Category Archives: Features

How to achieve success in life

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In my opinion, no individual is born as an island unto himself or herself. People are born unto an environment where they grow up from childhood to adulthood and old age until death. That environment could be a family, the entire community, a tribe, ethnic group, a school or a workplace.

How Can an Individual Attain Success in Life 

In this world we have choices as far as success in life is concerned. What is important is for the individual to make the right choice or choices that will lead the person to the attainment of success; be it riches, fame or leadership among others.

How Can One Make the Right Choice (s)

In my view, a person can make the right choice or choices by following these action points:

  1. Follow the path of what God teaches us, be you a Muslim or Christian. That is, believe in the existence of God, his creation, the word of God and put one’s trust in him.
  2. Consider his or her upbringing in the home and society and understand the values, norms and the do’s and don’ts in the society in which we live.
  3. It is essential for the individual to have respect for the elderly in the family, community, society and people in authority at the workplace in a normal setting. Where the community is deviant the person is not obliged to do this.
  4. The individual must also have the ability to learn and acquire knowledge and skills that will lead him or her to be able to plan his or her future. This means that there is a need to acquire a trade, profession or livelihood.
  5. The person must be effective and efficient and put much efforts’ in whatever he or she intends to do in life. People who succeed tend to apply self-control, self-discipline alongside creative experimentation or pursuit of a focus goal in life.

What Constitute Success

Success may mean different things to different people in life. For example, success may be riches to some people. For others success is about quality leadership, intelligence, fame and self-esteem. Generally, success in my opinion is about self-fulfilling life where the individual has to distinguish himself or herself in a given environment.

Let me cite one Dr. Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs at this point. Dr. Maslow was a psychologist who discovered five basic levels of human needs which are; through the most basic biological needs, people progress to higher level psychological needs. In this context, Dr. Maslow explains that humans begin with physiological needs first, move on to safety and security needs. The next level is the desire for social needs calling for affection, friendship and belonging.

After this, the person will have ego needs which represent a higher order namely; prestige, success and self-respect. A person according to this model is at the peak of the triangle with self-actualization or self-fulfillment.  Through changing circumstances one could move along this scale up and down as circumstances or fate may dictate.

To a very great extent, normal human beings can aspire and attain the very highest which depends on the person’s self-control, hard work, prayers and constructive focus and feedback.

Mentorship

Mentorship is important because the individual will require knowledge and skills to be able succeed in life. This means the individual must learn both formal and informal education. This however, cannot be achieved without academic education at all levels.

One would also have to learn under other people like a teacher, doctor, community leader or a businessman. These individuals will advise and mentor the person on what he or she has been experiencing in life. Being successful does not mean one will not encounter challenges or difficulties in life. Success is not smooth but success comes to those who put in adequate efforts in whatever they intend to do, persevere and persist in life; for Isaac Newton said “if I can see far, it means’ I have stood on the solders of giants”.

Conclusion

Achieving success in life requires a lot of sacrifices. For one to be successful in life he or she must reflect on the environment in which he or she has been brought up, adequate knowledge academically at all levels and make the right choice or choices with assistance from experts and mentor(s).

The individual should know that you cannot do it all in life without the help of God. As a result, be you Muslim or Christian you must follow the path of what God teaches us, believe in his existence, creation and put one’s trust in him.

It is essential to be an upright person, obedient, truthful, disciplined and show respect to all manner of persons in the family, community, society in which he or she lives.

The individual should remember that success is not smooth and that success comes to those who pray to God, work hard, persevere and make efforts in whatever they intend to do in life.

In conclusion, it is my hope that the readers of this article will derive some inspirations from the script to aid them to success in life in future.

By Abu Kuntulo

About the author

Currently, Abu D. Kuntulo is self-employed. He is the proprietor and Director of Kuntulo’s Ambulance Services. He is an Industrial Relations Practitioner, Labour Expert and Labour Consultant. He has been with the Health Services Workers’ Union of the Trades Union Congress, Ghana for the past twenty-four (24) years and retired on 30th June, 2016.

His professional qualifications include a Diploma in Planning, Management and  Curriculum Development, Diploma in Political Economy, Diploma in Workers Education in Industrial Relations, Certificate in National and International Labour Standards and Certificate in Strategic Management.

He is an expert in workers education and capacity building and has expertise in planning, management and curriculum development. He is a veteran of the TUC, Ghana and a Council of Elder of the Health Services Workers’ Union of the TUC, Ghana.

Peter Adattor writes: Mugabe is NOT Zimbabwe’s 1st President

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Robert G. Mugabe resigned on Tuesday

A surprise twist in Zimbabwe forced Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe to resign as president.

The world was made to believe during the period that the ousted independent fighter was the first President of Zimbabwe.

As Zimbabwe celebrates the swearing-in of Emmerson Mnangagwa, I went searching and found out that Comrade Mugabe was really the second and not the first President of Zimbabwe.

The southern African country, Zimbabwe was a British colony from 1923 to 1980 known as Southern Rhodesia.

The nation existed unrecognised state of Rhodesia until 1979, following its unilateral declaration of independence in 1965.

It reconstituted itself under indigenous African rule as Zimbabwe Rhodesia in 1979, but again failed to win overseas recognition.

The country achieved internationally recognised independence as Zimbabwe in April 1980, following a Lancaster House Agreement in December, 1979.

This followed the Rhodesian Bush War, a civil war that took place from July, 1964 to December, 1979, and also known as the Second Chimurenga or the Zimbabwe War of Liberation.

Canaan Sodindo Banana

Under the country’s new constitution, Canaan Sodindo Banana was made the first president of the country in April, 1980 with comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe as the Prime Minister.

Banana, a Methodist minister, was born on March 5, 1936, and served as the first President of Zimbabwe from April 18, 1980 to 31 December, 1987.

His largely ceremonial post was taken over by Mugabe, who made himself an executive president.

Banana then became a diplomat for the Organisation of African Unity and head of the Religious Department at the University of Zimbabwe.

He played a large role in bringing the two major groups of independence fighters, Zanu and Zapu, together to form the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, Zanu-PF,  in 1988.

Canaan Sodindo Banana was born in 1936 in Esiphezini communal area, near Essexvale, now Esigodini, Southern Rhodesia.

His parents were a Ndebele-cultured mother and a Sotho father, who had emigrated to Rhodesia.

He was educated by missionaries in a local school and later studied at a teacher training institute.

He married Janet Mbuyazwe in 1961 and they had four children.

Banana took a Diploma in Theology at Epworth Theological College in Salisbury and was ordained as a United Methodist Minister in 1962.

He was a student at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC between 1974 and 1975.

Becoming involved in politics, he denounced smiths practices as a Prime Minister, took part in the rising Transnational Black liberation ideo-religious movements and came to be Vice-President of the African National Council.

He wrote a book entitled ‘The Gospel According to the Ghetto’ and a personalised version of the LORD’s Prayer.

When many Council members were arrested in the late 1960s, Banana and his family fled to the United States and did not return until 1975.

His later life was complicated by charges of Sodomy, a crime in Zimbabwe, which he denied and for which he was later imprisoned.

In 1997, Banana was arrested in Zimbabwe on charges of Sodomy following accusations made during the murder trial of his former bodyguard, Jefta Dube.

Dube, a policeman, had shot dead Patrick Mashiri, an officer who had taunted him about being ‘Banana’s homosexual wife’.

Canaan Sodindo Banana denied but was found guilty of eleven charges of Sodomy, attempted Sodomy and indecent assault in 1998.

He fled to South Africa whilst on bail, apparently believing Mugabe was planning his death.

He returned to Zimbabwe in December 1998, after a meeting with Nelson Mandela, who convinced him to face the ruling.

Banana was incarcerated on January 18, 1999 for ten years, and was also defrocked.

He actually served six months in an open prison before being released.

Banana died later of cancer, in London, on November 10, 2003 and was buried in Zimbabwe without the full honours that are traditionally reserved for former heads of state.

President Robert Mugabe called him ‘a rare gift to the nation’ in a radio address.

No matter how one sees it, history can never be concealed and so do Canaan Sodindo Banana.

He was the first President of Zimbabwe, Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the second president and so Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa can only be referred to as the third president and nothing less.

By Peter Quao Adattor

The writer is a broadcast journalist at MG.

Indiscipline in the Ghanaian society

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Several concerns have been expressed about indiscipline in many aspects of our Ghanaian lives which is a state of disorder because of lack of self control and self discipline of human behaviour, that is, the way we behave and do things in our daily lives, the way we speak to the elderly in the family, community and the society. Issues of respect and courtesy towards the elderly by the youth and true humility that the national anthem talks about are all challenges that must be collectively handled and eliminated in the society.

