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Should a government build factories in a place like Ghana?

Should the government build factories? Or invest in business ventures In Ghana?

It is one of the abiding mysteries of the contemporary society that government ownership and management of business ventures are seen as ideological, whilst support for the conduct is seen as “pragmatism”.

The truth though is that the pragmatic position would be to oppose direct government investment in business ventures, at least in Ghana, on grounds of common sense.

Why? Simple: common sense.

Why would a government be investing in a company? Not for revenue? What should the revenue be spent on? Not public/social welfare?

With that in mind, consider what such an investment would really mean.

The Ghanaian government suffers a perpetual budget deficit, so every investment would mean borrowing to invest.

Due to the genius of our ways, our government borrows at nearly 20% at the medium-term international cedi rate or 9% at the international dollar rate. It borrows at roughly 15% at the short-term, domestic, cedi rate, but that is irrelevant for this analysis since no serious business investment can be short-term.

So assuming government goes and borrow at 20% in order to establish a business, say in agro-processing.

Since the government is borrowing at 20% to invest, we have to assume that its required return on capital is at least 30%.

Assuming the government wants to set up a chocolate factory in Sefwi to take advantage of the cocoa industry there.

The intended end products are cocoa butter and dark cocoa powder/refined cake.

From detailed schematics I have seen in the context of a private project, $7.5 million is required for a plant that can process 2 tons per hour. Just the plant for now. Let’s say Government wants to make a serious dent in our raw cocoa exports so they peg the production at 80,000 tons per annum, which is about 10% of the average annual yield over the analysis horizon.

The minimum investment required for such a plant would be $160 million (including start-up working capital and auxiliaries).

For perspective, note that the most consistent production plant we have had in the contract is the CPC plant (various others have collapsed or are on the verge of collapse). It is a 65,000-ton capacity plant, which now needs urgent capitalisation to the tune of $300 million. It is swimming in debt and currently reliant on political life-support, being a relatively successful state-owned enterprise.

Let’s say that capacity utilisation is a remarkably successful 75%.

The final conversion ratios for cocoa butter and powder are quite similar, at around 70%. So let’s adjust our capacity numbers for finished products to say 26,000 tons of cocoa powder and 30,000 tons of cocoa butter.

Let’s use $7000 as the projected mean price for high-grade cocoa butter, based on our historical analysis and a price of roughly $2500 for powder.

Let us also assume an average price over the period under the analysis of $2500 for Ghana grade I cocoa beans (note that if Government decides to subsidise the light crop beans as it has sometimes done in the past, this will still involve spending Government funds).

This is all very rosy analysis, but let’s keep it that way for simplicity sake.

Gross margin per ton of cocoa products manufactured will thus be $3500 or 58%.

However, adjusting for conversion factors we get this interesting result:

$200 million goes into purchasing cocoa. When the cocoa is ground, converted to butter and powder/cake, and sold, the proceeds amount to less $280 million. A 28% gross margin.

Labour costs haven’t been accounted for. Electricity, no. Water, no. Maintenance, no. Depreciation, no. Overheads, no. Supplies, no.

Is it any surprise then that well-funded cocoa processing companies run by seasoned management executives cannot afford to pay Cocobod (the national cocoa agency) for the cocoa they buy? Or that many have shut down? A story similar across our industrial landscape?

Let’s say, the Government of Ghana has miraculous powers.

Let’s say, all other costs of the factory are squeezed into 60 million dollars per year. So a neat profit of $20 million can be realised from pure operations (i.e. ignoring financial effects).

How long will it take the Government of Ghana to pay off the $160 million loan?

Eight years, right? If nothing out of the ordinary happens. Of course, as the factory ages, costs will escalate due to higher maintenance and replacement costs etc. (as the finance folks like to say, risk is a function of time) but let’s keep things simple, shall we?

But actually, it is not 8 years. That’s too optimistic. There is something crazy called “compound interest”. Let’s ask Excel to help us.

Actually, if year 8 was to be chosen as the break-even year, the amount owed would have ballooned to $520 million thereabouts, assuming no money was borrowed to run the factory in the intervening period.

No matter how you looked at the picture, it isn’t pretty. We haven’t even touched the IRR and NPV calculations using the 30% weighted average cost of capital. But even without any detailed analysis, I am sure that you can see cumulative losses in the region of at least $400 million in the first decade of the operation of this factory.

Now here is the question, if the point was social or public welfare, why not simply invest the $160 million directly in health, education, and the like today and reap the results earlier?

I can hear two objections: a) you chose cocoa processing deliberately to present an impossible prospect; b) you are only accounting for economic costs and results, what about the benefits of employment?

Sadly, none of these protests make any sense.

Whatever the venture you choose, if it is manufacturing, the payback period in Ghana would not be less than 8 years. In so far as government’s cost of capital is so ridiculous, forget it. It will produce only losses. But do we want the government to get into trading and services? In industries requiring low capitalisation and quick payback period? I don’t hear a ‘yes’.

What does this mean?

No way can a government that fails to create an environment for flourishing private enterprise do better in the same environment running businesses that the private sector is failing at. But if the private sector is flourishing in a sector then what is the point of government intervention there? Why not just take 25% of what they make as taxes plus the payroll taxes as well?

