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Friday, November 30, 2012

Weblinks November 2012

Three year old girl shot dead by seven year old brother
Samsung makes inroads in Ghana’s smartphone market
Gov’t business grind to a halt as civil servants go on nationwide strike
Interest groups call for reform of National Best Farmer Award Scheme
Young Samuel Tettey emerges best farmer in Ashanti Region
M. Y. Ventures launches ‘Wellness at Work’ project
Corporate institutions need nutritionists to cater for workers
Envirofit partners local firm to market clean efficient cookstoves
Goil embarks on roadshows to market new range of products
CLOGSAG Regional Executives ask members to stay out of work
New vaccine trial reduces malaria by one-third in African infants
Microfinance firms urged to turn attention to rural economies
ICU pushes for occupational health and safety
CEIBS trains artisans in ICT and business management
Africa leads the world in Mobile telecom growth
Asantehene’s Lease Documentation Project hailed
Mobile broadband to create 1.4 million jobs for Ghanaians
CLOGSAG Ashanti resumes work after two week strike

Vodafone partners mFriday to activate TechHub at KNUST
LUV Fm Skuuls Reunion in Kumasi gathers momentum
Luv Fm excites Kumasi with nostalgic Skuuls Reunion
Cassava value addition creates ¢1.5m additional income for farmers
CSIR keen on establishing technology commercialization company
How Fairtrade benefits cocoa farmers – the Kuapa Kokoo experience
Samsung doubles mobile handset market share in Ghana
Church marries politics for community empowerment
M. Y. Ventures steals show at Nhyira Fm Keepfit Games
Yara Ghana to pilot Farming Academy for the youth
Yara Ghana to be hub for fertilizer distribution in Africa

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Yara Ghana to serve as African hub in fertilizer distribution

Yara Ghana is to serve as the African regional hub in the manufacture and distribution of mineral fertilizer to farmers across the continent.

With decades of experience on the continent, Yara provides crop nutrition products and unique agronomic knowledge, in addition to investing across the African agricultural value chain.

Company officials from various countries are meeting in Ghana to strategize on Yara’s commitment to African agriculture.

“They want Yara Ghana to be in a position to be able to supply fertilizer to support other countries in Africa where Yara has branches; they want Yara Ghana to supervise the activities of all these countries”, said Henry Otoo Mensah, Retail Sales Manager at Yara Ghana.

According to him, the company is consolidating its support to the development of Africa’s agricultural sector and food production.

Yara, which is the world’s leading mineral fertilizer company, sells fertilizers to about 25 African countries, maintains sales offices in eight, and owns four blending plants.

Since establishing in Ghana in 2007, the company has taken a leadership position in the market and invested to implement a bulk blending fertilizer production facility in Tema.

Yara Ghana has been strengthening the quality and depth of input supply and related services to increase the productivity of Ghanaian farmers.

Mr. Otoo-Mensah tells Luv Biz Report fertilizer use should be increased to meet food production targets.

“We need to produce more [but] land that we have at our disposal is reducing; so within that small space that we have for agricultural purposes, we need to maximize agricultural productivity, that is where fertilizer comes in and Yara has developed its fertilizer to the extent that it’s economical; once you apply it the right way, your yield will increase”, he stated.

Meanwhile, some farmers have complained of insufficient supply of fertilizer to last them the entire crop season.

But Mr. Otoo-Mensah says Yara cannot be blamed because the company only distributes its allocated quota under the government’s Fertilizer Subsidy Program.

“The solution is in the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to increase Yara’s quota to enable us cover the smallscale farmers’ demand”, he opined.

Yara is a key partner to the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) in developing sustainable agriculture, improving productivity and increasing production.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Yara Ghana to pilot Farming Academy for the youth

Yara Ghana, leading mineral fertilizer manufacturer and distributor, is initiating a scheme to promote the business of agriculture among young people.

The ‘Farming Academy’ has the aim of driving students from the primary through to the senior high school level to learn best practices in crop production whilst appreciating opportunities in the agricultural sector.

“Yara is all about knowledge; we don’t believe we just sell fertilizer, but we bring the knowledge that comes with it”, said Mehdi Saint-AndrĂ©, Managing Director of Yara Ghana.

