Education Director appeals for renovation of Pelungu kindergarten block

Madam Mary Magdalene Wompakeah, the Nabdam District Director of Education, Upper East Region, has called for the renovation of the Pelungu Kindergarten school block as the building is on the verge of collapse.

She said the building, in its current state, was not conducive for academic work, describing it as a ‘death trap that poses a threat to the lives of pupils and staff’.

She urged the government and other concerned stakeholders to initiate steps to put the school in good shape to facilitate teaching and learning. 

Madam Wompakeah made the appeal in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at Pelungu, where the Agency observed visible cracks from the ground floor to the block’s gables during a visit to the school.

The cracks were almost on every wall of the building with all the doors and windows destroyed.

Bright Tambon, a KG 2 pupil, told the GNA that he and his colleagues had been restricted by the teachers from playing in the classroom during their leisure period for fear of it collapsing on

Madam Agnes Anamoo, the District Chief Executive, said she had instructed that the pupils be transferred to other available classrooms of the school for safety while the Assembly considered its renovation or demolishing it for a new building.

‘To be on the safer side, now the children have been moved out of the classrooms, and the Assembly is now considering adding it to the SOCO project to be renovated,’ she told the GNA.

‘Or it would be pushed down completely if renovation is not possible for a new structure because, the way it is, we don’t know what would happen in the rainy season.’

She said while the Government was committed to creating a conducive environment for pupils to learn, it could not possibly do everything, and urged non-governmental organisations with an interest in education to support.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Dr Apaak supports constituents with working tools

Dr Clement Abasinaab Apaak, the Member of Parliament (MP) of Builsa South, Upper East Region, has presented assorted working tools worth GHS105,730.00 to 113 youth in his constituency to undergo skills training.

The start-up kits were sets of mechanic and electrical tools, hairdressing equipment, 24 pieces of sewing machines and threads, pairs of scissors, towels, hair rollers, building levers, plastic chairs, and carpentry tools among others.

The beneficiaries would be trained in electrical works, wielding, carpentry, refrigerator repairs, masonry, hairdressing, tailoring, vehicle repairs and vulcanising.

Dr Apaak, at a ceremony at Fumbisi to present the items, said he also paid the apprenticeship fee of GHS64,330.00 for the beneficiaries, who had been assigned to various trainers in the respective fields.

‘We know that apprenticeship goes with a fee for good reason. The masters must also buy their equipment. They must spend their time training the apprentices, and by custom, they are expected to pay an
apprenticeship fee,’ he said.

‘Knowing the plight of my people, I knew that if I bought only the equipment for the potential apprentices, they would find it difficult to raise the needed money to pay for the apprenticeship. So, I decided to take that bill as well.’

Over the years, the MP had supported several youth in the constituency through formal education.

‘Last year alone, I supported 236 students in the tertiary sector. I spent GHS230, 000.00 to support them because they are the future,’ he said.

Dr Apaak, the Deputy Ranking Member of Parliament’s Education Committee, said: ‘In the selection of the beneficiaries, political affiliation was not considered. Just like the scholarship for the students in the tertiary sector, we don’t consider one’s political affiliation.’

‘What is important is that you are a native of Builsa South, you are in need of help, you have potential and I believe that if I give you the support, you will become somebody with higher educational degree or a trade.’

‘I am doing it
because that is what the people want.’

He assured the constituents of his continued support, especially the youth, in line with the vision of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), to develop their capacities to gain with employable skills under the leadership of its Flag bearer, Mr John Dramani Mahama.

‘So, what I am doing here today is part of our history as NDC. That is why we are called social democrats. We believe in equity, justice and fairness.’

Some of the beneficiaries, after receiving their tools, commended the MP for the support and said they would work to justify the investment made in them.

Ms Juliana Aweisinaab, a hairdresser apprentice, who shared her plight with the GNA, said she travelled to Accra after Junior High School to work as a porter, popularly known as ‘Kayayo’ to enable her raise GHS2,000.00 to buy items and pay for her training as a hairdresser.

