and Mr Kwame Gyantoa both members of Professor Akosa's campaign team. Professor Akosa noted that CPP was the only hope for Ghanaians yearning for a new leadership that had practical answers to the country's myriad problems.He said when elected as President of Ghana, education and creation of opportunities for youth employment and housing schemes for the people would be among his priorities.Professor Akosa advised the delegates not to be swayed by money and other considerations but elect the person who had the "pedigree, commitment and ready to die for the country and CPP". Alhaji Egala said the party's congress was a "make or break affair" therefore delegates must elect people who were prepared to sacrifice to build a strong party as leaders.He said when elected as the National Chairman, he would embark on a massive membership drive to make the party more attractive, strong and dynamic.


Dube's Funs Heckle Supected Assasins In Court

A South African judge on Tuesday ordered four men accused of murdering reggae star Lucky Dube held without bail after they made a brief appearance in a court packed with the singer's fans.The murder of Dube, South Africa's biggest-selling reggae singer, stunned a nation already traumatised by one of the world's worst violent crime levels and prompted widespread calls for a dramatic police crackdown on criminals.The suspects, identified by SAPA news agency as Sifiso Mlanga, Julius Gxowa, Thabo Mafoping and Mbofi Mabe, were heckled as they were led back into the holding cells at the magistrate's court in Johannesburg.They are charged with murder, attempted hijacking and possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition in connection with the Oct. 18 slaying of Dube, who was shot in front of his kids in a Johannesburg suburb in an apparent botched carjacking.The men, two of whom are Mozambicans, will appear in the same court on Oct. 30 to have their applications for legal aid processed, SAPA reported.South Africa's murder rate jumped 2.4 percent between April 1, 2006, and March 31, 2007, with 19,202 murders recorded in the period. The number of rapes, carjackings and assaults also remained alarmingly high in the period.Dube, who recorded more than 20 albums in his career and won over 20 awards locally and internationally, will be buried on Sunday in Newcastle, South Africa. His funeral is expected to draw large numbers of fans as well as members of the public. Source: Reuters

Aggudey Gets Angry....For Once

The Convention People’s Party’s flagbearer aspirant, George Opesika Aggudey is not happy with what he deems negative questions being raised about his bid to lead the party for the third time into general elections.Aggudey was the CPP’s candidate for the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, and on Monday, he filed his nominations to contest the party’s flagbearer race, convinced that he was the obvious choice among six interested in the position.He did not take kindly to questions from journalists that his opponents claim he was not marketable and that after losing on two occasions, there was nothing to fight for again.“It is you who is not marketable, it is you. You join other political parties and you come to CPP premises to come and do what…don’t let me use the word on you,” an agitated Aggudey barely restrained his tongue from issuing the undesirable.When told that his critics say he has no chance in the election, Aggudey retorted angrily; “It is you, it is you, what chance do you have in life, you tell me? I am better placed in life than you are, you annoy me so much….” before party members and some of his followers who were on hand restrained the man harbouring dreams of becoming Ghana’s President.For Aggudey, his chances at annexing the CPP slot are as crystal, claiming that he already has the nod of party delegates to become the flagbearer of the CPP and so all he would be doing when the party goes to congress to elect a candidate would be to go for a confirmation of his mandate.Other aspirants who filed their nominations plus the GH¢10,000 (¢100 million) filing fees included Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa. He told journalists that he will as a matter of priority tackle the unemployment situation in the country if he gets the nod to lead his party and Ghana. Dr. Kwaku Osafo who also arrived at the CPP headquarters riding on the back of a motor bike, committed to strengthening the party to make it a formidable force capable of winning any election in Ghana.Lawyer Bright Akwettey and former Public Sector Reform Minister, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom also filed their nomination papers. Monday was the deadline for filing of nominations and the party says medical practitioner, F.W. Akuffo has already filed his nomination.(Play the attached audio to listen to Aggudey.)


