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Ghana: the new retail hotspot in Africa
ccording to new research by Euromonitor International, Ghana seems to be on track to becoming Africa's next hotspot for retailers. Ghana has been identified as a country with a positive business environment in which foreign retailers can invest. Furthermore, the country is developing a reputation for political stability, cultural tolerance, and has made huge strides in diminishing its poverty problems. According to Euromonitor, Ghana is considered by many as the gateway to West Africa. Ghana is also seen as the doorway for foreign investors to tap the 250 million consumers in the region, and an exit point for landlocked nations such Niger. Moreover, as an English-speaking nation, Ghana has close ties with American and British businesses. The majority of modern retail space has been developed in Accra due to a better infrastructure and access to a large population. The Euromonitor research notes that Ghana's retail industry achieved 14 per cent value growth between 2006 and 2011. This result reflects the strength of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies in the country. For example, Fan Milk Group, a Danish-based dairy company that has been present in Ghana and Nigeria for over 50 years, reportedly has almost 10 times the turnover per capita in Ghana than in Nigeria. The report notes that: "In 2010, Ghana was the largest market for the company and, with a turnover of $67 million, accounted for 48 per cent of the Group's revenue and 64 per cent of its operating profit." Other companies that have set up manufacturing facilities in Ghana include Unilever and PZ Cussons. According to Euromonitor, "the presence of such manufacturers provides a good opportunity for (Ghanaian) retailers, as they can source these manufacturers' products cheaper locally rather than importing them." Melcom Group is also one of the biggest Ghanaian retailers and has 23 Melcom supermarkets and 3 department stores. The Group specialises in household goods, electronics and appliances. According to the report, "the company's nationwide coverage of eight out of 10 regions is a clear advantage over most international competitors." When looking at retail space, the Accra Mall, which opened in 2007, is the leading modern shopping centre. Rand Merchant Bank Westport, a South African property firm, is also working on two mixed-used developments in Accra. The first is West Ridge head office where the ground floor will offer retail space, while offices will occupy the rest of the building. The second location is the Icon House, close to the airport and Accra Mall, which will also offer retail space. In Takoradi, the heart of the emerging Ghanaian oil operations, rental prices have surged since 2010. "The aim is to convert the city centre into a high-rise business and commercial district," notes the report. "Depending on how well the oil money is spent locally, Takoradi could become a thriving mid-tier city for retailers."
Felix Dela Klutse - Editor
Ghana moved up the World Bank's ease of doing business, ranking from 102nd in 2005 to 60th in 2011. However the crossborder trade has not seen much improvement in recent years and still remains time consuming and costly. Ghana, a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which -comprises of a regional bloc of 15 countries, benefits from common external tariffs ranging from zero per cent to 20 per cent, with some exemptions. "More importantly, internal tariffs are being abolished, allowing for a greater level of intra-regional trade," explains the report. In 2007, off-shore oil reserves were discovered. This turning point catalysed foreign interests, and production started in 2010. Foreign direct investments into Africa in 2010 fell by nine per cent but rose significantly in Ghana. The promise of an oil boom has attracted the interest of global construction and infrastructure companies. According to the report, "One example of this was the signing in 2010 in Beijing of a $2 billion letter of intent by Hasan International Holding, a Chinese conglomerate, to develop a state-of-the-art industrial facility near the port of Takoradi; home to the 60 per cent of the country's crops and mineral exports" The report continues, noting that "the initiative aims to leverage the country's existing infrastructure to service the oil industry. This will create jobs in the region and attract both local and foreign workers, which could provide a sizeable consumer base for retailers looking to expand outside of Accra." Ghana has a mature mobile infrastructure with more than 60 per cent of the population being mobile phone subscribers. In a trend seen around Africa, mobiles are increasingly used as a means for cashless payments/transfers, and target the large unbanked population. An example is MTN's Mobile Money, a service that allows users to send cash and purchase goods from participating retailers. The development of Ghana's infrastructure- catalysed in part by the discovery of off-shore oil reserves- and the country's movement toward political stability have paved the way to sustainable economic growth. With this comes retailing potential and opportunities that may turn Ghana into the next retail hub in the region.
The figures are a snapshot of money spent on food at both company-owned and franchised restaurants. They do not reflect corporate revenue.
83m Facebook account holders are fake
Around one in 12 accounts on the social-networking site Facebook could be "fake", according to the internet giant's latest accounts. It means that 83 million of the site's estimated 955 million users worldwide - or 8.7 per cent - are either not real or are breaking the company's user guidelines. In an appendix to its second-quarter results, in which it reported only lukewarm profits and slowing growth which saw shares plunge, it said the phenomenon was more pronounced in the developing world such as Indonesia and Turkey, where it is enjoying its most rapid expansion. The situation is less pronounced in mature markets in the US and Europe. The California-based giant has lost nearly £32bn in value since it was floated in May. Large numbers of fake accounts could undermine the site's appeal to advertisers. Facebook said duplicate profiles accounted for 4.8 per cent of all users, while misclassified accounts - which can be business accounts wrongly labelled as those of private individuals - stood at 2.4 per cent. The company said 1.5 per cent of users were considered "undesirable", which means they breach the social network's rules and may be sending out spam or other unsolicited communications. "These estimates are based on an internal review of a limited sample of accounts and we apply significant judgment in making this determination, such as identifying names that appear to be fake or other behaviour that appears inauthentic to the reviewers," the company said.
In economically hard-hit regions, McDonald's has been working to emphasise the value of its meals to get penny-pinching consumers to eat out more often. The company noted last month that in Europe, which accounts for 40 per cent of its business, guest traffic was down in several regions. With more than 33 500 restaurants around the world, McDonald's is seen as a bellwether for the industry. The fast food chain has exceeded expectations in recent years in large part by emphasising value and continually evolving its menu to keep up with changing tastes. Some of its most successful new offerings in recent years, such as snack wraps and specialty coffees, give customers a way to treat themselves for just a few bucks. They also happen to have high profit margins. But now the company is also facing stiffer competition from newcomers such as Panera Bread Co. and old rivals such as Burger King Worldwide Inc. and Wendy's Co., which are revamping their menus and marketing to win market share. Last week, Miami-based Burger King said that revenue at established restaurants rose 4.4 per cent in the second quarter. Wendy's is set to report its quarterly results Thursday. McDonald's said last month said its net income fell four per cent in the second quarter as unfavourable currency exchange rates and high costs ate into profits. Shares of McDonald's fell $2.64, or three per cent, to $86.37 in premarket trading.
The Golden Arches are starting to lose some of their shine. McDonald's Corporation said a key revenue figure came in flat in the second quarter of 2012 as diners pulled back amid a tough economy. After years of outperforming expectations, even though the recession, the stall is the latest sign that the world's biggest hamburger chain is starting to feel the effects of the global economic volatility. In the US, the company said its promotions failed to drive growth, and revenue at restaurant open at least 13 months dipped 0.1 per cent. The Oak Brook, Illinois-based company also says it faced a tough comparison from a year ago, when it launched the mango pineapple smoothie. The figure dipped 0.6 per cent in Europe because of weakness in Germany and several Southern European markets. It fell 1.5 per cent in the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa region - a key growth area for McDonald's. Sales in Latin America and Canada, which are not reported separately, helped pull overall results even with last year.
Tough economy bites McDonald's profits
Walmart is the new gold for investors
Walmart is the new gold as investors flock to buy its shares in the retail giant seen as a safe haven amid slowing global growth and volatile markets, say analysts. Walmart's same-stores sales in the US have improved for nine consecutive quarters pushing up its shares 24 per cent this year, and briefly making it the world's third most valuable firm, said Business Report. Investors in the US are eager to find out how much higher their shares can go. "It's a safe bet in an economy like this. If you start to see other retailers do well or consumers appear more confident, then it is time to take gains and get out." The slow economic recovery in the US had made investors nervous, helping to push up Walmart shares, said Abella. With a market capitalisation of $251.3bn (R2 trillion), Walmart is at its most valuable since March 2004.
Revenue in restaurants open at least 13 months is a key measure of a restaurant chain's performance because it excludes the impact of recently opened or closed stores. It does include the company's temporarily closed restaurants.
They said the soaring costs of maintenance of their hotels were affecting their operations and the effective running of the hospitality industry in the country. The National President of the Association, Mr. Herbert Acquaye, made the appeal at the third National Executive Council meeting of the Association at Kwahu Pepease of the Eastern Region. Mr. Acquaye appealed for the release of the one percent tourism development fund to members of the Association for the regular maintenance of their hotels. It should put in place support measures for the private sector to assist it to become the real engine of growth and provide decent jobs for the people. Kofi Asamoah, Secretary General of TUC, said it was sad that the so-called economic growth rates achieved over the years had failed to create employment for Ghanaians as joblessness continued to soar. He was speaking at the opening of their 9th quadrennial delegates congress in Kumasi. The four-day meeting is under the theme: Organising for Empowerment, Employment Security and Increased Productivity. Mr. Asamoah attributed the inability of the nations high economic growth to deliver jobs to the failure of politicians to prioritise employment creation after elections and the exploitation of natural resources in their raw material form. He stressed the need for the government to aid the manufacturing sector and place the people at the centre of the nations development efforts by addressing the many challenges bedeviling the private sector. Source: Daily Guide
Mining companies defraud state The Vice Chairman of the Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, Dr. Steve Manteaw has said all mining companies in Ghana have not paid property rates to the state. Though the mining companies continue to exploit the nations non-renewable resources they have failed to pay the paltry sum of GH50p annually for ground rent per acre of land under concessions entrusted to them. Dr. Manteaw, who spoke to the press on the sidelines of a training workshop for the journalists on natural resources issues in Ghana said, Our research has indicated that none of the mining companies is honouring its ground rent obligation. Governments proceeds from mining comes in the form of taxes, ground rent and royalties among others which has been described as inadequate considering the potential the sector holds in transforming the local economy. The Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative Vice Chair also blamed the office of the Administration of Stool Lands for the non-payment of the property rate by the mining companies as it is the main institution charged to collect the rent on behalf of government, adding it has not been doing it." He explained that the Office of the Administrator of Stool Lands had stop collecting the rate from the mining companies as the amount was too low. Source: Daily Guide The taxes are too much Hoteliers complain The Ghana Hotels Association has appealed to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to review the 5% revenue authority tax on hotels and release the members of the multiple taxes imposed on them.
