Local News

$50m For Forest Investment

Dollars

The World Bank has approved Ghana’s Forest Investment Programme to pave way for the accessing of a $50 million package from the climate investment funds to implement strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR), the lead National Implementing Agency for the Forest Investment Programme (FIP) in Ghana, said the facility would roll out a number of projects targeted at reducing pressure on the natural forest through integrated landscape approach.

The Climate Investment fund, the statement said, would facilitate government’s efforts to effectively engage local communities in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degraded (REDD+), enhance carbon stocks as well as enlist the active involvement of the private sector in reducing the afore-mentioned emissions.

Endorsement for Ghana’s Programme Investment Programme was given at the just-ended Climate Investment Funds 2012 Partnership Forum in Istanbul, Turkey where similar packages were approved for two other countries namely Burkina Faso and Indonesia.

Musa Abu Juam, Technical Director for Forestry at the Ministry, who represented Ghana at the meeting, made the revelation during an interaction with media personnel.

The Forum held under the theme, “Deepening Global Understanding of Linkages Between Climate Change and Development” brought together over 400 representatives worldwide from government, civil society and private sector, among others.

Efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions have hitherto been bedevilled by numerous problems including insufficient incentives to conserve or plant trees in off-reserve areas, illegal chain saw milling menace and the illegal harvesting of trees as a result of poor management of forest reserves.

Imbalances in domestic  timber demand and supply, rapid extension of cocoa farms, especially the shift from shaded to open  cocoa farming as well as poor inter-sectoral co-ordination to address cross-sectoral  issues are some of the  challenges confronting implementation of REDD+ programmes in Ghana.

Abu Juam, who was delighted at the approval for the $50m facility, explained that the facility will help strengthen institutional capacity in forest resources management, expand  and diversify management options, improve governance as well as enhance regulatory framework to streamline tenure and tree rights.

According to the Technical Director, the funds will also assist the country to address holistically the alarming decline in the nation’s forest stock which he attributed to the colossal increase in demand for timber, inappropriate regulatory mechanisms resulting from weak institutional capacity and the growing demand for agricultural land.

He intimated that the FIP will not only improve local livelihoods and support mitigation and adaptation to climate change but will also help maximise the social,  cultural, religious and recreational  benefits derive by local communities  from the nation’s forest resources.

The Technical Director noted that other contributory factors to forest degradation including existing arrangement for land ownership and administration, especially tree ownership and user rights would also be addressed under the FIP programme.

By Emelia Ennin- Abbey

 

 

AGRA Targets Smallholder Farmers

Farmers working on the field

Alliance for Green Revolution Africa (AGRA), in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (CSIR-STEPRI), has launched a research project on the negative effect of climate change on agricultural productivity in Ghana.

The project, which started on November 1st, 2012 and ends on May, 31 2015, is aimed at improving food security and reducing income volatility for smallholder farmers by enhancing their adaptation to climate change and variability in the breadbasket regions of Ghana.

According to AGRA, the issue of climate change “is exacerbated by policy gaps and low awareness levels both within government officials, policymakers, farmers and other stakeholders.”

It however noted that a few interventions have been put in place to enable smallholder farmers adopt best agricultural practices that improve their adaptation strategies to climate change.

At the launch of the project, Dr. Nelson Obirih-Opareh, the National Policy Hub Coordinator, AGRA stated that “government’s strategies have, in the main, failed to set priorities, interventions and targets which respond to climate change. This is evidenced by the fact that sectoral policies such as agricultural policies have not to date prioritised smallholder farmer adaptation to climate change.”

This, he said, highlights the need to improve inter-sectoral integration in the interest of climate change adaptation.

In addition, the country’s climate change policy framework does not adequately inform agricultural policy and other sector strategies comprehensively nor does it consider a broad range of impacts as well as the interrelationship between a range of factors such as social exclusion, environmental damage and structural scarcity.

“Given the fact that the impact of climate change on the livelihoods of the smallholder farmers has particular consequences for rural women, policy provisions that do not pay sufficient attention to the situation of women in the face of the debilitating impacts of climate change and weather variability are problematic,” Mr. Obirih-Opareh.

The project will take place in identified four breadbasket regions of Ghana, which are Afram Plains, Northern region, Accra Plains and the Volta region.

By Esther Awuah

Banking And Finance

Stanbic, Mantrac Fund Caterpillar Dealerships

Alhassan Andani

Stanbic Bank Group and Caterpillar Financial Services of Dubai have entered into a collaboration that will see the latter providing a range of financial services to the Mantrac Unatrac Group of Caterpillar dealerships in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Sierra Leone.

Ben Kruger, Standard Bank Deputy Group Chief Executive, in a remark, welcomed the collaboration, saying it is supportive of Caterpillar Financial’s goal to increase its brand presence in Africa and grow business in Southern, Central and Western Africa.

“Operations have been successfully launched in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya with Lenya and plans are afoot to extend it to other African countries over a period of time.

“We value our existing relationship with Cat Financial and their growth plans resonate well with our strategy. We believe that this relationship provides the platform to strengthen these ties and provide further services to other countries.”

According to him, with Africa’s natural resources expected to drive strong growth and attract investment in the energy, infrastructure development and agriculture sectors, it was proper that Standard Bank provided on-the-ground banking operations, staffed by expert teams which are familiar with local business conditions and regulations to deliver Cat Financial and its customers with the highest quality of service providing support to dealers.

“Our aim is to support the dealer network in the sale of high-quality construction equipment by providing a dedicated, professional and wide array of financial plans, flexible plans, flexible payment schedules and competitive rates,” Mr Kruger stated.

UniBank Eyes Top Position

uniBank Ghana

UniBank Ghana Limited, a wholly-owned Ghanaian financial institution, has indicated that it is determined to attain first tier status in the banking sector.

The bank intends to achieve this status as well as command a sizeable share of the market by the end of the next decade.

Felix Nyarko-Pong, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Unibank which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, speaking at a programme to climax the celebration, said the bank had chalked significant and impressive achievement notwithstanding the challenges of time since its inception.

He said the bank is a first-class employer “employing the best on the local market and retaining the best.”

In line with this, Unibank has been winning awards over the years.

Barely a year after commencing operations in the country, Unibank was adjudged the best bank in customer care and “we have gone ahead to win best bank or runner-up eight times in the 10 year history of the illustrious banking awards; more than any other bank in Ghana.”

In 2011 the bank won five awards as it was named best bank customer service; best bank corporate banking; best bank advisory service; best bank trade financing and second runner-up long term financing.

Mr Nyarko-Pong noted that the bank can now boast of a total asset of GHC750 million from GHC2.71 million in 2001 when the institution was established while its net profit after tax stands at GHC15.8 million.

