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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Going green with solar to power Ghana’s economy

Ghana needs alternative energy sources today more than ever before to sustain industries and enhance socio-economic livelihoods.

For businesses, the deficiency in supply of energy is an issue of survival, says Robert Kwakye Nketia, Ashanti Regional Chairman of Association of Ghana Industries (AGI).

“We’re not seeing big and constructive solutions to the energy problem. So as we speak today, a lot of industries have closed down; those who are working have laid workers off and it’s creating a lot of problem,” he said.

Power Minister, Dr. Kwabena Donkor, has put his head on the line to end the energy crisis by end of 2015, acknowledging that electricity is a prerequisite for industrialization.

Amidst the skepticism of an end in sight to a crisis that has been christened ‘DUMSOR’, there is the call for Ghana to explore sustainable alternative energy sources.

Government is encouraging private sector participation in renewable energy to achieve a universal access to electricity by 2020 – over 90percent penetration.

“Renewable energy is a sustainable option to ensure access to electricity service in both grid-connected and off-grid communities that are not likely to be connected to the national grid in the foreseeable future,” the Power Minister has stated.

The world’s oil reserve is estimated to last for 30-40 years. Solar, an infinite and pollution-free resource is seen as a good alternative in the face of climate change.

With an abundant sunlight, sourcing practical solar solutions for a green Ghana is pushed as ideal to feed an economy that has over the years gone hungry of reliable energy sources.

Private sector player, the HOREB Group, is providing solutions to commercial and residential by designing solar infrastructure to solve individual energy challenges.

Chief Executive Officer, Wilfred Adjei says the challenge faced by Ghana offers an opportunity for the country to “Go Solar”.

“We are saying that the sun is more dependable; we are saying all the systems are good, but let’s also harness what God has given to us freely…we need to go into designing, bring our scientists onboard and give the solution,” he said.
OORJA Solar, the Indian manufacturing partners of HOREB, has already launched a campaign to “lighting up one million lives in Ghana”.

“We need to direct our attention to people who do not have access to light because of power failure or the grid not reaching them; we want each and every household of Ghana being lit with a solar lamp so that the children can study, the women can cook in safe, hygienic and pollution-free environment,” stated Divya Varshnei, Director of OORJA Solar.

He describes solar as one of the best renewable energy forms for environmental and personal health.

The cost of installing commercial solar panels has however often discouraged investments in the alternative. A 4KVA solar system, for instance, could cost about $16,000.

According to Mr. Adjei, such cost should be seen as more of a long-term investment with good returns.

With guaranteed system lifespan of a minimum 25years, he explains that “within the first 3-5years, you are able to break even of the investment that you’ve made”.

The business community is buying into the idea. Mr. Nketia whose company processes oilseeds is excited at the alternative.

“I didn’t know that the solar system could power the machines in my factory and when you have other alternatives of power which will be cheaper for you, which will also be available all the time, you have to such for it and get it,” he said.

Power Minister says investments in renewable energy must make both economic and social sense.

Listen to Audio Report…

Monday, August 31, 2015

Ghana risks losing mining professionals to global competition

Ghana risks losing its skilled mining professionals to competition in other economies unless, pay disparities in the local mining industry are addressed.

This is the fear of the Ghana Mineworkers Union (GMWU), which describes as “striking” the skill pricing and huge wage income inequity affecting the underprivileged middle to lower level workers in the industry.

The 2013 HAYS Resources and Mining Global Salary Guide ranked 37 countries according to locals/nationals and expatriates average annual salaries.

The report indicated that Ghanaian nationals only make US$39,200 compared with their expatriate counterparts of US$152,100 – this represents 25.77% or a quarter of what the expatriates earn.

"The reward for labour in the mining industry in Ghana and for that matter Africa should not only be just wages but fair and equitable wages,” said Prince William Ankrah, General Secretary of the GMWU.

He believes Ghanaian workers are being shortchanged in every aspects, comparing locals with their peers like South Africa (60%), Congo DR (50%), Mozambique (38.56%) and Namibia (51%).

