Category Archives: Features

[Full Judgement] ITLOS ruling on Ghana-Ivory Coast maritime dispute

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The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) on Saturday delivered judgement on the three-year maritime dispute between Ghana and La Cote d’Ivoire.

Ghana went to the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) after at least 10 bilateral negotiations with neighbours La Cote d’Ivoire fell on rocks.

Saturday’s judgement was delivered in Ghana’s favour.

Read full judgement here


Finding the positive in every negative

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“…and he returned to see the carcass of the lion and behold there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of the lion.”— Judges 14:8 [Bible]

Setbacks walk into our lives when we least expect. Hard times oftentimes jab us from our blind side. Sometimes, the forces of nature seem to just be at war with us. The challenge, however, is not what happens to us but… how react to them. The negativity that tries to drown us is not as important as the positivity that we rely on to stay afloat!

Back in our Maths class in school, we were taught that two negatives can make a positive. In other words, there’s a potential positive in every negative. There’s a fortune in every misfortune. An adversity, sometimes, is only a misplaced opportunity. Setbacks are oftentimes opportunities turned upside down.

Most inventions were borne out of setbacks. When we take advantage of our negatives, we can unleash the positive inside us.

There’s a positive in every negative. It all depends on how you look at it. There’s some honey in every carcass. All you need to do is to find it. We have no control over what happens to us. However, what matters most is how we react to such. We have no power over the negativity that may ever flood our path. However, how positive we stay lies very much in our power!

A successful man is not without challenges. A great man is not one who has never encountered any negative in life. However, the force of their positivity outshines every ill that may ever come their way. It doesn’t matter the flood of challenges they may ever come across. The positive energy inside is enough to sail them through.

Many a times, we allow life’s storms to bully us because we focus all our energies on the negative instead of positive. We pay more attention to what we have lost and not what we could possibly gain. A half-filled glass can be half empty or half full depending on how you look at it. In the same vein, your storms can be a negative or positive… still depending on how one perceives it.

If all one can see is the loss, that’s all they may see. If one can, however, see beyond just the loss, they will take advantage of every adversity that comes their way. When we focus our attention on the good in every adversity, our perception towards life will change.

You choose what you see. All the pessimist chooses to see is today. All the optimist chooses to see is tomorrow. What drowns the pessimist, the optimist rides on them. Just like the carcass of a lion can bring forth honey, so can every adversity birth forth some sweetness in our lives. It’s all about what we choose to see!

When all the pessimist is seeing is the carcass, all the optimist is seeing is the honey that may spring forth. There’s always an opportunity in any setback. Some disappointments may lead us to even better appointments.  It’s all about how we react to those disappointments and setbacks. The negative that happens to us is negligible. The positive, however, that we use to counteract the negative is what indeed is significant.

Our attitude towards setbacks is everything. The right frame of mind to approach whichever storm that life hurls at us is what really matters. The magnitude of the force that gets us going should always be greater than the magnitude of force that resists us. Airplanes are able to move because the force to move ahead is greater that the force of the wind that resists them. Magnify your positivity!

Wipe your tears. No one will feel pity for you forever. No matter the magnitude of the storms, boost your magnitude of positivity to overcome them. There’s some positivity in every storm. The fact that you haven’t found it yet doesn’t mean it’s not there. There’s some goodness in every mess. Find it.

Life may jab us with all manner of negatives. However, it behooves on us to keep smiling because of the positive we can see therein. You may have lost your job but you can still see it as an opportunity to start something on your own. You may have lost your marriage. You have two choices; either to be all bitter about marriage or all excited about becoming a better spouse next time. There’s a negative and positive in every negative. You decide what you find!

You can decide to see every open door as a trap or opportunity. You can choose to be all bitter about almost everything because of your past experiences or all excited about the new opportunities your future holds. You choose what you see.

We don’t have power over what life presents to our eye view. However, we choose what we see. We can choose to see either all the negatives that we have now or all the positives that are yet to come. After every mourning is a morning. Even in the midst of all the pain, there’s some gain. There’s something new to learn. Find it the positive in spite of all the negatives!

Hard times are bound to come. Life will sometimes get sour. That notwithstanding, we can still find the sweetness therein. No matter how bitter the carcass may taste, honey can still be found inside. Out of every negative springs forth a positive.  Out of every challenge comes forth a solution.

No matter the magnitude of the negative, there’s still some positive inside. You must find that positive.

