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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.
In recognizing the enormity of the country’s oil and gas activities, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed technical guidelines to regulate the offshore activities.
The document, which is known as ‘Guidelines for Environmental Assessment and Management of Offshore Oil and Gas Development in Ghana,’ has been prepared to ensure the sustainable development of offshore oil and gas resources.
The guidelines are intended to: provide systematic procedures on environmental impact statement preparations for the sector, provide guidance on common potential impacts and mitigation measures, and ensure the development and production activities in Ghana’s exclusive Economic Zone and the continental shelf beyond its territory.
Launching the guidelines in Accra, Sissi Wilson, Board Chairman of EPA, said the document is also meant to contribute towards sound environmental management in the oil and gas sector.
He explained that “the EPA developed a master plan in 2008 to clearly delineate the key challenges that the industry brought and developed strategies and actions that should be taken to deal with those challenges.”
He added that the development of oil and gas guidelines is one of the key actions that the EPA identified in the Master Plan.
He said “during the development of the guidelines, a number of stakeholders including our Norwegian counterparts also took part in the review process and brought best industry practices to make these guidelines comparable to any international best practice guidelines.”
In an interview with CITY & BUSINESS GUIDE, Kojo Agbenor-Efunam, Deputy Director, in charge of oil and gas at EPA, said the guidelines would also help EPA in monitoring and auditing the oil companies.
He said “these guidelines would serve as a tool in knowing the exact things to look out for when conducting auditing and monitoring on oil and gas companies.”
To ensure the implementation of the guidelines, Mr. Agbenor-Efunam noted that the workshop and training programmes had been organized for EPA staff and other relevant stakeholders to look out for compliance mechanisms.
He indicated the guideline focuses mainly on the oil sector, with a component of gas “but in future if it is realized that the gas industry is not adequately covered, or we see several challenges, we might have to develop a specific one for the gas sector.”
By Esther Awuah
The phones, which are widely regarded as the world’s most innovative smart phone runs on the Windows 8 operating system and comes with full-versions of Microsoft Office, Outlook and Internet Explorer 10.
According to Nokia, the devices which come in a variety of colors, are poised to give customers the best smartphone experience with their unique features, including an inbuilt wireless charging system, Nokia’s new PureMotion HD Plus display with a 1280 x 768 resolution, Nokia Maps and Nokia City Lens, which is a unique augmented reality app that helps users locate places by just holding up their devices.
The Lumia 920 comes with the latest innovations which include an advanced floating lens technology that takes in five times more light than other smart phones, enabling users to capture sharp, crisp pictures and videos indoors and at night without using flash.
Lumia 820 are ready for Business with a full Business suite right out of the box, comprising Microsoft Office suite, Sky Drive and Microsoft Lync Nokia.
At a colourful launch at the Silverbird Cinemas at Accra Mall, James Rutherfoord Vice President, Nokia West Africa said, “Ghana is one of Nokia’s largest markets that is why we decided that it was key to launch the first phase of the Lumia phones here.”
He noted that the handsets are “the best devices we have made in the smart phone category and we believe that this is going be much appreciated by our customers.
At Nokia, our focus is to bring the very best of technology to our customers, which aid, excite and benefit their work and social lives.
“With the groundbreaking technology incorporated in these devices, we are giving our consumers every reason to switch to Lumia.”
According to Mr. Rutherfoord, those who pre-order the Nokia 920 in December will enjoy 1GB data, 200 minutes and 400 SMS free for three months from MTN.
Launching the products, Nii Laryea Afotey Agbo, Greater Accra Regional Minister, said the Nokia brand is noted for its durability and innovativeness. He noted that the new devices will do well on the Ghanaian market.
The estimated retail price for the Nokia Lumia 920 is GH¢1,275 while that of Lumia 820 is GH¢920.
As part of its mandate to migrate Ghana onto the electronic payment system, the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement System (GhIPPS) is expected to launch a new system called Ghana Link (GH-Link) card tomorrow November 21, 2012.
The infrastructure will interconnect all ATMs in the country, and a bearer of the GH-Link card can redraw money from any ATM, irrespective of the bank they save with.
Visa ATM card holders enjoy this service, but the difference is that all ATMs in the country will carry the GH-Link logo making them fully interoperable.
Archie Hesse, General Manager in charge of Project and Business Development at GhIPPS, explained that “if I need money, and I am with one bank, I do not have to go round looking for my banks ATM machine. I can redraw money from any ATM available. This will help increase accessibility and create a more convenient way of banking.”