Secondly, the employment that shall be generated is a function of the profitability of that enterprise. If the government is paying too much for labour, then the losses will compound.

At any rate, if these labourers are citizens of Ghana then their employment shall be at the expense of other Ghanaians denied the social investments that could have been made with the $160 million and saddled, on top of the neglect, with the $400 million dollars debt burden. The 500 or so workers of one factory will be living large on the misery of 500,000 Ghanaians. In fact, as we saw with Ghana Airways, that usually is the case: only the Government hirelings benefit.

Now, tell me: who is being pragmatic and who is being ideological: the constructive sceptics who advise against direct government investment into business ventures or the ideologues who have never developed any model or simulation to back their views but hold on to them like articles of faith?

You are too assertive

Hello fabulous woman,

Are you battling with men in your work life especially who cannot stand your level of assertiveness? If yes, then pay attention to my experience below…

As an only sister among two brothers, while growing up, my parents never did or say anything to let me think that a girl was less important than boys. We were all treated equally, praised when we did well and punished when we misbehaved. I competed head-to-head with boys in class and not to brag or anything, I did quite well in primary school and even represented my school in several quiz competitions. I don’t recall a time when I felt I was not good enough simply because I was a girl. Mind you, I had a lot of self-esteem issues but they were not because someone told me I was a girl.

So anyway, I lived in my own bubble of a world in which males and females were all treated equally until my first corporate job after my national service back home in Ghana. This was my first recollection of being told ‘you can’t do this because you are a woman’. It was shocking but I didn’t pay much attention to it. On two occasions, I remember having arguments with some of the men in the office and it was clear that they could not stand the way I voiced out my thoughts or behaved like ‘one of the boys’. Around this time, there were all these conversations about women empowerment and although I would occasionally contribute, I never really understood what the fuss was all because of my own bubble.

Then I moved on to another job where I became a manager in a male-dominated company. As usual, I saw myself as just one of the managers. Then one day, a male colleague told me in these exact words ‘Ama, the email you sent me yesterday was too assertive’. I was baffled. First of all, I didn’t even know what the word assertive meant! The minute he left my office, I went to check it up and found the following meanings; self-confident, forceful, etc. These made me even more confused so I went back to read the email which went something like this:

‘Dear A,

Ms. B will be starting work in your department as a C on blah blah date. Ensure that she has X, Y, Z in place by the time she reports. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind Regards

Ama’

I asked myself over and over, what did he mean by ‘too assertive’ from this email. I finally decided to ask him and from his explanation, my tone was as if I was commanding him, like I was his boss and not his colleague. Really?! It was on this day that I finally understood that there was something called ego and men had it! It also explained all those times that I found myself arguing with men over simple issues. Frankly, though, it was not every man I knew with whom I had this encounter. Some were more accepting and perhaps that was why it took me so long to realize this.

My strategy…

I also realised that I was honestly tired of fighting some particular men in the workplace environment. I needed a strategy to get these men to do what they had to do without so much fuss. So what did I resort to? Magic words; please and thank you! These are words that I had been taught to use since childhood but for some reason, I apparently wasn’t using them enough at the workplace. I know it sounds ridiculous but it worked like magic. So now, a typical email like the above will go like this:

‘Dear A,

Please be informed that Ms. B will be starting work in your department as a C on blah blah date. Kindly ensure that she has X, Y, Z in place by the time she reports. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind Regards

Ama’

With this simple change in wording, I began enjoying less fights with these men of ego – just like magic! To them, I was finally showing respect to them, just as I also deserved. And guess what, when I ask for things to be done politely and say ‘thank you’ when it is done, I don’t feel any less of a woman or subdued by a man. I feel I am respecting them and hence can demand their respect too. And I make a conscious effort to give this same respect to women too because really, it is the human thing to do.

Dearest Woman Jackie Chan always having to fight Man Mayweather in your office, please try using ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to all and let’s do a survey to see if the fights will be minimised. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Pressing For Progress’; as we keep pressing, let us remember that our enemies are not men.

In fact, we need their support as we press for progress and so let us treat them with respect, the same way we demand of them to respect us. Let us use magic words, shall we? I would also like to recommend a great book by Dale Carnegie ‘How To Win Friends And Influence People’. I hope these help, bless you!

Ama xx

– By Ama Duncan, Founder of The Fabulous Woman Network 

Gitmo 2 saga; Political gimmick at the expense of Ghana’s security [Article]

In 2016, the NDC government sealed a formal agreement with the US to host two ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees in the country. This deal attracted widespread criticism not only from individuals but groups whose interest largely bordered on security.

Some officials of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) at the time posited that the move posed a security threat to Ghanaians. While the then Flagbearer of the NPP (now President Akufo-Addo) reportedly expressed definite reservations about the then government’s decision, the current Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid had at the time indicated that Ghana had become a legitimate target for attacks.

It is therefore baffling that even after opposing the deal, the current government has not repudiated the arrangement, thus leading Ghanaians to one inescapable conclusion that NPP’s denunciation of the deal pre-2016 was just a PR stunt aimed at playing to the gallery.

