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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Entrepreneurship clinic at KNUST to empower students

A six-week entrepreneurship clinic opens for final year students in tertiary institutions at the KNUST from February 1 to March 8, 2013.

The Programme aims at imparting skills and creating opportunities for successful entrepreneurship and value addition to enterprises.

It is organized by the KNUST’s College of Art and Social Sciences (CASS), in collaboration with the University’s Centre for Business Development (CBD).

Head of the CBD, Ralph Nyadu-Addo, says students will be empowered with the requisite knowledge in all aspects of the entrepreneurship and small business management as well as professional and business ethics.

He tells Luv Biz Report previous clinics have had significant impact in breeding a crop of students with entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship mindset.

“We have been overwhelmed by over 50 students coming in with their business plans for us to help them straighten up and even some have over ten registered companies in one area or another”, noted Mr. Nyadu-Addo.

According to him, “the idea is not to necessarily help them to immediately start their businesses but also to be able to work in other companies, by way of preparing themselves to launch their own business”.

Mr Nyadu-Addo, who chairs the programme planning committee, says areas of interest will include managing and sustaining a business in Ghana; understanding the business environment and opportunities and threats it presents; discovering and utilizing potentials in life and coping with life after school; as well as understanding the business financing systems of Ghana including micro financing.

The programme would be crowned with “Mentors Day” where renowned Ghanaian entrepreneurs and captains of industry will share experiences with and interact with participants.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Local innovations tap into carbon financing to promote greener economy

Proponents of green initiatives geared towards mitigating the impact of climate change are exploring opportunities to receive support under the global carbon credit arrangements.

Carbon trading is a thriving economic venture as a result of global interest in issues of climate change.

Ghana has in times past failed to benefit from carbon financing as schemes like the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and REDD Plus are yet to rake in the needed revenue.

But there are new opportunities under the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for small businesses who are contributing to a reduction in carbon emission.

“Some organizations in Ghana have been able to access the carbon credit, especially collaborating with international organizations and now there is a breakdown of the cumbersome process which will help small industries to be able to benefit from the carbon credit”, says Lovans Owusu-Takyi, who coordinates a number of activities related to climate change, including the Ghana Alliance for clean cookstoves.

At the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009, industrialized countries set a goal of mobilizing $100 billion per year by 2020 to support mitigation and adaptation activities in developing countries.

The Gold Standard certification scheme, recognized internationally as the benchmark for quality and rigour in both the compliance and voluntary carbon markets, is mobilizing half a billion Euros for high impact carbon offset projects.

The Standard certifies renewable energy, energy efficiency, waste management and land use and forest carbon offset projects to ensure that they all demonstrate real and permanent greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions and sustainable development benefits in local communities that are measured, reported and verified.

Sustainable development company, Ecosur Afrique, has been working with enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa with focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The firm has successfully registered a waste-to-composting plant with Zoomlion Ghana Limited which is expected to be included in the UNFCCC scheme for carbon financing.

Project Manager, Alexandre Dunod, says success has also been recorded with improved cook stoves which are receiving regular revenue from both the voluntary and regulatory markets of carbon financing.

Ecosur Afrique is currently supporting a Kumasi-based efficient cook stove manufacturer to sail through the Gold Standard certification.

Man and Man Enterprise has been contributing to a greener Ghanaian economy with the production and marketing of efficient biomass cooking stoves.

The “Holy Cook” stoves is helping to relieve pressure on the country’s forests and reducing harmful smoke emissions.

Product innovator, Michael Yaw Agyei, says the stoves, made from scrap metals with an in-built ceramic lining, have social, environmental and economic benefits – reducing charcoal consumption by 40%, creating jobs for the youth and reducing forest depletion.

According to him, attracting external funding would position the firm to be competitive with other firms who are accessing carbon credit. This, he noted will help grow the business and also minimize the cost of the stove for poor communities.

“Some of the credit will be used to increase our production and through the increase we can increase our profit margin and most of the money will also be used to subsidize the cost so that the end user can get it at affordable price”, Michael stated.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wild fire renders hundreds homeless in Ashanti

A fire outbreak has rendered homeless over 300 inhabitants of Asaase Bonso, a predominantly farming community in the Sekyere Central District of the Ashanti region.