On capital, the CEO mentioned that the net worth of the company stands at GHC38 million but gave assurance that the board of the bank was working to raise its stated capital to GHC 60 million by December 2012 as directed by the Bank of Ghana (BoG), regulators of the banking industry.

In the last decade, Mr. Nyarko-Pong said the bank had extended support to society through its social corporate responsibility initiatives in the area of health and sanitation, education and youth employment.

Furthermore, with focus on Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs), he said Unibank had identified and assisted a number of organizations to blossom into “big businesses which are the envy of many in Ghana.

Unibank, which had one branch in 2001, now has network of 19 branches and one agency and ranked 10th out of 25 banks and 15th in terms of total assets.

It holds about 4.1 % of industry.

By Emelia Ennin Abbey

Industry And Manufacturing

Mere Power Nzema Builds Solar Plant

Dr Joe Oteng Adjei, Minister of Energy

Mere Power Nzema Limited has announced plans to build Africa’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in Ghana.

The 155 megawatt plant, which will be situated at Aiwiaso in the East Nzema District, is expected to increase Ghana’s current generating capacity by 6 percent.

UK-based renewable energy investor and developer, Blue Energy, the parent company of Mere Power Nzema announced this last week.

Mere Power Nzema will commence construction of the $400 million plant in 2013, and will start generating power in the fourth quarter of 2013 with full commercial operation by mid-2015.

The project will create 500 jobs over the two-year construction period and 200 permanent jobs. It is also expected to stimulate another 2100 jobs in the local economy.

Last month, Energy Minister, Joe Oteng-Adjei announced he was seeking $1 billion of private investment to help Ghana achieve its target of generating 10 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

The Nzema project will meet 20 percent of this generation target.

Chris Dean, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Blue Energy said: “The Nzema project is a serious investor response to Ghana’s effort to build a sustainable low-carbon energy economy which reliably powers industry and households for jobs and wealth creation. Blue Energy and our consultants HML Marine Power and Energy Ltd. have enjoyed working with the Ghana government to achieve this milestone.”

He commented: “Ghana’s forward-thinking strategy puts it in a strong position to lead the renewable energy revolution in sub-Saharan Africa. Nzema is a case study in how governments can unlock the huge potential for solar energy in Africa. We are delighted that it will make a strong contribution to the national economy, provide much needed generating capacity and help develop the skills of the future.”

Vodafone Shuns High Cable Theft Areas

Kyle Whitehill

Vodafone Ghana has indicated it would no more invest in communities where its communication gadgets and underground cables have been stolen.

Tagging such places as ‘no go’ areas, the company said it would spend money to improve communication in communities that were prepared to proffer protection and surveillance at its installations.

Kyle Whitehill, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Vodafone Ghana, who disclosed this to journalists in Accra recently during a tour of some of his outfit’s sites, said perpetrators of the act include unscrupulous contractors and former employees who have an agenda to sabotage the company’s efforts at expanding coverage to effectively serve its customers.

Vodafone Ghana’s fixed underground mega cables, which were mostly the target of the thieves, could carry about 2,500 smaller cables each representing a customer.

In August, this year, the company lost 34 of its mega cables as a result of the activities of thieves.

About 28 percent of Vodafone Ghana’s installations which are dotted around the country are susceptible to theft, and this has resulted in about 2,000 customers being denied fixed line services for close to a month.

Certain places in Tamale, according to Mr Whitehill, have been designated as ‘no go’ areas because such areas are inhabited by hardened criminals.

At these places, the presence of the police does not scare criminals who cut and steal the company’s cables.

Mr Whitehill stated that the thieves steal the mega cables because they are expensive on the market.

The company loses close to GH¢2 million every year as a result of cable theft and damage by road construction companies.

In order to avert the activities of thieves, Mr Whitehill said Vodafone Ghana had invested in new technology which is commonly referred to as Multi Service Access Nodes (M-SANs).

Expected to provide high speed internet browsing, the cost to the telecommunications company is GH¢50 million.

About 60 percent of Vodafone’s fixed line subscribers have currently been migrated to the new technology pending the migration of the rest (40 percent) of customers.

Some four years ago, Vodafone Ghana could only boast of 5,000 fixed broadband customers. Today, as many as 79,000 customers enjoy the service.

 

SMEs Suffer Credit Squeeze

President John Dramani Mahama

Credit to small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) and households was tightened recently as a result of low cash flow, unsatisfactory account operation and poor credit history, a credit conditions survey conducted by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) in October has revealed.

But credit stance for large enterprises and consumers eased reflecting improved economic expectation.

The Central Bank, which made this known, said: “Private sector credit continued to expand in the year. In nominal terms, credit grew by 43.8 percent on an annual basis in September 2012 compared to 25.5 percent a year ago. In real terms, credit to the private sector recorded an annual growth of 31.4 percent against 15.8 percent in September 2011.”

Also, it said the pace of growth in broad money supply slowed to 28.8 percent in September 2012 from 41.9 percent in September 2011, adding that the slowdown was largely driven by a decline in net foreign assets (NFA) of the country’s banking system.

“The banking system continued to show steady asset growth and profitability in the year to September 2012. Total assets increased to GH¢25.1 billion from GH¢20.3 billion in September 2011. The growth in assets was mainly funded by domestic deposits.”

The Central Bank said although the quality of loan portfolio in the banking industry continued to improve slightly over the period, the non-performing loans ration declined further to 13.1 percent in September 2012 from 13.4 percent in July 2012 and 15.7 percent a year ago.

Between July and September, this year, interest rate trends stabilized while the average three-month deposit rate moved up to 11.95 percent in September from 10 percent in July 2012, while lending rates edged up slightly to 25.7 percent from 24.7 percent recorded in July 2012.

On a year-to-date basis, the lending deposit spread narrowed to 13.8 percent in September from 14.7 percent in July 2012.

By Emelia Ennin-Abbey

 

Special Report

Melcom Disaster: We Have To Be Proactive

Far major disasters are predictable and unavoidable, but how prepared are we as a nation?

Yes, looming nature or man –made disaster is real because even “sea levels are rising 60 percent faster than previously predicted,” according to a new U.N scientific study. Do we know what that means?

Much has already been written by me and I questioned the nation’s readiness and ability to prepare and deal with disasters made by nature or our own choices. Therefore I’d have assumed that Ghana has prepared for any disaster, no matter how small it is.

Well, I was wrong after watching Melcom supermarket’s disaster unfold in Achimota, Accra. We literally and practically borrowed everything and anything from friends and neighbors. I mean ordinary Ghanaians had to loan the government of their equipment and services in order for the rescue operation to go on.

Interestingly, instead of our leaders and policy makers getting on the TV and other airwaves to rally for support for a full-fledged public relations campaign to adopt a national comprehensive infrastructure strategy—from transportation and technology to energy and environmental protection to telecommunication — they went on shopping spree to buy 12 Toyota Land cruisers for our national House of chiefs. What about building a national memorial for those who lost their lives in that disaster?