By Kobina Ansah

The writer is a playwright and Chief Scribe of Scribe Communications (

Why you shouldn’t imitate Bill Gates if you want to be rich

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Bill Gates is a lot luckier than you might realise. He may be a very talented man who worked his way up from college dropout to the top spot on the list of the world’s richest people. But his extreme success perhaps tells us more about the importance of circumstances beyond his control than it does about how skill and perseverance are rewarded.

We often fall for the idea that the exceptional performers are the most skilled or talented. But this is flawed. Exceptional performances tend to occur in exceptional circumstances. Top performers are often the luckiest people, who have benefited from being at the right place and right time. They are what we call outliers, whose performances may be examples set apart from the system that everyone else works within.

Many treat Gates, and other highly successful people like him, as deserving of huge attention and reward, as people from whom we could learn a lot about how to succeed. But assuming life’s “winners” got there from performance alone is likely to lead to disappointment. Even if you could imitate everything Gates did, you would not be able to replicate his initial good fortune.

For example, Gates’s upper-class background and private education enabled him to gain extra programming experience when less than 0.01% of his generation then had access to computers. His mother’s social connection with IBM’s chairman enabled him to gain a contract from the then-leading PC company that was crucial for establishing his software empire.

This is important because most customers who used IBM computers were forced to learn how to use Microsoft’s software that came along with it. This created an inertia in Microsoft’s favour. The next software these customers chose was more likely to be Microsoft’s, not because their software was necessarily the best, but because most people were too busy to learn how to use anything else.

Microsoft’s success and market share may differ from the rest by several orders of magnitude but the difference was really enabled by Gate’s early fortune, reinforced by a strong success-breeds-success dynamic. Of course, Gates’s talent and effort played important roles in the extreme success of Microsoft. But that’s not enough for creating such an outlier. Talent and effort are likely to be less important than circumstances in the sense that he could not have been so successful without the latter.

A magic number?

One might argue that many exceptional performers still gained their exceptional skill through hard work, exceptional motivation or “grit”, so they do not deserve to receive lower reward and praise. Some have even suggested that there is a magic number for greatness, a ten-year or 10,000-hour rule. Many professionals and experts did acquire their exceptional skill through persistent, deliberate practices. In fact, Gates’ 10,000 hours learning computer programming as a teenager has been highlighted as one of the reasons for his success.

But detailed analyses of the case studies of experts often suggest that certain situational factors beyond the control of these exceptional performers also play an important role. For example, three national champions in table tennis came from the same street in a small suburb of one town in England.

This wasn’t a coincidence or because there was nothing else to do but practise ping pong. It turns out that a famous table tennis coach, Peter Charters, happened to retire in this particular suburb. Many kids who lived on the same street as the retired coach were attracted to this sport because of him and three of them, after following the “10,000-hour rule”, performed exceptionally well, including winning the national championship.

Their talent and efforts were, of course, essential for realising their exceptional performances. But without their early luck (having a reliable, high-quality coach and supportive families), simply practicing 10,000 hours without adequate feedback wouldn’t likely lead a randomly picked child to become a national champion.

We could also imagine a child with superior talent in table tennis suffering from early bad luck, such as not having a capable coach or being in a country where being an athlete was not considered to be a promising career. Then they might never have a chance to realise their potential. The implication is that the more exceptional a performance is, the fewer meaningful, applicable lessons we can actually learn from the “winner”.

When it comes to moderate performance, it seems much more likely that our intuition about success is correct. Conventional wisdom, such as “the harder I work the luckier I get” or “chance favours the prepared mind”, makes perfect sense when talking about someone moving from poor to good performance. Going from good to great, however, is a different story.

Being in the right place (succeeding in a context where early outcome has an enduring impact) at the right time (having early luck) can be so important that it overwhelms merits. With this in mind there’s a good case that we shouldn’t just reward or imitate life’s winners and expect to have similar success. But there is a case that the winners should consider imitating the likes of Gates (who became a philanthropist) or Warren Buffett (who argues that richer Americans should pay higher taxes) who have chosen to use their wealth and success to do good things. The winners who appreciate their luck and do not take it all deserve more of our respect.

By Chengwei Liu

Chengwei Liu is an associate professor of strategy and behavioural science at the Warwick Business School, University of Warwick. This article was originally published at The Conversation and has been republished under Creative Commons.

Can film makers come together to revamp their industry?

