Friday, March 29, 2013

Healthy living campaign targets driving public in Kumasi

With the increasing vehicular movement this Easter season, M.Y. Ventures, a natural healthcare center, is taking its Healthy Living Campaign to commercial drivers to protect lives on the roads.

The project dubbed “Wellness at Work” incorporates achievable, small steps for healthy eating and physical activity into everyday life.

The on-going campaign serves as a platform for people to know their health status to live healthier and longer lives and increase productivity at the workplaces.

Chief Executive Officer of M.Y. Ventures, Dr. Caesar says drivers are valuable in socio-economic development, hence the need to be educated on personal health to give up the best of service.

“The nation can lose lives from accidents, so it has become increasingly important for M.Y. ventures to partner with these drivers, either to give them education or introduce our products that give nutrition to the body”, he stated.

The campaign involves presentations on healthy living practices and free sampling of the company’s natural health products and food supplements.

According to Dr. Caesar, commercial drivers are prone to eating ‘junk foods’ but need to be nourished to offer good services to the country.

He has cautioned drivers against intake of alcohol and other stimulants during and after driving, stating that “when you use such products wrongly it rather weakens the body. So most times you see drivers complaining of waste pains, complaining of spinal problems and always worried about headaches”.

M.Y. Venture is engaging corporate institutions to institute measure to prevent diseases and avoid the problems of curing diseases.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Report warns of ways climate change threatens food security of urban poor

Policies to increase food security in the global South focus too much on rural food production and not enough on ensuring poor people can access and afford food, especially in urban areas, says a new report by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).

It warns that climate change will only make this policy gap worse, because climate change impacts will affect not only harvests but also the systems that people use to transport, store and buy and sell food.

“Food security is back on the agenda thanks to rising prices and the threat that climate change poses to agricultural production,” says the report’s author Dr Cecilia Tacoli. “But policies that focus on rural food production alone will not tackle the rising food insecurity in urban areas. We also need policies that improve poor people’s ability to access and afford food, especially in urban areas.”

Most people in urban areas must buy their food and this makes the urban poor particularly at risk. Any climate-induced disruption to food production, transport and storage – either in the urban area itself or in distant farmland – can affect food supplies and prices in urban areas.

Yet most policies that aim to increase food security focus solely on boosting production from farms and fisheries in rural areas.

“The journey that food takes from a rural producer to an urban consumer involves many steps,” says Dr Tacoli. “It must travel through formal and informal systems as it is stored, distributed and sold. Each one of these steps is a point of potential vulnerability to climate change. For consumers, this will mean sharp and sudden increases in food prices”

The report highlights the link between income poverty and food insecurity in urban areas. For most low-income urban citizens food represents a sizeable portion of the money they spend. Even small increases in price would therefore have big impacts of food security, with citizens reducing the amount and quality of the food they buy.

For the residents of informal urban settlements, food insecurity is also the consequence of lack of space to store and cook food, lack of time to shop and prepare meals, inadequate access to clean water and often non-existing sewage systems. These settlements are disproportionately affected by floods, typhoons, heat waves and other impacts of climate change because they tend to be located in areas more exposed to these events, and because they lack the most basic infrastructure.

Tacoli says that governments must rise to these challenges by ensuring that policies can protect the urban poor from food insecurity linked to rising prices, inadequate living conditions and the effects of climate change in both rural and urban areas. Decent and stable employment is essential but not sufficient: adequate infrastructure and housing and access to formal and informal markets are just as important.  

“Climate change threatens to multiply many of the big challenges that face the world’s urban poor,” says Tacoli. “Policymakers need a far better understanding of what it means to be poor in an urban centre.”

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

INDUTECH 2013 Kumasi opens to promote Ghanaian products

The Industrial and Technology Fair - INDUTECH 2013 – has opened at the Kumasi Cultural Centre to expose the Ghanaian populace to locally produced goods and services.

Some 100 exhibitors from Ghana and the West African sub-region are marketing their products and services to a projected 25,000 visitors trooping the Fair grounds.

Industrial goods being exhibited include textiles and garments, pharmaceuticals, wood products, artifacts, processing machinery and agro-food products. Others are financial service providers, regulatory agencies and knowledge-based institutions.