Yes, the presentation of the vehicles to our chiefs will probably nudge the needle of the election a point or two, but campaigns still begin and end with the candidates’ ability to communicate a compelling vision to voters. Indeed, the NDC has misused some of its political capital it had after the Melcom incident by failing to rally the entire nation’s support behind the need to upgrade and address the Disaster Emergency Management Administration’s (DEMA) needs and concerns. On that, one could make a compelling argument that the presentation of the vehicles’ impact on the outcome of the election is overestimated to the detriment of NDC because the recipients of the vehicles have no control over the voters.

Nevertheless, I’m not trying to be a prophet of doom ,but greater disasters loom unless we’re proactive and fast to fix our badly broken system—from disaster and emergency command centers in every district to accumulation of emergency logistics and spending money on infrastructures to the formation of civic emergency preparedness task force in every town.

Yes, if we’re to avoid the next major– catastrophe—(and it will come) then we have to be proactive and start paying attention to our dams, rail lines and bridges ,river bodies ,water systems and environment and food production and consumption.

Ghana’s inability to spend time and money on its aging infrastructures has left the country vulnerable to nature and our own made choices disasters like high winds, earthquake, fast-running water and looming bursting dams, public- health disaster coming from lack of proper garbage and sewage treatment procedures, food poison outbreak, Cholera, Bird Flu and Tsunami.

We also have to pay real, undivided attention (and spend real money) to increase physical improvement in our infrastructure—like roads, railways and hospitals .There is a need to work to improve telecommunication lines so that during emergencies and major disasters we can make sure that telecommunication lines can operate when electric grid goes down and cellphones tower batteries run out of juice. There is a need to maintain communication system that could not only save lives and properties during disasters, but withstand major disasters, like earthquakes, terrorist attacks and flood from bursting dams.

National preparedness for disasters should include encouraging Ghanaians to buy disaster protection insurance policy for their homes and businesses, portable generators, and special touch lighting systems with batteries that last longer. It means we need more and better roads than potholes.

There should be emergency food and water storage depots in every district that we could tap into in emergencies situations.

The local governments should create evacuation responders units and at least, there should be one school or a church in every town that is certified and qualified to house families whose houses would be destroyed when nature or man-made disasters hit.

The government should create a special ministry to task the coordinating of our police service, medical personnel, local teachers, civic organizations and transportation owners to practice and prepare every six months on how to handle disasters.

Yes, I know we’re not going to do a damn thing about this issue because we can easily blame somebody else when a disaster strikes. But, if we do nothing the results are predictable and unaffordable with major consequences.

However, considering the good life this country offers to our policy makers, leaders and politicians, doesn’t she and her offspring deserve a little bit security and the Right to be protected from any disaster? Ironically, those who have much to loss when a major disaster hits Ghana are the same people who are going to turn this issue into a political wresting match; with no winner in sight.

I know I’m just a dreamer and ahead of my time most of the time, but I hope I’m not the only lonely voice in the wilderness when it comes to national security issues like this one.

Source: myjoyonline.com written by Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi (Voice of Reason)

AGRA: Transforming today’s rural poverty

Millions of African farmers and their families are wallowing in poverty: they lack good seeds, their soil has been depleted and they farm without reliable water supplies.

 

They lack financing, crop insurance and government support.

In spite of these challenges, they produce majority of Africa’s food.

Strategic approach

Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has a strategy to transform today’s rural poverty into tomorrow’s prosperity by sustainably and significantly increasing the productivity of smallholder farmers. It starts from the understanding that African agriculture can be a powerful and transformative engine for sustainable economic growth.

It is grounded in Africa’s very diverse and largely rain-fed agriculture, prudent use of science and technology.

An African Green Revolution can apply the power of knowledge and technology with an environmental touch: disseminating many crop varieties that will thrive in diverse conditions, improving soil health through integrated soil fertility management and developing technologies that maximize the use of rainwater and deliver small-scale irrigation.

Affordable financing for farmers

AGRA’s Innovative Financing Programme is unlocking millions of dollars worth of credit for smallholder farmers and small agricultural businesses previously considered too risky for lending, giving them unprecedented opportunities to invest in growth.

AGRA and other partners assemble “loan guarantee funds” that leverage much larger loans from commercial banks. The loan guarantee funds are available to insure against a proportion of loan defaults. In pilot programmes, default rates have been less than two percent. The programmes have been launched in Mozambique, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda

In March 2009, Standard Bank and AGRA signed an agreement under which Standard Bank will offer $100 million in loans to smallholder farmers and small agricultural business-$25 million each in Tanzania, Mozambique, Ghana and Uganda.

AGRA and its partners agreed to put up a $10 million loan guarantee, which enabled Standard Bank to offer lower-interest loans.

The Millennium Challenge Account in Mozambique, Ghana’s Millennium Development Authority, and Kilimo Trust in Uganda and Tanzania are contributing partners for the loan guarantee fund. AGRA aims to work with additional partners to leverage up to $2 billion in low-interest loans for smallholder farmers and small-to-medium sized African agricultural businesses.

Gender and Agriculture

Female small-scale farmers dominate the agricultural landscape in most production environments in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Yet they constitute the majority of rural actors locked in socio-cultural structures that limit their agricultural productivity, efficiency and effectiveness at all points across the value chain.

Key examples are entrenched inequities in access to productive land, limited access to credit, poor access to markets, extension services and agricultural technologies relevant to their needs.

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) recognizes that to achieve food security and spur economic development, women food producers and rural entrepreneurs must be at the center of all efforts to substantially raise the productivity, incomes and sustainability of the millions of smallholder farmers who dominate Africa’s rural landscape.

Addressing the specific interests and issues of women farmers and male producers equally is crucial to the transformation of Africa’s agriculture and the well-being of the rural populace within the next decade.

AGRA has laid out a strategy that reflects these realities.

AGRA has begun to roll out the elements of a gender strategy that includes gender advocacy and awareness efforts, gender knowledge and technical capacity building, and stimulating institutional change to address the formidable obstacles women smallholders often encounter across the agriculture value chain

Public-Private Partnerships

Jane Karuku, President Alliance for Green a Revolution in Africa (AGRA) is of the view that Global Food Security requires Public-Private Partnerships.

At the recent World Food Prize Symposium in the U.S., she commented: Africa’s farmers are not needy victims. They have something to offer the world – a vast and verdant supply of arable land. Like us, the rest of the world needs to eat. In order to ensure long-term food security, we need to invest in new public-private partnerships in Ghana and across the continent.

“We know the most successful partnerships are those in which everyone has made a tangible investment in the outcome. As conversations on how to feed the future gather momentum – at the recent meeting in the U.S., the African Green Revolution Forum in Tanzania and the Camp David G8 Summit – it has become clear we need to focus on combining government resources with private-sector expertise to rapidly expand African agricultural yields and improve global economic growth.”

