Kojo Preko Dankwa to Gabby Otchere-Darko

I read Gabby Asare Otchere Darko’s write up posted  on Facebook dated October 13th at 8:57 pm .  The love letter I choose to call  it , was well written I must say and  it’s  really provocative which tells me   the industry  needs much attention from all and sundry . There are some aspects of your write up that needs more critical attention not just from the creative Arts alone  but government as well since it plugs into the national agenda of development. Mr Gabby Otchere Darko, I will break your points and pick it one by one to elaborate and let you know why there is the need for government and your good self to help solve and have productive creative arts industry . It’s very interesting and sad  that your government  in projecting  most important initiatives ,creative arts did not qualify as part of the major  engines to drive the country’s unemployment and revenue making venture and development .  Gabby it’s also interesting to note that largely all manifestos of our political parties including yours always relegate creative arts at the end tail of manifestos and if we lucky we  get just two pages of  attention  .Gabby, is so sad to say the least  the attention given to creative arts.
In your submission you said “you took time to watch randomly ten Ghanaian movies and never felt so disappointed. This you said brought home to you, one major deficiency in our development. Gabby, is true and very right that  most movies you watched are   disappointing .it will be because largely the film industry has been left loose and no control of any sought . Gabby you should  find out and raise questions why it was  so difficult to just pass an Act that will guide ,protect ,and give proper direction to the film industry . If you care to know ,it was passed in 2016 after then president assent, on the 16th of December 2016; it is called the Development and Classification of Film Act, 2016 (Active 935).ln this Act ,is “to provide the legal framework for the production ,regulation, nurturing and the development of the Ghanaian film industry, and for the distribution,exhibition and marketing of films and for related matters” .Gabby let’s ask ourselves whether the system has been fair to the film industry after almost 28yrs (I stand to be corrected) of no show by the same politician refusal to implement and pass a bill.until it became an Act the the industry never saw guidance, protection from governments to help the industry grow .I think we should be ashamed of ourselves.
You again alluded to the fact that “Hollywood ,for the best part in a century ,has been deliberately used by America to push successfully cultural supremacy agenda and an effective instrument of military or economic indoctrination. Gabby Otchere Darko, you have really made my day by establishing these wonderful facts about what Hollywood has done.Did you say/write that Hollywood has been deliberately been used by America (Government) very well…this tells you how lazy, lack of vision,cheap political talk that has entangled our politicians and blinded them to see how useful and effective a tool our creative Industry is . America saw the light ,vision and long-term plan to use the Art and that’s exactly what they have done in movies etc .am,sure there is a fund to really help promote movies of national character .Gabby let’s ask ourselves whether we have such fund to project and define the role you asking in your write up  ” realize the important concept of moving Ghana Beyond Aid”.Two major things come into play  : The government refusal to protect the industry with the laws to stop the  flood gate of allowing our media and cultural heritage trampled upon by influx of foreign cultural and again making the Act 935 work effectively. The act which will bring about the national film authority and also effective film development fund which will help solve those deficiencies you raised, the resurrection of the 2004 cultural policy of Ghana that deals with all you enumerated “supremacy “.
Gabby you spoke about music which you said “by and large does not impactfully plug into a greater development agenda” . I am worried like you are because the country spent almost 2 billion old gh cedis to have a comprehensive study of the music sector in Ghana in 2012.KPMG was commissioned in the same year by musiga  (musician union of Ghana) ,I will get you the abridged final report to read if you request . A wonderful report which proposed wonderful brilliant recommendations .the report as of 2012, stated that music  contributed to the national   GDP 0.20% am sure by now other has raised to atleast 1%.
Am happy you have provoked the industry to work hard and harder to help change and up the game but please with all due respect kindly tell the president to really focus his attention on the creative Arts as Saudi Arabia, Malta, Brazil,china,India, south Korea, japan,America,and others have done .he should also make sure our ministry which was established in 2012 (creative arts attached to tourisim) to have good budget and creative art minded persons  to help deliver. We don’t need political footsoldiers to mann certain crucial areas. We need visionary leaders ,all inclusive and government attention to help us deliver.
Thanks Gabby Asare Otchere Darko.
BY: Kojo Preko Dankwa

Avance Media announces inaugural 2018 Top 50 Ghanaian Bloggers

With the power and influence popular online portals have assumed globally, leading PR & Rating firm, Avance Media has launched an annual research ranking dubbed Top 50 Ghanaian Bloggers to unveil the faces behind the most read and popular blogs owned and run by Ghanaians.

The ranking which features bloggers from diverse sectors such as entertainment, lifestyle, education, fashion, technology, health, relationship and others is intended to annually feature Ghanaian bloggers whose blogs have distinguished themselves as a source of credible information, education & entertainment according to the MD of Avance Media, Prince Akpah. He further stated that; beyond serving as netizen ambassadors of Ghana, these individuals’ blogs must alsobe devoid of fake news and the propagation of negative propaganda.

According to the 2018 ranking, founder of www.ghpage.com, Toni Kusiranked as the most influential blogger claiming the top spot.

With the ranking featuring a limited number offemales, JemilaAbdulaiof www.circumspete.comemerged as the most influential female blogger andnumber 32 on the overall ranking.

Using estimatedtraffic data & social media influence as key indicators for the ranking, the research also unveiledAmeyawDebrah as the most followed blogger across Social Media and also on twitter.

Fashionghana.com run by Nana Tamakloe leads as the most followed blog on Facebook with www.nkonkonsa.comalso run by Eugene Osafo-Nkansah as the followed blog on Instagram.