“If you compare the trend across Africa, we are the lowest,” he stated.

Research has also shown that nationals of big economies are not showing interest in mining-related courses, hence the drive to recruit from countries like Ghana.

Mr. Ankrah observed a drive to poach Ghanaian mining professionals to countries like Australia and Canada because of scarcity of experienced hands in advanced economies.

“If we are not very careful, we’ll subject our mining engineers, geologists, and all those whose skills are very scarce and they could leave us any day,” he said.

The 11th Quadrennial Delegates Conference of the GMWU on the theme: "Rethinking the Remuneration Landscape in the Mining industry: Critical Perspective(s) for Change", touched on the core base of workers' interest – salaries and wages.

The Conference explored avenues to keep businesses going in the face of dwindling fortunes of the mining sector.

The global fall in gold prices has had heavy impact in Ghana’s mining sector – some companies have closed shop whilst others are laying off workers.

The meeting discussed areas of consolidation to sustain jobs and livelihoods.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Ghanaian woodworkers access support to compete with imports

The Woodworkers Association of Ghana (WAG) is accessing support from the Skills Development Fund (SDF) under the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET) to upgrade skills of master craftsmen.

Local woodworkers are struggling to compete with imports of furniture and other wood products into Ghana.

To survive the industry, Ghanaian wood processors require the skill sets and equipment upgrade to produce standard products.

“If you are in the industry and you don’t develop your skills, you’ll be weeded out, you’ll not fit into the system because as more quality products are coming, you also need to sharpen your skills,” observed Joseph Boakye, Director of the Forestry Commission Training Centre (FCTC).

The Centre has been contracted to train 1,200 members of WAG across the country with a grant of Gh827,000 by SDF-COTVET.

“Individual association members have got their skills upgrade, meaning that they’ll be able to improve their work, their income will improve, productivity will increase and their livelihood will also improve,” said Isaac Boateng, Deputy Grants Manager at SDF.

President of WAG, Reynolds Debrah, says through the training members are positioning themselves for increased productivity and competitiveness.

“Skills development and technical education is the answer to the unemployment in the country,” he said. “With this training, we’ve done knocked-down of packed furniture; we are able to do these things and you can assemble them yourself”.

Mr. Debrah added that “we are producing glazing products and our finishing too is upgraded, so gradually we’ll catch up with the outside world”.

The SDF has presented training materials, including computers and sets of screen projectors to support the continuous training of the woodworkers at the Forestry Commission Training Centre (FCTC).

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

COP21 Paris: Ghana hopeful of meeting deadline in INDCs submission

Ghana should be able to submit its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) before the deadline of end of September 2015, according to government officials.

An INDC is a government's proposed 'contribution' to the United Nations as to what it will do about climate change. It is both a political and technical task because the information included in governments’ INDCs will serve as building blocks of the Paris climate agreement.

Countries that fail to submit their INDCs will miss out of the synthesis report and the seriousness of the country in the negotiation process would be questioned.

The Ghana Agenda for INDCs is spearheaded by the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI).

Peter Justice Derry, Deputy Director, Climate Change at the Ministry, says there would be “back-to-back meetings” of stakeholders in the final days ahead to meet the deadline.

“We are worried [because] we want to see ourselves in that synthesis report and so we must make sure that we meet the deadline or else we miss out,” he told a national Forum on the INDCs, organized by the Ghana Climate Change Coalition (GCCC) in collaboration with the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) and Abantu for Development.

The forum is part of efforts towards enhanced CSOs action in the climate change discourse and the INDCs in Ghana.

“The role of civil society organizations cannot be under-played because all over the world when there has been concrete change; change that has actually benefited citizens, it has been from the push and campaign of civil society,” said Dr. Rose Mensah-Kutin of the GCCC.

Seven African countries have so far submitted their INDCs – Gabon, Morocco, Ethiopia, Kenya, Benin, Djibouti and DRC.