Westel Has been Sold

The Ministry of Communications on Monday announced that Celtel International, a subsidiary of Kuwaiti company Zain (formerly named MTC) has bought 75 per cent of the shares of Western Telesystems (Ghana) Limited (Westel) for 120 million dollars. A statement issued in Accra by Dr Benjamin Aggrey Ntim, Minister of Communications said the government, through the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, would hold the remaining 25 per cent."Following extensive negotiations, a price offer of 120 million dollars has been agreed upon for 75 per cent shareholding reducing to 70 per cent within three years when Celtel will release five per cent of its shares in addition to those to be released by the government to be floated on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) to benefit the Ghanaian public," the Ministry said. The statement said the offer price of 120 million dollars included an additional consideration of 15 million dollars outright payment to cover the penalty fee of 25 million dollars due to the National Communications Authority (NCA), which would have been paid over an 11-year period of the licence's lifespan.The successful conclusion of a settlement agreement between the government and Western Wireless International (WWI) saw the transfer of the 66.67 per cent shares of WWI to the government. Consequently in March 2006, the government charged the Ministry of Communications to facilitate the divestiture of Westel in an open and transparent manner. "An inter-ministerial committee was duly constituted with representation from the Ministries of Communications, Finance and Economic Planning, Energy, and Attorney General's Department, the President's Office, in addition to representatives of Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC) and Westel to select a Transactions Advisor. "Messrs NTHC/Databank was accordingly selected as the Transactions Advisor to undertake the privatisation of Westel through a competitive process."The statement said by the close of the deadline for the submission of bids for Westel and after consideration of the technical evaluation of the capabilities of the companies, the Transactions Advisor presented six companies in order of ranking Celtel, Kinz Telecom, Vodacom, African Soft Ltd, National Telecom Cards Company and Afritel Communications."In accordance with the terms of reference of the request for proposals, the Transactions Advisor recommended the top four bidders for negotiations with Government. However, Vodacom withdrew its candidature before official negotiations could begin," the statement said.It said the government invited Kinz Telecom of United Arab Emirates on April 11, 2007 following an encouraging outcome of initial discussions, as it had offered the superior initial price, to seek firm commitments on technology, details of roll-out implementation, as well as possibility of price enhancement by the company. "For consideration of additional spectrum requests by Kinz for Third Generation Network (3G) licence and Wimax frequencies, the company accepted to pay a total of 250 million dollars for 66.67 per cent shares of Westel, after which a Memorandum of Understanding was signed for payment to be executed within 45 days before the conclusion of a Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA)."However, after the expiry of the stipulated time and further extensions granted for the payment, Kinz Telecom was not able to fulfil its undertaking and consequently, the exclusivity granted to it was withdrawn, whereupon Government invited Celtel, as the next successful bidder, for negotiations over its bid.The statement said on July 10, 2007 Celtel International, a subsidiary of Kuwaiti company, Zain, formerly named MTC, entered negotiations with the government "and for the purposes of this transaction turned down the offer of additional licences for Wimax and Third Generation Network (3G) services at this time". "The ensuing negotiations, therefore, resulted in an agreement on the final offer price of $120 million. It is to be noted that this amount is considerably less than the Kinz price quoted above, but principally, this is due to the limited frequencies being offered to Celtel."The statement said Celtel would be investing millions of dollars in a state-of-the-art telecommunications network and associated services to offer its unparalleled experience as a pan-African operator, bringing telecommunications services to more than 24 million customers in 14 countries across the continent. "Celtel prides itself on offering attractive career opportunities in its countries of operation, not only with the company directly, but also via its network of distributors, suppliers and advisors. "Westel's current management and staff, who have worked under challenging circumstances to date, will play an important role in taking the company forward."The statement said Celtel also looked forward to promoting Ghana as a gateway to West Africa through its One Network, the world's first borderless network. "This offers Celtel's customers the opportunity to move freely across geographical borders using the same services they would access in their home country, and to make calls without roaming surcharges and without having to pay to receive incoming calls and messages. "The service also permits customers to buy and top up with local airtime when they visit other countries in which One Network is operational. Celtel's One Network service is currently operational for 160 million people across six nations in East and Central Africa."The Ministry said it was their conviction that the entry of Celtel on the Ghanaian telecom market at this stage would further promote the needed competition in the telecom sector to ensure quality service delivery to the people of Ghana. Source: GNA

Zero Tolerance For Corruption Alive

President John Agyekum Kufuor supports the public sittings of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament as it falls perfectly in line with the Government's aspiration of zero tolerance for corruption.The sittings are yet another score in the nation's quest for democracy and good governance, his Press Secretary, Mr Andrew Awuni said at a Castle press briefing on Monday."These sittings symbolize our collective will to put behind us the dark side of our past and forge ahead with our quest for a truly open society in which probity and accountability is not just a mere slogan."Mr Awuni said while Ghanaians applauded the work of the Committee and bemoaned the potential losses caused by poor judgment on the part of some public officials, it was important to ponder over "what we did not have the chance to hear about in the past, the losses we made in the past that we will never get to know, not only in the era of the Fourth Republican Constitution, but as far back as our minds can take us".Revelations at the sittings should, therefore, not be looked upon as the failure of a Government but, on the contrary, the triumph of a new regime and a new culture that must be upheld and rewarded."Government is committed to promoting a new culture of openness and transparency; a culture that frowns at graft and incompetence; a culture of the rule of law and a truly democratic society where good governance remains the cornerstone."This, Mr Awuni said, had been demonstrated through the introduction of appropriate legislation and strengthening of the Public Finance Administration laws and agencies mandated to fight corruption as well as the expansion of the frontiers of free expression.He cited the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law; introduction of the Procurement Law; Whistle Blowers Act and the strengthening of the operational capacities of the Serious Fraud Office; Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and the Auditor-General's Department to support his assertion.The Press Secretary entreated the media and social commentators to refrain from the skewed analysis and the tendency to misrepresent facts. They should rather ensure circumspection and high professionalism and avoid pointing accusing fingers or judging public officials, who appeared before the Committee as criminals, saying they should wait for the law to take its course.