In furthering their pursuit to support bloggers, Avance Media will in March 2019 convene the first edition of the Ghana Bloggers Summit, an initiative which will bring bloggers together to network, share and learn among themselves to project a good image of Ghana. More information on the summit is available via www.avancemedia.org/bloggers19

Below are the 2018Top 50 Ghanaian Bloggers and their blogs

  1. Toni Kusi || ghpage.com
  2. Seckloawu Bless || celebritiesbuzz.com.gh
  3. Stephen Zoure || mynewsgh.com
  4. Chris-Vincent Agyapong || ghanacelebrities.com
  5. Fiifi Adinkra || ghanandwom.net
  6. Nana Tamakloe || fashionghana.com
  7. Ameyaw Debrah || ameyawdebrah.com
  8. Chris Handler || ghbase.com
  9. Nii Atakora Mensah || ghanamusic.com
  10. Akesse Sanza || jetsanza.com
  11. John-Bunya Klutse || jbklutse.com
  12. Kofi Cephas || ghgossip.com
  13. Felix Adomako Mensah || zionfelix.net
  14. Ellis Ferdinand || educationghana.net
  15. Isaac Aidoo || ghkwaku.com
  16. Eugene Osafo-Nkansah || nkonkonsa.com
  17. Frimpong Prince || eonlineghana.com
  18. Eugene Nyavor || ghlinks.com.gh
  19. Kwadjo Panyin || musingsofanafricanbachelor.com
  20. David Mawuli || ghanafuo.com
  21. Felix Akakpo || phylx.com
  22. George Britton || georgebritton.com
  23. Elorm Beenie || beeniewords.com
  24. Ebenezer Anangfio || ghanagist.com
  25. Shadrach Annang || eventlabgh.com
  26. Abraham Odartey Lamptey || odarteyghnews.com
  27. Augustus Koranteng Kyei || kobbykyeinews.com
  28. Jonilar Laryea || jonilar.net
  29. Pep Junia || enewsgh.com
  30. Ekow Simpson || cape360gh.com
  31. Ebenezer Nana Yaw Donkor || nydjlive.com
  32. Jemila Abdulai || circumspecte.com
  33. Kubinho Acolatse || kubilive.com
  34. Yaw Sarpong || glammynews.com
  35. Tony Asankomah & Lewis Opoku || ghmoviefreak.com
  36. Keni Kodjo || kenikodjo.com
  37. Afua Rida || styledbyrida.com
  38. Amegavi Samuel || tmghlive.com
  39. Mac-Jordan Degadjor || macjordangh.com
  40. Kris Sowah || cypressghana.com
  41. KwaoLezzes-Tyt || kwaolezzes.com
  42. Edward Blagogee || blagogee.com
  43. Naa Oyoo Kumodzi || naaoyooquartey.com
  44. Mustapha Nii-Okai Inusah || attractivemustapha.com
  45. Barimah Amoaning || entamoty.com
  46. Emmanuel Arhin || kulelive.com
  47. Jullie Jay-Kanz || hello-gh.com
  48. Charles Wudengba || wunfef.com
  49. Kobby Blay || ghanahealthnest.com
  50. Kajsa Hallberg Adu || kajsaha.com

Source: Avance Media

READ: Actor Adjetey Anang’s letter to Gabby Otchere-Darko

Dear Mr. Gabby Otchere-Darko, First of all, I appreciate that you add your voice to the need for us to move our nation beyond aid and the need for our creative works to contribute to development agenda.

Indeed, truly, Hollywood has been a front-runner in the promotion of America as a brand and has been a key contributor to the development of America and a great influence on their world and on ours.

Beyond what the major film studios and individual stakeholders have done, I am very sure you are also aware the major role played by American governments over the years.

Enabling environment for creative arts, enforcement of piracy laws, intellectual property laws, capacity building, tax incentives, etc. Most of the Hollywood movies you see are from the top 6 studios despite the fact that there are thousands of filmmakers in Hollywood; which implies that there are some crappy ones from the same America that do not get the same attention.

Which brings the question, which random movies from Ghana did u watch? I am very curious because of the blanket statement you made. I wont even go into how individuals have fought and toiled to keep the industry alive with 100% owner’s equity financing of movies.

Many of our movies have made significant strides on the continent n beyond with individuals hard work. Reputable international airlines buy and show Ghanaian movies, reputable international film festivals and awards in Europe, US and across Africa acknowledge and duly recognize the quality of our films which have been painstakingly financed by individuals who have used their lifetime investments to nurture these dreams with the hope that someday the government of our nation will see that we are not looking for handouts and “sponsorship” but government’s interest that there is indeed an opportunity to make Ghana’s film industry an attractive investment venture and positively project the image of Ghana.

One would expect that after watching your “random movies”, you would engage stakeholders or individuals who keep financing our own works to keep our little flame alive by keeping our audiences entertained, educated and informed.

Tell us what you think we can do to improve the industry, what role your govt can play in giving us that needed support etc. I am very disappointed that you rather took to the media to voice your disappointment and in a very condescending way too, to rubbish our efforts.

We aren’t rubbish Sir. Many of us, like myself are highly educated, talented and exposed and we simply believe that this is an untapped gold mine for Ghana’s economy so despite the frustrating challenges and the lack of commensurate rewards for the volume of work we put in; we forge on… working hard night and day, positively projecting the image of Ghana everywhere we go; hoping that someday our star will shine.

Please make time to engage us and listen to us… as the Desiderata says *”…listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story*” we can together move this industry forward, if only your comments would be constructive and not condescending.

 

Below is the tweet from Gabby Otchere-Darko.

Gabby Otchere-Darko in a tweet said “I took my time to watch randomly ten Ghanaian movies and never felt so disappointed. It brought home to me one major deficiency in our development. The apparent lack of deliberate consciousness on the part of the creative industry in the development conversation. The presence of the creative industry appears at best peripheral in Ghana’s development narrative. Our movies, our songs, our arts, by and large, do not impactfully plug into a greater development agenda. Hollywood, for the best part of a century, has been deliberately used by America to push successfully American cultural “supremacy” agenda; it has been used as an effective instrument of military or economic indoctrination. But, what has been the underlying consciousness behind our creative industry, if any? What role, for instance, can actors in the creative industry play to define and realize this whole important concept of moving Ghana Beyond Aid? We must elevate consciousness in Ghana if we are serious about winning”.