The position of the Global Campaign is that INDCs should be comprehensive and address all elements of the climate crisis – including the need for transfers, the necessity of adaptation, and the rights of impacted people.

According to Patience Damptey, a member of the African Group of Negotiators and Convener of Gender Action on Climate Change for Equality and Sustainability (GACCESS), adaptation is included in all the INDCs from African countries.

She says actions to be undertaken in Ghana’s INDCs from 2020 to 2030 would be on four strategic areas – agriculture and food security; climate resilient strategic infrastructure; equitable social development; and sustainable natural resource management.

Ghana, as a member of the Conference of Parties (COP) and signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) needs to internalize the signed convention.

“We need to carry out obligations in-country to domesticate the objectives of the convention,” noted Mr. Derry.

Ghana launched its National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) in July 2014 with a Vision to “ensure a climate-resilient and climate compatible economy while achieving sustainable development through equitable low carbon economic growth for Ghana”.

A strategy has also been developed outlining the necessary actions needed to be undertaken to meet the aspirations and objectives of the Policy.

The INDCs therefore provide an opportunity to set standards for Ghana in the implementation of the NCCP.

Ghana’s INDCs are focused on both mitigation and adaptation, whilst the basis of implementation is based on conditional – what the country can do with external support; and unconditional – what the country can do without external support.

There is a proposed conditional 35percent emission reduction target by 2030.

Civil society is however not enthused at the pace in preparing Ghana’s INDCs and is keeping a critical eye on the country’s submission timelines.

“I am not happy with the process,” stated Dr. Mensah-Kutin. “I think the timelines are too tight but we are hopeful; we have to be able to submit because in the summary if your voice is not there, then we are unable to access the opportunities that are in there”.

According to Mr. Derry, financial constraints in accessing technical assistance delayed the text preparation because Ghana resisted attempts by development partners to engage external consultants in preparing the INDCs.

He is however excited that the country is utilizing internal capacity to prepare home-grown INDCs.

“We are not going to give our watches to anybody to look at it and tell us our time,” stated Mr. Derry. “We have a Made-In-Ghana INDCs and not an INDC that has been superimposed on us; so be rest assured that the INDCs that are being prepared are prepared by Ghanaians, for Ghanaians and would be implemented by Ghanaians”.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

COCOBOD to increase distribution of free cocoa hybrid seedlings

The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has indicated government will increase the distribution of hybrid cocoa seedlings to farmers across the country next year.

COCOCBOD made available 50million free cocoa seedlings to farmers in the current crop season. This is in addition to free fertilizer distribution to the cocoa farmers.

Deputy Chief Executive, Dr. Francis Kofi Oppong, has however acknowledged the seedlings were not enough to reach all farmers.

“COCOBOD will continue with its support to cocoa farmers,” he said. “In the coming year, we hope to distribute more than 50million because it did not reach all farmers; we will decide whether to give out 60-70million seedlings”.

Smuggling of cocoa beans, the impact of climate change on production and illegal mining activities on cocoa farms are major challenges to higher cocoa productivity in Ghana.

But COCOBOD is also worried at the ageing population of cocoa farmers.

Increasing access to the hybrid cocoa pods, which can be harvested between 2-3 years, has been identified as a means to attract the youth to venture the sector.

Meanwhile, Dr. Oppong has enjoined farmers to resist any attempt by cocoa health and extension officers to take away their voters identity cards in a bid to register them to access cocoa seedlings and fertilizers.

“All therein is to register with the extension officer, who will take a measurement of the farm to ascertain the number of cocoa seeds needed,” he stated. “Don’t give out your voter’s ID to the officer, and report such person because that is not the instruction for the seed distribution. The officer only needs a means to prove that you are a farmer, so it is enough just to show your ID that you are a farmer, it should not be taken away”.

Dr. Oppong spoke at the 21st Annual Delegates Conference of the Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union in Kumasi.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Monday, August 24, 2015

Kuapa Kokoo exceeds cocoa purchase target for current crop season

Kuapa Kokoo Limited (KKL), a licensed buying company, has exceeded its cocoa production target even before end of the 2014/2015 crop season.