For us, that is, as individuals, farmers, academia, lawyers, professors, teachers, doctors, Nurses, labour unions and the like to be able to repair this damage or to be able eliminate this canker (indiscipline) in the Ghanaian society, we must together and collectively understand what was the situation in the colonial and modern era, forms of indiscipline, the factors that contributes to indiscipline and gestures that will promote discipline. This script is therefore intended to provide a frame work of ideas and factors that in my view contribute to indiscipline in our Ghanaian society.

Colonial and Modern Era Situation

  • Situation of the Colonial Era

In the olden days, our forefathers had to overcome a lot of obstacles on their way to a particular destination.  For example, they sometimes, had to cross huge or large rivers and at times even had to climb trees and hide to avoid attacks by wild animals.

Also, our forefathers in the olden days had to look up at the position of the sun and listen to cockcrow to tell the time.  This was the era where it was possible to talk about African punctuality. Despite the above situation, teachers and school children were time-conscious.  School children were obedient and adhered to all rules of the school to avoid being punished.

There were also slogans like “Government time, no joke, no delay, and time is money.  Soon after Independence, things went wayward and every thing about time consciousness slackened.  From my perspective, this is a brief description of the colonial era situation.

  • Modern Era Situation

The modern situation on discipline and time consciousness in Ghana is not the best. This, however, has been influenced by modern technological advances and globalization that have made life easier to bear for example, we do not have to walk long distances by foot like our forefathers use to do in the colonial era and uncertain as to when we are going to arrive at the destination anymore.

This is so because there are now vehicles and airplanes that can travel long distances within a short period of time and we also have watches that we put on our wrists to keep us informed about the time at any point in the day and night. 

In this respect, it is important to have conform to what is being practiced elsewhere in Europe in our time consciousness and time management but the situation is different. Time consciousness and time management in this present era is a very crucial measure for overcoming indiscipline in our Ghanaian society at large and should be seriously tackled by all stakeholders, that is, parliamentarians and law enforcement agencies.

Forms of Indiscipline

The under listed are some forms of indiscipline in our Ghanaian society:

  1. Negative behaviour and attitudes – the way we behave and do things.
  2. Lack of respect and courtesy for the elderly and people in authority.
  3. Lack of reporting to work regularly and punctually, leading to delays in handling official businesses.
  4. Lack of transparency and accountability, leading to mistrust and lack of confidence in the leadership.
  5. Lack of time consciousness and time management and
  6. Disregard for societal beliefs and moral values.

Factors that Contribute to Indiscipline

The factors contributing to indiscipline in my view are:

  1. Some people in authority have abandon time consciousness, leading to delays and responses to people’s needs.
  2. Not adhering to time is not regarded as a serious negative behaviour by the society anymore.
  3. Reporting to work late is no more considered a negative behaviour by workers generally.
  4. Even when regarded workers tend to give excuses of lack of transport and traffic delays.
  5. Law enforcement agencies have relaxed in their duty to enforce the laws and codes.
  6. Above all, the youth of today, no longer have humility and respect for the elderly and for the people in authority.

Gestures that will Promote Discipline

My findings have proved that in the olden days, people, particularly children, were trained to have humility and respect for the elderly and people in authority.  Also, adults who saw a child misbehaving, the person has the right to call that child to order and counsel the child irrespective of the relationship. Below are some gestures that my findings have found to be practiced in the colonial era:

  1. Children in the olden days stood and place one’s hands behind as he or she talked to the older person and do not pocket his or her hands either.
  2. Some cultural norms and values were used to protect children from indiscipline behaviours and attitudes for example, kneeling before an elderly person to greet him or her or receiving a gift from the older person.
  3. These have all been eroded and replaced with some borrowed modern practices which lead to the negative consequences of indiscipline that we are witnessing currently all in face of globalization among other things.

 Conclusion

Indeed, we have lost discipline, time consciousness and time management, beliefs and moral values and the non-regard for these vital elements have become the order of the day which is a disease affecting our Ghanaian society. To succeed or to get rid of this menace and to restore discipline in the Ghanaian society, all stakeholders, that is, individuals, farmers, academia, lawyers, professors, teachers, doctors, nurses, labour unions must accept the fact that there is:

  1.   Great indiscipline in our society to the extent that children do no longer show humility and respect towards their parents as well as respect for teachers and people in authority.
  2. The need to strive to regain discipline, time consciousness, time management and societal beliefs and moral values in the society.
  3. The need for stakeholders to see the problem as a priority and must together and collectively tackled from all angles and levels of our life.
  4. Parents, opinion leaders, teachers, government, employers, lawyers, labour Unions and professional associations leaders must practice and show good examples as role models.
  5. Special attention should also be given to indiscipline and stakeholders must endeavour to revert to the olden days practices where an adult could advice and counsel a child who is found misbehaving irrespective of the relationship.

In conclusion, it is my hope that those who will have the opportunity to read this article will derive some inspirations from the script to aid them strive to bring back discipline in the Ghanaian society. It can be possible now and into the future and with all hands and deck approach; attainment of discipline in our society can be possible.

By Aby Kuntulo

About the author

Currently, Abu D. Kuntulo is self-employed. He is the proprietor and Director of Kuntulo’s Ambulance Services. He is an Industrial Relations Practitioner, a Labour Expert and a Labour Consultant. He has been with the Health Services Workers’ Union of the Trades Union Congress, Ghana for the past twenty-four (24) years and retired on 30th June 2016.

His professional qualifications include a Diploma in Planning, Management and Curriculum Development, Diploma in Political Economy, Diploma in Workers Education in Industrial Relations, Certificate in National and International Labour Standards and a Certificate in Strategic Management.

He is an expert in workers education and capacity building and has expertise in planning, management and curriculum development. He is a veteran of the Trades Union Congress, Ghana and a Council of Elder of the Health Services Workers’ Union of the TUC, Ghana.

Weddings — Why you do what you do!

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File photo

A spotless gown. An almost impeccable tuxedo. Glittering rings. A convoy of fashionably decorated groomsmen and bridesmaids. One beautiful bride. One groom sporting his best wear ever. Love is about to happen!  

As love birds walk down the Ghanaian aisle every Saturday, one question that lingers on my mind is, “Do these understand what they do?” Probably if they did, they would have pondered over their decision to marry a little more. Hopefully if they did, they would have given divorce courts only little work to do.

Of a truth, weddings have been in existence for ages. Though trends, culture and modernization may tend to add up or take away some parts, the significance of the wedding traditions still remains the same.

For instance, it’s widely believed that a maiden who catches the bride’s bouquet takes home some luck which may make her the next bride. Ever asked why the bride stands on the left hand side of the groom? Well, he needed to fight off enemies with his right hand. Interesting, huh?

There are still more fascinating reasons behind some wedding rituals. Courtesy Wikipedia, let me take you through a few.

Why does the bride wear a veil?

The veil is has its own importance in a wedding. Like the biblical veil that was torn to usher humanity into a New Testament era, a bride’s veil was used to signify that her sexuality was unexploited yet. In other words, she was about to be ushered into a “new” era by her groom.

The veil is/was not a fashion token. It denotes modesty and virginity. It shows purity. Next time you want to wear one, know why other gowns come without it!

Why is the ring worn on the left hand’s fourth finger?

In Roman times, it was believed that the fourth finger of the left hand had a vein that directly run to the heart. Called the “vein of love”, putting a ring on it could supposedly grasp one’s lover’s heart (believed to be in the left chest region). Bet you didn’t know that!

Though Science has debunked this folktale because almost all veins return blood to the heart, rings are still kept on this finger. Every minute you have a look at your wedding ring, know that it was made with your heart in mind.

Why does the bride wear a white gown?

If you always had assumed that brides wore white gowns to denote purity, I must confess you were not far from… wrong. Back in the day, gowns came in different colors, according to the bride’s own preferred choice. In fact, there were even red gowns!

And then… the fashionable Queen Victoria in 1840 sparked a trend. She donned a glorious white gown when she was being wedded by Prince Albert and that was it— white gowns have been a thing ever since!

It’s not a rule of thumb to wear a white gown for your wedding. You can daringly start a trend, too. However, if you want to go all white, thank Queen Vicky!

Bridal Shower— What did it mean?

According to The History of Weddings, bridal showers originated in Holland for brides whose fathers denied them dowries. In such a situation, her friends would give her several gifts to allow her have the necessary dowry to marry whatever man she chose. Yes!

Why a convoy of bridesmaids?

In times past, it was believed that evil spirits and enemies hovered around to destroy the bride, according to American wedding customs. To confuse such as to who the actual bride was, bridesmaids were dressed up to look exactly like the bride!

Should you someday want to swerve your household witches with your convoy, always remember that African witches never take their eyes off their target. Haha.

Why groomsmen and best man?

Kidnapping a bride was a thing many centuries back. The groom had to choose which of his friends (who are today known as groomsmen) would help him capture and keep his bride. These friends apparently helped him ward off likely rivals and enemies, too.

The strongest or best of his friends led this group, hence, the name “best man”! Back then, if you were not strong enough, you never could have ever been a best man. Too bad.

