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IMF: Economic Growth In Ghana Continues Robustly
Economic growth in Ghana continued at a robust pace of eight percent in 2012 amid rising fiscal and external imbalances, a mission from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to Ghana has said.

The mission led by Ms Christina Daseking, visited Accra from April 2 to 12, to conduct discussions for the 2013 Article IV consultations.

They met President John Mahama, Vice-President Akwesi Amissah-Arthur, Finance Minister Seth Terkper, Bank of Ghana Governor Dr Henry Kofi Wampah, members of parliament, and representatives of the private sector, think tanks, trade unions, and civil society.

The Public Affairs of IMF External Relations Department in a statement to the Ghana News Agency said Ms Daseking at the end of mission said a growing public sector wage bill, costly energy subsidies, and higher interest cost, pushed the fiscal deficit to about 12 per cent of GDP last year.

The external current account deficit also widened to 12 percent of GDP, while unadjusted fuel and energy prices and a tightening of monetary policy helped keep inflation in single digits.

“The growth momentum has continued into 2013, with rising inflation pressures. While activity in the non-oil sector is dampened by energy disruptions and high interest rates, increased oil production should keep overall economic growth close to eight percent.

“A weaker outlook for cocoa and gold exports will leave the current account deficit around 12 percent of GDP.”

The mission projects a reduction in the fiscal deficit to 10 percent of GDP this year, about one percent higher than the budget projections, assuming a delayed adjustment in utility tariffs.

“Despite Ghana’s strong economic potential, short-term stability risks have risen. Ghana’s strong democratic institutions and favourable prospects for oil and gas continue to attract significant Foreign Direct Investment.

“Yet, low external buffers and a rising domestic debt ratio expose the economy to risks, such as weaker terms of trade, reduced capital inflows, or unanticipated spending needs.

“Energy sector problems could curtail growth, while excessive government domestic borrowing is raising the cost of credit to the private sector.”

Both factors have been identified as key growth constraints in Ghana. The mission’s still positive assessment of the economy is contingent on the authorities’ resolve to confront these challenges decisively.

“The mission strongly supports the government’s ambitious transformation agenda centred on economic diversification, shared growth and job creation, and macroeconomic stability.

“Rebuilding buffers to safeguard stability is now the immediate priority. This requires lower budget deficits to contain external pressures and keep debt sustainable.

“In due course, this will also allow for a reduction in interest rates. Going forward, successful economic transformation will require a realignment of spending, away from wages and subsidies toward infrastructure investment.

“A ballooning wage bill, if untamed, will bring debt to levels that could endanger the government’s transformation agenda.

The wage bill in 2012 rose by 47 per cent, with much of the factors explaining the increase not yet quantified.

In addition, deferred wage payments from the single spine salary reform were twice the level included in the supplementary budget.

The mission urged the government to gain control over the wage bill. It recommended a thorough audit of the 2012 payroll and welcomed that the government had already started that process.

“The government’s deficit target of 6 per cent of GDP by 2015 will keep public debt high and buffers low.

The mission recommended an additional fiscal adjustment of three percent of GDP by 2015, using a combination of revenue and expenditure measures.

This would lessen the public debt burden and raise official reserves toward the authorities’ target of more than four months of imports up from 2.8 months currently.

It said the target was consistent with the mission’s own analysis of optimal reserves, which suggests that a cover of 4.2 months of imports would provide a reasonable cushion against plausible shocks.

“The mission shared the Bank of Ghana’s views on keeping a tight monetary policy stance for the time being.

Both actual inflation and inflation expectations have risen recently, with upside risks from the sharp increase in government borrowing.

To strengthen the signaling role of the policy rate within the inflation-targeting framework, the mission recommended narrowing the gap with current market rates.

“Successful fiscal consolidation will allow an easing of interest rates in due course, provided inflation expectations decline to levels consistent with the achievement of the target.”

On its return to Washington D.C., the team will prepare a staff report that is tentatively scheduled to be discussed by the IMF’s Executive Board in mid-June. 
April 14, 2013
ZEED Engages 1, 964 Beneficiaries In Greater Accra
The Zongo Empowerment and Entrepreneurial Development (ZEED), designed by government to improve the poor living conditions in Zongo communities across the country says it has so far engaged 1,964 beneficiaries in the Greater Accra region.

Government through the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) rolled out the ZEED programme module in September last year.

The module seeks to create employment by providing skills training and entrepreneurial development to 10,000 youths across all Zongo communities within the next two years.

Currently, 1,964 beneficiaries are undergoing training in various vocations under the module which has been piloted in four Zongo communities in the Greater Accra Region. The communities include Abossey Okai; Madina; Nima and Ashaiman.

Registration of the second batch of beneficiaries, made up of 800 people ended this week. They, too, will undergo an intensive training between three to six months in various vocations.

The National Coordinator for ZEED, Nurudeen Mohammed said the module was designed as a result of Government’s commitment to address the plight of the people in the Zongos especially the youth.

Mr. Mohammed said under the module, beneficiaries are attached to training centres in their local Zongo communities to learn vocations of their choice in order to earn regular incomes and provide for their families’ upkeep.

He mentioned hairdressing, fashion designing, catering, carpentry, IT hardware and construction as some of the skills training being offered to beneficiaries under the module.

Mr. Mohammed noted that due to lack of education and parental care, majority of the youth in Zongo communities have become idle and have therefore taken to various nefarious activities in the bid to make ends meet.

He emphasized that due to the lack of economic empowerment in these communities, the youth who are the backbone of such communities have not been able to contribute meaningfully to community and national development.