Aliu starts his presidential campaign

Vice President Aliu Mahama at the weekend assured Ghanaians of quality leadership when elected to lead the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the 2008 General elections. He said he had successfully served as a chief apprentice under President John Agyekum Kufuor, adding: "I now want to be the master". Vice President Mahama was speaking at Enchi as part of a four-day tour of the Western Region to market himself to the chiefs and people ahead of the NPP national delegates' congress scheduled for December 22. The Vice President formally declared his intention last Thursday to contest the NPP presidential primaries when he filed his nomination at the Party's office in Accra."Experience is the best teacher, you cannot find experience in any textbook or buy it with money. Experience equips a person with the necessary tools to lead," Alhaji Mahama said. During a similar interaction with the chiefs and people of Beyin and Wassa Akropong, he said he was in their midst to seek their blessing to serve the country with humility."I have served the country for the past seven years with humility. Humility is not weakness".He described himself as a bridge to unite Ghana and attract floating voters for the NPP.Responding to the numerous development challenges confronting the communities he visited, Vice President Mahama assured the chiefs and people of his personal intervention to address their concerns. The common concern expressed by the chiefs was the bad nature of roads in the region.At Enchi, the traditional authority told the Vice President that successive governments had played politics with the link roads to other parts of the region and therefore the people are awaiting the promise of the NPP to change that perception.Alhaji Mahama said Enchi as a major cocoa producing area was the heartland of the country's development efforts, hence the commitment of government to tackle the poor road network in the area and provide the communities with basic amenities.He said government was providing 30,000 bags of cement and roofing sheets to victims of the recent floods that hit the town. Nana Ntadu III, paramount chief of Sefwi Wiawso and Awula Annor Agjaye III, paramount chief of Beyin bemoaned the poor network in their traditional areas.Vice president Mahama assured the two chiefs of efforts to provide a three-phase electricity line by December this year to facilitate the establishment of small-scale industries.At Wassa Akropong, paramount chief Kasapreko Kwame Passayin III asked government to resolve the erratic power supply in the area, expand the health facility and provide a bus to the local Senior High School. Vice president Mahama would visit Ashanti and Northern Regions as part of his campaign tour.

Corruption Will Cause Civil War In Ghana Soon

To those of you who are in Ghana and are following the Public Accounts Committee hearings, I say Kudos! Those of you who are in Ghana but have not had the time to watch the proceedings, you must make the time to follow its proceedings. The revelations that are unfolding are very disturbing. For the diaspoas, you must surf Ghanaweb and find the truth for yourselves.

Tuesday was the first day of hearing. The first to appear before the committee on Tuesday was the Tourism Ministry. Officials including Asamoah Boateng who appeared before the committee could not provide receipts to support some financial expenditures of the Ministry. Laid down accounting procedures or principles were flagrantly disregarded willfully. So ‘ROT EXPOSED AT THE MINISTRY OF TOURISM’ was the banner headline for the Daily Graphic.

The next to appear before the committee were officials of the Korle-Bu Teaching hospital, where close to 4 billion cedis was expended on projects without due process. Again, laid down accounting procedures were sidestepped willfully to the benefit of some corrupt officials.
The committee has just completed grilling officials of the Transport Ministry, where the rot may be described as very monumental. It came to light that 5.5 million cedis have been embezzled in that ministry alone. Interestingly, this is the Ministry where the President found it so difficult to accept the resignation of its former Ministers, Richard Aanane, despites allegations of corruption leveled against the man. The excuse of the President was that, the man was doing so well and finding a replacement for him would be very difficult.

Keep your fingers cross whiles the PAC move tortuously to unravel all the rot. I have just been informed that some Ministries are moving heaven and earth to cover some of their shady dealings by removing huge files from their offices in the evening.

Lucky Dube's murder - Four arrested

Four men were arrested on Sunday in connection with the murder of reggae star Lucky Dube, 702 Eyewitness News reported.Police arrested the four in Spruitview on the East Rand on Sunday morning, the radio station said.

A crack team of detectives had been assembled to search for the killers.Dube was shot dead in Rosettenville at about 8.20pm on Thursday night, said police spokesperson Captain Cheryl Engelbrecht. The singer was travelling in a grey Chrysler with his two teenage children at the time.Source: Mail&Guardian

Lucky Dube's Legacy

Condolences spanned the length and breadth of the political and cultural spectrum, with everyone from President Thabo Mbeki to the South African Football Players' Union praising Dube's legacy and raising concerns about the level of violent crime. Mbeki made an appeal to South Africans to confront the "scourge" of crime together."This is ... very, very sad that this happened to an outstanding South African -- an outstanding musician, world renowned," he said as he was leaving for France to support the Springboks in the World Cup final.Mbeki conveyed his condolences to the family and also to Dube's fans in SA and around the world.Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said: "For more than two decades he confronted pertinent social and political issues through his music, bringing to the fore the pain and suffering of many South Africans."Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan called Dube one of the most "important and relevant" voices to come out of the country in the 20th century."What makes his death more painful is that it happened at a time when government has renewed its pledge to forge a partnership with people, communities and their institutions to fight crime," he said in a statement. - Sapa


Ghana08: Ghana, Morroco, Guinea, Namibia

Group A(Accra): Ghana, Morocco, Guinea, Namibia
Group B(Sekondi): Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Mali Benin
Group C(Kumasi): Egypt, Cameroon, Zambia, Sudan
Group D(Tamale): Tunisia, Senegal, South Africa, Angola


