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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ghana to benefit more by taking gold royalties in kind

The local content law for Ghana’s mining sector has the intent of ensuring that beyond the accruing taxes, the country is able to integrate the sector into the larger economy.

This, in essence, opens greater opportunities for Ghanaians to participate in the extractives sector.

But Ghana’s failure to add value to gold locally has been described as a bane to deriving maximum benefit from the mining industry.

It has emerged that nothing by way of local content would change in the extractive industry if Ghana continues to take its mineral royalties in cash instead of raw gold.

“In the oil sector, royalties and other tax payments are computed and they give us crude oil and we decide what to do with our crude oil; in the mining sector, they [the mining firms] go and sell. Infact some of them go and sell in dollars and come and give us cedis…are we allergic to dollars?” quizzed Dr. Steve Manteaw, a member of the Ghana Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (GHEITI).
He suggests a shift from the extreme focus on revenue to benefit maximization in natural resource management.

Revenue streams from the mining sector to the national budget include mineral right fees, ground rent, property rate, mineral royalty, dividends and corporate tax.

At a time the Ghanaian economic is challenged in stemming the tide of the cedi depreciation against the US dollar and other foreign currencies, Dr. Manteaw says the fiscal regime should not encourage foreign exchange flight.

“We need to make the necessary policy decisions to tighten up and make it difficult if not impossible for foreign exchange to leave this country,” he stated.

Gold accounts for around 90 percent of total mineral output in Ghana – production climbed to record 4.3million ounces in 2012. Though prices have slumped globally, the gold mining sector continues to rake in billions of dollars every year.

Gold is a commodity in demand – generally used for fabrication or investment. Fabricated gold has a variety of end-uses, including jewelry, electronics, dentistry, industrial and decorative uses.

Dr. Steve Manteaw says adding value to raw gold locally will create employment and increase revenue to the State.

“This country will be exporting jewelry and not gold bars for which we get pittance; you get more for jewelry and by doing that you’ll be creating tax opportunities, Ghanaians will be employed in the jewelry making industry, they will pay taxes and this can be used to finance our national development,” he noted.

Ghana is Africa’s second and world’s 10th largest producer of gold.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

African ministers unite in calling for strong universal climate agreement

Ministers from governments across Africa have renewed their call for a strong and universal climate change agreement with increased flows of funds, including through market and finance opportunities, sufficient to fulfill Africa’s development aspirations.

With countries set to approve a new climate change agreement under the UN in Paris in December, African ministers stressed the region’s readiness and requirement for accelerated private and public financing of low-carbon development. Africa, with its vulnerable populations and vast potential, has perhaps the most to lose from climate change and the most to gain from an effective climate change agreement.

“I agree with Ministers that the last 10 years in the implementation of the Clean Development Mechanism is a very valuable asset and that market mechanisms can play a significant role in raising the level of ambition, and supporting climate action,” said Ms. Hakima El Haite, Delegate Minister in charge of Environment of Morocco.

“In these last eight months before Paris, the focus must shift from restating negotiating positions to finding common ground solutions,” said UNFCCC Deputy Executive Secretary Richard Kinley at a day-long ministerial segment at the Africa Carbon Forum 2015 hosted by the Kingdom of Morocco.

“All countries have something to gain from the Paris agreement and it is in everyone’s interests to reach a strong conclusion as soon as possible this year. If Heads of State come to Paris, it must be to adopt an agreement
that is robust and ready for them.”

Clean Energy to Unlock African Sustainable Development Potential

The African Carbon Forum 2015 focused on programmes to unleash private sector finance, such as through the Clean Development Mechanism, and scale up other forms of climate finance to strengthen the sustainable development of African countries.

According to the International Energy Agency Africa Energy Outlook 2014, 625 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa, about two-thirds of the population, are without secure access to electricity. Some 730 million people in the region still rely on cooking mostly with wood, harming health and destroying vital forest cover.

“The coming months provide African countries with a significant opportunity to align their contributions to the Paris climate agreement with their own long-term sustainable development priorities,” said Mr. Kinley.

Countries are busy detailing their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), which they will submit as their contribution to climate action under the Paris agreement. INDCs for 35 countries have been submitted to date. On April 1, Gabon became the first African country to submit an INDC.