According to the Odikoro, Nana Asumadu Sarpong, the inferno ensued Monday afternoon when the residents were out on their farms. Over 50 houses were razed down by the fire.

He tells Luv News affected victims have had to put up in a local school, which has disrupted school activities.

Other activities in the community have also come to a standstill as the residents count their loss, including clothing, motorbikes and household items.

Community leaders have appealed to the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) to come to their aid.

The Ashanti region has recorded several fire disasters since the beginning of the year, as valuable property worth thousands of cedis is lost in the inferno.

The Kumasi Central Market and Suame light industrial area have recorded major fire outbreaks.

The most recent incidents in Kumasi occurred on Monday when a wood cluster at Ahinsan and a make-shift cattle ranch went in flames – about ten cattle were roasted live.

A number of domestic and industrial fire outbreaks have also been reported in the period in other parts of Ghana.

The wild fires have partly been attributed to the harsh harmattan season.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Monday, January 28, 2013

VISTAJET lands in Kumasi to launch African tour

VISTAJET International, the world’s luxury aviation company, for the first time, landed one of its Global aircrafts in Ghana’s second capital city, Kumasi.

Company officials say the London-Kumasi flight on Sunday was to introduce its operations to the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, whilst seeking the King’s blessings to begin an Africa tour.

“The whole reason why we bring a $55million asset to Kumasi is that we really saw over the last year a real willingness and cooperation from the Ashanti King and we wanted Kumasi to be the gateway and the door opening to our trip and this leg of our tour. So effectively, with his blessing, we can now go into the rest of Africa”, stated Wynton Faure, Senior Vice President, Africa Program Sales.

VISTAJET’s multi-leg tour will start from Accra to Abuja, Lagos and further down the African continent, as the company doubles its sales force across emerging markets to establish further presence and support for existing and new customers.

VISTAJET is the only company in the world to bring brand new business jets to the African continent, said Mr. Faure.

He told Luv Biz Report the company is offering European safety and reliability in its chartered service and other unique flight solutions to clients from various backgrounds, including the oil and gas services sector, telecommunications, media, logistics and government.

He observed a massive potential in West Africa for a “dependable, reliable and safe business jet solution”, hence the decision to bring its services to Ghana, after operating close to five years in Nigeria.

Wynton Faure is hopeful the company’s operations would facilitate investment flows to Ghana and the West African region.

“A lot of business is being done in Ghana; there is a lot of foreign trade and investment flooding into the country, so we’re at the vanguard of a trend”, he said.

VISTAJET was founded in 2004 with its headquarters in Switzerland. The company currently operates a fleet of 33 Bombardier business jets on four continents – Europe, Africa, Middle East and North America.

The company has placed a firm order for the delivery of 56 new Bombardier Global aircrafts to fill its delivery schedule for the next six years.

With a list price value of more than $7.8 billion, this is the single largest transaction placed with any aircraft manufacturer in the history of business aviation. Deliveries of this order will commence in 2014.

The new aircraft will directly service growth markets – including Russia, China, all of the Middle East and all of Africa – connecting them to the rest of the globe, as well as serving the East and West coast United States for their intercontinental travel needs.

Thomas Flohr, Founder and Chairman of VISTAJET, in a statement said “this order is the most significant milestone for VISTAJET and is a testimony to our successful strategy that focuses on global coverage”.

“Carrying 25,000 passengers on 10,000 single international flights in 2012, VISTAJET is the only luxury brand in aviation, which focuses on providing an understated and bespoke service”, he added.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

CAL Bank commits to consolidate market performance

Executive Director of CAL Bank, Philip Owiredu has described the company’s 2012 performance as ‘sterling’ and is confident of a positive outlook for 2013.

Figures available from the Ghana Stock Exchange indicate CAL’s financial performance has been one of the best in terms of profitability, growth and position within the banking sector.

As at the end of 2012, CAL’s shares were among the most sought after in the market.