Highjakers Kill Lucky Dube in Jo'burg

Reggae musician Lucky Dube was shot dead in a hijacking on Thursday in Rosettenville, Johannesburg police said.Captain Cheryl Engelbrecht said the incident took place at about 8.20pm when Dube (43) was driving a blue Volkswagen Polo in the Johannesburg suburb.She said Dube was dropping off his son in the area when he was attacked. "His son was already out of the car. When he saw what was happening, he ran to ask for help.
" The hijackers were still at large. The boy was too traumatised to provide police with any information, Engelbrecht said.Dube, born in Johannesburg on August 3 1964, was named "Lucky" as he was born in poor health and doctors thought he would die, according to Wikipedia. But Dube survived and went on to become a front-line artist in the reggae genre. However, the singer's website, Luckydubemusic.com, says: "Giving birth to a boy was considered a blessing and his mother considered his birth so fortunate that she aptly named him Lucky.

"He recorded more than 20 albums in his music career, which spanned more than 20 years, according to Luckydubemusic.com. His albums include Rastas Never Die, Think about the Children, Soul Taker and Trinity. His latest, released in 2006, is called Respect.The build-up to this international success, though, started in 1982 with the release of Kudala Ngikuncenga, an album that was not reggae but mbaqanga, a genre that was to serve him well for four more albums until his transition to reggae in 1985.

"The change was brought about by the fact that I wanted to reach the world. With mbaqanga I would have been seen as a tourist musician," he told the Mail & Guardian in an interview in 2001."Don’t waste your time and mine,” a concert promoter told Richard Siluma, Dube’s producer at the time. “No one wants to hear reggae.” By 1987, Dube was the sole reggae star among South African "disco" acts and established music acts such as Brenda Fassie, Stimela and the Soul Brothers.His introduction to the international stage was heartening, such as when he was invited to play at the Sunsplash Festival in Jamaica in 1991. He recalled how the spiritual home of reggae had been waiting for him and his band. "We knew they love the music. They said we remind them of Peter Tosh.

" On the final evening of the festival they were called back for an encore -- and for another performance the next year. The reggae sensation, who did not drink or smoke cigarettes or marijuana, despite the association of the substance with Rastafarians, had won more than 20 awards for his music contribution locally and internationally. He is the only South African artist to have a record signed to Motown Records, according to Luckydubemusic.com. His reception on the international stage had been mixed, however. European audiences had argued that he sang world music and local audiences felt his music had changed to an extent that it flew over them.This did not seem to bother him.

"We have found that locally the audience does not grow with you. People expect me to still be doing Ayobayo, yet that was 1987 and this is 2001," he said in the M&G interview.Dube always had to fend off questions of whether he was Rastafarian. "If Rastafarianism is about having dreadlocks, smoking marijuana and believing that Haile Selassie is God, then I am not Rastafarian. But if it is about political, social and personal consciousness, then, yes, I am," he said.Although his idol was Peter Tosh, he acknowledged the unshakeable influence of the king of reggae, Bob Marley, whom he described as "the reason we know reggae".

Kufuor receives Letters of four new Ambassadors

President John Agyekum Kufuor on Thursday expressed Ghana's gratefulness to Canada for its tremendous development assistance to the country.Receiving the Letters of Commission of the newly appointed Canadian High Commissioner to the country, Mr Barren Schemmer, at the Castle, Osu, the President said Ghana, which is the biggest recipient of Canadian Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), south of the Sahara, appreciated the enhanced support from that country.Mr Dirk Verheyen, Belgium Ambassador, Mr Daniel R. Smith, Namibian High Commissioner and Mr James Donald Kalilangwe, Malawian High Commissioner, also presented their Letters.President Kufuor noted that there was a lot of goodwill between Ghana and Canada and that the two had related very well not only at the Commonwealth, but, on the international arena, generally. He said it was his expectation that the High Commissioner would work to further strengthen the bond of friendship.Mr. Schemmer, pledged to help build on the good trade and economic development co-operation between the two countries When the Belgium Ambassador, to be based in Abuja, Nigeria, took his turn, President Kufuor said Ghana attached importance to its relations with the European country.Belgium, he said, wielded a lot of influence and that the country wanted to connect with it. He said, he was however, a bit unhappy that Belgium did not have a permanent mission in the country and asked the Ambassador to take this up with his home Government. Mr Verheyen said Ghana was one of their important partners in Africa and promised to do all he could to raise the relations to a new high level.President Kufuor spoke of the need for special bond of sisterly relations among African nations when the Namibian High Commissioner called.This, he said, was necessary as the Continent made determined efforts towards political unification.Mr Smith said Ghana and his country had co-operated well at the African Union (AU), United Nations (UN) and the Commonwealth, adding that he would work to sustain the cordial relations. Ghana and Malawi take common position on issues and this is how it should be, President Kufuor said, when Mr Kalilangwe, presented his Letter.He said reducing poverty, instability, conflicts and diseases in Africa, had been a shared vision of the two countries and asked that they worked even more closely to grow their relations. The High Commissioner gave the assurance that he was committed towards helping to enhance the warm relationship.