Bryan Acheampong must be honored; he is a workaholic politician – K-Lover writes

Some politicians normally give excuses to their constituents of not having received their MPs common fund when they (constituents) need infrastructure development urgently.

Sometimes they expect their constituents to praise them when they establish few projects with their common fund.

In the absence of MPs common fund, residents usually lack better school building, quality water supply, roads, electrification project, jobs and other social interventions.

Some MPs play no important role in the lives of their constituents after they are elected to champion the constituency.

I am surprise to experience what a politician in my area is doing in his constituency; yes I just can’t believe my eyes.  Sometimes I ask myself is it because he is rich enough… but the answer is no, why? Should it take one to be rich before organizing a quiz competition to enhance educational structure in a particular area? He has a positive mindset for his people. I haven’t started yet.

The Member of Parliament for Abetifi Constituency Mr. Bryan Acheampong must be celebrated for the massive service he is rendering to residents in his area. The MP who doubles as the Minister of State in charge of National Security is indeed saving lives.

After the demise of Mr. Peter Wiafe Peprah who was the MP for the area two (2) yrs ago, I remember the key promises he (Mr. Acheampong) made should he be elected as the Hon MP for Abetifi Constituency.

The only Politician of our time who was confident to assure he would never use his salary for his personal agenda but rather spend on his constituency. That tells you he came into the game not to make money but needed the power to make things easy.

In order to be able to fulfill his promises, he established Bryan Acheampong Foundation, a Non-Governmental organization on 5th June, 2017 as a vehicle to drive all his Development initiatives in the Kwahu East District of Eastern Region.

The goal of the foundation is to influence and support the constituency development priorities; facilitate partnerships and ensure equitable distribution of resources to achieve sustainable and optimal development.

The foundation has eight (8) different programs which include the following:

  1. Economic Empowerment

The Economic Empowerment program seeks to give a group of people the means to take control of their own economic destiny. This is targeted at the powerless in society, people who have had little control of their economic destinies such as women, youth and the physically challenged.

Economic empowerment therefore seeks to promote sustained economic growth, productive employment and decent work for all in Kwahu East district.

ii.                 Health

To ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages in the Kwahu East district.

iii.               Social Services

To provide safety net measures to reduce inequality amongst the people in Kwahu East.

iv.               Education

BAF Education program seek to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all in Kwahu East

v.                  Agriculture

To take advantage of the climate, vegetation and soils to produce crops and livestock that would improve food security, markets accessibility and create jobs to improve the socio-economic well-being of the people in the district.

vi.               Housing and Infrastructure

To build resilient infrastructure to support socio-economic development in Kwahu East District

vii.             Water and Sanitation

To ensure availability and sustainable management of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene services for all in Kwahu East.

viii.          Sports

To promotes sports as catalyst for wellness and socio-economic development of the people in Kwahu East.

Now, Agoo fm news checks indicate all these programs are servicing the people in the area. I want to use this opportunity to brief you few of the things the foundation has offered and still offering so I will begin with Health.

  • Health

Do you know, BAF led by the Director of Development Eric Nyarko has commissioned a renovated Community Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) compound for the chiefs and people of Onyemso community in the Kwahu East district?

The facility which was renovated at a cost of thousands of cedis will provide accessible health care to more than 2,000 people in the community and its neighboring environs.

Do you know, BAF has also trained community health nurses in midwifery assistance, registered 1000 people unto the National Health Insurance Scheme and conducted school health education and a host of other health projects underway?

  • Education

It’s unbelievable to witness the number of support this foundation has given in terms of education in the area but I want begin with a quiz competition as stated in my 5th paragraph although I cannot be able to write them all.

To help improve the standard of education, the Foundation organized inter-school quiz competition for basic schools in the Kwahu East District seeing St Peters JHS adjourned the winner.

Pupils were quizzed on varied subjects, including questions from science, English, social studies, ICT and WaSH.

Moreover, during my first day at school this year, fourteen thousand one hundred and twenty six pupils from 115 basic schools in Kwahu East were given free  uniforms from the Foundation as part of the Bryan Acheampong School Project initiative (BASP) during ‘a school ceremony organized by the Ghana Education Service.

Currently, the Foundation is renovating the Nkwatia Seventh Day Adventist Primary school block. The dilapidated 6 unit Classroom block according to the Director of Development will be furnished by close of second quarter.

  • Economic Empowerment

The Economic Empowerment programme under Bryan Acheampong Foundation has issued an amount of eighty five thousand, eight hundred and forty Ghana cedis (GHC85, 840.00) to register 300 taxi drivers in the Kwahu East District.

Out of the three hundred drivers, 100 renewal replacement and 200 New licenses have been issued..

  • Agriculture

In the first quarter of 2018, the foundation has supported thousand farmers with a total of  fifty thousand Ghana cedis (GHC50,000) to step up production of maize in demonstration farms.

The farmers comprising women and men established ten maize demonstration farms at Nteso, Ankoma, Hwehwe, Aduamoa, Nkwatia, Yaw Tenkorang, Tafo, suminakese, Abetifi all in Kwahu  East District.

Apart from maize production, farmers were also assisted with improved seed, organic fertilizer, and ploughing methods.

Also to make farming easy and support commercial farming, the Bryan Acheampong Foundation (BAF) is operating free services for all farmers in Kwahu East.

So far, more than 500 acres of farmlands have been ploughed. The $50,000 tractors have started operations in about 20 communities so far.