Chief Director at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Nii Ansah Adjei, noted that the agro and agri-business sector is a priority area under the government’s new Industry Policy and the Industrial Sector Support Program.

He urged local entrepreneurs and businesses to take full advantage of opportunities offered by the Fair to build partnerships with both foreign and local counterparts represented at the Fair.

”The Ministry of Trade and Industry is with strong conviction that, as part of efforts to diversifying and expanding our export base particularly non-traditional exports, international fairs such as this one, could serve as a major vehicle to achieve this goal”, stated Mr. Adjei.

He called for the strengthening of effective collaboration between industry and knowledge-based organizations for Ghanaian producers to be innovative in the current global market.

The 6-day International Trade Fair is organized by the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo branch of Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), with the Multimedia Group as media partners.

Chairman of the event planning committee, William Awuku Ahiadormey describes patronage of exhibitors as encouraging.

He announced four sessions of side seminars to treat subjects of interest to producers and consumers.

The “Indutech 2013 Kumasi” is holding between March 27 and April 1, 2013, under the theme: “Improving Market Share of Made in Ghana Goods, the Challenges of Access to Markets in a Global Competitive Market”.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ghana moves to make illegal gold prospecting an expensive enterprise

Government is conducting a geographical investigating into seven sites for alluvial and primary gold deposits to be parceled out to small-scale miners.

The sites, covering an area of 368 km2, are among 77 sites blocked out as part of interventions to curb galamsey activities in the country, announced Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini.

He observed that most of the illegal activities are on large scale mining concessions with the active connivance of the concession owners.

“These concession owners are breaching the terms of their licenses and let me state that punitive measures will be taken against any concession owner who is caught collaborating with these illegal miners”, he said.

The Minister noted that it is about time the licensing regime is reviewed “so that people don’t just keep their prospecting or recognizance licenses forever; inviting galamsey operators to come and be working on those lands”.

Alhaji Fuseini is also seeking an amendment of the Minerals Act 703 to make illegal mining a strict liability offence to protect the interest of the future generation.

Illegal mining activities in Ghana killed an estimated 300 lives between 2011 and 2012. There are also frequent mine accidents as well as other socio-economic and environmental challenges which have bedeviled Ghana’s mining environment.

Alhaji Fuseini says illegal gold prospecting should be made an expensive enterprise because the operations of the miners “have serious national security implications”.

According to him, the country could be moving towards a resource curse if the menace of galamsey is not curbed, stating that the veil must be removed to expose people behind galamsey operations.

“The illegal miners operate close to local communities in the full glare of all stakeholders… The connivance of some chiefs, landlords, farmers and opinion leaders with foreigners to operate in remote areas is very worrying”.

The Minister has been addressing the Expanded Council Meeting of the Ghana Chamber of Mines holding in Kumasi.

Alhaji Fuseini says government has developed guidelines for the utilization of mining royalties by local assemblies to address complains of inappropriate use of the royalties.

“The Assemblies’ share of the royalties is no longer for recurrent expenditure”, he stated. “The use of revenue from royalty payment will be benchmarked to enable the members of the Assembly and the communities within the jurisdiction of a district assembly to track the utilization of such royalty payments”.

He added that government is piloting a policy intervention to ensure mining royalties are paid monthly instead of the current quarterly basis.

Chief Executive of the Chamber of Mine, Dr. Toni Aubynn, reiterated calls for the establishment of a Minerals Revenue Fund, modeled along the lines of the Petroleum Revenue Fund, to remove what he termed the age old suspicion of the benefits from the receipts from mineral resources.

He noted that such Fund will allocate “how much should go to government budgets, how much to be saved for future generation and how much goes to clearly defined visible developmental projects”.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mineral resource exploitation in Atewa Forest Reserve challenged

The Coalition of Students in Conservation (COSIC) wants the government to reconsider all contractual agreements towards the exploitation of mineral resources in the Atewa Range Forest Reserve in the Eastern Region.

According to the group, the economic income from mining must be balanced with environmental and social concerns, hence the need for the country to pursue initiatives and investments that secure the ecological integrity of the forests.