Deadliest, Cheapest Weapon---AK 47

In the deadly wars in some parts of the African continent, one weapon has featured prominently – it is the AK 47. Not only is this weapon used in wars, it has eventually landed into the hands of criminals and bandits who are using it to terrorize the helpless and innocent.Some of the areas within the continent that are simmering with civil wars are Somalia in East Africa, a country which has been described as a failed state. Liberia in the West of Africa only recently came out of long fought civil strives spearheaded by Charles Taylor, who is currently standing trial in The Hague. The wars were fought in two phases. The first Liberian Civil War was fought from 1989 to 1996 and the second was from 1999 to 2003.Sierra Leone also in West Africa, went to war, a civil war in which some of the most unimaginable cruelty was visited on unarmed and defenseless civilians. But thankfully that war is over now.Darfur in Western Sudan is currently grappling with a war that the international community is making efforts at resolving.All these conflicts have a few things in common. They share misery, brutality, inhumanity, tragedy, pain and death and more especially weapons. But the weapon of choice is the AK47, also known as Kalashnikov, named after the man who invented the deadly weapon.We bring you a write up on the deadly weapon AK47, courtesy of aljazeera and Josh Rushing.The AK-47 kills 250,000 people every year. It is cheap, you can find it everywhere, it has changed the face of war and it has allowed ragtag militias to challenge the armies of major powers. It is so durable that when it gets dirty and wet it keeps on firing. It is so simple even a child can operate it, which has made the training of child soldiers more feasible. This gun can be bought and sold in bazaars the world over. It is the weapon of choice of drug dealers and criminals and is the symbol of revolutionaries. It is a gun that can be purchased in some countries for the price of a bag of corn and the fluctuations in its price can be a predictor of coming strife. The AK-47 is the real weapon of mass destruction.In the 1980s the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) bought AK-47s from China - hundreds of millions of dollars worth - and shipped them to mujahidin fighting the then Soviet Union. This act has been called the single most important contribution to the weapon's spread.

Financial rot at Health Ministry revealed

Proceedings at Wednesday's sitting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament have shown that some public institutions are, still embroiled in financial malpractice and malfeasance. This was made manifest when the committee found that payments running into billions of cedis made by the Ministry of Health (MOH) were not covered by the necessary documentation. On the second day of the sittings, it was discovered that the dollar account of the MOH was being operated without adequate documentation, since 13 payments, totalling ¢13.24 billion, had been made without supporting documents.In a desperate bid to defend and salvage the image of the ministry, its officials produced some documents which were yet to be assessed by the committee and authenticated by the Auditor-General.When the officials were questioned over the submission of the remaining documents, they replied that efforts were underway to produce such documents for the committee.That led the chairman of the committee to comment that answers given to questions by members of the committee were misleading and fraught with lots of inconsistencies. In its probe of the MOH, the PAC found, to its chagrin, unapproved expenditure, failure to tender the award of road construction works, indebtedness of health institutions, engagement of unapproved temporary staff, unaccounted for fuel, unearned salaries and non-payment of rent by occupants of government flats and bungalows. In a response, the Financial Controller of the ministry, Mr Simon Dosu, who claimed to have assumed that position a few months ago, pointed out that most of the documents that the committee had sought for were not available at the time of audit. Mr. E. T. Mensah, a member of the committee and Member of Parliament (MP) for Ningo-Prampram, asked Mr. Dosu whether notes on the ministry's activities had been handed over to him by his predecessor? Replying, Mr Dosu said the handing over had been brief and had not included all the details of financial expenditure and payments effected by the ministry under the dol¬lar account. Commenting on activities at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Mr Sallas Mensah, the Chairman of the PAC; said the committee's review of the budget performance of the hospital for 2003 revealed that the sector minister's approval for ¢3.70 billion, representing excess capital expenditure, had not been approved by Parliament. He said the committee had, therefore, advised the management of the hospital to operate within its expenditure limit to curtail budget overruns and prevent avoidable strain on the finances of the ministry.Mr Mensah further explained that the hospital also failed to tender the award of a road contract, estimated at ¢289.3 million. "We noted that the construction of the Korle-Bu residential access road for doctors' bungalows, courts A, B, C and Zoti Bungalow were not put to tender, neither were alternative quotations obtained. The sum of ¢289.3 million was paid to Facol Roads Limited in respect of the access roads construction," he said. The PAC Chairman said the committee further noted that a reserve price was not obtained from either the Ghana Highway Authority or any other recognised body to serve as a yardstick for measuring the contract price. "We recommend that in future laid down regulations should be adhered to. Officers responsible for untendered contracts for which quotations are not obtained should be surcharged in future should any loss of funds arise," he added. In an answer to the query, the acting Chief Executive of the hospital, Dr Ben Annan, said the project was done under a certificate of urgency and that explained why it did not go through a tendering process. He said three contractors were shortlisted to bring quotations to the hospital, after which Facol Company Limited was endorsed to undertake the construction works. When the Minority Leader, Mr Alban Bagbin, asked Dr. Annan to tell the committee of the names of the two other companies, the acting chief executive could not remember them offhand. Source: Daily Graphic