Mr. Acquaye said the Association was finding it difficult to get qualified personnel to run the hospitality industry due to the collapse of the Hotel, Catering and Tourism Training Institute (HOTCATT) and called on members of the Association to establish a training institute to train personnel to work at the hotels. Source: GNA Be dynamic in job creation TUC tells Government The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called on government to adopt a more focused and concerted approach towards employment creation.
BoG to descend on hoteliers The Bank of Ghana (BoG) has decided to compel operators in the hospitality industry to transact business using the Ghana Cedi. Major players in the industry, particularly hotels have been charging dollars over the years which have culminated in what is commonly described as dollarisation of the economy. The BoG said it has resolved to turn its radar on them to specifically address the dollarisation of the economy.
The Acting Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr Kofi Wampah, speaking the press said the central bank will begin to deal with the situation soon, preferably after policies it instituted to fight dollarisation generally begins to yield some results. Almost all major hotels in the major cities in Ghana have found solace in charging their bills in dollars other than the local currency. And this has in part heightened the demand for the dollar. Source: Daily Guide Bankers Association advises government on depreciation The Ghana Association of Bankers (GAB) has called on the Government to enforce the law that discouraged companies from invoicing and receiving payments in dollars, to halt the depreciation of the cedi. It also proposed that a gradual medium to long-term measures should be employed to reverse what had been referred to as the dollarisation of the Ghanaian economy in order to repose confidence in the local currency, the Cedi.
Mr. Akuffo said beyond the legal limit that allowed an individual to hold $10,000, the government needed to restructure the economy in a way that would reduce the high demand of the foreign exchange. Measures must be put in place to ensure that Ghanaians would be discouraged to hold a dollar, he said. However, he emphasised that a shortterm approach to resolving the issue could create liquidity challenges to some banks. Source: GNA New 50 cedis notes on the market The Bank of Ghana, BoG has printed 20 million of the upgraded 50 cedi notes for circulation. This represents a total value of 1 billion Ghana cedis. The upgraded notes are currently lodged at the regional offices of the central bank to be issued to financial institutions upon request. Speaking to the media after withdrawing the first issue at the banking hall of the Central bank, Acting governor Dr. Henry Wampah promised to increase educational campaign to address concerns by some traders. We have done a lot of education in the newspapers and the general media, its still ongoing and would continue for a while. We have printed enough a lot more than the old notes in circulation and so we dont have a problem replacing them he noted. These are the latest in technology. There are accepted norms that we follow and so when we notice that the counterfeit ratio at the Central Bank goes beyond a certain limit then we take action he said.
Meanwhile, the old notes will seize to be a legal tender by September 30. The Bank of Ghana has however instituted a program in place to accept the old notes at the central bank after this deadline. Source: myjoyonline Airline competition beats down fares Apart from banking and telecommunications, another sector where competition has intensified to the benefit of customers is the mainly the domestic airline industry.
The increase in the number of players has resulted in the drastic reduction of air fares to as low as 50 Ghana cedis currently by one of them, Antrak Air. Since September last year air-travellers have been paying an average of 100 Ghana cedis for an Accra-Kumasi one way flight and 150 cedis for Accra-Tamale. The various players have since the beginning of the year being reducing their fares considerably - all due to competition. One of them, Antrak Air is now charging passengers as low as 50 Ghana cedis for its Accra-Kumasi flights. According to the Chief commercial Officer, Kweku Antwi Bosiako, admits this is a rather audacious long-term strategy to attract more customers. Obviously there is competition and with this everybody would like to attract customers. It will affect our profits in the interim but were looking in the long term. If we manage to grow the industry with most people travelling by air and they realise it faster, safer and affordable they dont go back to the road he noted. CEO for Starbow, Dr. Brock Frieson is also sure fares will continue go down but emphasises it will largely depend on their cost of operations.
Mr. Asare Akuffo, President of GAB, made the call at a press conference organised in Accra. The tendency of pricing and receiving payments for goods and services in dollars by some institutions and individuals, had become worrisome such that it had moved the Central Bank to recently announce it would strictly carry out the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Act 2006 (Act 723) and the accompanying regulations, to save the local cedi currency from further depreciation.
Were monitoring and well ensure that were always competitive but that doesnt necessarily mean price wars The domestic-airline players however maintain, the review in their industrys tax regime remains critical for the continuous reduction in airfares. Source: myjoyonline Ghana gets $140 million from oil revenues for half year The countrys savings from oil revenues have reached $140 million for the first half of this year. According to the semiannual report released by the Bank of Ghana, about $42.1 million has accumulated in the heritage fund which is meant for future generations. Between January and June this year, 3 billion barrels of crude valued at $326 million were lifted from the jubilee field by the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation. Both the Heritage and Stability funds are currently held in an account at the Europes largest provider of Securities settlement services Euroclear Bank. Source: myjoyonline Ghana, others to merge stock markets Managers of Ghana, Nigeria and Ivory Coast Stock Exchanges are looking at first harmonising their rules by 2014 before integrating their markets. MTN & Plan Ghana provide water for township MTN Ghana Foundation and Plan Ghana have jointly commissioned a water project for about 1, 415 residents of KpeveTornu at a total cost of GH¢95,590.95.
The project entailed the extension of pipelines from the Ghana Water Company Limited Head works at Kpeve to the Tornu community. It involved the laying of pipes through a distance of about 3.5km. MTN Ghana Foundation contributed GH¢ 55,590.95 of the project cost while Plan Ghana provided the remaining GH¢ 40,000.00. During the commissioning of the project, Mr. Frazier Appeadu Malcolm, Portfolio Advisor, Economic Empowerment MTN Ghana Foundation said, with the successful completion and commissioning of the project, the people of KpeveTornu will now have access to potable water and the incidence of bilharzia and other water borne diseases will be reduced and eventually eradicated. He added, our provision of safe drinking water for Kpeve-Tornu also supports the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals on health by addressing the core issues of water and sanitation problems in deprived communities. Mr. Eric Ayaba who represented the Country Director of Plan Ghana urged the community to cherish and make good use of the potable water and to avoid unnecessary wastage. In the area of water projects, the MTN Ghana Foundation has also drilled 20 bore-holes in order to provide potable water to thousands of people in deprived communities. Over 20,000 residents from 20 communities in the Wa East and Lawra Districts in the Upper West region have benefitted from bore holes drilled by the MTN Ghana Foundation at a cost of GH¢ 178,000.
Supervisors of the three markets have met in Accra to finalise agreements that will guide their integration. This should see the stock exchanges in these countries linked up and trading in shares of companies across the markets. Chief Executive and Managing Director of Nigerian Stock Exchange, Oscar Onyema told the local media that the integration is crucial in growing markets in the region. According to him, If you look at what is going on around the globe, a lot of flows are actually leaving the developed markets and looking for where to go, and are markets not deep and liquid enough and we do not have compiling list of companies as individuals markets, if we come together we stand a better chance". He added, So the sooner we come together, the faster we can take advantage of the struggles that the developed markets are facing, because really Africa has become a focus for portfolio managers.
The stabilisation fund which is meant to cushion the country in times of price volatility has realised nearly $99 million. The report also indicated that the heritage fund recorded a return on investment of 0.29 percent, Whiles the stabilisation fund returned 0.18 percent. Contributions to both funds are made from crude oil sales from the jubilee fields as well as surface rental and royalties earned.
PLEASE INDICATE WHAT IS GOING TO BE PLACED IN THIS SECTION
PLEASE INDICATE WHAT IS GOING TO BE PLACED IN THIS SECTION
The new economic trend - what's Ghana's survival tactics?
By Kofi Owusu-Acheaw The writer of this article is one of the managers of Liberty Capital Ghana Limited, an Investment Banking and Asset Management company in Ghana
Background he past couple of years have seen monumental events than any other in my life time. It has tested the very foundations of principles and theories that our life hinges on. Business, economic and politically accepted norms and beliefs have been broken. Many established and traditional power houses have seen their demise since 2008, a phenomenon I largely attribute to weak internal structures, ineffective monitoring and greed, over-protection of the debtor, and non-functional checks and balances. Globalisation of finance, easy credit conditions during the 2002-2008 period that encouraged high-risk lending and borrowing practices, international trade imbalances, realestate bubbles that have since burst, fiscal policy choices related to government revenues and expenses, and approaches used by nations to bail out troubled banking industries and private bondholders, assuming private debt burdens or socialising losses. The European Union is failing on its financial obligation, unemployment over the past three years has been moving steadily up. Greece, Italy, Portugal, France, Spain, etc with downgraded credit rating are hanging on thin threads, nonetheless countries like Germany has fairly maintained some leverage and remain paramount in championing the new European Renaissance. Whiles the US and its European counterparts keep increasing their public debt in order to boast growth; the emerging markets of India, China, and Brazil have a less worrying playing field. Most countries in the EU have resorted to ad-hoc measures to bring their economy back on track by borrowing either from the ECB or through the same old fashion bond market. Nations are already defaulting on their due liabilities, and owing to the low credit ratings, bond prices are being purchased at higher interests. Funds raised from the public goes back to settling due debts and the cycle continuous. Economic and politics The economic woes of these nations have had a positive correlation on their political agenda as well. Whiles leaders are battling the effects of past expenditures of their citizenry which was never earned, the citizenry are also battling their governments over austerity measures put in place to avert the collapse of these nations.