Overview

AGRA is an Africa based organization working in partnership with governments, agricultural research organizations, farmers, private sector, civil society and other rural development stakeholders to significantly and sustainably improve the productivity and incomes of resource poor farmers in Africa.

AGRA works in conjunction with various partners to unleash the continent’s agricultural potential. Towards that end, AGRA’s strategy rests on the idea that AGRA’s resources and its efforts with partners should initially focus on where there will be the highest payoff – in Africa’s high-potential ‘breadbasket’ areas.

These are land areas of significant size with relatively good soil, reliable rainfall, basic infrastructure and active smallholder farmers.

These areas are also located in countries with commitment to agricultural development. The countries include: Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia

By focusing our investments in these areas, we can reverse decades of rising hunger and achieve a ‘demonstration effect’ that will spur the scaling up of such investments in other countries.  This strategy will also help us concentrate our resources and not spread too thinly hence failing to bring about the rapid change that is desperately needed.

Vision

To feed the continent’s 900 million people, Africa must achieve its own food security. To do that requires nothing less than a complete transformation of the agricultural sector.

AGRA’s vision is a food secure and prosperous Africa achieved through rapid, sustainable agricultural growth.

AGRA Ghana

Agriculture is the backbone of Ghana’s economy, and smallholder farmers represent about 80 percent of total agricultural production. Yet despite overall economic growth over the past decade, the agricultural sector has declined from 51 percent to 36 percent of GDP.

The rural poor now account for almost three-quarters of all Ghanaians who live below the poverty line. Smallholder farmers, whose farms average just 1.2 hectares, currently have limited opportunities to prosper.

Challenges

Major obstacles faced by Ghana’s smallholder farmers include farmers’ access to good seed, fertilizer and sustainable farming practices, credit, crop storage, markets and strong farmer-based organizations.

The government of Ghana recognizes the urgent need to boost smallholder productivity to combat poverty and spur economic growth.

By Emelia Ennin Abbey

 

 

 

Power Outage Collapses Cold Stores

Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG)

The load shedding exercise has thrown a number of operators in the cold storage industry out of business.

Players in the business, especially retailers who operate small-scale enterprises, have had to shut down their businesses as a result of the frequent power outage, which has negatively affected their facilities.

A number of business owners, who have been affected, in an interview with BUSINESS GUIDE, called for government’s quick intervention before a total collapse of the industry.

Most operators at the Abobloshi Market, Kaneshie, Dansoman and Nima, all in the Greater Accra region have had to discard an unspecified amount of food items, which went bad.

Frederick Okoe, Managing Director of First Light Cold store, a large facility which supplies fish to most small-scale operators in the Kaneshie and Mataheko Area, said the power outage has been on-going for over eight months.

“You know our business depends on the continuous supply of electricity to enable us store the food items we sell so without electricity we suffer.”

He explained that due to the development, most operators have had to depend on stand-by generators to manage their businesses.

Currently, Mr Okoe, who buys GH¢400 worth of electricity daily to power his cold room, now spends GH¢500 every day on diesel for his generator.

“Diesel is not like electricity. It is very expensive and this has increased the cost of operation,” he said. “This has led to high prices of our items.”

The managing director, who has five employees, said his machines have been gravely affected, adding that it is expensive to get a new one or repair the cold room machines.

Mr Okoe stated, “We are really losing. The outage has destroyed the cold store business. Many people have gone out because they cannot afford to buy generators and fuel.”

He also called on government to consider subsidizing electricity or instituting a flat rate system for them.

“This will help because if electricity bill is low, it will reduce our cost and also stop people from engaging in illegal connections.”

At Agbogbloshie, Florence Naa Atoshie said, “I have lost GH¢12,000 and my three freezers have been damaged. Most of the food items, including fish, chicken parts, sausages, beef and offals of some animals have gone bad.

“I lost everything and now I do not know how I can repay my bankers,” said the mother of three who said her friends would support her to raise capital to purchase a new freezer.

The operator of “In His Time” Cold Store at Anyaa School Junction, a suburb of Accra, Mabel Mako said most people usually purchase her products.

He laid off two of her workers about two months ago, adding, “I leave the generator on even when I close for the day because I do not know when the ECG will switch off the power.”

 By Emelia Ennin Abbey

 

 

 

 

 

GHACEM Increases Production Says AGI President

Nana Owusu Afari – AG Boss

The President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Nana Owusu-Afari has observed that the increase in GHACEM’s production capacity to 3.4 million tons per annum at both its Tema and Takoradi factories is an indication of a reverse in the collapse of industries in the ensuing years ahead.

He said the construction industry depends a lot on GHACEM and a disruption or inadequate supply of cement will bring discomfort to the sector.

Nana Owusu-Afari made the observation in an address during the commissioning of a state-of-the-art mill by GHACEM at the Tema factory, to augment its current production capacity with an additional one million metric tons annually.

This will increase the production capacity at the Tema factory from 1.2 million tons to 2.2 million tons per annum and will shoot up the overall annual capacity to 3.4 million tons, with productions from the Tema and Takoradi factories of the company.

Nana Afari said Ghana is now a construction boom and this huge investment by GHACEM gives positive vistas of the future for the housing and construction industry. Stressing that Ghana’s infrastructural deficit in the road network and housing stock are major concerns, he said “what is being witnessed today is a clear manifestation of a bright future for the survival of our industries”.

In attendance at the event were top government officials and management of GHACEM including the Minister of Trade and Industry, Hanna Tetteh, who represented His Excellency, President John Dramani Mahama, Morten Gade, Managing Director of GHACEM, Nana Prah Agyensaim VI, GHACEM Board Member and Daniel Gauthier, GHACEM Board Chairman and Member of the Managing Board of Heidelberg Cement Group of Germany.

The rest were Dr. George Dawson-Ahmoah, the Strategy and Corporate Affairs Director, Kwesi Dickson, the Tema Works Manager, Jean Marc Junon, COO Heidelberg Cement Africa, Evelyn Quansah, Takoradi Human Resource Manager and Eugene Largea, Production Manager, Tema.

The President, in an address read on his behalf by Hon. Hanna Tetteh, commended the Board and management of GHACEM, as well as its mother company, the Heidelbergcement of Germany, for their confidence in the Ghanaian economy which has informed their decision to re-invest in the company.

Government, he noted, would continue to create the enabling environment for the private sector to participate in the delivery of decent and low-cost housing units for Ghanaians.

On his part, Mr. Morten Gade, Managing Director of GHACEM cited the new production line as “ample evidence of GHACEM’s commitment to produce enough cement to meet the ever-increasing demand for quality cement for important national and individual projects.