Climate Finance and a Strong CDM Are Key to Success

Two clear messages emerged from participants at the African Carbon Forum. First, linking climate finance to results is essential to stimulate greater funding for both mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Second, developing countries, including Africa, need tools like the Clean Development Mechanism if they are to successfully shift to a low-carbon emitting development path. Paris provides the continent with a unique opportunity to anchor carbon markets in the long-term climate agenda in line with scaling up climate action and sustainable development based on their national priorities.

A consistent theme during the Forum was the need to preserve and improve the CDM beyond 2020 as a tool for providing continued climate finance and technology to developing countries, especially in Africa. This would capitalize on the capacity and infrastructure already built up by countries and stakeholders. It is widely expected that this will be one of the issues to be resolved in Paris.

Participants particularly highlighted the usefulness of the CDM’s established rules in measuring, reporting and verifying results and its possible role to help define and clarify the content of  INDCs. The workshop also concluded that African countries could look at how best to link and leverage finance through the Green Climate Fund at the same time as increasing use of the CDM.

The Forum noted that the INDCs provide Africa with an ideal vehicle through which public policy developments can be transparently displayed by countries to shift toward a low-carbon and sustainable development path.

“The African Carbon Forum 2015 has clearly demonstrated the engagement and commitment by countries in the region to contribute to a balanced and fair outcome at the COP in Paris. Countries are preparing their INDCs, and presentations at the Forum indicate that these will have both ambition and
at the same time send clear signals of the need to balance adaptation and mitigation aspects within a broader green economy development framework,” said John Christensen, Director, United Nations Environment Programme DTU Partnership

This year’s Africa Carbon Forum attracted over 600 participants of 53 countries, including 23 ministers or senior officials, policymakers, project developers and investors.

The Forum is organized under the umbrella of the Nairobi Framework by the UNFCCC, United Nations Environment Programme along with the UNEP-DTU Partnership, World Bank, African Development Bank and the International
Emissions Trading Association.

The Nairobi Framework was launched in 2006 by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to assist developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, to improve their level of participation in the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

UN Secretary-General calls for more sustainable energy investment

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on business leaders to expand investment in low-carbon growth and opportunities to advance sustainable energy for all and tackle climate change.

This was contained in a statement to The Future of Energy Summit 2015, organized by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Noting that global investment in renewable power and fuels in 2014 spiked by more than 15 per cent over 2013, with investments in developing countries growing by more than a third, he pointed out that renewable energies still contribute less than 10 per cent of global electricity, but that incentives can shift this forward.

“Energy is a story of global progress,” the Secretary-General said. “Smart investors are opening new markets, facilitating new business models, and supporting entrepreneurs in developing countries.” 

He added, “I am here to urge you to take action for sustainable energy."

He pointed to a new UN-led Global Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform with the potential to double efficiency by 2030, save more than a gigaton of carbon emissions each year and save tens of billions of dollars, as well as partnerships with banks and investment institutions that can mobilize another $120 billion a year in sustainable energy investments.
Ban Ki-moon told the business leaders, “These significant sums are just part of what is possible. I count on your help to realize the enormous potential out there.”

The private sector, at the Climate Summit last September, announced plans to mobilize over $200 billion in financial assets towards low-carbon and climate-resilient development.

Mr. Ban said the Paris Climate Conference in December would only succeed with a strong, credible climate finance package, and he urged the private sector to help move this process forward.

To put the global economy on a path to low-carbon growth, he called for carbon pricing, the phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies and stronger energy efficiency standards.

UN Sustainable Energy for All Forum to spur solutions

Mr. Ban also announced that the United Nations will convene the second annual UN Sustainable Energy for All Forum on 17-21 May in New York, working with the World Bank and other key partners.  The Forum will bring together over a thousand sustainable energy innovators to share solutions and spur action.

Currently one out of five people lives without access to electricity, and nearly 40 per cent of the world’s population rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste to cook and heat their homes, leading to over four million deaths each year, mostly women and children, from the effects of indoor smoke.

Addressing this energy poverty while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions and tackling climate change is a crucial global challenge.