“When you take a critical look at all Zongo communities, one thing that stands out is the cycle of poverty. Majority of the youth who are energetic have no skills either through education or vocational training and are therefore finding ways and means to put body and soul together to survive in this world. This phenomenon is through no fault of theirs as it has been a generational thing”, he added.

Mr. Mohammed noted that ZEED is therefore an intervention to make true Government’s promise of empowering the youth in Zongo communities to be more independent, responsible and resourceful in order to contribute meaningfully to the upkeep of their families and society.

“ZEED is a commitment by Government to bring hope to all Zongo communities by improving living standards and alleviating poverty”, he said.

Mr. Mohammed said “what sets ZEED apart from other Zongo skills training initiatives is the emphasis on an exit plan plus the establishment of offices opened in the Zongos where prospective beneficiaries can just walk in to register and opt for their own choice of vocation to be trained in; and also use training centres within the communities to train the beneficiaries”.

He said ZEED was not only going to provide beneficiaries with just raw skills but also teach and empower them on how to access local and international markets with the products when they set up their businesses.

He said ZEED will also provide technical training to entrepreneurs who were already in business saying “we will teach for example food vendors how to package their food and how to keep their surroundings clean in order to attract more customers”.

He said monthly allowances were also given to the beneficiaries to cover their expenses as motivation to get beneficiaries committed to their training.

Mr. Mohammed noted that following the massive success of the program in the capital, ZEED was ready to move to other regions with the next port of call being the Ashanti region.

“ZEED will open 20 offices in all the 230 Zongo communities across the ten regions in the country before the end of the year,” he emphasized.
April 13, 2013
Japan Carmakers To Recall 3.4m Cars
Japan's top four carmakers are recalling a total of 3.4 million cars over a defect in passenger airbags.

Toyota, which is recalling 1.73 million cars, said the vehicles had a defective part which "could cause the airbag inflator to rupture and deploy the airbag abnormally in a crash".

Globally, Honda is recalling 1.13 million cars, Nissan almost 500,000 and Mazda 45,000.

In the UK, Toyota, Nissan and Honda are all recalling certain models.

The cars were sold in the years 2000-04, and the firms said the defective part was supplied by parts maker Takata Corp.

UK models affected include:

76,000 Toyota vehicles, including Corolla and Yaris, 60,000 Nissans, including X-Trail, Patrol, Almera, Almera Tino, Terrano II and Navara and 15,400 Hondas, most of them CRVs, but including 400 Jazz and Civic models.

Nissan advised UK customers to contact garages where the cars were bought or call 01923 899334.

Global car giants are usually quick to recall vehicles for inspection and repair as soon as they are aware of a fault.

These generally tend to be minor and it is rare that they are linked to accidents or fatalities.

Shares in Takata fell 9% to 1,819 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Thursday.

Free replacement
Ryo Sakai, a spokesperson for Toyota, told the BBC that the firm had received reports of five separate incidents of the airbag inflator being ruptured.

Two of these incidents took place in Japan and three in the US, Mr Sakai said.

However, he added that there had been no injuries as a result of the incidents.

Meanwhile, Honda, Nissan and Mazda said that there had been no incidents involving their cars.

All four carmakers have said that they will replace the defective parts for free.

"We are conducting a voluntary safety recall to address this issue and replace the front passenger bag inflator," a spokesperson for Nissan told the BBC.

"We plan to notify the customers over the next 30 days," he added. 
April 12, 2013
Trade Activist Attributes Alan Kyeremateng's Loss To Lack Of Consensus
Trade activist and Executive Director of Third World Network, Dr. Yaw Graham is suggesting that Alan Kyerematen's missed out on the WTO top job due to the lack of consensus on selecting one candidate from Africa.

Ghana's former Trade Minister, yesterday reportedly lost out in his quest to head the World Trade Organization.

This was after the organization’s council shortlisted the nine candidates to five in the first selection process.

Unlike the other continents that presented one candidate, Africa had two, that is, Alan Kyeremanten from Ghana and Kenya's Amina Mohamed.

Dr. Graham tells Joy Business the continent has itself to blame for not having any of its candidates in the shortlist.
April 12, 2013
Customs Intercepts 33 Containers Of Scrap Metal
The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has intercepted 33 containers of scrap metal near the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) in Tema.

The containers were being loaded with the scrap metals in preparation for export at the time of the interception, a statement from the authority has said.

The interception of the containers followed investigations instituted into media reports that 31 containers of scrap metals and mercury were being prepared for export in contravention of the existing ban on the export of scrap metals from the country.

The statement said GRA's investigations showed that there were 33 containers which were being loaded on the premises of two companies situated near the TOR and not inside the Tema Port.

"Contents in the 33 containers were found in various degrees of loaded capacities," the statement, which was signed by the Deputy Commissioner in charge of Communications and Public Affairs at the GRA, Mr Francis Kofi-Andoh, said.

It added that the seized items would soon be auctioned to the public.

On the alleged missing of mercury at the Tema Port, the statement explained that the things in question referred to 12 cans of mercury and 13 empty cylinders that were seized from a Chinese national in 2010.

On July 2, 2010, the items were duly transferred to Customs headquarters where it was detected that they were missing, the statement said.

It added that after preliminary investigations by the GRA, the case was forwarded to the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) for thorough and independent investigations.

The BNI final report has been received by the GRA, which has implemented its recommendations by issuing sanctions, as well as put measures in place to prevent future recurrence, the statement added.