He stressed that “these expansion projects will no doubt further enhance GHACEM’s investment portfolio, which is exclusively tailored to meet the nation’s increasing need for consistent supply of reliable, quality cement,” he said.

 

 

 

Technology

Mere Power Nzema Builds Solar Plant

Dr Joe Oteng Adjei, Minister of Energy

Mere Power Nzema Limited has announced plans to build Africa’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in Ghana.

The 155 megawatt plant, which will be situated at Aiwiaso in the East Nzema District, is expected to increase Ghana’s current generating capacity by 6 percent.

UK-based renewable energy investor and developer, Blue Energy, the parent company of Mere Power Nzema announced this last week.

Mere Power Nzema will commence construction of the $400 million plant in 2013, and will start generating power in the fourth quarter of 2013 with full commercial operation by mid-2015.

The project will create 500 jobs over the two-year construction period and 200 permanent jobs. It is also expected to stimulate another 2100 jobs in the local economy.

Last month, Energy Minister, Joe Oteng-Adjei announced he was seeking $1 billion of private investment to help Ghana achieve its target of generating 10 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

The Nzema project will meet 20 percent of this generation target.

Chris Dean, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Blue Energy said: “The Nzema project is a serious investor response to Ghana’s effort to build a sustainable low-carbon energy economy which reliably powers industry and households for jobs and wealth creation. Blue Energy and our consultants HML Marine Power and Energy Ltd. have enjoyed working with the Ghana government to achieve this milestone.”

He commented: “Ghana’s forward-thinking strategy puts it in a strong position to lead the renewable energy revolution in sub-Saharan Africa. Nzema is a case study in how governments can unlock the huge potential for solar energy in Africa. We are delighted that it will make a strong contribution to the national economy, provide much needed generating capacity and help develop the skills of the future.”

Vodafone Shuns High Cable Theft Areas

Kyle Whitehill

Vodafone Ghana has indicated it would no more invest in communities where its communication gadgets and underground cables have been stolen.

Tagging such places as ‘no go’ areas, the company said it would spend money to improve communication in communities that were prepared to proffer protection and surveillance at its installations.

Kyle Whitehill, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Vodafone Ghana, who disclosed this to journalists in Accra recently during a tour of some of his outfit’s sites, said perpetrators of the act include unscrupulous contractors and former employees who have an agenda to sabotage the company’s efforts at expanding coverage to effectively serve its customers.

Vodafone Ghana’s fixed underground mega cables, which were mostly the target of the thieves, could carry about 2,500 smaller cables each representing a customer.

In August, this year, the company lost 34 of its mega cables as a result of the activities of thieves.

About 28 percent of Vodafone Ghana’s installations which are dotted around the country are susceptible to theft, and this has resulted in about 2,000 customers being denied fixed line services for close to a month.

Certain places in Tamale, according to Mr Whitehill, have been designated as ‘no go’ areas because such areas are inhabited by hardened criminals.

At these places, the presence of the police does not scare criminals who cut and steal the company’s cables.

Mr Whitehill stated that the thieves steal the mega cables because they are expensive on the market.

The company loses close to GH¢2 million every year as a result of cable theft and damage by road construction companies.

In order to avert the activities of thieves, Mr Whitehill said Vodafone Ghana had invested in new technology which is commonly referred to as Multi Service Access Nodes (M-SANs).

Expected to provide high speed internet browsing, the cost to the telecommunications company is GH¢50 million.

About 60 percent of Vodafone’s fixed line subscribers have currently been migrated to the new technology pending the migration of the rest (40 percent) of customers.

Some four years ago, Vodafone Ghana could only boast of 5,000 fixed broadband customers. Today, as many as 79,000 customers enjoy the service.

 

Cocoa Production Drops

Minority Leader, Osei-Kyei-Mensah Bonsu

Ghana’s cocoa production has dropped from a record one million tonnes to 820,000 tonnes currently.

Minority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, who revealed this at Pankrono on Friday, said the country’s cocoa sector had been mismanaged, adding that the country failed woefully to sustain the one million tonnes production.

According to him, the sharp decline in cocoa production indicates that the mismanagement of the sector by government.

He said the entire agric sector was struggling lately due to bad leadership.

Additionally, he bemoaned Ghana’s high importation of maize under the present administration.

The Suame MP appealed to the electorate to vote massively for the opposition to make the necessary corrections in the agric sector.

Urging the electorate to shun falsehood being peddled by the government machinery to win cheap votes, he said all sectors of the economy had been mismanaged.

He said such unpleasant situation should be a wake-up call for all Ghanaians to vote out the NDC administration.

The Suame lawmaker said he was not surprised about the seeming collapse of the NHIS programme introduced by the NPP, saying “even they kicked against it in parliament when we brought the idea so if they collapse it now you should not be surprised.”

The Minority Leader said government had intentionally neglected all developmental projects started in the Ashanti region by the previous administration and implored the people of Ashanti region, particularly Kumasi to vote for the NPP.

 FROM I.F. Joe Awuah Jnr., Kumasi

 

 

Editorial

Life Must Go On

Life is such that there are times when goals and ambitions set by people are not achieved in the way they envisioned them. There are also times when the good plans set out by people for execution do not materialize despite all the hard work and efforts that they employ.

In summary, life is made up of ups and downs which no human mind can vividly understand. It is only when a mishap happens that we are able to sit up and do an analysis of what went wrong so that we can prevent these in future.

There is an axiom that states that life is unfair. Thus, despite the good intentions one could have for their countrymen and women, people who oppose such views could also work to undermine the efforts of well-intentioned folks through so many crooked means.

The recent presidential and parliamentary elections was a hard fought one taking into consideration the efforts that went into the contest from the competing camps and their followers across country.

In every human contest since the beginning of creation, there have been winners and losers. There were times when such contests were held fairly while on most occasions, unfairness tainted the beauty of the contests because of the greediness of a particular participant.

There are different schools of thought on the arbitration and organization of this year’s presidential and parliamentary elections. While those of the winning party think that the elections were fair, the unfortunate side has described it as one that smacked of rigging.

And those perfectly describe how the politics of this country has been since time immemorial.

Indeed more people are downcast while a lot more people are celebrating their party’s win.

But in spite of all the aforementioned moods, there is one thing that we can do as a people. We need to come together as one people and reconcile in the interest of the development of our dear nation.

BUSINESS GUIDE wishes to inform Ghanaians that the country direly needs development in all the sectors. Without oneness of mind and the commitment to ensure that we cross over any hurdle in our political course, we will continue to falter and recede.

Everyone needs eagle’s lens to be able to hold those we have entrusted our economic destiny accountable.

We must remember that if we leave the politicians to have a field day, by their nature they will exploit us and continue to ask us to allow them to rule in future only to realize that we have sold ourselves into slavery.