Kandeh Yumkella, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary–General and chief executive of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative, called on the private sector to seize the opportunity by innovating and investing to help achieve the initiative’s objectives.

“The speed and scale of interventions we need to transform our current energy system and ensure shared prosperity lie in the private sector,” said Yumkella.

Turn to the informal sector for employment – young graduates told

Ghana’s employment market is choked; but not for those seeking jobs in the informal sector, says Prof. Imoro Braimah of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

Public sector institutions are no longer offering placements, especially to young graduates – majority of these graduates, including teachers and medical personnel, are challenged in getting job postings.

The private sector remains the most viable employment avenue for young graduates hoping to venture the job market – yet most formal private sector enterprises are also constrained in engaging more production hands as they struggle to compete with cheap imports.

But opportunities exist for young graduates in the informal sector to be gainfully employed, says Prof. Imoro Braimah, Provost of the College of Arts and Social Sciences at the KNUST.

“I wish that we have more of our graduates going into the informal sector. A lot of them shy away from the informal sector; they think that for the informal sector you only pick it if you have no option,” he observed.

The lecturer however says the few who venture the informal sector often “make successes and they find out that after all its better to be an employer than to be an employee and they stay there”.

The Economics Department of the KNUST has set out to expose students to tenets that can set them apart to be gainfully employed, including the organization of Job Fair, which offers links up students with potential employers to better appreciate mutual interests on the job market.

“As students of economics, we teach them to be critical thinkers, so they’ll be able to know the relationship between the different situations and the best solution,” stated Dr. Sis Eugenia Amporfu, Head of the Economics Department.

She says such analytical orientation should enable the students to work in differs sectors and environments.

Prof. Imoro Braimah is particularly enthused at the rate of female students excelling in economics.

He believes the private sector, especially the informal sector, has better opportunities for female graduates of economics, as they have the knowledge and skills for value addition in the sector.

The informal economy is often comprised of self-employment in small unregistered enterprises and wage employment.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Water supplies to dwindle in parts of the world by 2015

In 2050 there will be enough water to help produce the food needed to feed a global population expected to top nine billion, but overconsumption, degradation and the impact of climate change will reduce water supplies in many regions, especially developing countries.

The FAO and the World Water Council (WWC) have warned in a paper published today.

“Towards a water and food secure future” calls for government policies and investments by the public and private sectors to ensure that crops, livestock and fish are sustainably produced in ways also aimed at safeguarding water resources.

Such actions are essential in order to reduce poverty, increase incomes and ensure food security for many people living in rural and urban areas, the paper stresses.

“Food and water security are inextricably linked. We believe that by developing local approaches and making the right investments, world leaders can ensure that there will be sufficient water volume, quality and access to meet food security in 2050 and beyond,” said Benedito Braga, President of the World Water Council, on the occasion of the launching of the paper at the 7th World Water Forum in Daegu and Gyeongbuk, South Korea.

“The essence of the challenge is to adopt programs that involve investments in longer-term returns, such as the rehabilitation of infrastructure. Agriculture has to follow the path of sustainability and not the one of immediate profitability,” added Braga.

“In an era of accelerated changes unparalleled to any in our past, our ability to provide adequate, safe and nutritious food sustainably and equitably is more relevant than ever. Water, as an irreplaceable element of achieving this end, is already under pressure by increasing demands from other uses, exacerbated by weak governance, inadequate capacities, and underinvestment,” said FAO Deputy Director-General Natural Resources, Maria Helena Semedo.

“This is an opportune time to re-visit our public policies, investment frameworks, governance structures and institutions. We are entering the post-2015 development era and we should mark it with solid commitments,” she added.

Agriculture will still account for most water consumption

By 2050 some 60 percent more food – up to 100 percent in developing countries – will be needed to feed the world while agriculture will continue to be the largest user of water globally, accounting in many countries for around two-thirds or more of supplies drawn from rivers, lakes and aquifers.

Even with increasing urbanization, in 2050 much of the global population and most of the poor will continue to earn their living in agriculture. Yet the sector will see the volume of water available to it reduced due to a competing demand from cities and industry, the FAO/WWC paper notes.

