Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Reduction In Electricity Tariffs

The downward review of electricity tariffs came as a surprise to many consumers because such reviews are usually characterised by upward adjustments. This is because many a time, when the PURC announces review of tariffs, it goes up, rather than coming down.
According to the PURC, residential customers are to enjoy 17.5% reduction, non-residential 30%, special load customers 25%, while the mines are also to enjoy 10% reduction. The percentage reduction is an improvement of what was announced by President Akufo-Addo in January, this year. The objective for the tariff review includes ensuring efficient and equitable tariffs, making them relevant to the current socio-economic development, and also ensuring that business moves on as expected. In announcing the review, the PURC was guided by consumer and investor interests, economic development, revenue requirements, natural gas prices, renegotiation of power agreements, as well as, prudent and efficient costs of the operation of the utility companies. The announcement has come as welcome news for the consumer as well as investors, both local and foreign.

Energy is foundational to socio-economic development so when it becomes over-expensive, it kills the spirit of business and thereby destroys the desire to pursue smooth and uninterrupted economic development programme. The country is encouraging the youth to go into entrepreneurial development and thereby help the private sector of the economy to thrive but all these greatly depends on adequate supply as well as efficient use of available energy. Towards this end, there is the need to ensure a balance between consumer and investor interests on one hand and revenue generation by the companies on the other.

The downward review of electricity tariffs is good but all categories of consumers will need to go by the principle and practice of energy efficiency. This calls for awareness creation on the part of everyone in the country. Electrical gadgets and devices used by consumers ought to adhere to energy efficiency and conservation so as to help in the maximisation of the use of the amount of energy at the disposal of the nation. The importance of energy efficiency and conservation of power in Ghana cannot be over-emphasised since energy or power serves as the backbone for many economic activities. Energy conservation and efficiency is therefore a concept and practice that we need to embrace in the country. It is important to note by all consumers that the reduction in the tariffs is good and most welcome but the issue of applying energy efficiency methods cannot be overlooked. This is because if energy is utilised in an inefficient manner it leads to avoidable increase in costs and brings about unnecessary burden on those who consume the energy, a situation that will make it difficult for the Electricity Company of Ghana or government to agree to tariff reduction. The issue of energy efficiency has, therefore, become very necessary as part of the national life of Ghanaians in order to continue to develop in a manner that will help the energy sector to cope with the supply of the needs of people in the country. This is what the nation needs for sustainable development so as to be able to implement a smooth, desirable economic programme that would generate local and foreign investor confidence consistent with national economic progress and prosperity.


Feud In Parliament Between The Speaker And The Minority

All is not well with Ghana's democracy as Parliament which is one of the three arms of government is constantly under siege with the Minority having either to walk out or embark on a silent protest. The last time this occurred was on Wednesday March 7 when the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) embarked on a sit down strike. Several times the Minority has had a cause to accuse the Speaker, Rev. Professor Mike Aaron Ocquaye of being bias against them. The latest in the fracas between the two started when the Minority leader Haruna Iddrisu rose up with the intent of catching the eye of the Speaker to make an intervention during a presentation to the House by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Kennedy Ohene Nyarko. The Minority leader was however ignored by the Speaker paving the way for the Deputy Agric Minister to conclude his presentation with the Speaker giving the floor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway to make a statement. There have been similar situations like this but it is important to recall that the Minority in one instance had to walk out en bloc during deliberations on the controversial 510 million dollar Ameri power deal.

It is said, the Minority can have its say but the majority would have its way. This is true but when the Speaker who is considered father of the house and meant to be an impartial arbiter in controversial issues before the house is perceived to have taken sides then it raises cause for concern. Also when the minority or majority unduly shows disrespect to the Speaker, then something might be wrong. The Speaker according to British Parliamentary traditions which Ghana copied from, the Speaker is the Chief Officer and highest authority in the House of Commons and is expected to remain politically impartial at all times. Though the Speaker would probably be a member of a political party, he or she should not discriminate between government and opposition members in taking decisions. The Speaker in all jurisdictions keeps the order and calls MPs to speak and finally gives his opinion on the issue. He makes sure MPs follow the rules of the House which includes directing an MP to withdraw remarks if for example they are abusive. He can suspend the sitting of the House due to serious disorders and can suspend MPs who are deliberately disobedient, so in this regard, the Speaker commands the respect of both sides of the House and indeed every member. Given all his powers, the Speaker is expected to operate beyond suspicion else he loses that respect which is essential in holding the house together.