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Akrobeto [M] and colleague actors

On Thursday, September 14, 2017, Kumawood film producers, actors and actresses hit the streets of Kumasi to demonstrate against the influx of foreign telenovelas on our television screens.

The demonstrators subsequently presented a petition to the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, to add his voice to the fight for more local content to be shown. This, I must say, is a good cause. But, the question is: will the demonstration have any impact on the local industry? Why did they choose to petition the Otumfuo instead of the Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture?

We were all in this country when Yvonne Nelson started collecting signatures for the same cause and had no one helping her do that. What actually prevented Kumawood from joining that cause rather than organizing a demonstration on the same issue?

Perhaps, the Kumawood classify the English movie productions are foreign content too. Not far from right, the two sides of our local industry is indirectly telling Ghanaians that they cannot come together to fight for a common cause. One must begin to realise that it is about time the industry players came together for that purpose else Ghanaians  and law makers will not take them serious.

Actor Kwadwo Nkansah [Right]

Gone are the days when we settled for anything the local film makers produced. There were no technological equipment to help people have options to choose from but now YouTube and other video apps have given people the opportunity to choose from a wide range of movies and videos. The monopolistic way of production is a thing of the past and the local producers should get over it, and adopt new strategies that will help them come out with quality movies.

The PRO for the demonstrators whose name wasn’t stated, in an interview with TV3 on Midday Live on Thursday, 14th September, 2017, said that another reason for the demonstration is to make government pass the Broadcasting Bill into law. The Broadcasting Bill when passed will give the local producers 70% of the TV content and 30% to foreign content and I feel that is in the right direction because it will help reduce the rate at which foreign series have invaded and killing the local industry.

However, can the local producers live up to the task of producing 70% of quality local content? Not far from wrong, most of the products from Kumawood are of low quality.

They produce movies full of insults, bad sound and bad editing that make it difficult for people, who are exposed to quality products of competitors from the western world, to patronize it.

On the contrary, passing of the Broadcasting Bill will be meaningless if the local producers don’t make efforts in creating/writing good scripts for quality production and also come together, under one umbrella, to drum home their concerns.

The writer is a student-journalist at Jayee University college.

Email: [email protected]

Editor’s note: Views expressed are solely that of the writer and exclusive of

New Media is the real deal!

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Few decades ago information flow was limited to few traditional media (electronic and print) in Ghana, which were government corporations. The situation changed with the influx of private traditional media houses leading to relatively easy access to worldwide information.

Currently in Ghana, radio stations have limited radius of transmission. According to National Communication Authority – Ghana, commercial Frequency Modulation (FM) stations are to transmit up to 45 kilometers radius. This limitation or control measure seems to be stated in principle but not in practice especially with unstopping emergence of social media applications and trending android mobile gadgets enabling expedient medium of live streaming of supposedly traditional media programmes.

As of second quarter of 2016, there were about 75 NCA authorized TV stations and 354 authorized commercial radio stations in Ghana and most stream live on social media to reach a wider active listenership and viewership even beyond the borders of Ghana. This can be referred to as using social media to power traditional media. Online radio stations are equally in competition hence the sustenance of the traditional media landscape is ‘shaky’. It is in this regard that Maximus Ametorgoh, Digital Marketing Strategist recommends traditional media Journalists to push up their news, other information and programmes  on social media.

To large extent, it is prudent for traditional media operators to resort to social media to broadcast their programmes. It is on records that 2,789 billion of the world’s population are active social media users and in Ghana 19,697,062 people have subscribed mobile data while 4.5 million Ghanaians are hooked on Facebook. With six telecommunication companies (telecos) and each offering quite attractive packages for wider subscriptions, most Ghanaians are compelled to use more data to access internet – social media either for education, information and or entertainment purpose(s). The numerous text posts and video uploads on the internet is a seeming risk to traditional media because social media seem to provide satiable needed information to its users and it is largely inevitable.

Social Media defined – any or set of new media applications which facilitates social interactions based on shared identities, common interests, collective actions and social networks for divers expected results (Maximus Ametorgoh, Digital Marketing Strategist)

Globally, lifestyle is dynamic and thus people are varying information and its medium. News; politics, sports, entertainment, showbiz, current affairs amongst others on social media do not impose activation, rather, users activate to read, listen and watch trending posts and uploads. With this turn of lifestyle, western regional manager of Mobile Telecommunication Network (MTN) Simon Amoh at a social media workshop in their Takoradi base urged media personnel in the Sekondi/ Takoradi Metropolis in the Western region to take advantage of social media frenzy to disseminate information as they aspire to reach a wider coverage.