As such, through technology and management practice, farmers, especially smallholders, will need to find ways to increase their output on the limited land and water available.

Currently, water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of people in the world, a proportion set to reach two-thirds by 2050.

This is largely due to overconsumption of water for food production and agriculture. For example in large areas of South and East Asia, in the Near East, North Africa and North and Central America, more groundwater is used than can be replenished naturally.

In some regions intensive agriculture, industrial development and growing cities are responsible for polluting water sources, the paper adds.

Policy changes and investments essential

Improvements aimed at helping farmers increase food output using increasingly limited water resources — including in the area of crop and livestock genetics – are widely needed. Empowering farmers to better manage risks associated with water scarcity will also be critical, according to FAO and the WWC. This will require a combination of public and private investment as well as supportive training.

To address degradation and waste, water institutions should be more transparent in their allocation and pricing mechanisms, the two organizations argue. Crucially, water rights need to be allocated in fair and inclusive ways.

In particular the paper highlights the need to guarantee security of land and water tenure and access to credit in ways that enhance the role of women, who in Africa and Asia are responsible for much of farming.
Addressing climate change

The effects of global warming including unusual rainfall and temperature patterns and more frequent extreme weather events, such as droughts and cyclones, will have an increasing impact on agriculture and water resources in particular, today’s paper warns.

Mountain areas provide up to 80 per cent of the world’s water resources, but the ongoing retreat of glaciers as a result of climate change threatens the existence of those supplies in the future.

Forests on the other hand use water but also provide it – at least one third of the world’s biggest cities draw a significant portion of their drinking water from forested areas.

This underscores the importance of stronger efforts to protect forests and upland areas where much of the world’s freshwater supply originates.

Today’s paper calls for policies and investments to enhance adaptation at the watershed and household levels, such as improved water storage facilities, wastewater capture and reuse, as well as research that generates more resilient agricultural production systems for smallholders.

The World Water Forum is the largest international event aimed at finding joint solutions to the planet’s main water challenges. In addition to jointly producing the White Paper with the World Water Council, FAO also teamed up with several partners and issued the 2030 Vision and Global Framework for Action, a set of policy guidelines and recommendations to improve groundwater management, during the forum.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Petroleum Commission should crack the whip on erring oil firms

Oil companies in Ghana would act with impunity if Ghana’s Petroleum Commission fails to crack the whip in regulating the industry, according to industry watchers.

Tullow Ghana Limited, a leading oil firm in the country, has laid off 70 workers, claiming to be reeling under the fall in crude oil prices.

The Petroleum Ministry had directed the company not to lay-off any core technical staff.

Managing Director of Tullow Ghana, Charles Darku has however denied allegations the locals affected in the retrenchment fell within the highly skilled labour force.

The Ministry also directed the company to put in mitigation measures to ensure minimal impact on employees by redeploying “employees of risk redundancy” to other areas of the business where their skills could be used.

But Industry Watcher, Dr. Steve Manteaw says such orders by the Ministry will yield no results because it has no regulatory responsibility and that the oil companies are not “an extension of government bureaucracy”.

He rather believes an effective regulation would prevent oil companies from bullying their way through the system, emphasizing that the Commission “have access to feasibility reports of the oil companies; know where the break-even point is on the feasibility reports; so have to act on the basis of the information available to it”.

Dr. Manteaw has acknowledged the importance of consultation in the process of regulation “but not when the facts are so glaring that this country is being ripped off…you crack the whip”.

The Petroleum Commission was established in July 2011 by an Act of Parliament, Act 821, to regulate and manage the exploitation of petroleum resources and to co-ordinate the policies in relation to them.

The Commission is the regulator of Ghana’s upstream petroleum sector and is mandated to regulate and co-ordinate all activities in this sector for the overall benefit and welfare of Ghanaians.

But does the Petroleum Commission have the capacity to crack the whip?

Dr. Manteaw, who is the Executive Director of the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), says the Commission, as an infant institution, has some weaknesses though there is an ongoing project to build capacity to the fullest level.