Honeymoon?

Ever thought of what this means? Well, back in the day, Germanic weddings were held on the night of a full moon. Newlyweds will then drink mead (honey drink) for 30 days (until the next full moon) after their wedding, hence, the name “honeymoon”.

Amazing reasons, huh? I guess you now know why you did what you did during your wedding. Happy marriage!

By Kobina Ansah

The writer is a playwright and Chief Scribe of an Accra-based writing company, Scribe Communications (www.scribecommltd.com), which provides all writing services.

The Future of Agriculture – Let’s move from production to productivity

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The challenges in the agriculture sector of Ghana has been outlined and discussed extensively in articles, speeches, reports, budget statements amongst others and efforts have been made to proffer solutions aimed at addressing same. Any attempt to relist these challenges and interventions either from government, private sector, donor agencies etc. will not serve any unique purpose.

The potential of Agriculture to impact our national development in the form of real GDP contribution, job creation, wealth creation and supporting industry cannot be underestimated. Even in its current form, we are all beneficiaries of its contribution solely because we eat every day to survive. The quest as a nation to create the conditions favorable to move Agriculture to new levels like other nations even in Africa – Kenya and South Africa is commendable.

Whilst we embark on these new initiatives, we must take stock of past ones. We cannot entirely blame the failures or otherwise of past government interventions on ‘implementation’. We need to begin to ask ourselves, what did we implement to achieve what purpose? What was the focus/goal of these interventions – to increase production or increase productivity? etc.  On doing this, we will realized we had issues with planning too.

As a practicing farmer, I have observed that real challenge with any intervention is the goal to be achieved post implementation.  Invariably, focus/goal(s) over the years have been about increasing production at the expense of productivity. The production agenda which focuses on increasing the number of persons in production, the number of acres put under production among others have taken center stage. Everyone is interested in the number of acres one is producing than what yields are coming out of such productions. Permit me to use the examples of the National Service Scheme maize production activities for 2017. “NSS Cultivates 1,650 acres of Maize” is a headline you should be a familiar with.

This love for production agenda is more importantly reflected in the way we run our National Best Farmer Award Scheme. To win the coveted prize, you may need X number of acres of cocoa, rice, maize etc. in addition to some number of livestock. It has become a competition which rewards the farmer with the largest farm land under cultivation. In the days ahead, the 2017 National Best Farmer will be honored. Pay particular attention to the basis of the award and you will agree with me we need to change the narrative from production to productivity.

What is productivity in this regard? Ordinarily, productivity remains a comparative assessment of outcomes or outputs. It’s a measure of how one has efficiently and effectively used the available resource to derive a certain level of result. In the Agriculture sector, to be productive means to derive the maximum potential yield using available resources in the production of a crop/livestock over a period of time. It is a discussion of how best you have utilized land, inputs, technical advice etc. to get the yields per crop. In this equation, what is material is not the number of acres you may have put under production but what really came out of the production as yields. In the example of maize production in Ghana, potential yield per hectare for most varieties is an average of 5ton per ha. This implies that when you cultivate 10 acres of maize, you should be getting not less than 400bags (bagged 50kg). However, the average farmer gets less than 150 bags in most cases. It emphasizes the point that, we do not need to focus on increased production through increased number of acres under production but we must begin to focus on deriving productivity from the existing acres under production. Our current farmland size without any further development if maximized to achieve the potential productivity per crop can guarantee us food security, meet export demands among others.

However, several factors account for this wide variations in Ghana’s production output.  Significant investments have been or are being made to reduce the impact of some of these challenges – investments into mechanization through the provision of subsidized tractors, irrigation facilities like one village one dam, provision of certified seeds and fertilizers under the Planting for Food and Jobs etc. These investments are well intended and necessary going forward. Nonetheless, the greatest game changer is ‘technical know-how’.

Technical know-how on when to plant, agronomy practices, pest and insect management and control, weed control, harvesting and post-harvest management among others are in limited supply. If you get the opportunity to visit any farm being managed by a foreigner either as a farm manager, agronomist or consultant, you will appreciate the lack of expertise available locally. It is the reason why farmers will continue to record less than 2ton per hectare for maize whilst foreign owned farms record 7ton per hectare (with potential to achieve more) producing under rain-fed irrigation systems.

I dare to say, as a nation we do not currently have the right technical know-how available to support our agriculture growth agenda. It is true we have agriculture colleges, universities etc. producing on a yearly basis agriculture sector support staff either as extension officers, agronomists amongst others. There is a lot more to be done to bring the products of these institutions to the levels expected. The curriculum, practical experience during school, internship opportunities etc. must be reviewed. Government, donor agencies must begin to focus on how to upgrade skills either through improvements or upgrades in the existing agriculture training facilities, secondments in specialized institutions outside Ghana, grants to support the placement of experts in farming communities or farms over specified periods to aid knowledge transfers etc.

The availability of right technical expertise is paramount to helping move from production to productivity. Technical-know is the difference to maximizing the available resources we have – land, government/private sector interventions in the form of provision of certified seeds, fertilizers, irrigation facilities etc.

Let’s deal with technical know-how and we do not have to invest into putting additional lands under production to be able to feed ourselves and become a net export of food. Without a critical attention to this, all investments in agriculture will only ensure production without productivity.

By Richard Nunekpeku

The writer is the Chief Farmer of Anyako Farms Limited

[email protected]

Kweku Antwi-Otoo writes: Tribute to Kwadwo Asare Baffour Acheampong

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Kwadwo Asare Baffour Acheampong

Until his demise, he used to call me ‘DeeJay Herbal’. It is one of the numerous nicknames given to me by my compatriots who have worked with me, but he decided to stick to ‘DeeJay Herbal’.

At exactly 2pm, Monday to Friday, between 2008 and 2011, while I am signing off to make way for Ekosii Sen after interviewing herbalist on Asempa 94.7FM, KABA would join me on air live in a jovial way as, ‘DeeJay, se wagye ahye wo ho’, I will then respond with a laughter, then KABA would come in again and say, ‘Deejay, ka nokroe, wagye ahye wo ho’, then he would shout, ‘Deejay Herbal’ then we begin discussing about the day’s menu for the show.

He kept calling me with such nickname, shelving my real name Kweku Antwi-Otoo.

Kwadwo Asare Baffour Acheampong (KABA) as I know and worked with from the year 2008 to the year 2011 before I left Multimedia Group, was a dedicated staff who worked tirelessly to ensure that what was assigned to him was well executed.

Let me take the opportunity to share with you how I and other workers of Multimedia met KABA.

It was at the University of Ghana, Legon in December 2007 when the “nineteen thieves” of the ruling party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) under former President Kufuor, converged at Legon to choose the flagbearer for the 2008 elections. In fact, the “nineteen thieves” is not coming from me. It was given to then nineteen aspirants of the NPP by the General Secretary of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Johnson Asiedu Nketia.

I joined Multimedia in July 2007 with Asempa FM and our first major outdoor assignment was the coverage of that congress to elect the flagbearer.

I was then assistant News Editor to Jerry Tsatro Mordy. Kojo Preko Dankwa of now EIB was the Head of Productions. Mr. Von Klous Bukusitin was the Chief Operating Officer for Asempa FM. Nana Apeanti was the Programmes Manager.

Von, as we all call him, assembled the team to cover the maiden outdoor event of Asempa which had hit the airwaves not quit long. The team was made up of myself, Jerry Tsatro Mordy, Kojo Preko Dankwa and Dominic Kissi Yeboah, the late KABA’s producer, who was then doing his internship.

We applied for accreditations from the NPP headquarters for all the team members including drivers who would be bringing the team food, water and other logistics but in the final day, I, Kweku Antwi-Otoo, was the only person who got the accreditation to cover the event.

In fact, it was disappointing and tough for the team but Von pushed us to cover the event and prove to the world what we can do despite the odds.

Nevertheless, that did not deter us from giving our audience what they needed from the congress grounds.

It was tedious for me because I was the only one who was moving around since I was the only one who had accreditation.

Security was tight and if they see you without accreditation, you would be thrown out.  The team managed to enter into the Commonwealth Hall of the University on Friday and it run through Saturday until Sunday.

Let me take the opportunity to state that, according to the history of Multimedia, the Chief Executive Officer, Kwasi Twum (KT), has never written to congratulate any member or a team for putting up a performance but he did so after the coverage of the congress at Legon. This was because, we [Asempa FM Team] was new in the Multimedia Group, but the performance the team put out was superb.

While at Legon, KABA, who was then working with Top Radio, now Top FM, also in Accra, had pitched camp on the right side of Asempa set up at the grounds.

Interestingly, KABA was a jack of all trade at the venue. He was the technician, sound engineer, presenter, producer, just to mention a few. So what we [Asempa Team] decided to do was, to feed him with guests that have passed through our station to also enrich his content.