The Ghanaian indigenous bank also managed to exceed the Bank of Ghana’s recapitalization requirements, by increasing its capital to Gh₵100million.

Mr. Owiredu tells Luv Biz Report the dynamism within CAL bank, its service provision and value in shares has endeared the company to shareholders.

“Since the inception of the bank, we’ve paid dividend every single year and this year, we’ve even seen an appreciation in terms of the share price and in 2013 we expect that with the performance that we’ve had in 2012, this performance is going to continue, so there is just the upside for CAL Bank for anyone who’ll want to invest in it”, he said.

Mr. Owiredu spoke to Luv Biz Report at a clients’ appreciation event in Kumasi.

“Our business will grow if we have our clients, so if they’ve been with us throughout the year, it is just good that we show our appreciation in terms of the business they’ve given us throughout the year”, he said.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Luv Fm keeps corporate Kumasi in shape

The first edition of the Luv Fm’s Fitness Walk for 2013 recorded one of the highest turnouts since the inception of the health programme in Kumasi.

Hundreds of workers from corporate institutions, keepfit clubs and residents in the Garden City joined in the walk, which forms part of the station’s health package to support the physical and mental well-being of staff from participating institutions.

Mr. Samuel Sarpong, Kumasi Mayor and Minister-designate for the Ashanti region, was among the lead walkers. He has emphasized the importance of brisk walking as an element in living healthy lifestyle.

Participants walked through some principal streets of Kumasi amidst great sounds from brass band music.

Fitness instructors were also at hand to lead exciting, yet demanding, aerobic sessions before and after the walk at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium.

Some participants who spoke to Luv News were excited at the turnout.

“When we have an opportunity to meet other industry players, friends and have fun while keeping fit, we thought that was a great opportunity. We’re very happy with the turnout, I can see a rough estimation of a thousand people and that’s very great; we have the chance to meet other people, new friends and even some customers here”, observed Duada Hafizdeen of Beige Capital.
The ultimate goal is to offer a platform for staff of corporate institutions to exercise, socialize and network for enhanced economic productivity.

Some participating firms took advantage to market their products and services through direct interactions and distribution of flyers.

Patrons are already demanding a monthly event to entrench the benefits of the health walk.

“Just as we’re looking for good health, we also expect that our customers too will follow suit and also inculcate this habit of having to stay healthy all the time so that whatever visions we have ahead of us, we’ll be able to have the strength to pursue them”, noted GTBank’s Emmanuel Sampson.

Event coordinator, Nana Benyin Anumel expressed the station’s commitment to continue adding value to the lives of Luv FM’s listeners through education, information and entertainment.

The 7th edition of the Luv Fm Fitness Walk was under the theme: “Let’s walk for Health to Create Wealth”. It was sponsored by Guarantee Trust Bank, Voltic Natural Mineral Water, Santino’s Fine Meat and Sausages as well as Beige Capital Savings and Loans Limited.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Free shoes for school children to promote primary education

Families in deprived areas in Ghana are often constrained in affording proper educational materials, including uniforms and shoes, to send their children to school.
They may be too embarrassed to send their wards to school without these materials, which further entrenches poverty in these communities.

To support the educational needs of such school children, Ghanaian NGO, Bright Generation Community Foundation, with the support of TOMS, has instituted a development program to give free shoes and educational supplies.

“Many times children can't attend school barefoot because shoes are a required part of their uniform. If they don't have shoes, they don't go to school. If they don't receive an education, they don't have the opportunity to realize their potential. Without a shoe most children who are out of school feel different and feel they run the risks of being bullied or at least stereotyped as a poor child by other school children”, said Bernice Dapaah, Project Coordinator.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), agreed upon in 2000, set 2015 as the year in which universal primary education (MDG-2) and gender equality (MDG-3) are to be achieved. Despite such efforts and their echoes in national policies, many children are still out of school. 

Ms. Dapaah believes the availability of free shoes would contribute to putting more children in school.

The programme, she said, is distributing thousands of shoes to school children in 30 deprived districts across Ghana. This run alongside a de-worming program for the kids aimed at treating soil transmitted worm infestation which causes a host of health problems and often prevents children from attending school or concentrating in class.