He noted that “the introduction of the GH-Link ATM cards forms part of activities by GhIPPS to improve interconnectivity amongst banks.”
Mr. Hesse, in an interview with BUSINESS GUIDE, noted that GhIPPS was working with the banking fraternity to decide on the interbank charges associated with the new system.
He noted that “on a pilot basis, a minimum charge of GH¢0.40 has been set per transaction, but that is subject to review.”
He stated that in the first quarter of 2013, the hybrid Point of Sale (POS) device which would accept every electronic card including the E-zwich and GH-Link Cards would be introduced.
This, he said, was also geared towards supporting and encouraging card payments in the country.
“We have had some challenges with the availability of POS devices and one of the points has been that E-zwich card holders can access it. But with the hybrid POS devices all card holders can access it making it more cost effective for the merchants,” Mr. Hesse explained.
Airlines, hotels and grocery shops are expected to take advantage of this new system.
By Esther Awuah
The Minister of Environment Science and Technology, Sherry Ayittey says the country is losing huge sums of money as a result of the activities of Chinese illegal miners.
According to the Minister, the only way to save the nation is to make it uncomfortable for the Chinese nationals to operate at the concessions of large-scale mining companies which pay taxes to the nation.
Speaking during a tour of some ‘galamsey’ sites in Obuasi, Ms Ayittey said government was ready to clamp down on the operations of the Chinese, most of whom are illegal immigrants with no working and residential permits.
She asserted that government would need the support of the traditional authorities to flush out the Chinese ‘galamseyers’.
Ms Sherry bemoaned the state of degradation of the environmental and pollution of water bodies at Awoana, a farming community near Obuasi Township where she was informed that the Chinese brandish guns to threaten residents.
“The traditional councils must join hands with government to fight the Chinese galamseyers. You can form community monitoring teams and report those activities to the security agents for action,” she stated and promised to take up the issue.
The tour took her to the new Dokyiwaa village, a resettlement community, constructed by AngloGold Ashanti (AGA) at the cost of $5.9million.
AGA took the decision to resettle the inhabitants of Dokyiwaa in 2005 when the company wanted the old village, which was closed to the Sanso North Tailing Storage, to build its new tailing dam facility.
It has a population of 1,300 people with 116 structures made up of wattle and daub, switch, sandcrete, landcrete and cement blocks.
The new resettlement community also has 116 modern houses with water closets toilet facilities, kitchens, electricity and water with all its streets tarred, a furnished community centre, basic school, playing field and mechanized and manual boreholes, among others.
The Managing Director of AGA, Kwesi Enyan said, “We are delighted that the minister is present to inaugurate the new Dokyiwaa village. This is the result of a long engagement process.”
According to him, the establishment of the new community was not the only achievement chalked in recent years by the company, and mentioned that AGA had completed the construction of oil palm processing plant at the cost of GH¢260,000 for women engaged in palm kernel processing.
The objective was not only to reduce drudgery but ensure that women apply modern technology in the processing of the oil, Mr. Enyan noted.
Chief of Kunka, Nana Kwabena Ponko II, praised the mining company for the project and appealed to the management to provide the new community with a 40-acre farm to benefit the people.
He also called for the construction of Junior High School (JHS) for the community to complete the resettlement package, among others.
From Ernest Kofi Adu, Obuasi
As at the end of September 2012, telecommunication operators in the country had spent over GH¢10 million to repair cable cuts which were mainly caused by road construction works and excavations.
During the period there were more than 600 incidents of cuts to these cables. This number has increased nearly three-folds for the same period in 2011.
This is beside the loss of potential revenue to network operators, the serious damage to the reputation of network operators and above all, the incalculable inconvenience to subscribers due to avoidable network downtime.
To find a lasting solution to the problems facing operators in the industry, the National Communications Authority (NCA), Ghana Chamber of Telecommunication and relevant stakeholders in the road sector met in Accra to discuss ways to mitigate the problem.
The forum also discussed issues on Right of Way (RoW) management.
According to the Kwaku Sakyi-Addo Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, going forward network operators must take responsibility for laying cables as approved by permitting agency, including the use of appropriate markers and other standard precautionary measures to demarcate position of cables.
He indicated that another challenge is the issue of cable relocation cost.