KABA’s health had not been stable for some time

He covered the entire congress solely without the support of any staff from his station.

So on Sunday when the team was about to leave the venue, my Editor, Jerry Tsatro Mordy, came to me and said, “Kweku, have you seen the Top Radio guy, he said he would like to join the team, what do you think.”

I told my Editor it is good because I realized he was a hardworking guy, covering the entire congress alone. He discussed same with Kojo Preko who felt same. Jerry therefore asked me to exchange numbers with KABA so we can contact him when we get to the office and I obliged.

That was how it all started. He kept coming to the office [Asempa FM] to follow up and we (I, Jerry and Preko) kept assuring him of the chance while we push our ‘big men’ to consider him.

Finally, KABA joined the Asemoa team in 2008 as a news anchor. He was initially paired with Afia Amankwaa Tamakloe for Asempa News at 2pm and it was superb. He was also the sit in for the main host of Ekosii Sen, Nana Kwabena Bobbie Ansah, until finally, Bobbie left the huge seat for KABA. Many were skeptical as to whether he could fill in the shoes of Bobbie when Bobbie bowed out, but KABA proved to the world that he was more than fit for the post.

Now to the man KABA I know and work with. He was dedicated. He reads a lot. He does not complain even though we had challenges in production at a point in time as it happens in every media house. Ready to learn. Ready to correct. Sound authoritative. Exhibits  professionalism. He was all round. Affable.

In fact, even though I have been out of Multimedia since 2011, KABA has been my target anywhere I go, even though I am not a presenter. I always push my host(s) to aspire to either beat or catch up with KABA and I am sure everyone I have produced would attest to this.

The news of his demise devastated me. In fact, I stopped breathing for a while until I realized I was driving so I had to control myself and get home safe. Yes, I drove home safe, but not of myself. Drivers kept blowing horns on me while driving because I lost concentration ever since I heard the sudden death.

Yiee, asem ben nie. I checked my whatsaap status and almost everyone on my contact was using the image of KABA. Thousands of whatsapp messages on my phone. Some want confirmation or otherwise. Others needed clarifications on what actually transpired. What is happening to the media in Ghana? What have we done? What did KABA do? God, why? This is unbearable. Death is inevitable but God, such deaths should have been pardoned. We needed such creature alive. We needed him to help shape the media industry. But you know best. No human can challenge your decisions and authority so if it is your will, then thy will be done. KABA will forever remain in our hearts and we know he will also remain in Your Heart, God.

The greatest writer William Shakespeare in his “King Henry VI, Part I”, said this about death: “‘What ugly sights of death within mine eyes!”. KABA’s death is ugly in our sight, but the same Shakespeare in his “Hamlet” said “On pain of death, no person be so bold”.

What I ask for, oh God, is total protection for the widow and the daughter he left behind.

Damirefa Due, KABA!

Damirefa Due, KABA!!

Damirefa Due, KABA!!!

Author

Kweku Antwi-Otoo

The writer is an Editor/Producer at Media General Group [Onua 95.1FM/TV3 New Day]

Note to our Christmas Borgers – 2017 Refix

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Indeed 2017 went skrrrahh, pap, pap, ka-ka-ka. Skidiki-pap-pap, and a pu-pu-pudrrrr-boom. And before we knew it, Skya, du-du-ku-ku-dun-dun. Poom, poom, you know. Ah well, it is that time of the year again. We started this in 2014 and this is already the 4th installment. That’s like JM’s term in office you know! Year has been so fast. Same time last year JM was President. Now Nana Addo is President for less than a year but feels like forever eh?

Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Kwame Gyan and I bring you the 2017 edition of our friendly advice and to some, warning to the many many Ghanaians who have been saving some Euros and Pounds and Dollars to come blow time in the motherland. Here we go:

  1. Please stop ordering us to wait for you at Kotoka a whole two hours before the projected touch down of your flight. You know you have been doing this almost every year, or once every two years. We don’t like it. Even if we don’t meet you have you forgotten the way to your homes? Hoh!
  2. Please when you get into town, leave your jacket and winter boots in your house until you are dressing up to head back to Kotoka and away to wherever you are doing your ‘any work’. We know the weather back in your abrokyire is cold. Don’t be a villager to wear fur coats in our 32° weather. Eye nkurasesem paaa. And yes, it is hot here.
  3. We know you are making money in obimanso. We also know that you pay plenty tax. And some of you still owe the visa contractor who did your connection for you so your cash level no shada dey up. Don’t come and spend all the money you have saved buying champagne in clubs and spreading people like your father is Mugabe or Dangote. If you do the too known and go back, we won’t send you kapreba. Yoooo!
  4. If you bought something for someone last year and you come and you see him or her still wearing it, you don’t need to shout and say “eei you are still wearing this jeans I bought from Next? Efata wo paaa ooo”. Please we know you still have jeans you bought 5 years ago. We know before you left you wore clothes saaa until they were tired of alterations so stop that nonsense. You like that!
  5. As we told you last year, we are not villagers like that oo. You can’t buy as £2 and $5 shirts and tops and expect us to roll on the floor in excitement. We know it when what you give us is cheap. Oh we will say thank you. But don’t expect us to behave as if you just gave us a Saville Row suit or an Armage cologne.
  6. Please we know what the exchange rate is. We know. We don’t need the needless reminder. We also know that you know the exchange rate. Stop the too known and come and melt your Euros and Pounds and Dollars in piece. Stop that!
  7. Mall Update: Kumasi Mall has come oooo. We also heard the things you heard. Leave Kumasi people alone. I have seen plenty people walk into malls to buy 90 pesewas bottled water and spend the rest of the time taking photos. You also do same when you go to those fancy shops of yours. Let us think.
  8. Kyinkyinga has gained prominence again ooo my people. Right now kyinkyinga sellers can blow up fuel stations and the blast will not even affect the stones on the zinc roofing sheets placed over their grill. Massa it is not easy oo. You ask Kojo Yankson of Joy FM. He will tell you the whole story. Oh, the kyinkyinga people have not changed by the way: same price, smaller meat, bigger sticks. Don’t be too disappointed.
  9. Abrokyire boys, borgerfuo, do not come and spoil our girls and spoil the market for the local boys. Don’t open their mouths so wide that when you leave they are not content with our fianga pockets. Play with the girls you came with, and let’s play with ours. You girls too why do you always allow them to do that to you. I don’t gerrit.
  10. Has Ghana Police changed? For the where? They should change to what? You had better keep loose 5 cedi notes on you for the “massa we are here oooo”. If you break a traffic rule though, add some zero to the 5. And those of you who think you are home so you want to smoke that smoke, if you get caught you may have to add at least two zeros to the 5.
  11. We tell you this all the time: Please don’t ask us with a frown a hundred times about how it is like to live in Ghana and how you could never do that. You asked us last year and the year before. It has gotten old. Abufusem didn’t you live here before? Or your great grandfather gave birth to your grandfather in Liverpool and he gave birthday to your father in Liverpool and your father and mother popped you in Manchester?
  12. We told you about Uber last time, right? Well, it has grown and become bigger paaa. Our young gers have taken it like World Cup. Please just turn your location on and Uber yourself away. Again, if you do that your Abrokyire-Ghana comparison don’t be surprised if the Uber driver gives it to you. You can give him one star rating, he would have cleared his chest anyway. Remember we also use smartphones here eh? And yes, Uber is here and once you update your location and you order an Uber, it won’t be a car from West Virginia or Birmingham or Frankfurt that will show up wai. Stop that thing you do. Chances are that every small car you see in the road is an Uber. Just look for the phone holder on the dashboard.
  13. Yo, we don’t need YOU to tell US what the Christmas music list in Ghana is. So let’s tell you who the current biggest artistes are or the songs we will eat bronya with: Kuami Eugene (the guy who sang Angela), KIDI (he sang Odo Yewu and one other popular song like that), Ebony – that girl who has no more than a handkerchief-size of material on all her clothes. She also sang I will Date Your Fada, Sponsor and some songs. Of course Shatta Wale, Sarkodie, Stonebwoy are the usual big boys on the list. Wutah have had the commonsense to realise that individually they are almost as useless as used toilet paper so they got back together and have an aptly titled sing called Bronya. Oh there is a guy called Patapaa. He has sang all the songs he will ever sing. It is called One Corner.
  14. Ei! I almost forgot. After 21 tries, Captain Planet has a hit song ooo. It is called Obi agye obi girl. He has tried saaaa and mentioned every girl’s name in 20,000 songs but still chale we were not seeing him. But now he has hit the jackpot ooo. But guys, do you agree Captain Planet should have just sang the chorus and not attempted a rap on the track? The rap be some way but the chorus dey bee. Anaa?
  15. Yes, Man’s Not Hot started from a studio in London. But we got it on whatsapp and Facebook and Twitter the same time those of you in Antwerp, Baltimore, Alberta and Lagos did. Don’t come and yell, “shiiite you guys have this song here too?”. It is not as if that song is anything out of the top biaaa too. And oh Michael Dapaah, AKA Big Shaq will be doing shows in Ghana wai.
  16. Please we love Mexican and Indian telenovelas paaa. UTV shows at least two of them running throughout the week. Adom TV has been showing an Indian one called Kukum Bagya for almost two years now, and from the look of things, they will be showing it for at least 5 more years. Oh, Abbi and Pragya, the leading characters even came to Ghana to break bread with their fans. The bread cost only 600 cedis moom. They even want to invite the main characters here to meet with their fans. It’s not easy oo. Warning: Do not try to change the channel in any home, else you risk what you don’t want to risk.
  17. While you are here, remember that in Ghana, whatever the government says, the opposition must oppose, and they must not necessarily oppose with suggestions. We are not like your people. Even if government says, ‘we shall stop galamsey which is spoiling our environment”, the opposition will say “the government is insensitive and is denying people of working”. That’s how we are. We like our democracy like that.
  18. Please the boys, if you meet any beautiful girl with nice fantabulous ASSets and she’s korkorr please pause and ask yourself this question: is my immediate atupa worth the potential wahala of tomorrow, which may include vivid description of your totoli, the transpo you give, and how well or otherwise you do the do? Giovanni chale how be? KOD all correct? Kojo Yankson where you dey do your ‘aboy’ for?
  19. Every year we tell you this but some of you have made your ears as hard as Francis Doku’s forehead so you don’t listen. We will keep saying it. Please don’t forget your malaria prophylaxis else your gluteus muscle will have to bear the pain of artemether in a G25 needle without an analgesic; your only consolation will be ” sorry 3y3 wo ya? Kafra.. Kafra.. 3b3 k) wa.
  20. Herh if you haven’t been told here our Facebook fights are not children ooo. If you like ask Maame Afia Akoto and Sam George or ask the High Commissioner to South Africa. When Ghana Facebook take you on, they take you on. Ask Kwame Gyan (oh that’s me eh) too. Or some guy called KOA and another one called Pope. Please don’t try to logically understand some of the fights. You won’t understand them if you attempt making sense of some.
  21. Oh there is a new group in town called PepperDemMinistries. What do they do? Oh they fight for female and girl child rights by insulting all men and blaming men for everything including why night comes after day and why our feet face forward and not backwards when we walk. Let’s just say they are taking the gender, woman rights fights a few notches lower. If you fool with them the way they will insult you and your unborn generation eh! Hmmm. For writing this, consider me fried. They will tell us how useless these series have been though the smile and laugh in their rooms.
  22. Please take note that the social media space in Ghana is manned and marshalled by armies and nations whose members and leaders feel they are a nation state and so they don’t play child’s play. I won’t say anything. I have no armies of nations to defend me when they attack so I leave it here.
  23. Every year we talk about that your irritating Yankee or British accent that you bring into this town. See, lose that accent before you enter the Ghana airspace. No, in fact, lose it at the immigration of the country you are coming from before you get onto the tarmac. See, we know you ooo. We know you can speak like us pepeeepe so don’t come trying to do that rubbish. What! For the last time, once again, before you come here to speak English in a way that will have us asking you “pardon, pardon, pardon”. See, Kofi Annan has stayed in New York longer than you but he speaks normal English. In fact, if you start that your nonsense accent, we will insult you.
  24. Please the potholes are still there. You may remember some particular pothole your taxi run into that made you spill a drink in your beautiful looking £5 dress. Well, that pothole is still there. It was filled ooo but somehow it opened again and brought along with it some friends. So please get ready. Oh but Nana Addo will sort out all those issues soon.