This has seen many change of governments over This has seen many change of governments over a short period; Greece, Italy, Japan, Spain, France, etc. The austerity measures are having negative effect on the stability of government mandates to go through and implement recovery measures. Politicians are in no position to maintain a policy that can travel the test of time to appreciate its effectiveness. Thus, economic decisions may now be tied to rather sustaining the stability of governments and making its people happy. This has never been the course of Europe in the past, a very 'politically uncertain Europe'. One of the main objectives of the EU was to create " an internal market where competition is free and undistorted". Today, from the many Brussels Conventions that are adhered to on daily basis to salvage the failing Union, some markets are being well protected than others within the EU contrary to the Articles of its Constitutional Treaty. A "Marshal Plan" is in place to salvage the ailing economies, and the continuous increase of the European Financial Stability Facility shows EUs desperation, yet to no avail. Other economies In effect, the austerity measures which also seek to cut expenditures that may not yield stabilisation benefits will send negative signals to countries that rely on aid, especially on the African continent. Japan and China has started frantic negotiations to trade around the dollar to reduce cost and risk associated with the currency. The recent earthquake and Tsunami which led to a shockwave throughout the financial world also sent the Japanese markets tumbling. The US on the other hand has had its credit rating downgraded for the first time since 1941 by Standard and Poor's.
Some countries have accepted the Yuan as a trading currency and have converted part of their reserves commensurate to expected amount of trade in Yuan to the currency. Yet, back home, we do not have initiatives and laws to facilitate, enhance and protect our interest in these trade. Ghana is living at a time when oil has added about seven per cent increment to our GDP growth. Gold prices are still at its all-time high, cocoa is doing well with a one million tonne mark being achieved, and our percapita income has increased to $1,300 since the re-appraisal of our national indicators, whiles inflation is relatively low. A call to the new Ghana. We need to churn out policies to meet the expected demands of our new world. Most investors are taking a closer look at Ghana as a destination. It shall be a make or break situation for us depending on how we put in mechanisms to meet the expected investments to boast our economy. We must create avenues that will benefit our people; laws in place to protect the Ghanaian. Our businesses must also put in measures to expand and absorb the new trending. Our financial sector is doing well despite the few sell offs, and our services sector is growing. We must carve better products that will benefit the growth initiatives that the business environment offers. We need to capitalise on our current growth to reflect on the job and income market. We must create the opportunities to invest the teaming flow of investments that are expected to come to our economy. Investments houses and businesses such as LIBERTY CAPITAL Ghana Limited conglomerates has already position themselves to manage these expected inflows. The US economy for instance is still creating jobs despite its infinitesimal average growth in recent times. In Ghana even with our relative economic stability, unemployment remains very high, balance of payment still undesired, cost of borrowing is not good and the infrastructural deficits are so high. Elections are just around the corner, and governments have the tendency of spending more than it earns to appease its followers and also bring more sympathisers into their fold. We have seen time and again this trend and its devastating consequences on our economy. Economic and financial discipline is what we require our government to portray. I hope we shall have enough leverage when the rippling effects of failed economies send shock waves to the unprepared. We need to take cue from global trends in politics and economics. Whiles nation are doing all they can to stabilise their ailing economies and resuscitate broken ones; others are breaking traditional barriers to forge alliances and stay afloat on the new world economic order. ECOWAS and other subregional economic groupings must use the Euro as a case study and act appropriately. What is our take on these trends as a nation? What are we doing? What is the new direction? What is our survival tactics?
There are even concerns of further downgrade if key Obama pro-growth policies continue to meet Republican resistance. And with issues of the economy being paramount in the upcoming US election, political stability must be a matter of concern. China and Japan have already recognised the significance of their influence and the need to support each other to stay on top. The Japanese are beginning to savor the reality of the power of the Renminbi after they were overtaken by China as the second largest economy in the world. Japan has revised its age long policy of not selling ammunitions to China. The Chinese have also increased their interest rates which could very much mean they have recognised the uncontrollable expansion of their economy and would want to put tabs on it. In times like this, it is clear that revolutionary measures are needed for the survival of nations. Despite this, Asia's biggest economies posted disappointing export and manufacturing figures in July in the latest sign that the region is following the US and Europe into an economic slowdown. China reported a slight deterioration in manufacturing activity for July while South Korea saw a sharp fall in exports, just a day after Taiwan unexpectedly reported that its economy shrank in the second quarter. The first Asian economy to report export data, South Korea is closely watched by investors. The 8.8 per cent decline in shipments in July from a year earlier is by far the sharpest monthly fall this year and bodes ill for economic growth. Back home But in all these, I do not see any recognisable role that African Economies are playing in this new world order. This is worrying no matter how fragmented and unorganised our economic unions stand. Whiles the African continent can boast of a lesser effect of the global downturn on its economy, the long run conditions will rather justify the impact of shortage in direct aid and grants whiles investments could increase. Have we considered our options if efforts to resuscitate the Euro proves futile? The UK just like some other European country is battling with high levels of unemployment: 2.5m in last year September, 2.64m in December, and a CIPD prediction of 2.9m by 2013. Does our economic planning as a country critically consider the global changes to align ourselves with the fast, furious and moving economies? Today Brazil has not only beaten UK as the 6th largest economy but has also shown better prospects. The Argentine economy just as its South American counterparts is performing relatively better than most of Europe. We need to evaluate our trade and bi-lateral relationships with the wider world. Much of our imports are coming from Asia, especially on the consumer market front.
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The skies are opened
Both the domestic and sub-regional skies are well opened for aviation business but the challenge lies in recognising the massive potential impacts of air transportation on local economies in the sub-region, including Ghana. Effah Amponsah writes
Tony Tyler, CEO of IATA
scribbled this from seat 26A on a flight from Accra to Cotonou, the premier city of the West African state Benin, just beside my nation, Ghana. Around me were other colleague-journalists, marketing executives and other travelers. The look on their faces epitomised jitteriness, especially when the routine safety measures were announced by the flight attendants. Accra and Cotonou is 350 kilometers apart and a road traveler will take not less than eight hours to reach the Benin capital, but here we were in the skies spending only 45 minutes approximately, and 20,000 feet above the earth to get to our destination. This was an inaugural international flight of one of the relatively new domestic airlines in Ghana. With my laptop on my lap I thought; "Ghana's domestic aviation sector is going somewhere". Hitherto, the mention of air travel sent ordinary folks thinking that the affluent are it again, they have got some monies to throw into the air. These days it is no more a symbol of luxury and aggrandisement to fly from one city to the other in this part of the world. Like mobile phones and personal computers, air transport is fast becoming a necessity for a lot of Ghanaians. The pertinent socioeconomic benefits of air transport have bugged the ordinary African folk including the Ghanaian. Air travelers fly in the local skies for a myriad of reasons, ranging from as casual as "enjoying how it feels to fly in an airplane" to beating deadline to append a signature to kick-start a multi-million business enterprise. Generally speaking, the sector is seeing a steady, tremendous growth in terms of operations and affordability. No wonder it has been rewarded with reposed confidence from the air-travelling public in Ghana. With four carriers flying in the local skies, albeit not at the same time, except on different routes, the local aviation industry is strongly gaining international recognition and reputation from aviation watchers and experts.
The burgeoning but fast-improving state of this transport subsector is luring the monies of expats who are partnering with indigenes to invest in the industry; Starbow, Fly 540 and the incoming Africa World Airlines, being cases in point. Even though the industry is experiencing a golden age of business growth in investments and development, this transport sub-sector has not really being explored and exploited yet, in terms of its potential contributions to economic development for a nation like Ghana. Few African states have paralleled the west in appreciating and exploiting the vital contributions of aviation to a nation's economic agenda. Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa are some of the few African states which have in significant dimensions exploited the aviation sector to the optimum. Paul Steele, the Executive Director of Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) asserts that, "while not everyone on earth can afford to fly today, the benefits of air transport spread far beyond the people involved in the flight itself". According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), global economic growth is a key driver of growth in air traffic demand. However, while air traffic demand has increased as economies have grown, air transportation is factually a key cause and facilitator of economic growth for many economies globally.
"Africa has the greatest potential of any continent for aviation to contribute even more to its development. Supported by adequate infrastructure, the proper cost structure, and operating within a policy framework that values its contribution, aviation could play a much larger role in the African economy as a whole." "Aviation connectivity is about people doing business, products moving to markets and new opportunities being discovered. With a few kilometers of runway even the most remote location can be connected to the global village. This has a huge and positive impact on development. And that is the best reason for governments across Africa to care about aviation and work together to ensure its safe, efficient and sustainable progress," said Tyler. It is quite evident then that the aviation industry is crucial to the growth of the global economy, hence, governments, including Ghana's must invest more in the sector and also encourage private participation in this sub-sector of the transport industry. Ghana's aviation industry, with an average growth-rate of 10 percent, is one of the fastest growing and most competitive in the West Africa sub-region, albeit Nigeria's highly competitive aviation industry and market. The Ghana regulator has encouraged private participation on the basis of local content and local participation policies. "There is great potential in the aviation sector in West Africa. This presents an opportunity for domestic carriers to explore the possibility of operating regional flights," Air Commodore Kwame Mamphey (Rtd.), Director-General of the GCAA, said. For now, air travelers are quite satisfied with the current state of air transport that is its reliability, safety and affordability. Meanwhile industry operators are decrying the high cost of jet fuel currently on charge. In an interview with GB&F, the Co-Chief Executive Officer of Starbow Airlines, Dr. Brock Friesen said the cost of jet fuel in Ghana is relatively higher as compared with charges on the European and other African markets. According Dr. Friesen hike in charges surges the operational costs of operators, yet they manage to keep fares at a reasonable amount in order to stimulate demand from the market. This means profit margins will reduce. Obviously such a trend, in the long term, would cost both operators and the aviation sector in general. Since operators tend to have slim profits, it stands to say they cannot invest to a larger extent in order to enhance growth of the sector. There is the need for serious consideration to review the prices of jet fuel, given Ghana's new status as an oil producing economy. It is a fact that reviewing jet fuel periodically, in conformity to globally trends would help reduce the operational costs of managing airplanes in Ghana. There are many problems that hinder the growth of the industry and affect the expansion of operators' business. It is high time operators of domestic airlines presented a united front in order to present their grievances in a concerted fashion. Like in telecommunications where operators present their common interest through the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, it is imperative that operators of domestic airlines reach a consensus so that they can sing from the same song sheet on matters of common interest. It is apparent that such a move would galvanise operators towards a common vision, yet sustain a healthy competition among operators. Birds of the same feathers must fly together but in different directions.