“Until late 2011, network operators bore the cost of cable relocation during roads projects even if permits were within the validity period.” “Collaboration between roads agencies and network operators working through the Chamber of Telecommunications has reduced this source of tension.”
He stressed the need for various stakeholders to discuss and institutionalize procedures for cable relocation, and also review procedures and clarify responsibilities for cable relocation.
George Aidoo, an official from the Ministry of Roads and Highway, said it was unfortunate to tag the road sector as the major cause of the challenges facing the telecoms industry.
He said “there are road expansion projects going on all over the country and cables are sometimes cut due to the telcos’ inability to follow laid down procedures.”
He explained that the Ministry had developed a manual on the RoW and how deep cables should be laid but the problem is enforcement and compliance.
The forum proposed a closer collaboration among relevant stakeholders in the sector in the execution of their mandate.
By Esther Awuah
Samuel Thompson Essel, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Financial Intelligence Centre, says Ghana’s risk profile could have increased if the county had remained on the blacklist of Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
According to him, the development could have also affected its credit rating, created adverse effects on its international trade and investment, as well as caused an increase in opportunistic crimes.
The Financial Intelligence Centre has recorded 206 suspicious financial transaction reports over the past two years. These are mainly money laundering activities in the country’s financial system.
Ghana was recently removed from the list of countries which have become a haven for money laundering and terrorism financing.
FATF removed Ghana from the list of high risk money laundering and terrorist financing countries after it enacted various legislations to criminalize money laundering and fight the crime.
FATF, on February 16, 2012, issued a public statement in which it identified Ghana as a high risk money laundering and terrorism financing jurisdiction and cautioned member states to take into account the risks associated with deficiencies in the anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing regimes.
He said the achievement was chalked because of a high level of commitment to FATF as it undertook very significant legislative and institutional initiatives to bring the country at par with other successful anti-money laundering and counter financial terrorist regimes.
Mr Essel said as part of the remedial process the Financial Intelligence Centre was established and mandated to receive, analyze and disseminate financial intelligence to investigate revenue and intelligence agencies in the country and similar bodies in foreign jurisdictions.
Besides criminal offences Acts were amended to criminalise offences such as unlawful use of human parts, enforced disappearance, sexual exploitation, illicit trafficking and racketeering.
The Immigration Act and the Anti-Terrorism Regulation were also enacted to criminalise migrant smuggling and terrorist financing respectively.
Apart from the laws, Mr Essel said efforts were made to establish and implement adequate measures for the confiscation of funds related to money laundering.
He called for support from the law enforcement agencies and the judiciary in dealing with criminals as well as resources to consolidate and build on the gains so far made, adding that the FATF would undertake an on-site visit in January 2013.
Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said the reversal in a very short time was due to the collaborative work by the various agencies and called for concerted effort to consolidate the gains.
By Samuel Boadi
Government’s lost of revenue every year as a result of landlords’ failure to honour their tax obligations has compelled the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to pursue defaulting landlords across the country.
Kwame Boakye Yiadom, Assistant Commissioner of the Large Tax Payers Office of the GRA, who spoke to BUSINESS GUIDE recently after the opening of a day’s seminar in Accra for large taxpayers in the oil and gas sector, noted that there were individuals and companies who had rented out their property to others but were evading taxes due the state.
GRA, he stated, had established rent tax desks in all of its offices throughout Ghana which have been charged with the sole responsibility of identifying landlords who earn taxable rent income.
Until the establishment of the rent tax desks, GRA had scheduler officers who were responsible for collecting rent tax.
“Anybody who has a property rented out and receives income is required by law to declare and pay tax to the GRA but many people are failing to comply.”
The main challenge of GRA, Mr Yiadom noted, involved the identification of people who collect rent income in order to tax them.
“How can we tell that a particular building or house is occupied by tenants and not family members?”
As part of a modernization plan of GRA, he noted that the Authority intends to acquire geographic information systems to help identify property and its owners to facilitate the tracking of rent tax defaulters.
He added that GRA will liaise with the local government staff to improve tax collection in the country.
“It is a national obligation for every citizen to declare their income and pay in line with Article 41 J of the 1992 Constitution which states the obligation of citizens.”
Landlords are expected to pay 8 per cent of any income they generate from renting out their property either for accommodation, office or commercial purposes to the State through the GRA.
However, over the years, it has been difficult to get property owners to comply with this directive as most of them seem to misconstrue it for the property rate paid to the Municipal and Metropolitan and District Assemblies.