In light of the recent revelations by the current Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, it is clear that both the NPP and NDC governments have not been honest about this deal.  It therefore emphasizes the need for both parties to ponder and come clear on a number of issues;

What was the exit plan? The Foreign Affairs Minister, Madam Botchwey’s revelation that a refugee status was conferred on the two detainees in 2016 under the NDC government is not a good reason for the inaction. The Minister needs to be reminded that the State is perpetual in nature and therefore the decisions of the government, unless revoked, are binding. Therefore, one would have expected the current regime to show its displeasure by invalidating the refugee status for the two ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees. Ghanaians need to hold the current government to account. To begin with, why was a refugee status conferred on them when we were made to believe their stay will only be temporary?

Withdrawal of Refugee status: Also, the refugee status conferred on the two does not make their return impossible. In addition, the continued stay of the two in the country arguably poses serious threats to the peace and stability of Ghana as indicated by some security analysts. By now, the government should have taken a firm stance, if Minister Hamid’s words are anything to go by. He had early on argued that central to the Jihadi ideology is the assertion that a friend of your enemy is also your enemy, hence, though Ghana may have received them out of generosity or compassion (as was the reason cited by former President John Mahama), in the mind of a Jihadist, Ghana becomes a legitimate target for attacks. In light of this earlier stance, his current explanation that the two detainees have comported themselves lately will therefore not suffice. Not only is his current stance contradicting his earlier assertion, but it also smacks of hypocrisy.

Details withheld?: Again, the people of Ghana need to take the previous government on for refusing to disclose details and making wide consultations. Every detail should have been clearly spelt out even if the agreement was reached under a Note Verbale and Memorandum of Understanding. The decision to rush and keep the deal under wraps without disclosing details or holding wider consultations with key stakeholders is egregious.

Going forward, the government must be seen to be acting in the interest of its citizens. Any other consideration is secondary. The political propaganda must end!

By: Marian Ansah/citifmonline.com/Ghana

Reflections on Operation Cow Leg and animal cruelty

Many great feats accomplished in history were the outcome of either political or economic integration.

For example, in reaction to exigencies of the evolving Cold War and Russians’ aggression in Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO] was formed in 1949. Also, in response to the economic challenges of West Africa, the Economic Community of West African States [ECOWAS] was formed in 1975 to commit to bolstering economic development through free movement of people in the West African sub-region.

Thus, diversity in integration and development are bedfellows. That is why I am grappling to catch the drift of the opinion that division could accelerate development [highly debatable though]. Ghana as a member of ECOWAS is ruled by a constitution framed and shrouded in a puritan egalitarian ideal [that all men are created equal] and Albert Venn Dicey- coined rule of law. Per Ghana’s constitution, anybody born in Ghana before independence and, regardless of his/her nationality is a Ghanaian. This somewhat elucidates why I think Fulani stereotype in Ghana must stop! From my novice commonsensical convictions, “Operation Cow Leg” is nothing otherwise than an act of animal cruelty. What have cattle got to do with constitutional infringement?

Animal cruelty refers to an overt and, deliberate acts of violence towards animals. Killing of animals in an inhumane manner is an example of animal savagery. Animals are sentient creatures and their lives cannot be wasted in a manner that operation cow leg team killed cattle belonging to the nomadic herdsmen at Agogo in Ashanti Region of the Republic of Ghana. In the religion of Islam, a special prayer is said before an animal is slaughtered.

In the Hare Krishnan faith, there are strong beliefs that eating meat is eating a life created by Krishna (their God) and thus, the imperative need for members to remain vegetarian. Far from dabbling in animism, paganism and totemism as derogatorily used to describe African traditional religion, killing pregnant animals could have spiritual implications on the killer. Admittedly, some aspects of animism, paganism and totemism are held by African traditional believers. Nevertheless, paganism and animism or totemism cannot suffice as substitutes for African faith. Such claims are borne out of ignorance.

Anyhow, my late paternal ground father in my village, who was a great hunter told me the following anecdote. He said a certain hunter went on his usual hunting mission. This hunter saw a female chimpanzee on top of a tree nursing the young chimp. The hunter was terrified with the presence of the animal and decided to kill them. All attempts to kill the animal and the young chimp were unsuccessful because the gun did not even trigger, let alone shooting! The man ended his hunting expedition and went home with a belief, that pregnant/nursing animals are protected by some spirits such as dwarfs and forest monsters. I know the story will sound weird and superstitious to many readers because it came from an African believer. To those sceptics:“You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain” (Deuteronomy 25:4).“If you come across a bird’s nest in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. You shall let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, that it may go well with you, and that you may live long” (Deuteronomy 22:6-7).

I am without a modicum of desire to construct the niches of security in Ghana, even so, I am humbly calling for alternative interventions and operational strategies, devoid of prejudice against the Fulani to eradicate nomadic herdsmen menace in the farming communities. Let us assume that nomadic herdsmen have breached the laws of Ghana. What then have their innocent animals got to do with rule of law? The killing of cattle belonging to the herdsmen is very despicable. In some parts of the globe, animal welfare legislation prohibits citizens from engaging in animal cruelty. In the USA, the 1966 animal welfare act is enforced by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In California State, an individual can be convicted to 12 months imprisonment and a fine up to $ 20,000 for offences of animal cruelty. In 2009, Canada introduced a code of practice for the care and handling of dairy cattle.

Besides, in Egypt, anyone who intentionally kills any domesticated animal may be jailed. Animal cruelty offence is punishable by law in Sweden. Animal owners who intentionally kill their animals in Sweden risk having their rights to own animals revoked.