After struggling for two years, she could not raise the money and had to return home.

‘I’m grateful to the MP for the assistance. B
ut for the support I wouldn’t be able to open a shop in Fumbisi after my training.’

Source: Ghana News Agency

Kwahu is treasure trove: Increase investment to diversify Kwahu Easter – Chief

Nana Kwadwo Boama, Krontihene of Atibie in the Eastern Region, has called on the government and private sector to step up investments in the Kwahu areas, taking into account the immense tourism potential the area holds.

That, he noted, would help to diversify Kwahu Easter and unlock the untapped treasures of the region to speed up economic growth and improve living conditions.

Nana Boama made the call during the opening ceremony of the 2024 Easter Paragliding Festival on the Odweanoma Mountain in Atibie in the Kwahu South Municipality.

He said Kwahu was a treasure trove of mountains, ancient caves, forests, and water bodies, but the sites were underdeveloped because of the deplorable nature of the roads.

Nana Boama, who the represented Kwahumanhene, urged the government and private sector to collaborate with Nananom to invest in those areas, generate employment opportunities for the young population, and enhance the diversity of ‘Kwahu Easter’.

The Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture and the Ghana Tou
rism Authority jointly opened the ceremony.

The festival, which commenced on March 29, will run through to April 1, in which seven tandem pilots from various countries would be transporting passengers from the Odweanoma mountain to the Nkawkaw stadium.

Mr Mark Okraku Mantey, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts, and Culture, explained during a press briefing that the festival started in April 2005 by the former Minister of Tourism, Mr Jake Okanta Obetsebi Lamptey, to align with the Easter celebrations in Kwahu.

The paragliding festival aims to boost local tourism and strengthen national unity.

Mr Kwasi Agyeman, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), spoke of an increase in visitors, which had had a positive impact on the local economy and fostered cultural exchange and understanding between guests and community stakeholders.

The GTA has made significant efforts to enhance its relationships with various regional stakeholders, including the Traditional Council, the Municipal and Dist
rict Chief Executives, local businesses, tour operators, hoteliers, and community leaders.

These collaborations aim to foster a more inclusive and sustainable tourism ecosystem that brings benefits to all parties involved.

‘We have worked tirelessly to strengthen our relationships with all stakeholders to create a more inclusive and sustainable tourism ecosystem that benefits everyone involved,’ Mr. Agyeman said.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Rural banks in Upper West to form regional bank

Mr Adams Sulley, the Chairman of the Sissala Rural Bank, has announced that discussions were in place to have a regional bank from the four community and rural banks in the Upper West Region to improve banking services.

Mr Adam Sulley said this during the 12th annual general meeting (AGM) of shareholders of the Sissala Rural Bank at Tumu on the theme: ‘Two Decades of Banking Excellence and Community Impact’.

Mr Sulley said, ‘At the Upp er West chapter level, the four Rural and Community banks in the region are in talks exploring the possibility of a regional bank, possibly merging Sonzele, Nandom, Lawra and Sissala rural bank towards having a regional bank’.

This he said would be achieved through engagement with the stakeholders with this proposed model to have a regional bank.

‘Since benefits of such initiative will be the collective interest to achieve business consultation, integration, resilience, and other values for shareholders of the banks. It is interesting to know that Sonzele, Nandom have been
around for the past four decades, Sissala Rural and Lawra have been around for only 20 years and will therefore stand to benefit from the optimum financial leverage of the older banks,’ he emphasized.

He said the board undertook institutional reforms and set up a strategic plan from 2024 to 2027 and promised that with these plans, the board confidently anticipated that the shareholders of the banks would be paid dividends in 2026.

He reported that since October 2022, the directors decided to freeze the remuneration of the directors, which was being ploughed back into the bank operations.