As at end of July 2015, the company has bought 720,000 bags of cocoa, against a target of 640,000 bags.

This was disclosed at the 21st Annual Delegates Conference of the Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union in Kumasi.

“The Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union will continue to support Kuapa Kokoo Limited by resourcing them and also ensuring that they adhere to Fairtrade standards. It is the duty and obligation of all members of the Union that we sell our produce to KKL in order to strengthen our own LBC,” said Madam Fatima Ali, President of the Union.

Despite operational challenges faced, the crop year saw a remarkable performance of Kuapa Kokoo and its activities since the company was established in 1993.

KKL purchased 983,823 bags (61,488.93 metric tonnes) of cocoa in the 2013/2014 main crop season and during the 2014 light crop season purchased 13,166 bags (822.88 metric tonnes).

The company’s revenue increased by 58% from Gh3,220,000 in 2013 to Gh5,088,000 in 2014. However, income over expenditure dropped by 80.9% from Gh230,735 in 2013 to Gh44,016 in 2014.

The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has commended the company for its performance and prompt payment of loans.

Kuapa Kokoo currently has 6.9% market share of Ghana’s cocoa output. 

Membership of its farmers union has increased to 100,500 across the Ashanti, Central, Eastern, Western and Brong Ahafo Regions.

The Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union also owns the biggest share of 44% in Divine Chocolate Limited, based in the UK with a franchise in the USA.

Divine Chocolate sold £8.2 million of chocolate in the UK between July 2013 and June 2014, with a profit of £166,000. In the previous year, the company posted a turnover of over £5.6million and a profit of £44,000.

Shareholders are receiving a dividend of £57,000 – Kuapa Kokoo gets £24,000 (about Gh150,000) of the amount. The farmers received same dividend last year.

According to Managing Director of Divine, Sophi Tranchell, “the figures for 2014/2015 are looking even more promising. Our business in the USA, which was established in 2007, saw even better growth, and at the end of the year was close to making its first profit”.

The 21st Annual Delegates Conference was on the theme: “Deepening Decentralization through the Cooperative Way… A Vital Tool for Farmer Development”.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Friday, August 21, 2015

Cocoa farmers and access to agro inputs for productivity

Hubert Duah, a 63 year old retired teacher, ventured cocoa production three years ago.

He is excited at the prospects of his farm to improve his family’s livelihood. He has however come to understand that access to agro-inputs could impede the quest to establish sustainable farms that drive the youth to the sector.

“All what we need is the inputs because we don’t have the money to purchase all those things; so when government comes to our aid through the inputs we can make it and then we can also encourage the youth to take part in the farming,” he said.

Hubert is among farmers targeted under the Cocoa Eco-Project, initiated by SNV Ghana in collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union (KKFU).

The project has been piloted in ten selected cocoa growing districts in the Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Central and Western regions within the past two years.
SNV Ghana, Project Manager on Cocoa Eco, Charles Brefo-Nimo, says there has been an impact on productivity and improvement of the ecosystem services, which has been achieved through the provision of technical and financial support for cocoa sustainable intensification.

“Intensification strategy has been one of the main focus; what we’re saying is that farmers can use the same size of their land to increase productivity,” he stated.

SNV since the inception of the cocoa project has supported the mapping of farms and distribution of 265,000 cocoa hybrid seedlings to 265 farmers.

SNV Ghana is investing Gh621,321 in 2015 for its activities, including a contract with two local capacity builders to train 600 lead farmers in good agricultural practices, integrated pest management, child labour and cocoa certification.

Meanwhile, the organization has presented agro-inputs worth over Gh27,000 to host farmers of 20 young and mature demonstration farms. The inputs include fertilizers, fungicides, insecticides, personal protective equipment, intelligent and motorized spraying machines.