Cisco study indicates 80% of the world’s internet traffic will be video uploads. Presently, it will take one a total of 300 hours to just view the number of videos uploaded on YouTube within one minute. Will traditional media actively join the queue on social media or wait until readers or viewers and or listeners tune in, visit the news stand or switch on their television sets to patronize programmes?

You may compare and contrast social media and traditional media.

By Loveridge Ampratwum Okyere/ Connect 97.1 FM

Africa’s must-do, can-do decade

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Since 2000 the continent of Africa has recorded impressive rates of economic growth. This remarkable performance has been largely driven by the prolonged commodity boom and development assistance. While the continent shows great diversity in the socio-economic trajectories of its countries, growth rates have generally masked an underlying lack of structural transformation, which is needed to achieve socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable development.

Wherever industrialization has occurred, it has been a reliable force in steering economic diversification, and has contributed to developing, strengthening and upholding the framework conditions for competitive economic growth and development.

Over several decades, some developing countries – mainly in Asia – have been able to industrialize. Despite repeated attempts, Africa has not. If we look at the shares of global manufacturing value added for 2014 we see that the Asia and Pacific region’s share was 44.6%, whereas Africa’s share was just 1.6%. Sub-Saharan Africa is still the world’s least industrialized region, with only one country, South Africa, being considered industrialized.

African countries cannot achieve sustainable development without an economic structural transformation. They seek to change the structures of their economies by substantially increasing the shares of industry – especially manufacturing – in national investments, national output, and trade.

African countries realize that they must undergo this structural transformation in order to address a range of interconnected challenges.

One of these is the growth of the population. More than half of the continent’s 1.2 billion-strong population is under the age of 19, and almost one in five are between 15 and 24 years old. Each year, 12 million new workers join the labour force. The continent’s young people need the tools and skills to take their lives into their own hands. Industrialization is the key to ensuring that the continent’s fast-growing population yields a demographic dividend.

Another associated challenge is migration. Many of Africa’s most ambitious and entrepreneurially minded young people feel compelled to join migration flows to the North. No country can afford to lose this potential. Migration remains a complex issue but industrialization can address one of the root causes by creating jobs in the countries of origin.

In addition, the threat posed by climate change hangs heavily over countries where agriculture remains the primary employer. Africa needs to apply and develop green technologies and channel investments into resource efficiency and clean energy. These investments can lower the cost of bringing power to rural areas, while contributing to global efforts to mitigate climate change.

Africa must industrialize, and it must do so in a socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable manner.

Previous efforts to foster sustainable economic transformation in Africa have failed, and the need for a new approach is clear. What is needed now is a broad-based and country-owned process that leverages financial and non-financial resources, promotes regional integration, and mobilizes co-operation among Africa’s development partners.

This is the motivation behind the United Nations General Assembly’s proclamation of the period 2016-2025 as the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA III). The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is leading the new approach for the IDDA III. We are fully supporting the focus on partnerships for resource mobilization, and offer an already tried and tested example of how to implement the approach: the Programme for Country Partnership (PCP).

UNIDO’s PCP combines technical assistance with policy advice, standards and investments leveraging to support the design and implementation of industrialization strategies and instruments that can make a sizeable impact on a country’s development.

Launched in 2014, the model is being successfully implemented in two African countries – Ethiopia and Senegal – as well as in Peru. The PCP is aligned with each country’s national development agenda and is a multi-stakeholder partnership model. It is designed to build synergies with ongoing government and partner interventions, while mobilizing funds and leveraging additional investment towards sectors with high growth potential.

The PCP focuses on a select number of priority sectors or areas that are essential to the government’s industrial development agenda. Priority sectors are typically selected based on job creation potential, availability of raw materials, export potential and ability to attract investment.

The PCP approach is designed to create synergies with partner programmes/projects relevant for industrial development in order to maximize impact. One particular area of focus is strategic partnerships with financial institutions and the business sector in order to leverage additional resources for infrastructure, industry and innovation, as well as knowledge, expertise and technology.

Mainstreaming of the PCP approach to other African countries can be a significant contribution to the successful implementation of the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa. UNIDO stands ready to support Africa on its path to inclusive and sustainable industrial development.