By Kwame Gyan

Twitter: @KwameGyan|Facebook: Kwame Gyan|Web: www.kwamegyan.com|IG:kwame.gyan

You need an autobiography – This is why!

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I was told of a funeral which happened recently somewhere in Accra. Hell broke loose when it was time to read the biography of the deceased. According to his biography supposedly orchestrated by his wife, he had only one child. His family, on the other hand, insisted he had adopted two more children; making three of them in all.

When you don’t tell the world who you are and what you ever had, others will do so.

When you die, others will tell your story (and may obviously not tell it well) so when alive, you need to tell your own story. When you’re no more, others will speak for you, hence, as long as you’ve breath, you ought to speak for yourself!

In our part of the world, it’s seemingly rare to have our autobiographies on the shelves of libraries or bookshops. We have been brought up to be selfish, thus, hardly think about making our experiences available for posterity. Little wonder a chunk of our history is either lost or contaminated because it was oral.

We live our lives without having posterity in mind. We live and die without exposing our children to our failures and achievements. They, thus, start their lives fighting the same battles we fought instead of fighting their own battles. They start life all over again instead of continuing from where the earlier generation left off. That’s how important autobiographies are!

A well-documented autobiography (or biography) is like a will. It becomes a sacred legacy for every generation. It becomes an invaluable asset to many. Tell you what, the autobiographies of great business men in history (like Virgin’s Richard Branson) have become a must-read for many who aspire to be like them because such books hand over to their readers within minutes decades of experience.

If writing is one of the easiest ways to transfer knowledge, then reading is one of the easiest ways to receive it, too. Your autobiography is like a will that guides every other person and hands over assets of wisdom to them so they can be someone greater than you ever were.

Like a mirror, an autobiography makes you come in contact with the image of the writer. It gives you the rare opportunity to take a stroll down their private life.

When you don’t script your life down into a piece of collection, that life’s legacy just goes waste in the grave. If people with similar aspirations can never benefit from your failures and successes, your experiences would have been of no essence, in the first place. If others would need to fail the same way you did, your failure was of no benefit to society.

Our failures, especially, should be of benefit to society. Get that autobiography of yours written!

Aside an autobiography raking in fortunes for the writer, it is the only avenue they can take readers on an excursion in their mind. The reader is able to travel along with the writer inasmuch as they learn a skill or two from his/her experience.

I have come across many clients who pitch one excuse or the other as to why they haven’t written their autobiography yet and I am not the least surprised this part of our world always seems to be behind others. An excuse why you can’t hand over your experience to posterity is a pretty bad excuse!

Our nation keeps running in circles because there’s no smooth transfer of experience from the old generation to the new. We are always starting life all over again when others are continuing from where their previous generation left off in others parts of the world. Of a truth, we can’t ever catch up with them.

Decades of experience are buried every weekend. Countless packages of lessons are kept six feet away from humanity every Saturday. The success of this nation, trust me, is only an autobiography away.

At all cost, get to tell your life’s story to the world before others do. Africa, for instance, is almost always painted a dark continent by the Western world because they tell us our own stories. When you leave your story to be told by others, they’d mistaken your blackness for darkness. Get your autobiography!

Tell the world of your failures and how you surmounted them. Tell of your successes, too. An autobiography is an asset. Own one. To your mansions and automobiles, add your autobiography!

Experience can never be bought. However, we can give posterity an opportunity to learn from our weaknesses and strengths by handing over to them a record of our lives. We can create a legacy that would outlive us— and it begins with our autobiography. We can be mentors to generations to come even long after we are gone. That’s the magic of an autobiography.

Your experience in this life will be a priceless property for others who are yet to come. Don’t let it go waste. You need an autobiography… and this is why!

By Kobina Ansah

The writer is a playwright and Chief Scribe of an Accra-based writing company, Scribe Communications (www.scribecommltd.com), which provides all writing services.

 

Wait! Check your weights!!

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Our society may be rid of every ill except one — hypocrisy. Our incoherent weights have almost become that part of society’s fabric we can’t let go. What we crucify others for in public, we lustfully enjoy in our closets.

The irony of today’s society is that what we are living a whole cycle of hypocrisy. We scream during the day, “Close down the brothels!” yet keep that same brothel running at night. We condemn prostitution yet make sex a “term and condition” to our job vacancies.

We shout, “Our politicians are corrupt!!!” yet go queuing at their doorsteps for our daily bread when we know they are not human bakeries. We whine when they don’t give fat offerings in church. How else can they satisfy our selfish needs if they don’t top up their salaries by stealing!? We can’t create monsters and scream when they act as one. It’s all a hypocrisy thing!

We yell, “These politicians think only about their families!” yet shame our politician kin who honestly serves his nation without falling for our selfish baits. We ridicule them when they leave office poor. Hypocrisy fuels corruption and decadence!

Ponder. You think there’s everything wrong with a commissioner’s pronouncement that some Ghanaians are more Ghanaian than others. However, you seem to see nothing wrong with your perception that your tribe is better than everyone else’s.

You hate racism with every fiber of your being. When you’re discriminated against because of your skin color, you feel treated like a non-existent being. However, you serve an equal measure of treatment to your fellow neighbor because they don’t belong to your tribe. You regard another as less human because they belong to a different gender.

Discrimination of any sort is wrong. If you don’t deserve it, no one deserves it either!