There is a proposed Universal Declaration on animal welfare at the UN to prevent cases of animal cruelty. As of today, there is no clear-cut UN accord frowning upon violence towards animals.Predictably, the Fulani Association of Ghana complaining at UN against Ghana government (Source: peacefmonline.com, January 20, 2018), is dead on arrival. Nonetheless, whoever master-minded mass killing of cattle as a solution toAgogocrop farmers-nomadic herdsmen conflict goofed, big time! Ghana rather needs to introduce cattle ranching laws or enforce the existing laws. Sensitive cases like this must be tackled devoid of emotions. Modern cattle ranching best practices workshop should be organized for the herdsmen and cattle owners.

2016 Human Development Index report by United Nations Development Program (UNDP) ranked Ghana 139 out of 188 countries. Food security is an integral part of human development and poverty reduction. In 2015, Professor Gabriel AyumTeye of University of Development Studies averred that 90% of meat products consumed in Ghana were imported from Burkina Faso and Europe. Certainly, beef import cost a Ghanaian taxpayer huge sums of money. We need to encourage best cattle rearing farming practices to revamp livestock industry to balance the country’s meat deficit.Ghana’s Food and Agriculture Ministry reports indicate that cattle are predominantly reared by either Ghanaian local farmers or Fulani herdsmen in Ghana. Beef represents about 33% of all locally produced meat in the country. Cattle are kept for either beef or milk. Three types of cattle in Ghana are beef cattle, dairy cattle and dual-purpose cattle (Source: MoFA, Ghana).

World Health Organization (WHO’s) findings indicate that an average African consumes about 36kg of milk annually. This is far below the WHO’s recommended annual consumption of 200kg of milk per person. Per UN trade records, Ghana spent more than $80 million importing milk and milk products every year since 2011. Thus, killing cattle equally does not only risk endangering food security in the country, but also imperil staggering Ghana under a huge financial burden. Needless to say, I do not support the alleged atrocities committed by the nomadic herdsmen at Agogo. I am not unaware of reported cases of militant nomadism as in Northern Nigeria. All that I am suggesting is that we must marshal enough evidence to confirm the belief that murder, bush rape are truly perpetrated by the Fulani nomadic herdsmen. What about the murder and rape incidents reported in other parts of Ghana? Are they committed by nomadic herdsmen?

We must not hide behind the Fulani stereotype and preach hate against them. Our leaders must avoid creating a mess for the police and the military. May the soul of the security men who lost their lives during operation cow leg rest in peace! We must not pretend not to know the real owners of the cattle in Agogo. We have every right to protect the lives and properties at Agogo, but mass killing of cattle is very unfortunate. Let us look for herdsmen who violate others’ rights and punish them in accordance with the law.

Let us not destroy cattle because of nomadic activities or because they belong to Fulani herdsmen. Fulani herdsmen are our fellow Africans. It is very unfair to discriminate against them. Economic activities are products of culture. Many cultures mean more economic activities. Cultural diversities come with diverse experience and technologies. Let us embrace multiculturalism for development. Show some love to Fulani minority in Ghana! We can conceive of a future without high-rises. But a humanity without music and love is not just inconceivable; it is impossible –George Leonard. Arrest Fulani herdsmen who are criminals only! Say no to animal cruelty. God Bless Our Homeland Ghana!

 

Source: myjoyonline

UHAS poor landowners’ compensation delay: What is our crime, Mr President!

I convey warm greetings from the people of the Volta Region and the 77 poor landowners of the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) who are being denied their due compensation by your Government.

Mr President, we are indeed excited about your ascension to the Presidency.

Pursuant to Article 257, “All public lands in Ghana shall be vested in the President on behalf of and in trust for, the people of Ghana”. It is on this basis that you should be concerned about the current development, Your Excellency. I must admit that your Personal Assistant is a representation of your humility when I visited the Presidency this January.

Sir, even if you could not have the time to read the content of the petition addressed to you on the continuous delay of our land compensation payment, I am certain His Lordship Justice Jones Dotse who is the current Governing Council Chairman might have hinted you of our plight, hunger, deprivation and hopelessness. He may not forget to inform you that at least four people have already died and some hospitalized while looking for money to pay their bills.

Your constant reminder to Ghanaians to be Citizens, not Spectators got me listening to your inaugural speech once again. Oh, I just remembered how that speech got even the patriotic Ghanaian JHS and SHS graduates define plagiarism to the amusement of the PhD holders.

But Sir should we the 77 very poor UHAS landowners also feel to be citizens and not spectators? We rather are compelled to feel that we have committed a crime, a crime that we also own pieces of land.

What crime have we committed to own a piece of land some of which are from retirement packages? Are our properties not protected by Article 20 but today are dispossessed again by the same law?

What crime have we committed that, our lands needed to be expropriated since 2011 and had to struggle to compel Government to issue an Executive Instrument (E.I) in 2013?

What crime have we committed also that, the Lands Commission would have to drag and delay technical processes and compensation processing for 3 years?

What crime again have we committed that, after spending 3 years at the Lands Commission to process documents leading to offer and acceptance until December 2016, it had to take 5 months to request for the fund to pay us on 15th May 2017?