By Li Yong

The writer is the Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO)

A Great Piece of Art and a Great Deal of Free SHS Frenzy

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Whoever the artist who styles himself as Tilapia is, it is obvious he’s got talent and is most certainly making quite an impact.

Like many Ghanaians, I found his latest cartoon on Free SHS particularly fascinating and even more I am intrigued by the quintessential Ghanaian sense of humor and wit that accompanies it’s further circulation. And by the way, as for the pikin inno fine koraaaa…lol!

Kudos Tilapia.

Now the Free SHS frenzy continues. NPP members appear to gloat and bask in the euphoria of Free SHS even though this is not exactly what they promised Ghanaians but we can understand – the Constitutional article 25 terminology; “Progressive” has become like the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden. Obviously, condemning the NDC’s Progressively Free SHS only to implement another type of Progressively Free SHS inconsistent with NPP’s page 107 manifesto promise must be causing our Kukrudu friends sleepless nights.

Nevertheless, we can safely predict that more giant bill boards will be erected and President Akufo-Addo will continue to be ranked above Nkrumah, Rawlings, Kufuor, Mills, Mahama, Castro, Lincoln and Lee Kuan Yew by the ever vociferous NPP traditional and social media communicators who believe they have struck gold. I guess we should all prepare our ears and eyes for an escalated onslaught in the coming days.

Integral to that strategy, here in New York, I expect Free SHS to dominate President Akufo-Addo’s interactions at the UN side meetings. I do not need the prophetic calling to prophesy accurately that Free SHS will most likely take centre stage when he addresses the United Nations General Assembly shortly. Well, if he so chooses, one cannot fault him.

However, last week’s launch of Free SHS by President Nana Akufo-Addo conveys a rather significant message that appears missing in the narrative so far. Let’s consider the following:

1) Instructively, President Akufo-Addo launched his Free SHS Programme at the West African Secondary School (WASS). WASS was established in 1946 at Tudu and later relocated to its more befitting and better resourced current location of Adentan in 1986 during the era of President Rawlings.

2) President Akufo-Addo was welcomed by a high number of WASS students because of expansion projects and other interventions carried out by the Governments of President Rawlings, President Kufuor, President Mills and President Mahama over the years.

3) Many of the about 424,000 first year students expected to benefit from Free SHS would not have reached this point but for the help they received along the way in addition to what parents/guardians offered. President Rawlings’ FCUBE agenda, President Kufuor’s Capitation Grant and School Feeding Programme, President Mills’ programme to eliminate thousands of Schools Under Trees (SUTs) and his Free Uniforms programme, President Mahama’s expansion of the SUTs programme and his introduction of Free Computers and Free Sandals initiatives. In addition, President Mahama’s investment in quality led to BECE candidates smashing all the records that ever existed when over 3,900 candidates obtained a score above 500 in six best subjects. Before this, only 11 candidates had achieved this feat. (Pls refer to WAEC records). All these must have helped our precious young ones come this far.

4) It is possible only this year much to the displeasure of the Conference of Heads of Private Schools (CHOPS) for the CSSPS to place all qualified students (92%) in public secondary schools so they can benefit under Free SHS simply because of President Mahama’s programme to expand access. The 124 Community Day Schools estimated at a cost of 700 million Ghana Cedis remains the biggest and boldest effort to address the challenge of inadequate access at this level. As the EMIS data reveals, it would not have been possible 8 years ago to place all qualified applicants in public secondary schools as there was not enough space at the SHS level for transiting JHS students. Armed with this knowledge, it is the reason the NPP wisely dropped it’s promise to build 350 Senior High Schools as was contained in its 2012 manifesto. This promise was removed in its 2016 manifesto obviously because of President Mahama’s achievement in this department. Already, the current Education Minister has confirmed that it placed students in 50 of these Community Day Schools. With an average placement of 600 students per school, some 30,000 students have secured what they deserve.

5) The Secondary Education Improvement Programme (SEIP) rolled out by President Mahama in 2014 selected 125 low performing Senior High Schools for what was termed “Quality Improvement and Facilities Upgrade.” This programme expanded access in these 125 Senior High Schools by 20,000.

6) Additionally, through the NDC Government’s prioritization, hundreds of other existing Senior High Schools witnessed infrastructural expansion funded by the GETFund to make it possible for public Senior High Schools to meet demand for the first time in many decades. An analysis of EMIS data reveals that the previous NDC Government cumulatively expanded access by 393,866 in 8 years.