According to him, the Academy will discourage the perception that farming is a punishment and rather inculcate in students the knowledge and skills in land preparation, seed selection and fertilizer application as well as post harvest activities and storage.

The pilot project would be undertaken with inmates of the Royal Seed Home at Odupong Ofaankor, Kasoa, where the company has established a 15-acre maize farm to support the orphanage.

“Hopefully for the next farming season in March/April 2013, we’ll be ready and we’ll go on the farm with a group of children but it should be incorporated in the school curricula; if they have some topics which is about farming or agriculture, then they can go on the field with us to learn”, stated Saint-AndrĂ©.

He reiterated that Yara Ghana’s corporate social responsibility projects are fully integrated into its business with an objective to develop the productivity of the Ghanaian farmer.

He cited the ‘Yara Crop Clinic’ for product retailers and the Masara N’Arziki “Maize for Prosperity” projects as thriving CSR schemes to help increase knowledge and incomes among local farmers.

Meanwhile, Yara Ghana has commissioned a Gh₵20,000 potable water facility to meet the needs of the 145 inmates of the Royal Seed Home.

Founder of the Home, Mrs. Naomi Esi Amoah is excited at the gesture and appealed to other benevolent individuals and institutions to support in “caring for the children who need to be trained as future leaders with good vision”.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Samsung doubles mobile handset market share in Ghana

Samsung Electronics says it has more than doubled its mobile handset market share in Ghana over the past one year.

Company officials attribute the high patronage of smart phones to the growth in demand for the latest technology and mobile phone trends.

Business Leader at Samsung, Jaspreet Singh, is confident the company will continue to lead the market as it stays at the forefront in introducing new products and technologies.

He describes the Ghanaian market as strategic for Samsung, hence the decision to open an office in the country last year.

Samsung in June 2012 overtook Nokia as leader in Ghana’s mobile handset market. Techno Mobile is the third force on the market.

According to Jaspreet, Samsung is continually exploring new markets to build brand consciousness and leverage its market lead.

As the business grows in Ghana, he says there are arrangements to discourage patronage of imitated products.

“We’ll definitely do an anti-counterfeiting campaign in Ghana but in order to offer genuine products to our consumers, we have come up with warranty program whereby as a consumer you can check whether your product is genuine or it’s covering the warranty”, noted Jaspreet.

Samsung has been parading its new brand ambassador Sarkodie in Kumasi in an open session with patrons of Samsung smartphones and tablets.

Jaspreet says the engagement of the Ghanaian rap artist as a product icon forms part of the company’s package to delight consumers.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Friday, November 23, 2012

How Fairtrade benefits cocoa farmers – the Kuapa Kokoo experience

Worldwide demand for cocoa to make chocolate products may be growing; but that does not necessarily point to increased income for cocoa farmers.
As the cocoa industry gathers for the annual International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) conference in Abidjan to discuss the future for cocoa, Ghana’s Kuapa Kokoo, the biggest cocoa farmers’ cooperative explains how Fairtrade, democratic organization and farmer empowerment are key to the success of its operations and the future livelihoods of farmers.

According to Christiana Ohene-Agyare, President of Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union, the co-operative exists for the benefit of its members and Fairtrade has played a crucial role in helping farmers improve their livelihoods.

“Fairtrade has delivered significant additional income to Kuapa Kokoo and through our democratic processes we have allocated that money. A significant part has been paid directly to our farmer members and to projects that directly benefit them.  Without the support and extra income which Fairtrade and our Fairtrade partners deliver, we wouldn’t be here today and cocoa farmers would still have no say in their own futures,” she stated.

Formation of the organization

Kuapa Kokoo was formed in 1993 when the government of Ghana liberalized the cocoa industry. A group of farmers led by Nana Frimpong Abebrese, thinking of what they  could do for themselves in the new environment to derive maximum benefits from their toils, decided to form Kuapa Kokoo.

Kuapa Kokoo belongs to the farmers themselves – it is an organization in which the farmers take their own decisions and see to its implementation.

Today, the co-operative is made up of 65,000 members from five cocoa growing regions in Ghana – Ashanti, Western, Eastern, Central and the Brong-Ahafo. 