What worse crime have we committed that, after due processes and request for payment by the Lands Commission through the Lands and Natural Resources Minister to the Minister of Finance as at 15th May 2017, the release of funds is still an issue? Why?

It is very sad that people today at the Finance Ministry are behaving as if UHAS does not exist and even if exists, it is strange to be located on a land.

Isn’t it strange that, as at December 2017, the Finance Ministry will be requesting from an existing University why they needed 702 acres of land?

I really have my doubts whether the same question was asked by the same people at the Finance Ministry when public lands were shared like “KELEWELE” some few months or years ago in Ghana.

Are we denied what is due us because we do not belong to the political class? Maybe we are not road and sanitation contractors who will pay 10% and in addition, finance political campaigns in 2020. Maybe we are not powerful chiefs that can command political votes.

It is shameful that, in January 2018, Finance Ministry would need to send an official to UHAS to seek a personal opinion whereas detailed information was provided by the same institution earlier upon the request of Finance Ministry on the total use of the land. Is it that, some people still have the belief that, UHAS is nonexistent? This is a complete insult to us.

We hope the landowners of the new Public University in the Eastern Region are also being humiliated, disrespected, and frustrated just like us from the Volta region.

How can we be rendered poor, hopeless, hungry and frustrated by our fellow Ghanaians, the majority of which are Christians who never miss religious services on Sundays?

What is our crime Mr President, look at how landowners are rendered hopeless?

Today Financial institutions are at the heels of some landowners because they acquired loans to send their children to school, while children of the Rich, Politicians and powerful in society ride comfortably in a university-branded air-conditioned bus to and fro school. This is indeed a nation where inequality is publicly abhorred but actively celebrated and practised by the politicians and the powerful against the poor in society.

While I conclude Mr President, we the poor UHAS landowners of UHAS are looking up to your immediate intervention and payment. It seems to us that, some individuals at the Finance Ministry are bent on further delaying what is legally and constitutionally due us.

Sir, the application for release of funds for compensation payment had duly been forwarded to Finance Ministry as at May 2017. May you make us be Citizens and not Spectators. I thank you.

– Written by Kormlah Dzidzor. He can be reached through fkwablamensah@yahoo.com

Paul Ammba Ntsԑm: Message from the Morning Man

What do you think of when you hear the expression, “Paul ammba ntsԑm”? I’m guessing you imagine someone who has just been introduced to something but is trying to act like they invented it, right?

Somebody who has just been taught how to do something, but is “chopping post with it as if he’s been doing it since puberty. Yeah, that’s who we tend to describe with the expression “Paul ammba ntsԑm”.

But think about it for a minute. The actual expression is “Paul ammba ntsԑm, okyԑn edzikanfo”, which means Paul who came later is greater than those who came earlier. Now, here’s the thing about Paul. By the time he started his missionary work, Jesus had been dead for 16 years. During that time, Jesus’ disciples and all the followers they recruited – all those who met Jesus and witnessed His miracles – all those who had been inspired by being in the presence of the Lord while He carried out His three-year mission here on earth – had either been executed or had gone into hiding. They had tried to spread the Gospel, but it had not been easy at all.

Paul, after his encounter on the road to Damascus, took up missionary work under the same dangerous conditions and did it diligently for 16 years, until he was executed. During that time, the guy spread the Gospel to more parts of the world than anyone else before him. He travelled tens of thousands of miles around the Mediterranean, being thrown in and out of jail, all in the bid to reach as many people as possible with the simple message that Jesus was the son of God. So when people say Paul ammba ntsԑm, okyԑn edzikanfo”, it is actually about legacy. It is about doing more to further the cause of what you believe in than anyone who came before you.

So what are you passionate about? Are you an artist? A professional? An administrator? A service provider? Whatever path you have chosen in life, you owe it to yourself and the world, to do something with it that nobody else who came before you could ever do. You owe it to the world – to those who will come after you – to further the cause of whatever you believe in. Take it further. Leave more than you found. You may have come later, but you MUST do more than those who came earlier. Otherwise, what is the point of having come at all?

Four years ago, we lost the Boss Player, Komla Dumor. That man invented what we do today. He set a standard in this profession that will never be forgotten. But that means those of us who are inspired by him have a huge responsibility. We must do more than Dumor. We must take the inspiration that his work gives us and use it to fuel our own efforts in this space.

We don’t know how long we will be blessed with this opportunity, but we must gear all our efforts in however little time we have here to do more; to leave more than we found; to be greater than those who came earlier.We won’t always get it right. We will make mistakes on the way, but we cannot give up. We cannot stop until we have left our own legacy in whatever space we operate.

So my dear friend, today, I want you to think about what legacy you wish to leave once your work is done. How do you want things to be better because of your involvement? Once you decide on what your legacy is, it must become the engine for everything you do. It must define all your choices and determine the allocation of all your resources – especially your time – from now on. Your legacy becomes your agenda. It is how you will be remembered. It is by your legacy that people will determine whether or not you mattered. It doesn’t matter what you do. It doesn’t matter how important you think you are in the grand scheme of things, it must only matter that you were here.

My name is Kojo Yankson, and I didn’t come earlier, but those who did, inspire me to do more.

GOOD MORNING, GHANAFO!