Ghana's Parliament is acknowledged as one of the best in Africa because of the way the house operates and how members carry themselves about. In some Parliaments, for example in India, South Africa and just recently Uganda we had MPs engaging in fisticuffs on the floor of parliament. These could have happened because the Speaker perhaps might have lost control. Ghana is a citadel of decency and cannot afford to go the way of boxer parliaments. Leadership of Ghana's legislature must rise up to the occasion and identify what has gone wrong since consensus building is a basic tenet of parliamentary democracy. The hiccups that have beset our parliament in recent times is one too many and the earlier the two sides sat together to thrash out issues the better. We cannot allow bickering, name-calling and hooliganism to take hold of our parliament. The minority must do self-introspection to identify where they also fall short. Respect for rules governing the House is non-negotiable and the earlier people are made to tow the line the better. If two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. The bad blood between the Speaker and the Minority is denting the image of the country and must be resolved once and for all.


Friday, 9 March 2018

Concerns Raised On 2018 Independence Day Awards

Thirty selected students from the 10 regions of the country were on Tuesday, March 6, presented with the President’s Independence Day Awards for academic excellence in the 2017, BECE. The students performed better than their peers in their final basic education examination. It is unfortunate there was controversy from the Northern Region following a petition brought against a female student, which resulted in the withholding of the award. This is where many have raised concern about how transparent the selection is even though the Regional Director has explained the circumstances that led to the choice of the eventual awardee Abubakari Hanifa. Indeed, to avoid future occurrences of such unfortunate situation to ensure the credibility and acceptability of the awardees and based purely on merit, one would not hesitate but agree with the Director General of the GES, Professor Kwasi Opoku Amankwa, to consider handing over the selection of the awardees to the West African Examination Council which over the years select the overall best West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) candidates from member countries.

Aside this hitch, the awards were well deserved as six students who excelled in subject areas such as Science, Mathematics, Visual Arts, Integrated Science, General Science and Pre-Technical, also received awards. This year’s awards also witnessed an innovation with four students with special needs (visually and hearing impairment) attracting Presidential attention and Special Awards. It is important to recall that the President’s Independence Day Awards, since its inception in 1993, has been providing scholarships each year to 20 young brilliant students between the ages of 14 and 19 ( a boy and a girl) from the ten regions of Ghana. The awardees are selected based on their exceptional performances in the BECE as well as other extra-curricular activities. The objectives among others are to recognise and reward academic excellence, promote participation in co-curricular activities and reward exemplary conduct and good moral behaviour. Since winners from the 216 districts are also interviewed at the regional level leading to the selection of best students in the ten regions, stakeholders must ensure absolute transparency and fairness during the selection process to make the awards credible and acceptable to all. Those who attempt to circumvent the selection process to favour any individual candidate should be exposed and sanctioned by the Ghana Education Service, GES, to ensure the awards are not cheapened for parochial interest to become a dent on the presidency’s image.


Helping Security Agencies To Fight Armed Robberies In Ghana

One key point made by President Akufo-Addo in his address during the Independence Anniversary parade was that armed robbery in the country is unacceptable. Indeed, guaranteed security is an issue that cannot be compromised under any circumstances. Without security, national development cannot thrive as expected and socio-economic progress would almost come to a standstill. The robberies that have taken place in various places in Accra and Tema are quite worrying.

These and a few others ought to be dealt with without delay. This explains why the President has made it clear that government would do all it can to equip the police to deal with the problem. It is also for this reason that the Police Administration has carried out a reshuffle in line with the exigencies of effective management and operational control of the Service. Other security measures taken by Government include the deployment of heavy military and police presence in major cities across the country. These measures have become necessary because as was pointed out by the Minister of Information at a recent news conference, the government takes a serious view of these events and therefore taking measures to forestall such occurrences with the view to ensuring better and a more effective protection of life and property. The public must assist in the effective implementation of such measures by closely observing without being found our any strange developments or events taking place in their areas, whether during the daytime or at night. In connection with this, strange happenings must not be taken for granted under any circumstances but immediately reported to the police or security agencies to assist in the clamping down of criminal activities. This is important because effective security depends, not only on the relevant agencies, but on useful information provided by the public.

