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Friday, December 30, 2011

Bizness Year 2011 in Review

In his State of the Nation's address 2011, President Mills said the country maintained a good growth rate in 2010 and therefore expected a higher level this year.

He reiterated his focus on achieving his better Ghana Agenda at a time petroleum prices had just been increased.

Series of industrial actions however hit the labour front in 2011 as a result of challenges in the implementation of the single spine pay policy.

Doctors, teachers, civil servants and others agitated better placements on the Spine, which dominated issues in this year’s May Day celebration.

Ashanti regional Acting Secretary of the Ghana Trades Union Congress, Clement Kaba, told Luv Biz Report things could have been better.

The pricing of sachet water brought producers face-to-face with city authorities.

The Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly challenged the basis for increasing the retail price of the sachet of water from 5 to 10 Ghana pesewas.

The Association of Sachet Water Producers however justified the price adjustment citing rising utility and raw material cost as well determination to protect consumer health.

The year 2011 has been full of entrepreneurial activities. Several events were held in Kumasi aimed at empowering the youth to establish their enterprises.

Business advocates encouraged young graduates to look beyond government and other establishments for employment.

Young Entrepreneur of the Year and Chief Executive of rLG Communications, Roland Agambire urged the youth to regard failure as part of life and be anxious to dare into the world of business.

Ghanaian pharmacist and entrepreneur, Dr. Michael Agyekum Addo also schooled business students on creativity and innovation in business.

Local businesses were afforded an opportunity to enlist onto a website by produce marketing company, Made In Africa Investment Company.

Managing Director, Ms. Zuliatu Morton was upbeat about the success of the project in Kumasi.

The Association of Ghana Industries also resuscitated the Industrial and Technology Fair INDUTECH to support local industrial development for job and wealth creation.

Products showcased at the one week fair included building materials, agro-processed products, cosmetics, fabrics and other services to propel industrialization.

The fair was beneficial according to AGI’s Robert Nkatia.

The Bamboo Bikes initiative in Kumasi is perhaps the most innovative project in 2011, with thousands of bikes expected to be manufactured for the Ghanaian, European and US markets.

Bernice Dapaah, Executive Director of Bright Generation Community Foundation, said the project is helping to improve the environment and creating employment opportunities for the youth and people with disability.

The KMA also faced a difficult task in the ejection and relocation of traders at the Race Course Market, to pave way for construction of the Sun City project.

The Over 10 thousand traders were eventually moved to the new Abinkyi market and other satellite markets but the traders complained of inadequate arrangements for their resettlement.

Shop owners and other businesses at Ahodwo whose structures were demolished in a decongestion exercise by the KMA petitioned the Ashanti regional minister to investigate the motive behind the exercise.

They alleged the removal of their facilities was born out of mischief rather than beautification of the city.

Former Director of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), Professor Kodwo Ewusi projected Ghana will achieve real per capita income of $4,800 dollars per annum by 2015.

Speaking at the 1st Economic Conference of the KNUST’s Department of Economics, he said by exceeding the $4,000 mark, Ghana will become a true middle income economy.

A number of businesses in the course of the year established branches in Kumasi, and leading the pack were financial service providers and dealers in consumer products.

However, real investments in tourism, agro-processing and manufacturing remain unattractive to investors.

Investment promoters like the Coordinator of the Millennium Cities Initiative, Abenaa Akuamoah-Boateng, decried the centering of economic development in the Greater Accra Region.

There were also signs of mergers and acquisitions in the local business environment with the financial industry leading the pack.

Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Mr. Edward Effah, told Luv Biz there will always be room for different size of players but it is most important for indigenous institutions to survive.

2011 was a year of much talk about agriculture.

The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu the second noted Ghana can serve as a model for the World Bank in identifying missing links to solving problems for developing agriculture in Africa.

He observes the country has the requisite human resource capacity, adding what is left is how to harmonize and coordinate agricultural projects to achieve the desired objectives.

Farmers and food processors in the country were exposed to improved crop varieties to increase yield and add value to production.

The Crop Research Institute (CRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) developed new technologies emanating from the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP).

Programme coordinator, Dr. Joe Manu-Aduenning, told Luv Biz farmers and processors can take advantage of different crop varieties to enhance food production.

On the heels of the 27th National Farmers and Fishers Awards Day, concerns were raised that majority of Ghanaian farmers were interested in empowering their children to take up professions other than farming as their future economic activity.

Executive Director of Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union, Emmanuel Arthur, observed food production and export of cash crops like cocoa would be negatively impacted if the youth are not made to be active in agriculture.