It assured the general public of the authority's resolve to deal expeditiously with any wrongdoers.
April 12, 2013
WTO Job: Why Alan Kyerematen Et Al Were Dropped
The General Council of the World Trade Organisation, the highest-level decision-making body in Geneva, has outlined the procedures adopted by the Council to whittle down nine candidates gunning for the Director General of WTO to five.

Ghana’s former Trade Minister Alan John Kwadwo Kyerematen and Kenyan’s Ms Amina C. Mohamed, with two others from Costa Rica and Jordan failed to advance to the second round of the selection process.

Addressing an informal General Council Meeting at the level of heads of delegations on Friday afternoon, Chairman of the General Council, H.E. Mr. Shahid Bashir explained that even though the four missed out, “they are all highly qualified and respected individuals”.

Mr Bashir confirmed that by 9th April 2013, the Council had consulted with all the 159 WTO Members before arriving at its decision.

The five candidates who made it to the second round of consultations are: Ms Mari Elka Pangestu (Indonesia); Mr Tim Groser (New Zealand); Mr Herminio Blanco (Mexico); Mr Taeho Bark (Republic of Korea); and Mr Roberto Carvalho de Azevêdo (Brazil).

The three facilitators in the process for the selection of the next Director-General will begin on 16 April 2013 and continue through Wednesday 24 April the second round of consultations on the basis of a revised slate of five candidates.

Mr Bashir remarked: “Let me say that, as you will recall, the membership directed at the 13 March meeting of Heads of Delegation that our discretion be fully constrained and that we assess solely the number of preferences and the breadth of support across geographic regions and recognized categories of Members. And this is exactly what we did.”

He also stressed that: “The ultimate aim of the consultation process shall be to identify the candidate around whom consensus can be built. In order to do this, it may be necessary to conduct successive consultations to identify the candidate or candidates least likely to attract such a consensus”.

Meanwhile, trade activist and Executive Director of Third World Network, Dr. Yaw Graham is suggesting that Alan Kyerematen's missed out on the WTO top job due to the lack of consensus on selecting one candidate from Africa.

Dr. Graham told Joy Business the continent has itself to blame for not having any of its candidates in the shortlist. 
April 12, 2013
Labour Unrests: Parties Declare Media Ceasefire
Parties in the ongoing labour agitations have agreed to a media ceasefire and to set a peer review mechanism to resolve labour disputes.

The resolution was made at Public Service Joint Standing Negotiating Committee made up of representatives of government, Fair Wages and Salaries Commission as well as the various labour unions.


April 12, 2013
Inflation Up 10.4 Per Cent
The Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) announced on Wednesday 10th April, that inflation has inched up from 10 per cent recorded in February to 10.4 percent in March.

At a press conference in Accra Dr Philomena Nyarko, Acting Government Statistician, said the year-on-year non-food inflation rate was 13.2 per cent, compared to 12.6 per cent the previous month.

Both the food and non-food inflation all shot up from 5.3 and 12.6 percent to 5.5 and 13.2 percent respectively. The monthly change was also up by 1.7 per cent meaning prices of goods and services went up in March.

Also, food and non-alcoholic beverages group recorded an average year-on-year inflation rate of 5.5 per cent, 0.2 percentage points higher than the 5.3 percent in February.

On the other hand, Dr Nyarko said the non-food recorded an inflation rate of 13.2 per cent with transport, clothing and footwear and education and miscellaneous goods and services all rising above the group average.

“The year-on-year food inflation rate was about two and a half times lower than the non food inflation rate,” she said.

Three Greater Accra, Ashanti and Northern regions recorded inflation rates above the national average of 10.4 per cent.

Greater Accra region recorded the highest inflation rate of 12.2 per cent followed by the Ashanti with 11.2 percent. The Western region was next with an inflation rate of 10.5 per cent.
April 11, 2013
When Facebook Is A Licence To Exciting Places; The EuroStar Style
When next Mr. Albert Ocran of Legacy & Legacy fame counsels you to take what you put on your facebook wall seriously, you take him seriously. That is the lesson for fans of the facebook page of luxury car rental service provider, EuroStar Limousines Limited.

The company Easter Monday gave its facebook and other social media fans a rare treat that will prick the envy of every facebooker.

But first, one needed a ticket. Don’t be deceived, you didn’t need a poster card printed with colourful intricate silver designs; you needed to demonstrate through your postings on your facebook wall that you are a decent, responsible person.

With this ticket, you were sure to pass the stringent security checks at the gate to the luxury car rental company’s plush offices, the event grounds.

Amongst those who strutted the yard, faces gleaming with excitement and brimming with confidence were many celebrities, notably the ever vivacious, perfectly patrician-faced former Miss Ghana, Inna Maryam Patty.

She told Myjoyonline.com she was not only overawed but also overjoyed at the unique quality of luxury cars on display.

Rolls Royce Phantom Sone of the luxury vehicles.

As a celebrity and event organizer, the availability of the top-range vehicles on Ghana’s soil for her was inspiring and reassuring. “EuroStar are providing a brilliant service that will certainly complement our efforts and help push corporate hospitality in Ghana to new levels,” added.

The damsel brightening the darkening evening with her unceasing generous and infectious smiles said her Exclusive Events Ghana’s desire to organize beauty pageants and other celebrity events to meet international standards would be enhanced by the services of the company.

But even more appealing to her, she said, was the fact that the services of the company were not the preserve of a select few; “they have demystified the notion that only the rich in society can afford to pamper themselves; everyone deserves a royal treat and they make that possible; it is unprecedented!”
When facebook is a licence to exciting places; the EuroStar style

Mr. Yao Doe (right) with the Country Director of EuroStar, Mr. Walid Zoobi


Addressing the facebookers clutching glasses and helping themselves to exotic drinks, the Chairman of EuroStar Limos, Mr Oscar Yao Doe, said the main motivation for the event was to “open our doors to ordinary Ghanaians and seek their feedback, and also to inspire them with our unique product and services.”