This is not the time to rejoice. It is rather time to begin to monitor our political office holders and check them against the things they have said and see if they ever will be able to deliver by the end of their mandate. If we will continue to be content with personalities and not issues, our future will be bleak. This is just food for thought.

 

Endorse Good Managers On December 7

The time has come for citizens to apply level-headedness in the choices they make during presidential and parliamentary elections in order not to commit the same mistakes we have been making as a people.

We have been going to polls as a people since 1992 after the PNDC had disrupted the country’s political history. And ever since that time, Ghana has been marching forward and backward economically.

This is due to the fact only a few people among those vying for political leadership have the country at heart. Only a few people are patriotic and prepared to offer selfless service to Ghana. But a greater chunk of the people who campaign for political positions only want to amass wealth by stealing the people’s money.  Such people can only be described as economic vampires. They come in sheep’s skin but turn out to be wolves later. And such has been the trend since 1992 till this time.

A popular axiom states that not all that glitters is gold. Simply put, not all people who desire to climb the political ladder through browbeating the people with ‘sweet talk’ are sweet-minded. They say one thing and do another. It is undoubted that such misconduct has cost the country a lot while the good people have become victims. This is because most Ghanaians never conducted due diligence to assess the personalities that stood before them during the periods of electioneering to be able to come out.

Apart from the president, who is largely charged with the management of the economy, the polls even give more attention to the selection of Parliamentarians who are expected to make laws. The appointment of DCEs and MCEs, who are supposed to ensure the practical development of our communities, is left to the President. Parliamentarians are heckled by the constituents to provide all manner of assistance while DCEs and MCEs are left to squander the monies allotted to them for development without prosecution.

The fact of the matter is in so far as the appointment of DCEs and MCEs are done politically, the communities would continue to lack development.

Given such a scenario, BUSINESS GUIDE can only advise Ghanaians to sit up and rethink their choices as they go to the polls since not all that glitters is gold. What we should ask ourselves is: “What have these people who are parading themselves on campaign platforms as angels and saying all manner of things into our ears been able to do to change our lives as a people?”  We must access their track-record.

The ball is now in our court. Let us take off our partisan caps and put on the patriotic cap of genuine critical thinking and analysis, which can take us to our promised land by selecting a good and pragmatic leader for the next four years.

BUSINESS GUIDE wishes all Ghanaians well. Long Live Ghana!

 

 

International Business

Greek Suffers Trauma

Amid a debt crisis, a crippling recession and ugly levels of unemployment, Greece is now struggling with a rise in suicides and an HIV outbreak.

The role of the economic crisis in the rise in human immunodeficiency virus isn’t clear, Greek officials say, but the ability to fight it is hampered by fewer resources.

Greece’s debt troubles have raged for about three years now, prompting its governments to take severe austerity measures that are choking the economy and driving up unemployment, which now stands at 25 per cent. About half of its young people can’t find work, and social unrest is widespread.

Amid these troubles, Reuters reported last week, attempts of suicide climbed to more than 925 last year. By the end of August, this year’s rate was already at 690.

Today, authorities cited the outbreak of HIV in Greece, particularly in Athens, and warned that the economic troubles plaguing the region will hamper prevention across Europe.

“Since 2011, Greece has been experiencing a significant outbreak of HIV among people who inject drugs in Athens,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said in a lengthy report.

“In the first eight months of 2012, for the first time the number of new cases reported among people who inject drugs exceeded the number of new cases reported among men who have sex with men. The outbreak among people who inject drugs is likely due to a combination of factors, the most important being low levels of preventive services prior to the outbreak.”

HIV in Greece has been “a pattern of low-level, concentrated epidemic,” the agency said.

Since it was first reported in the 1980s, infections climbed by 2011 to 7.3 per 100,000 people.

“The ongoing HIV outbreak is occurring at a time when Greece is experiencing a severe financial crisis,” the group noted.

“Although the extent to which the financial crisis has contributed to the outbreak is unclear, it is evident that the crisis has a significant social and health impact on the population of Greece. In addition, the response to the HIV outbreak by public authorities and NGOs is being managed in the context of social uncertainty, with exceedingly scarce financial resources.”

Prevention could be hurt in other parts of Europe by the “economic turmoil,” the agency added.

“There is a continuous need to keep public health and preventative services on the agenda even in challenging economic times so that long-term, high-cost burden to the health system can be averted.”

Eurozone Unemployment Rate Goes High

Mario Draghi

The Eurozone’s unemployment rate hit a new record high in October, while consumer price rises slowed sharply.

The jobless rate in the recessionary euro area rose to 11.7%. Inflation fell from 2.5% to 2.2% in November.

The data came as European Central Bank president Mario Draghi warned the euro would not emerge from its crisis until the second half of next year.

Government spending cuts would continue to hurt growth in the short-term, Mr Draghi said.

The unemployment rate continued its steady rise, reaching 11.7% in October, up from 11.6% the month before and 10.4% a year ago.

A further 173,000 were out of work across the single currency area, bringing the total to 18.7 million.

The respective fortunes of northern and southern Europe diverged further. In Spain, the jobless rate rose to 26.2% from 25.8% the previous month, and in Italy it rose to 11.1% from 10.8%.

In contrast, unemployment in Germany held steady at 5.4% of the labour force while in Austria it fell from 4.4% to just 4.3%.

“The real problem is that we have a two-speed Europe,” economist Alberto Gallo of Royal Bank of Scotland told the BBC. “The biggest increase in unemployment is being driven by Italy and Spain.

“It is the same as you are seeing in financial markets,” he explained. “The periphery [Spain and Italy] is the area where the banks are the least capitalized and need the most help, and the loan rates are the highest.”

Data earlier this month showed that the eurozone had returned to a shallow recession in the three months to September shrinking 0.1% during the quarter following a 0.2% contraction the previous quarter.

The less competitive southern European economies, such as Spain and Italy – where governments have had to push through hefty spending cuts to get their borrowing under control, and crisis-struck banks have been cutting back their lending – have been in recession for over a year.

But the economies of Germany and France have also begun to weaken. Growth in the eurozone’s two biggest economies came in at a disappointing 0.2%.

And more recent data suggests that both core eurozone economies have continued to skirt recession during the autumn.

Retail sales in Germany shrank 2.8% in October versus the previous month, down 0.8% from a year earlier, according to data released on Friday. Analysts had expected the country to record unchanged or moderately growing sales.

Meanwhile, separate data showed consumer spending in France shrank 0.2% in October versus the previous month, with spending on cars and other durable goods hardest hit.

Nigeria Business

Nigeria Told To Use Oil Money Wisely

Christine Lagarde is greeted by Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan as Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala looks on.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) yesterday cautioned Nigeria against expansionary fiscal policies, given the uncertainty that still pervades the global economic scene just as the Nuhu Ribadu Task Force set up by the Federal Government to review the oil industry has found that the use of crude oil traders was contrary to the global best practice and trend wherein national oil companies develop their own trading arms.