You assume it’s pretty petty and unfair to be denied an opportunity because you don’t have a party card but you’re gloriously denying another’s right to marry because they don’t have your tribal card. You hoot at petty partisanship at one time… yet embrace petty tribalism at another time. That’s double standards right here!

Wait! If partisanship is not good for one, tribalism is not good for another. Check your weights!

You wish another dead because they declared themselves homosexuals. You hate them to bits… literally! However, you love yourself for fornicating. You brag for having multiple affairs even after marriage. You are a don when it comes to having extramarital affairs… and want the world to accept you for who you are… because you assume your sins are less grave.

What did you use to weigh sins!? Gallons or buckets!? Imbalanced weights! We don’t assume some sins are graver than ours just because we are not doing them. Sin, in God’s eyes, is not in grades. Hell has no compartments. It has neither chamber nor hall. Wrong is immeasurably wrong!

So… when we tend to assume that we are any better than others because our sins are of less gravity, that’s double standards right there!

You can’t see any beyond your partisan politics. When your party is in power, everything is alright— everything is for the good of the people. When your party loses power, every single thing done by the government is wrong— even the same things you previously endorsed as right.

Right here is an imbalanced standard— triple standards— perhaps. Right here is an inconsistent soul whose objectivity is relative; a being whose objectivity is subjective.

Your thinking capacity doesn’t go beyond your religious figures. When your pastor does it, it’s very right but when another “man of God” does it, you go looking for when he was supposedly called by God. When others criticize your religious figure, you confidently retort, “Touch not my anointed!” but when it’s due for you to lash out at another, you do so with the speed of light… as though they were anointed with dilute coconut oil instead.

What is good for the goose is definitely good for the gander. What is bad for the gander should obviously not be too good for the goose either. You see… when you apply inconsistent yardsticks to different people, what you’ve inside of you is inconsistent. Check your weights!

Right should be applauded no matter who does it…and wrong condemned regardless of the perpetrator. If you need to recalibrate your weights to measure right or wrong for different people or instance, you need to check your weights. What is good for your favorites is as well good for every other person.

Society will drown when we use imbalanced judgments for the same situations. Hypocrisy is when we recalibrate our standards every time we have to weigh different people on the same life scale. We ought to be consistent in our measurement.

Our yardsticks should favor no one— not even us. Check your weights!

By Kobina Ansah

The writer is a playwright and Chief Scribe of Scribe Communications (www.scribecommltd.com).

IMANI’s preliminary assessment of key sectors in Ghana’s 2018 budget

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Ken Ofori-Atta

INTRODUCTION

Ghana’s Finance Minister, Mr. Ken Ofori- Atta presented his second budget to Parliament on Wednesday, November 15, 2017. The 2018 budget broadly aims at stabilizing the macroeconomic fundamentals and growing the economy by investing in industrialization, infrastructure, agriculture and entrepreneurship to create jobs. The general outlook of the 2018 Budget reveals Government’s commitment to fulfilling its numerous manifesto promises made in the run up to election 2016, while striving for fiscal discipline.

Imani’s preliminary budget analysis examines the key policies, programmes and how allocations to the various projects will affect key sectors of the economy. Critical questions were asked as well as policy recommendations to fill the gaps identified.

ECONOMY

Ghana’s economy has achieved relative stability and appears to be on a trajectory to recovery

after the numerous challenges it experienced in the past few years. The much talked about debt reprofiling seems to be yielding some positive results as debt to GDP ratio has improved from 73 percent in December 2016, to 68.3 percent as at September 2017. GDP Growth outlook for 2017 is also set to exceed its target by about 160 basis points. At the same time, fiscal deficit is within range of the target even in the face of revenue shortfalls – a fiscal deficit of 4.6 percent of GDP has been projected for 2017 against a target of 4.8 percent of GDP. A careful analysis of the revenue performance and the expenditure management for 2017 reveals an impetus to ensure fiscal discipline. In the thick of revenue mobilisation challenges, the incumbent government has spent below estimated expenditure levels. This action undeniably contributed to keeping Ghana’s debt below unsustainable  levels (70 percent of GDP). All the above has contributed to the positive ratings Ghana enjoyed in the recent Standard and Poor’s outlook review of the Ghanaian economy. The positive rating will augur well for the economy as it can attract investors to support both the industrialization drive and the infrastructure agenda of the government.

While meeting fiscal deficit targets has its advantages, constraining expenditure to achieve it presents challenges of its own. With a dominating wage bill and numerous social intervention programmes, expenditure cuts unfortunately mean reduction in growth catalyst items like capital expenditure. In the 2017 budget, the wage bill, which is the highest component of expenditure, was 30.68 percent of total expenditure. In the face of revenue shortfalls, actual compensation expenditure was still above the allocated amount by about 2.64 percent. Interest payments, the next biggest item was about 25.4 percent of total expenditure with grants[1] to other government units following with 18 percent, which increased to 20 percent (in the revised budget) even in light of expenditure cuts. Capital Expenditure (CAPEX), which followed with 13.6 percent was later revised to 12.35 percent. However the government is projecting to spend only 8.8 percent (29 percent less than intended) in view of the expenditure cuts. In the 2018 budget, CAPEX is expected to be 11.25 percent of total expenditure with compensations at 32 percent and grants to other governmental units at 19.7 percent.

Government in addition to intensifying its revenue mobilisation efforts, must consider finding efficient and innovative ways to include the private sector in the provision of these social programmes. Also, the proposed revenue measures such as the intended reform of the custom warehousing regime and transit regime, if carried out efficiently and timely, can potentially improve revenue mobilisation.

Inflation has also been on the decline since September 2016 – it has fallen from 17.2 percent to 11.6 percent as at October 2017, on the back of stable electricity supply and a relatively stable Ghana cedi (the Ghana cedi depreciated by 4.42 percent as at September 2017 against a depreciation of 9.6 percent in 2016 against the US dollar). As part of projections for next year, the government has projected an average inflation rate of 9.8 percent and end year inflation of 8.9 percent for 2018. While achieving this target can encourage savings and investments as returns on investments are preserved, provision of a stable and reliable electricity supply, delivery on its promise to  reduce electricity tariffs, the significance of the reduction in terms of its impact on cost of production and continuous stability of the Ghana cedi will be imperative. A strong US dollar could also challenge the stability of the Ghana Cedi which can affect the achievements of the set inflation targets.  It is recommended that government consolidate its  efforts to provide more stable and reliable power supply. Government must also increase efforts to improve the consumption of locally manufactured products. In this regard, the government’s decision to allocate 70 percent of all government contracts to local contractors and suppliers though commendable, will require strict enforcement to achieve intended results.

Interest rate

In a high interest rate environment, such as Ghana has been experiencing, a reduction in interest rate is critical to drive investments in order to generate growth and to create essential jobs. Between 2016 and 2017, the Monetary Policy Rate, the 91 day Treasury bill rates and interbank rates saw significant reductions. While the MPR fell 450 basis points to 21 percent, the 91 day treasury  bill rate fell from 16.8 percent to 13.2 percent. Average lending rate, however, remains high even though it fell marginally from 31.38 percent to 28.96 percent. Meanwhile, with key challenges to credit such as limited information persisting, credit to the private sector grew by just 3.2 percent  (as at September) in 2017 as against 17.4 percent (as at September) in 2016. According to the recent World Bank Doing Business index, credit bureau coverage in Ghana is only 16.5 percent of the adult population along a zero percent credit registry coverage. While the 2018 budget has indicated the launch of a national development bank and intentions to expand the capacity of the EXIM bank to support agriculture and industrialization, there is no mention of policies to address the limited credit information challenges faced by banks in the lending business, especially those lending to Small and Medium Enterprises. It is recommended that the government, in consultation and collaboration with the private sector, find reliable and sustainable means of generating and distributing credit information (both positive and negative). This will ensure increased and sustainable credit flows to the private sector and also attract investments into the banking space.

Job creation

Unemployment continues to be a major challenge in the country despite numerous promises and policies to create jobs for the youth. The government for instance in the 2017 budget projected about 750,000 jobs would be created under the Planting for Food and Jobs programme. The 2018 budget however provided no details on the number of jobs that have been created so far under this programme.

In the 2018 budget, several policies and programmes have been outlined to create new jobs for the youth in various sectors.  To deal with the increasing graduate employment challenge, the government has allocated GHs 600 million to employ 100,000 graduates as part of the Nation Builders Corps programme (NabCorp). Successful recruits will be trained and engaged in various sectors of the economy, ranging from health, education, revenue mobilisation etc.