The sudden wave of criminal activities, particularly in commercial areas and around financial institutions should send a signal to everyone that these activities are well orchestrated by criminals who would any length to disturb the peace of the country. It also raises suspicion in certain circles that they may even be politically motivated. This explains why former President Jerry John Rawlings, stated that he hopes the robbery and killings are not politically motivated to undermine those in charge of the security machinery so as to pave the way for the attainment of selfish parochial ambitions. Whatever it is, the security agencies must work hard to prove to the nation that they are committed to the national interest of peace, security and orderliness. It is unfortunate certain individuals, otherwise described as security experts, are putting fear into people by creating the impression that whatever is being done to assure the people of guaranteed security cannot yield good results.

Time will tell whether the security measures taken are on track or not. One clear thing, however, is that the reshuffle in the police service, for example, has been taken in line with standard practice. It is the hope of everyone that all hands will be on deck in the interest of the nation so as to prevent the needless killings and disturbances in the country since no one will gain from unstable security conditions in the country.


Commentary On The Struggle For Independence

The history of Ghana's struggle towards independence and its final attachment will not be complete if the role of students in Colleges and Secondary Schools then, is not properly and justifiably recounted and placed in their proper perspective. The arrest of the Big Six and their subsequent detention having instigated the riots which culminated in the 28th February crossroad shooting incident and the looting of European shops led to a protest march by some students in secondary schools in Cape Coast. On the 15th of March 1948 the students undertook a protest march in Cape Coast in solidarity with detained United Gold Coast Convention (U.G.C.C) executives resulting in the expulsion of 150 students from St. Augustine College and Mfantsipim School. This was as a result of the Quashie - Idun commission which was charged to investigate and come out with a report on the students’ unrest. Among other things they recommended the revocation of the appointment of four teachers, three from St. Augustine and one from Mfantsipim. They were Kwesi Plange, JJ Mensah-Kane and HP Nelson all of St. Augustine's College and H.W.K Sackeyfio of Mfantsipim.

On the 1st of July 1948, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the Secretary General to the U.G.C.C. met all the embattled teachers at his office in Saltpond and commissioned Kojo Botsio, who was to become Ghana's first Minister of Education, on the attainment of independence, to evaluate plans to start a new school. On the 8th of July, 1948 Dr Kwame Nkrumah on his way from Axim to Accra made a stopover at Cape Coast and personally donated 10 pounds to the teachers towards starting the school. With this, the teachers made benches, blackboards, purchased some basic writing materials and rented space on the ground floor of the Old Temple House at McCarthy Hill in Gyegyem, a suburb of Cape Coast. On the 16th of July, 1948, 16 boys and one girl were enrolled at this school as the first students. On the 19th of July, 1948, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah delivered a historic and highly motivational speech at this school in which among other things he advocated the chain of four Ghana National Colleges in all the territories which make up the Gold Coast leading to the founding of very high institutions in this country''.

Ghana National College from a humble beginning of 16 students, can today boast of a population of over 1,500 students, male and female comfortably sitting on top of academic conducive hills. By hard work, sacrifice and years of investment by old students, parents and government, Ghana National College has risen to become one of the highly preferred institutions. As we look forward to a successful commemoration of the 61st Anniversary of Ghana's Independence, it is appropriate to reflect on the sacrifices of the 16 gallant students who stood and defended their rights for the acquisition and attainment of a decent education just as our forebear fought for our political freedom.


Thursday, 1 March 2018

The late Professor Francis Allotey

The late Professor Francis Kofi Ampenyin Allotey, while on earth, established himself as a great mathematician and scientist. He had a truly distinguished academic career that was admired by people the world over. He held a number of leadership positions in many organisations within and outside the country. In Ghana, was in charge of Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Mathematical Association of Ghana and the Ghana Institute of Physics. He also played a great role in the establishment of the University of Energy and Natural Resources in the Brong Ahafo Region.