Moreover, Over 315 people in Kwahu East District have been trained in animal husbandry and modern agricultural practices by the Bryan Acheampong Foundation.

Water and Sanitation

I have once toured almost all the five (5) MDCEs in Kwahu over the state of water crisis in each district and what I experienced was an eye saw.

Water is one of the major problems confronting the people of Kwahu. (Afram Plains South & North: residents share river with cattle), Kwahu East: residents walk for a long distance, some travel to other communities in search of water), Kwahu South: the only stream in the community usually looks like gutter to visitors during harmattan but its serve as the only source of water to residents in the area, Obo to be precise.

For what I experienced during my tour in the various districts, I always comment Mr. Bryan Acheampong for his effort to address water challenges in Kwahu starting from Kwahu East.

Currently there are several water projects ongoing in the various areas that tells you the kind of MP we have in Abetifi; he cares for his people unlike others I fear not to mention but they know themselves.

Social Services

I had wanted to list the entire various development projects under the eight programs but I would liked to end here.

One of the most unbelievable services the MP through his foundation rendering to the people in the area is a four (4) thrift shops opened to purposely assist the very older people.

Information gathered indicates that, more than a thousand elderly people in the district will shop for free. The shops are located in 4 selected communities – Hweehwe, Sempoa, Nkwatia and Kwahu Tafo that will serve all beneficiaries across the district.

According to M.r Eric Nyarko, the program is targeting poor elderly persons 65 years and above. They will shop for cloths, groceries, toiletries, scarf and handkerchiefs amongst others.

So I ask, does he (Mr. Bryan Acheampong) not deserve to be celebrated??? Bryan Acheampong must be celebrated and commended for his service.

Bryan Acheampong must be celebrated… he deserves to be celebrated by the state, region and the district. We must hail him for his effort to develop Kwahu East.

Ayikoo.

Written by: Ebenezer Kojo Nyavor (K-Lover), journalist at Nkawkaw Kwahu, Eastern Region

 

KOJO PREKO WRITES: Open letter to Mark Okraku Mantey

Dear Mark,

Kindly allow me space and time to also have my take on the issue of the building of an ULTRA MODERN RECORDING STUDIO which you believe should happen by the end of the 4 year rule of your party NPP.

Indeed you have been championing the building of this ultra modern studio since 2017; I remember at the 2nd Annual General meeting of GHAMRO at KNUST (27th July, 2017), you reiterated the dream of the establishment of the ultra modern studio.

Initially I was thinking the best news around where you were currently standing and making such promise was rather to assure the Collective Management Organization (GHAMRO) that their logging system as promised by your party’s manifesto will be fulfilled. Well…let me move on to the main reason why I decided to write to you.

I have listened, read and heard you talk on issues regarding the ultra modern studio because part of the 2.4 million cedis budget  is coming to creative Arts council and therefore you have seen the reason to buy land and build it.  This concern falls under what I term NEEDS AND WANTS. l am now sensing danger where it’s becoming more of WANTS rather than NEEDS. I am amazed that this your dream did not find its way into your party’s manifesto to equally have maximum attention from government.

Mark Okraku Mantey, I want to find out if the building of the studio was part of the 14 major points raised in the manifesto which is the main focus, agenda of your party. If it’s not part of it, why are you rushing to do it and continue to hammer and drum it in our heads as if it is one of the priorities /promises made to us by the NPP?

One of the points raised in your  manifesto is TO ESTABLISH A CREATIVE ARTS COUNCIL TO CORDINATE AND HARMONISE THE VARIOUS INTEREST AND FRAGMENTED ASSOCIATIONS INTO A WELL FUNCTIONG BODY TO PROTECT THE INTEREST OF MEMEBERS. Mr. Mark Okraku Mantey I’m tempted to believe that we need to focus on the mandate you were given (3 months though flouted and very bad) and don’t let your eyes off the ball.  l will be glad you and your team will follow the plan and the purpose of the creative art council.  Mr. Mark Okraku Mantey, I was surprised and wondering when I read in news one entertainment on Wednesday, 3rd October, 2018, with the caption –  CREATIVE ARTS COUNCIL GETS PART OF 2.4M BUDGET.

You were quoted to have said; “WITH THE MONEY THAT WE ARE GETTING, WE CAN AFFORD TO BUY THE LAND AND BEGIN THE BUILDING THIS YEAR.” Are we serious!! .

The story also said, there are discussions with the EXIM BANK to support other sectors of the industry with loans to execute their projects. I want to know in what capacity will you do /take such action and under which laws? I want to know if all stakeholders in the music sector were met to deliberate and agree to the establishment of the ultra modern studio.

I was amazed when you also stated during your interview with ANDY DOSTY which was still captured by news one entertainment said: “WE WILL TALK TO FILM AND FASHION SECTOR TO FIND OUT WHAT THEIR CHALLENGES ARE”. Meaning you do not even know their challenges since you took office as president of creative arts OR you’ve not met with them at all.

Mark, if so why would your own senior colleague in music sector, who is equally part of the creative arts for change, part of the inner caucus of the party on the creative arts industry Mr. Fred Kyei Mensah shoot down the idea and rather suggested the government should find ways and means to put in place policies that will help in the making of our songs and maximize our profits than building an ultra modern recording studio. This tells me the plan will breakdown.

I know you will say I am not an expert in the music industry so why would I write to you about it. But statements by other music engineers that the ultra modern studio should not be the priority for now is absolutely the fact.

Can we rather look at it this way; as University of Education and other institutions allowing the pursuance of music in general, the creative arts can fight for space like the brilliant move by MUSIGA and NAFTI, have Certificate, Diploma and Masters in sound engineering? With this we can have lots of people to enroll and make the engineering job credible, it will allow them to acquire the best of KNOWLEDGE and equip themselves.