Arthur Kennedy writes: The University of Ghana Teaching Hospital brouhaha

The confluence of the struggle between the University of Ghana and the sudden departure of Vice-President Dr Alhaji Bawumia to seek care abroad has focused the nation’s reluctant attention on our healthcare system.

The struggle between Legon and the Government, acting through the Ministry of Health would be comic if healthcare was not such a life and death issue.

The government sent national security operatives to seize a hospital from University dons?  What were they expecting? University authorities armed with “te aboofre” guns resisting the takeover?

Was the 617-bed facility not built by the government?

Who owns the University of Ghana? Is it not the people of Ghana through the government? So the University,  which is owned by the government is fighting the government over ownership of a hospital built by the government?

To make the comedy complete, just after Professor Lawson made his “no surrender” declaration, he appealed to the government to make available a 48 million dollar loan to complete the facility that would be repaid over a number of years. Really, Prof!! And during the period of the loan, who would pay the staff of the hospital? The government the University resisted?

ARTHUR KENNEDY

Arthur Kennedy

While the government has not explained its rationale, this dispute appears to be founded on the misperception that the UGTH will be profitable. That is unlikely unless it abandons what should be its core missions of educating health professionals and providing care to all, particularly the indigent. The truth is that even in the West, teaching hospitals are seldom profitable, because of their missions– teaching and care. In Ghana, the financial downside of a teaching hospital’s mission is even bigger, because of poverty.

It seems that too often, our policymakers have been attracted to the building of big hospitals as a solution to our healthcare challenges. While hospitals are essential, hospital care often comes late and is comparatively more expensive, relative to outpatient care provided in the community.

Indeed,  the US government has demonstrated repeatedly that its most cost-effective or value-for-money programs are the Community Health Centres. These centres provide excellent care at a fraction of the cost of hospital care.

These, centres, adapted from South Africa have shown that money is not everything in healthcare. And so has Cuba compared to America in health expenditures vs life expectancy.

Every healthcare expert can tell you that no amount of excellent care can make up for a poor immunization effort in a flu or meningitis epidemic.

We shall continue to build big hospitals as our healthcare declines. We should not require our leaders to get their care at home when we know that the care is inferior and they should not pretend our healthcare is good when they are not prepared to get care in the facilities. Let’s end the hypocrisy.

Most of those dissing Dr Bawumia would be doing exactly as he did in his shoes.

The NDC minority, as expected, took the side of Legon. I wish their statement had come from the Parliamentary Committee on health signed by members of both parties.If ever there was a case for summoning Parliament, this was it. There should be a Parliamentary hearing open to the public to, in the words of Kweku Baako, “interrogate this issue “. We should not squander this chance because of partisanship.

Let us build a healthcare system focused on prevention and primary care and stop the slogans and gleaming buildings that do little to lift our health.

Long live Ghana.

Strike out stroke

Stroke is a medical and psychological burden that most Ghanaian families can relate to. It is a life-threatening disease that occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off.

Globally it is the second leading cause of death in an adult population and the leading cause of death in middle and low-income countries.Hypertension is the main risk factor for stroke, other risks include diabetes mellitus, smoking, obesity, and increasing age just to mention a few.

Over the years there has been an epidemiological transition from communicable diseases to non-communicable diseases. A research study conducted in the ten regions of Ghana in 2003 in 32 sentinel hospitals revealed stroke as the fourth leading in-patient cause of death. Uncontrolled blood pressure is the most consistent cause of stroke in Ghana. It contributes about 70% of all cases. About 40% of stroke patients who come to Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) to seek treatment do not survive. With the increasing incidence of uncontrolled hypertension in Ghana, there has been a sharp rise in the number of stroke patients. There has been nearly a 300% increase in the burden of stroke over the past 30 years at KATH.

The poor management of stroke patients in Ghana is a major contributor to the increased mortality rate. The Hospital introduced a stroke unit in 2012 dedicated solely to the care of acute stroke patients and also serves as a training centre for healthcare personnel on the management of stroke patients.There is evidence to support the assertion that mortality from stroke has reduced since the introduction of the unit. As a result of this achievement, there has been a call for the setting up of stroke units and rehabilitation centres across the nation.

There has also been the need also to expand and renovate the current stroke unit in KATH since currently there are only six beds at the stroke unit. There are also limited cardiac monitors (just one available), infusion pumps etcetera needed to properly manage stroke patients. With the increasing number of patients, these resources are woefully inadequate to provide the best of care especially in the largest teaching hospital in Northern Ghana.

For months now, the medical students of School of Medical Sciences-KNUSThave sort to support the stroke unit with some needed equipment and have been raising awareness and funds for the said cause. The project has been dubbed the “lifesaver’s kit” and we have so far received massive support from individuals and corporate organizations. In the bid to raise more funds for the project a concert dubbed Judah Praise will be organised at the Great Hall of KNUST on 27th January 2018.

The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than thousand heads bowing in prayer as we strive to strike out stroke.