Kufuor hails Equatorial Guinea's gas plant

Oil-rich Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday formally entered the global gas market as a major new player with the inauguration of a 1.5 billion-dollar Liquefied Natural Gas Plant.The plant has the capacity to deliver 3.7 million tonnes of the fuel annually for 17 years.President John Agyekum Kufuor, who was specially invited to join in the celebration of the occasion, alongside the leaders of Nigeria and Sao Tome, hailed the initiative by the country to expand and diversify its oil industry, as an important economic step. African countries, he said, needed to add value to natural resources to sustain their economies and take advantage of the global market system.He, however, cautioned that in so doing, care must be taken to protect and maintain the environment. The environment must never be neglected in the pursuit of social and economic advancement, he stated.President Kufuor therefore encouraged the government of Equatorial Guinea to make sure it involved all stakeholders in the management of the environment.Again, it should strive to use the new-found wealth to benefit and improve the lives of all the population.President Teodoro Obiang Ngueso Mbasogo, said the onshore project was a symbol of what could be achieved through economic partnership. He pledged his government's commitment to utilise the country's oil wealth to raise the living standards of the people.Mr Ken Woodworth, Managing Director of the EN LNG, operators of the plant, said their hope was that the project would serve as a catalyst for the establishment of the Gulf of Guinea as a world force in the industry.Equatorial Guinea, with a population of less than 800,000 has large oil and gas deposits. Their exploitation is driving spectacular economic growth.Now the third largest producer of crude oil in Sub-Sahara Africa, after Nigeria and Angola, it has a real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 18.6 per cent with inflation pegged at 5.2 per cent.

Kufuor leaves for Equatorial Guinea

President John Agyekum Kufuor left Accra on Wednesday for Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, for a one-day visit during which he will participate in the commissioning of a multi-million dollar liquefied natural gas plant.

A statement signed by Mr Andrew Awuni, Press Secretary to the President, said Mr Kufuor would also hold consultations with President Theodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

President Kufuor, who was accompanied by senior government officials, is expected back home later on Wednesday.


KATH performs first open heart surgeries

The Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi has recorded a significant historical feat after successfully performing its maiden open-heart surgery at the weekend. Four children underwent successful open-heart surgery on Sunday while another batch of four are having their turn today.The patients, aged between 1 and 8 years, are all in good condition. The surgeries were performed by a team of cardio thoracic surgeons from KATH and the Boston Children's Hospital of the Harvard University in the USA.It was under the auspices of the Variety Children's Lifeline, a Boston based NGO that provided medical equipment and consumables worth one million dollars towards the programme.Dr Francis Fynn Thompson, a Ghanaian Cardiologist at the Boston Children's Hospital, led the team.Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, Chief Executive of KATH, told journalists in Kumasi that the successful operations, which were conducted free of charge, were a step towards the eventual establishment of a paediatric heart centre and the second cardio thoracic centre in the country to cater for the northern sector.He said 45 children were screened but 8 were selected for the surgeries and the rest would be operated upon during the second visit of the team in March.Dr Nsiah-Asare said apart from the surgeries, the team was also training their local counterparts in modern cardio thoracic techniques to build their capacity and equip them so as to be able to manage the proposed centre. He said within the next two years KATH would be operating a full-fledged cardio thoracic centre and thanked the team for the assistance.Dr Nsiah-Asare said a Ghana Paediatric Heart Fund would be launched on Friday as part of a global drive to solicit for resources to establish the centre and the provision of free heart surgeries for children in Ghana.Dr George Ofori Amanfo, A Cardiac and Intensive Care Specialist and member of the team, said the goal was to help the patients and also train doctors and other health workers towards the establishment of the second cardio thoracic centre in Ghana 16 Oct 07

Ghana researching into malaria resistance genes

The Navrongo Health Research Centre in the Upper East Region, is undertaking a study aimed at identifying the genes in individuals that protect them against malaria.The collaborative study, known as the Malaria Genome Epidemiology Network, is made up of a global consortium comprising 12 institutions in malaria endemic countries across the globe and is led by researchers from the Oxford University in the United Kingdom.Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, The Gambia, Papua New Guinea and Mali are among countries taking part in the research, which would assist in the development of malaria vaccines.About 180 families in the Kassena-Nankana district in the Upper East Region are to participate in the research. Mr Lucas Amengo-Etego, a Research Fellow at the Navrongo Health Research Centre told journalists from the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN), who were on a tour of the centre, that genes have a lot to do with the control of malaria. He said some people were more susceptible to the disease than others because individuals respond differently to infections from the malaria parasite.The journalists were in the Upper East and Northern Regions to assess the health status of the population, with particular attention to malaria, following the floods, which hit the northern parts of the country.The Malaria Clinical Trials Alliance, (MCTA) an African-led institution established to build capacity in the fight against malaria sponsored the trip.MCTA is currently leading a research into the development of a malaria vaccine in nine African countries, including Ghana. They have targeted 2011 for the introduction of the vaccine.