The ultra modern recording studio again won’t be situated in the capital but in a different region for who to manage. We should make sure we do not kill already existing recording studios in the country which has recorded musicians and has worn awards, people from other countries come to record here including the same Nigerians and other folks, all the ever green songs were recorded here in Ghana by these same engineers.

I hope you consider my small idea in good faith. Leave a legacy by setting up the council and checking out for the council to elect its head, Secretary, PRO, director etc. Let’s focus on the creative Arts Bill which stakeholders need. I wonder if your team is up to date with the amendment of the Bill.

 

Yours faithfully

Kojo Preko Dankwa

 

Submitted

Illegal Connection: How will John-Peter Amewu fight it?

I was once a Muslim but now a convert to Christianity. You may be wondering why I decided to go on this religious tangent, but I must emphasise that my intention is not to spite anyone, except to illustrate a point due to the subject-matter of this article.

Indeed, this article is intended to discuss power theft, or what we popularly call illegal electricity connection.

By the way, what is illegal connection? It is a situation where consumers by-pass the meter to enjoy free electricity without paying for it.

It will interest you to note that both the Bible and Quran abhor or frown on thievery, and to buttress this, let us look at Exodus 20:15 (Holy Bible) and Quran 5:38.

Exodus 20:15 reads: “Thou shalt not steal,” and Quran 5:38 says: “And (as for) the man who steals and the woman who steals, cut off their hands as a punishment for what they have earned, an exemplary punishment from Allah.”

This means that those who profess Christian and Islamic faith are required by their religion to refrain from engaging in stealing or theft.

Shamefully, a lot of us Christians and Moslems are guilty of theft: We steal in one way or the other. And one of the organisations in the country that our thievery is hurting so much is the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).

It baffles me how a country with majority of citizens professing to be Christians and their Muslim brethren, who are required by the tenets of their religion to refrain from such acts, could be indulging in criminality.

It is disgusting that religious leaders, who are to lead exemplary lives for their ‘flock’ to emulate, are also equally guilty of the illegal electricity thievery.

For instance, in June this year, the head pastor of Miraculous Jesus Ministry in Koforidua in the Eastern Region, Prophet Nyame Akwadaa, was found to have illegally connected power to his church.

This criminal act, which covered a period of 24 months, amounted to GH¢19,087.41

Then in August 12, this year, the Kumasi Suame Service Center of the ECG, in collaboration with the area’s police, arrested individuals including elders of two churches-Church of God, Kwapra, and Holy Church of The Lord, Kronum-for illegally stealing electricity.

Another example was a pastor friend resident in Ashaiman, who was caught by the ECG for electricity thievery. I could go on and cite many more instances, but so that I do not bore you with them, let me blow your mind with the staggering data on illegal electricity connection.

As at the end of 2017, ECG had examined about 534,121 meters across its operational areas namely Ashanti, Western, Central, Eastern, Greater Accra and Volta Regions. And out of the total number of meters that was examined, 18, 985 were tampered with. This means that consumers of those meters by-passed the system to enjoy free electricity.

Per the regional distribution of illegal connections, Ashanti Region topped with a figure of 7,943, followed by Eastern Region with 3,377, Tema had 2,487 whilst Accra West and Central Region had 1,874 and 1,134 respectively.

Accra East was on the sixth position with 860 whilst Volta and Western followed with 754 and 455 in that order. And a monitoring by the ECG head office also revealed that about 101 meters within Accra had been tampered with. Total amount of revenues that the company lost through the nefarious activities amounted to Gh¢45,478,069.00. Out of the figure, ECG managed to retrieve GHC24,624,442.00.

Now, let me further blow your mind with what has happened within the first half of 2018, as far as illegal connection is concerned.

As at July 2018, ECG had examined about 250,616 meters across the country and out of the figure, 11,890 were found to have been tampered with.

Per the regional distribution, Ashanti Region was again ‘comfortably’ leading with 7,653, followed by Accra West with 1,432 and Central Region 688.

Eastern Region was fourth on the thievery log with 671 whilst Western, Accra East, Tema and Volta followed with 402, 398, 304, and 257 respectively.

Per the data, ECG has been able to retrieve GHC26,007,153 from power theft between January and July 2018.

It is an undeniable fact that illegal connections had been draining the Electricity Company of Ghana and for that matter the economy, and that may be one of the reasons why they have been unable to settle their huge indebtedness to the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo).

I believe it is about time, as a country, we become seriously concerned about it and take appropriate steps to deal with the issue of illegal connection.

I became one of the happiest people when I heard that the new Energy Minister, John Peter Amewu, has declared his intention to fight illegal connection because it is draining the economy.

Yes, Peter Amewu must take the bull by the horn by leading this fight as he did with galamsey.

But my question is: How is he going to fight illegal connections since it is a different ball game altogether? Are we going to see the involvement of the military in fighting illegal connections as we saw in the galamsey fight?

Are we going to see the formation of a media coalition against illegal connections as it happened to the galamsey? How about appointing respected traditional leaders or influential persons as ambassadors against illegal connections? Isn’t it about time the Energy Commission reviewed its regulations to make the sanction regime for power theft stiffer?

Illegal connection should be viewed as a threat to the survival of the power sector; hence it calls for a concerted effort to deal with it.

There is the need for the Ministry of Energy to launch a national campaign against illegal connection to raise public awareness about the threat of the issue to the survival of the power sector and carved compelling messages for Ghanaians to refrain from the practice.

The campaign drive should involve influential traditional leaders, media personnel, pastors and Imams and interest groups.

For instance, the pastors and Imams can use their platforms to educate their members to stop engaging in illegal connections.

If we fail to tackle the issue, it is going to land the nation into trouble. Recently, the Institute of Energy (IES) raised concern about the possibility of the country returning to the era of ‘dumsor’, due to the over GH₵900 million ECG owed the Ghana Grid Company.