“Most of these children in deprived areas in Ghana who grow up barefoot are exposed to injury and disease each day, a leading cause of disease in Ghana is soil transmitted diseases which can penetrate the skin through bare feet. Wearing shoes can help prevent these diseases, and the long-term physical and cognitive harm they cause”, stated Ms. Dapaah.

She noted some soil-based diseases not only cause physical symptoms, but create cognitive impairment, which can cripple a child’s long term potential.
“Children who are healthy are more likely to be successful students, and access to education is a critical determinant of long-term success”, she added.

TOMS has committed to ensure distributed shoes in targeted communities are replaced every six months for the next five years.

Children who are given TOMS shoes receive them as part of larger health and education programs run by the firm’s Giving Partners. These programs help children get the care and opportunity they need to keep them healthy and in school.

TOMS has given over two million pairs of shoes to children in need around the world.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ghana’s land administration project expanded to cover more districts

Ghana’s land administration and management system is being consolidated for efficient and transparent land delivery services under the second phase of the Land Administration Project (LAP-2).

The smooth coordination of the country’s land sector has been hindered by lack of modern information management systems – conflict of interest often ensue among government, traditional leaders and private individuals in the acquisition of land for business or community development projects.

The first phase of the land administration programmme, implemented from 2003-2010, sought to establish an electronic data collection platform, which is crucial to effective planning and policy implementation.

The Town and Country Planning Department (TCPD) has been responsible for the Land Use Planning and Management (LUPMP) sub-component of LAP, which aims to develop a sustainable spatial information service.

This involves the three- tier planning system, involving the preparation of national, regional and district Spatial Development Frameworks as well as structure plans and local plans for the regions and districts.
Chapman Owusu-Sekyere, Acting Director of the Department, says the phase two of the LUPMP would integrate spatial and land use planning into all levels of plans by the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies.

The three- tier planning system would be further deepened through the up-scaling of pilot activities to more areas, and basic equipment together with the appropriate software would equally be procured to facilitate the implementation of the new planning methodologies”, he told a stakeholder’ forum in Kumasi.

A three-tier land used planning model has been piloted in six districts and under the phase two it would be expanded to cover five districts each in the Greater Accra, Western, Ashanti and Northern regions.

Targeted districts in the Ashanti region are Bosomtwe, Atwima Kwanwoma, Atwima Nwabiagya and Bekwai Municipality.

Citing of markets, recreational, religious and school sites as well as sanitation and vehicular parks has sometimes being a herculean task is some communities.
Ashanti Regional Director of the TCPD, Rosamund Adusei, says the project should lead to proper citing of structures.

“The planning itself will also be participatory”, she said. “So if you’re citing your house and it’s close to a church which should be in the community and you don’t want it, you don’t go in for the plot at all… it will make things more transparent”.

The second phase of the project will run for four years and takes full course in January 2013.

The second phase aims to deepening the institutional reforms, enabling the land sector agencies to be more responsive to clients, cutting down the cost and time of doing business and providing an enabling environment to reflect the objective of an efficient and transparent service delivery.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Tax lawyers to increase domestic revenue – government tasked

The Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU-Ghana) has charged the government to turn attention to the legal profession with taxation if the country wants to increase revenue generation.

General Secretary, Solomon Kotei says workers in other sectors would get some respite if revenue collection agencies widen the tax net to cover all trades and professions.

Tax is based on income and the profession of the person making the money has no bearing at all on taxation.

Income tax is among the domestic taxes administered by the Ghana Revenue Authority. Such taxation includes the corporate tax paid by companies on their profits in the year; the Personal Income Tax for the self-employed and the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) contributions, which are withholdings from salaries of employees.

According to the ICU, workers in the formal sector are unfairly taxed whilst other professionals enjoy unlimited tax holidays, particularly citing the law chambers and the court system.

“I’m yet to see lawyers who pay tax to this economy”, charged Mr. Kotei. “We engage lawyers and we don’t see their tax returns and if you go to the courts, you see lawyers charging clients and they taking the money direct into their pockets”.