He said Ghanaians must reject the myth that great things were the preserve of the peoples of some other nations. “We can’t always settle for what is mediocre, petty and dishounorable, that is not who we are,” he stressed.

“It is only us, Ghanaians, who can make Ghana a truly prosperous country through a positive attitude, respect for hard work, avoiding excuses and appreciating the little things around us and the things that others do, regardless of our relationship with them,” he stressed.

With foresight, dedication and commitment, every Ghanaians, he believes is capable of doing something great not only for his/her immediate family or community, but the larger society.

But that requires a departure from the feeling of powerlessness and a dependency mentality.

According to Mr. Yao Doe, every Ghanaian must have sufficient predatory instincts and resist the temptation to blame their circumstances on external factors.

“We have to stop the Lebanese this, Lebanese that, foreigners this, foreigners that, and apply our unique talents creatively,” he stated.

“Success is not given or wished for, it is earned in spite of teething and seemingly insurmountable challenges,” he added.

Research and Communications Manager at the Telcoms Chamber, Derek Barnabas Laryea visibly struggling to tame his excitement said it was a rare privilege to be amongst the select few to enjoy the treat.

Mr. Laryea (left) Mr. Laryea (left) with Mr Doe (2nd right) posing for the cameras.

“Being a Facebook fan of this ground breaking luxury vehicle service provider in Ghana, I was elated to join a few others to tour the Eurostar Limos facility; the experience was beyond imagination,” he stated.

The ambience, he said, was awesome, “the cocktails were on point, the music was soothing but my first exposure to a Maybach 62 is one pride I will keep hanging on to for a long time.”

Mr. Laryea said he was extremely fascinated by the fact that EuroStar appear “generally passionate about a Brand that drives home its values and mission across its entire staff and you could tell from the beaming smiles that lightened up the faces of their professional drivers as well as security personnel.”

Many of the facebookers danced away the evening and they were in good company; Mr Yao Doe himself exhibited some wild dance moves, attracting loud cheers.

It was a perfect evening for a holiday.  
April 11, 2013
Businesses Worried About Increasing Spate Of Cyber Crime
Businesses have mentioned cyber crimes as one of their biggest worries in their bid to digitalise their business processes. This came to light at the maiden Business Times (BT) Breakfast Roundtable on Information and Communications Technology in Accra Wednesday 10th April, 2013.

Founder & Principal e-Crime Consultant, e-Crime Bureau Inc., Albert Antwi-Boasiako, said most businesses are now under serious attack from people who use the computer to perpetrate fraud.

Mr. Antwi-Boasiako who is also a consultant to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service cyber crime unit, said the focus of most businesses when it comes to security of their networks and systems is wrongly placed.

“ICT is emerging as the centre of gravity for fraud and other financial crimes for businesses operating in a digital world,” he said.

Crimes committed online range from money laundering, tax fraud, to payroll fraud, among others, he said. According to him most businesses have not trained their IT employees to be security conscious.

He stated that cyber crime goes far beyond ‘sakawa’ and 419 which are minute aspects of the problem of cyber crimes.

“In the banking sector, internal employees are inserting key loggers on machines to pick up passwords in collaboration with external agents — this is part of the cyber crimes that are confronting the nation,” he revealed.

The BT ICT roundtable event assembled managing directors, chief executive officers, chief finance officers, chief information officers, heads of technology departments, chief operating officers, heads of communication, chief technology officers, heads of technology strategy and information technology of various institutions.

Thematic areas that were covered in the discussion included cyber fraud and transaction security, maximising social networking platforms, establishing market leadership, evaluating technological models and trends, optimising mobile technology strategies, business innovation, enterprise technology strategies, and many more.

The CEO of Rancard Solutions, Kofi Dadzie, noted that the adoption of IT by businesses has exposed them to a myriad of threats as they computerise their operations to improve their competitive positioning and increase customer satisfaction.

Kofi Dadzie said in Ghana and across Africa, people are now waking up to the possibility for their businesses and personal lives to be severely disrupted from digitally-based security breaches.

According to him, “we would be much smarter if we took a cue from the incidents in the developed nations and begin to build security from the onset as we build our data centres, telecom infrastructure, computer business, and Government operations”.

He underscored the need to sensitise the business community on what digital security means and the implications for not having adequate security.

Presently, many organisations have incorporated IT into their business processes to create innovative and user-friendly operations, products and services.

The founder and Chief Solutions Officer of EZi Technologies, Ezer Yeboah-Boateng said most businesses do not take issues of vulnerabilities or threats to their business seriously, due to asset disposal or asset handling.

The CEO of Ostec Ghana, Jonathan Tawiah, whose company provides IT infrastructure services to businesses, said the complexities in the application of IT to business operations require that firms use the right resources.

“For businesses to be able to achieve a facelift in the application of IT to business, people will have to be smart about the way they apply technology because technology itself is smart and shouldn’t be applied wrongly”, he said.
April 11, 2013
40 Businesses Receive GH¢15m Grant From Skills Dev't Fund
The Skills Development Fund (SDF) has awarded grants totaling GH¢15 million to 40 small, medium and large businesses across the country at a brief ceremony in Accra.

The grantees, drawn from science and technology, educational and research institutions are supposed to develop innovative technology to solve challenges in their respective industry.