To become a member of Kuapa Kokoo, one has to apply to an existing society, go through a training programme and pay membership dues of GH¢2.00. Members are then part of a democratic organization in which they elect and can stand for positions at village, district, and national level. As well as meetings and communications at all levels throughout the year, there are annual general meetings at district and nationals level at which issues are debated and voted on.

Kuapa Kokoo and Fairtrade

Kuapa Kokoo joined the Fairtrade movement in 1995 as one of the pioneering farmer-based organisations.  Having realized that the Fairtrade movement was the one great idea to ensure poverty eradication and producer empowerment,  Kuapa Kokoo together with others  set up the Divine ( formerly Day) Chocolate Company  as the first fair trade chocolate brand in the UK in 1999.

Since the formation of Divine Chocolate in the UK (and subsequently in the USA), Kuapa Kokoo and Divine have promoted the fair trade movement in Europe, and USA. Consumers have come to understand that indeed trade can be done in a different way.

Kuapa Kokoo has earned Fairtrade premium for the past 17 years and through the premium farmers lives have been touched and their communities have seen significant improvements. 

There is a democratic process in place for the use of Fairtrade premium.  Information is gathered right from the society level, through the district level to the national level.  Each year, at the annual general meeting, the members discuss Fairtrade premium budgets and financial reports, and agree on priorities.

How the Fairtrade Premium is invested – an example from the last year

In the 2011/12 season, Kuapa Kokoo purchased 43,544 tonnes of cocoa – 25,275 tonnes of which was purchased by Fairtrade customers.

In this season the Fairtrade premium income was spent as cash bonuses per sack in total of GH¢1.4million; machetes for all members at GH¢7 per machete; farmer agricultural training total for 2011 COCOBOD-run services at GH¢295,000; Kuapa Kokoo Internal Control System and Child Labour Awareness Programme at GH¢1.38 million; medical clinics (including cataracts and hernias) at GH¢336,138 in 25 districts; and support for 50 women’s groups in 22 districts at GH¢35,000.

Over the years, Fairtrade premiums have also been used to fund projects in farming communities, such as building of schools, construction of boreholes, extension teams, establishment of credit unions to give loans to farmers, among others.

Kuapa Kokoo itself is constantly improving the way knowledge, learning and information is disseminated across the whole membership, which is spread over many hundreds of square miles.  

The latest initiative is a pilot series of radio programmes in Western Region – which are easily accessible by members, and offer an ideal channel to reach, inform and have interaction with membership locally.  Issues covered include membership of Kuapa Kokoo, Fairtrade, Farming Practices and Child Labour. Further programmes in other regions are planned to increase the outreach.

Fairtrade goes beyond the payment of premiums

Fairtrade gives farmers empowerment in many ways – from being able to elect and trust the person responsible for weighing the cocoa and paying farmers, to having a say in running their own organization, and, importantly, in the encouragement and support of women.  

For example, women, who constitute about a third of members, have fully participated actively in the decision making process of Kuapa Kokoo. In 2010 Kuapa Kokoo elected the first woman president of the union.

Also through Divine and Fairtrade, farmers have had the opportunity to interact with consumers in Europe and America. Each year farmers travel to UK and US to talk about their industry.  They interact with school children and other consumers of chocolate to tell them their stories, their farming activities and the benefits of Fairtrade, and in turn are able to share their knowledge with their communities.

“Farmers have gained confidence through such opportunities and have increased their understanding of the world of cocoa and chocolate,” said Mrs. Ohene-Agyare. “This is what Fairtrade does for farmers and we are proud of it.”

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Technology commercialization company for Ghana

Ghana’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) says it is on track in the establishment of a technology commercialization company.

The ‘CSIR Plus’ company was incorporated in 2009 to run as a public-private sector venture, functionally independent from the mainstream corporate CSIR management.

Director-General of the Council, Dr. Abdulai Baba Salifu, says the initiative is to further enhance the corporate goal of generating science and technology products for the benefit of society.

He said the business should take off as soon as a Chief Executive Officer is engaged to take charge of operations.

“One of the reasons why we’re slightly behind in actualizing it has been the issue of a chief executive who is ready to grow the company because for now, we don’t think we may be competitive in terms of the remuneration level we may need to pay that person”, noted Dr. Salifu.

CSIR is the largest scientific research organization in Ghana, operating under the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST) and collaborates with all the other Ministries particularly the Ministries of Food and Agriculture, Land and Forestry, Health, and Education. 