The Union has set an agenda to engage employers, especially government, to ease the tax burden on workers by targeting all professions with taxation.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ghana’s microfinance industry, matters arising!

Ghana’s drive to mobilize deposits from the unbanked population and encourage savings habits has faced serious challenges from the activities of unscrupulous microfinance firms.

Hundreds of account holders in parts of the country have lost their savings to such institutions within the past couple of years.

Some of the microfinance firms have either been shut down by the regulator or collapsed as a result of poor risk and business management – some mangers are facing prosecution, others have absconded.

This has led to widespread public apathy in depositing funds with microfinance institutions, especially with the traditional ‘susu’ societies.

Enquiries suggest that most victims of financial scams are enticed with micro-lending facilities. They also lack access to information on the credibility of operators.

Some aggrieved financial service’ consumers have also questioned the proactive stance of the Bank of Ghana to protect depositors when the erring firms are being shut down.

To ensure stability and sanity in the industry, the Central Bank came out with new rules and guidelines to regulate the financial sub-sector, effective January 2012.

Regulated activities under the Non-bank Financial Institutions Act 2008, increased from a single tier to four tiers, to include Susu companies, Susu collectors, money lenders and Financial NGOs.

Regulation under the first tier, including rural and community banks, savings and loans companies and other financial intermediaries already regulated under the Banking Act, remained unchanged.

‘Susu’ companies taking deposits and making profits are now operating under the second tier of regulated regime, and such companies hold an initial minimum paid-up capital of not less than Gh¢100,000.00 for one unit office.

Operators under this category are also required to amend their company names to take on the word ‘microfinance’ as a distinctive identification from other susu operators.

Credit unions also fall under the second tier but the Bank of Ghana has yet to pass a Legislative Instrument to regulate activities in the sector.

The third tier of money lenders and non-deposit taking financial NGOs shall maintain a minimum paid-up capital of Gh¢60,000.00, whilst activities under the fourth tier include the operations of individual susu collectors, susu enterprises, individual money lenders and money lending enterprises.

The Ghana Association of Microfinance Companies (GAMC) is recognized by the Bank of Ghana as an umbrella professional association to help promote best practices in the microfinance industry.

In a bid to clean up the system, the Association has been building the capacity of members to successful sail through operational processes under the BoG’s new rules and guidelines.

“Regulation is not easy but a society that is not regulated does not function, so it’s something that we don’t have a choice. It’s something that we needed it long and I think we welcome it. We just have to do everything we can to get ourselves regularized so that we can help the economy grow in the area of poverty alleviation and also job creation and be able to give micro-credit to people to expand their businesses, to pay tuition, to rent houses”, stated Nicolas Osei, Northern Sector Vice-President for the GAMC.

The new guidelines are restoring hope to both the public and industry players but the licensing has not slowed the proliferation of firms taking deposits and lending to the public.

Ghana’s major cities of Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi continue to experience an upsurge in the number of microfinance establishments.

Today, over three thousand microfinance firms are estimated to be operating in the country – as at end of 2012, the Bank of Ghana had issued 77 full licenses and about 400 provisional licenses, with an additional 500 new applications still in the process.

But the Central Bank’s process of licensing microfinance companies under the new regulatory guidelines has been a worry to the GAMC.

It’s National President, Collins Amponsah-Mensah has observed a number of firms are venturing the sector without due consideration to the regulation.

He therefore wants the regulator to tighten entrance for new businesses in the sector until it completes the licensing and regularization of those already in operation.

“As it is now, as they [Bank of Ghana] try to process those who are already in operations, others are coming in and so the number gradually becomes overwhelming and that makes it very difficult for the regulator to work on”, he observed.

Mr. Amponsah-Mensah has also charged the Central bank to be bold in closing down firms flouting the regulatory guidelines early enough to protect public interest and image of the sector.

He suggested that commencement of operations should be suspended temporarily after business incorporation at the Registrar General’s Department.

There has neither been an improvement in the quality in financial services in the local economy and the proliferation has not necessarily resulted in poverty alleviation.