This programme is a reflection of policy incoherence and a myopic approach to solving graduate unemployment challenge. The focus of the 2018 budget is to revamp agriculture for food sustainability and feeding the numerous factories to be established under the 1-district-1-factory policy.  Interestingly, the amount allocated to the Ministry of Agriculture, which is annually inadequate, was cut by 21 percent. The decrease is likely to affect productivity outcomes in the sector. However, the elephant in the room is the ageing cocoa and food crop farmers and the low interest of the youth to venture into agriculture. One would have thought a policy to engage graduates across the country would centre on finding innovative solutions to encourage graduates into agriculture.

A more prudent solution to graduate unemployment would be to invest the 600 million cedis allocated to the NabCorp into providing financing through a seed fund to encourage more graduates into the value chain of agriculture. The existing financing options for the youth interested in agriculture are unfavourable, expensive and limited. Existing programmes such as planting for food and jobs targets mainly existing farmers and does not make available direct access to funds for agro-based start-ups.  Other training programmes targeting the youth at the district levels do not come with grants. Seed funding for graduate agribusinesses will therefore be a better option to create immediate jobs across the country, which can be scaled up over time with financing from traditional financial institutions.

Also creation of the establishment of NabCorp is an affront to the NEIP policy that aims at creating an entrepreneurial nation. The biggest challenge graduates face in starting businesses after their national services is access to “cheap funds” and business development to pilot their ideas or project research after school. However, only 50 million cedis has been allocated to NEIP as initial funding to support 500 youth businesses in 2018. The allocation to the nebulous NabCorp when channelled to NEIP to create a special venture capital for graduate startups/projects would create more sustainable jobs in the medium term.

Though the details of how the NabCorp programme will be operationalized has not been stated, it is difficult to differentiate between it and the compulsory one-year national service every graduate in the country has to undertake. The National Service programme already provides hands on training and apprenticeship to graduates and transitions them well into the world of work after school as they serve their nation in various sectors. What additional skills will the NabCorp offer graduates who have been trained for four years in specialized fields?

What graduates in Ghana need are sustainable jobs created by a thriving private sector, entrepreneurial training and seed capital to start their own business.

Agriculture

The 2018 budget demonstrates government effort to transform the economy via the agriculture sector. Numerous projects and programmes have been outlined aimed at addressing the persisting challenges in the sector; access to finance, low mechanisation,post harvest losses, low technology uptake, etc.For instance,about GHS 100 million has been allocated towards the implementation of the Ghana Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (GIRSAL), a Bank of Ghana initiative aimed at incentivising banks to give credit facility to the agriculture sector. There is also a decision to purchase various types of machinery, rehabilitate dams and support livestock and poultry farmers. The budgetary allocation to the Planting for Food and Jobs programme have been increased from a  GHS 560.5 million to GHS 700 million. These aforementioned programmes look good on paper and has the potential to boost the agriculture. The onus however lies on the government to effectively implement them

Tourism

The 2018 Budget highlights the government’s commitment to improve tourism infrastructure, as well as the promotion and marketing of tourism. The 2017’s budget reduction in capital expenditure by approximately 74 percent was concerning, because such resources were necessary to ensure the ongoing development of tourism infrastructure in tourist sites such as proper sanitation, signage, and good roads. While the government leaned towards working alongside PPPs to achieve this, public investment still plays an important component, if not greater role. The 2018 budget still maintains PPPs to facilitate the infrastructure drive, for example, in developing standards for new tourism enterprises. However, the increase in CAPEX, which marks an increase of about 1,577 percent from the 2017 budget (From GHS 1 million in 2017 to GHS 16.7 million in 2018), reflects the government’s realisation that increased spending in tourism has great potential to drive economic growth, and that its own investment and development in the sector is consequently, very important. Going forward, it recommended that government continually seek private partnerships to invest in good roads and other infrastructure that will attract the needed private sector investment. Government should also provide incentives to private businesses who will for instance, want to invest in the ecotourism and historical sites.

ENERGY

Energy Bond, Cash Waterfall Mechanism (CWM) and Electricity Tariff reductions

Proceeds from the Energy Sector Levy (ESL) increased from GHS 1.6 billion in 2016 to GHS 1.9 billion in 2017 (projected revenue by year end 2017) and is expected to reach GHS 2.1 billion in 2018. Efforts on the part of government to reduce the energy sector debt have been laudable considering that the debt has been reduced to GHS 5 billion from GHS 10 billion via payments made through the Energy Sector Levy (ESL) as well as via the proceeds of the energy bond (proceeds were however unspecified in the budget). However, the energy bond-cash waterfall mechanism-electricity tariff reduction combination of policy initiatives is an intricate one which needs to be carefully handled or else gains from debt reduction will be quickly eroded.

The Cash Waterfall Mechanism (CWM) which focuses on “allocating and paying collected revenues to all utility service providers and fuel providers”[1], prima facie, does not immediately deal with all the factors that led to the accumulation of debt including excess generation capacity, technical and commercial losses of the distribution utility, government non-payment of utility bills as well as inadequate diversified sources of fuel supply for growing thermal generation. As long as these factors exist, the CWM approach may not yield desired results and the likelihood of further debt accumulation remains.

Careful consideration must also be given to the impetus towards reduction in electricity tariffs in light of the above. Though government’s move to reduce electricity sector tariffs on the surface, looking at only short to medium term gains has the appeal of reducing the tariff burden of consumers, there is the potential of jeopardizing debt restructuring efforts through the ESLA and energy bonds. Insofar as the energy sector levy is built into the electricity tariffs, if tariff reductions will affect the Energy Debt Recovery Levy, the Public Lighting Levy and the National Electrification Scheme Levy, then the electricity tariff reduction strategy may potentially upset debt restructuring efforts. Further, the tariff reduction strategy must not circumvent automatic tariff adjustment which is a key pivot of the debt restructuring effort.

If the factors that led to debt accumulation are not dealt with thus further debt is accumulated, and enough revenue is not raised to support the operation of the CWM given the persistence of the debt accumulation factors as well as reduction in electricity tariffs, debt restructuring gains will be eroded and the government will be issuing bonds for a long time.

Ministry of Special Development and Initiatives

The allocation of GHS 423 million to the Ministry of Special Development Initiatives towards capital expenditure (capex) for the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Program (IPEP) from the Road, Rail and Other Critical Infrastructure Development priority area of the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) is a bit worrying; especially considering the fact that only GHS 150 million (a reduction from the 2017 budget allocation of GHS 177.8 million) was allocated to capex for rail infrastructure and GHS 200 million to capex for road infrastructure. Earlier caution had been given in our analysis of the 2017 budget concerning the vagueness of the “Other critical infrastructure” aspect of the priority area because it gives room for the thin spread of the ABFA. There is no comprehensive policy document that details the projects the IPEP would cover (even though some of government’s flagship projects have been listed) yet the programme has been allocated GHS 423 million. It will be useful for the government to clearly justify this allocation by presenting the details of the programme that warrants this allocation.

National LPG Cylinder Recirculation Policy

The government’s move to push forward with the LPG cylinder recirculation model is commendable. In rolling out the policy next year however, the government has to be mindful of the fact that gas explosions still remain largely a function of safety measures than location of gas filling stations. Therefore gains from the recirculation model risk being eroded if critical steps are not taken to strictly enforce safety measures at the bottling plants to be established. Further, there is the need to harmonize the work of all relevant oversight bodies including the National Petroleum Authority, the Ministry of Planning (Town and Country Planning) and the Ghana Standards Authority and to ensure proper monitoring and supervision in the performance of their roles. This is to both ensure that safety measures are upheld and that communities do not develop around bottling plants. The business model for rolling out this policy must be robust to ensure sustainability of the policy overtime and also to rope in the existing 307 Bulk Road Vehicle operators and 647 gas filling stations. It is also necessary to reconsider and fast track the recapitalization of the Ghana Cylinder Manufacturing company which has been unduly delayed. This will ensure the security of supply of LPG cylinders as well as serve to reduce imports of cylinders. Finally, it is important to segregate the market into industrial, commercial and residential segments in order to adequately meet the needs of these segments while avoiding LPG shortage and the development of a black market.

Rooftop Solar for MDA’s

The move of government towards rooftop solar for MDA’s may be considered laudable. But if Energy Commission’s rooftop solar program is anything to go by, the government’s target of 2-3 percent increase in renewable energy generation will not be achieved. The target of the Energy Commission’s rooftop solar program when launched in 2016 was to achieve 200,000 installations within 1 year. As at the end of 2016, only 89 full installations had been completed across the country. This is chiefly because, while the solar panels are provided for free by the commission to citizens who sign onto the programme, the balance of systems (solar batteries, charge controllers, inverters etc.) to be purchased by the citizens to make up a full installation remain prohibitively expensive considering the power requirements of an average middle income household or a commercial enterprise. To make adoption of rooftop solar by MDAs viable the approach should be a bottom up one which will include reorienting the way energy is used within the public sector. For instance; most MDA offices use large power consuming appliances such as air conditioners, kettles, microwaves, fridges among others. It will be highly expensive if these appliances are to be powered using solar. There is a critical need to enforce strict energy efficiency rules at such premises.