Paul Steele, Executive Director of Air Transport Action Group (ATAG)
Not only is the aviation industry a major industry in its own right, employing large numbers of highly skilled labour force, but more importantly it is an essential input into the rapidly growing global economy. Greater connections to the global air transport network has boosted the productivity and growth of economies by providing better access to markets, enhancing links within and between businesses and providing greater access to resources and to international capital markets. Tony Tyler, the CEO for IATA noted recently that for many of Africa's governments, aviation is not the top priority. "Eliminating poverty, improving health, raising living standards, and generating jobs rank much higher. My message is not to shift priorities, but to ask governments to see aviation as an economic driver and develop policies to support that important role." The facts and figures are available to tell the story of aviation's colossal contribution to the development of economies. In 2011, over 2.8 billion passengers were carried by the world's airlines. The sector contributed $2.2 trillion of global GDP and $67.8 billion in Africa representing about three per cent of the world figure, including catalytic impacts. Worldwide, the amount contributed to the global economy by aviation jobs is roughly three and a half times higher than that contributed by other jobs. Aviation is indispensable for tourism, which is a major engine of economic growth, particularly in developing economies. Globally, 51 per cent of international tourists travel by air. Over 56 million people are employed worldwide in aviation and related tourism. Of this, 8.36 million people work directly in the aviation industry and Africa represents 12 per cent of the total jobs. When Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted in 2010, a week-long disruption of air traffic in Europe caused 10 million passengers to be affected and cost the global economy $5 billion. Reports say passengers were not the only affected, parts of the automotive industry were forced to slow production as supply chains remained grounded and African economies lost up to $65 million in exports of time sensitive perishable goods. Obviously, aviation could play an even bigger role in facilitating Africa's growth and development. To achieve this, however, we need a team effort of government and industry focused on improving safety, adopting a coordinated policy approach and implementing global standards," said Tony Tyler, IATA's Director General and CEO in a keynote address to open IATA's Aviation Days in Dakar, Senegal. Oxford Economics forecast that aviation's direct contribution to GDP in Africa will increase by 5% per annum in real terms over the next 20 years helping to create an additional 66,000 jobs across the region by 2030. Passenger numbers in Africa are expected to expand from 67.7 million in 2010 to 150.3 million in 2030, with RPK growing at an average annual rate of 5.1%.
Meanwhile, cargo volumes are projected to rise at a similar rate of 5.2% per annum.
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Can you be a good leader?
By Julius Caesar The Author is CEO/Managing Partner at Soleil Consults; Management, Strategy & ICT Consultants (www.soleilvision.com). You may send your views to email@example.com
n his Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx made this very popular statement: "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles". I have a different slant on this: "The history of all hitherto existing society is the crisis of leadership". Leadership, the creation of "a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen" has always been a rare commodity in the world (Alan Keith, Genentech). From politics to business to the home, good leadership has been a big problem. A good number of peoples who have looked up to leaders have been disappointed. The result has been revolutions, coup d'états, assassinations, apathy and so on. In 1940, there was a leadership crisis in the British Parliament. Leopold Amery, member of the British Parliament quoted Oliver Cromwell by saying: "Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!" World War II had run its destructive course for eight months, and it was not going well for Britain and her allies. To Leopold Amery and others in the government, a change in leadership was needed. Therefore, on May 7, 1940, in the House of Commons, Mr. Amery quoted the words above to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. Three days later, Mr. Chamberlain left office, and Winston Churchill took his place. Seventy-seven-year-old David Lloyd George, who listened to the debate, had led Britain to victory in World War I, and his many years in politics enabled him to evaluate keenly the work of high officials. In a speech to the House of Commons on May 8, he stated: "The nation is prepared for every sacrifice so long as it has leadership, so long as the Government show clearly what they are aiming at and so long as the nation is confident that those who are leading it are doing their best." Clearly, we can deduce from George's words the expectations that people have of their leaders: 1) An identifiable, credible leadership must be in place 2) The direction of leadership must be clear to all and 3) There must be evidence of sincerity on the part of leaders. So if you are a leader or aspiring to be one, how can you meet the criteria of a good leader? What characteristics do you have to cultivate. And how can you make an effective use of these?
While I will be focusing on leadership in business, the principles herein are not limited to business alone. They can be applied in other spheres of life that require good leadership, including the family, school, society and so on. The leader-manager In management, there are four main roles that every manager at every level plays; namely, planning, organising, leading and controlling. It is therefore apparent that every manager at whatever level is a leader, from board directors to the supervisor. If all managers are thus able to perform their leadership roles well, this would have a rippling positive effect on the stability and growth of the organisation. The opposite is also true; a bad management-leadership could crumble the organisation. Going by the definition of leadership by Alan Keith as quoted at the outset, leadership involves "creating a way"; they must "show clearly what they are aiming at" as George put it. I would illustrate this with a march past. When contingents are marching at the annual independence celebration of Ghana on March 6, we usually see a leader who shows the way and whose example the rest should emulate as they march on. A good leader can influence those behind him to march as well as he does. However, if he is not good, those who do not march well will copy his bad example and those who know how to march better will grumble about his leadership. In a similar fashion, a good business leader must be seen to be setting the right example for others to follow.
However, the one who epitomises the concept of servantleadership is Jesus Christ. He said concerning his ministry: "Like the Son of Man, who did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life to redeem many people." (Matthew 20:28) And he told his disc-iples: "The greatest one among you must be your servant" (Matthew 23:11) - The Good News Bible. If he does not provide that leadership, his team members will copy his bad example, imagining that it is good after all. On the other hand, those that perceive that he cannot lead well will start agitating against his leadership and either topple him or leave the organisation. Leadership is thus a very important element in management. Leadership types In 1939, Kurt Lewin and colleagues identified three main types of leadership. These are the Autocratic or Authoritarian style, the Participative or Democratic style and Laissez-faire or Free Rein style. An autocratic leader is not open to suggestions and frowns on subordinate initiative. He rules with an iron fist and his decisions are final and must be carried out promptly. The participative leader on the other hand believes in consultation and group decision making. Thus he confers with the group when making decisions and expects subordinates to make suggestions and use initiative, unlike the autocratic leader. To the other extreme is the laissez-faire or free rein leader. Basically, he does not lead but rather expects subordinates to design their own methods and policies. They have maximum freedom to do whatever they like to do. Each of these leadership styles has its own advantages and disadvantages. Since none is perfect, it would be unwise to assume them to be mutually exclusive. A good leader should have a cocktail of all these styles and apply the right one at the right time. However, there is one other leadership style that has enthralled me personally and I view it as the best form of leadership style-the Servant-leadership style. The servant-leader The phrase "Servant Leadership" was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in The Servant as Leader, an essay that he first published in 1970. In that essay, he said: "The servant-leader is servant first It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature." - Culled from www.greenleaf.org Hence, to be a servant first and a leader second, I believe, is the best approach to true leadership. Traits of a good leader In general terms though, what are the traits of a good leader? I will isolate a few, categorising them into what I call human relation traits-which I see to be more important-and managerial traits. The human relation traits are as follows: First, a good leader must be approachable. It is a common thing since time immemorial for leaders to surround themselves with several barriers. Before a subordinate gets to see his leader, he goes through several procedures. While it is true that as a human a leader can only do so much at a time, a good leader puts in place structures representing him through which those whom he cannot humanly meet in person can have their concerns channeled. In the IT world of today, this has never been easier. The corporate intranet and e-mail are two potent means to achieving this. Another is through delegation of authority. And note: Where there are so many who would like to meet you in person, you need to know that your lieutenants to whom you delegated authority are not up to the task and should be appraised. I had this experience I shall never forget. I would normally like to say his name but since I do not have his permission to do so, I will use his designation: This happened when I was going to the University of Ghana. Through the admission process, I had a problem and thought of no one else to help me but the then vice chancellor (VC) himself! I went to his office and met a sweet, professional secretary who asked to leave a message in writing for the VC and booked an appointment for me to meet him. Looking back, I now know that what help I needed could easily have been sought at a lower level; and as the VC he could have referred me to the appropriate office. Yet he made the time to meet with me in person! I believe this is a fine trait of an approachable leader which every good leader worth his salt should emulate.
Even though Greenleaf wrote his essay in 1970 and was followed by other notable management and leadership writers, the concept itself is believed to have its roots in ancient times. Among those credited for espousing this concept of leadership are Chanakya who lived c. 350-283 BCE and Lao-Tzu, who is believed to have lived in China sometime between 570 B.C. and 490 B.CE.
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Higher education and the importance of infrastructure
By Edem Worlanyo
ith the upsurge of various universities and higher educational institutions in the country, the issue of infrastructure plays a paramount role in the provision of quality education. Although the National Accreditation Board (NAB) has been mandated to inspect facilities of tertiary institutions, and to assess their faculties and the eligibility of their students, only a few of such institutions are living up to expectations. In recent times, it has been widely reported in our dailies that the National Accreditation Board has ordered a couple of private universities to either withdraw their allegedly unqualified students or prepare them adequately to improve their grades to meet the basic university admission requirements. As much as the board must be applauded for taking such bold initiative, and executing its mandate to weed off unqualified students from the universities; the National Accreditation Board must also take up issues with such institutions on the provision of good infrastructure. It is a well-known fact that most of -Ghana's traditional universities, namely the University of Ghana, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), the University of Education, the University for Development Studies, and the likes are really struggling with the provision of infrastructure. The situation makes it impossible for students to even cope with their class work. In fact, the picture painted by some students of these public universities lives much to be desired. Governments over the years did their best to improve the situation but to no avail, due to the growing number of in-takes each year. Talking about infrastructure, it is important to draw attention to a number of private universities that are relatively doing well in this direction. Here, such private universities like the Central University College, Valley View University, the Dominion University College, Ashesi University and Zenith University College, just to mention a few that must be commended for their efforts to provide good infrastructure for their students. Understandably, the provision of infrastructure is a serious matter and capital intensive. In most cases, this type of investments attracts multi-lateral funding or joint venture initiatives. It is against this backdrop that the above mentioned privately owned universities must be applauded for their yeoman's work and their role in the provision of higher education.