The Fund is an initiative of government and managed by the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET). The World Bank and DANIDA have so far supported the Fund with $50 million credit facility and a $10 Million grant respectively.

The beneficiaries included Precious Minerals Marketing Company, KNUST Jewellery Design and Technology Centre, Ghana Rice Inter Professional Body, and Wood Cluster Initiative just.

Manager of the Skills Development Fund, Ebenezer Ato Simpson said the Fund is a challenge fund aimed at addressing the skills and technology needs of business enterprises operating in both the formal and the informal sectors of the economy.

"The Fund is aimed at strengthening the productive capacity, competitiveness,income levels and employment creation in industries across the country" he added.

Ato Simpson said SDF will closely monitor the implementation of interventions to ensure that their use fall within the objectives of the grant and also achieve the expected outcomes.

He urged the grantees to remain within their respective local industries and generate the expected impacts on productivity, incomes and employment.

Mr. Simpson was certain that with the technical support of the Project Support Unit of COTVET, the grants will have far reaching positive impacts on the productive capacities of beneficiaries.

In a speech read on her behalf, the Minister of Education; Prof. Naana Opoku Agyemang called on manager of the fund to put in place robust, efficient monitoring and evaluation system to ensure activities of the grantees are closing monitored for optimum productivity.

She commended the World Bank and DANIDA for their tireless efforts in committing funds to finance the SDF.

The Education Minister urged the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the monies given them to reflect on their businesses.

Prof. Opoku Agyeman also commended the members of SDF and COTVET for their commitment towards the growth and development of the country. 
April 11, 2013
Road Contractors Cry Over Gov't's Failure To Pay Them
The country’s road contractors say government’s failure to pay them for work done is driving them out of business.

Joy News has learnt many of the contractors have abandoned their construction works because they have run out of funds.

Many of them say they are now being hounded by their creditors.

The contractors say several attempts to claim their monies from government have failed.

They complain government owes them more than three hundred million Ghana cedis and that has grounded their business activities.

"I am feeding more that 100 families within a certain community because their sons and daughters are working for me and these 100 folds are not receiving their daily bread because i am incapable of paying them due to the fact that i have not been paid, you can imagine.

"It is very bad," one of the frustrated contractor lamented.

He said they will not blame but the system and prayed that government will expedite action in paying what is due them.
April 11, 2013
Access Bank Nigeria Drops Shares By 7.5%
At the close of equity trading activities on the Nigerian Stock Exchange on Wednesday, Access Bank fell by 7.47 per cent, dropping to a three-month low.

The bank's shares, which opened for trading at N9.91 per share, lost 74 kobo or 7.5 per cent to close at N9.17 per share.

Analysts said that the significant loss was on the back of unimpressive financial results declared by the bank last week.

The bank's first quarter result released to the NSE on Friday showed that its profit for the period from continuing operations fell by 18 per cent from N12.114bn in December 2012 to N9.9bn in March 2013, while its revenue fell from N53.05bn to N52.70bn in the same period.

'The bank's first quarter results were below expectations and have weakened its chances of meeting return-on-equity forecasts for this year,' an analyst at FBN Capital Limited, Ms. Bunmi Asaolu, said in an e-mailed report on Wednesday.

At the close of equity trading, a total of 41.86 million Access Bank shares, worth N399m, were exchanged by investors in 398 deals.

Meanwhile, a total of 39 stocks recorded price depreciation on Tuesday, as against 22 stocks which gained.

Diamond Bank Plc led the price losers, shedding 10 per cent or 70 kobo to close at N6.30 per share.

United Bank for Africa Plc shed 9.9 per cent or 80 kobo to close at N7.21 per share.

Eterna Plc and AG Leventis Plc also lost 9.9 per cent each to close at N3.16 and N1.45 per share, respectively while Costain (West Africa) Plc and Japaul Oil and Maritime Services Plc shed 9.7 per cent each to close at N2.40 and 65 kobo per share in that order.

Thus, the market captialisation dropped from N11.141tn recorded on Monday, to close at N10.910tn, while the NSE All-Share Index fell to 34,089.01 basis points, from 34,810.25 points recorded the previous day.

IPWA Plc led the price gainers' chart, rising by 10 per cent or six kobo to close at 66 kobo per share.

BOC Gases Plc followed with an appreciation of 9.9 per cent or 79 kobo to close at N8.73 per share.

Prestige Plc and Paints and Coatings Manufacturers Plc also gained 9.6 per cent and 9.4 per cent to close at 68 kobo and N1.74 per share in that order. 
April 10, 2013
TECNO Outdoors Its High-end Android Smartphone, TECNO N7
TECNO Ghana, a leading dual SIM mobile phone brand has launched a new 3.75G Android smartphone TECNO N7 at the TECNO Head Office, Darkuman Junction, off Kaneshie-Mallam Road, Accra, Wednesday.

Designed for users with higher demand from smart phones, the TECNO N7 will be available at all TECNO outlets in Ghana.

Building on the success of the popular TECNO N3, the TECNO N7 is a dual SIM smartphone which has 5 inch touch screen, runs on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with a 1GHz dual core Core Processing Unit (CPU).

“It was our aim to empower the young African to acquire a Smartphone and to enjoy a smart life with the TECNO N3. Now, with the TECNO N7, we want to offer them a more superior Smartphone with high-end performance and a better user experience,” Mounir Boukali, PRO of TECNO Mobile said at the launch.

With a 1GHz dual core processor, the device offers users a fast processing speed and the ability to use multiple applications at the same time, along with a smooth web browsing experience. TECNO N7 users can download over 800,000 innovative and interesting apps.