“The aggressive pursuit of intensive mining as a means to accelerated economic growth is putting great pressure on two important upland forests – Atewa and Tano Offin Forest Reserves – which would be degraded and changed from their current land use status to mining concessions”, says Spokesperson, Daniel Kweitsu Obloni.

Government in 2011 granted several licenses to Vimetco Ghana (Bauxite) Limited to prospect for bauxite within Ghana’s Kibi and Nyianhin forest reserve deposits, which cover a concession area of 468.66 sq km.

Atewa has long been recognized as a nationally important reserve because its mountains contain the headwaters of three river systems – the Ayensu, Densu and Birim rivers – which serve as the source of domestic, agricultural and industrial water for communities in parts of Accra, Oda, Kade and Koforidua.

“The Densu River Basin has an area of 2,490km2 and spans 11 local government assemblies in the Central, Eastern and Greater Accra regions. There are about 200 settlements situated along the Basin with a total population of over 600,000, equivalent to 240 persons per km2 whose livelihoods depend directly or indirectly on the resource. Are we ready to import water into this country?” asked Daniel.
 
COSIC posits that it might be impossible for people to drink from rivers and water bodies with the resultant pollution from the mining operations. Other concerns include loss of biodiversity and damage to ecosystem functioning, loss of income from sustainable logging, change in tourism potential of the area and less absorption of Green House gases. 

“We are all aware of chemicals that are used in mining, some of them are very toxic and as soon as it gets into the water, you know the amount of destruction that it will cause and so if someone is using this as potable water and it is destroyed then we have a long way to go”, said Chairman of the Coalition, Nathaniel Adjei-Gyasi.

The Coalition is of the view that the non-use values of the Reserve cannot be ignored with reference to Atewa’s relevance to Ghana’s quest to achieve sustainable development in ways that safeguard the environment whilst contributing to poverty reduction.

The students are convinced that “the threats posed by the proposed bauxite mining project to this important ecosystem will lead to irreversible changes in the ecological characteristics of the area”.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

UT Life Insurance records first profit

UT Life Insurance Company has recorded its first profit, barely two years of becoming a subsidiary of the UT Group.

The company, formerly Golden Life Assurance, recorded a profit margin of Gh₵700,000 for 2012.

This was disclosed at the maiden UT Annual Sales Conference in Kumasi.

UT Life made a premium of Gh₵6.7 million in 2012, representing a 143 percent increase over the previous year’s figure of Gh₵2.7 million.

The Company also paid claims of almost one million Ghana Cedis.

Managing Director, Tiibu Aziz Rayamah describes the performance as significant and attributes the success to the dedication of the sales team as well as the prompt and timely payment of claims.

Mr. Rayamah told Luv Fm the business will grow by similar margin in 2013, noting that UT Life does not see any competition in Ghana’s insurance industry.

According to him, “if one percent of the population is insured, I don’t see the competition; the competition only happens when you do things the same way as everybody else does. So we believe that there is actually no competition in the industry because we do things differently from everybody else and that is accounting for the growth that we’re seeing in our business”.

UT Life has the goal to become one of the best insurance companies on the African continent.

Outstanding sales executives were awarded at the UT Sales Conference 2013, which was under the theme: “Innovation and Personal Branding: Your Key to Career Development”.

Gold Award winner, Drayi Mensah Worlasi of the Hohoe branch enjoined young people to be committed to save and invest to secure their future.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Cleantech solutions appropriate for Africa to be showcased in SA

The third Clean Technology business and investment matchmaking conference for the African continent is to be held South Africa in October 2013.
 

Dubbed Viridis Africa, the event is dedicated to entrepreneurs and corporate institutions seeking funding to introduce clean technology solutions and services.

Principals who would present their business opportunities at this event would have the audience of numerous local and foreign investors, stratified according to their interest and investment criteria.
  
“It will be bigger, better, more defined and refined in achieving its stated goal of bringing together both investors and entrepreneurs from Africa to meet with their counterparts from around the world in order to pursue the objective of setting up clean technologies businesses in the continent holding commercial promise” stated Suza Adam, event organizer.