In fact, I cannot conclude this piece without letting readers know how the ECG feels about illegal connection and the determination by the Minister to wage a war against it.

In an interview with William Boateng, who is the General Manager in-charge of Public Relations at the ECG, he said the Company sees it as welcome news, bearing in mind how the Minister’s action against galamsey in his previous portfolio as Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, recorded huge successes.

According to him, power theft has been draining the Company’s finances and for that matter, Ghana’s economy and, in the light of this, the ECG commends the sector Minister’s bold decision.
He explained that power theft is one of the major problems confronting ECG, as far as the operations of the company are concerned.

William Boateng, who described the issue as worrying, noted that power theft contributes to between 15 and 20 percent of the losses in the operations of the Company, stressing that “it is because of this that we have created loss control unit in all the regions.

“We are paying particular attention on illegal connection, so we commend the Minister for his determination to tackle the issue. He has really inspired us and we’re ready to support him to deal with it,” he stated.

He argued that there is the need for the Regulatory Bodies namely, PURC, Energy Commission, as well as the Energy Ministry, to consider reviewing the laws regulating electricity theft to make sanctions against illegal connection much stiffer.

In his view, the law should be reviewed such that if, for instance, a customer engages in illegal connection, that customer would be made to pay for the stolen power and also get disconnected for some weeks or months.

Additionally, he said the culprit could be made to hang a tag around the neck with well emblazoned inscription: ‘I engaged in illegal connection’, and be made to render community service for a month or two.
According to him, such punishment would deter those engaging in illegal connection.
Personally, I totally share in the views expressed by William Boateng, especially the view that we review the sanctions regime to make the punishment for power theft much stiffer.

I also believe that the law should be reviewed to make room for CEOs and Managing Directors of Companies, who are caught to have connected power illegally, are disgraced by publishing their names in the national dailies to serve as deterrent to others.

The time to deal with illegal connection is now, and we must all rally behind the ECG, Ministry of Energy and Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo) to stamp it out to save the power sector from collapse.

Michael Creg Afful

The writer is specialized in energy reporting

1st Ghana Reading Festival slated for Oct. 6 at Pawa House

When the language of a society dies, the society certainly ceases to exist. It is in light of this  that the Bureau of Ghana Languages has instituted an annual reading festival, “Ghana Reading Festival”, dedicated towards creating an avenue to promote literary works written in Ghanaian languages and consequently promoting the use of the languages in our daily Ghanaian lives.

The festival will comprise activities as “‘Read In Your Mother Tongue’ Workshops”, “Reading Carnival”, “Conversations with Authors” (who have works in Ghanaian languages), Dramatic Reading  with a special feature by Oswald & the Play House Folks, Exhibition & Sales of Books written in Ghanaian Mother Languages and Pick, Read & Win Contest and Mother Tongue Poetry Reading Evening.

It will also honour some personalities like Dr. Osei Kwame Despite (CEO of Despite Group of Companies), Ataa Oko Dgagadu, (formerly of Obonu Fm) for their respective roles in making Akan & Ga languages prominent on airwaves, and some authors of the Bureau of Ghana Languages who have written books that are widely used in the Ghanaian Education Circles and Prof. Kofi Agyekum.

The festival (maiden edition) designed to be a family one will have the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts & Culture—Dr. Iddi Ziblim—Special Guest of Honour, Mayor of Accra—Hon. Mohammed Adjei Sowah—Chairperson, Nana Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng—President, Ghana Association of Writers &Chairman, National Media Commission—Keynote Speaker, and other invited societal icons as well as persons in reputable professions to read in their respective mother languages.

The venue  Entrance is free.

 

Submitted

Late PK was worried about over priced house @ Trassaco by JM Boys for Kufuor

As someone who worked closely with late former Vice President Kwesi Amissah -Arthur on media issues when the NDC left Office, I can tell you on Authority that the late Vice President was not a happy man based on some of the flash backs that had happened in the John Mahama and Amissah –Arthur Administration.

He said the general perception amongst Ghanaians, wrongly or rightly that President John Mahamas’s government was not fighting corruption with adequate vigor affected the NDC party. And such sordid views on corruption in Ghana by media organs amounted to double jeopardy not only for the NDC but for President Mahama and his future relection.

And I see it as what is accountable for the foregoing conclusion that the NPP has been literately ‘roasting’ John Mahama on his alleged poor anti-corruption score card in the court of public opinion, particularly on social media and by so doing, others think they can contest him with maximum damage.

One of them is the President Kufuor Trassaco House. He [late Vice President] said “Okamafo, I am so disappointed in the way we did things especially the way we treated Former President Kufour.”

 

The JM BOYS and Girls

President Kufour gets home one day and someone sent by government simply left the keys to a building sited at Trasacco at Kufuor’s house in his absence but after the house was checked out, it was not befitting the status of an ex-president.

According to the late Veep, President John Kufour rejected it after it turned out to be very old house, which had not even been renovated…This he said did not show any sign of respect for Mr. Kufuor, with no consultations.

“Okamafo, my major worry was the overpricing of the House, rather than going to buy him a house his choice as a former President. They had the political temerity to also blind drop off the keys with his security personnel.”

Not worried too much President kufour moved to inspect the Trassaco House., but before he moved he investigated and found out how much government bought the house for.

On site, President kuffour happened to know the previous occupant and owner who sold the house and the amount it was sold to government. There he realized it had been over priced and was too expensive.

President Kuffour not satisfied so decided to fix an appointment with President Mahama and inform him about what had happened, so that the culprits would be brought to book.

In the meeting at Flagstaff House President Kufour informed President Mahama about his displeasure that per some of the things that had happened, including ‘Chop make I Chop’ attitude and disrespect, so he decided to reject the offer and left.