Farmers in the country were also asked to avoid using workforce that does not commensurate with the physique and stature of children, on cocoa farms.

Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Welfare, Antwi Boseiko-Sekyere said the country’s middle income status will be meaningless unless children’s education and wellbeing are promoted.

Over 100 firms in the northern sector of the country registered with the Ghana Association of Microfinance Companies to play under the Bank of Ghana’s new rules and guidelines.

But Cooperative credit unions felt threatened by activities of microfinance companies in competition for clients.

Chairman of the Crops Research Institute (CRI) Credit Union, Michael Kofi Adu, called for the speedy passage of the Credit Union Bill to enable them retain and grow members.

The pozzolana cement factory at Gomoa Mprumem in the Central Region was shut down for lack of local patronage of its products, barely four months after production commenced.

This did not go down well with the workers who decried government’s foresight in things that matter to national development.

Climate change was topical in 2011 and one of the urgent calls was for Ghana to begin harvesting rain water for sustainable development.

Environmental rights activist, Nana Dwomoh Sarpong warned against the unbridled drilling of borehole facilities, which he identified as “a great threat to our water resources” and food security.

According to Nana Dwomoh, the reality of climate change requires the country to critically look at alternatives to access water.

Weblinks December 2011


























Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ghanaian women find new love for sweet potato

Women in parts of the Upper East, Volta and Central regions of Ghana have found new love in sweet potatoes.

They farm a lot of the crop. However, the product is mainly boiled or fried to serve as menu on the local cuisine of households.

But, through the Root and Tuber Improvement and Marketing Programme (RTIMP) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), women’s groups in the local communities have new job opportunities to increase family incomes. Hitherto they were engaged in the production and selling of soymilk and soybean ice cream.

They are now in the business of producing yogurt from sweet potato and helping to train others in the production. The ‘Potaghurt’, is healthy and nutritious.

RTIM identified, supported and trained women’s groups in the business of producing value-added potato products.

“After the training on potaghurt production, we realized that the products that they trained us on were good so we asked for some of the things that we may need to produce the Potaghurt”, said Madam Doris, who belongs to the Wedada group in the Kasena Nankana West District of the Upper East region.

The women receive financial support under the RTIMP’s Micro-Enterprise Fund (MEF), a non-cash commodity chain facility designed to meet the needs of the rural poor. This involves a 10 percent equity contribution from beneficiary groups, 40 percent grant from International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and 50 percent loan component from the Naara Rural Bank in Upper East Region.

The grant size ranges from $US400 for individuals in a group, to US$12,000 for growth oriented enterprises based on bankable business plan.

According to Dr. Oppong Mensah-Aborampah, business development training and marketing specialist in charge of the MEF, 48 enterprises and groups have been trained and supported to access the fund and over Gh¢382,000 total grant have been disbursed since 2007.

The women’s groups in the Potaghurt production have been supported with refrigerators, deep freezers, ice chests, sauce pans, ovens and blenders to prepare the Potaghurt.

They have performed “incredibly well”, says Kambilige Stanley, Project Officer of the Naara Rural Bank at Paga, noting that the women are recording almost 100 percent in loan repayment.

Already the RTIMP is looking forward to scaling up the Potaghurt business to other parts of the country where sweet potato is cultivated.

“All the farmers need to know is that there is market for the produce and they will go into the production of the sweet potato. So if the demand of the Potaghurt goes up, there will be market for the raw material and then farmers will go into production”, observed Veronica Ivy Dzreke, a Capacity Building and Linkages Officer with RTIMP.

She is excited at the demand for Potaghurt and believes building the capacity of the women in food hygiene, quality management and processing systems, business development, record keeping and costing will help sustain their businesses.

Presently, the business support has changed the fortunes of the women – beneficiaries can now further their education as well as support siblings and children’s education.

“It has helped some of us to be able to have market and that is bringing us income into our home… as at now I can use that money to purchase some small items that I need and if my husband gives me some money and it’s not enough I can use some of my profit to take care of the family”, said Madam Doris, who has moved her child from the public to private school because she can afford to pay the school fees from her improved income levels.

“What is left is to scale up and vigorously promote the product. For the start, sale points will be set up at the University of Development Studies whilst the RTIMP is in the process of advertising the product. The Ghana Institute of Packaging has been supported to develop a variety of packaging materials to snip varying products” says Akwasi Adjei Adjekum, the National Programme Coordinator of RTIMP.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh


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