Microfinance institutions should be more committed to establishing networks in rural communities to holistically develop the national economy, said Sampson Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer of Mighty Microfinance Company.

According to him, the increase is the number of financial service providers should not be to the neglect of rural economic players, who are constrained in credit accessibility to transform their subsistent operations.

“Most firms are based in the cities, not realizing that there are some rural areas that we have to serve”, he observed. “I want to tell my colleagues to focus on the rural areas to help people with loans and advise; they should come to the needs of the farmers and support the rural areas to develop”.

Mr. Amponsah-Mensah believes the country needs more microfinance companies and he expects the regulator to ensure policy encourages operators to establish in deprived regions of the country.

The GAMC Directors’ forum held under the auspices of the GIZ and the Responsible Finance Project, aims at improving financial inclusion by ensuring sustainable access to financial services.

“We expect that the directors and their companies will be responsible in their dealings with the client in the sense that they’ll be transparent and they’ll provide all the necessary information that is required to their client”, noted Matthew Affram, National Expert, Banking Supervision under the GIZ project.

Ghana’s microfinance industry is said to be a path of reformation; but industry watcher are of the view that sustaining sanity to instill public confidence would much depend on the policy direction of the regulator, the Bank of Ghana.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Friday, January 18, 2013

Knowledge transfer partnership benefits Ghana industries

An industry-academia collaborative initiative of the British Council is yielding positive results in the transfer of knowledge and skills for businesses to improve on products and services.

For the past five years, the Council has invested over one million pounds to pilot the African Knowledge Transfer Partnership (AKTP) programme in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Target countries include Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria and Rwanda.

According to Moses Anibaba, British Council Director for Ghana, the Council has been at the forefront of transferring knowledge that is necessary for industrial growth in Ghana.

“In collaboration with AGI, the British Council’s African Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme has successful helped five Ghanaian industries acquire skills to solve real business problems and to find lasting solutions to production problems”, he said.

The projects include the outdoor of a sugar-free chocolate ‘ASPIRE’, developed in collaboration with the Cocoa Processing Company and the Department of Nutrition and Food Science of the University of Ghana.

The latest in Kumasi are the source separation of household waste and organic composting and landfill management project; established in partnership with Zoomlion Ghana Limited and the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

The British Council invested Gh₵10,400.00 in the research component at the KNUST.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships is among the world’s leading initiatives helping businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through better use of knowledge, technology and expertise that reside within universities and research institutions.

The British Council’s AKTP provides a networking platform for the private sector and higher education institutions to explore scientific knowledge, technology and skills for wealth creation.

Mr. Anibaba says beneficiary companies acquire the expertise to improve their products and services, while the knowledge-based institutions enhance the business and economic relevance of their research.
The Council is looking forward to working with relevant State institutions and other development partners to scale up the AKTP programme.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ghana’s urban solid waste gets value addition

Zoomlion Ghana, foremost waste management firm, has secured a land in the Bosomtwi District of Ashanti to begin construction of a second sorting and composting facility to serve the northern sector of Ghana.

The company’s waste-to-compost plant in Accra is Ghana’s first registered Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the country.

Ashanti Regional Manager of Zoomlion, Stephen Gyekye-Darko, says the second plant should be up and running by end of 2013.

Kumasi generates an average 1,500 tons of solid waste daily. Haulage and management of these waste materials at landfill sites have been a challenge to the metropolitan assembly.

The waste-to-compost plant, according to Mr. Gyekye-Darko, will convert organic waste into organic fertilizer for agriculture production, add value to the environment and generate employment.

“The organic matter in the rufuse will be used as raw material for the plant; this will go a long way to stop problems of getting land [for disposal] because very small waste will be left that will be sent to the landfill site and it will prolong the lifespan of the landfill”, he stated.

Gyekye-Darko spoke to Luv News at the launch of a waste sorting and organic composting project at Ayuom near Kumasi.

The integrated household waste management project seeks to sort source waste into plastics, food and organic waste, with the view to enhancing their re-use, recycling, treatment and final disposal of various components.

It is a under the British Council’s African Knowledge Transfer Partnership (AKTP) programme, in partnership with the KNUST’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Zoomlion Ghana.