7) That SHS enrollment almost doubled under the NDC Government from 393,995 in the 2007/08 academic year to 787,861 in the 2015/16 academic year confirms this fact and is great testimony of the solid foundations laid.

8) The Free SHS era would have to rely on the 110 Science Resource Centres President Rawlings initiated, the 300 Science Resource Centres President Mills and Mahama built under the ITEC programme, the 500 buses and pick ups President Mahama provided last year and those President Kufuor provided in 2008. The ibox and iCampus innovation President Mahama launched last year and the millions of text books and dictionaries inherited by this Government just to highlight a few.

9) Before the current Free SHS Programme for First Years, the previous NDC Government implemented a targeted Free SHS for the most vulnerable 10,400 students and in addition implemented Progressively Free SHS under which 458,700 students benefited. Indeed but for the NDC’s Progressively Free Programme, the current Second and Third years would have been paying higher fees this academic year as the current Government has continued with the package for which I must commend them.

So the missing narrative, which happens to be the incontrovertible fact is that the story of Free SHS must be the story of our collective efforts right from the foundations provided by successive Governments to the vision of the framers of our 1992 Constitution of Ghana. As our talented cartoonist Tilapia depicts in his work – President Akufo-Addo appears to give birth to a Free SHS baby – we all know that God in his infinite wisdom did not conceive baby making a one man affair.

The story of secondary education in Ghana reminds me of Paul the Apostle’s exhortation to the Corinthians when he told them “I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase”. May we learn to acknowledge those who planted and watered and may God increase our collective efforts and good intentions.

As for the analysts, connoisseurs and prophets who make the claim that Free SHS marks the end of the electoral viability of the NDC and other political opponents of the NPP, they should remember that many thought same when the NDC Government implemented the Single Spine Pay Policy. Others became even more convinced when the NDC Government rolled out rather impressive infrastructural interventions in the health, roads, aviation, ports, communications, energy, water, housing and educational sectors but in all these, here we are; in a comfortable lead.

The Ghanaian voter is clearly more sophisticated than we seem to give them credit for.

All I say to the doomsday soothsayers – Let’s see how the future pans out for it is early days yet.

God bless our Republic.

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa (MP)

Mobile technology can help in promoting health in Africa – report

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Ghana’s Bright Simons is a co-author

Closing the health gap for Africa within a generation is achievable if opportunities afforded by a rapidly growing workforce are seized and if health systems are transformed to target the needs of individual countries and communities, according to a new report published by The Lancet Commission on the future of health in Sub-Saharan Africa.

‘The Path to Longer and Healthier Lives for all Africans by 2030’ highlights the steps that need to be taken to maximise opportunities to improve health, while at the same time preventing new challenges, such as chronic diseases, from taking hold.

The report is authored by more than 20 health leaders, mainly from across Africa, including policy makers, academics, clinicians and entrepreneurs, and will be launched at the African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC) in Nairobi (Kenya) on 14th September.

Professor Nelson Sewankambo, Makerere University College of Health Sciences (Uganda), co-author of the report says: “The spirit of this Commission is one of evidence-based optimism, with caution. We recognise that major health inequities exist and that health outcomes are worst in fragile countries, rural areas, urban slums, and conflict zones, and among poor, disabled, and marginalised people. But the evidence shows us that there is a clear opportunity for Africa to improve health on its own terms, and largely with its own resources.”

The report warns that health systems that focus solely on hospitals and individual care are unlikely to lead to achievements – and that these systems even struggle to meet the demand of chronic diseases in many high-income countries.

The authors set out their vision for people-centred health systems that in addition to providing high quality hospital care, focus on prevention, public health and primary care, and have Africa-based and home-grown solutions, embedded within the realities of each country, at their core. Several initiatives have been introduced throughout Africa, including partnerships with private sector, promoting healthy behaviours and the involvement of patients and families in the management of their conditions.

“Opportunities ahead cannot be unlocked by keeping to the same pace and using more of the same approach to health systems. We need to pay as much attention to preventing ill-health and keeping people healthy as we do to treating them when they are sick,” says co-author Dr Nduku Kilonzo, Chief Executive Officer, National AIDS Control Council (Kenya).