Investors would include venture capital, private equity, project and corporate finance outfits and project developers dedicated to the cleantech sector.

They would also include North American, European funding agencies, major Asian industrial conglomerates, technology specific investment funds and major companies who seek strategic alliance and acquisitions.

For African entrepreneurs and their businesses, the Johannesburg held event will prove most beneficial in a much as it will allow them to meet with potential global partners, both in technology and finance so as to evaluate and execute projects.

Area of interest include renewable energy, provision of potable water, solid waste recycling, effluent  treatment and other projects that aside of their commercial merits would have even greater socio-economic benefits and impact on the people and environment of the continent for years to come.

Some projects in the past, although technologically sound, could not be justified commercially, nor technically, as support infrastructure – human resource and even reliable energy supply - could not be sustained.

Africa is now becoming the focus of the developed nations as far as inward investment into the continent, so as to “fire up” economic development, there is much anticipation that infrastructural development will ensue, said Suza.

Thus, the provision of energy, water – for drinking, agricultural and industrial use – as well as other objectives such as road infrastructure and telecommunication will become a priority.

Therefore in Africa the concept of “clean technology” is more about the ability to answer to the said needs in a more independent manner, than what is currently possible - that is deploying energy generating capacity that is not reliant on massive infrastructural setup, but rather small scale and scalable solutions adapted to remote and rural regions within a country.
 
Similarly innovative solutions regarding water treatment and purification coupled with that of industrial effluents can also be deployed on the basis of small scale and scalable range of solutions, thereby commercially justified as per community and regions’ needs.

Viridis Africa will therefore showcase Clean Technology initiatives and innovative solutions which balance commercial promise with cost affordability to users.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Corporate institutions tasked to aid police work

Ashanti Regional Manager of Prudential Bank Limited has noted the protection of life and property should be a shared responsibility among the citizenry.


Mr. Martin Bannerman therefore expects corporate institutions to be proactive in responding to the needs of the security agencies, especially the police.

Prudential Bank has responded to a request for a set of computers by the Asawasi Police in Kumasi to help facilitate administrative processes at the command.

Mr. Bannerman tells Luv News it should be part of the corporate social responsibility of organizations to respond to the needs of the police, no matter how much little such contributions maybe.

“We know the work of the police is very critical, especially we working in the financial sector. So we think when they make an appeal, we should work hand-in-hand with them to solve some of their problems”, he stated.

He observed that public protection for the police in terms of resourcing them is a secured means to promote a crime-free society.

The Police Command has been busy providing a sense of security in the neighborhoods of Kumasi where the armed attacks have been rampant.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Ghana to benefit from African-wide cassava, wheat, rice and maize intervention

Ghana and 19 other African countries will directly benefit from the African Development Bank- funded initiative known as the Support for Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops (SARD-SC).

The US$63.24 million project was approved in 2012 to be implemented by Africa-base research institutions.

Direct beneficiaries of the intervention include farmers in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, DR Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The multiplier effect of the project is however expected to affect other regional member countries in the continent.

“The project will have a positive spin off effect in the other member countries,” according to the Project Coordinator, SARD-SC, Dr Chris Akem.

Scientists, other stakeholders and policy makers say the initiative will help narrow the yield gap facing Africa’s strategic crops even as most countries on the continent embark on agricultural reforms.

Maize, cassava, rice and wheat are considered crops of strategic importance for Africa. Maize for instance is consumed by millions of people as either roasted or boiled and eaten off the cob or as dish prepared from raw or fermented flour.

Explaining the scope of the SARD-SC, the Deputy Director General in charge of Partnerships & Capacity Development, Dr Kenton Dashiell, said the project has several components including agricultural technologies and innovations generation, agricultural technologies and innovations dissemination, and sustainable capacity development.

To achieve the set goals, he emphasized partnerships among various stakeholders—farmers, input dealers, farmers, researchers, consumers etc.
He stressed that the overall objective was to enhance food and nutrition security, and contribute to poverty reduction.

The initiative is being co-implemented by three Africa-based centers under the CGIAR namely: the Africa Rice Center, the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), which is also the Executing Agency of the project.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is hopeful the project would contribute towards addressing the current shortfall in food supply in the continent by working across the full value chain of each crop and addressing both food costs and employment creation. 