Professor Allotey rose through the ranks of a Lecturer to become the first Ghanaian full Professor in Mathematics in 1973 at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi. Later on, he became the Pro-vice Chancellor of the University in 1978. Within a few years he had become a widely known figure the world over. His fame rose very high due to his work on Soft X-ray Spectroscopy which became the principle widely known as the ”Allotey Formalism” for which he received the Prince Philip Gold Medal Award in 1973. Due to his brilliance as a scholar, he consulted for a number of organisations in the world. He was a consultant for the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Inter-governmental Bureau for Information and the United Nations Industrial and Development Organisation.

Professor Allotey was an international figure. His visits were numerous taking him to nuclear installations in Russia, Poland, Germany, Iraq and the US. He also visited other nuclear institutions in India, United Kingdom, Sweden and various parts of the world. Professor was involved in local and international programmes on policies and matters relating to science and technology for development. Professor Allotey saw science and technology as the key for socio-economic development. For him, if Africa was to develop, then there was the need to pay attention to the application of science as a way of addressing the numerous problems facing the continent including food production, water supply, good environment, shelter, safety, healthcare as well as alleviation of poverty. He strongly believed that mathematics was the foundation for solutions to many of the problems facing mankind and it is for this reason that he urged the youth in Africa to contribute significantly by researching into the extension of knowledge in mathematical sciences. This great national and international figure has left lessons for Ghanaians.

To begin with, he proved to be a proud son of Ghana, calling on everyone to work hard to achieve similar laurels. He was also a great encouragement to the youth and scholars in the country. He has proved that the study of mathematics and science can be demystified and applied for the growth of the country. The nation has lost an illustrious son whose interest in mathematics and science was beyond doubt. Let us make this icon of Professor proud and remember him by encouraging our young ones to take to the study of mathematics and science for the development of the country.

May his Soul rest in perfect peace!

By Dr. Kofi Amponsah-Bediako, Director of Corporate Communication, Ghana Standards Authority, GSA .

Performance of Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources

It is often said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with only one step. The above adage one can conveniently argue gave birth to the establishment of the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources by the President Nana Akufo- Addo in February last year to give meaning to the collective effort of Ghanaians to rid the country of filth. The establishment of the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources to many Ghanaians was not surprising looking at the level of filth in the country.

Specifically the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources is to formulate comprehensive national policies in the area of sanitation and water sub sectors for effective performance and delivery to Ghanaians. Almost one year down the line since its establishment, it is important to take a step back and see how far the Ministry has gone, its prospects and challenges and the way forward. It must however be acknowledged that as a new Ministry it is still in the process of establishing the various structures to enhance its delivery.

Undoubtedly however, one of the high points of the Ministry was the launch of the National Sanitation Campaign in November last year which was launched by the President. The launch of the National Sanitation Campaign was to restate the ideals of the national Sanitation day observed on the first Saturday of each month and to emphasize the fact that sanitation is an everyday issue. It was also a direct response to the declaration of the President to make Accra the neatest and cleanest city in Africa by the year 2020. It is important to state that the Ministry is steadfastly implementing the directives the President announced during launch.

These include the establishment of the National Sanitation Authority, the National Sanitation Fund, the National Sanitation Brigade and the establishment of the sanitation marshals among others. The one house, one toilet project is also vigorously being pursued by the Ministry through the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA). The Ministry has also successfully evacuated the refuse at the dumpsite at Mallam paving the way for the effective use of the land for the benefit of the community. Evacuations of refuse at other dump sites have also reached various levels of completion. Another notable programme of the Ministry is the Comprehensive Integrated Urban Environment Sanitation Master Plan. All the intervention programmes being pursued by the Ministry are in pursuant to the attainment of the sustainable development goal target six.

There is no doubt that within the past one year, the Ministry has also gone through its fair share of challenges. Issues of institutional re-alignment, office accommodation, logistics, are but a few of the challenges. There is also no doubt about the fact that the sanitation situation in some of our towns and cities is not the best. But it is equally wrong to blame the Ministry and assume it is doing nothing to turn things round to achieve the best result.

The fact is that it is our individual and collective action and inaction with regards to refuse disposal and waste management that has created the unfortunate situation the country finds itself. If just for a period of one month or even less Ghanaians desist from open defecation, throwing rubbish about indiscriminately and dispose of our rubbish appropriately, change our attitude and behaviours towards the environment, we would have the neatest and cleanest environment we can dream of.

The yearly expenditure of $290 million on sanitation related issues would be channeled to more productive use to enhance the living standards and improve the well-being of all Ghanaians.