Lecture halls or classrooms It is therefore, instructive to say that among the private universities mentioned above, the Dominion University College (DUC) stands tall, as the university is one of the finest and well-endowed tertiary institutions in terms of lecture halls or classrooms. DUC has ultra-modern lecture halls and a small class-size that are equipped with e-resource infrastructures for learning and teaching. Faculty offices The faculty offices of DUC can also be described as one of the best among other universities across Ghana. The offices have a modern outlook with first-class fittings. The premises are suitable for academic work and activities Multi-Purpose Hall. Interestingly, the Dominion University College is also the first among other tertiary institutions in the country to have a modern multi-purpose hall for various events, including conferences and dining purposes for VIPs, lecturers and students. Restaurant/cafeteria Moreover, the university has an outstanding restaurant and a cafeteria with various menus designed to whet the appetite of lecturers, administrative staff, and students. Washrooms DUC has deliberately stuffed its facilities with ultra-modern washrooms designed with marble stones. It creates a more conducive atmosphere for the sanitary needs of both lecturers and students. Sporting facilities Finally, last but not the least is the Dominion University College mini-sports facility. Here, adequate provision has been made for students to engage in various outdoor sporting activities. DUC sporting programs include basket ball, lawn tennis, table tennis, and other essential sporting activities to improve the physical well-being of its students.
Riots and civil unrest are becoming the order of the day
By Angelina Lazar The writer of this article is an Economist & International Management Consultant, FOREX & Precious Commodities Trader and Global Trade & Human Rights Expert
as riots, tax revolts, job marches and civil unrest are becoming the order of the day in America as more dramatic losses continue to play themselves out as multiple, simultaneous variables snowball and escalate, exacerbating the already dismal situation, annihilating people's livelihoods, uprooting their savings, diminishing their standard of living, and shaking the very foundation of their security and sustainability! In stark contrast, third world economies are rising like a phoenix from the ashes, finding new hope, new opportunities, new ways and means to surface, and the newest, unforeseen possibilities for an ever brighter future! So where do you stand and what can you do in your own situation to find your way through this uncharted eclectic diametrically opposed maze with no guide and no direction? Let us discuss and resolve to see our way through to the sunlight at the end of this dark, winding tunnel in this African rather, American, jungle! . . . Customise your own blueprint & act uniquely You have read a myriad of reports, gleaning insights here and there from pundits, economists and financial gurus far and wide, focusing on this or that issue; but you have also felt the pinch yourselves when perusing through your own savings, or gaping at your dwindling investments in sheer and utter disbelief! So, it is not like you are totally unaware, oblivious and unconscious; you are just not vigilant enough, not confident enough and not bold enough to possess your own mind, and be in control of it - much less, to act upon it! What you need now is to intrinsically and holistically assess the big picture in order to map out a whole new territory in your unfolding future, where you are the one to chart out your own course on your very own roadmap with your own monogram engraved compass! But for this, you will need a real backbone and strong intellect, a spiritual foundation, veritable faith and absolute self-confidence! Are you ready? In any and every situation, my friends, it is necessary to have full and accurate information and to possess crystalline clarity before we embark on any decision-making process!
Otherwise, we will inevitably err! We must connect the dots, and foresee the outcome, plan wisely for the future, and bravely act! We must catapult ourselves out of our programmed, tranced out states, disavowing CNN to dish us out, anymore, their free rose-colored spectacles, through which they want us to view their newscasts and listen to their analyses! We must shake out the bugs and cobwebs from our cerebral cortex and most programmed vortex; and we must start employing real, powerhouse analytical skill sets for ourselves by ourselves in favour of ourselves! But first the facts, and let us get them straight! The U.S. dollar, we must brazenly admit is being devalued and trashed (but in another issue, I will qualify this and prove this to you)! Right now: own it, deal with it and shun the malarkey being force-fed to you to by the 'elite' media on this most important matter, fact and definite issue! Furthermore, I need for the savvy global reader to understand that hits have been taken not only in the global financial markets, but in the tangible ones as well, such as real estate and commodities. The residential real estate market in many areas of America, for instance, plummeted 60 per cent, and will still decline further another 10, 20, and even 30 per cent in some regions!
This means that if your house loses 90 per cent of its value, folks, and you need to sell it because your firm has downsized and thus, you've been terminated, you would, in essence, be paying your potential buyer to take your home off your hands, as you complete the cycle of your devastating loss upon the consummation of your home sale! Now, how smart, comforting, healing and beneficial is that to sell your home, you tell me?! So, do the math, please, to fully grasp the stark reality of these numbing facts, as numbers do not lie! In the third world, on the other hand, houses are much less expensive, and oftentimes, there are no mortgages to speak of; you just pay for them outright, or build them on your meagerly priced land! And if there are mortgages, they are much more reasonable if you search properly! Just a comparison for you to see other alternatives and possible exits out of your current dismal situation! All I am saying, my friends and valued readers, is just think outside of the box before it turns into some prison cell in a FEMA detention camp or welfare center within the inner cities! Now, what about the commercial real estate sector? Well, this, too, was hit hard, with ghost malls and empty parking lots being the common drive-by scene, while retail outlets and popular franchises close by the hundreds or thousands of stores nationwide, such as JC Penney, Macys, Dillard's, Ethan Allen, Fashion Bug, Ann Taylor, Gap, Footlocker, Zales, Disney, Sprint/Nextel, and Starbucks, Home Depot, Lowe's, Circuit City, and Pep Boys, just to name a few; and as for Cache, Talbot's, Wickes Furniture, Levitz, Bombay, Whitehall, Linens n' Things, Movie Gallery, Pacific Sunware, Wilson Leather, Sharper Image, and many others, these have gone completely out of business! Now, this is shocking news for those of you who know these household brand names, but do not forget: this is, at the same time, an ideal opportunity for smaller players who have the ingenuity, gumption, zest and willpower to sprout new branches, leaves and fruit to offer much needed value to their fellow man in these toughest of economic times! Next, let us look at the precious commodities market. This, too, has been highly manipulated, being forced artificially low, such as in the gold market, to stave off un-savvy investors or it is kept artificially high, as with diamonds, where they are, actually, stockpiled and hid meticulously to keep up the demand and keep the price high!
So you see: we must begin making wise and bold, innovative, creative new decisions for ourselves, and we must think for ourselves in lieu of leaning on the deceitful analysts for their bogus wisdom, fudged statistics and faulty conclusions - as today, you must see for yourselves, people are being purposefully steered wrongly; thus, billionaires have lost billions; millionaires have lost millions, and those with less are losing what for them is more! When we look into the future, with our hand on the helm of the present, we can steer our way out of what looks like a cataclysmic end to any shallow mind. In all actuality, it is but a dark passage at a critical juncture and much needed turning point in our planetary history with definite sunlight at the end if we only keep our eyes riveted on the sunlight, heading for it with all holy bravado, veritable faith and unflinching intellect in spite of the ensuing chaos, which seemingly all around us abounds! Thus, we need to revamp, regroup, and take precautionary steps to ensure that our money is safe. So, let us not fool ourselves into adopting the wishful thinking that globalists are keen for you to fall into hook, line and sinker, but rather, stay anchored; follow your gut instincts; listen to that thin, still voice inside; and put it down in black and white! The Arabs, for instance, came up with Islamic Finance in order to break away from the U.S. dominated and controlled banking system. This took off since the Asian crisis: a banking system, unlinked to usury (but consisting of risk-sharing between banks and their clients) created on the premise that money must not produce more money, but rather, must be invested in the real economy (what a novel concept for a speculative America). With Islamic Finance, real investment must produce real growth! And if you look around at the highly innovative, extremely affluent Gulf countries, they are doing just that on an unprecedented scale and world class level, both unimaginable and unsurpassed, with the loftiest fairy tale visions they are, actually, implementing with unparalleled innovation and that, supremely successfully, I must say that in the Arab world, banks have both a social role and profit element.
So, the banks never work against the people due to their inherent social commitment. So, why would we not, in Africa, come up with our very own customised alternative resolution as well, with, let us say, our very own Gold Exchange? Why should the West dictate to us the price of gold, when it is mined, predominantly in the Third World, and vastly throughout much of Africa? Why would we not establish our own market price for our very own commodity, developing our own rules and regulations on its sale and export, and stamp on it our very own customised Afro-hallmark? What is stopping us from doing this save a programmed mindset, sheer fear, a tranced-out state, and a penchant for giving up our own power. On a micro-level, a wonderful option for people looking to secure their savings and futures today would be to set up their own account in any which off-shore haven, like in Mauritius or Seychelles, for instance, which is also in Africa! So, why, pretell, travel further when it is least expensive here to form an offshore company as you can do so in any which country in the world right from the dark . make that newly lit continent unprecedented. Another piece of advice is certainly to invest in gold, which is the most liquid commodity and safest of investments! Gold is poised to go to the stratosphere for as it stands now, the precious commodity should be priced at approximately $2,250 in 1980, but remember, the precious metal is being kept artificially low to keep you the victim, instead of the victor. Get those creative juices flowing; trust in God Almighty, your Creator and Protector, Mentor and Guide; and utilise the talents and wisdom He irrevocably gave you - as a saved soul - to act bravely and boldly, seamlessly and resolutely! Indeed, become the Master of your own Ship, and do so now. To be continued in our next issue. Book your copy now!
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Privatizing state banks - Will ADB follow TTB & merchant bank?