The youth population under 25 is projected to nearly double from 230 million to 450 million by 2050, bringing with it a new set of opportunities, as well as challenges. Improved nutrition, education and opportunities to remain in work on the continent will be key to ensuring their success. Enhanced support for education (including higher education) and research in all Sub-Saharan African countries will also be critically important. “Africa’s young people will be key to bringing about the changes needed to accelerate efforts to improve health across sub-Saharan Africa,” adds co-author Professor Alex Ezeh, Executive Director, APHRC (Kenya).

New projections produced for the Commission suggest that child and maternal mortality will continue to decline, and despite variations between regions, the projection for child mortality in Southern Africa is expected to almost meet the Sustainable Development Goal target.

A number of successes, including longer life expectancy, falls in maternal and child mortality, successful roll-out of life-saving vaccines, greater control of HIV and malaria epidemics, and the near eradication of polio and guinea worm, suggest that major milestones in health are within reach.

Despite this, challenges remain as the region faces a growing burden of non-communicable diseases, with increasing rates of smoking, mental health problems, obesity and diabetes. The current shortfall of health care workers will be exacerbated and insufficient financial protection means out-of-pocket payments for health remain high. Any decrease in international or national funding will result in a serious deterioration in the health status of many of the poorest populations.

The report points to historic, not to be missed opportunities, including preventing a major tobacco epidemic by implementing tobacco control policies now.

“The prevention of a major tobacco epidemic could be sub-Saharan Africa’s greatest historic public health opportunity. A major question for Africa is whether a rise in chronic conditions can be prevented, or whether a perverse kind of convergence will occur, with prevalence rates on par with the rest of the world,” adds co-author Professor Peter Piot, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (UK).

In 2014, 32 sub-Saharan countries spent less than 3% of GDP on health, suggesting that the 5% target has not yet been achieved. Exact spending on health needs to be determined on a country-by-country basis, however it is clear that government health expenditure needs to be sustained or increased against international targets (eg 5% of GDP, 15% of government expenditure, and US$86 per capita).

Countries should consider the use of dedicated taxes with proven health benefits and revenue generation effects, ensure efficient pooling and coverage for poor and disadvantaged people, and improve financial efficiency and accountability.

The report also stresses that mobile technology and innovation can make a difference in promoting health in Africa and overcome some of the human resource and structural barriers in health.  There are now three mobile phones for every four people in sub-Saharan Africa. Bright Simons, co-author and founder of mPedigree (Ghana), whose mobile app is designed to identify counterfeit medicines, says: “By adopting more advanced, but appropriate, technologies rather than following slow, classic, paths to address health workforce constraints and improve people’s access to quality health services, African countries can realise the potential to leapfrog opportunities for health in Africa, sometimes in world-leading ways.”

Dr Myriam Sidibe, Social Mission Director, Unilever Africa (Kenya), and co-author of the report adds: “The report highlights the importance of public-private partnerships in moving Africa’s health agenda forward.  Several innovative initiatives demonstrate the power of partnerships in enabling delivery of change at a scale to make a real impact. Two examples include the private sectors participation in the large-scale hand sanitation that was part of the Ebola response in West Africa, and programmes in partnership with Ministries of Health and soap manufacturers that target reduction in neonatal mortality by training health workers and ensuring access to soap in health facilities. These interventions have helped to teach almost 100 million people in Africa about the importance of handwashing with soap as a key prevention measures to life-threatening diseases.”

Professor Souleymane Mboup, Institut de Recherche en Santé, de Surveillance Epidémiologique et de Formations (Senegal), co-author, adds: “The Ebola outbreak in West Africa from 2013 to 2016 overwhelmed local health systems, and caused catastrophic disease and loss of life as well as social and economic disruption. The crisis reaffirmed the importance of involving communities and citizens in shaping their health systems and services. In Senegal and Nigeria, strong leadership and capacity in the public health system helped to contain the epidemic early. We must learn the lessons from this tragedy and redouble our commitment to building more resilient health systems.”

Commenting on the launch of the report, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization and an initial member of The Lancet Africa Commission, says: “This report is central to the future of health in Africa. Led by Africans, the Commission highlights important opportunities to improve health in the continent within the next decade –opportunities that we simply cannot afford to miss. Despite the challenges, the report’s message is one of optimism; that with the right approaches, Africa has the potential to close the health gap and reduce inequalities to ensure good health for all, with no one left behind.”

Source: The Lancet

Hurricane Marriage hits Media General: Two weddings in two weeks at TV3

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Esi Benewaa (L) was at her colleague’s wedding ahead of hers

While Hurricane Irma keeps sweeping through the states of the USA, Hurricane Marriage is also speedily sweeping through Media General, especially TV3.