IMF’s Senior Resident Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Scott Rogers, who presented the World Economic Outlook, told journalists in Abuja that Nigeria must take advantage of the current growth to strengthen her fiscal position by saving for the future, as there is no assurance of early global economic recovery.

He said: “The global economic outlook remains uncertain. The global context has continued to witness slowing growth mostly marked in the advanced economies.

The US housing prices remain depressed and that nation’s weak economy is impacting negatively on many other countries of the world because the US is an export destination of many countries of the world. The US economy is recovering but the recovery is still weak.

“If the world economy remains weak, it will continue to affect countries of the world especially those with strong ties with the US and the Euro area which could actually go into recession. Export growth in Sub-Sahara Africa has remained weak due to the weakening economies of the advanced countries”.

Mr. Rogers said the situation could be worse if by January, American President Barak Obama fails to reach a deal with the Congress to raise the deficit ceiling, as according to him, “that will mean raise in tax rates and cut in government expenditure across board which could further weaken the growth or even throw the economy into recession”.

The Resident Rep urged the Federal Government to come up with policies to save as much funds as possible and avoid undue increase in government spending to avoid a burst if oil prices crash.

Nigeria 2013 Budget Based On Oil Price

Okonjo Iweala

Nigeria’s 2013 budget will be based on a world oil price of $75 per barrel and projected national output of 2.53 million barrels per day, Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said Wednesday.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, derives more than 90 percent of its foreign exchange earnings from oil.

“We are working on the basis of projection of crude oil production of 2.53 million barrels a day. This is compared to 2.48 million barrels a day in 2012… and a benchmark price of $75 a barrel,” Okonjo-Iweala said.

“This compares to $72 a barrel last year,” she told journalists after a weekly cabinet meeting chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Nigerian oil production hit its highest level ever last week, 2.7 million barrels per day, the state oil firm said on Friday, though hurdles remain to a sustained boost in production.

The West African nation has seen crude production rebound since a 2009 amnesty deal for militants in the Niger Delta region, which led to a sharp decline in unrest there.

It has been producing between 2.0 million and 2.4 million barrels per day in recent months, according to International Energy Agency figures.

But sabotage and oil theft continues to feed a lucrative black market.

Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell, historically Nigeria’s largest producer, said in April that there were estimates of 150,000 barrels per day of oil and condensate being stolen in the country.

“The projected revenue for 2013 is 3.891 trillion naira ($24.3 billion, 19.7 billion euros) and the projected expenditure is 4.929 trillion naira ($30.7 billion, 25 billion euros),” the minister said.

The 2013 budget predicts a fiscal deficit of 2.17 percent of gross domestic product, down from 2.85 percent in 2012, Okonjo-Iweala said.

The budget proposal will be presented to Parliament by September.

Entrepreneurial Tips

The Entrepreneur Vrs The Small Business Owner

Every entrepreneur is a business owner because all of them start as a small business, but their ability and determination to grow their business is what makes them successful entrepreneur

Is there a distinction between an entrepreneur and a small business owner? This question was posed by a student in an Entrepreneurship Development class. It obviously needs careful consideration and understanding.

In trying to figure out the distinction between the two, it became quite clear that there is just a thin line between the two.

There have been several definitions as to who an entrepreneur is. But to simply put, an entrepreneur is an individual who accepts financial risks and undertakes new financial ventures.

Typical characteristics of an entrepreneur include spontaneous creativity, ability and willingness to make decisions in the absence of solid data and a generally risk-taking personality. Entrepreneurs are driven by the need to create something new or build something tangible.

Ebenezer Asare-Boadu, a Business Consultant in Accra, said a small business sometimes called a micro business, on the other hand, is any business that is independently owned and operated.

He stated that “small business owners are not dominant in their field and do not engage in many new and innovative practices.”

He said an entrepreneur on the other hand is someone who loves challenges. A person, who can think of an idea and profit from it almost instantly.

Sometimes there is an element of risk involved, but this only inspires an entrepreneur.

However, he noted: “every entrepreneur is a business owner because all of them start as a small business, but their ability and determination to grow their business is what makes them successful entrepreneurs.”

Growth is the ultimate aim for every entrepreneur, and Mr. Asare-Boadu notes that entrepreneurs are driven by passion, which helps them succeed in every venture they undertake.

“An entrepreneur thrives on the principal objective of growth and wealth creation. Thus, the business is characterized by innovative practices and products,” he added.

Small business owners sometimes may never grow large, and the owners may not want it. This is because they usually prefer a more relaxed and less aggressive approach to running the business.

Faustina Acquah, a roasted plantain seller at East Legon, said she has never thought of ever expanding her business because she feels content with how the business is being run.

Madam Faustina is one of several small business owners engaged in this kind of trade who do not see the need to further grow and make their businesses bigger.

One would be quick to point out that there would be no use expanding a roasted plantain business. But that is not so true.

If Madam Faustina has the typical entrepreneurial trait, it will definitely be possible for her to open a little eatery where she would sell her roasted plantain with its accompanying groundnut and probably a soft drink to go with it.

If this is done well people would come to know and accept the place for its specialty, and this can generate more income depending on how well it is managed.

This is clearly a business area that is yet to be explored even though it has a ready market and a lot of capital can be generated from it. But most women in this trade, do not see the essence in growing such a business because they would rather manage their business in a “normal way”, expecting “normal sales”, and forget about growth.

Mr. Asare-Boadu was of the opinion that small business owners usually start a business which is low risk, low reward and try to build on it. “They like to play it safer than an entrepreneur would.”

Entrepreneurs would like to be involved in ventures, which would be considered high risk and high reward.

He said even though entrepreneurs come in different sizes with regards to how their businesses have grown, they all place much emphasis on adding significant value to whatever venture they are undertaking.

“An entrepreneur focuses on pursing business in an area that people have not ventured into, and make strides.”

He emphasized that even though some people are born entrepreneurs they have distinctive traits which distinguish them from small business owners.

He indicated that “they are hard working, very tolerant and see failure as a stepping stone to success. An entrepreneur can start a business today, fail and will still go ahead to set up another one. Because he believes that when he fails he learns his lesson and builds on those lessons.”

He added that entrepreneurs are also often viewed as very innovative. That is they are people who like to put their ideas into valuable action. Innovation, he noted, is what makes entrepreneurs different from everyone else.

“At the end of the eight-hour day, when everyone else leaves for home, the entrepreneur will often continue to work into the evening, developing new business ideas.”

A dominant characteristic of entrepreneurs is their compelling need to do their own thing in their own way.

Samuel Fiakpui, Managing Director of SG Foods Limited, also indicated that entrepreneurs are sometimes said to be domineering.