“The presentation is to ensure that the host farmers have timely access to the requisite tools and inputs to enhance the sustainability of the demo farms,” said Mr. Brefo-Nimo. “It is expected that the demo farms will become the model of excellence to train farmers within the catchment area”.

Executive Secretary of Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union, Appau Abrampah-Mensah, says the package will enhance the activities of the Farmer Field School (FFS) approach where farmers learn good practices from their peers.

Under the Cocoa Eco Project, SNV Ghana is supporting Kuapa Kokoo to strengthen the Business Development Centres in the 10 cocoa districts to make it a functional service centers for farmers to access wide range of farmer services.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Factors impeding medical laboratory practice in Ghana

Biomedical Laboratory Scientists are entrusted with the onerous assignment of providing quality diagnosis that is at the centre of treatment and management of diseases.

But there are challenges in professional practice which impede efficient service delivery.

The Ghana Association of Biomedical Laboratory Scientists (GABMLS) at its 3rd National Executive Council (NEC) meeting highlighted some challenges in quality laboratory service delivery:

Policy environment

In 2010, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) with support from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Atlanta-USA constituted the Laboratory Technical Committee (LTC) to develop the National Health Laboratory Policy and National Health Laboratory Accreditation Policy.

In addition, a five year Strategic Plan document for the implementation of these policies were completed, finalized and endorsed by the Health Ministry in 2013.

The documents are however yet to be implemented.

The GABMLS has acknowledged recent efforts by the Policy Planning Monitoring and Evaluation (PPME) unit of the Ministry of Health to ensure the policies do not remain on the shelves.

But the Association says the absence of policy guidelines is detrimental to the delivery of quality health care in the country.

“It will be highly unacceptable and suicidal to allow the financial and technical investment made by CDC into developing the three documents to go waste,” it said.

Health Capitation

The GABMLS is gravely concerned with the capitation and bundled tariff system by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) for which medical laboratory services are bundled with consultation fees.

“This bundled tariff system is very inimical to the practice, growth and promotion of quality medical laboratory services in Ghana especially in the district and sub-district hospitals,” according to the Association.

It has therefore called on the NHIA and the government to ensure that medical laboratory service tariffs are de-bundled from consultation fees as a matter of urgency.

This, the group believes, will ensure adequate funding for laboratory reagents and consumables to provide uninterrupted quality laboratory diagnostic service that will enhance quality health care delivery in hospitals.

Unqualified personnel

The GABMLS has observed in the recent recruitment of health workers by the Ghana Health Service, some unqualified personnel were recruited into medical laboratories of some district hospitals, especially in the Upper East region and some Mission hospitals in the Northern region.

The Association has called on Human Resource Directorate of the GHS, the Upper East Regional Health Directorate and Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG) to ensure that the appointments of all unqualified persons are revoked immediately.

It has also urged the Allied Health Professions Council (AHPC) to as a matter of urgency investigate the reports, and to bring facilities that engage unqualified personnel in their laboratories to book to serve as a deterrent.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Stop implanting medical doctors as heads of laboratories, GABMLS charges

The Ghana Association of Biomedical Laboratory Scientists (GABMLS) says it will resist any attempt to push its professionals aside and implant Medical Doctors as heads of laboratories in health facilities.

It describes as “unacceptable” the deliberate attempts by the Ghana Laboratory Medicine Faculty of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons (GCPS) to infiltrate and capture the management of medical laboratories in Ghana.

“Currently, there are attempts at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital to remove highly qualified Medical Laboratory Scientists as Laboratory Heads and to replace them with medical doctors of the GCPS,” noted a statement issued at a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the Association.

The Association believes there are many Medical Laboratory Scientists who hold higher qualifications, managerial skills and training, and are capable of effectively and efficiently managing medical laboratories.

It has therefore called on the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service, Teaching Hospitals Authorities and Human Resource Directorates to ensure that only Medical Laboratory Scientists with the requisite qualification and managerial training are appointed to Head Medical Laboratories in the country.