Through the value chain approach, SARD-SC will also contribute to crop-livestock integration based on the use of the commodities’ by-products.

Conference to reveal links between conservation and land grabs

The leasing or buying of farmland by foreign governments and private investors has been described as 'land grabbing'.

There are serious concerns about the threat to smallholder farmers and the environmental impact of intensive agricultural production. But such grabs could also work to the advantage of developing countries, as a valuable source of investment

Researchers will meet at London Zoo on 26-27 March to join the dots between large land deals, conservation, land rights and efforts to tackle poverty in poor communities worldwide.

Speakers will present research on both impacts of land grabs on conservation and its reverse – the role of conservation as a driver of land grabs. They will also share studies that show how stronger land rights can improve conservation outcomes.

The issues are burning because worldwide large land deals are on the increase, and they often take place in areas that are home to both large numbers of poor people and important biodiversity. People and wildlife can lose out when investors acquire land for large scale agriculture.

At the same time, there are growing threats from ‘green grabs’ that displace communities in order to conserve wildlife or gain value from eco-tourism, biofuels or the carbon that forests store in their wood.

The meeting in London—organised by the International Institute for Environment and Development, the International Land Coalition, the Zoological Society of London and Maliasili Initiatives — is the international symposium of the Poverty and Conservation Learning Group.

Speakers will present case studies from Cameroon, Uganda, Chile, Kenya, Mongolia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Ethiopia, Liberia and Cambodia.

“The global rush for land threatens to squeeze out both poor communities with weak land rights, and wild species and habitats that we should be conserving,” says Dilys Roe, a senior researcher at IIED, which convenes the Poverty and Conservation Learning Group. “It is in the interests of both the conservation and land rights communities to tackle the land rush. One solution is for them to work more strategically together to secure or strengthen local land rights in ways that bring both conservation and development benefits.”

“Secure land tenure is a foundation of community-driven conservation efforts around the world,” says Fred Nelson, Executive Director of Maliasili Initiatives, which supports sustainable natural resource management efforts in Africa. “The current land crisis provides an opportunity for conservation, development, and human rights groups to work together to address historically-rooted weaknesses in the recognition of local communities’ land rights, and to enable communities to better secure their territories and the natural resources on which their livelihoods depend.”

The Poverty and Conservation Learning Group (PCLG) is a multi-stakeholder forum, coordinated by IIED, for promoting dialogue and fostering learning on the links between biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Chiefs share knowledge in land mapping for development

One of the major obstacles to instilling investor’ confidence in Ghana is land acquisition and security for local and foreign businesses.

Land utilization in line with modern day planning and the complexity of land ownership pose a tough challenge to stimulate the socio-economic development agenda of the country.

To help improve the situation, traditional authorities in the Ashanti region have been sharing knowledge and experience in land administration at the ongoing training on “Service Management and Leadership for Traditional Authorities”.

Model II of the programme, run by the Osei Tutu II Centre for Executive Education and Research (OTCEER) in Kumasi, is focused on ‘ICT and Land Administration’.

Asakore Mamponghene, Nana Boakye-Ansah Debrah, who is leading the session, has noted that the application of information communication technology should facilitate the mapping up of stool lands for development purposes.

He has implored chiefs to engage professional planners in land data management within their jurisdiction and ensure they are not swayed to arbitrarily change their plans.

“When you plan that this area can be used for housing, this area can be used for farming or industry, you just stick to your planning principle and you don’t change it”, he said. “We’re teaching ourselves how someone has done it and how it’s been successful”.

Nana Boakye-Ansah cited his community as an example of how planning can lead to development and promote peaceful co-existence.

“There has never been double allocation in my area and revenues that come from the sales of lands are distributed equally; there is transparency and because of that I don’t have people with my people and I don’t have problem with the outsiders”, he stated.

The first batch of 30 chiefs drawn from the Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs is being exposed to innovative ideas in the discharge of routine duties in their communities.

The programme was launched last month with the aim to enhance the role of traditional institutions in the country’s socio-economic development.