There are 13 research institutes under the Council with mandates covering specialized areas in agriculture and agro-processing, industry, environment, building and road construction, fisheries, forestry, water resources, the social sciences and some aspects of health.

Some of the institutes have over the years developed and released improved crop varieties and their production technologies.
The CSIR-Plus has the primary purpose of identifying and commercializing CSIR technologies and services on sound business lines.

The objective is to consolidate and develop commercialization linkages with CSIR and industry, government agencies and the investment community.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cassava value addition creates more income for farmers

Ghana’s promotion of High Quality Cassava Flour has in the past four years helped open up markets for cassava farmers to improve incomes and reduce poverty levels.
According to Dr. Abdulai Baaba Salifu, Director-General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), over 45,000 tons of surplus cassava from farmers fields had been moved into the new markets within the cassava value chain, as at March 2012.

The CSIR-Food Research Institute (FRI) in collaboration with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) developed agro-processed foods under the “Cassava: Added Value for Africa Project to serve as wheat flour substitute for the production of bread, pastries and in plywood production amongst others.

Dr. Salifu says this has created “an overall income of over GH¢1.5 million for close to 15,000 cassava farmers, which translates to an extra income of about GH¢100 per farmer.

He was speaking on “Enhancing Food Security and Regional Integration through Research and Development” at a Regional Workshop on Root and Tuber Crops, organized under the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) in Kumasi.

The World Bank in May 2012 approved a US$120 million financing for the Phase II of the WAAPP to improve food production by spreading new agricultural technologies in Ghana and Senegal.

The program will finance technology exchange programs, align national priorities with regional ones to increase regional cooperation in food technology generation, and support a greater push for technology adoption and dissemination.

In Ghana, the CSIR’s Crop Research Institute executes the research component whilst the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) disseminates the research findings.

WAAPP Phase I helped boost research and extension activities, bringing together research and educational institutions, industrialists, extension workers, farmers and consumers to a common national objective in Ghana and in the sub-region.
Crop Scientist, Prof. S.K.A. Danso expects the second phase of the WAAPP to stress on getting the improved technologies to majority of farmers, “visit them and make sure they are adopting the technology and once you extend to some farmers who accept it, other would learn from them”.

“Our populations are increasing but the land area of the country remains the same with portions deteriorating due to human activities.  With the recent phenomenon of climate change and its adverse effects – flooding, drought, heat and related outbreak of pests and diseases – it takes demand-driven research to develop technologies and products to meet the demands of our farmers, processors and consumers. This is where CSIR comes in”, noted Dr. Salifu.
Minister of Food and Agriculture, Kwesi Ahwoi, believes the effective coordination of research efforts within the national and international agricultural research system is very important to ensure that scarce resources are applied to priority research.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Luv Fm excites Kumasi with nostalgic Skuuls Reunion

The 2012 edition of the Luv Fm Skuul’s Reunion was a huge success not only for organizers and patrons, but sponsors as well.

Officials of corporate bodies and institutions which associated themselves to Kumasi’s biggest outdoor event have been expressing satisfaction at patronage of their products and services.

Others experienced the joy of sponsoring segments of the fun-filled event.

The Skull’s Reunion creates a large platform for participants to re-establish links with their old friends and explore other great social and business opportunities.

Thousands of old students from schools across the country converged at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi to participate in the 8th edition of social and sporting event.

It was preceded by a carnival-like procession through major streets in the Garden City, after a home-coming jam the night before.

The atmosphere, which got charged with in-studio appearances at Luv Fm, got to its climax at the Stadium where old students showcased what they   believe make their schools unique.

Participating old school folks competed in sporting and other activities to demonstrate what makes their alma mater stand out.

All activities were exciting and nostalgic, evoking interesting memories of the school days, especially with the scintillating cheer songs popularly known as ‘jama’.

The various fun-games competed were spiced up with live band music for the oldies and other entertaining music mixes by top DJs of Luv Fm.

Participants could not help but sing along to thrilling Azonto performances by artistes, including Buk Bak, Double and Dr. Slim.

The well-organized event came to an exciting close, all to the delight of participants who fraternized with their old friends and explored other opportunities.