This smartphone, with high-performance features and rich smart experience, supports a Dual SIM system, allowing users to make a balance between their work and personal lives with one smartphone.

The TECNO N7, running on a stunning 5" touch screen, presents users with an amazingly smooth operation experience while viewing messages, multimedia, web content or games, etc.

One unique feature about the device is the Flash Share app. It is a unique transfer software that allows one to share files of any format and size at an amazingly fast speed and does not require internet connectivity, WIFI or a SIM card.

Other notable features of this Android-driven smartphone include a 5 mega pixel rear camera with flash, a 0.3 mega pixel front camera and a powerful 2,300mAh battery, which allows the users to enjoy 5 hours of talktime.

Manufacturers of the device also noted that the device combines a 4GB ROM and 512GB RAM with expandable memory of up to 32GB.

“We always endeavour to provide suitable products to the consumer based on market demand. There is no doubt that peoples demand from Smartphones are met in the N7. We will have more smartphones coming onto the market soon, which will meet the needs of diverse groups of people,” Mr. Boukali added.

The launch was attended by some renowned personalities including Moses Foh-Amoaning, former Ghana Boxing Association (GBA) President and musician Kwabena Kwabena.
April 10, 2013
Power Crisis Won't End Soon, Says World Bank
The World Bank has warned that until the government puts the right regulatory and tariff framework in place to enable consumers of electricity to pay the right prices, the ongoing challenges will not end any time soon.

According to the bank, the government requires investment from the private sector to be able to fund the huge cost of infrastructure at the generation, transmission and distribution levels while being allowed to sell the power to consumers at the right prices.

Answering questions from financial journalists at a forum in Accra, Dr Waqar Haider, Sector Leader, Sustainable Development of the World Bank in charge of Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, said "no private investor is interested in investing in any economy to make losses".

He said the potential in electricity generation was great but without good regulatory and tariff regimes no one would be ready to invest in that sector.

For more than a year now, the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) has been compelled under strenuous circumstances to ration power in a manner that has affected a lot of businesses.

There are conflicting reports about the cause of the power shortage because while some officials of government blame a supposed damage to the West Africa Gas Pipeline beneath the sea, forcing its shut-down, others have put the blame on the lack of investment in the sector to expand the sources of generation.

POWER RATIONING

Presently, the country's generation capacity is far less than supply, thereby forcing the authorities to ration power.

The worse of the situation is the lack of the right amount of investment from the central government in the sector to expand systems and build new ones.

Again, the pricing of power is not competitive enough to allow for more private power producers.

The present situation of power rationing is not being implemented effectively and this has created additional problems to manufacturers. Those that cannot afford the use of generators have been forced to either reduce production or shut down completely.

Dr Haider wondered why for more than a year-and-half for instance, there had been no review of the tariffs.

"Here we learn that the refusal to increase the tariffs is being done in the name of the poor but we cannot run away from the reality,” he said.

PROPOSED SOLUTION

He said the current tariffs were not competitive and therefore gave no attraction to private investors. "Otherwise, money is out there to flow into the sector to change the trend for the better in a more sustainable way,” Dr Haider added.

The demand for energy is increasing by 12 to 13 per cent per annum but this is not being met in terms of supply.

"Unless we put mechanisms and the enabling regulatory framework and the tariff framework in place to charge the right tariffs, we will never have the energy challenge resolved."

Mr Haider said the government would never attract investors to the sector to do so and "the government cannot have that money to do the generation and transmission of power let alone to take care of the distribution which comes at a huge cost far beyond its budget".

He insisted it was time for the country to tackle the reality and encouraged the government to allow the utility regulator to get the players in the industry to charge the right prices for their services and ensure sustainable supply of power.

GOVERNMENT'S EFFORT

It is estimated that ECG needs nearly US$200 million annually to improve on the electricity distribution networks while the Volta River Authority is seeking to raise nearly US$500 million on the international markets to finance four new projects that will generate 700 megawats of electricity within three to four years.

The government in the 2013 budget statement has pledged its commitment to expand its generation capacity indicating that the Bui Hydroelectric Power Project would come on board with the full capacity of 400MW by December 2013.

The installed capacity of 2.312MW will increase by 532MW by the end of 2013. The implementation of the transmission improvement projects is expected to continue with Substations Reliability Enhancement projects, Kpando- Kadjebi Transmission and Power System Reinforcement Projects, as well as Tumu-Han-Wa 161 KV Transmission Line and related substations.

Work on the Ghana Inter-connection with Burkina Faso will commence whilst the 330KV line to Togo-Benin will continue and it is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

In the area of distribution, it said the Electricity Company of Ghana would continue to expand the distribution network through the construction of bulk supply points, primary and secondary substations, interconnection lines and pre-payment metering to all urban communities.

It will also install distribution transformer meters for auditing purposes, implement software applications to improve customer service delivery, enhance revenue collection and revamp operational areas to ensure rapid set-up of customers.
April 09, 2013
Gov't Dismisses World Bank's Claims On Energy Crisis
Government says plans to end the load shedding are on course despite a World Bank report which indicates the crisis would not end any time soon.

According to the Bank the current tariff levels are too low and are therefore unattractive to investors who will bring in the needed capacity to increase generation.

The report said until the disparity between production and billing rates is resolved, the energy crisis would persist.

However, government thinks otherwise. Head of Communications at the Energy Ministry, Edward Bawa tells Joy News the fears are unfounded.

“I think we would want to differ from” the Bank’s claims, he said, and assured that the government has its own plan to finance energy generation in the country.

He said the government has been able to sustain some level of generation over the years, adding that about 532 megawatts of power would even be added this year.