“We wish to urge the Ghana Medical and Dental Council, Ghana Medical Association (GMA) and Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons (GCPS) to encourage such medical doctors to leave the management of medical laboratories to the practitioners of the profession of Medical Laboratory Science; and to trade the profession for which they have license to practice,” said the Statement signed by President, Thomas Kwabena Gyampomah and General Secretary, Michael Amo Omari.

The GABMLS NEC deliberated on recent developments in the Health sector and matters that are hampering the effective and efficient practice of Medical Laboratory Science in Ghana.

The Association is also concerned about the unfair placement of Chief Biomedical Scientists and the Technical Officers – holders of Diploma in Medical laboratory Technology – on the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) compared to the analogous grade group by the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC).

“This salary discrepancy has taken the FWSC far too long a time to rectify and the excuses for not doing so are simply untenable,” it said.

The GABMLS therefore calls on the GHS and FWSC to immediately ensure that these outstanding issues on the SSSS, including all arrears due them since the anomaly was detected, are rectified and paid up as soon as possible to avert an eminent upheaval from membership that may further compound the industrial unrest in the health sector.

KNUST Summer School proffers solutions to develop tertiary education

Ghana’s former Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Prof. Kwesi Botchwey, wants public universities empowered to enter into partnerships for commercial activities that generate funding for their operations.

The changing times, he noted, demand that the country’s universities are provided with the right policy framework and assured of the predictability in the use of their resources.

“There is no reason why KNUST cannot partner with some private sector enterprises to develop commercial activities to which they can lend the science and research capabilities and share in the gains and profits that these enterprises make and the right policy environment be assured that they can retain the resources that they make from such investments,” said Prof. Botchwey.

He was speaking at the 5th Summer School of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), organized by the Quality Assurance and Planning Unit.

The four-day event is on the theme: “Sustainable Development of Tertiary Institutions in Ghana Amidst Economic and Security Challenges”.

Ongoing reforms in the country’s public sector have an impact in the educational sector – including financial constraints, delay in release of subventions, embargo on employment, issues of utilities, lack of research funding, increasing student-to-staff ratio and staff capacity development.

In the midst of the changing environment, Vice Chancellor of KNUST, Prof. William Otoo Ellis, says the new order requires that institutions are developed in tandem with strategic mandate without compromising on quality.

Participants at the Summer School are expected to explore, learn and share good experiences amidst economic and security challenges facing tertiary education.

“Obviously we cannot continue to do things the same way as we use to; as stakeholders we should find ways of turning these constraints or seeming challenges into opportunities,” stated Prof. Ellis.

The event is to equip staff of the university with practical insights to sustainably develop the various institutions.

According to Prof. Kwesi Botchwey, there is a correlation between tertiary education and national development, emphasizing that funding remains the single most critical condition for Ghana to establish a viable and sustainable tertiary educational system that responds to the needs of development.

“If the tertiary education system is to be sustainable, it must be differentiated, it must have high quality,” he noted.

Fundamental principles to achieve this include public funding that facilitates tertiary educational system which promotes the overall national interest whilst the funding approach is aligned to the goals of the tertiary education systems.

Prof. Botchwey believes a policy and incentive framework that is clear, transparent and consistent will enable universities generate funds internally and assured of autonomy in use of the funds.

He says universities should develop new programmes that leverage the particular expertise and area of focus of the university itself.

“The solution to sustainability in the end lies with the innovative and creative ways that the universities themselves can device to raise resources,” he observed.

New Drivers’ Academy sets standards in road safety industry

Kumasi Polytechnic has entered into partnership with private entity, Prudential Solutions Limited, to set new standards in driver' education and the road safety industry.

Ghana loses an estimated $250 million annually to road accidents with more 1,600 deaths, mainly as a result of driver error.

Three approaches have been proven to be most effective in curbing the menace – education and training of new drivers as well as refreshers for older drivers; enforcement of traffic laws and thorough testing of new drivers; and regular inspection of vehicles for a “warrant of fitness”, including the use of seatbelts.