Gradually, Government is implementing its strategic plan of selling all stakes in state owned banks to private investors. The question however is whether this will do Ghanaians and the nation any good since in the future this country might not pride itself of any gains in the banking sector as has happened in the telecommunication sector. Adu Koranteng writes
Of all the six mobile telecommunication companies operating in the country currently none of them can boast of being state owned or having indigenous status. The same path is being carved by government in the banking sector as it moves to implement its strategic plan of divestiture. Early this year, government, acting through the Social Security and National Insurance Trust, (SSNIT), a majority shareholder in the Trust Bank (TTB), sold its 61 percent stake to Ecobank Transnational incorporated. Few months later, it has affected the sale of another indigenous bank, Merchant Bank, to First Rand, a South African Bank. The Director General of SSNIT, Dr. Frank Odoom, in a statement said the state firm sold its majority interest in Merchant Bank to First-Rand of South Africa and TTB to Ecobank as part of strategies to boost returns on its investments. He said SSNIT accepted about GHc176 million from the second biggest finance group in South Africa to acquire 75 percent of its stake. Dr. Frank Odoom said the selection of First Rand was part of efforts to get a strategic investor that could turn around the fortunes of merchant bank into a more viable entity and said the deals were the best government could have secured. "Looking at Merchant Bank as an entity we thought there was the need to infuse some more dynamism into it and get a strategic investor to invest in the bank to become a better bank. The process that we've gone through so far has been studied carefully and we think the proposal we had is good enough to turn the bank around" he said. The sale of 61 per cent stake in The Trust Bank (TTB) to Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), a parent company of Ecobank Ghana sent shivers down the spines of Ghanaians. Economic experts however did not understand what influenced SSNIT, with majority stake in TTB, to sell the 6th largest bank in Ghana They also wonder why the present government which opposed the sale of ADB in 2007 would turn round and supervise SSNIT offloading its shares to Ecobank and Merchant Bank to First Rand. According to them, TTB has traditionally been one of the top performing banks, with very high returns on assets (averaging about 4percent per annum), as well as a high return on equity (averaging over 36 percent per annum), for the past decade.
Ghanaians have expressed sadness over the way government is pushing for the sale of all stakes in state banks since such a move could result in adverse consequences for stakeholders, including the government and the workers of Ghana who pay SSNIT monthly contributions. TTB was the first in Ghana to have exceeded the required minimum by generating over GH ¢66 million additional capital from a Rights Issue announced in 2009. That exercise alone brought the total stated capital of TTB to over GH¢91 million, and shareholders' funds to over GH¢122 million at the close of the 2010 financial year, two years ahead of the GH¢60 million deadline, set by the Central Bank. This underscored the confidence that shareholders of the bank had for its performance. They emphasized that the additional injection was more than enough to set up a new bank. In spite all these successes government still went ahead and sold the bank. Meanwhile, the bank of Ghana is also working out modalities to sell its majority stake in Ghana's Agricultural Development Bank. A letter written by the Ministry of Finance to the International Monetary Fund and indicates that, in a bid to assume its full role as the regulator of the country's banking industry, the bank of Ghana has decided to sell its stake in the Agric development bank. This way, the bank would be regarded as an independent entity that would ensure fairness in the regulatory process.
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Already, signals picked at the strong room of the Agricultural Development Bank, ADB, indicate that efforts are being made to list the only agricultural development bank on the Ghana Stock Exchange to enable government offload its shares to investors. However, sources have disclosed that standard Bank of South Africa is keenly monitoring events, through its agents, as it strategizes to buy as much share as possible to become a majority shareholder of the profit making venture. Should ADB be sold, Ghana would be left with only the Ghana Commercial Bank in which it has about 52 percent shares. Interestingly ADB 's operations in recent years have been regarded as remarkable by financial experts The 2011 financial year results of the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) revealed a uniquely remarkable strength of the bank in a number of performance indicators. ADB posted a profit before National Stabilization Levy of GH¢51.1 million at the end of December 2011. This marked a significant increase in the restated 2010 position of GH¢12.8 million. The increase in profit was at the backdrop of considerable expansion in the balance sheet of the bank as assets rose significantly from GH¢968.2 million at the end of December 2010 to GH¢1,213.7 million at the end of December 2011, showing a growth of 25.4 percent. Major earning assets included loans and advances that went up from GH¢577.0 million to GH¢678.6 million, registering a growth of 17.6 percent. The bank made impressive strides in resource mobilization during the 2011 financial year and this provided a major boost to the expansion of its assets base. Customer deposits grew significantly from GH¢536.1 million to GH¢827.7 million, representing a growth of 54.4 percent during the period. This resulted from the pragmatic strategic initiatives the bank has been implementing since 2010, responding to customer needs and providing attractive, quality and efficient customer service. As evidence of its strength during the year under review, ADB transferred a further GH¢25.0 million from its Income Surplus account to its Stated Capital account, which increased its stated capital from GH¢50.0 million to GH¢75.0 million. This enabled it to fully comply with the regulatory minimum capital requirement of GH¢60.0 million ahead of the end-December 2012 deadline given by Bank of Ghana for full compliance by indigenous Ghanaian banks. In the area of agricultural financing, ADB made several significant financing arrangements for the sector in the year 2011. The agricultural sector had total new lending amounting to GH141.7 million compared to GH¢100.1 million in 2010. The bank also made considerable new interventions in the productive agro-processing sub-sector and invested a total of GHÂ¢84.5 million. Another significant development during the year under review was the completion of the upgrading of the branch and head office operations onto Flexcube Universal Banking System (UBS) - Version 11.2 banking software to support its corporate, retail, credit and treasury operations. The new IT infrastructures, systems and processes of ADB have enhanced the quality and efficiency of its customer service delivery. ADB has also added Visa card processing to its cocktail of e-banking services.
Many Ghanaians regard the sale of these institutions as a move by government to meet the conditionality proposed by the international monetary fund in order to receive annual budgetary support. It is indicated that the IMF and World Bank are very happy with the responses they are getting from the Government of Ghana, some of which focuses on a massive privatization exercise. Already, Government contracted loans estimated at GH¢1, 5.2 billion, equivalent to 4.8 per cent of GDP from the IMF. It all started with the World Bank country director's letter to the late President Mills, prompting him that the Bank is ready to support his government. In return for some extra funding, expected to be in the region of $100m, the IMF is said to be demanding two major reforms - like the scrapping of subsidies to state-owned enterprises, especially within the energy sector, or cutting such subsidies by, at least, 70 percent; and the its divestiture exercise should continue, including the offloading of its stake in certain SOEs previously considered 'sacred state assets'. The list includes the Tema Oil Refinery, Volta River Authority, Electricity Company of Ghana, the Trust Bank, Merchant Bank, Ghana Water Company Limited, Ghana Commercial Bank, and Agricultural Development Bank.
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Exclusive DaMina advisors frontier markets elections forecast
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo
Ghana 2012 general elections:
Opposition NPP poised to recapture presidency and parliament at December polls. Ghana's December general elections are on course to yield a dramatic surprise outcome. DaMina's frontier markets elections statistical model and our onthe-ground surveys predicts an outright first round opposition center-right New Patriotic Party (NPP) win, and a return to opposition of the now ruling center-left National Democratic Congress (NDC) after only four years in power. The NPP are also posed to re-capture a majority of the seats in Ghana's new 275 seat parliament. The NPP's presidential candidate, former foreign minister, and 2008 opposition presidential candidate Nana Akuffu-Addo, who fell 40,000 votes short during the 2008 in winning the presidency is poised at almost 70 years old to become Ghana's next president. DaMina Advisors based on historic statistical analysis of turnout patterns in all of Ghana's 10 regions, new dynamics within the country's 2010 census data, and on-the-ground interviews conducted in recent weeks projects that: 1) National turnout for the December polls will crest around 69% lower than during the 2008 elections, 2) The opposition NPP will win between 52% and 53% of the first round vote, with the NDC winning not more than 48% of the vote, with 3%-6% victory margin amounting to an insurmountable 300,000 to 600,000 votes. Third-party candidates Paa Kwesi Nduom and Hassan Ayariga will not win more than a combined 3% of the national vote as Ghanaians have settled comfortably into the country's bifurcated polarised two-party political culture.
DaMina statistical model predicts Opposition NPP poised to recapture presidency and parliament Traditional incumbency advantages will not help Mahama during two and half month long campaign Victory by NPP will see reversal in countrys currency, fiscal, education and foreign policies 2010 national census confirms pro-NPP Ashanti region as most populous region NDC party disunity and absence of key campaigner former President Rawlings to dent tough 2012 campaign Despite likelihood of capital Accra remaining in NDC hands, opposition to win national vote by about 5% Nomination of Muslim opposition vice president, in contrast to all-Christian NDC ticket to weaken traditional Muslim support for NDC Mahama-Amissah Arthur NDC ticket electorally weaker than Akuffu Addo-Bawumiah NPP ticket Sympathy from ethnic Fantes for recently deceased president will not translate into decisive NDC votes Key oil producing Western region to flip to NPP after generalised disappointment on oil revenues, jobs Swing Brong-Ahafo region to back Akan-ist NPP over now northern-led NDC 45 new parliamentary seats to also generally favor opposition NPP
All Regions Total adult pop. 2010 census
2000 1st rnd T/out
2004 Press poll T/out 1st rnd T/out Avg. (92-04) 89% 83% 84% 82% 84% 88% 82% 81% 88% 84% 72% 65% 69% 69% 67% 69% 68% 67% 73% 66%
2008 1st rnd T/out
2008 2nd rnd T/out
DaMina Proj. 2012 T/out
DaMina projected raw regional vote 2,078,177 758,740 779,391 1,015,860 1,568,813 968,902 405,339 259,926 760,906 895,975
2008 2nd rnd party share (NDC:NPP) 25%-75% 51%-48% 53%-46% 42%-57% 54%-45% 61%-38% 65%-34% 62%-38% 86%-13% 51%-48%
DaMina Projected NDC:NPP vote share 20%-80% 47%-53% 56%-44% 40%-60% 52%-47% 56%-42% 63%-38% 60%-40% 80%-20% 46%-53%
DaMina Projected 2012 NDC regional vote 415,635 356,608 436,459 406,344 815,783 542,585 255,364 155,956 608,724 412,149 4,405,607
DaMina Projected 2012 NPP regional vote 1,662,542 402,132 342,932 609,516 737,342 406,939 154,029 103,971 152,181 474,867 5,046,450
Ashanti Brong Ahafo Central Eastern Greater Accra Northern Upper East Upper West Volta Western
2,664,330 1,223,774 1,180,896 1,451,228 2,530,344 1,211,127 540,452 361,009 1,170,624 1,298,515
53% 46% 48% 51% 46% 51% 52% 51% 62% 48%
80% 72% 79% 81% 78% 75% 80% 76% 82% 75%
65% 60% 64% 63% 60% 64% 60% 60% 60% 59%
74% 68% 69% 67% 67% 75% 71% 69% 67% 67%
83.31% 68.83% 70.03% 72.16% 70.02% 75.34% 70.26% 67.24% 73.11% 56.48%
78% 62% 66% 70% 62% 80% 75% 72% 65% 69%
Total Adult 13,632,299 Pop.