He said inasmuch as government would ensure that the utility providers get enough revenues to reinvest in order to breakeven, consumers would not also be overburdened with high cost of energy possible of “squeezing out businesses”. 
April 09, 2013
Gov't Injects GH¢62m Into The Rubber Industry
The Government has so far invested about GH¢62million into the rubber industry under the Rubber Outgrower Plantation Project, Mr. Richard Twumasi-Ankrah, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, said at the 10th Annual General Meeting of the Rubber Outgrowers and Agents Association (ROAA) at Agona-Nkwanta on Saturday.

The meeting was under the theme “10 years of ROAA: Achievements, Challenges and the way forward”, and Mr. Twumasi-Ankrah said, so far, government has directly supported ROAA with over GH¢1.7million through the provision of infrastructure and capacity-building services.
He said an amount of GH¢40million has been provided through the Agriculture Development Bank (ADB) and the National Investment Bank (NIB) for plantation development by rubber outgrower farmers.

Mr. Twumasi-Ankrah said some GH¢20million had also been disbursed to the Ghana Rubber Estate Limited (GREL) for technical assistance to farmers.

He commended over 300 farmers who have fully repaid loans granted them under phases one and two of the Rubber Outgrowers Plantation Project.

Mr. Twumasi-Ankrah said the country has a large area favourable for rubber cultivation, political will, a population eager to plant rubber, and competitiveness in yields and incomes.

“This therefore places Ghana in a very good position to increase our percentage of Africa’s contribution to the world rubber industry,” he said.

In his annual report Mr. Kwame Awuah-Asante, National Chairman of ROAA, said the Association realised a net income of GH¢244,689 last year, as against a net income of GH¢259,270 in 2011.

He said the Gross Income for 2012 was GH¢531,905 and in 2011, GH¢501,781.

Mr. Awuah-Asante said total expenses of GH¢287,215 was recorded in 2012 as against GH¢242,511 in 2011.
He said Fidelity bonus earned by members in production amounted to GH¢1,075,138 as against GH¢1,076,591 earned in 2010.

Mr. Awuah-Asante said rubber production grew from 6,242 metric tonnes in 2011 to 7,602 metric tonnes in 2012, an increase of 21.1%.
He said the Association has a membership of 5,549 including 1,330 females -- and of this number 2,385 are in production, while the remaining have farms at different stages of development.

Mr. Awuah-Asante announced that the Association in collaboration with GREL has successfully negotiated a loan of 18,000,000 euro from Alliance Francaise de Developpement (AFD) of France for phase five of the Rubber Outgrowers Plantation Project.

He said a total of 12,000 hectares of rubber will be planted by 4,000 farmers from 2013 to 2015 in all operational areas under phase five.
Mr. Awuah-Asante said the Association did not benefit from Government’s subsidised fertiliser programme last year.

He said the project had to procure fertiliser at the prevailing market price to supply to farmers.

Mr. Joseph Dofoyena, Ahanta West District Chief Executive, spoke of conflicts between communities and GREL in some of the company’s operational areas.

He said the District Assembly and District Security Committee are taking steps to bring peace in those areas so that rubber production will take place unimpeded.

Mr. Dofoyena said the Assembly has set up a multi-sectoral committee to address the alarming depletion of the environment and illegal mining in the area.

He said these activities have impacted negatively on the quantity and quality of water in the area.

Mr. Dofoyena advised members of ROAA to join the Association’s credit union to enable them obtain additional funds for their plantations and to improve their living standards.
April 09, 2013
Offshore Oil Discovery Affecting Maritime Security Dynamics - Navy
The newly appointed Chief of Defence Staff, Vice Admiral Mathew Quashie, has stated that the discovery of oil offshore in Ghana has changed the maritime security dynamics.

This was contained in a statement issued by the Ghana Navy on Monday.

The statement said the Navy was facing challenges such as maritime security threats and a depleted fleet shore for operations, the reasons for which government supported the Navy to attain four ships built by China, two Warrior-class ships from Germany and a fast Attack Craft donated by South Korea.

“The fleet of the Navy has since increase to fourteen”, the statement added.

Vice Admiral Quashie, who was the former Chief of the Naval Staff stated this when he delivered his farewell message at the Handing Over ceremony organized at the Navy Headquarters.

The statement quoted Vice Amiral Quashie as saying, “There was much wealth to be derived from the sea, thus, we should effectively create a safe maritime domain to enable stakeholders to conduct their business in a sound environment.”

He however thanked the government for investing into the Navy and promised Ghanaians that the assets attained would be used to provide protection on the newly discovered resources at sea.

He advised the Staff of Naval Headquarters and personnel of the service to ensure discipline always to maintain the image of the Ghana Armed Forces. 
April 09, 2013
Towards A Smarter Accra: Using Technology To Boost The City's Potential
According to the International Monetary Fund, Ghana is one of the world’s fastest growing economies driven by an emerging oil and gas industry, a growing base of consumers and significant foreign investment.

Accra is also one of Africa’s fastest emerging cities - according to Mastercard’s African Cities Growth Index, Accra is ranked Africa’s top city in terms of economic potential over the next five years.

Accra’s economic growth has also fueled a population explosion, with the city expanding by over 1 million people - a 35% increase - in the last decade. The same trend can be observed in most of Ghana’s cities and across Africa with the United Nations estimating that Africa’s urban population will triple by 2050.

Ghana’s population is already mostly urban, with over 50% of the population living in cities. Continued demographic growth is placing increasing strain on city systems from transportation to water, sanitation, health, public safety and energy.