Kufuor Ambushed - Over NPP Race

New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential aspirants yesterday took time off from their electioneering campaign to attend a crisis meeting at the Osu Castle hosted by President John Agyekum Kufuor.The meeting, called at the instance of the party’s reconciliation committee, was to address certain nagging issues in the name of party unity.At the core of the complaints by most of the aspirants was the suspected presidential support for John Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, a leading contender in the NPP presidential race.As at press time yesterday, the meeting was under way with all the aspirants in attendance except John Kwame Kodua, a Kumasi-based private legal practitioner, about who little has been heard in the race to elect a successor to President Kufuor.When Daily Guide caught up with him, Mr. Kodua said he was not aware of any meeting. According to him, he was just returning from a campaign trip to the Western Region and therefore the issue about a meeting was news to him. “You are now telling me. Nobody has told me about any meeting,” he said.Daily Guide learnt that a litany of issues was raised about the presidential race, including a strong accusation that the playing field was not level. The President was asked to stay out of the race. “Please stay out,” an aspirant was said to have fired. A similar meeting called by the committee last Wednesday was called off at the last minute, owing to what insiders described as “small lapses”.Some of the aspirants were said to have complained about the mode of the invitation, which was via an SMS text message, and the venue chosen. They contended that since it was a party matter, the meeting should be held outside the Castle, with some suggesting Australia House or the NPP headquarters. The reconciliation committee, comprising of elders of the party is chaired by the National Security Minister Francis Poku. Other members are Peter Mac Manu, National Chairman; Prof Daniel Adzei Bekoe and Madam Amma Busia, Chairman and Member of the Council of State respectively; Mr. Samuel Odoi-Sykes, former Chairman and immediate past High Commissioner to Canada; Nana Awuku of Sanaa Lodge, Tesano and Cape Coast and a retired Professor from the University of Ghana.The committee had met the aspirants one after the other at the Australia House, after which an account was reportedly submitted to the President leading to yesterday’s high profile meeting.The issue of the venue was finally resolved when the President made it clear that the meeting could not be held at any other place but the Castle.According to him, the aspirants could not be saying different things now, especially when they had been coming to him at the Castle location. The aspirants, DAILY GUIDE sources said, demanded a firm commitment from the President that he would not undermine their campaign in his bid to support a particular candidate.They had complained that the recent ministerial reshuffle carried out was skewed in favour of a particular aspirant. The issue of a directive to DCEs, asking them not to host certain aspirants, came up strongly. The meeting was still underway as at press time, with the President virtually ambushed.
Source:Daily Guide

I am not for Alan 'Cash' - President Kufuor

H.E. President, Mr J.A. Kufuor, yesterday held a crucial meeting with the presidential aspirants of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) at the Castle, Osu. The meeting was held behind closed doors and attended by NPP national executive members, including the National Chairman, Mr Peter Mac-Manu, the General Secretary, Nana Ohene Ntow, and the National Organiser, Lord Commey. Although there was no official statement regarding what transpired at the meeting, snippets of information the Daily Graphic gathered pointed to the fact that the key issues centred on how the aspirants could carry out their campaigns based on issues and ensure that the ruling government handed over to itself. The President was said to have discussed the contentious issue of his support for Mr Alan Kyerematen with the aspirants, our sources said President Kufuor once again denied his support for any of the aspirants and explained that what was important to him was the election of a candidate who could build on his legacy and unify all members of the party for the major task of the 2008 electioneering so that power could be transferred from him to another NPP candidate. Other issues discussed included the thorny issue of the composition of delegates for the December 22 Special National Delegates Congress to choose a flag bearer from the contenders for the 2008 general election. Among the issues raised in that respect were suggestions to the effect that the nine constituency executives in the 230 constituencies across the country be taken as delegates, with one additional delegate elected and added to them to constitute the 10 delegates for each constituency. That argument was said to have been informed by the pressure of time in conducting fresh elections to choose delegates for the congress. The other view was that fresh constituency delegate congresses be conducted throughout the 230 constituencies, using polling station chairmen as the electoral college to select the 10 constituency delegates. The meeting was held in a free and frank atmosphere, although the candidates did not mince words in expressing their concerns about some developments during the campaign. It is believed by inside sources that that matter would eventually have to be resolved by the National Council of the party in the run-up to the congress. The presidential aspirants who were present included the Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama; the former Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Papa Owusu Ankomah; the former Foreign Minister, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo; the former Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyemang; the former Minister of Trade, Industry, Private Sector Development and President's Special Initiatives (PSIs), Mr Alan Kyerematen; the former Minister of Communications, Professor Mike Oquaye; the former Press Secretary to the President and Presidential Spokesman, Mr Kwabena Agyepong, and Mr Boakye K. Agyarko. Others were former Minister of Regional Integration and NEPAD, Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku; the former Minister of Tourism and Diasporan Relations, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, and a former Minister of Information and a former General Secretary of the NPP, Mr Dan Botwe. The rest were the former Minister of Defence, Dr Kwame Addo-Kufuor; a former Deputy Minister of the Interior, Captain Nkrabeah Effah-Darteh (retd); a former Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Felix Owusu-Adjapong; Dr Arthur Kennedy; a former Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo; Ghana's Ambassador to Japan, Dr Baffour Adjei Bawuah, and the former Chief Executive Officer of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng. At the time of filing this report, Mr Kwame Kodua was yet to attend the meeting. The National Executive was said to have assured all the candidates that it would endeavour to abide by the code governing the process of the election of a presidential candidate. Source: Daily Graphic