rnd - round
T/out - turnout
DaMina Projected NPP Win Margin DaMina Projection Total Vote
640, 844 9,452,057
DaMina Projection National Turnout DaMina Projection Final Tally NDC:NPP
Victory by NPP will see reversal in country's currency, fiscal, education and foreign policies. An opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) win will see many immediate changes in current government policies. Ghana's currency, which has depreciated badly in recent months and which has precipitated a domestic shortage of forex will be re-stabilised by the new NPP government. Firstly, a new Central Bank Governor will be appointed who will have the clear mandate of stabilising prices and the Cedi. Ghana currently has no substantive Central Bank Governor after former Governor Paa Kwesi Amissah Arthur was appointed Vice President following the sudden death of former President John Atta-Mills and the assumption of Vice President John Mahama to the presidency. Secondly, the bourgeoisie petty trader and entrepreneurial base of the NPP, who dominate Ghana's domestic forex sensitive commercial retail sector and who in recent months, have withdrawn their forex holdings from local banks, after a botched central bank attempt to stem the slide of the Cedi will return monies back to banks as a vote of confidence in a new NPP government. Thirdly, oil production which over the past year had stagnated at around 70,000 barrels will be ramped up under pressure from the new government, bringing in much needed forex to stabilise the Cedi. As global oil prices fall in late 2012 and 2013, the new NPP government, under pressure from the public to get more oil revenues and desirous to close mounting external and budget deficits, may seek to alter the current tax and royalty regime to entice new players into Ghana's new oil sector. A new NPP government will be much tougher on Tullow plc than the current NDC government, which has generally been relatively lax in its oversight of the new energy sector. The country's cocoa sector, which remains geographically at the center of the NPP heartland, will also receive new subventions and subsidies to increase production and export revenues.
While Ghana has in recent years seen a ramp-up in election year expenditures, (with this election cycle being no different), the post-election fiscal environment has often proven to be austere and contractionary. A new NPP government in 2013 will very likely roll back the recent un-budgeted increases in government expenditures as it seeks to curb a weakening Cedi and reduce the budget deficit. A strengthening Cedi will aid importers and hurt local manufacturers. The NPP has said it will make secondary schooling free, a program which will cost between $150mn and $400mn annually. The NDC and independent think tanks oppose such a policy citing its fiscal unsustainability. On foreign policy, while the NPP has historically been more pro-western and pro-American than the NDC, the NPP will however accommodate the growing presence of Chinese investments in Ghana, while re-balancing Ghana's foreign policy in a pro-American direction in especially the energy sector. The NDC government has in recent years struck a number of financial deals with Chinese investors. A new NPP regime will also ally more strongly with Ivorian President Alassanne Ouattara in flushing out of Ghana pro-Gbagbo sympathisers and committing to troops for Mali. Traditional incumbency advantages won't help Mahama during two and half month long campaign. The traditional incumbency advantages that normally help African incumbents will not be of much help to Ghana's new President John Mahama. While Mahama has been involved in Ghanaian politics for over a decade his name recognition among the majority illiterate and semi-illiterate population is surprisingly low.
Nomination of Muslim opposition vice president, in contrast to all-Christian NDC ticket to weaken traditional Muslim support for NDC. Another factor complicating the NDC's election fortunes is the fact that for first time since 1996, the NDC ticket has two Christians on it, a departure recent pattern in Ghana where the president is from the populous Christian and the vice president is from the less populous Muslim north. In contrast the NPP ticket has the traditional Christian-Muslim duo. While Ghana's three northern (mostly Muslim) regions have a combined population of only 2.1million people, the region is critical to the electoral fortunes of the NDC. In recent elections the three northern regions have generally had a high turnout rate of about 68% and favored the ruling NDC by about a 60% margin. The complication is that for the 2012 elections, while new President Mahama is from the northern region and should have naturally won the allegiance of the north, he is pitted against Bawumiah, who is a Muslim and a fellow northerner. Historically the NDC has won about 75% - 80% of the votes in the various scattered Muslim (Zongo) communities throughout Ghana. This time around the NPP will split off that vote. Bawumiah's campaign sensing the electoral weakness of the NDC ticket is strongly targeting these Muslin populations. In the Ashanti region for instance of the nearly 20% vote that the NDC gets, about 8% is from Muslim Zongo communities. Accra, the Central Region and Western Regions also have large Zongo-Muslim communities. In 2012 most of these communities will very likely flip from supporting the NDC to supporting the NPP, depriving the NDC of about 2%- 3% points nationally. Amissah-Arthur, the newly selected NDC vice president despite his impressive CV, brings almost no political advantages to the NDC ticket. In surveys done in Cape Coast, Sekondi and Elmina, the heart of the ethnic Fanteland, almost no NDC operatives were enthused or knew much about Amissah-Arthur. (Of the four candidates running, Akuffu-Addo has the highest national name recognition, followed by President Mahama, Bawumiah and Amissah-Arthur.) 2010 national census confirms pro-NPP Ashanti region as most populous region. The recently released 2010 national census shows the depth of the structural electoral problem facing the ruling NDC. The opposition NPP stronghold of Ashanti has almost one -fifth of all Ghanaians. The Ashanti region has since 1992 return to democracy voted almost 80% each time for the NPP. If as expected the Ashanti region with a slightly above turnout of 74%, votes 80% for the NPP, the opposition party will get a hefty 1.2million vote margin which the ruling NDC will have to reverse by tallying votes elsewhere throughout the country. The Volta region which has historically been a major electoral powerhouse of the ruling NDC will still vote overwhelmingly for the party, but may see turnout fall off as the NDC's top campaigner former President Rawlings (who hails from the Volta region) remains tepid about his support for the Mahama-Amissah Arthur ticket. However, even if the Volta region sees normal average turnout of 73%, with an NDC margin of 80% - 85%, that would still leave the NPP with a staggering national margin almost 560,000 votes. The task then gets much harder as almost no other region left historically gives the NDC any higher margins than the Volta region. Greater Accra, the capital area has since 1992 always almost evenly split its votes. The three northern regions, which have also historically supported the NDC together, constitute only 16% of the total national vote. If even the NDC wins 60% on average in all three northern regions, the NPP will still maintain a strong national margin of over 200,000.
John Dramani Mahama
Recent random 'name identification' surveys conducted in several disjointed rural communities in Ghana show that despite enjoying traditional national media attention, Mahama is shockingly not well known throughout the country. Unlike his predecessor President John Atta Mills, who mounted three national campaigns (in 1996 as vice presidential candidate, in 2000 and 2004 as a presidential candidate) before being elected in 2008 by a margin of only 40,000 votes; or former President John Kuffour who also ran two national elections before being elected; or former President John Rawlings, who had ruled the country as a military head of state for over a decade before being elected in 1992, Mahama has just about three months to market his image, brand, name, party and programs to the country. To worsen his electoral plight, Mahama has chosen former Central Bank Governor Paa Kwesi Amissah Arthur, as his deputy, a man well known only to the elite press in the capital Accra, but hardly known by even a majority of semi-illiterate voters in Accra or even in his native Cape Coast. The Mahama-Amissah Arthur ticket will be paired against a relatively well-known opposition duo of Nana Akuffu-Addo and Mahamadu Bawumiah. AkuffuAddo has been actively involved in Ghanaian politics for almost two decades, ran for the NPP presidential slot in 1996, was a high profile minister during the 8 years of the Kuffour administration and had already in 2008 mounted one national presidential campaign after a highly competitive internal party primary. Bawumiah, who like Amissah-Arthur was little known in 2008 when he was first nominated has since his second nomination gained national prominence. Also while over the past 18 months, Akuffu-Addo has been travelling up and down the campaign trail increasing his name ID, Mahama had been largely silent, occasionally dispatched to attend to some of late President Atta-Mills duties abroad and at home while the late president himself was out campaigning. Effectively the Mahama-Amissah Arthur team, despite whatever incumbency advantages they have as president and vice president are as a team relatively unknown nationally compared to AkuffuAddo and Bawumiah. Furthermore Mahama unlike Akuffu-Addo will over the next three months be distracted by the burdens of the presidency, foreign travels and other ceremonial duties which will prevent him from campaigning.