AKTP Associate, Israel Acheampong explained the objective is to solve waste management problem in the country with the local community as a case study.

Project Coordinator, Dr. Moses Mensah said the ultimate goal is to examine the potential for the implementation of an integrated waste management system across the country.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Labour group to fight casual worker syndrome in Ghana

Newly elected national executives of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU-Ghana) have committed to curtail what they describe as the “casualization of workers syndrome”.

They have set an agenda to embark on a campaign to draw national attention “to ensure that we liberate a lot of workers in that angle”.

Delegates at the 9th Quadrennial Conference of the ICU have elected new executives to steer the affairs of the Union for the next four years.

This year’s Conference in Kumasi has been the most peaceful in the history of the Union. The previous congress was marred by a court injunction against election of national officers.

Victor Obeng Adu has now been elected as National Chairman, with Jim Petey-Gyan as Vice-Chairman and Solomon Kotei as General Secretary of the Union.

Others are Emmanuel Baah-Beninah, Deputy Secretary (Administration), Morgan Ayawine, Deputy Secretary (Operations), Emelia Assidi Amadu as First National Trustee and Naomi Nartey as the Second National Trustee.

The new leaders are tasked to seek the welfare of the 75,000 members of the Union in the years ahead.

General Secretary, Solomon Kotei tells Luv News one of ICU’s priorities is to curtail the casual worker syndrome within industry.

“From where we come from as ICU, countless number of our members has been thrown into that casual syndrome, especially in the area of factories and banks, where you could note that someone is employed as a casual but he’s doing the job as a normal employee, yet he’s not remunerated as such”, he observed.

Mr. Kotei said the Union will ensure enforcement of provisions in the National Labour Act which stipulates that casual staff are regularized as permanent workers after continuous six months of engagement.

The Union will also partner indigenous entrepreneurs, create forums to promote made-in-Ghana goods and engage interest groups to project locally manufactured products.

The ICU conference holds on the heels of a new report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) which has identified a widening gap between wage and labour productivity growth.

The ILO’s “Global Wage Report 2012/13: Wages and Equitable Growth” states that while the difference between the top and bottom income earners is increasing, and the labour income share is declining, globally.

Mr. Kotei acknowledged wage increment cannot be demanded when productivity is low, hence the need to pursue a win-win agenda in employer-employee negotiations.

“We’re going to drive a membership education that will open their eyes to accept the fact and challenge that if we don’t become co-owners of the business and ensure that not only are we able to produce and create but making sure that the economic cycle is complete by finding market for what we produce to enable us have the urge to demand what is due us”, he emphasized.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Farmers in Burkina Faso get IITA improved cowpea varieties

Burkina Faso has released two improved cowpea varieties to help advance better nutrition for women and children, and boost the incomes of farmers.

The varieties were developed by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and have undergone participatory varietal selection with farmers in the central and northern region of Burkina Faso.

Local farmers and researchers selected the varieties from a basket of options after a two-year trial, thanks to funds from the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). 

The varieties being selected are early maturing and high yielding and are also resistant to Striga—a parasitic weed that limits the yield of cowpea.

“These varieties mature in about 60 days as opposed to local varieties that mature in about 80-90 days,” says Dr Haruki Ishikawa, IITA Project Coordinator for the Appropriate Varieties of Early maturing Cowpea for Burkina Faso (AVEC-BF) project.

Generally, cowpea is an important crop in Burkina Faso as it provides food and cash for farmers, and fodder for livestock. Most local varieties in the country record a yield of between 400 kg and 600 kg per hectare. 

“But the new varieties have a potential yield of 2170Kg/ha,” Dr Ishikawa said.

Farmers love the varieties for their yield, color and cooking qualities and have given the varieties the following local names: Yiis yande, which means a crop that helps farmers to escape from shame arising from hunger; and Niizwe, meaning a crop that has brought an end to hunger.

Burkina Faso's Research, Science & Innovation Minister, Gnissa Isaïe Konaté, who is also a researcher, said that the physical qualities of the varieties such as color and bigger size were appealing and would make farmers more competitive in the region.