[1] Budget Statement 2018

EDUCATION

Ghana’s education sector experienced a provisional growth of 9.1 percent and was the second highest performing sub sector in terms of growth in the service sector in 2017. Over the period, the number of the beneficiaries of the ‘destiny changing’ Free SHS policy were 353,053 first year students made up of 113,622 Day students and 239,431 Boarding students. Total enrolment at the basic level increased from 7,736,145 to 7,778,842 representing a 0.55 percent increase. 49,000 teacher trainees from 41 public Colleges of Education benefited from the restored teacher trainee allowance and 86 percent overall progress on the construction of the 23 new Senior High Schools was achieved.

In general, the total budget for the Ministry of Education, including the GETFUND, saw an increase of 11.6 percent in 2017, when the budget was GHS 9.12 billion, whilst in 2018 the designated spending was GHS 10.18 billion. The amount allocated to employee compensation also increased by 11.5 percent from GHS 6.5 billion in 2017 to GHS 7.2 billion in 2018. Goods and Services increased by 0.04 percent from GHS 1.35 billion in 2017 to GHS 1.36 billion in 2018. A critical look at the policies and programmes provides an indication of the government’s commitment to making education accessible and ensuring participation by all. A review of the capitation grant from GHS 9 to GHS 10 for 6.37 million pupils, an absorption of BECE registration fees for all public-school candidates and supply of textbooks are a few of the programmes. The capitation grant increase is welcomed, as 75 percent of households surveyed by NDPC said they paid some levies or fees at the basic level of education[2] and it affected the access to education for their wards. Therefore, the plight for parents and school heads has been lessened given their calls for an increase in the capitation grant.

The proposed establishment of the Voluntary Education Fund to support education is a good initiative in the education sector. However, it raises more questions about the sustainable funding of education policies like Free SHS policy and Teacher Trainee Allowance. The budget allocated an amount of GHS 1.34 billion for the implementation of the Free SHS policy in 2018 through the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) and the Government of Ghana fund (GoG) and skewed towards Goods and Services. Implementation challenges of the free SHS, specifically with infrastructure and the poor revenue performance, have been revealed recently.  It has become imperative for the government to find innovative ways of funding the free SHS policy, especially the inadequate infrastructure, which is well documented. CAPEX allocation in the education budget is GHS 671 million, accounting for 6.6 percent of the total education allocation and mainly funded by Internally Generated Funds (IGFs) and Development Partner Funds (DP). This is not encouraging as Infrastructure is vital in the achievement of the quality education enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goal (4) and the African Union agenda 2063. The question which needs answering is what will be the setup of the voluntary education fund if established?

While the progress under education is commendable, according to the “Country Private Sector Diagnostic’’ study by the World Bank Group, the education sector provides a high growth potential of multiplier effect on the economy if the role of the private sector is encouraged. Granting of tax relief to privately-owned universities and, in the near future, for privately-owned SHS is encouraging and should be sustained to help build the human capital that the country need in light of the industrialisation drive being pursued.

HEALTH

From 2017 to 2018, the budget allocated to the Ministry of Health marginally increased from GHS 4.23 billion to GHS 4.42 billion. This translates to an 4.64 percent increment year-on-year. This increase reflects the government’s intentions over the next year to increase the number of health care professionals by 15,000, to increase the coverage of vaccines and antiretroviral drugs distributed throughout the country, and to continue construction of health infrastructure. From 2017 to 2018, all budget allocation sources and items, except those coming from Development Partner Funds, and allocations to Goods and Services by the Government of Ghana (GoG), rose. The aforementioned allocations decreased by 42.5 percent and 96.7 percent respectively. Although the budget included a provisional allocation of GHS 187 million for the provision of essential drugs as a priority programme, the effect of the decrease in the GoG allocation to Goods and Services by 96.7 percent is ambiguous given the government’s plans to increase the number of vaccinations and antiretroviral drugs in the next year.

Over the past year, the government paid half of the National Health Insurance Scheme’s total arrears of GHS 1.2 billion, owed to healthcare service providers. In the 2018 Budget Statement, the government also stated the intention to review the funding sources of the NHIS, presumably with the view of including more non-state alternative sources and ‘reviving’ the NHIS. In the past, the NHIS has been funded by the National Health Fund, which comes from a combination of SSNIT contributions and the National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL). The active membership of the scheme grows every year, increasing the burden on the NHIS. Meanwhile, the allocation to the fund minutely increased by 4.6 percent from the GHS 1.7 billion allocation in 2017 to the GHS 1.8 billion allocation in 2018. Given that multiple studies over the years have pointed to the unsustainable nature of the current financing structure of the NHIS and the fact that the current government have also acknowledged this, the question arises of how exactly the NHIS will be funded in the future to ensure that it continues to fulfil its mandate.

In the spirit of contributing new ideas to reform the NHIS, IMANI recommends the following as captured in our earlier publication in the year:

  1. Providing an enabling environment to leverage the presence of private health insurance companies, which would foster more competition and drive down prices;
  2. Making it mandatory for companies to provide private health insurance for their employees, which would take part of the burden off the NHIS;
  3. The State covering the health insurance of only the most vulnerable in society.

Additionally, the 2018 Budget stated that the government would be exploring the possibility of financially weaning off some agencies under the Ministry of Health. The recognition and the efforts being made by government to explore complementary means to state funding for social basket programmes is commendable. This is especially justified given some past instances of alleged misappropriation of funds by board members within some health agencies and hospitals.[3]

INFRASTRUCTURE
Investment into infrastructure sectors of the economy such as railway, roads, information technology, sanitation, water and housing does not only boost the economy by improving the efficiency but also creates several jobs which is the key target of the 2018 budget.

The World Bank in a recent report estimated that to address Ghana’s huge infrastructure deficit, a sustained spending of at least $1.5bn per annum over the next decade is needed to plug the infrastructure gap that exists[i].

It is therefore surprising to note that the allocation to public infrastructure declined in the 2018 budget. The total allocation to infrastructure sector in 2018 is GHS 1.804 million, a 31 percent reduction from the 2017 amount of GHS 2.624 million. This brings into question the priority the government is giving to the sector. The reduction in allocation will affect the routine maintenance and upgrade works on roads, bridges, rail stocks, housing and dams in the country. The hardest hit subsector is transport, which had an 83 percent budget cut in relation to the 2017 allocation. However, the aviation sector had a 230 percent increase in allocation compared to the 2017 budget.

The table below illustrates the comparison between the 2017 and 2018 budget allocations to the sectors under infrastructure.

Public-private partnerships bill blues

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been identified as one of the alternate options to raise the investments required in bridging the country’s infrastructure deficit. Several PPPs are being considered for various infrastructure projects stated in the budget especially in the railway sector. However, the lack of a PPP legal framework to facilitate private investment is major drawback. A PPP framework provides a clear legal framework for developing, procuring, reviewing PPP projects. It also promotes local content in PPP projects, value for money and accountability. Given how important this piece of legislation is, why has it not received the same level of urgency as the special prosecutors bill and others, which were passed into law in the last 10 months? The bill was drafted under the erstwhile administration.  With the emphasis the 2018 budget places on job creation, government must make the passage of the PPP bill into law a priority in the first quarter of 2018 to create more jobs and promote efficiency.

Getting the trains back on track.

Investment in railway infrastructure will not only create more jobs but also improve the movement of goods and people across the country. Plans to construct city railways will greatly ease the stress & traffic burden of commuters in Accra and Kumasi.  Other railway development plans highlighted in the 2018 budget; Western Railway Line (Takoradi- Kumasi), Eastern Railway Line (Accra-Kumasi), Central Railway (Kumasi – Paga) will greatly boost economic activities and ease doing business in the country and with our neighbouring countries.

The sector was allocated GHS 544 million in the 2018 budget, representing a 5 percent increase to the 2017 allocated amount. The major challenge with these ambitious infrastructure plans is attracting private capital to complete them. The ministry of railways development was carved from transport with the intention to focus more attention on revamping the sector to contribute to economic growth.  However, the restructuring of the railway sector has not be expedited. The proposal to separate the Ghana railways development authority into two institutions: one as a regulator and the other managing the infrastructure by reviewing the Railway Act, 2008 (Act 779) has not be done. The most efficient model that will ensure sustained investment into rail infrastructure is when the management of the infrastructure is separated from the operation, with government focused on regulating the sector and not a player.

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[1]Grant to other government units include items such as the National Health Fund, the Education Trust Fund, and the Student Loan Trust Fund.

[2]NDPC (2016), 2014 Citizen Assessment of the Capitation Grant, Accra Ghana.

[3] Kwawukume, V., (2014); Graphic Online; Audit Report Orders 3 Top Ex-Korle-Bu Officials to RefundGH¢966,000; Available at: https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/audit-report-orders-ex-korle-bu-officials-to-refund-gh-966-000.html