Kindly Donate via our GOFUNDME account- http://gofundme.com/juadah-praise-18-lifesavers-kit

REFERENCE​

1. Agyemang, C. Sanuade, O. Stroke Burden in Ghana: A Review of Research. http://ugspace.ug.edu.gh/handle/123456789/4577,accessed: 2018-01-14 16:21:11

2. Agyemang, C.  Attah-Adjepong, G. Owusu-Dabo, E. De-Graft Aikins, A. Addo J, Edusei A K, Nkum B C. Ogedegbe G Stroke in Ashanti Region of Ghana https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3645146/,accessed: 2018-01-14 16:19:43

3. Awuku Malik, Stroke is killing more people than malaria. https://www.myjoyonline.com/lifestyle/2017/October-31st/stroke-is-killing-more-people-than-malaria.php,accessed: 2018-01-14 16:45:45

Why some African Americans are moving to Africa

They have come from the big cities of San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. Thousands of them. And many refuse to return.

A new wave of African Americans is escaping the incessant racism and prejudice in the United States. From Senegal and Ghana to The Gambia, communities are emerging in defiance of conventional wisdom that Africa is a continent everyone is trying to leave.

It is estimated that between 3,000 and 5,000 African Americans live in Accra, the Ghanaian capital. They are teachers in small towns in the west or entrepreneurs in the capital and say they that even though living in Ghana is not always easy, they feel free and safe.

Take Muhammida el-Muhajir, a digital marketer from New York City, who left her job to move to Accra.

She says she moved, because despite her education and experience, she was always made to feel like a second-class citizen. Moving was an opportunity to fulfil her potential and avoid being targeted by racial violence.

She told Al Jazeera her story:

On life as a second-class citizen in the US…

“I grew up in Philadelphia and then New York. I went to Howard, which is a historically black university. I tell people that Ghana is like Howard in real life. It felt like a microcosm of the world. At university, they tell us the world isn’t black, but there are places where this is the real world. Howard prepares you for a world where black people are in charge, which is a completely different experience compared to people who  have gone to predominantly white universities.”

I can’t say what’s happening in America today is any worse than what’s been happening at any other time.

On her first trip to Africa…

“The first country I went to was Kenya. I was 15 and travelled with a group of kids. I was one of two black kids. I saw early that I could fit in and wasn’t an outsider. Suddenly it switched, I came from America where I was an outsider, but in Africa, I no longer felt like that. I did graduate school in Ghana in 2003 and went back to New York and then moved to Ghana in 2014.

“I have no connection to Ghana. Some people in my family did tests, and we found ties to Senegal and The Gambia, but I don’t think you can ever figure it out. No matter where you were sold or left the port, Senegal or Ghana, no one can be certain where you came from.”

Market in Agbogbloshie, a district in Accra, Ghana’s capital [Thomas Imo/Photothek via Getty Images]

On leaving New York for Accra…

“Even when you live in a place like New York as a black person, you’re always an outsider.

“You hear stories about the richest black people, like Oprah Winfrey, getting shut out of a store or Jay-Z not being allowed to buy [an apartment]. Those things happen. It doesn’t matter if you’re a celebrity, you’re a second-class citizen. This was the biggest issue for me.

“In America, you’re always trying to prove yourself; I don’t need to prove myself to anyone else’s standards here. I’m a champion, I ran track and went to university, and I like to win, so I refuse to be in a situation where I will never win.”

On moving to Ghana…

“There are amenities that I am used to at home in New York – like parties, open bars and fashion, so when I realised I could do the same things in Africa as I could back in the US, I was sold. There is also a big street art festival here, and that was the difference from when I came [as a student]. I saw the things that I love at home here, so I decided that now is the time.”

On Ghanaian reactions…

“When Ghanaians find out that I live here, they’re usually confused about why I chose to live here as an American. There is definitely certain access and privilege being American here, but it’s great to finally cash in on that because it doesn’t mean anything in America.

“There are also plenty of privileged Ghanaians; if you take away race there’s a class system.”

Modern architecture in Ghana’s capital [Thomas Imo/Photothek via Getty Images]

On the ‘Blaxit’ documentary…

“In my documentary, I chose five people that I’ve met since I’ve been here and every one of them went to a black college in the US. It’s something that prepares you mentally to realise you aren’t a second-class citizen. Something like that can help you make a transition to live in Africa.

“I made Blaxit because of this wave of African-Americans moving to Africa. This trend started to happen around independence of African countries, but the new wave [comprises] people who come to places like this. This new group has certain access in America and comes here to have that lifestyle in Africa.

“Unbeknown to us, we’re living out the vision that [Ghanaian politician and revolutionary] Kwame Nkrumah set out for us, of this country being the gateway to Africa for the black diaspora.

“I don’t want people to think that Africa is this magic utopia where all your issues will go away. It’s just that some of the things you might face in America as a black person – you won’t have to suffer with those things here.

“You might not have electricity, but you won’t get killed by the police either.

“I want people to understand that they have options and alternatives. Most black people in America don’t know that these options exist; they think they have to suffer because there’s nowhere else to go. But no, there are other places.”

On the prospect of more African-Americans moving…

“I think more will come when they begin to see it as a viable alternative. But it’s not easy and it’s not cheap. I can’t say what’s happening in America today is any worse than what’s been happening at any other time. I think now is the time that people are starting to see they can live somewhere else.

 

Source: Azad Essa via Aljazeera

Opinion: Cultural stalling

The sheer joy of writing a weekly column – I have 2 – is having the benefit of time to read, watch, listen widely to news that is published and broadcast, monitor social chatter, probe further for context as well as specifics to fill in the blanks, as much in my mind as is usually in the first report.  After which, follow where the spirit leads, within the word limit set by the editor, delivered on deadline.