Castle Meets NPP Aspirants Today

A crunch meeting is scheduled for this evening, Monday October 15, 2007 between President John Agyekum Kufuor and the 19 odd Presidential candidates at Australia house, Accra to iron out fissures that have emerged in certain issues that could cloud the atmosphere and muddy the process leading up to the December 22, 2007 delegates conference.
The meeting is at the instance of the Council of Elders of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and would feature Mr. Odoi Sykes, Ms. Ama Busia, Nana Awuku, Professor Adzei Bekoe and Mr. Ayeh and a few more high ranking officials of the Council.At the heart of the meeting is the issue of fairness which some of the aspirants believe is skewed and which they believe the president could deploy the huge clout he enjoys within the leadership of the NPP to assuage frayed nerves.
Key among the multiple concerns at the heart of the aspirants is the needling issue of the President and his not-so-subtle support for Mr. Alan John Kwadwo Kyeremanten which is causing concern. Chief as he is known has not helped matters with his 'in-your-face' interview in the Heritage newspaper in which he literally said 'and so what? Is it not you who say that anybody the president supports loses?'While some of the aspirants acknowledge that the President is free to support whom he may, they think that his absence of neutrality in the process may impinge on his standing.
The process which is making the rounds in NPP circles is that a congress which is scheduled for next month to evolve a new set of rules where District Chief Executives could become delegates and vote at the delegates’ congress is disturbing, particularly when the DCEs are supposed to fund the congress in their constituencies.'We have always maintained this format at all previous elections, and we are very happy with that, there is no need to have another congress to elect delegates.'
It is the tinkering of the process which is the source of deepest concern to the aspirants none of who would go on record.'Some of our friends are DCEs and regional Ministers and they visibly tremble when we attempt to visit them at their offices or homes, because they could lose their jobs. Now we all know so we generally do not expose them to this risk at all when we go on tours', noted one aspirant who spoke the mind of most of the aspirants.A huge pall of unease hangs in the air as the aspirants converge at Australia house today.The property in Cantonments was previously owned by the Australian High Commission but fell into disrepair when the mission left Ghana several years ago.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the tail end of the NDC administration took over the house and commissioned Messrs Kufuor and Hallal (J &H) contractors at Takoradi to renovate it. It was widely believed that it was going to be the property of FIt Lt. Jerry Rawlings as part of his end of service benefit if Professor Mills had won the last elections.
Source:The Chronicle


Meteors complete double over Amaglug-glug

Ghana's Olympic team, Black Meteors inched closer to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, courtesy a 3-1 thrashing over their South African counterparts, Amaglug-glug in a Group A qualifier at the El-Wak Sports Stadium on Sunday.
A brace from Udinese striker Asamoah Gyan and another from Greek-based Bernard Kumordzi ensured the Meteors completed a famous double over the South African, after beating them by a similar margin at their backyard in August.
The result takes the Meteors to the apex of the Group with six points, two more than closest rivals Nigeria, with the Amaglug-glug rooted at the bottom with just a point.
The tensioned packed game started on a high note with the Ghanaians, who paraded seven foreign-based players in the starting line up dictating the pace from the onset.
The trio of Kumordzi, Anthony Annan and captain Michael Helegbe had the upper-hand in the midfield battle, which made the Amaglug-glug rear the busier on the opening minutes.
The attacking trio of Nafiu Iddrisu of ASEC Mimosas, Prince Tagoe and Gyan combined beautifully upfront and often became victims of rough play from the likes of Kelvin Sosibo, Thepelo Tshito and Musa Bilankulu. In one of such moves of the Meteors in the 28th minute, Nafiu, who has been in terrific with ASEC in the Ivorian Championship was fouled by his marker close to the penalty area.
Gyan headed home the opener from Helegbe's free-kick to send the thousands of fans into an ecstatic mood with Amaglug-glug goalie Humeleng Khune completely beaten.
The Meteors piled the pressure on their guests and six minutes later Kumordzi doubled the lead just on the edge of the box. The lanky midfielder connected beautifully from Michael Akuffo's cross from the left flank.
Well-built Isaac Vorsah, who was a pillar in the Meteors defence was on hand to foil the attacks of the South Africans on several occasions.
The visitors resumed strongly and succeeded in reducing the deficit in the 56th minute through Edwin Isaacs, who soared above his markers to nod home Bryce Moon's cross from the right flank.
Meteors coach, Cecil Jones Attuquayefio introduced Sampson Cudjoe, Obed Ansah and Kojo Asamoah for Michael Akuffo, Nafiu and Helegbe respectively later in the game and it paid off.
With four minutes to full time, Gyan sealed victory with his second of the day with a curling shot beyond the reach of the Amaglug-glug goalie after rounding off his marker beautifully.
The Meteors will wrap their campaign with the ultimate match on November 18 against Nigeria at the same venue.
The top placed team at the end qualifies for next year's Olympic Games.
Line up: Nii Baah; Michael Akuffo, Isaac Vorsah, Bawah Mumuni, Daniel Addo; Yao Kumordzi Bernard, Michael Helegbe, Anthony Annan; Gyan Asamoah, Nafiu Iddrisu, Prince Tagoe
Table .............P W D L GF GA Pts Ghana .......3 2 0 1 8 5 6 Nigeria .....2 1 1 0 4 3 4 South Africa 3 0 1 2 3 7 1