The establishment of the K-Poly Prudential Drivers’ Academy is to offer qualitative training and education using modern Driver Simulator in addition to classroom teaching and on-road practice.

Rector of Kumasi Poly, Prof. Nicholas Nsowah Nuamah, says the Academy will the use latest technologies to deliver innovations in the road safety industry.

“Our driver education and management systems employ a range of training strategies that are supported by current research findings in the areas of bio-mechanics, human movement and driving psychology,” he said.

The Academy targets students of the Polytechnic, corporate organizations, private and commercial drivers and other relevant groups in the road transport sector.

The partnership also includes services in fleet and facilities management, tourism, aviation and transport management.

Chief Executive Officer of Prudential Solutions, Marcus Obeng-Sika says the collaboration provides a win-win situation for both institutions.

“We formed this partnership to provide the needed skill sets within the transport and tourism industry, using the latest technologies and educational tools,” he said. “We know about the carnage on our roads; we’re losing so much as a country in terms of monetary values and human resource; so the best way of tackling it is by using the right technologies to impart the right knowledge and skills so that we can influence attitudinal change”.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Study shows overland export of timber from Ghana is a silent canker

The overland trade in wood and wood products in Ghana is a vibrant one but largely illegal, says a new study by the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG).

Aside Ghana increasing its efforts to address illegal logging and milling to secure the supply of legal timber to the domestic market, the country has to pay special attention to the overland export of timber.

The study focused on estimating the size of the trade and its implications for policy to supply legal timber to the domestic market.

It is under the EU-funding project “Securing the integration of legal and legitimate markets into Voluntary Partnership Agreements” being implemented by Tropenbos International and partners.

Ghana has a long history as a major supplier of high-value hardwood timber and wood products to European, Asian and African markets. 

The country has signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the European Union, with a commitment not only to export legal wood but those on the domestic market are to be sourced and traded legally.

Through a multi-stakeholder process, a domestic lumber supply policy has been developed as one of the first steps to deal with the unmet demand for domestic lumber.

The policy places emphasis on overland export of the timber from Ghana as affecting the volumes of wood available for local consumption. It is also a driving force for illegal chainsaw milling.

The conservative estimated volume of wood exported annually across the northern borders of Ghana alone is 250,000m3 – mainly illegal chainsaw lumber – which is equivalent to some 825,083m3 of round logs. At least 130,000m3 of overland lumber exports comes from the major timber markets alone.

This implies that some 120,000m3 of lumber may be exported overland directly from production sites and from minor timber markets.

The main markets for these overland exports are Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Nigeria. The latter two countries provide the major market for Ghana’s timber and wood products. Nigeria’s importation of mainly plywood and lumber from 2005 to 2012 has averaged an annual volume of 78,000 m3 valued at over Euros 24.04 million.

These exports go through approved exit points at the borders, particularly at Aflao on the south eastern corridor as well as Paga, Hamile and Tumu all on the northern frontier of the country.

The study pointed out that the main trade of lumber occurs at recognized timber markets, mainly Techiman and Kumasi-Sokoban, as well as direct procurement from producers at loading sites closer to production areas.

The study revealed that about 62% of the volume of timber traded in these two major markets – mainly illegal chainsaw lumber – was exported overland mainly to Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali. About 54% of the lumber exported overland from these two markets was transported to Burkina Faso accounting for 54% of trade (estimated 46,031m3 of lumber end up on Ouagadougou markets). 

In the context of VPA implementation, the overland export trade presents a challenge, in terms of how chainsaw lumber transported across the border can come under a legality regime.

There is the need to test how the wood tracking system developed under the VPA can help track such timber and help control the illegal trade, the study recommended.

Moreover, the institutional arrangements and governance of overland timber trade needs a complete review – in particular, how to improve documentation and data capture of the trade, both from timber markets and at national borders, institute a collaborative system that guarantees effective coordination among agencies and to improve transparency at the borders are crucial.

In conclusion, the report says national stakeholder meeting and a dedicated multi-stakeholder team should work out institutional reforms towards these goals are urgent.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh


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