“Our address system is very poor so we need to improve it,” he said and called for a complete roll out of the national identification system which he noted would help GRA to rake in more revenue for the government.
He said the national identification numbers could be linked to the TIN numbers of all individuals for tax purposes.
“This number will pin them down as it is elsewhere.”
By Emelia Ennin Abbey
An explosion would hit the country’s housing sector if some 90 companies which have applied to the Ministry of Water Resources, Works & Housing to build mortgage houses across the country are given the green light to do so.
So far, four out of the 90 companies have been granted permission to do so and these include Ital Construct, which is expected to build 4,000 housing units, American Capital, which has partnered local companies to build 5,000 units, the Tema Development Corporation (TDC) and the Commonwealth Business Council. Their applications were approved in April, this year.
Enoch Teye Mensah, Minister of Water Resources, Works & Housing, disclosed this to the media in Accra at the weekend.
He added that the units would be completed before the conventional periods for building in Ghana since the companies would employ new building technology.
A seven-member committee, set up by the ministry, is investigating the backgrounds of the applicants to determine whether they have the means and integrity to execute their jobs.
Others that are yet to be approved include Amandy Company and a company from Brazil which has entered into agreement with Ghana Home Loans, among others.
Also, SSNIT and Regimanuel Grey Limited are collaborating to build some 700 housing units at Klagon, near Nungua in Greater Accra region.
The minister noted that such housing units are specifically targeted at Ghanaians who are unable to own houses, adding that the houses would be affordable.
Currently, Ghana’s housing deficit stands at 1,700,000 units per annum.
Generally, a lot of people in Ghana, including workers, cannot feed themselves effectively per day, let alone save some money towards the construction of a house.
To further dash their hopes of ever owning houses, their SSNIT contributions are being allegedly mismanaged and enjoyed by employees of entities that manage such funds.
Ghana recently joined Shelter-Afrique, a pan-African financial institution to enable real estate developers gain access to funds at moderate interest rates to assist in the provision of more housing units for Ghanaians.
Ghana was admitted as the 43rd member of Shelter –Afrique, a company, headquartered in Nairobi Kenya in 2011.
Habitat Ghana, a subsidiary of Habitat for Humanity (HFH), wants to build about 20,000 housing units for Ghana’s poor.
Should all the applicant companies be offered permission to build houses, there would be more mortgage houses up for grabs but an aspect to contend with is the affordability of such houses.
South Africa’s foremost financial services company, FirstRand Limited has disclosed plans to invest its $250 million fund raising exercise across major West and Southern African real estate markets, particularly Nigeria, Ghana and Angola.
By Samuel Boadi
Government would from January 1, 2013 ban the importation of old refrigerators which are said to contain dangerous gases that pose health risks and also consume much electricity, which is not only a cost to the individual but the nation.
In an interview with BUSINESS GUIDE in Accra, Alex Opong Antwi National Secretary of Ghana Association of Importers and Sellers of Used Refrigerators (GAISUR), noted that even though the association made several requests to the Energy Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to extend the deadline for the ban, their request was not granted.
He said “when the Energy Commission informed us that they want to ban the importation of used refrigerators, we proposed five years moratorium beginning from 2010, but they only gave us two years which is certainly not enough for us to prepare ahead of the ban.”
He however noted that GAISUR was in discussions with government to provide certain interventions to assist its members to access credits to venture into the business of selling new fridges.
“Our ultimate aim is to team up with government to provide credit facilities for members, so we can be in the position to sell new refrigerators and also link us with some manufacturing companies who can set up manufacturing plants in Ghana to make it easier and less expensive for us to buy them.”
“Within a month, we would have gotten a manufacturing company who would be prepared to partner us.”
In response to GAISUR’s request, Alfred Ofosu Ahenkorah, Executive Secretary of the Energy Commission, told this paper that talks were underway with a leading refrigerator manufacturer, which would soon set up a factory in Ghana.
He said “in fact we have introduced the association to a manufacturer who is prepared to do business with them to the extent of establishing a plant in Ghana to manufacture their appliances.”
He however called on the association to cooperate with the Energy Commission and its stakeholders to enforce the ban while it works to create an alternative means for them.
“It is not our objective to destroy anyone’s business but at the same time the country risks being fined by the international community if we continue to import these harmful appliances.”
However, BUSINESS GUIDE learnt that German manufacturer Bosch had submitted proposals to the Energy Commission to set up a plant in Ghana.
By Esther Awuah