In spite of the low capacity, he states that “regulations are done in accordance with the law and therefore in so far as the law has been in fractured upon, then it becomes a matter for the Commission to apply the law; we can use the court system or other punitive sanctions are actually prescribed in law to get the companies do the right thing”.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Ghana losing Gh500million to smallscale miners annually

Gold exports from Ghana’s smallscale miners in 2012 and 2013 amounted to the same volume of production by the three leading mining firms in the country.

Figures from the Minerals Commission indicate small scale and artisanal mining accounted for 34% of total gold production in Ghana, which amounts to 1.6million ounces of gold.

This is equivalent to the total exports of Anglogold Ashanti Obuasi mine, Goldfields Tarkwa and Newmont Gold Ahafo mine.

The State is however losing its resources without compensatory revenue.

There is no mineral royalty payment on the extraction of gold by the small scale miners – an annual Gh₵500million in taxes and royalties is estimated to have been lost to the artisanal mining.

The Mining and Minerals Act 2006, Act 703 does not differentiate between small scale and large scale operations in terms of royalties and both are liable for royalty payment.

The 2012 and 2013 report of Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GHEITI) has recommended that “the rate at which royalty is paid may be differentiated between large scale and small scale holders” whilst royalty payment may be instituted at the point of export for the small scale operators.

Dr. Steve Manteaw of the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), a civil society group, says taxing the smallcale miners will demand mainstreaming of their activities.

He observed the failure of the country to make formalization of illegal mining attractive to galamsey operators.

“When multinational mining companies come into the country, we bend over to give them incentives and whatever support they need to be successful; their success become of paramount interest to the State. Why shouldn’t the success of smallscale miners be of paramount interest to the state?” he quizzed.

According to him, players in the informal mining sector can be incentivized with support mechanisms, including access to geological data, technical aid - in which a plant pool of equipment can be accessed at subsidized rate.

“If I know that by formalizing my activities I get some support in terms of being able to access venture capital fund to finance my operations, then it becomes attractive to move away from illegal activities into the formal sector; once you’ve done that then we can identify these groups and tax them appropriately to finance national development,” suggested Dr. Manteaw.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh 

Gabon is first African country to submit its Climate Action Plan ahead of Paris 2015

Gabon has submitted its new climate action plan to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the first African country to do so.

"I deeply appreciate Gabon's initiative and welcome this first INDC from an African nation," said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC.

This Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) comes well in advance of a new universal climate change agreement which will be reached at the UN climate conference in Paris, in December this year.

Including Gabon, 35 parties to the UNFCCC have formally submitted their INDCs, covering all the countries under the European Union plus the European Commission, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Switzerland and the United

The Paris agreement will come into effect in 2020, empowering all countries to act to prevent average global temperatures rising above 2 degrees Celsius and to reap the many opportunities that arise from a necessary global transformation to clean and sustainable development.

Ms Figueres is encouraging countries to come forward with their INDCs as soon as they are able, underlining their commitment and support towards this successful outcome in Paris. Governments agreed to submit their INDCs in advance of Paris.

Developed countries are expected to do so as soon as possible and, with Mexico and Gabon, developing countries have also started to submit their INDCs well in advance.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

GHEITI Bill to be laid before parliament this year

A bill to institutionalize the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GHEITI) is expected to be laid before parliament this year.

The Initiative is a global coalition of governments, extractive companies and civil society working together to improve accountability in the management of natural resources.

Data collection for the Ghana EITI is currently voluntary for interest parties, including government agencies and firms operating in the extractive industry.

The Natural Resource Sector Transparency and Accountability Bill, 2014 seeks to provide the legal framework to enhance transparency and accountability in relation to governance of the natural resource sector of the economy.

National Coordinator of the Ghana EITI, Franklin Ashiadey, observed the Initiative has been instrumental in most reforms in the extractives sector – including the review of the minerals royalty from three to five percent, review of the corporate tax and capital allowances.

“For the fact that companies are now willing to disclose information to the general public, for Ghanaians to know how much companies are paying to government alone is enough to ensure some transparency in their operations,” he stated.

The GHEITI was introduced over a decade ago with a narrow focus on revenue transparency. This has been broadened to provide accountability and transparency along the entire extractive value chain – from the award of licenses and contracts through to regulation, collection of taxes, distribution and use of revenues to support sustainable development.