For two consecutive weeks, staff of the media group have had their Saturdays booked as the weddings would not stop.

On the 2nd of September 2017, Assignment Editor and one of TV3’s senior journalists, Thomas Adotei Pappoe, tied the knot with his heart throb Jessica Aklerh Dosoo, a former staff of TV3.

The two law students trended on social media with their beautiful and well-organised white-themed wedding, held at the Arakan Mess at Burma Camp.

White-adorned MG colleagues graced the ceremony

Exactly a week after this blissful event, Esi Benewah Nyame, one of the finest presenters at TV3, also walked down the aisle with her honey pie, Dr. Kwabena Nyarko Otoo, of the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

Some colleagues at Esi’s pink-themed wedding

The pink-themed wedding was well attended by friends, relatives and well wishers of the two.

There are a lot more of the TV3 staff who are not married. Whose wedding is next? Till there’s another wedding, we wish the two couples the best of marriage, and may they find the favour that comes with marriage.

By Grace Asare

The writer works with 3FM, a subsidiary radio station of Media General

Lack of facilities turns Free SHS at UPSHS into frustration for parents

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One major talking point in 2008 when the free secondary education debate cranked up was the availability of facilities to get the policy smooth and running. I remember the campaign days of that year when the National Democratic Congress (NDC) talked quality instead of quantity.

The debate continued into the 2016 electioneering campaign. And it was the same mantra for NDC – Quality education first! And indeed when the NDC government led by John Dramani Mahama launched its version of free education in 2015, it made it clear that it was going to be progressive. Mr Mahama even went to the University of Cape Coast (UCC) to promise free tertiary education as a consummation of the progressively free education programme.

It was this same campus that I travelled to on Monday, September 11, 2017 to confirm the admission of my ward. He had been posted to the University Practice Senior High School (UPSHS). I had been hinted of the limited boarding facilities at that school so I knew my ward’s admission to the boarding house will be a toss-up. But that was not what other parents felt was thrown at them. Free education means free education!

The girls’ dormitory takes around 80 students, a teacher said

As part of the enrollment process, parents are given a brochure of some private hostels for which they are to pay between GH¢700 and GH¢720 for access.  This comes alongside the School’s prospectus. It was obviously an unpleasant surprise for these parents, some of whom have brought their wards – with their trunks and belongings – to begin school.

A private hostel’s prospectus on which is written the fee

Indeed, the motto for the Free Senior High School Policy is ‘Access. Equity. Quality’ but the parents felt betrayed at the quality at UPSHS, where access had been given their wards.

Prospective students and parents crammed at the admission office of UPSHS

“We selected the school because we were told everything will be catered for by the [free SHS] policy,” an angry parent told me. “Now you tell us to pay [GH¢700]. For what? They should rather take the monies from government and pay the owners of the hostels.”

Some frustrated parents sat all day not knowing what to do

Many of the frustrated parents were not happy with the situation. I was there as one of them but their frustrations left me with little options than to pick my pen as a journalist.

Payment for private prospectus

First of all, parents were made to pay GH¢10 for the prospectus. I thought it was not right. To make those hostels as part of the enrollment process is a worry. First of all, those hostels are private businesses and the school should make that clear to the parents. Even if authorities are offering the facilities to the students on behalf of the private interests, negotiations should have been done on behalf of prospective students to ensure that they are not put on the same level, I should think, as students of the University of Cape Coast. GH¢700 for a term is too high for a student, who is to provide his or her own mattress, cutlery, bedsheet, night gowns, mosquito nets, morning coats among several other items that will definitely shoot the money up to almost GH¢2000. Why won’t the authorities make the issue of the limited facilities at the School known to government to see the way forward? This makes me think not all schools are ready for the policy especially as regards boarding facilities.

Monies were exacted from parents for prospectuses of the hostel facilities

In other schools I got information from, students were admitted smoothly. Parents had to only pay GH¢5 as Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) Dues to get their wards admitted into boarding facilities. It was immediate!

At UPSHS, you pay the GH¢5 PTA Dues and haggle with the headache of grinding out huge sums as hostel fees. Maybe, somebody must come again!

By Emmanuel Kwame Amoh

The writer is an editor at

Views expressed are solely personal and do not represent the editorial stance of his media organisation.