Late Vice President Kwesi Amissah –Arthur said he was surprised that the culprits name withheld were rather promoted by the President, since President Mahama knew the culprits very well.

The Chinery Hesse Committee (CHC) recommendation report, which was approved by the Ghanaian Parliament on 6th January 2009, included two residential facilities, six vehicles, overseas travels, medical and dental services, entertainment, non-taxable ex-gratia, establishment of a $1 million foundation, and other miscellaneous benefits.

The quality of the two accommodation facilities (one in Accra and another elsewhere), according to the report, should be of a standard befitting a retired Head of State who must be called upon to receive and entertain the network of dignitaries including Heads of State.

It said the standard of accommodation must be determined in consultation with State Protocol. The residences would not revert to the state in the event of the demise of the receiving former president.

The former President is to get a fully equipped and furnished office, staffed with five professionals and adequate secretarial support within the nation’s capital.

The committee further recommended six fully maintained comprehensively insured, fueled and chauffeur-driven vehicles.

The vehicles should be three saloon cars, two cross country vehicles and one all-purpose vehicle.

Travel in congested traffic should be facilitated appropriately with police escort, bearing in mind security considerations.

A former President who has served two consecutive terms should be entitled to a period of 60 days overseas travels taking into account the longevity of service and accompanying stress given the demands of the office.

There is also an equivalent to 12 months consolidated salary for each full year of service or pro-rata. Where the President has served for a second consecutive term, an additional nontaxable resettlement grant of 6 months of consolidated salary for each full year of service, or pro-rata prepaid with nontaxable ex-gratia of 12months of consolidated salary for each year served.

Other miscellaneous benefits cover medical and dental services; adequate 24hour security service should be provided at all times, entitlement to Ghana diplomatic passport and diplomatic courtesies for former President and spouse, plus adequate entertainment provision by state protocol.

Following the public outcry over the quantum of the ex gratia recommended by the CHC for members of the Executive, President Mills set up the Ishmael Yamson Committee (IYC) to review the recommendations which were approved by Parliament – even though members of the House later said they did not pay attention to contents of the CHC report when they approved it.

The NPP and some members of civil society had argued that President Mills, who was the head of the Executive, had no mandate to set up the IYC to review the recommendations of the CHC which had been approved by Parliament.

Stay tuned for more.

By: Maxwell Okamafo Addo (Press Attaché)

 

 

 

Vanessa Harrison; A Hidden Gem in global Fashion

For the last 3 years, I have canvassed Ghana on the fashion terrain to gain a good understanding of our ethics, culture and heritage and how that is helping transform the Ghanaian Fashion Industry. Ghana has so much opportunity for growth in fashion which can only be beneficial to this country as a whole once this industry becomes self-sufficient with adequate investment, Government participation and teamwork within the stylist, bloggers, illustrators, designers and the like. The pacesetters of Joyce Ababio, Kofi Ansah and Mawuli Okudzeto have all served Ghana well in their various ways but the future of fashion transcends our borders and the revenue stream will be substantial if we can all get behind it. So who are our next flagbearers?

Vanessa Harrison @Vh Mode is a designer I stumbled on recently when I was given the opportunity to be a panellist on a fashion tv red carpet event. A few of our celebrities wore Vh_Mode to the recently completed Glitz style awards and her outfit was very intriguing. Fluid symmetrical geometric designs achieved by precise placement of colour through fabric.

I met Vanessa recently and in her own humble way she canvassed her journey to me, painting me a picture of how her story has influenced her work.

Here is Vanessa!

‘The Aesthetic – Eclectic forms, Afro-ganic textures, Kaleidoscopic patterns, Psychedelic palettes. The creator – a humble, mildly eccentric, Shatta Wale quoting, Proudly Ga woman.

This somewhat unusual pairing has created some of the best designs in High-end couture from the centre of planet earth to as far as Broadway, complimenting the figures of Akosua Busia, Ama k. Abebrese, Michelle Mckinney Hammond, and giving Vlisco a 170th to remember.

Born naturally bright, Vanessa Harrison began basic education at Christ the King, studied visual arts at the Achimota school, then Ghanatta college of arts. She was determined to become an illustrator for publishers as big as McMillan and left Ghana for the UK. Finding no room for her in the illustration industry, she quickly adapted her skills for fashion.

Vanessa wore clothes she had made in Ghana and turned heads. She showed sketches around and hoped to sell in the Portobello market, but her designs were to up-market. She was validated when Freedom Recruitment invited her to ghost for a popular English designer. Her big break, however, came when a KENZO model asked her to design a leather jumpsuit. In no time Vanessa was a couturier, styling high-end clients and having babies.

Vanessa returned to Accra knowing she would have to make huge adjustments, considering that her UK workforce consisted of professional Polish seamstresses and her product aimed for the high-end market. “The kenkey is good and then some, but we can’t sew”, Vanessa said as she described her shock at the state of the industry. She soon discovered after an exhaustive search, the professional finish of Ivorian tailors and built herself a team.

Vanessa’s designs are born from a deep appreciation for happiness, people, nature and origami. VH Mode will open it’s doors to students soon as she plans to start a Fashion School with a strict “no lies” curriculum. She already receives interns from fashion schools like Radford and believes education to be a vital part of the growth of the Ghanaian industry.

Vanessa cites the efforts of Mawuli MKOGH, Kofi Ansah and the greats for blazing the trail. She seeks her legacy in the next generation’

I see a future shaped by many and strongly believe Vanessa Williams(Vh-Mode) will be playing a vital role in the history of our country’s Fashion Industry.

Submitted

Why crucify Springfield Energy when there is no wrongdoing?

The past few days have been so interesting on our airwaves, print, television and new media regarding the payment of US$3million to Mr. Kevin Okyere’s Springfield Energy by the Bulk Oil Storage and Transport (BOST) Company Limited, a major state-owned player in the oil business.