The eastern region, where opposition leader Akuffu-Addo hails from provides 11% of the total national vote. Assuming that that region gives Akuffu-Addo almost 60% of its vote (almost the same as it did during the 2008 vote), the NPP will then see its national margin at over 400,000 votes. The central region, where late President John Atta-Mills hails from is again very likely to support the NDC over the NPP in 2012. However, this swing coastal region constitutes only 9% of the national vote, and has never given the NDC even 60% of its vote share (even when an ethnic Fante and local indigene Atta-Mills was on the ticket). Even assuming an optimistic scenario where sympathy for the late president causes the region to give almost 60% of its vote to the ruling NDC, that would erase just about 100,000 from the nearly 400,000 vote margin of the NPP. So as tallies come in from Ghana's two last regions, Brong Ahafo and Western, the ruling NDC even under the most optimistic scenarios will have an almost insurmountable deficit of almost 300,000 votes in favor of the NPP. Brong Ahafo region which constitutes like the central region 9% of the national vote, is one of Ghana's most competitive swing regions with no party wining more than 5% - 6% margin over the other in the region since 2000. The 2012 elections will be no different. While it is likely that the NPP will win the region this time because of its stronger ethnic Akan ticket, even if the NDC wins the regions by the same margin, that will deduct only about 50,000 from the national NPP lead of over 300,000 votes. Finally Ghana's western region, which is also Ghana's new oil producing region, is not likely to back the ruling NDC party. Since the start of oil production in 2010 the region has not felt any dramatic improvement in infrastructure and with most of the energy sector jobs still mostly offshore, youth from the region remain generally disgruntled against the NDC government. A proposal by tribal chiefs from the region to assign a small percentage of oil revenues specifically to the region was rejected by the NDC government and the NDC dominated parliament in 2011. Furthermore recent surveys of local NDC party activists in the region show general disgruntlement and apathy. The NPP is expected to win back this swing region after marginally losing it to the NDC in 2008. However even if the NDC wins the western region, only about 60,000 votes will be erased from the NPPs national margin. DaMina Advisors, based on these analysis of historical election statistics, turnout trends and random interviews conducted on the ground in Ghana projects that the NPP will win a first round election victory at the upcoming December 2012 election with a margin of between 260,000 votes and 640,000 - a winning margin of between 3% and 7%.
Upper East Northern
NDC party disunity and absence of key vote getter former President Rawlings to dent tough 2012 campaign. Is it still possible that that by some magic formula the NDC can reverse the insurmountable statistical obstacles to beat the NPP in 2012? Likely no! However if at the August 30 special party congress to confirm the nomination of President John Mahama as the party's flagberaer, the party chooses a stronger VP candidate, while that will significantly improve the electoral fortunes of the NDC, even such a personality will have an impossible task working with Mahama to achieve victory against the NPP. In short, the numbers are simply against the NDC winning the 2012 race. To make matters worse the ruling NDC despite the temporary unity shown at the funeral ceremonies for late President AttaMills in early August is more structurally disunited than the NPP. The founder and top campaigner of the party, former President Rawlings is only lukewarm in his support of the Mahama-Amissah Arthur ticket and may not even campaign for it. In addition key ministers who may also be able to sway their districts and help win their region may be reshuffled out in an attempt to create a more cohesive government ahead of the elections. If President Mahama brings in former President Rawlings to the 2012 campaign he will ipso facto have to distance himself from a group of highly influential ex-ministers and ex-Rawlings appointees and friends, whom the former president has uncharitably referred to as the "The greedy bastards." This small group of powerful men - all in their sixties and seventies - effectively were the power brokers in the erstwhile Atta-Mills administration. With Atta-Mills gone, they still remain very powerful as they collectively helped handpick all the major ministers and senior government appointees.
If President Mahama brings in Rawlings to help win the 2012 campaign, he will have to dramatically reduce the power and influence of this group, if on the other hand he retains their influence, Rawlings will have nothing to do publicly with the 2012 campaign. President Mahama is between a hard place and a rock. Either way he will lose key infrastructural support within the party by his choice. Either way he is likely poised to lose the election. Even if President Mahama under a Solomonic anointing manages to miraculously unify his fractured party, and its warring elites, he will still face the huge structural obstacles of having less national 'name recognition' than his principal opponent, having less financial resources, the massive Ashanti vote implicated by the 2010 census, as well as a little known vice presidential candidate who is electorally weaker than his NPP counterpart. In short, the chances of the ruling NDC winning the 2012 elections are materially below 50%.
Former president Jerry John Rawlings
Despite holding very few official posts, this group is united in their antipathy towards their old boss, former President Rawlings for a variety of personal and ideological reasons and is determined to exert influence over the Mahama administration as they did under Atta-Mills. This group is collectively more leftist and Nkrumahist than Rawlings who is an ideologically pragmatic person despite his persona as a revolutionary. As an example of their widespread influence, in 2010 former President Atta-Mills famously assured US energy giant Exxon Mobil that its interest to buy out Texan firm Kosmos Energy interests will be looked upon favorably. Later this group of powerful advisers and consigliore moved to block the sale of the Kosmos stake to Exxon Mobil - effectively overruling the president. Several times President Atta Mills made promises on appointments and other policy and policy matters, which were later overturned by this same group. Indeed Atta-Mills decision to contest the 2008 and 2012 elections despite his failing health (which ultimately led to his untimely death) was also partly due to pressures from this group of powerful ex-Rawlings acolytes. Regional distribution of 275 constituencies
45 new parliamentary seats to also generally favor opposition NPP stronghold Since the 1992 return to democratic rule in Ghana, the party that has won the presidency has also held the majority in parliament. The ruling center-right NPP, which is likely to emerge from the first round with the largest vote share, will also re-capture control of parliament. Ghana's 2010 census has triggered the creation of 45 new parliamentary electoral districts. Again, here also like with the presidential election statistical analysis, the more cohesive opposition NPP is poised to win a majority of the 45 seats and with it a majority of the seats in parliament. In 2008 three months before the last Ghanaian elections, DaMina's chief Africa analyst, then the lead West Africa analyst at internationally reputed political risk consulting firm, Eurasia Group, predicted accurately that John Attah-Mills, then a twice defeated opposition leader will win the presidency against his better funded opponent Nana Akuffu Addo. During the hair raising second round vote in late 2008, DaMina's chief analyst, then still at Eurasia Group, also accurately forecasted that the election will be decided by a margin of not more than 45,000 votes out of the over 8 million cast. Late President John Atta Mills subsequently won the 2008 elections by 40,000 votes!
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Android or iPhone- which one is the best?
ith the plethora of smartphones in the mobile phone market today, one might be perplexed about what type of device to buy. Not sure whether to jump for an iPhone or go the Android way? Well, there's definitely more to the decision than just flipping a coin. Here's my candid advice peeps? Don't pick a new iPhone or Android smartphone until you answer six crucial questions, starting with. Are you afraid of smartphone? How do you feel when you fiddle with the latest and exquisite phones at a phone store? Awkward, I guess. Afraid you'll break something if you tap one of the little icons on the screen? If so, think twice about Android. Personally, I think all the settings and personalisation options on an Android phone are really cool. But the thicket of menus and sub-menus may feel bewildering for beginners, or anyone easily frustrated by tricky phone interfaces. The iPhone, on the other hand, boasts (if you ask me) a clean, simple interface that's perfect for smartphone novices, while also jettisoning the extra "menu" and "back" buttons that make navigating the standard Android interface such a chore. Is a physical QWERTY keypad appealing to you? Tapping out lengthy messages on a virtual keypad can be royal pain if you have clumsy fingers. Even those with nimble fingertips may prefer the feel of actual keys to a slippery glass touchscreen. So if a physical QWERTY keypad is a must, go with Android. Several makes and models of Android phones with roomy, fullon keypads are available. In some cases, the keyboards slide out from behind the touchscreen (like so), while others sit on the front of the phone, just beneath the display. Apple, on the other hand, shows no signs of making an iPhone with a physical keypadand while it is possible to connect a wireless Bluetooth keyboard to, say, the iPhone 4S, you'd also have to tote the keyboard accessory wherever you go. Do you depend on Gmail and Google Calendar? One of the beauties of Android is that the initial setup process is a piece of cake-for Google users, anyway. If you have a Google account, you can take your new Android phone out of its box, power it up, sign in with your Google ID and password, and presto! All your Gmail messages, mailboxes, Google contacts and calendars will start syncing to your handset automatically. It's a beautiful thing. Dedicated Google users who go with the iPhone won't have too tough a time setting up their Gmail or calendars; dealing with Google contacts is another story, however.
A secondary service called Google Sync will help keep all your Google contacts synchronised with the iPhone Address Book, but setting it up is a rather lengthy, tedious process. Do you use a Mac? Just as Gmail and Google Calendar users will have an easy transition to an Android phone, so will Mac users glide right into an iPhone-particularly if you're storing your contacts in the Mac OS X Address Book and using iCal for your calendars. The desktop iTunes software will quickly sync all your Address Book contacts and iCal calendars to a new iPhone (along with all your apps and music, of course), while Apple's new iCloud service (coupled with iOS 5, the latest version of the iPhone system software) will coordinate all your desktop and iPhone contacts and events wirelessly, no cords required. Want to play Flash videos? Ever visit a website on a smartphone, only to see a blank panel on the page that reads "Adobe Flash plug-in required"? That's because some of the snazziest sites on the web depend on a technology called "Flash" for displaying videos and fancy graphical menus-and without Flash, those sites won't function properly. The latest Android phones do support Flash content, meaning just about any site on the web should render properly-and completely. That's not the case with the iPhone, though. Indeed, Apple has been openly critical about Flash technology (the late Steve Jobs once called it a battery hog, a slow-poke, and a security concern) and has essentially declared both the iPhone and iPad to be Flash-free zones. Keep in mind, however, that more and more Flash-heavy websites offer alternate versions tailored for non-Flash smartphones like the iPhone-a development that may eventually render mobile Flash support a moot point. Are you an app freek? While Android boasts one of the liveliest communities of app makers around, Apple's App Store is the undisputed king of mobile applications. Its shelves are stocked with 500,000 apps and counting (compared to a still quite healthy 350,000 or so for Google's Android Market), and the most interesting and exciting applications and tend to be built for the iPhone first. Angry Birds, for example, didn't land on Android until nearly a year after debuting on the iPhone, while Android users had to wait nearly a year and a half for their own version of the wildly popular Instagram. Still debating whether to go with Android or the iPhone? Do let me know!
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