Head of the OTCEER, Nana Otuo Acheampong, has exposed the chiefs to the World Bank’s 2013 report: “Growing Africa: Unlocking the Potential of Agribusiness”.

According to the report Africa’s farmers and agribusinesses could create a trillion-dollar food market by 2030 if they can expand their access to more capital, electricity, better technology and irrigated land to grow high-value nutritious foods.

Nana Otuo noted that chiefs as custodians of land can help put the uncultivated land resources to productive use.

The four-modular programme is funded by the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) – covers service management and innovation, leadership and land administration, contemporary issues in leadership and financial management for chiefs as leaders.

Director of Programmes at the CEIBS, Prof. Mathew Tsamenyi is enthused at the interest of the chiefs to translate the acquired knowledge into action.

“At the end of it all, what we’re hoping for is to have different roles for traditional institutions as partners in development and we’ll be able to transform areas without necessarily relying on international donors or the government to come and do it for them”, he observed.

There is international interest in the programme as people begin to understand that the traditional institutions can be used as an alternative vehicle to deliver development goods, he said.

The programme would be run for chiefs and queen mothers in all ten regions of the country and hopefully extended to other African countries.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Reality of forest reservation dawns on Ghana to sustain cocoa production

Ghana needs to vigorously pursue the policy of exploring log importation for local processing and value addition for re-export if the country is to sustainably manage its forests.

This is the view of Samuel Kwabena Nketiah, Programmes Director of Tropenbos International Ghana, an organization committed to bridging the gap between forest policy, management and science.

The country’s new oil economy is driving an expansion in infrastructure development – demand for wood is therefore increasing at a fast rate to satisfy the housing and construction industry.

According to Mr. Nketiah, the state of the country’s forest cannot sustainably support the adequate supply of lumber to the domestic market, hence the need for alternative sources.

Ghana, at the turn of the century, had 8.2million hectors of forest reserves.  The policy in forest reservation at the time was to reserve a small portion to create a good micro-climate to support cocoa production and other agricultural activities.

“The reduction in forest, alarming though it may seem, was more or less intentional”, noted Mr. Nketiah. “But with time government realized that was not the best of policies; that is allowing the areas outside the reserves to be converted fully to agriculture”.

Now, the government’s policy looks at the possibility of managing areas outside the permanent reserves on sustainable basis, including the promotion of agro-forestry, tree planting, urban planting.

Mr. Nketia expects the government to pay adequate attention to plantation development by supporting interested persons to access land and finance for the promotion of tree planting. He added that the “Domestic Lumber Traders Association and the Ghana Timber Millers Organization are also keen on the importation of logs”.

Climate scientists at the Colombia-based International Centre for Tropical Agriculture, CIAT, have predicted that the expected increasing temperatures will lead to massive declines in cocoa production in Ghana and other cocoa-growing areas in West Africa by 2030.

Their report also revealed that an expected annual temperature rise of more than two degrees Celsius by 2050 will leave the cocoa-producing areas too hot for chocolate.

According to Mr. Nketiah, there are indications that Ghana’s forest coverage is increasing but all is not well because of large forest degradation.
He observed the dwindling fortunes of cocoa production in some Northern parts of the country “because the microclimate there does not support cocoa growing, so if we are not careful with the way we manage our forest resources, as we lose our forest, the environment gets drier and drier and cocoa will no longer be able to survive”.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ghana among nations to pioneer climate change adaptation tracking system

New systems for tracking the social impacts of efforts to adapt to climate change could soon be in place in Africa and South Asia.

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), working with policy and research partners in the targeted regions, including Adaptify and Garama 3C Ltd, has designed a framework and tools that will enable countries to ensure their efforts to adapt to climate change and efforts to development work in concert.

IIED is engaging with governments of Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nepal, and Pakistan to test the framework and tools as means to evaluate a range of climate adaptation activities.

Government representatives and researchers are joining IIED staff and other partners in Edinburgh to review the design for the feasibility testing arrangements and next steps.

Representatives of the Scottish Government and their advisers will also attend the meeting to share their own experiences of planning climate adaptation and designing a monitoring and evaluating framework.