I have keenly been monitoring the spirited fight mounted by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bongo, Edward Bawa, with the perceived aim of protecting the purse while in the process, maligning and defaming some individuals who have spent so many years building their reputation and businesses that are employing hundreds of Ghanaians.

I get worried whenever I see an MP whose livelihood largely depends on the sweat of the tax payer’s money go on that tangent knowing very well that the collapse of indigenous businesses in the country will impact negatively on his or her stay in the august House.

Ghanaian businesses are doing marvelously well.

It is in fact, the businesses in the private sector that have contributed in sustaining the economy in which we find ourselves.

Their role is undisputable. That is why successive governments have over the years spent millions of cedis to create an enabling environment for private businesses to operate in.

It is also based on the success stories of the private sector that successive governments diversified the operations of some state-owned companies and handed them over to private individuals to manage or entered into a Public-Private Partnership with private institutions that have the expertise to run such businesses.

Therefore, by virtue of the sensitive public position an MP occupies, his or her utterances could make or unmake a business which took so many years in building that brand.

I have taken this particular position because it is the private sector that puts food on my table.

Bread and butter issues have become a concern to many in this country looking at the numerous redeployment exercises being carried by some businesses in the private sector.

I have also taken this position because the increasing unemployment rate which has been exacerbated by the laying off of thousands of workers, all from the private sector, is a threat to national security.

If people don’t have jobs, armed robbery and other social vices will become the order of the day.

To delve into the BOST-Springfield Energy issue, the attacks on the person of Kevin Okyere and his Springfield Energy by Edward Bawa are unwarranted.

Mr. Bawa’s desire to link some notable personalities to the BOST saga is also unwarranted. It creates the impression that all those people have conspired to rob the state of its resources.

Available records indicate that Springfield Energy imported some oil into the country as far back 2013 and were stored in the tanks of BOST. Springfield Energy was paying for the space provided by BOST.

Later, it was reported that the volumes of oil were nowhere to be found. To sum it up, the oil was missing from the tanks of BOST.

Nothing was done to recover the missing product. The missing oil, according to Bawa’s narration, happened when Mr. John Kojo Afful, now the Head of Finance, was the Acting Managing Director of BOST.

Springfield Energy typical of any business, then sued BOST on November 18, 2015 demanding the full recovery of the cost of the product as well as interest, all summing up to about US$20,226,717.75.

To break it down, the cost of the product itself was about US$11million and the compound interest US$9million. Springfield Energy also made a claim of loss of profit of $3,420,000.00.

A summary judgment was however, awarded to Springfield Energy by an Accra High Court.

Per Bawa’s narration, BOST was not happy with the ruling. Operating under a new manager in the person of Dr. Kwame Awuah Darko, BOST then filed a stay of execution at the court to enable them appeal against the judgment. He then sought the services of external lawyers to fight the case.

The High Court, according to Bawa, partially granted BOST its request and ordered the payment of the cost of actual product lost as ascertained by the auditors and agreed by both parties. This was $11,104,143.29.

The remaining 19% interest rate of US$9million was still in contention.

According to Bawa, on December 20, 2016, BOST, under Awuah Darko, paid the said principal amount of $11,104,143.29 through a Five-Year Term loan from Fidelity Bank.

Spring Energy, I am told in September 2017, approached Mr. Alfred Obeng, who was then the MD of BOST to have the matter settled out of court.

Following negotiations on the settlement agreement on the US$9million, Mr. Alfred Obeng then ordered for the payment of US$4million without the consent of the external lawyers.

The settlement agreement was then forwarded to the external lawyers for their perusal. According to Bawa, the external lawyers clearly advised against further payment to Springfield because Springfield, in their opinion, was not entitled to an amount of $9 million as interest payment.

Here, the external lawyers failed to address or state in clear terms what in their view Springfield Energy is entitled to as interest on the principal amount.

Bawa in his write up on the subject matter created the impression that Springfield Energy has been engaging in dubious and fictitious deals by reechoing the words of the external lawyers in their response to BOST.

Where did Springfield Energy go wrong to deserve this unfair treatment from Bawa? In the minds of the public, the Bongo MP has created the impression that Springfield Energy has not been involved in genuine business.

On Wednesday, September 19, 2018, the immediate past MD of BOST, Mr. Alfred Obeng, in an interview with Accra-based Class FM stated that he directed the payment of US$4million out of the US$9million interest to Springfield Energy based on legal advice he received from the Head of Legal Affairs at BOST.

Again, where did Springfield Energy go wrong to deserve such an unfair comment from Bawa?

Has the Bongo MP sought clarification from the new MD of BOST, George Mensah Okley and John Kojo Ankoful why an additional US$3million was paid to Springfield Energy before going to public with his outburst?

As a Member of Parliament, there are so many ways he could have explored to demand answers from the management of BOST.

As a member of the Mines and Energy Committee, Bawa could have lobbied his Chairman to summon officials of BOST to appear before the Committee to respond to the payments made to Springfield Energy against the advice of their external lawyers.

He could also file a question on the subject matter for sector Minister [in this case the Minister of Energy] to respond to the concerns raised.

To go public and try to create the impression that Springfield Energy is involved in dubious deals is unwarranted of an MP.

I will urge Springfield Energy to go for the audio recordings of all the interviews Bawa has granted to some radio and television stations on the matter, review his comments, and sue him if any act of defamation of character is detected.

Bawa should know that as an MP who lives on public funds, much as it requires of him to protect the public purse, he is also required to protect indigenous businesses that also contribute to his upkeep through the taxes they pay to the government.

What is good for the goose is equally good for the gander. It is my hope that Bawa and all who are criticizing Springfield Energy of wrongdoing will revise their notes and be advised accordingly.

By: Stephen Odoi-Larbi