For example, there are already an estimated 10,000 vehicles on the roads of Accra and traffic delays are an everyday reality for its four million residents. Traffic jams have a negative effect across many other areas such as business, emergency response, the environment, education and healthcare.

So what can be done to address these challenges? The government of Ghana recently launched the National Urban Policy Framework and Action Plan aimed at improving urban infrastructure and raising revenue from Ghana’s cities to reduce poverty and tackle urban challenges.

Smarter technologies can help facilitate and accelerate the implementation of the action plan. This week, IBM launched a study based on the opinions of experts from the public and private sectors and civil society.

Entitled ‘A Vision for Smarter Growth: an IBM Smarter Cities Report on Accra, Ghana’ the report highlights how Accra can leverage technology to transform its key urban systems, especially in areas that are essential to Accra’s urban future such as transportation, energy and city services.

For example, the report highlights several areas where technology can help in the area of revenue collection – a key focus area of the National Urban Policy Framework and Action Plan. In the future, mobile payment systems could help make the process of paying taxes easier for Accra’s residents.

Hosting city services in the cloud would translate to more transparent and cost-effective municipal service delivery and an online platform for cataloguing property values could lead to a substantial increase in property tax revenues. Big Data analytics could also help city authorities more easily identify cases of tax under payment or fraud.

Implementing these types of initiatives will help Accra raise the revenue required to make critical investments in services that citizens care about such as healthcare and education while enhancing the quality of service delivery.

The report also lists a number of areas where technology can help alleviate the strain on Accra’s road systems. Smart and networked traffic lights could help to ease the flow of vehicles through the city. Cameras and social media technologies could help city authorities monitor the road network in real-time.

By using Big Data technologies to analyze mobile phone data, city officials could gain a clearer view on how people move around within the city and how the existing transportation systems could be enhanced. Systematically addressing Accra’s traffic issues will lead to a city that is more livable and economically competitive.

Technology can also help address energy challenges in Accra, which like many African cities, suffers from regular power outages. For example, smart meters can help monitor and manage electricity distribution and smart grids can help energy providers anticipate and isolate problems limiting impact on lives and business. By building a smarter energy system, Accra can help lay the groundwork for future investment and economic growth.

IBM recognizes that cities are all unique and Accra’s challenges cannot be solved by simply implementing off-the-shelf solutions. Cities must become smarter in their own ways, given their level of development, culture and available resources. What is required is dialogue with the people who understand Accra the best – the people who live there.

In addition to working alongside leaders in Accra, IBM is actively engaged in dialogue with cities across Africa to help public and private sectors address urban challenges and opportunities.

In 2012, an IBM team was deployed in Nairobi, Kenya to advise on technology solutions to resolve Nairobi's traffic challenges; while another team spent a month in the city of Tshwane, South Africa developing a crowdsourcing solution to improve the city’s water management system and enable citizens to report water leaks. IBM’s new Africa Research Lab is also developing pilot solutions to optimize traffic management, public safety and government services.

Our experience in Africa and beyond has demonstrated that technology has huge potential to transform leading cities like Accra. But technology alone is not a solution.

To become a smarter city, Accra needs a combination of governance, technology, partnerships and education. The pieces of the puzzle are all available – achieving progress will be contingent on stakeholders demonstrating the will and leadership required to put them together.
April 09, 2013
GTBank Group Records $650 Million Profit
GTBank Plc, Nigeria, parent company of Guaranty Trust Bank (Ghana) Limited, has recorded impressive group profit of $650 million for the year 2012.

The remarkable performance by GTBank has been touted by analysts as “a good show of financial dexterity and superiority” especially when the group is made up of only six subsidiaries in African and the United Kingdom.

The Bank, a foremost Nigerian Financial Institution with footprints in Ghana, The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and the United Kingdom released its audited financial results for the December 2012 financial year to operators of the Nigerian Stock Exchange and reported a profit before tax of N103 billion ($650 million), the highest for any Nigerian Bank Group.

According to analysts at the Nigerian bourse, this performance and an in-depth analysis of the results, which were recently approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria, confirm GTBank as the first and only Nigerian bank to cross the N100 billion ($630 million) Profit Before Tax milestone from continuing operations at both Bank and Group levels.

Chief Executive Officer of GTBank plc, Segun Agbaje, attributed the Bank’s success to its adherence to a defined growth plan, high corporate governance standards and the cultural values for which it is known.

He said these factors, coupled with a resourceful board, an in-depth understanding of the market and the passion of GTBank employees have enabled the Bank grow market share and continue to avail its stakeholders with value adding services.

Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank Ghana, Lekan Sanusi, relating the success of the Group to business in the Ghana subsidiary explained that, the impressive performance chalked by GTBank plc is a reflection of how well the Bank is doing locally and across other subsidiaries.

“The Group’s result in 2012 is an attestation of the continued confidence reposed in GTBank by its customers in doing business with us. It shows the size of our Bank, the strength of our brand and provides an assurance of our ability and capabilities in handling big ticket transactions”, he stated.

Guaranty Trust Bank plc was established in 1990 and is regarded by Industry watchers as the best run financial institution within the Nigerian Financial Services space, due to its bias for world class corporate governance standards, excellent service quality and innovation.

The Bank operates from over 200 branches within the country alone and the other subsidiaries including Ghana.

Within the seven years of its operations in the country, the Ghana subsidiary has gradually risen to become a reference point and role model in the industry.

It presently operates from 23 branches located across six regions and is known for its superior customer service delivery, robust and reliable e-banking platform, unrivalled product innovations and its comparatively quick turnaround times. 
April 09, 2013