Legal Consultant on the Bill, Tuinese Amuzu, describes the legal instrument as a good governance and accountability tool. He explains the general context is to ensure natural resource extraction benefits the people.

The Bill also provide platform for the effective implementation of the EITI Standards and other measures aimed at good natural resource governance, whilst empowering the general public to demand accountability and transparency in the development outcomes from benefits from payments made by mining firms to government.

Mr. Ashiadey says giving legal backing to the Ghana EITI process will help address some of the challenges faced by the Initiative.

He is hopeful Bill, currently going through stages of consultation with interest groups, should go through parliament before end of year.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh 

US submits its Climate Action Plan ahead of 2015 Paris Agreement

The United States has submitted its new climate action plan to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

This Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) comes well in advance of a new universal climate change agreement which will be reached at the UN climate conference in Paris, in December this year.

The US INDC also includes a cover note and additional information.

Including the United States submission, 33 Parties to the UNFCCC have formally submitted their INDCs, covering all the countries under the European Union plus the European Commission, Mexico, Norway and Switzerland.

The Paris agreement will come into effect in 2020, empowering all countries to act to prevent average global temperatures rising above 2 degrees Celsius and to reap the many opportunities that arise from a necessary
global transformation to clean and sustainable development.

Countries have agreed that there will be no back-tracking in these national climate plans, meaning that the level of ambition to reduce emissions will increase over time.

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said: "According to UNFCCC data, two thirds of industrialized countries covering 65 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from the industrialized part of the world have now set out their ambition
for the new agreement which comes into effect in 2020—importantly many of these contributions also speak to longer term aims representative of progressively increasing ambition over time.”

“Over the coming months, we expect many more nations to come forward to make their submissions public. The pace at which these contributions are coming forward bodes well for Paris and beyond,” she added.

Countries under the UNFCCC have already finalized their negotiating text for the Paris agreement and formal negotiations will continue on the basis of this text at the next UN climate change meeting in Bonn from 1 to 11 June.

The text covers the options on the substantive content of the new agreement including mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology, capacity building, and transparency of action and support.

GRA tasked to retrieve Gh6.6m from Prestea Sankofa Gold

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has been tasked to retrieve an estimated Gh6.6million in outstanding mineral royalty from Prestea Sankofa Gold Limited, a gold mining firm in the Western region.

The company has failed to pay royalties for 2012 and 2013 after exporting over Gh130million worth of gold in the two years.

The default in payment is contained in the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GHEITI) Report for 2012 and 2013.

“Whatever the excuse, it’s something that is due the State and they have to pay,” said Kwadwo Asafo-Aidoo of Boas & Associates, which prepared the GHEITI Report.

Prestea Sankofa is essentially a Ghanaian gold mining company with the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) holding majority shares.

The company produced 21,237 ounces of gold in 2012 at total revenue of $36,012,936 and an additional 22,853 ounces at revenue of $31,760,747 was recorded in 2013.

According to the GHEITI report, the company paid over Gh1.5million to the GRA over the period, but the amount covered outstanding royalty payments for 2011.

Liquidity and production challenges are some factors attributed to the company’s failure to honour the obligation.

But Mr. Asafo-Aidoo says the appropriate legal penalties should be meted out to the company.

“If these people have waited for two years without any payment of royalty, then you can imagine the quantum of liability… the GRA is at the moment taking up that issue with them and I believe that in the shortest possible time they should come up with that payment,” he stated.

The GHEITI Report has requested the GRA to investigate and reconcile the revenue to royalty payment and to recover the probable difference due the state.

The Report has also recommended regularization of royalty payment frequency in split quarterly payments to ensure standardization and adherence to procedures for royalty payments to promote compliance.

The Report noted that corporate tax has exceeded mineral royalty for three continuous years. “This may require further investigation and actions to ensure the sustainability of mining revenues,” it concluded.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Future concern no longer about energy security but climate change

A commitment to decarbonize economies and transition to a 100% clean energy future by 2050 was a vociferous subject at the climate change talks in Lima, Peru.

The decarbonization target is currently in the draft text of the climate agreement – close to 90 countries have voiced their support for the inclusion of a zero-emission target.