On performance, Mr Sulley said the bank was showing recovery indicators, which should boost the confidence of investors and shareholders looking at the year-after-year loss performance from 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023, which stood at GHS662,070.00, GHS724, 074.00, GHS790,155.00 and GHS426,637.00, which showed a significant drop.

‘Meanwhile, in 2023, income increased by 139 per cent whilst expenses were controlled to about 1
7 per cent, with a loss reduction of 46 per cent compared to 2022 with increased in the stated capital to about, 0.01 per cent.

The bank’s performance saw marginal growth as the banking sector overall did not do well and this was a thumbs up for the bank,’ he said.

He said the management was being guided to develop the appropriate strategies in 2024 to give more salary loans, and microfinance loans with a new mobilization drive expected to pursue cutting-edge technologies with its clients.

The board, he said, therefore charged the management to also recover outstanding loans to clean their books whilst a new Chief Executive Officer of the bank was tasked to provide exceptional service and redefine standards for the operations of the bank.

According to him the bank’s locked up capital of about GHS1.8 million was disturbing and promised shareholders a decision would soon be taken about it.

Giving the risk and compliance report of the bank, Mr Rasheed Issifu Ndei, a member of the board, said in the year und
er review, the bank made a loss of GHS426,000 which is an improvement over the previous year’s losses of GHS700,000.00 and expressed the hope that the new efforts being made would signal positive change.

The bank’s auditors, Riyan Consult, advised the bank to get local directors who could easily be consulted when difficult issues arise.

Mr Alex Kwesi Awuah, the Managing Director of ARB Apex Bank said the Sissala Rural Bank would need to work toward profitability and advised management to adopt new products that would boost the situation of the bank.

Source: Ghana News Agency

EU stepping-up?trade,?investments in West Africa

The European Union (EU) is taking steps to enhance its trade and investment engagement with West African (WA) countries, a high placed source at the Union told the Ghana News Agency (GNA).

The source said the move was of a high priority for the EU explaining that the region had some of the heaviest economies with Nigeria being the biggest on the continent, followed by Ghana and Ivory Coast. 

Speaking to the GNA in Brussels, the source, who has in-depth knowledge about the work of the EU, said countries in West Africa had witnessed sustainable economic growth over the last few years.

‘The West Africa is the closest region in Sub Saharan Africa to Europe, strategically, economically, demographically, migratory, and socially will affect the EU, that is why the region is our priority,’ the source said.

One of the key vehicles through which the EU wants to strengthen its trade and investments is through operationalisation of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) – a trade and development agreements negotiat
ed between the EU and West African countries to open up their markets for trade.

The Union wants to continue the EPA, which was concluded, and signed by all EU member states and all West African countries except Nigeria.  

The source said trade volumes between EU and Ghana as well as Ivory Coast – two countries with interim EPAs had improved significantly compared to other partners in West Africa.

Since 2014, the total trade between the EU27 and Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire increased by 18 per cent.

EU imports from Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire have increased by six per cent, while imports have decreased by 25 per cent from the rest of the region.

Full duty-free quota-free market access to EU market has enabled Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to increase their exports of transformed cocoa products to the EU market by 50 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively.

Both countries are gradually moving beyond the export of raw cocoa beans to cocoa products processed locally, thereby responding to the growing local demand, and con
sumption of ‘made in Africa’ goods.

In 2023, the total trade between EU 27 and Ghana was EUR six billion, with a three per cent decrease compared to 2022. 

Whilst EU’s exports to Ghana have decreased by 11 per cent in the same period, passing from EUR 3.7 billion to EUR 3.3 bn, EU’s imports from Ghana have increased by eight percent, passing from EUR2.4 bn to EUR 2.6 bn. 

Although the trade balance has a surplus in favour of the EU (worth EUR 700 million), it has been cut almost by half compared to 2022, where it stood at EUR 1.3 billion.

The source confirmed that the EU was open to consider all the options, including engaging in discussions with Nigeria on concerns including the apprehension that EU products would flood Nigerian markets, to reach a consensus to pave the way for the signing of the EPA deal. 