“Because of the nature of the economic situations in and around the world one needs to be aggressive and forceful in order to survive and succeed. And by doing so, they tend to work under intense pressure and may be perceived as domineering. Rather I see entrepreneurs as being assertive.”
He stated that successful entrepreneurs can comprehend complex situations that may include planning, making strategic decisions, and working on multiple business ideas simultaneously.

Some view them as hard working since they often have to do the extra work at the office. Those entrepreneurs, who may not be able to afford a support staff to cover all business functions, end up working long hours to get the work done. This often achieves good results, as they tend to succeed.

Whether you see yourself as an entrepreneur or a small business owner, you should always be on the look out for other business opportunities and make the best out of it.

 

 

SME’s Build Fortunes On Facebook

Facebook

Popular social networking site, Facebook has become a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them.

People use Facebook to keep up with their families and friends because it appeals to a wide range of people. It is relatively easy-to-use with an interesting and fun variety of features for communicating.

Today the use of Facebook has improved with many Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs) using the site to sell their products.

Era Of Social Media

It is an undeniable fact that the social media is now the way of life for several individuals and businesses.

Many people are spending more than half an hour on these social networking sites (especially Facebook) and are enjoying the way of communicating in the cyber world.

These social networking sites are really catching up very fast here in Ghana, and taking advantage of it will be very beneficial. Almost everyone has an account on one, if not all, of these sites.

A lot of social networking sites allow members to advertise products and services and most entrepreneurs are now taking advantage of it. But have you ever thought of using these social networking sites such as Facebook to sell your products online?

Even though marketing products through the social media is not so common here in Ghana, the few who have been able to take advantage of it are making a lot of gains. Aside from been totally free to advertise, Facebook also helps to build connections – which is a very important tool.

Connections allow the SME to market his or her product or services easily. The underlying principle is that the more people you know, the higher the sales potential.

And so if one already has an account on Facebook, then take advantage of it now. However, if you do not have one, then you need to sign up NOW.

Expert Opinion

Kenneth Donkor, an internet expert noted that “a lot of people are actually making real money by using these media sites, especially Facebook in promoting and selling what they have to offer. If they can do it, there is no reason why any business minded person cannot do same.”

Explaining how one can actually do business using Facebook, Mr. Asamoah explained: “For example if the SME is into fashion or perhaps engaged in an accessory making business, instead of actually going from one house to the other to sell the products, all he or she has to do is take beautiful and creative pictures or even make videos of the products, making sure it is of the trend.

Next upload the pictures or video on your profile, tag your friends (if you are using Facebook) and post a catchy, concise but informative description of what the product is all about. If it is an accessory, you might as well include the materials that you have used.

Also on Facebook for instance, you can create a fan page for your business, allowing people to like and give feedback on it.

Mr. Donkor was of the opinion that using these social media sites as a tool in earning money can be quite easy. “It does not require producing buckets of worry. And best of all you get free advertising, promotion and actual selling transactions without hassle and with higher chance of profit returns.”

He said, it is lucrative to use the internet but earning money online is not just limited on using these social networking sites. “There are many things you can actually do with the internet.”

He stressed the need for entrepreneurs to explore strategies and techniques that they can use on the internet which will enhance and support their business’s overall marketing objectives.

“It is important to realize that social media marketing does work, but as with any marketing strategy, there are the core pieces of that strategy that you must implement. You must find the right social media marketing vehicles that will work for you and your industry, as well as design the campaigns that will present you with the results that you desire,” Mr. Donkor added.

Mabel Simpson’s Experience

MSimps, a fashion house founded by Mabel Simpson, a graduate from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology uses local fabrics to design fashion accessories such as clutch purses, handbags, slippers and laptops bags.

The MSimps brand has taken advantage of Facebook to build on its customer base and now has about 3,145 followers on the page.

According to Ms Simpson, she uses Facebook to get new customers and thinks it is the best way to market her products.

She said “It was through Facebook that I got buyers from the UK, Nigeria, US and in some few months to come I will be supplying to buyers in other European countries.”

She testified that though she uses other marketing techniques to market her products, Facebook has been the best of them all because most of her target group are constantly on the site.

Ms Simpson updates the page on regular basis so her clients can see the latest designs she has.

Advice

It must be noted that social media is about interaction. When you interact, you create relationships; when you create these relationships, you create opportunities to share your products and services and this does not happen overnight. It takes time, consistency and a genuine interest in the creation and nurturing of those relationships.

There is a lot of trial and error in social media. However, to be more successful, businesses should measure their results and build on what works.

In addition to analyzing your email marketing data and surveying your customers, keep track of the number of Facebook fans and followers, campaigns that generate the most buzz and the content that inspires social sharing and comments.

 

 

 

 

 

Stock Market Review

Ghana Stock Exchange Is 3rd Biggest

Charles Cofie, a Council Member of the GSE supported by Ian Springett to ring the bell to signal commencement of trading

The Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) became the third biggest stock exchange in Africa last Wednesday, July 27, 2011 after Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) when Tullow Oil Plc listed approximately 3.5 million shares valued at GH¢27.6 billion on the Accra Bourse.

The market capitalization of the GSE shot up from GH¢20.4 billion ($13.6 billion) to approximately GH¢48 billion ($32 billion). Tullow Oil thus becomes the biggest listed firm on the Accra Bourse.

Kofi Yamoah, Managing Director, officially admitting Tullow onto the exchange, said the listing of the oil giant will bring immense benefits to the Accra Bourse.

 

 

Stock Market Review

Kofi Yamoah

International News

US stocks fell on Monday as jitters about euro zone debt bailouts, including more financial reforms by Greece, and doubts about the pace of global growth encouraged investors to shed riskier assets.

A gauge of manufacturing in New York State tumbled much more than expected in May to its lowest level in five months, the New York Federal Reserve said in a report, further souring investor sentiment.

In deal news, shares of NYSE Euronext fell 10.1% to $36.77 after Nasdaq OMX Group Inc and Intercontinental Exchange withdrew their bid for the rival exchange.

“The issue about Greece and the drop in commodity prices are raising many questions. Is the expansion over and will the European debt crisis be resolved?” said John Canally, investment strategist for LPL Financial in Boston.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 54.64 points, or 0.43%. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 6.53 points, or 0.49%, at 1 331.24. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 16.36 points, or 0.58%, at 2 812.11.

 

Epack                                                            MFund

Last Price     :     GH¢1.04                            Bid Price       :GH¢0.3054 Gain/Loss     :     GH¢0.0022                       Offer Price     :GH¢0.3085

Gain (%)       :       4.08%                             Annualized Yield: 14.55%

BFund                                                              Gold Fund

Bid Price        :   GH¢0.1671                           Offer Price     : GH¢585.00

Offer Price     :    GH¢0.1688                         Price Change   : GH¢2.00

Year-To-Date :     8.72%                                 Year-To-Date  : 0.86%