But there are fears fossil fuel companies and polluting countries will lobby furiously to get it removed before a deal is signed in Paris.

In the following report, Kofi Adu Domfeh explores what alternatives are available for an emerging oil economy like Ghana.

Listen to audio report…

Mexico submits Climate Action Plan ahead of 2015 Paris Agreement

Mexico has submitted its new climate action plan to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the first developing country to do so.

Mexico's Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) comes well in advance of a new universal climate change agreement which will be reached at the UN climate conference in Paris in December this year.

Its INDC also includes plans in respect to adaptation and a target to cut black carbon or soot. Mexico is a founding member of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition which was among the many inspiring international cooperative initiatives taken forward at the UN Secretary-General's Climate Summit in 2014.

Including the Mexico submission, 32 parties to the UNFCCC have formally submitted their INDCs. This also includes all the countries under the European Union plus the European Commission, Norway and Switzerland.

The Paris agreement will come into effect in 2020, empowering all countries to act to prevent average global temperatures rising above 2 degrees Celsius and to reap the many opportunities that arise from a necessary global transformation to clean and sustainable development.

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC is encouraging countries to come forward with their INDCs as soon as they are able, underlining their commitment and support towards this successful outcome in Paris. Governments agreed to submit their INDCs in advance of Paris.

Developed countries are expected to do so as soon as possible and more bigger developing countries are also likely to submit their INDCs well in advance.

Countries have agreed that there will be no back-tracking in these national climate plans, meaning that the level of ambition to reduce emissions will increase over time. Countries under the UNFCCC have already finalized the negotiating text for the Paris agreement.

The next round of formal negotiations will take place at UNFCCC headquarters in Bonn, Germany, in June.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Equal opportunities key to agricultural transformation with CAADP

The commitment of African leaders on Agriculture for Women Empowerment and Development is the focus of the 11th Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development (CAADP) Partnership Platform (PP) Meeting holding in South Africa.

CAADP is an African-wide agenda designed to support the transformation of the continent’s agriculture for sustained food security and socio-economic growth.

The annual continental forum brings together more than 500 stakeholders in African agriculture – ranging from government, the private sector, international development agencies, the African Union, civil society and Regional Economic Communities.

“Our top challenge remains that of changing the lives of our farmers that will benefit all our fellow citizens by improving our collective food and nutrition security. And of course this can only happen by tapping into the potential of those who can most contribute to it. Our women have to be at the forefront,” says Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency.

The 11th CAADP Partnership Platform is being held in the context of the celebration of the year of women empowerment and after a landmark summit for African agriculture last year in Malabo.

The NEPAD Agency, as development agency of the African Union, is considered critical for addressing challenges of achieving the Malabo goals with particular attention for women.

Through the Malabo Declaration, a recommitment to CAADP made by Heads of States in 2014, the CAADP Partnership Platform also reaffirms the central role of farmers, men and women, as well as small-medium entrepreneurs as key players to foster decisions on matters of economic policy in Africa.

“By strengthening the position of farmers, women and youth in the value chains we should aim at reducing inequality and creating a more equitable society,” Dr Mayaki said.

Mrs Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union Commission, echoed Dr Mayaki by stating the CAADP has put in place several programmes on the ground that are yielding results, and are inclusive of African citizens.

In referring to the Malabo Declaration, Professor Edith de Vries, Director-General at the South African Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry emphaised that all stakeholders need to hold themselves accountable in CAADP for concrete results on the ground.

During a media briefing, Dr Mayaki stated that the energy so far focused on the remobilisation of African States towards participatory and improved planning processes in agriculture, resulting in the design of more than 40 investment plans, some of which were carried out at 100% with significant results.

Speaking on the role of women in agriculture, Mrs. Estherine Fotabong, NEPAD Director of Programmes, said that CAADP has allowed a more structured way of thinking and planning in the agricultural sector. 

For Africa to achieve its full potential in agriculture and development, women have to be supported, encouraged and empowered through favourable policies, platforms and various mechanisms.

Youth in rural Africa to benefit from $4 million agric project

The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have launched a 4-year project that aims to create decent employment opportunities for young women and men in rural areas.