Waving a big red flag

On January 10th, 2018, the Daily Graphic published a small notice on page 2, for me, a big red flag.  The notice stated baldly that the Office of the Auditor General has directed a probe of Internally Generated Funds (IGF) by the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) ‘accumulated from January 1993 to December 2017’.  The Special audit to be undertaken by a 3 member team was to begin on January 15th and be completed in 2 weeks.  The Graphic attributed their source to a letter signed by the Deputy Auditor General, Mr. Cornelius K. Normanyo addressed to the Director General (DG) of the GBC.

Sirens, bells, whistles, and catcalls set off, at least for me.  Is it possible, even in Ghana that a behemoth like GBC has not been audited in any year over the 25 years of the 4th Republic?  At the precise time that the notice was published, GBC was making the headlines for a clumsy attempt to impose court proceedings and fines for non-payment of the annual tv license fee.  An action that subsequent to public outrage was denied by its Board, the Ministry of Information, the National Media Commission and landed in the lap of the DG, Dr. Kwame Akuffo Anoff.

Was the abrupt notice of the audit into their IGF simply fortuitous timing by the Ghana Audit Service (GAS), or evidence of a conspiracy theory?  To pepper the soup, the GAS is now led by Mr. Daniel Domelevo, appointed by the former government on the eve of their departure to speculation.  In declaring his intention to finally issue Disallow and Surcharge certifications for unapproved spending by publicly funded Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Domelevo has for now, confounded skepticism.  Does it matter at all that Akuffo Anoff, who has since been unceremoniously fired – like Domelevo, a professional who had worked in his field for years  – was appointed at the 11th hour?

The spirit moved me and I got to work. What I have come to understand is that authorised by Article 187 of the 1992 Constitution, the GAS is mandated to audit ‘all public accounts of Ghana and of all public offices including the courts, the central and local government administrations, of the universities and public institutions of like nature, of any public corporation or body or organisation established by an Act of Parliament.’

Statutory financial and compliance audits are done by sampling.  Audits into performance or other risk and specific areas such as forensic, environmental and audits of computerized and electronic systems (remember the overpriced and non functioning system of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust?) are undertaken either by staff of the GAS or by private sector companies contracted by them per the Public Procurement Act (PPA) for specific assignments.

In the Dark

What I have not been able to establish after a week of calls and research are the following:

1.  Since 1993, which private auditing firms have been approved under the PPA as service providers for the GSA for what tenure of time.

2. What audits have been outsourced to these firms to be delivered by when and to what effect?  How do we evaluate if we got value for money delivered on time?

3.  Has the GAS at any time in the Fourth Republic evaluated the performance of its service providers and found any of them wanting.  If so, what remedies were applied?

4. What is best practice for ensuring that a private company is experienced and resourced to perform an audit of what type of publicly funded organization?

5.  Is the list of private firms to whom the GAS has and continues to outsource work and the mandates they were provided a state secret.  If so, why.

6.  Specifically on GBC – Which firm(s) have delivered the mandatory and statutory audits of the state broadcaster, when.  Was the issue of IGF ever flagged by anyone from the GAS or the service providers, if not, why not?

7. Is the Special audit underway now on the use of IGF by GBC, well after the fact, triggered by the public reaction against the threat of legal action for unpaid tv license fees or was it a result of a considered risk assessment flagged by the GAS itself or its unknown auditors?

8.  How many special audits are underway in which publicly funded organizations, what type of audits are they, when were they commissioned to be completed by when.

9.  What were the findings of the audit into the SSNIT computerized system?  As a rule, should all audit findings be shared with Parliament with the public notified where to access information and thus forestall conspiracy theories.

10.  When will the GAS upload archival information as well as update its website? Or does that also require a special performance audit?

On the record

I can provide on the record the words of Mr. Bernard Asare Conduah, Assistant Public Relations Officer of the GAS: “Any firm contracted to carry out an audit does so for and behalf of the Auditor General.  This is the position of the law.  As such they are not signatories to the Auditor General’s Report.  At best they contribute to the final report.  Whatever responsibility that arises as a result of the work is placed at the doorstep of the Auditor General.”

Mr. Conduah informs me that on 19th February 2018, at 9 am at the Accra International Conference Center, the GAS will hold an event, open to the public where presumably citizens can ask questions to which they will receive direct and specific answers.

The GAS as an institution has form when it comes to prevaricating.  It took a series of determined advocacy and legal action by OccupyGhana to obtain a ruling compelling the Office of the Auditor General to do more than passively report financial irregularities.  The ruling required that prescriptive action – issuing certificates of Disallow and Surcharge – is required.  I intend to participate in the forum – theme, speakers, agenda, and format as yet unknown – with my 10 questions and a number of follow-ups.

The late Professor Adu-Boahen spoke powerfully to ‘the culture of silence’ in Ghana.  Are we now wallowing in a culture of stalling that fuels unhelpful speculation?  Do we need a Right to Information law and alongside this a retooling of publicly funded agencies to orient themselves and their communication strategies and managers?  See me?  A weekly columnist with questions to ask who may inadvertently be blathering about the lack of precise answers to specific questions. Hey, I met my deadline though.

 

Source: Ghana| Daniel Domelevo [Auditor General]
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