“Also these varieties will help farmers to adapt better with climate change,” he added.

Dr Satoru Muranaka, a scientist with the Japan International Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS), who initiated the project while working for IITA, notes that the improved varieties offer a lot of benefits to farmers.
“For instance, because these varieties are early maturing, they will help cowpea farmers to escape from drought.  Also farmers now have a crop that they can harvest early, consume, and sell to generate income when other crops are still on the field. Such incomes help farmers to pay school fees for their children. Again, with protein content of about 20 percent, cowpea provides a good option to tackle malnutrition in local communities,” Dr Muranaka added.

Dr. Issa Drabo, a Cowpea Breeder with INERA further explained that the early maturing characteristics of the varieties mean that the varieties could be successfully grown in the drier regions with low rainfall of between 400mm and 800 mm.

The AVEC-BF project is a research for development project that aims to disseminate improved varieties.

The project is developing new dissemination system for cowpea that combines selection of appropriate varieties for the region, community seed system, and farmer field school activities with the ultimate goal of improving access of farmers to improved varieties and technologies.

Japanese Ambassador to Burkina Faso, Tsutomu Sugiura called for the scaling up of the project, having recorded significant milestones in a short period of time.

“This is the kind of project that should be supported to continue. I hope it will not stop at this stage,” he said.

Zoomlion Ashanti seeks operational autonomy in waste management

The Ashanti regional office of Zoomlion Ghana says it is ready to emerge as an autonomous entity within the organizational set up of the foremost Ghanaian waste management company.

Regional Manager, Stephen Gyekye-Darko says after five years of operations, the region is poised to run its activities independent of regulation from the company’s head office in Accra.

The objective, he said, is to strengthen the regional operations for effective waste management, whilst the head office assumes a supervisory role in coordination of activities.

According to him, challenges in taking delivery of logistics and other decision making processes would be addressed when the region becomes autonomous.
Zoomlion currently engages about seven thousand contract staff and over 300 core employees.

Mr. Gyekye-Darko has identified poor public attitude towards environmental sanitation as major obstacle in efforts to keep the environment clean and green.

He announced the formation of Zoom Kids Clubs in the various schools this year with the aim of targeting the children as agents of change.

He however noted public education on sanitation will not yield the desired impact if not backed by law enforcement.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The task of easing human and vehicular traffic in Ghana

The Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) has indicated that its decongestion taskforce will employ “reasonable force” to evict traders and transport operators occupying unauthorized places within the city.

The taskforce, in enforcement of the Assembly’s bye-laws, is also mandated to confiscate wares and haul recalcitrant traders before the courts for prosecution.

To ease movement of human and vehicular traffic, the Assembly has issued a two week ultimatum for the traders to voluntarily relocate to the newly constructed Afia Kobi Market and other markets within the metropolis.

Areas earmarked for decongestion include the central business districts of Adum, Kejetia and the Central Market areas, the Bantama main street, parts of Suame and Kronum. Metro Mass Transit buses and other cargo truck operators at Dunkirk and Pampaso are also directed to vacate the areas before the February 4, 2013 deadline.

According to the KMA’s Public Relations Officer, Godwin Okuma-Nyame, the assembly needs public support to succeed in the decongestion exercise.

Metropolitan assemblies in Ghana are faced with the persistent challenge of keeping hawkers off the pavements as the traders always returned to settle on the pavements.

A directive by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) for hawkers to vacate the pavements expired on Monday but the traders have remained adamant.

Some officials have stated that the decongestion exercise remains a process and not an event, hence the need for the authorities to re-strategize as to how best to clear offenders off the streets and the pavements, anytime they come back to the streets to sell.

In Kumasi, the local assembly has been cited for blame in supervising the construction of stores and other building complexes in the already congested city centre.

But Mr. Okuma-Nyame will not agree to this, stating that “people cannot use that as an excuse to say that because there are lot of buildings around Kejetia and Adum that is the cause of the decongestion there”.

He believes the construction of the Afia Kobi Market, which is close to the central business district, is indicative of the Assembly’s quest to decongest the city.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh


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