This is through the development of rural enterprises in sustainable agriculture and agribusiness along strategic value chains. 

The USD$ 4 million project is funded by the African Solidarity Trust Fund.

NEPAD's chief executive officer, Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, has lauded this partnership. 

“The collaboration between NEPAD and FAO will go a long way in ensuring that the youth, Africa’s future, are not forgotten,” he said. “It is by creating an economic environment that stimulates initiatives - particularly by conducting transparent and foreseeable policies - and at the same time by regulating the market in order to deal with market failures that we will attain results and impact through the new thrust given to our farmers, entrepreneurs and youth.”

The project – which will see over 100 000 young men and women in rural Benin, Cameroon, Malawi and Niger benefit – is anchored in the Rural Futures Program of NEPAD. Rural transformation is at the heart of this Programe where equity and inclusiveness where rural men and women can develop their potential and thrive.

Agriculture and agribusiness transformation required

FAO Assistant Director General for Africa Mr Bukar Tijani said, “Today marks an important milestone in moving forward and upward in terms of empowering youth in these four countries - especially women, as 2015 is the African Union’s year of women empowerment. This is actually also one of the concrete ways that we can see the declarations made in Malabo in mid 2014, coming to fruition by opening new paths for African youth within the agricultural arena”.

Over half of the continent’s population is below 25 years and approximately 11 million young Africans will join the labour market every year for the next decade. Despite strong economic growth in many African countries, wage employment is limited and agriculture and agribusiness continue to provide income and employment for over 60 percent of Sub Saharan Africa’s population.

However, the laborious, subsistence-oriented small-scale agriculture is often not the preferred choice of work for many young people. If Africa is to reap from this demographic dividend, it will need to attract young people in to the agri-food sector. This will require transforming the agriculture and agribusiness sector to be more modern, profitable and efficient capable of providing decent employment opportunities for this young labour force.

Africa leaders need to set policies that encourage skills development in the agriculture sector to train the youth in different aspects of agribusiness and ‘Agripreneurship’ along agriculture value chains for them to take agriculture as a business. The emphasis of this project is on acquisition of skills along specific value chains and the transition of the trainees into business in the sector.

Ending Hunger by 2025

In 2012 the African Union Commission, NEPAD Agency, the Lula Institute and FAO formed a partnership aimed at ending hunger in the continent. A year later, the four partners organised a high-level meeting of ministers - in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - leading to a declaration to end hunger and a road map for implementation.

This Declaration was subsequently endorsed at the 2014 African Union summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea and incorporated as the “Commitment to Ending Hunger in Africa by 2025” in the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods.

In providing a model for advancing the Commitment to Ending Hunger by 2025, it contributes to the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), which aims to boost agricultural productivity and food security on the continent.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Climate justice takes centre stage at World Social Forum 2015

The struggle for climate justice has emerged as one of the most significant themes in the World Social Forum 2015, as frontline communities across the globe continue to build the “Road to Paris” and leverage global pressure to impact the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 

Over 70,000 grassroots activists from around the world have kicked off the World Social Forum 2015 with a march calling for peace, democracy and social justice in solidarity with the people of Tunis and all communities impacted by violence worldwide. 

The Social Forum will continue from March 24-29, under the banner: Together to pursue the revolution of rights and dignity.

The final global agreement on climate to be signed in December 2015 at the Conference on Parties (COP) 21 in Paris is expected to be insufficient and far from the kind of action needed to address the mounting crisis.

“People on the frontlines of the climate crisis know what action needs to be taken, and are ready to make change happen,” Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of Indigenous Environmental Network. ”We need our governments and global leaders to catch up with the people on the ground. Keep the oil in the soil, the coal in the hole, and the tar sands in the land.”

Climate justice organizations from around the world will lead a track of “Climate Space” workshops, discussing the links and common root causes of the climate crisis, food, water, employment, migration, democracy and human rights, and profiling community-led solutions. 

Among the alternatives, delegates from the US will be lifting up the work of Cooperation Jackson in Mississippi and the struggle for economic democracy inside the United States.

Global feminism has also emerged as a core theme in this year’s Social Forum.  


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