“We’re so excited! exclaimed Jocelyn Buckman, Head of Marketing and Corporate Communication at Techno Phones. “We’ve seen people so proud of their alma mater and we think it’s been a good opportunity for us also to interact with them and to tell them more about Techno and to promote our smartphones”.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Friday, November 16, 2012

Students initiate TechHub at KNUST

A centre of technology has been activated at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) as an innovative hub for students with ideas to solve socio-economic problems.

The TechHub serves as the foremost mobile and web laboratory in Ghana where students are trained as ICT developers and future socially responsible entrepreneurs in the high-tech industry.

Vodafone Ghana furnished the physical infrastructure of the hub and provided the equipment including servers, computers, smartphones and other devices covering a wide range of user platforms.

Commercial Director, Nii Boye Adjei, says the company recognizes the enabling power of technology, hence its preparedness to support education through innovation and technology.

He is optimistic the TechHub “will be a blossoming platform for students, industry, experts, professors and businesses to meet, design, test and launch commercially viable mobile web applications that will solve business problems and empower businesses to deliver great services in Ghana”.

The TechHub is an initiative nurtured by the mFriday group of KNUST students, as a partnership between industry and academia to promote innovation and student entrepreneurship.

Co-Founder of mFriday, Pierre Brunache Jnr. is hoping to raise a $1million start-up fund before end of the 2012.

“If we get five start-ups a year and each start-up could employ up to 20 people, that is 100 people directly employed by the start-ups and those will be jobs created by students whilst in school”, he told Luv Fm.

Pro Vice-Chancellor of the KNUST, Prof. Peter Donkor, believes the next generation of ICT gurus is being created with the establishment of the TechHub and pledged the commitment of the university to work with industry to advance national development.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mobile broadband to create 1.4 million jobs for Ghanaians

Ghana’s mobile broadband industry should create about 1.4 million jobs between 2015 and 2020, according to the GSMA, which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide.

The country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) should be increased by an additional $1.5 billion in the digital dividend with the necessary spectrum allocations.

Peter Lyons, GSMA Director of Spectrum Policy for Africa and the Middle East, says mobile operators in Ghana would need sufficient spectrum and he is optimistic “when the analogue television switch off is completed, then additional spectrum will be free for mobile broadband in the digital dividend”.
He however says government will have to ensure the switch “happens one time and efficiently and the spectrum is available for all mobile broadband as soon as possible”.

The GSMA sub-Saharan Africa Mobile Observatory has revealed that sub-Saharan Africa is the fastest-growing mobile market in the world, with a phenomenal average annual growth rate of 44 per cent since 2000, based on research from Deloitte.

“The growth continues because people need to communicate and increasingly people need to use the internet, so we expect mobile broadband to grow about 46% a year from 2012 to 2015”, Lyons said.

The five key markets in the African region – Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana – have over the past five years recorded $16.5 billion in investments, mainly towards the expansion of network capacity.

The GSMA Spokesperson however says “governments need to make sure there is enough spectrum available and they need to make sure they are not over-taxing the sector for short term budgetary gains but they are looking longer-term job creation and GDP growth”.

The mobile industry growth in the African key markets could generate a GDP increase of $40 billion and create almost 15million jobs.

“Mobile has already revolutionised African society and yet demand still continues to grow by almost 50 per cent a year,” said Tom Phillips, Chief Government and Regulatory Affairs Officer, GSMA.

“To create an environment that supports and encourages this immense growth, it is imperative that governments work in partnership with mobile operators to enable the industry to thrive throughout the region, ultimately providing affordable options to connect its citizens.”

The region has some of the highest levels of mobile internet usage globally. In Zimbabwe and Nigeria, mobile accounts for over half of all web traffic at 58.1 per cent and 57.9 per cent respectively, compared to a 10 per cent global average. 3G penetration levels are forecast to grow by 46 per cent through 2016 as the use of mobile-specific services develops.

Today, there are more than 80 mobile money operations for the unbanked across Africa compared to 36 in Asia, the second most popular region for these services. 

Phillips noted that “tackling stifling regulation, addressing high taxation and implementing a harmonised approach to future spectrum allocation will further boost the success story of mobile across the continent. There is not only the potential to lift millions out of poverty, but also the opportunity to ensure that Africa benefits from global economies of scale in terms of both network technology and mobile devices.”

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh


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