The EU, as a second key vehicle, would launch a new initiative called ‘Sustainable Investment FacilitationAgreement’ (SIFA) to improve the attraction, expansion and retention of foreign direct invest
ments and create an environment for West Africa to  become a hub for investment.

‘We have already concluded a deal with Angola last year. Exploratory discussions have commenced with three countries in West Africa- Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria,’ the source said.

SIFA’s main aim and benefits cover all economic sectors to encourage diversification to new areas, such as food exports, manufacturing or services, making investments easier  through transparent and predictable investment-related measures, simplifying investment authorisation procedures and fostering e-government, facilitating interactions between investors and the administrations.

It will make investments more sustainable, guarantee a bigger say for civil society, introduces reciprocal commitments towards investors from both sides, ensures respect to environmental and labour standards, which shall not be weakened for the sake of attracting investment and promotes corporate social responsibility and responsible business practices. 

Source: Ghana Ne
ws Agency

Organised crime is threat to Ghana’s security – GACC

The Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) says the country’s democratic progress and long-term stability could be undermined if the increasing phenomenon of organised crime is not checked.

It said although the country had taken commendable legal steps to stamp-out crimes, such as money laundering, drug peddling and illegal mining, more needed to be done to achieve the desired impact.

Consequently, it is pushing for changes in the Political Parties’ Act, 2000 (Act 574) to make actors more accountable to maintain the democratic credentials.

Mrs Beauty Emefa Narteh, the Executive Secretary of GACC, disclosed this at a sensitisation workshop on organised crimes at Assin Fosu.

The workshop was to educate the public to appreciate the need to join in the fight against organised crimes, most importantly in the lead-up to the 2024 elections.

It was arranged by the GACC in collaboration with the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) and supported by the Foreign commonwealth and
Development Office (FCDO).

Mrs Narteh said safeguarding Ghana’s stability in the face of serious and organised crime ahead of the election was non-negotiable.

That was in tandem with GACC’s vision of fighting corruption and promoting good governance by forging strong, trustworthy and effective partnership with government, businesses and civil society.

She said often, the massive sums of monies politicians disbursed to contest political offices did not match with the audited accounts of political parties lodged at the Electoral Commission’s offices.

If the law could not be changed to reflect the times, politicians must be made accountable by stating publicly how much they received for their political bid and how it was spent, she noted.

‘This way, the public will be convinced when politicians pledge to champion the fight against corruption when elected into office.’

Mrs Narteh condemned the apparent unethical practice of vote buying that had taken centre stage in recent times, which refers to the act of
offering gifts, money, or other incentives in return for votes during elections.

‘The promises made are attractive, but they come at a high cost to the integrity of Ghana’s democracy. Vote buying is inimical to Ghana’s democracy, as it undermines the sanctity of the election and electoral process.’

‘It discourages a free, fair and transparent election process as voters become influenced by the gift or benefits received instead of voting based on policy, ideology and competence of those seeking elected positions.’

‘The practice leads to an unequal distribution of public resources to benefit the areas where politicians have bought votes,’ she said, and called for a collective responsibility to stop it.

Mr Samuel Harrison-Cudjoe, Programmes Officer, GACC, commended the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) for declaring individuals seen on video flaunting money allegedly acquired from parliamentary candidates, wanted.

‘We hope this isn’t a wild goose chase or much ado about nothing. However, we applaud the
OSP for taking this action to create the ‘fear of God’ in people who will join in future to exhibit this terrible behaviour,’ he said.

‘Even if only one person is convicted for these reasons, it will serve as a deterrent. People may be encouraged to engage in it in public if there are no convictions and will not face the consequences.’

As Ghana prepares for the upcoming 2024 General Election, it must be a collective responsibility to prevent vote buying from marring the country’s election process and maintaining Ghana’s enviable democratic credentials in the comity of nations, he added.

Source: Ghana News Agency