“While most frameworks for evaluating responses to climate change assume that adaptation will neutralise harm and allow development to continue as planned, but this underestimates the real change needed to keep development on track,” says Dr Simon Anderson, head of IIED’s climate change group.

“As governments and development partners begin to invest large sums of money in action to adapt to climate change, it is essential that they focus on adaptation’s contribution to long term development, and not just spend money on adaptation projects,” says Anderson. “Unless they can track adaptation and measure development outcomes there is a risk that funds will be poorly spent.”

The new framework and tools that IIED and partners have developed will enable governments and development agencies to assess whether adaptation projects enhance or compromise development. They will measure how fairly the costs and benefits of such projects are distributed. And they will help to identify where to spend future investments.

The framework and tools – known collectively as the Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development (TAMD) Framework – can be tailored to suit individual country contexts, different sectors and at various scales.

“All countries need to adapt to climate change, but they need to be sure they do so in a way that does not harm their social and economic development,” says project leader Simon Anderson. “The tools we have developed will allow countries to ensure that adaptation and development work hand-in-hand. Ultimately this will mean better management and more accountability in how investments in adaptation are made.”
 
IIED developed the TAMD framework with funding from the UK’s Department for International Development.

The project’s next steps will include tailoring TAMD to each of the five pilot countries and testing the framework in them at national and subnational levels.

To offset the greenhouse gas emissions that arise from people travelling to the meeting in Edinburgh, IIED will invest in both a direct emissions offsetting scheme and in projects that help communities adapt to climate change. IIED will publish a report from the meeting in April.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Rural banks to be engaged in mobile money transfer business

Rural and community banks in Ghana will by June this year be hooked onto a technology platform to transact money remittance services via mobile telecom networks.

This is part of measures being introduced by the Apex Bank of the Association of Rural Banks (ARB) to assist the rural banks to be efficient in the money transfer business.

Managing Director of the Apex Bank, Kwadwo Aye Kusi, says the technology will enable the banks to be integrated to all the telecommunication networks for susu operations, money transfer, purchase of airtime credit and SMS alert services.

“Therefore the products that we’re going to come up with will not be limited to one telecom company but every customer of ours can do mobile money business”, he told LuvBiz Report.

The ARB Apex Bank has also introduced measure to reduce delays arising out of remotely processing money transfer transactions under the Western Union and Apexlink money transfer services.

Since its inception in 2003, the Apexlink money transfer product has chalked successes, from its manual processing to the current automated ‘itrans’ platform.

“The volume of Apexlink transactions processed through our networks has improved considerable over the years. From 190,917 transactions recorded in 2009, the product has grown to achieve a 589,164 transaction level by the end of 2012”, stated Mr. Kusi at the Apex Bank’s Money Transfer Conference in Kumasi.

Transactions through Western Union on the Apex network also increased over the years, from 96,307 in 2009 to 230,581 transactions recorded in 2012 and a targeted level of 323,000 transactions for 2013.

Mr. Kusi announced the abolishing of the commission sharing arrangements that exist between Apex Bank and the rural banks, stating that the rural banks would be given 100% commission on all Western Union transactions processed.

He told LuvBiz Report the decision to abolish the commission is to encourage all the banks to undertake more of the money transfer business to benefit rural economies.

“Apexlink and Western Union money transfers have supported the economic growth in our rural communities in assisting traders in their daily money transfer operations capitalizing on its large network across the country”, he noted.

“Trade has been tremendously boosted between the north and south of the country where traders find it more secured and convenient to send funds by Apexlink than traveling with such funds with all its attendant risk. This has helped increase the level of economic activities in rural communities”.

The conference was on the theme: “Handling Remittance Business with Care – Risk and Compliance Issues”.

Concerns were raised about the vulnerability of the rural and community banks to fall prey to unscrupulous transactions in money remittances.

The Apex Bank has therefore announced some initiative to eliminate money laundering in the Apex money transfer system.

“Compliance and Anti Money Laundering officers would soon be appointed to monitor and prevent the use of our money transfer system for any kind of money laundering activity… In order to eliminate identity fraud on the network, the Bank will soon be connected to the national ID verification platform to verify all voters ID presented for money transfer transactions” Mr. Kusi stated.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

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